Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh; January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952) was an Indian monk, yogi and guru who lived his last 32 years in America. He introduced millions to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India. A chief disciple of the Bengali yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, he was sent by his lineage to spread the teachings of yoga to the West, to prove the unity between Eastern and Western religions and to preach a balance between Western material growth and Indian spirituality. His long-standing influence in the American yoga movement, and especially the yoga culture of Los Angeles, led him to be considered by yoga experts as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”
Yogananda was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House (by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927);his early acclaim led to him being dubbed “the 20th century’s first superstar guru,” by the Los Angeles Times. Arriving in Boston in 1920, he embarked on an successful transcontinental speaking tour before settling in Los Angeles in 1925. For the next two and a half decades, he gained local fame as well as expanded his influence worldwide: he created a monastic order, went on teaching-tours, bought properties for his organization in various California locales, and initiated thousands into Kriya Yoga. By 1952, SRF had over 100 centers in both India and the US; today, they have groups in nearly every major American city. His “plain living and high thinking” principles attracted people from all backgrounds among his followers.
He published his book Autobiography of a Yogi in 1946 to critical and commercial acclaim; since its first publishing, it has sold over four million copies, with HarperSan Francisco listing it as one of the “100 best spiritual books of the 20th Century”. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had ordered 500 copies of the book for his own memorial, for each guest to be given a copy. The book has been regularly reprinted and is known as “the book that changed the lives of millions.”. A 2014 documentary, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, won multiple awards at film festivals around the world.
Kriya (Raja) Yoga is one of the four classical paths to realisation along with Karma (Selfless service), Bhakti (love and devotion) and Jnana Yoga (commonly practiced through the study of Advaita Vedanta or other nondual texts. Yogananda touches upon non duality and self-inquiry later in the chapter.
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Audio Clips used in this film – ‘The Science of Kriya Yoga’ from ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. Published by the Self Realisation Fellowship and Narrated by Ben Kingsley.
Video Clips used in this film taken from:
Awake: The Life of Yogananda Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Documentary HD. Video URL: Channel: Movieclips Indie. Channel URL:
Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi Mini Documentary. Video URL: Channel: The Expanding Light Retreat. Channel URL:
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