“Mankind is engaged in an eternal quest for that “something else” he hopes will bring him happiness, complete and unending, for those individual souls who have sought and found God, the search is over. He is that something else.” Paramahansa Yogananda
Paramahansa Yogananda is one of the most beautiful, pure, and devoted spiritual Masters that has lived on this planet in the 20th Century. If you have never read His book, the “Autobiography of a Yogi”, it was one of the top ten of all time.
Although being born in India, He speaks like a Westerner in His writings, and in my opinion, sets forth some of the clearest, most inte-grated balanced teachings a person can read. His book, “Man’s Eternal Quest” is literally one of the best books I have ever read.
I have an intimate connection and understanding of Paramahansa Yogananda for I took Kriya initiation and accepted Him as my teacher for a long period of time. I have read all His books and practiced all His techniques.
Paramahansa Yogananda is such a wonderful being that it is my great pleasure to give you a small glimpse into His life and teachings. I have spoken somewhat already about Him in my first book in the chapter on Babaji, the Yogi Christ and the teachings of Kriya Yoga. Paramahansa Yogananda is such a glorious being He deserves His own chapter. He was born on January 5, 1893 in Gorakhpur in North East India, near the Himalayan Mountains. Early in life he had recollections of a past life where he lived as a yoga in the Himalayas. At birth He was given the name of Mukunda Lal Chosh. Early in His life His parents became disciples of the great spiritual Master Lahiri Mahasaya, the premier disciple of the great Babaji, the Yogi Christ. From that time Lahiri Mahasaya took an interest in the young boy.
At a young age Paramahansa caught the Asiatic cholera which basically meant death, in those days. His mother told Him to bow to a picture of Lahiri Mahasaya, even though he was so incredibly weak. Yogananda did so and a blinding light filled His body and the entire room and He was miraculously healed.
Yogananda used to pray to the Divine Mother aspect of God, much like the great spiritual Master Ramakrishna did (see chapter on Vedanta and the Story of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekinanda). After the death of His real mother he was crushed. In Yogananda’s autobiography He tells how, in a lifeless state of grief, the Divine Mother spoke to Him and said, “It is I who have watched over thee, life after life, with the tenderness of many mothers. See in my gaze the two black eyes, the lost beautiful eyes, thou seekest!”
Fourteen months after her death He was told by His brother Ananta, that his mother had left Him a message. In His autobiography He quotes a letter from His mother; “Let these words be my final blessing, my beloved son, Mukunda! The hour is here when I must relate a number of phenomenal events following your birth. I first knew your destined path when you were but a babe in arms. I carried you then to the home of my guru in Banaras. Almost hidden behind a throng of disciples, I could barely see Lahiri Mahasaya as He sat in deep meditation. While I patted you, I was praying that the great guru take notice and bestow a blessing. As my silent devotional demand grew in intensity, He opened His eyes and beckoned me to approach. The others made a way for me; I bowed at the sacred feet. Lahiri Mahasaya seated you on His lap, placing His hand on your forehead by way of spiritually baptizing you. He said, little Mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, He will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.
The letter went on to tell of another experience she had in this regard where a strange spiritual master knocked on their front door one day. She was told that she would die soon. She was also told that a silver amulet would materialize in her hands during her meditation the following day. She was told to have her oldest son give this silver amulet to Paramahansa one year after her death. This would be the time when He would be ready to renounce all worldly hopes and endeavors. When it had served its purpose, it would just disappear again. (Everything occurred exactly as the spiritual master prophesied.)
As a youth, Yogananda’s ardor for God and the Himalayan Mountains was tremendous. In His autobiography He tells of many experiences meeting many of the great saints of India who had very miraculous powers. It was everything His family could do to prevent Him from leaving home and school. His high school graduation exams were coming and He was not prepared because of His total preoccupation with Godly matters.
He prayed to the Divine Mother for help. After the prayer, one of the brightest students in class offered to tutor Him. A day before the exam He realized he wasn’t prepared for his Sanskrit class. Walking to class that day, in the weeds He found two loose printed sheets of a Sanskrit verse. He had them interpreted and this poem helped Him to pass the exam the next day.
Shortly after this time, Yogananda was praying in anguish to find his guru. After much prayer and meditation, He heard the Divine Mother say, “Thy Master cometh today!” As He was walking through the street with a friend later that day, He saw a Christ like man in the robes of a swami. As He walked past, leaving the Swami behind He found He couldn’t walk. He could only walk if He walked back to the Swami.
In His autobiography He says, upon meeting the Swami, the Swami said, “O my own, you have come to me! How many years I have waited for you!” The Swami, of course, was the great God realized yogi, Sri Yukteswar Giri, the disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. Sri Yukteswar was a strict disciplinarian in His particular style of teachings. Only truly committed disciples stuck with Him for this reason. The fruits gained by those who stuck with it were very great. Even Sri Yukteswar said that Yogananda’s style would be much more loving and less severe than His own.
Yogananda, at first, battled with Sri Yukteswar a little bit. Yogananda made a deal with Him. He told Sri Yukteswar that He would completely surrender and do whatever He was told, no matter what, as long as Sri Yukteswar promised to reveal God to Him. Sri Yukteswar finally agreed.
One of Sri Yukteswar’s first commands was that Yogananda go back to college. Yogananda agreed although He very much disliked world schooling. Sri Yukteswar told Him that He would be going to the West, where college degrees would give Him more credibility in His future mission. Sri Yukteswar then initiated Him into the spiritual science of Kriya Yoga.