Paramahansa Yogananda Beloved Spiritual Teacher

Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced many westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. He is also responsible for bringing yoga to the attention of the West when he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920. In 1925, he established the International Self-Realization Fellowship to spread his message of yoga and spiritual unity around the world.

Paramahansa Yogananda

The life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda remain to this day a great source of inspiration throughout the world. His fame and recognition result from the fact that he became responsible for transmitting Indian spiritual teachings to the West.

Paramahansa Yogananda was determined to teach Kriya Yoga to the West in order to bring his knowledge to the world. But what exactly is it?

To get to know this master, it is important to know that kriya yoga is a very advanced spiritual technique that develops on the basis of a series of pranayana meditation practices.

The origin of the term kriya comes from Sanskrit and means to act and react. It has the same root as the word karma, defined as cause and effect. The full term, kriya yoga, means union with infinity through certain practices or actions.

Educated from an early age in this spiritual science, Paramahansa Yogananda was designated as a child as the chosen one to bring this ancestral knowledge to the Western world. A mission to which he devoted his training and the work of his entire life.

His early years

He was born in 1893 in Gorakhpur, into a wealthy Bengali family. Already in the arms of his mother, the spiritual master of his parents predicted that the child would be a yogi called to be the spiritual motor of many souls.

At seventeen, he became a disciple of the great yoga master Swami Sri Yukteswar. With him, he will spend the next ten years of his life training in his spiritual discipline.

His teacher had decided, from their first meeting, that Paramahansa Yogananda would be responsible for spreading the science of Kriya Yoga in America and the rest of the world. He therefore graduated from the University of Calcutta, and took the vows of a monk.

In 1917 he began work on founding a boys’ school outside Calcutta. It was there, three years later, that Paramahansa Yogananda had a vision which showed him that the time had come to undertake his task on the other side of the world and teach the West the keys of meditation. Yogananda then attended a conference of religious leaders in Boston.

Paramahansa Yogananda and his mission in the West

His teacher had told him that the science of kriya yoga would help to harmonize all countries through a personal and transcendental perception of the world. With this premise, the young swami arrived in Boston, where he delivered his first discourse on the science of religion. His speech was received with great enthusiasm.

In 1920, coinciding with the year of his arrival in the United States, he founded the first SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship) meditation center in Boston. He spent the next four years lecturing and sharing his teachings on the East Coast. In 1924 he traveled to Los Angeles, where he established another headquarters for the SRF. This headquarters, built on Mount Washington, would eventually become the spiritual and administrative heart of his work.

Many personalities from the worlds of art, business and science became his students. The West also began to absorb his wisdom. He was even welcomed at the White House. In 1929 he traveled to Mexico to begin his work there in spreading the science of Kriya Yoga in Latin America.

Return to India and final years

In 1935, Paramahansa Yogananda decided to return to his teacher Sri Yukteswar’s side. The latter died a few months later. During his stay in India, he continued his Kriya yoga teachings in the big cities. He often met Mahatma Gandhi, who became one of his followers.

It was during this year in India that he received the spiritual title of Paramahansa. This title is given to teachers who are in the final state of union with God. It means “supreme swan”. Upon the death of his teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda returned to the United States, specifically to his headquarters on Mount Washington. He then opened other temples and continued to teach kriya yoga for the rest of his life.

He spent the last years of his life in isolation and devoted himself to writing. In 1946 he published Autobiography of a Yogi, a book which was printed and translated into countless languages. This indicates to us his great impact and the interest that his knowledge aroused – and continues to arouse -.

Paramahansa Yogananda died on March 7, 1952. His disciples say it was a conscious exit from his body, which remained intact for twenty days after his death. An extraordinary phenomenon that ends up enveloping and generating the legend of this great spiritual master.

Some groundbreaking lessons

The purpose of Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings was to provide people with the spiritual tools for the transition to the new era, the Duapara Yuga. His most revolutionary teachings, in the Western world, were based on the fact that man must awaken from the sleep in which he lives to realize his unity with God.

It is not an a priori belief, but an a posteriori one. In other words, Yogananda’s teachings were meant to bring us closer to knowledge, to truth. And it is only through intuition and wisdom that God can be reached.

The daily practice of meditation introduced to the United States by Paramahansa Yogananda is to internalize prana or life force. In short, he transmitted a series of teachings totally unknown and unpublished in the West, as well as the notions of karma and reincarnation.

A life devoted to spirituality and a legacy that has brought together, in a way, two worlds that seem distant and incompatible. The West adopted his wisdom, welcomed it and embraced it in order to learn from the master.

Paramahansa Yogananda left us some of the most interesting and powerful teachings of his culture. Teachings that even today continue to conquer and are very useful.

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Vogue Health Team


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