Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, is one of my very earliest and favorite books. This book gave me an insight to Divine Love, Master – disciple relationship and Simplicity. Of course it was a great introduction mysticism involved behind the yoga journey. This was no ordinary book depicting a ordinary life rather a extraordinary book depicting the important life history of Sri Paramahansa Yogananda.
Paramahansa Yogananda (Bengali: পরমহংস যোগানন্দ) (5 January 1893 – 7 March 1952), born Mukunda Lal Ghosh (Bengali:মুকুন্দলাল ঘোষ), was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.
Born: Mukunda Lal Ghosh: 5 January 1893
Gorakhpur, (present day Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died: 7 March 1952 (aged 59)
Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California.
Founder of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India
Order Self-Realization Fellowship Order: Guru Swami Yukteswar Giri
Philosophy Kriya Yoga
Yogananda was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, to a devout family. According to his younger brother, Sananda, from his earliest years young Mukunda’s awareness and experience of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary. In his youth he sought out many of India’s Hindu sages and saints, hoping to find an illuminated teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest. Yogananda’s seeking after various saints mostly ended when he met his guru, Swami Yukteswar Giri, in 1910, at the age of 17. He describes his first meeting with Yukteswar as a rekindling of a relationship that had lasted for many lifetimes.
Yogananda wrote down his Aims and Ideals for Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society:
You can also read this book online.
The autobiography of a yogi, in short starts with background of his family, so mystic experiences of the author through great yogic saints. Among them are The Saint With Two Bodies, A “Perfume Saint” Displays His Wonders, The Tiger Swami, The Levitating Saint. These chapters are very interesting for the readers to know about the great powers our yogis but the author strictly warns against the exhibition of these yogic powers for mundane purposes, since these will be great hindrance for the path of self journey.
Then the author meets his spiritual master, Sri Yukteswar. Sri Yukteswar Giri is the monastic name of Priya Nath Karar, the guru of Satyananda Giri and Paramahansa Yogananda. Sri Yukteswar was a Kriya yogi, a Jyotisha, a scholar of the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible, an educator and an astronomer. Wikipedia. Born: May 10, 1855, Serampore. Died: March 9, 1936, Puri. Guru: Lahiri Mahasaya. Books: The Holy Science.
A bright student, he passed the entrance exams and enrolled in Srirampur Christian Missionary College, where he developed an interest in the Bible.This interest would later express itself in his book, The Holy Science, which discusses the unity behind the scientific principles underlying Yoga and the Bible. He also attended Calcutta Medical College (then affiliated with the University of Calcutta) for almost two years.
After leaving college, Priya Nath married and had a daughter. His wife died a few years after their marriage, and he eventually was formally intitiated into the monastic Swami order as “Sri Yuktesvar Giri” (note: thus ‘Sri’ is not a separate honorific, but part of his given name). “…many follow the usual procedure (for writing or saying someone’s name informally) and drop the “Sri” and say only “Yukteswar”, but this is not correct. If one wants to put a “Sri” at the beginning as in the prevalent fashion, then his name would look as: “Sri Sriyukteswar Giri”.
In 1884, Priya Nath met Lahiri Mahasaya, who became his Guru and initiated him into the path of Kriya Yoga Sri Yukteswar spent a great deal of time in the next several years in the company of his guru, often visiting Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares. In 1894, while attending the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, he met the Guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahavatar Babaji, who asked Sri Yukteswar to write a book comparing Hindu scriptures and the Christian bible.Mahavatar Babaji also bestowed on Sri Yukteswar the title of ‘Swami’ at that meeting. Sri Yukteswar completed the requested book in 1894, naming it Kaivalya Darsanam, or The Holy Science.
Autobiography of a yogi, then runs through various experiences of the swami and his master’s miraculous performances. The master has a blissful meeting with Mahavatar babaji by the grace of his guru. Then swami establishes Self realization fellowship, a society for people’s training towards self realization.