Biography of Paramahansa Yogananda

Biography of Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda (January 5, 1893- March 7, 1952), born as Mukunda Lal Ghosh, was an Indian yogi and Guru who introduced the teachings of Kriya Yoga to millions of people in the west through his organization Yogoda Satsanga Society and Self-Realization Fellowship. In 1946 he published the book “Autobiography of a Yogi”, which is on the San Francisco Harper’s list of the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th century. This book constantly experiences new editions as “a work that has changed the lives of millions”.

Yogananda was born into a family of students of Lahiri Mahasaya. He showed an interest in spirituality since his earliest childhood, and in his youth he searched for his Guru among many saints and spiritual figures of that time. When he was 17, he met his spiritual teacher, Sri Yukteswar. Sri Yukteswar later told him that it was him who was the long-awaited disciple that Babaji had promised to come. On the other hand, Yogananda had the intense spiritual experience of being a disciple of his Guru in many previous incarnations as well.

As far as formal education is concerned, Swami Yogananda graduated from Scottish Church College, Calcutta in 1915. In the same year, he was initiated into the monastic order of Swami and was given the name Swami Yogananda Giri. He founded a school for boys in 1917 where he combined modern educational methods with traditional yoga techniques. This school later became Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, the Indian branch of Yogananda’s American Self-Realization Fellowship.

Yogananda traveled to America in 1920 as the Indian representative at International Congress of Religious Liberals, which was held in Boston. In the same year, he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and in the following years he gave numerous lectures throughout America. He spent most of his life in America, from 1920 to 1952, with one break from 1935 to1936, when he traveled to India to visit his Guru and help establish the Indian branch of his organization. On that occasion, he initiated Mahatma Gandhi into Kriya Yoga and met Anandamayi Ma. During this visit, his Guru gave him the title of Paramahansa, which signifies the highest spiritual achievement. While Yogananda was visiting Calcutta, his teacher entered Mahasamadhi.

When he returned to America in 1936, Yogananda continued to teach, write, and establish centers on the West Coast. He has spent the last few years in isolation, surrounded only by a group of closest students. In those years, he began to announce that it was time for him to leave this world. He left the world arena on March 7, 1952.

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We are all leaves, flowers
And fruits
On the different religion-branches
Of the birthless and deathless

(Sri Chinmoy)

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