Paramahansa Yogananda (5 January 1893 – 7 March 1952), born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. He is considered one of the preeminent spiritual figures of modern times.
Author of the best-selling spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, this beloved world teacher came to America in 1920 from his native India, and was the first great master of yoga to live and teach in the West for an extended period (more than 30 years). He is now widely recognized as the Father of Yoga in the West. He founded Self-Realization Fellowship (1920) and Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (1917), which continue to carry on his spiritual legacy worldwide under the leadership of Sri Mrinalini Mata, one of his closest disciples.
Paramahansa Yogananda has profoundly impacted the lives of millions with his comprehensive teachings on:
- the science of Kriya Yoga meditation,
- the underlying unity of all true religions,
- the art of balanced health and well-being in body, mind, and soul.
In the days leading up to his death, Yogananda began hinting that it was time for him to leave the world.
On 7 March 1952, he attended a dinner for the visiting Indian Ambassador to the US, Binay Ranjan Sen, and his wife at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. At the conclusion of the banquet, Yogananda spoke of India and America, their contributions to world peace and human progress, and their future cooperation, expressing his hope for a “United World” that would combine the best qualities of “efficient America” and “spiritual India.” According to an eyewitness – Daya Mata, a direct disciple of Yogananda, who was head of the Self-Realization Fellowship from 1955–2010 — as Yogananda ended his speech, he read from his poem My India, concluding with the words “Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God—I am hallowed; my body touched that sod.” “As he uttered these words, he lifted his eyes to the Kutastha center (the Ajna Chakra), and his body slumped to the floor.” Followers say that he entered mahasamadhi.
His funeral service, with hundreds attending, was held at the SRF headquarters atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles. Rajarsi Janakananda, the new president of the Self-Realization Fellowship, “performed a sacred ritual releasing the body to God.” Yogananda’s remains are interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Great Mausoleum (normally closed off to visitors but Yogananda’s tomb is accessible) in Glendale, California.
In 1917 Paramahansa Yogananda “began his life’s work with the founding of a ‘how-to-live’ school for boys, where modern educational methods were combined with yoga training and instruction in spiritual ideals.” In 1920 “he was invited to serve as India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. His address to the Congress, on ‘The Science of Religion,’ was enthusiastically received.” For the next several years he lectured and taught across the United States. His discourses taught of the “unity of ‘the original teachings of Jesus Christ and the original Yoga taught by Bhagavan Krishna.'”
In 1920 he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and in 1925 established in Los Angeles, California, USA, the international headquarters for SRF.
Yogananda wrote down his Aims and Ideals for Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society:
- To disseminate among the nations a knowledge of definite scientific techniques for attaining direct personal experience of God.
- To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort, of man’s limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness; and to this end to establish Self-Realization Fellowship temples for God-communion throughout the world, and to encourage the establishment of individual temples of God in the homes and in the hearts of men.
- To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.
- To point out the one divine highway to which all paths of true religious beliefs eventually lead: the highway of daily, scientific, devotional meditation on God.
- To liberate man from his threefold suffering: physical disease, mental inharmonies, and spiritual ignorance.
- To encourage “plain living and high thinking”; and to spread a spirit of brotherhood among all peoples by teaching the eternal basis of their unity: kinship with God.
- To demonstrate the superiority of mind over body, of soul over mind.
- To overcome evil by good, sorrow by joy, cruelty by kindness, ignorance by wisdom.
- To unite science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles.
- To advocate cultural and spiritual understanding between East and West, and the exchange of their finest distinctive features.
- To serve mankind as one’s larger Self.
Yogananda wrote the Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You and God Talks With Arjuna — The Bhagavad Gita’ to reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.
In his published work, The Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, Yogananda gives “his in-depth instruction in the practice of the highest yoga science of God-realization. That ancient science is embodied in the specific principles and meditation techniques of Kriya Yoga.” Yogananda taught his students the need for direct experience of truth, as opposed to blind belief. He said that “The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God.”
Echoing traditional Hindu teachings, he taught that the entire universe is God’s cosmic motion picture, and that individuals are merely actors in the divine play who change roles through reincarnation. He taught that mankind’s deep suffering is rooted in identifying too closely with one’s current role, rather than with the movie’s director, or God.
He taught Kriya Yoga and other meditation practices to help people achieve that understanding, which he called Self-realization:
Self-realization is the knowing – in body, mind, and soul – that we are one with the omnipresence of God; that we do not have to pray that it come to us, that we are not merely near it at all times, but that God’s omnipresence is our omnipresence; and that we are just as much a part of Him now as we ever will be. All we have to do is improve our knowing.
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Share on Skype (Opens in new window)
Subscribe to Blog via Email
“Lateef is a wonderful writer and spiritual leader. He is on a mission to bring spiritual guidance to the world through his books and website.”
“I had the opportunity to get to know Lateef as a member of the Atlanta Urban League Young Professionals. As President of this great organization, I had the opportunity to interact with active members of the organization. Lateef was a member that participated in many of the professional development workshops and always willing to assist and lead different activities. Lateef was a member that you can count on to make a difference and always be counted on for community service activities. It was a pleasure to have Lateef as an active member of the Urban League family.”
William Bryant JrPerformance Coach/External Consultant
“I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Mr. Warnick while attending Savannah State University. We were both members of the Navy ROTC Unit. I had the opportunity to being exposed to his great leadership, integrity & administrative ability.”
Rochelle Mack-TateSocial Worker
“Lateef is a pioneer and his work embodies the core of Jesuit/Ignatian spirituality: “Finding God in All Things.” While many of us will compartmentalize our professional and personal lives, Lateef is working to integrate supporting both individuals and groups to integrate every aspect of their lives so that each person is a channel for the divine.”
Frank DeVitoSpiritual & Educational Entrepreneur
“Lateef possesses a phenomenal intellect that has served him well in all endeavors.”
Capt Godfrey WeekesLand Attack Dept Officer
“I’ve known Lateef since we were students at Savannah State University. He and I served as midshipmen at the Universities’ Naval ROTC unit, where he served as a constant motivator for me and the other student leaders. Occasionally, Lateef would also tutor me on especially difficult mathematics concepts. Through his selfless dedication to me and the other NROTC midshipmen, Lateef displayed his caring leadership, attention to detail, tireless work ethic and dependability. Lateef is a real team player, leader and mentor. He would make an excellent member of any leadership team.”
Daniel KalsonProgram Specialist
“I am happy to recommend Lateef for any work that your organization needs. He is well versed at management issues, multi-talented, positive, energetic, and an excellent problem solver. His mind moves quickly and thinks of important solutions that will not only get the task done earlier but done in an innovative manner. Hire him today for any consulting projects in editorial, social media, or even engineering needs–he is well versed in many backgrounds!”
Tim KaviFreelance Writer
“Lateef Warnick promotes openness, diversity and tolerance, but more importantly the appreciation of good qualities in others. Paradoxical as it may sound, I think Lateef has managed to combine and connect his business and financial skills, and to some extent, his military training to create something much bigger, but also much more fundamental – a spiritual grounding! Lateef as a result of this spiritual wellness through his Concept YOUtopia & 1 S.O.U.L forum, encourages others to share their spiritual experiences, beliefs and insights thus promoting openness and diversity.”
“Lateef is an enthusiastic, friendly and qualified person whose energy is infectious. He knows what he wants and is willing to achieve that goal. He has a background of hard work and training and his ambition and discipline will not only achieve what he seeks but will help everyone he works with. He is destined for great things.”
Dr Derek LamarDirector
“Lateef is a self starter! He is definitely a man who wears many hats. Lateef is an accomplished author who has a special gift when it comes to motivating people. I am proud of the fact that I have crossed paths with such an outstanding individual.”
Fred Ogletree MBADirector
“Lateef is an amazing professional. He operates with a very high work ethic putting in the time to provide consistently high quality. I most value his willingness to be flexible and do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Marlon AndrewsBusiness Management
“As a Christian, I’m a practitioner of Indian yoga and Buddhist mindfulness meditation. In addition, I’ve spent many years observing and participating in the ceremonies of the Ojibwe Uti and Lakota tribes. I’m also a lifelong student of comparative religion and philosophy. This gives me a good background to evaluate Lateef’s knowledge of spiritual disciplines like Yoga. He has a good overall knowledge of spiritual practices, metaphysics, new thought and mysticism. I believe his spiritual background and knowledge, as well as his previous Navy and business backgrounds, give him much insight and expertise to be the CEO of his current spiritual social network.”
Randy KempB2B Technology Writer