The Bigger Picture Of Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography

Recently, presenters and attendees from throughout the world gathered at The Expanding Light Retreat at Ananda Village for the Yuga Cycles of Time & Our Awakening Consciousness conference. Throughout the weekend, the conference focused on our current time of accelerating energy, magnetism and awareness — known as Dwapara Yuga, “The Age of Energy” — and the ways in which we can utilize the lessons of ancient wisdom to move forward.

Among the featured speakers was Swami Kriyananda, winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, a book published by Crystal Clarity Publishers. He spoke again on the book and its messages and implications in late June at the Ford Theater in Los Angeles, then enjoyed a very special question-and-answer session at the Biltmore Hotel — where Yogananda’s mahasamadhi, or conscious exit from his body, took place sixty years ago last March.

Nearly a century ago, Paramhansa Yogananda became the first realized Indian yogi to move to America. After a decade of nearly incessant touring, he developed his work and mission from his Los Angeles headquarters. Yogananda’s work and his epic 1947 book, Autobiography of a Yogi, presaged and planted seeds for today’s busy yoga community, which includes 15 to 20 million practitioners.

But was there more? Was there a mission after Yogananda’s passing, which came in 1952? Swami Kriyananda has tirelessly continued Yogananda’s work for the 60 years since the master passed, with the understanding — given to him by Yogananda — that the path of self-realization is also the principal path of Dwapara Yuga. Briefly, the Indian sages divided the cycle of time into four periods, or yugas, coinciding with the Ancient Greeks’ knowledge of the gold, silver, bronze and iron ages. We are currently in ascending Dwapara Yuga, having moved upward from the darkest age, Kali Yuga, beginning in 1700. Dwapara is an age of energy, intense activity, growing awareness and consciousness.

At the Yuga Cycles Conference, Kriyananda elaborated on the way in which Yogananda sewed seeds for future growth with his disciples and in his works. He also emphasized, in both Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography and his talk, how Yogananda was by all means the avatar, or way-shower, of Dwapara Yuga for the western culture.

“I refer to Yogananda as the avatar of Dwapara Yuga. He’s showing a new way for ancient Indian teachings,” Kriyananda told a standing room-only crowd at the conference. “In Dwapara Yuga, religion will no longer be a matter of churches and sermons. It will be a matter of communion with God. Churches will be a part of this. Your Church is your body. Worship Him with spirit and truth in your own body. You have to experience truth. It’s not enough to dogmatize it.

“The religion of Dwapara Yuga, the mystical aspect of Dwapara Yuga, will be going within, taking everything in even-mindedly. It’s a matter of freeing the inner self to be even-minded and cheerful in all circumstances.”

In the book, Swami Kriyananda describes specific ideas Yogananda embraced for creating more spiritually-centered communities, education that emphasized the development of the entire student, and the central purpose of meditation and yoga in raising and coalescing the body’s vital energy in order to perform works befitting our times. While bits and pieces of Yogananda’s larger vision have made it into a variety of books, this is the first time it has been rolled out as a way of moving forward through the coming years, decades and centuries of Dwapara Yuga.

While many people will (justifiably) search Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography for the delicious and inspiring anecdotes that Kriyananda has saved for this life work, his 140th book, the larger view of this book is a good one to take: as a model of living and a source of deep inspiration in a time where consciousness, energy, awareness and magnetism are all increasing.

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