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January 5 marks the brith anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian Hindu monk, yogi, and guru.

January 5 marks the birth anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian Hindu monk, yogi, and guru. He introduced millions of people to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organisation called “Self-Realization Fellowship in America / Yogoda Satsanga Society of India”.

Early life of Parmahansa Yogananda


Yogananda was born on the same day in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. According to his biography, in his youth he sought out to many Hindu sages and saints, including the Soham ‘Tiger’ Swami, Gandha Baba, and Mahendranath Gupta, hoping to find a good teacher who would guide him in his spiritual quest.

At the age of 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. In his autobiography, he describes his first meeting with Sri Yukteswar as: “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!" Yogananda was under the guidance of Sri Yukteswar for almost ten years, from 1910 to 1920.

After completing his graduation in the year 1915, took formal vows into the monastic Swami order, and started working officially in the field of spreading yoga all around the world. It is said that Yogananda was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House. After a few years in America, Yogananda founded “Self Realisation Fellowship”, a spiritual organisation in Los Angeles.

Teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda

The only motive of Yogananda was to make the world understand true spiritualism and yoga. Therefore, some of the teachings of Yogananda are as follows:

1. Only God exists. According to Yogananda, God is both beyond and within all manifestation. He is who dreams this world into existence, and every atom and star is created from His consciousness. Therefore, the goal of life is to awaken from the dream and realize our unity with Him.

Parmahansa Yogananda It is said that Yogananda was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House.Photo by Wikimedia Common

2. Daily meditation, stilling the mind, is the way to see behind the dream. Meditation consists of withdrawing outwardly directed prana (subtle energy or life-force) and focusing it at the spiritual eye, hence concentrating on God or on one of His qualities, i.e. light, sound, joy, peace, calmness, love, wisdom, or power.

3. Karma and reincarnation. According to Yogananda’s biography, every thought, feeling, and action creates a wave of energy that is destined to return to us. This means, as we give, so shall we receive. Therefore, the results of our own past actions create the circumstances and events of life. And so, the way to free ourselves from this karmic cycle is to accept life, control our reactive processes, be even-minded and cheerful, and dissolve the ego.

4. The desire to be happy and to avoid pain is the universal motivation behind every action. It is true that over lifetime, our definition of what makes us happy evolves. At first happiness is sought in laziness and sensuality, then in ego-centered accumulation of possessions or power. Gradually, there comes a time when this evolves into a desire to help others, and finally, the yearning for Self-realisation, which alone brings the joy we have always sought.

Death and continuing legacy of Paramahansa Yogananda

Yogananda is often referred to as the "Father of Yoga in the West”, and he breathed his last on March 7, 1952. Through his organisations Self-Realisation Fellowship (America) and Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), Yogananda introduced millions of people to the concepts of meditation, Kriya Yoga, and spiritualism. Even today, people from all around the world upto the teachings of this illuminated guru!

(Keywords: Paramahansa Yogananda, Spiritualism, Kriya Yoga, Yoga, Mediation, Birth Anniversary, America, India, Guru, Learnings, Teachings)


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