It is simply not possible to accurately convey the debt we all owe to Paramahansa Yogananda, India’s sage, America’s beacon of a new dawn.
In Lawrence, Kansas circa 1969, in the months following the Woodstock Festival, I was much enthralled with Bob, a tall hippy with a bushy halo of hair straight from the HAIR poster. Interestingly enough, Bob was often seen about the White House and Rock Chalk Cafe with a copy of AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, tucked under his arm. This book oozed power, like an Egyptian Ankh draped in ochre. I was hooked.
I waited several months, savoring the expectation that when I read Autobiography my world would never be the same.
It wasn’t, hasn’t and won’t.
Unlike Lobsang Rampa, actually Cyril Henry Hoskin, who began his exotic tales of Tibetan lamas with a solemn pledge that all he was about to tell was true, Yogananda makes no such commitment. He just launches into his mystic, out of this world and into the next, life adventure with the casual air of a Sunday stroll.
Who hasn’t read of Babaji and wished to scurry off to the Himalayas?
Yoganada still continues to teach us the original secret law of attraction through the many publications and audio/video material available through the Self-Realization Fellowship.
Atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles is an old estate that is now home to the SRF. When Yogananda passed the property in 1925 he insisted upon entering the grounds although there was no indication the property was for sale. “This feels like home,” he told his companions.
He invited students to a dedication ceremony before the purchase agreement was complete. He then refused to sign it certain he could get a better price. He did, $45,000 contingent upon a closing within three months, paid in full. His students were horrified, “Why, it would take you twenty years to raise that sum”, one said. His answer, “If you think, twenty years, it will take twenty years. If you think three months, it will take three months.” Even the day before the deadline the group was short $5,000, but Yogananda calmly insisted the Divine Mother meant for the estate to be their home, as it still is.
According to Daya Mata, “Yogananda – as a delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston – had arrived in America in 1920 to undertake the mission given him by a line of enlightened masters in India: to spread worldwide the ancient soul-science of yoga meditation, and (as he expressed in the Aims and Ideals of Self-Realization Fellowship) to ‘reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna: to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.’ The fulfillment of this sacred responsibility was his lifelong endeavor – beginning with classes in Boston in his first years in this country and continuing with ever newly expressed inspiration to the last days before his passing more than thirty years later.”
Daya Mata, was born January 31st, 1914 in Salt Lake City, Utah, as Rachel Faye Wright. Her family was among the earliest and most prominent Mormons, her grandfather designed the Mormon Tabernacle Church. She met Yogananda when she was 17 and quickly became a close disciple. Her sister Virginia (Ananda Mata) joined her soon after. Together they sat at typewriters and took dictation as Yogananda dictated his many works including Autobiography of a Yogi. Daya Mata went on to become president of the Self Realization Fellowship until her death in 2010.
Yogananda was a powerful inspiration to George Harrison who gave a copy of Autobiography to Gary Wright who in turn wrote and dedicated his hit song Dream Weaver to Yogananda. Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya and everyone’s favorite from Autobiography of a Yogi, Babaji all appear on the cover of the Beatles 1967 classic Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Babaji was also pictured prominently on George’s 1974 solo album Dark Horse.
When I lived in LA in the later 70’s, at the base of Mt. Washington, I worked nights. In the early dawn, my German Sheppard-Husky, Christy and I would traverse the coyote infested arroyo and visit the estate. Sitting in the meditation room where Yogananda led his yearly Christmas Day retreat was a love supreme, the faces of old friends; Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, Babaji and Jesus before me.
“To possess God is to own the universe. If the ear is pulled, the head comes with it.” Yogananda
My relationship with Jesus is forever shaped by the power of Yogananda’s pure vision. His book The Second Coming of Christ is a must read for all seekers.
It was a singular task given to Yoganada by his guru Sri Yukteswar to prepare the Christian community for the present incarnation of Babaji by presenting the Gospel message in a fresh Himalayan light. Breathe it, bathe in it, sing it as the master would have us do.
“Sing songs that none have sung,Think thoughts that ne’er in brain have rung. Walk in paths that none have trod. Weep tears as none have shed for God. Give peace to all to whom none other gave. Claim him your own who’s everywhere disclaimed. Love with all, love that none have felt. And brave the battle of life with strength unchained.” Yogananda
Have a nice, Oh Happy Day!
DREAMWEAVER by Gary Wright, dedicated to Yogananda
I’ve just closed my eyes eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take away my worries of today
And leave tomorrow behind.