“Why a biography of Paramhansa Yogananda, when he himself wrote a world-famous account of his own life in the book Autobiography of a Yogi? The answer is, quite simply, that he wrote his book in a spirit of such humility that the reader could only intuit the author ‘s spiritual greatness from his perfect attitude toward every life situation.”
This book will thrill the millions of readers of Yogananda’s autobiography with scores of new stories from Yogananda’s life—some charmingly human, some deeply inspiring, and many recounting miracles equal to those of the Bible. These stories are told from first-hand experience, and bring the Master alive unlike any other book ever written about him.
Now, Swami Kriyananda brilliantly puts to rest many misconceptions about his great guru, and reveals Yogananda’s many-sided greatness. The author’s profound grasp of the purpose of Yogananda’s life, his inner nature, and his plans for the future are revelatory and sublime. Included is an insider’s portrait of the great teacher’s last years. More than a factual biography, this book also outlines the great master’s key teachings. Feel the power of Paramhansa Yogananda’s divine consciousness and his impact on the world as presented with clarity and love by one of his few remaining direct disciples.
This book takes up where Yogananda’s celebrated Autobiography of a Yogi leaves off. Never before has the life of this beloved yoga master been placed so beautifully in perspective. Written by one of Yogananda’s close and direct disciples, the great master’s life-image is lovingly framed and highlighted as Swami Kriyananda offers illuminating insights into his guru’s experiences, and his life work and teachings. Including new perspectives on stories told by Yogananda in his autobiography, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography should find a place beside that classic on the shelves of all who are inspired by this great world teacher.
“I feel that this book will move as many as Yogananda’s own Autobiography of a Yogi, and that millions will find inspiration in its pages.”
- Rihard Salva, author of Walking with William of Normandy
Paramhansa Yogananda is one of the best-known spiritual teachers of the 20tI century. His Autobiography of a Yogi, published in 1946 and printed in more than 20 languages, has touched the hearts of millions and remains the best-selling spiritual autobiography of all time.
Swami Kriyananda is a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, trained by the great Indian master to spread the life-transforming teachings of Kriya Yoga around the globe. He is widely considered one of the world’s foremost experts on meditation, yoga, and spiritual practice, having authored more than 100 books on these subjects.
Kriyananda is the founder of Ananda Sangha, a worldwide organization committed to the dissemination of Yogananda’s teachings. In 1968 he founded Ananda World Brotherhood Village, the first spiritual cooperative community based on Yogananda’s vision of “world brotherhood colonies.” Today Ananda includes nine spiritual communities in the U.S., Europe, and India, and over 100 meditation groups worldwide.
by Shri D.R. Kaarthikeyan
positions held in India: Director. Central Bureau of Investigation; Director General National Human Rights Commission; Special Director General Central Reserve Police Force
Autobiography of a Yogi is the most celebrated autobiography of all time. It was written by one of the great and all-too-rare spiritual masters that appear from time to time to bless our earth. This biography of Paramhansa Yogananda by his favourite disciple may become equally popular.
It is most fitting that this biography should be written by the master’s most celebrated direct disciple—J. Donald Walters—who is now widely known in the world as Swami Kriyananda. Walters met his Master in 1948, after reading Autobiography of a Yogi. He has continued to be his loyal disciple for over six decades. This book was born of firsthand knowledge. It is not, as the author himself states, a book of hagiography. In other words, it contains solid facts, not fulsome praise.
Every chapter—indeed, every page makes absorbing reading. The reader feels he is sitting with Swami Kriyananda, listening to him narrate his personal experiences in the most natural way. In one unusual chapter, number 17, Swami Kriyananda describes beautifully the Salient Characteristics and qualities of his Master, citing many real episodes from his life.
As Swami Kriyananda himself says, “One reason I am writing this book on Yogananda’s life is to set the record straight on the greatest man I have ever known, and known well (at least outwardly), in my life.” I heartily recommend this book to all readers. Further than that, I can do no better than quote a few passages from the book itself.
“The foremost of all such qualities was his [Yogananda’s] concern for the upliftment of all mankind, and his ever blissful outlook on life. He wanted nothing from others except their own highest happiness.”
“My guru, as an avatar, had both a qualitative and a quantitative work to do. Seeing my own zeal for bringing everyone in the world to God, he had assigned me to this kind of activity also, in addition to my own meditations. ‘Your duty in this life,’ he told me, ‘will be one of intense activity, and meditation.’ I could not help noting that he had put activity first, even before meditation.”
“Toward the end of his life, Master said to a group of us monks, ‘Respect one another, as you respect me.” “People are a very important part of any life of spiritual service. Our first duty is to love and respect them, as images of God.” “The world will become a better place, because he lived.” In short, I believe this book—of the more than 140 books he has authored—will be widely welcomed throughout the world.
Why a biography of Paramhansa Yogananda, when he himself wrote a world-famous account of his own life in the book, Autobiography of a Yogi? The answer is, quite simply, that he wrote his book in a spirit of such humility that the reader could only intuit the author’s spiritual greatness from his perfect attitude toward every life situation, I myself read Autobiography of a Yogi in 1948, and was so overwhelmed by that perfection that I took the next bus across the country: New York to Los Angeles. I had already been seeking God almost desperately. The first words I addressed to Yogananda when we met were, “I want to be your disciple.” He accepted me at that very meeting, and I was blessed to live with him as a close disciple for the last three and a half years of his life.
Will this book be a hagiography (the biography of a saint, often expressed in idealizing or idolizing terms)? That depends. I will spare no pains to share with you the very real greatness that I beheld in my guru. But if, to you, hagiography implies a work of fulsome praise, filled with glowing adjectives and numerous legends that might more properly be assigned to the category of myth, then this work will definitely not be such. I will share with you what I know, what I heard from the Master’s own lips (yes, he was indeed a spiritual master, and he himself would never use that word lightly), what I myself experienced, and what I sincerely believe because I heard it from others who were close to him, and whose words were, in my opinion, believable.
The advantage of this book is that it will be written from first hand knowledge. I am nor a historian. No doubt real historians will get into the act someday, as the world-impact of Yogananda’s life becomes increasingly known to the world. This book will lack the historian’s perspective, but it will be much more intimate than anything he could offer.
My sincere opinion is that Yogananda’s life will have a major impact on the world—that, indeed, it will change the very course of history. I hope by the end of my account to have convinced you that I have at least sound cause for this belief.
I will not repeat here stories that appear in Autobiography of a Yogi, though I may refer to some of them. I omit them because the charm with which Yogananda tells them deserves to stand alone: To retell them would be to do him an injustice. There are many other stories, however, that never found their way into his book—stories about himself that he would not tell publicly because he couldn’t, and simply wouldn’t, speak glowingly about himself. Indeed, although his book was an autobiography, it was in some ways almost more about other people than about himself. His book, too, is mostly a book of reminiscences about others.
The purpose of this book, then, is to tell you how Yogananda was perceived by others, and especially by me. I want to show you that Paramhansa Yogananda’s life was much more than that of a humble devotee who had had the good luck to meet many great saints, and to “stumble,” so to speak, onto the highest levels of realization. The truth is, not every devotee, on entering the spiritual path, can expect to be blessed with anything like such lofty spiritual experiences!
Yogananda was a towering giant among saints—one of those few who come from age to age, having been sent by God with the divine mission of guiding mankind out of the fogs of delusion into the clear light of divine understanding. In the best-known Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita (“The Lord’s Song”), the statement appears, “O Bharata (Arjuna)! ‘Whenever virtue (dharma, or right action) declines and vice (adharma, or wrong action) is in the ascendant, I (the Supreme Lord) incarnate Myself on earth (as an avatar, or divine incarnation). Appearing from age to age in visible form, I come to destroy evil, and to reestablish virtue.” (IV:7,8) I might add that this is not the first time that this great soul, whom we know as Paramhansa Yogananda, appeared on earth.
Often and often he told us, “I killed Yogananda many lifetimes ago. No one dwells in this temple now but God.” And the incredible depth of his compassion for suffering mankind is evident in these lines from a poem he wrote, named, “God’s Boatman”:
Oh! I will come back again and again! Crossing a million crags of suffering, With bleeding feet, I will come, If need be , a trillion times, As long as I know that One stray brother is left behind.
That compassion is what I saw in his eyes every time I gazed into them deeply. It was no mere sentiment. It was the expression of his soul, as he reached out with yearning to help everyone who came to him with a desire to be lifted toward final liberation in God.
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