Yogananda, Paramahansa (1893-1952)

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Yogananda, Paramahansa (1893-1952)

An early Indian spiritual teacher who visited and taught in Western countries and who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakpur, near Calcutta, on January 5, 1893. He manifested psychic powers as a child. As a youth he was fascinated by the holy men of India and visited many of them. Shortly after graduating from high school, he was initiated by Swami Yukteswar in the spiritual lineage of Swami Babaji, a legendary Himalayan master. He graduated from college in 1914. While in college he took the vows of a sannyasin, to live the renounced life, and was given his religious name, Yogananda, meaning the bliss (ananda) of yoga.

Yukteswar encouraged Yogananda to come to the West, and he traveled to Boston in 1920, ostensibly to speak at a conference, where he taught a system of yoga deriving basically from the classic text Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He also developed his own variety of kriya yoga, involving withdrawal of life energy from outward affairs to inner spiritual centers (basically a form of kundalini yoga).

Yogananda remained in the United States after the 1920 conference and several years later founded the Yogoda Sat-sang, which was incorporated in 1935 as the Self-Realization Fellowship. He wrote books and a correspondence course that attracted a number of pupils to him. He laid great emphasis on the reconciliation of Hinduism with Christian teachings and established the "Church of All Religions."

Yogananda passed into mahasamadhi (the great sleep of death) in 1952, but his body is said to have remained free from decay for 20 years afterward. Among his last accomplishments was the writing of his Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), which was widely influential in attracting Americans to Eastern religion. He was also the teacher of Donald Walters, founder of the Ananda Church of Self-Realization, and Roy Eugene Davis, now head of the Church of the Christian Spiritual Alliance.


Yogananda, Swami Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.

. The Divine Romance. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1986.

. Metaphysical Meditation. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1960.

. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Yogoda Sat-Sanga Society of America, 1928.

. Whispers of Eternity. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Publishing House, 1944.

Yogānanda, Paramahamsa

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Yogānanda, Paramahamsa (1893–1952). Founder of the Hindu Self-Realization Fellowship. Taking Yukteśvar as his guru, he went to lecture in the USA in 1920 and stayed there, founding a Yoga Institute in Los Angeles in 1925. He travelled extensively, extending the Fellowship, and advocating Kriyā-yoga, yoga based on practical efforts. His own account is in Autobiography of a Yogi (1946).