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Going Within, Right Now: The Mission of Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography

Sometimes, we wait and wait for a book to come out, wondering if it ever will, even questioning what an author is thinking by not writing it. Seems that once again, divine timing and Yogananda’s guiding spirit led Swami Kriyananda to write and present Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography at the best possible time — when its message was most needed by souls trying to find greater peace and spiritual growth in a trying world climate that is making both difficult.

This summer of 2012 certainly has fueled the arguments of end-of-the-world theorists and global warming experts. We’ve seen record heat, record drought, record crop failure, probable record fires, terrible wars in Afghanistan and Syria, political and social divisiveness in our country, a “recovery” from the recession that feels to some more like trudging through quicksand, and other trials and tribulations from all corners of the world. How can we attain, expand and spread love, peace and divine union in such an apparently deteriorating environment?

During the 1930s, Paramhansa Yogananda asked and answered a similar question in Los Angeles and Encinitas. At that time, the ominous clouds of war and tyranny increased out of Germany and Japan and this nation suffered from – you guessed it –extreme weather, economic depression and wholesale crop failures caused by the Dust Bowl that wiped out agriculture in the Great Plains.

Yet, what are all of these events but stark reminders that our greater joy and happiness must always come from within, from our connection to God and the greater reality of our divine heritage? Or that ultimately, the only environment that will bring us joy is the one within our hearts and souls? How do we find a place of harmony with all life, when our loved ones are being taken from us, our environment and homes are being flooded or burned away, or the noisiness of a contentious society taxes our minds and emotions and makes it harder to enjoy quiet serenity?

The current natural, political and social events give all the more reason why Swami Kriyananda’s next two public events, in Portland and the San Francisco Bay area, will be especially significant. He will be showcasing his acclaimed, award-winning book, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, at both events. On August 30, he will appear at Portland’s Newmark Theater to talk about the crucial topic of Living in Harmony with Life. Two weeks later, on September 16, he will appear at Smithwick Theater on the campus of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills to present Paramhansa Yogananda: The Untold Story.

If you have not heard Swami speak, either at all or recently, these are two talks that bear attending. He will speak of his direct experience with Yogananda, and cite passages from Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography that pertain to the topics at hand. He’s infused the book with more than 60 previously unpublished accounts, nearly all of which have direct life application. More than that, Swami Kriyananda will wrap the full extent of his nearly 65 years as a disciple of Yogananda around his collective audiences to show how the principles of harmony, detachment, abundant joy, purpose, prayer and meditation can be incorporated into their lives beginning the moment they leave the theater.

The talk in Los Altos Hills on September 16 will be a delight for anyone who wants to know more about the life of Paramhansa Yogananda. The Smithwick Theater audience will be filled with stories, surprises, some laughs, some tears, and plenty of inspiration. To wit: When Swami wrote Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, he brought out the part of the story Yogananda did not include in his landmark 1946 spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi — the direct lessons and impact Yogananda had on his disciples and the countless people whose lives changed through contact with the great guru. He also detailed what I thought was one of the most fascinating aspects of Yogananda’s mission and the book: Yogananda’s final years, when he wrote most of his material (some with Swami’s editing assistance) and counseled his closest disciples on how to move forward with the work.

That same sentiment applies to Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, and the purpose for Swami’s talks in Portland and Los Altos Hills. When we take today’s world events and overlay them with Yogananda’s guidance and wisdom, and Swami’s presentation of it, we will find simple steps and principles to take that will result in greater harmony, peace, love and joy in our hearts and lives.

Mukunda’s Amazing Meditation

This is one of my favorite stories in the biography. It’s an excerpt taken from Chapter 2 of the biography, where Yogananda (“Mukunda” in the story) is still a little boy, and plays a trick on his family after meditating for two days straight.

Mukunda’s meditations were not what one might expect of a little boy. For one thing, he would often meditate for long hours—seven, eight at a time. As he told me, “I would practice Hong-Sau (a meditation technique) for seven hours at a time, until I went breathless.” For another, he often had extraordinary visions.

He told himself, however, “Some day I must have a really long meditation. After all, what are seven or eight hours—out of a twenty-four hour day? Don’t people work that long merely to supply their material needs?”

One morning Mukunda awoke with the thought, “A whole year has passed. And still I haven’t fulfilled the promise I made to myself! Will a long meditation always wait until ‘tomorrow’? Why not today? Why not this very morning?”

He sat down for meditation. Forty-eight whole hours passed. To Mukunda, they seemed more like forty-eight minutes. During a part of that ecstatic period, his body rose above the ground in levitation.

At last he returned to the pandemonium of this bustling world: the sounds of servants at their household chores; the voices of family members in the rooms below; the hubbub of people’s voices in the streets, and the noise of traffic outside. This cacophony invaded his ears discordantly, though it could not disturb his inner peace. In the passageway to the kitchen he met the cook—the same one, perhaps, whose hand he had stuck to the wall. This faithful servant had for many years been suffering from a pain in his back. Mukunda touched him, and the man was instantly healed.

It was lunchtime. Mukunda’s family members were seated Indian fashion on straw mats around the dining room floor. They had paid scant attention to Mukunda’s absence of two days. They knew he liked to meditate, and left it at that.

Mukunda now joined them. While he ate, he was conscious of a transcendent detachment from everything. Looking up at one point, he noticed Bodi, the wife of Ananta (Mukunda’s older brother), regarding him curiously. Bodi, like Ananta, had never approved of what they both considered Mukunda’s “religious fanaticism.” Smiling inwardly, Mukunda thought, “Let me have a little fun with them all, especially with Bodi!”

Withdrawing his consciousness partially from the body, he returned a little bit to the complete inwardness he had experienced scarcely half an hour earlier. His body, suddenly deprived of energy, fell silently backward to the floor. Bodi uttered a frightened cry. Quickly she stepped over and felt his pulse. There was no heartbeat. The rest of the family, terrified, gathered around the inert form.

The family doctor, frantically summoned, requested that the boy’s body be carried to a couch. After careful examination, he pronounced the dreaded verdict: “He’s dead.”

Bodi looked around her solemnly. “This,” she declared, “is what comes of too much yoga practice!”

The rest of the family uttered loving encomiums for this dear child, now lost to them forever.

Present in the room was a maidservant who was much-loved by the family; they used to call her “Maid Ma.” Maid Ma had served them for many years with an almost motherly devotion. But she would sometimes argue hotly with Mukunda for bringing his friends to the house, in ever-increasing numbers. Now she added her encomiums to those of the rest.

“Alas! though it’s true he was mischievous, for all that he was a good boy.” Then, disconsolately, she cried, “O Bhagavan (Lord)! now I won’t have anyone to fight with anymore!”

Mukunda could contain himself no longer. “Oh, yes you will!” he cried.

“You!” shouted Maid Ma. “I knew you were only playing!” She picked up a broom and, in mock anger, threw it at him.

Summer Reading for Soul Progress: Crystal Clarity Publishers 2012

Every year, when summer approaches and the weather heats up, we often ask our friends or ourselves: “What’s on the summer reading list?” Obviously, the answers vary greatly, but the implication with summer reading is that it will be relaxing, entertaining … and, we’d like to hope, inspiring and motivating.

I love the summer reading cycle, because everything feels more relaxed, making it easier to absorb the authors’ stories, perspectives and insights in a deep, purposeful way. It is with the quest for depth, realization and higher purpose in mind that I find Crystal Clarity Publishers’ unofficial summer reading list for 2012 to be not only an exceptional collection of spiritual material, but also a selection of very well-written books that drive straight to our deepest souls and highest intellects.

For starters, be sure to read the book that just won the 2012 International Book Award for New Spirituality, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography by Swami Kriyananda. This exceptional biography features dozens of previously unpublished stories about Yogananda, fills in a lot of blanks from Yogananda’s final five years after the publication of Autobiography of a Yogi, and delineates how his vision and mission was carried out over the past 60 years by his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda. Every page is steeped in wisdom. You can read this quickly or slowly, for the experience or the deeper study of Yogananda’s words; I would recommend reading it both ways.

If you want to literally find yourself reworking mankind’s history and everything you have ever been taught in traditional history, geology, anthropology or mythology, read The Yugas by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz. This book is chock full of evidence-based examples that co-author Steinmetz spent more than 20 years gathering. His findings clearly indicate that, rather than our civilization being the most advanced in human history — as Darwin’s linear, evolutionary timeline indicates, we are really in a cyclical framework of time co-author Selbie calls “The New Renaissance,” moving into a more energetic and spiritual time. This book reads with the smoothness of a classic summer read, but will literally rock your world with its revelations. It’s fantastic.

Be sure to spend some time in the Yogananda Wisdom Series, the collection of six books featuring Paramhansa Yogananda’s writings and sayings. These simple books, all just over 100 pages, prompt many opportunities for introspection and reflection, which of course are the adult version of summer daydreaming (although daydreaming is very positive and creative, too!). The titles speak for themselves as to their applicability in life: Spiritual Relationships, How to Be a Success, Karma and Reincarnation, How to Be Happy All the Time, How to Have Calmness, Courage and Confidence, and the newest, How to Achieve Glowing Health and Vitality.

There’s a reading list that will not only add enjoyment to your summer, but likely transform aspects of your life as well. Best of all, you don’t have to search very far to find these titles! Order here, or from your favorite bookseller or online source. Let us know what you think of the books after you read them!

If you get through this checklist, and are looking for further material to complete your summer of deep inspiration, we invite you to re-read a pair of Crystal Clarity Publishers classics: The New Path and The Essence of Self-Realization. If you want to take these books back to their essence, then we invite you to order up or re-read the book that started it all, Autobiography of a Yogi.

See you at the beach … or lake … or beneath a tree, immersing in the presence of God while engaged in some great summer reading.

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.

Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography and the International Book Award

Click here to view the video trailer.

Last week, we received wonderful news: Swami Kriyananda’s book, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, won the International Book Award for Best New Spirituality Book.

Since we are in the middle of promoting this book for three major events directly ahead — the Yuga Cycles Conference at The Expanding Light Retreat, at which Swami Kriyananda spoke about aspects of the book on May 26 ; Book Expo America, which is June 5-7 in New York; and Kriyananda’s book appearance at the Ford Theater in L.A. on June 24 — my first response was, “Perfect timing!” Let’s face it: you can’t pay the New York Times Book Review for ads and receive more serendipitous timing.

Then I sat back and thought about what this book has meant in my life: as an author; an educator at Ananda College who utilizes the Education for Life method (which Kriyananda initiated); as someone who first welcomed Yogananda’s teachings (that merge essential Christianity and essential Vedic truths) into his life more than 30 years ago; and as one who counts among his dearest friends many deep and wise souls who live and work at Ananda Village in Northern California (which Kriyananda founded). Never mind my admiration for Kriyananda’s prolific nature; Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography is his 141st book. All of these books extend the yoga master’s teachings into the 21st century, and into every corner of our lives, societies, and communities. So for starters, the International Book Award serves as sort of a Lifetime Achievement Award for an incredible 86-year-old man who has given his entire adult life in service to God – and touched countless thousands of souls in the process (or millions, if you count the 4 million books he has sold).

When I contemplated how Yogananda’s teachings, Kriyananda’s books, and the many ways in which I have worked with Ananda over the past 23 years (including two stints at Crystal Clarity Publishers, 20 years apart), have helped define my life, I asked myself a question: Where would I be without them? There are all sorts of possible answers, but few – if any – will add up to anything close to the mixture of God, joy, creativity, nature, happiness and serviceful spirit that is part and parcel of my daily life.

Then there is the book itself. Many of you have probably read or heard about Autobiography of a Yogi, the book Yogananda wrote in 1947 that remains the best-selling spiritual autobiography of all time. It has changed countless lives; Kriyananda read it in 1948, dropped his life as he knew it, and took a bus to L.A., where, after one interview, Yogananda received him at his headquarters in L.A. In one sense, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography tells the rest of the story, one that, for whatever reason, only Kriyananda has been willing to share. For starters, there are more than 60 stories that have not appeared in Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda’s other works that he wrote in his lifetime, or in compilations that have appeared since. Secondarily, Kriyananda offers a bird’s eye view of Yogananda’s approaches to many different spiritual and everyday life situations, creating a glowing narrative of this God-realized man’s enormous compassion and strength that Yogananda was too humble to write himself. That’s what good biographers do.

But then Kriyananda reached out and touched everyone: he shared what Yogananda did the past few years of his life. Yogananda ended his public speaking engagements, each of which drew up to 7,000 people during the 1920s and 1930s, and wrote books and instructed his closest disciples to carry his mission forward. As one of his editors, and the leader of the monks, young Kriyananda belonged to that inner circle — and was tasked to get the word out. Yogananda had a mission and a vision for bringing souls and society into a future age where energy would accelerate, communication would become faster and more global, and spiritual magnetism would grow to become the law of the land. In the Vedic cycles of time, this is known as Dwapara Yuga. Yogananda envisioned and spoke of communities of like-minded souls (like Ananda), education that emphasized the inner as well as outer development of the student (like Education for Life), and lives lived simply, with complete devotion to God.

Here we are. Here, in my opinion, is why this book bears such significance that it claimed the International Book Award. It is also why I, as a multiple book author dedicated to focusing on the highest ideals and potentials of my Ananda College students, clients, friends and others, feel so honored to be working on the promotional team for Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography.

Finally, to Swami Kriyananda: Congratulations on a wonderful achievement. You have written 141 books in your life and helped provide deeper purpose and meaning to the lives of countless people … and now, the book world salutes you. To put it in one of your favorite languages, “Bravissimo!”

Yogananda’s Teachings for Today: An 11-Book Extravaganza

During the past 12 months, Crystal Clarity Publishers has embarked on a tremendous publishing mission to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the mahasamadhi, or conscious passing, of beloved Indian yoga master Paramhansa Yogananda: To present the most complete, 360-degree collection of works available pertaining to Yogananda, his work and the larger vision of his mission for these times. Building on a few already popular books published by Crystal Clarity, the idea was to expanding the offerings into a collection that provided all-encompassing value for readers and aspirants to a more purposeful and spiritual life.

Now, the greater work has come together in an outstanding collection of 11 books – many of them new in 2012 – that provide everything from deep spiritual truths to vital information for leading a spiritual life in an increasingly busy world. Written by Autobiography of a Yogi author Paramhansa Yogananda and his direct disciple of more than 60 years, Swami Kriyananda, these books merge India’s rich spiritual heritage with modern times through a combination of practical and profound discussions.

The 11 titles in the series include:
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. The reprint of the original 1947 classic, the top-selling spiritual autobiography of all-time.
Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, by Swami Kriyananda.
The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, by Paramhansa Yogananda, as explained to Swami Kriyananda.
The Essence of Self-Realization, conversations with Yogananda recalled by Swami Kriyananda.
The New Path, the acclaimed memoir by Swami Kriyananda, in which he shares his 60-plus year walk to fulfill the larger vision and mission of his guru, Yogananda.
• The Wisdom of Yogananda Series, a six-book collection featuring writings, sayings and lessons presented directly by Yogananda. Individual titles include: How to Be Happy All the Time, Karma and Reincarnation,Spiritual Relationships, How to Be a Success, How to Have Courage, Calmness and Confidence and How to Achieve Glowing Health and Vitality.

“Swami Kriyananda has spent the past 50 years writing the wisdom of Yogananda from the time and discussions he had with the yoga master,” Crystal Clarity Publisher Skip Barrett says. “These 11 books cover an incredible amount of ground, and also show Yogananda’s tremendous impact on the lives of millions, and of modern society, in a way that he could not show in Autobiography of a Yogi — because, in many ways, his work was just beginning when he wrote that book.”

These works bear witness to the flourishing of Paramhansa Yogananda’s mission to uplift humanity through a blending of eastern and western virtue. Kriyananda’s effort to make his Guru’s work accessible and more widely known have produced a definitive body of literature clearly expressing Yogananda’s insight, personal presence and wishes for humanity.

Paramhansa Yogananda’s most famous work, Autobiography of a Yogi, helped launched a spiritual revolution in the west. Crystal Clarity offers the original, unedited text, still resonant with the master yogi’s personal vibration—right down to his signature. Perhaps no other book has uplifted and expanded the consciousness of so many; it remains the best selling spiritual autobiography of all time.

One of Yogananda’s lifelong undertakings, The Essence of The Bhagavad Gita, is a modern day revelation of India’s best-loved scripture. Translated with fresh perspective and a down-to-earth practicality, this spiritual classic expresses universal themes, such as how to triumph over all pain and suffering and how to attain union with the divine. This rare book possesses the power to change people’s lives and transform future generations.

An immense compliment to Yogananda’s autobiography is Swami Kriyananda’s newest book, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Kriyananda takes a candid look at the arch of Yogananda’s profound and eventful life. The yoga master’s true spiritual stature and greatness radiates through inspirational stories and entertaining narratives.

In what has been called the “sequel” to the Autobiography, Kriyananda’s own autobiography, The New Path, further exemplifies the vibrancy of his guru’s presence. This extraordinary narrative also tells the inspirational story of an American’s spiritual quest to discover the inner path that leads to soul-freedom and lasting happiness.

The Essence of Self-Realization, meanwhile, is a rich presentation of direct lessons and sayings from Yogananda to Kriyananda explaining life’s true purpose, and the way to achieve that purpose. This comprehensive work brings to life Yogananda’s rich spiritual wisdom and covers a vast scope of life’s obstacles and opportunities. It remains as rich, resonant and relevant as the day it was released in 1990.

Many of the books in the series, most especially Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, will be featured June 5-7 at the Book Expo America convention in New York, the nation’s largest and most prestigious booksellers exhibition. In addition, Swami Kriyananda will make a public appearance at the Ford Theater in Los Angeles June 24 to discuss the book, as well as his nearly 64 years of direct service to Yogananda’s mission and vision.

Fearlessness

“Smile because you are fearless; smile because fear is ashamed to cause you apprehension and failure” –Paramhansa Yogananda

I’ve just about finished reading Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, and one story stood out to me in particular. Yogananda was giving a talk in New York and he accused some very wealthy people of taking advantage of the poor. As he was walking home, someone came up behind him and put a gun to his back. The stranger said, “Why did you say such things against those people?” The Master explained that everyone is a child of God and God does not want one of His children to take advantage of the others. Yogananda gazed at him with spiritual power and the man fell to the ground and cried, “What are you doing to me? I can’t go back to my old ways!” He then ran away, terrified.

My first thought on reading this story was “Wow! I wish I could that!” Can you imagine being able to scare away dangerous criminals with just a look, not to mention teaching them a lesson at the same time? What a useful tool this would be! In my opinion, the reason Yogananda was able to stand up to the man was because he was completely fearless. He was so immersed in Bliss and the knowledge that he was immortal that nothing could shake him. That was what the other man saw in his eyes that so disarmed him. He thought he was in control because he had a gun, but Yogananda knew no gun could ever harm his soul.

When I was growing up, I took martial arts classes down the street from my house. After years of classes, I was finally able to test for my black belt. I was terrified I would forget everything and just freeze. I practiced daily, but my exhaustion came more from anxiety than from the exercises.

Finally, the big day came. I was panicked. However, as I sat there watching the others test, the fear slowly fell away. I thought, “I do this every day, why is today any different?” The only difference was that people were watching, which shouldn’t really make any difference. The only real obstacle keeping me from my black belt was fear, which was only in my mind. When the moment came, I performed just as I had in my living room, and I gratefully accepted my black belt.

When you can stand up to your fear knowing that you are an immortal child of God, then nothing can defeat you. Of course, Yogananda has great spiritual power and we may not all be able to take someone down with a look, but the principle is the same. There are many obstacles to overcome on the yogic path, or any path for that matter, but if we stand up to those obstacles without fear then we can find the strength to overcome them. The story about Yogananda confronting the accoster in Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography makes that abundantly clear.

The Yogi Behind the Autobiography

I’m currently reading Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, a new book about Yogananda written by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda. As I sit on my bed and read of all these touching, dramatic, and humorous stories of Yogananda’s early years and interactions with so many different personalities, I reflect on my own relationship with him as my guru– as many of us do who were born long after he left his body. He’s never physically sat in front of me, looked into my eyes and said, “Will you always love me as I love you?” as he did to Dr. Lewis, his first disciple in America. Does this mean that our relationship is only one sided, that however much love I feel for him, he no longer exists and cannot return my love except in my own imagination?

Not at all! His love is very real and I feel it every day. Just because our interactions all take place inside of me, it does not make them imaginary, as I’m sure anyone who has lost a loved one can attest. The physical presence of my guru may be gone, but the real Guru, even when he had a body, could only be truly experienced in the heart. The word “guru” literally means “dispeller of darkness”. Can a true dispeller of darkness be taken by darkness? Not likely! The true guru is that place inside ourselves that gives us direction and encouragement. He’s the one who’s with us no matter where we go or what we do. It does help though, to have a physical form to relate to, since we ourselves are in a physical form, but it is certainly not the only way he can communicate with us.

Bearing this in mind, I’d like to share the story of how I came to know that Yogananda was my guru. About a year and a half ago, I visited a place called The Expanding Light, which is in Ananda Village, a spiritual community founded by Swami Kriyananda. I had read Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda’s beloved book, but it perplexed me. The world that Yogananda described just didn’t seem to fit into my own vision of reality. When I went to Ananda, I learned more about him and his teachings, but still I never considered that I would ever dedicate my life to him.

Two weeks after I got back, my friend sent me a quotation by a famous swami in India that said something like, “Before you can find your guru, you must first serve your parents. It is most important to serve your mother, then your father, then your guru will appear and you can serve him.” Then the idea suddenly popped into my mind: “I know! I’ll make my parents some Pad Thai!” It may sound ridiculous now, but at the time it seemed perfectly logical to me that this was the best way to get my guru to reveal himself to me. I went right to the store, got everything I needed, and set to work. While I prepared the food I listened to Autobiography of a Yogi audiobook.

Suddenly I felt this great energy filling my heart. I ran over to a picture of Yogananda that I had on my altar and knelt in front of it. I stared at his picture as it all suddenly became clear to me that this was my guru. Soon after this, I took the vow of discipleship and it has only gotten better since then. This story goes on much longer, but my point is that a disciple’s relationship with the guru is not dependent on the guru’s physical form. The real relationship with him is in the heart.

This is what impresses me so much about this new book that Swami Kriyananda has written. Swami tells many wonderful stories, and with them, draws the reader into the drama of Yogananda’s life, while at the same time never letting the reader forget that Yogananda was never himself captivated by the drama. Swami makes it clear that Yogananda knew, at every moment, he was fully free and unaffected by any of his life’s circumstances. By contrast, in Yogananda’s own book Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda writes as if he were a humble seeker of God who has been fortunate enough to encounter so many great saints, while never mentioning that he is much greater than most of them. Swami tells the stories that Yogananda left out, the stories that really show him to be a true yoga Master.

Discovering Yogananda’s Living Legacy

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.