Written by perhaps Paramhansa Yogananda’s most candid disciple, this colorful biography invites all truth-seekers to “tune-in” to the yoga master’s living legacy. Swami Kriyananda’s writing boldly captures Yogananda’s life, work and illumined state via intimate stories and personal experiences. Compared to the Autobiography of a Yogi’s portrayal of incredible saints and scientific yoga teachings, this unique biography conveys the spirit of Yogananda’s powerful presence, his expectations for the future of his work and his wishes for humanity.
This book will thrill anyone desiring a direct look at Yogananda’s personality, spiritual magnitude, his immense influence upon western civilization and ambitious spiritual world-mission. Yogananda was rarely forthcoming in his autobiography about his own greatness and spiritual power. In this respect, Kriyananda does a tremendous complement to his Guru’s work, clarifying and putting into perspective the thoughts, words and deeds of one of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders during the first half of the 20th century.
Included are rare accounts of Yogananda’s youth, revealing the child-saint’s propensity for heartfelt mischief, deep meditation and miraculous acts. Stories include pranks Yogananda played on those critical of his spiritual fervor and discipline, such as the time he fastened a disrespectful cook’s hand to a wall using sheer willpower, instantly earning his respect. Another time, he dropped dead at the family breakfast table, only to rise hours later in order to tease those who had been rebuking his “excessive” yoga practice. Kriyananda displays these incidents vividly, to refute those doubting the authenticity of Yogananda’s incredible life, and so that those who never knew the master personally are still able to establish a deep personal connection with him.
Kriyananda’s portrait is uncompromising and complete—a rare depiction of the actions and essence of a spiritual avatar, or fully enlightened being. Readers will discover a rich tapestry of anecdotes, quotes and experiences illustrating Yogananda’s quest to bring the best of India’s spiritual heritage to the west.
I was touched by the urgent and relevant tone with which Kriyananda explains Yogananda’s legacy: his yoga teachings, call for a cooperative communities movement, educational ideals and perspectives on important topics like health, religion, government, war, business, balanced living and right attitude. He not only conveys Yogananda’s stances on the subjects, but also their relevance today. Kriyananda masterfully weaves together inspiration, practical lessons and expansive principles in a way that left me feeling deeply aware of my own responsibility and potential to follow in Yogananda’s footsteps.
The author’s own life and selfless service models a need for all to participate in the wave of global upliftment in which Paramhansa Yoganada himself was only the cusp. Swami Kriyananda found Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi in 1948; he took a bus from New York to Los Angeles shortly after reading the book to become his student. While Yogananda was alive, Kriyananda helped him with a massive editing project—a new translation of India’s epic, the Bhagavad Gita. After Yogananda’s death, Kriyananda went on to found Ananda, and other intentional, cooperative communities, to help fulfill Yogananda’s dream for “world brotherhood colonies.”
Swami Kriyananda was one of several students who came to Yogananda late in the master’s life. Many of these latter disciples would go on to pioneer small communities, yoga centers and programs that expanded upon Yogananda’s teachings. Individuals today making similar kinds of pioneering efforts, working to initiate positive change in the world, will find invaluable aid and encouragement from this great work. Ultimately, Kriyananda says, the legacy of a master like Yogananda lies not with any individual, organization or teaching, but in a universal effort to uplift all of humankind.
Author/educator Kamran Matlock is a teacher at Ananda’s Living Wisdom Schools. He writes for Wordjourneys.com and The Legacy Series commemorative publications about progressive education, culture and consciousness. His education blog is at Kamranmatlock.wordpress.com.