By Virginia Iversen
Paramahansa Yogananda was a very well-known and beloved Indian guru who first introduced many westerners to the esoteric teachings and practices of Kriya Yoga. The ultimate goal of Kriya Yoga is to reach God realization. Yogananda was born in 1893 in a small town in Northern India to a devoted Kshatriya family. From a very early age, he was deeply spiritual. His brother, Sananda, has relayed many stories about Yogananda’s profound longing for a teacher and his many spiritual experiences. Yogananda’s deeply held spiritual belief was that all of life on this earth is but a dream. That our world is, in essence, a dream inside a dream, and that our only goal in life is find God and to merge with the divine.
Yogananda relayed many of his spiritual experiences throughout his lifetime in his extraordinary accounting of the stages of his spiritual unfolding in the seven hundred page book, “Autobiography of a Yogi.” If you are on the Yogic path, this is one of the most highly recommended books about the practice of sadhana and the deepening experience of merging with God. If you do read “Autobiography of a Yogi,” the footnotes themselves contain almost as much esoteric wisdom as the text proper. Yogananda was a firm believer in experiencing God directly, outside of the context of any organized religion, through the innate power of intuition. He also taught that much of humankind’s suffering comes from a primary misidentification with our current and transitory roles, instead of with the eternal presence of God.
One of the most beautiful accounts of Yogananda in this book is his experience of meeting his own guru. At the age of 17, after several years of longing and searching for a teacher whom he could call his own, Yogananda was introduced to Swami Shri Yukteswar Giri in 1910. Yogananda recalled his meeting with Swami Giri as a profound soul-to-soul knowing that was permeated by silence. In this meeting, Yogananada recounted that, “The obscuration of this lifetime disappeared into a fragile dawn of prenatal memories.” Yogananda felt a supremely divine connection to Swami Giri as his guru from many previous lifetimes. In fact, Yogananda exclaimed at their first meeting: “This was not the first sun to find me at these holy feet!” The sacred recognition between the two men was immediate and lasted a lifetime.
Yogananda spent over thirty years in the United States sharing his profoundly uplifting spiritual wisdom and blessings during countless spiritual discourses. He came to the United States initially as India’s delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals that was being held in Boston in 1920. In 1924, Yogananda embarked on a cross-country teaching tour of America. Thousands attended his lectures. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920 in order to share his teachings. The headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship are located in Los Angeles, California, where his students continue to disseminate his teachings to this day.
© Copyright 2012 – Virginia Iversen – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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