Paramahansa Yogananda Biography & Facts
Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh; January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952) was an Indian Hindu monk, yogi and guru who introduced millions to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India, and who lived his last 32 years in America. A chief disciple of the Bengali yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, he was sent by his lineage to spread the teachings of yoga to the West, to prove the unity between Eastern and Western religions and to preach a balance between Western material growth and Indian spirituality. His long-standing influence in the American yoga movement, and especially the yoga culture of Los Angeles, led him to be considered by yoga experts as the "Father of Yoga in the West."Yogananda was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House (by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927); his early acclaim led to him being dubbed "the 20th century's first superstar guru" by the Los Angeles Times. Arriving in Boston in 1920, he embarked on a successful transcontinental speaking tour before settling in Los Angeles in 1925. For the next two and a half decades, he gained local fame as well as expanded his influence worldwide: he created a monastic order and trained disciples, went on teaching-tours, bought properties for his organization in various California locales, and initiated thousands into Kriya Yoga. By 1952, SRF had over 100 centers in both India and the US; today, they have groups in nearly every major American city. His "plain living and high thinking" principles attracted people from all backgrounds among his followers.He published his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, in 1946, to critical and commercial acclaim; since its first publishing, it has sold over four million copies, with HarperSan Francisco listing it as one of the "100 best spiritual books of the 20th Century". Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had ordered 500 copies of the book for his own memorial, for each guest to be given a copy. The book has been regularly reprinted and is known as "the book that changed the lives of millions." A documentary about his life commissioned by the SRF, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, was released in 2014. His continued legacy around the world, remaining a leading figure in Western spirituality to the current day, led authors such as Philip Goldberg to consider him "the best known and most beloved of all Indian spiritual teachers who have come to the West....through the strength of his character and his skillful transmission of perennial wisdom, he showed the way for millions to transcend barriers to the liberation of the soul."
Youth and discipleship
Yogananda was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, to a Hindu Bengali Kayastha family. He was the fourth of the eight children, and second of the four sons, of Bhagabati Charan Ghosh, the Vice President of Bengal-Nagpur Railway, and Gyanprabha Devi. According to his younger brother, Sananda, from his earliest years young Mukunda's awareness and experience of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary. Since his father was a Vice-President of the Bengal Nagpur Railway, the nature of his job caused the family to move several times during Yogananda's childhood, including to Lahore, Bareilly, and Kolkata. According to Autobiography of a Yogi, he was eleven years old when his mother died, just before the marriage of his eldest brother Ananta; she left behind a sacred amulet for Mukunda, given to her by a holy man, who told her that Mukunda was to possess it for some years, after which it would vanish into the ether from which it came. Throughout his childhood, his father would fund train-passes for his many sight-seeing trips to distant cities and pilgrimage spots, which he would often take with friends. In his youth he sought out many of India's Hindu sages and saints, including the Soham "Tiger" Swami, Gandha Baba, and Mahendranath Gupta, hoping to find an illumined teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest.After finishing high school, Yogananda formally left home and joined a Mahamandal Hermitage in Varanasi; however, he soon became dissatisfied with its insistence on organizational work instead of meditation and God-perception. He began praying for guidance; in 1910, his seeking after various teachers mostly ended when, at the age of 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri; at that time his well-guarded amulet mysteriously vanished, having served its spiritual purpose. In his autobiography, he describes his first meeting with Sri Yukteswar as a rekindling of a relationship that had lasted for many lifetimes:
"We entered a oneness of silence; words seemed the rankest superfluities. Eloquence flowed in soundless chant from heart of master to disciple. With an antenna of irrefragable insight I sensed that my guru knew God, and would lead me to Him. The obscuration of this life disappeared in a fragile dawn of prenatal memories. Dramatic time! Past, present, and future are its cycling scenes. This was not the first sun to find me at these holy feet!"
He would go on to train under Sri Yukteswar as his disciple for the next ten years (1910–1920), at his hermitages in Serampore and Puri. Later on Sri Yukteswar informed Yogananda that he had been sent to him by the great guru of their lineage, Mahavatar Babaji, for a special world purpose of yoga dissemination.After passing his Intermediate Examination in Arts from the Scottish Church College, Calcutta, in 1915, he graduated with a degree similar to a current day Bachelor of Arts or B.A. (at the time referred to as an A.B.), from Serampore College, the college having two entities, one as a constituent college of the Senate of Serampore College (University) and the other as an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta. This allowed him to spend time at Yukteswar's ashram in Serampore.
In July 1915, several weeks after graduating from college, he took formal vows into the monastic Swami order; Sri Yukteswar allowed him to choose his own name: Swami Yogananda Giri. In 1917, Yogananda founded a school for boys in Dihika, West Bengal, that combined modern educational techniques with yoga training and spiritual ideals. A year later, the school relocated to Ranchi. One of the school's first group of pupils was his youngest brother, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, who learned yoga asanas there and in turn taught asanas to Bikram Choudhury. This school would later become the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, the Indian branch of Yogananda's American organization, Self-Realization Fellowship.
Teaching in America
In 1920, while in meditation one day at his Ranchi school, Yogananda received a vision - faces of a multitude of Americans passed before his mind's eye, intimating to him that he would soon go to America. After giving charge of the school over to its faculty (and eventually to his brother dis.... Discover the Paramahansa Yogananda popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Paramahansa Yogananda books.