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Yogananda commercialized the Kriya discipline. He made three unauthorized big changes and thus he became the champion and the leader of the modified Kriya.
1. Violation of Vedic tradition of Guru-Param-para (Master and disciple personal relationship).
2. Modifications to the Original Kriya discipline.
3. Founded an organization in violation of Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay's injunction.
1. Violation of tradition: Violating the Vedic tradition, Yogananda put Kriya in the marketplace for mass education and began to sell Lessons of correspondence course. He deviated from Guru-param-para (Master and disciple personal relationship) and basic, fundamental features of Guruvaktragamya (learning directly from the living lips of a Guru).
2. Modifications to Original Kriya: He modified the original Kriya tradition to popularize it among the masses with a commercial interest.
3. Starting Organizations: Once Yogananda set foot on the slippery slope of mass education, naturally a third step followed. Starting an organization was a violation of Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay's injunctions which he was fully aware of and admitted in his book:
"The great master [Lahiri Mahasay] lived his sublime life in partial seclusion, and steadfastly refused to permit his followers to build any organization around his teachings." Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda, 1979 paperback edition, p. 339
Removing the practice of Talabya Kriya or Khecharimudra - which is a precondition for practicing the Thokar, Omkar Kriyas and Brahmayonimudra - completely changed the Kriya practice and reduced it to something else which would be an unproven, new approach with uncertain or crazy fatal results.
These changes increased his followers – a greater number of them certainly would not qualify for Kriya which requires a special kind of body build anatomically speaking and temperament of mind as well.
Yogananda, the popular leader of the modified and bhakti (devotion) blend Kriya, is widely known throughout the world. To get a complete picture, in the following pages are six dots that are connected. These are things he wrote about himself in his autobiography and personal letters and by his close dear ones, such as his “Indian private secretary,” Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, a student of Swami Satyananda at Ranchi, disciple of Sriyukteswar, and by his American dear disciple (known as Durga Ma), and also what was published in the magazine of his organization and in the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper.
- Yogananda cannot sleep alone in a room
- Yogananda’s cajoling or gossiping with his followers
- Yogananda’s Spiritual Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita
- Yogananda on the Loyalty Issue
- About the I-ness of Yogananda
- Lastly, Yogananda’s Paramhansa title
1. Yogananda cannot sleep alone in a room
“In 1935, when he [Yogananda] and Richard Wright were at that palace at Westminster, Yoganandaji said to Wright, ‘You walk behind me. Immediately after I enter the palace, I will tell you which room is where before we ever get there; you’ll see, everything will match up.’ Wright said later that Swamiji was right every time about the location of the different rooms. Swamiji himself was there at the telling of this event, and Wright was bearing witness to Swamiji’s description of the incident. There was no sense of any kind of ‘but’ [hesitation] in Swamiji’s behavior at all!
“[A yogi who has a bit of yogic power can easily predict these kinds of things; although a real Yogi would not use yogic power an, be involved in such insignificant event.]
“Apparently, in yet another life, he was a vicious and murderous desert marauder. While describing this, Swamiji shivered with horror from time to time, although he maintained a slight smile on the outside.
“Swami Satyanandaji had said that before Yoganandaji went to America and was living at the Ranchi Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, one night, he screamed out from his room. He said that a cot [bed] penetrated through his closed door and a horrible being was seated upon that cot. From that time on, a student would sleep in a separate cot in his room. Yoganandaji said that if he slept alone, he saw many different beings, and some of the times he woke up in fear.” Paramhansa Swami Yogananda – Life-portrait and Reminiscences by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, private secretary of Yogananda in 1935-36], Chapter 7 Epilogue, page 128- 129.
From these stories several things can be observed:
- Common sense tells us that perhaps those souls whom Yogananda murdered in another previous life were out to get him in his subsequent life and that is why disembodied souls appeared to him as horrible beings and perhaps they would continue to haunt him in revenge. What a predicament and nightmare!
- In this connection, it should be remembered that a realized person does not dream or does not see such things.
- A realized person is always fearless day and night, even during his sleep; he is always in tune with the state of sahaja samadhi, spontaneous state of the supreme Self.
- The above-mentioned information also explains why at Yogananda’s main center at Mount Washington the young Mormon (a Christian group who used to practice polygamy) girl devotees were going in and out of his suite all night every night – according to the following report.
It was reported in Los Angeles Examiner, Wednesday, October 25, 1939 as follows:
“Swami Sought in Damage Suit. Determined that he shall not become a vanishing Hindu, process servers were conducting a far-flung search yesterday for Swami Yogananda, Indian cultist accused, in a sensational $500,000 damage suit, of amazing goings on with feminine followers. …
“TEACHES HE IS GOD
“Picturing highly irregular practices in the cult quarters on Mount Washington, the plaintiff declared that the swami ‘has young girls in the immediate vicinity of his room going in and out at all hours of the night.’
“The young girls are kept segregated from older women, Chowdhury charges adding:
“ ‘Young girls [most of them were Mormon] have free access to the rooms of said Swami Yogananda and that said Swami Yogananda forbids men and forbids them to go out at all except with him.’
“[Not being able to sleep alone, probably Yogananda made such arrangements for his own safety from the horrible beings’ chase. However, from the point of view of Vedic culture, it is prohibited, also it looked odd.]”
2. Yogananda’s cajoling or gossiping with his followers
A quotation is found in the Self Realization Magazine, of Yogananda’s organization.
“... one of the monks asked Paramhansaji a direct question: “Sir, are you an avatar? ”
“The Master’s answer was: “Yes. A teaching of this importance could not have been brought by a lesser one.” Self Realization Magazine, Spring 1985, Page 24.
“Master Tells Me Of His Arjuna Incarnation
“January 6, 1951, after Master’s birthday, because Rajasi [spelling should be Rajarsi] was not well, Master came to the hermitage to see him. … … “Rajasi led Master to the chair he was sitting on and made Master sit in it, they talked for a long time holding hands. Rajasi had to leave the room for a little while. In that precious time Master asked me, ‘Who do you think I was in the distant past, who could have better written the Gita in this life?’ Several years before I had asked Master if he was Arjuna, but he did not answer for he was not ready to divulge his secret yet. By the way Master asked the question, I answered, ‘Vyasa the writer of the Gita.’ Master said, ‘No, but I remember you had asked me years ago if I was Arjuna,’ then I joyfully exclaimed, ‘You were Arjuna,’ he smiled his, ‘Yes.’ I then asked him if Rajasi was with him at that time. He answered, Yes, he was one of the twins, the positive one, Nakula. He was my favorite brother and I loved him more than anyone else. I was also his Guru then too. Krishna was my guru and Babaji, being Krishna, is still my guru, Sri Yukteswarji was my guru by proxy for Babaji,’ I then asked him if I was also with him at that time, he looked at me and said, ‘Sure, you were.’ I asked him if I was a man or a woman, he answered, ‘You were a woman, you have been a woman for a long time and you will continue to be, a long time to come.’ I then asked who I was, he answered, ‘I don’t have to tell everything.’ I just said, ‘I suppose I was one of the mothers who went around looking for her loved one who had fallen on the battlefield.’ Master smiled and then Rajasi came back into the room. Master left very shortly after that for Twenty-nine Palms.”
A Paramhansa Yogananda Trilogy of Divine Love, Chapter – My Life and Service to My Guru. Page 50 by Durga Ma, an important lady disciple of Yogananda.
It would be appropriate to narrate the relevancy to Yogananda’s Gita interpretations. One has to bear in mind that admittedly Yogananda was weak in Sanskrit in which language the Bhagavad Gita is written. His handwritten letters in English and Bengali (his mother language) published in the title: The Original Kriya, ISBN 1-877854-42-5, revealed he was weak in both these languages.
3. Yogananda’s Spiritual Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita
Sriyukteswar had published only nine chapters out of eighteen of his Gita interpretations in the first edition. In the early 30’s when Satyananda approached Sriyukteswar to permit him to reproduce his Gita interpretations, he gladly gave his permission to Satyananda. Sriyukteswar told Satyananda, “Somehow, in those days in my interpreting the Bhagavad Gita some ambiguities remained; those needed to be straightened before reprint.” In this regard, a little work had been started but was stopped. Then, Satyananda found the drafts of the remaining nine chapters, and published them in the second edition in 1948. Once Satyananda told the author, “Yogananda wanted to have the copyright of Sriyukteswar’s Gita. I wanted to give it to him, but the people around me stopped me from doing so.” When Yogananda could not get the copyright of Sriyukteswar’s Gita in 1949 (from where he was copying), he made a special effort to complete his own Gita interpretations which were published by his organization gradually in their Self Realization Magazine. The fall issue completed it in 1975.
It is interesting to note that Sriyukteswar referred to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali when he was interpreting the Bhagavad Gita, especially in those verses of the first chapter where the historical names of the generals of the war are mentioned. Yogananda then copied the main points of Sriyukteswar’s presentation including Sriyukteswar’s references to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. What was added was the aspect of devotion. Unfortunately, Yogananda somehow forgot to mention Sriyukteswar’s name even though much of his writing is but a verbatim translation of Sriyukteswar’s original. Strictly speaking, it could be said that Yogananda had just plagiarized Sriyukteswar’s work. This is the inside story or background of Yogananda’s Gita interpretations.
(The author has translated Sriyukteswar’s Gita interpretation from Bengali and Sanskrit into English in its entirety and published The Bhagavad Gita – Sriyukteswar’s Interpretations, ISBN 1-877854-12-3).
4. Yogananda on the Loyalty Issue
In the case filed by Anne-Marie Bertolucci against the Ananda Church of Self Realization and Kriyananda in San Mateo County, California, Case No. 390 230, filed January 9, 1996, it is recorded in a deposition that Yogananda’s organization, Self Realization Fellowship Church, has a rule that to be a renunciate, one has to take “final” vows, such as:
1. poverty, 2. chastity, 3. loyalty, and 4. obedience.
His organization requires one to sign a “pledge” for absolute loyalty to Yogananda to join their organization. Let us see how Yogananda was loyal to his Guru, Sriyukteswar.
“Not sensing Sri Yutkteswar’s reluctance to have me leave him, I went on, “Once you beheld the blessed sight of Babaji at an Allahavad Kumbha. Perhaps this time I shall be fortunate enough to see him.”
“I [Sriyukteswar] do not think you will meet him [Mahamuni Babaji] there.” Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, page 461, Eleventh edition, paperback
Sriyukteswar tried his best to prevent Yogananda from going, but seeing Mahamuni Babaji at least once in his lifetime was so intense in Yogananda’s mind that Sriyukteswar’s attempts to stop him failed. In spite of Sriyukteswar’s unequivocal, explicit advice not to go to Kumbhamela, Yogananda attended just to learn from Brahmachari Kesavananda (disciple of Lahiri Mahasay) that Babaji had not attended Kumbhamela that year as Sriyukteswar had told him before. He could not afford to lose the unique opportunity of a lifetime to have Babaji’s darsan.
5. About the I-ness of Yogananda
In the holy scripture, the Yoga Vasistha Ramayana, Prince Rama asked his Gurudev and dynasty priest, Yogi Vasistha, the spiritual son of Brahma, the Creator, “Divine Gurudev! how can an ignorant man acquire liberation?”
Yogi Vasistha replied, “Destroy your sensuality. What is the good of using many words when it can be described in a few? He who has a sense of egoism [or I-ness] is never released from the miseries of life. It is the dissolution of this feeling that produces liberation.”
Let us see Yogananda’s I-ness status in his own handwriting:
October 22, 1937
Dear Mrs. Nerode,
… I will give up my Iness to create an organization. As I realize that’s the way I will find reasonableness and the way to imperishable peace.
My deep blessings to you, Sri Nerode [Nirad Ranjan Choudhuri] and Anil.
Ever yours, Very sincerely,
In the light of Yogananda’s above handwritten letter, it looks like his understanding was that his “imperishable peace” would come through his next contemplated ‘would be organization’ which he could not achieve through two organizations already founded: Self Realization Fellowship in 1935 and Yogoda Sat Sanga Society of India in 1936. It seemed his understanding that “imperishable peace” would come through organizations and so Yogananda was obsessed with starting organization after organization (which Mahamuni Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay explicitly prohibited for good reasons). A valid question arises: Since he did not start his considered next organization, did Yogananda attain his “imperishable peace”?
Another example of Yogananda’s loyalty and I-ness (egoism or individuality):
“The days were passing by. Gurudev Sriyukteshvarji began to feel that it was time to take care of the matters which he could not carry out until Yoganandaji returned to India. Gurudev wanted to tie up the issues of the transference of his familial property rights, which included the Karar ashram in Puri, and the distribution of almost 150,000 rupees worth of liquid finances [savings, or cash]. Once these things were legally settled, he could prepare for his final journey.
[It should be remembered here that in the Vedic tradition, in the ceremony of entering into the order of Swami, a sanyasi renounces his family and all rights including the family properties and departs from home, never to enter there within twelve years. In that light, Sriyukteswar did not have any right to his family properties.]
Among the assets were the beautiful and immense two storey [sic] mansion with surrounding property in Serampore and quite a good amount of abadi [functional] land in a village [near Dankuni area] in the Hoogly district. The Puri ashram and the previously mentioned finances were already designated for the Sadhu Sabha [Sriyukteswar’s organization]. Sriyukteshvarji wished for the Puri ashram to be used for the research and practice of astronomy and astrology, and the finances were to be used to fund that endeavor. He had already begun to set up a kind of observatory on the ashram premises modeled somewhat after the ‘yantar mantar’ types of structures in Jaipur, Delhi and Benares. A nephew of his named Manu lived with Maharaj ji at his Serampore house. This man had no means of income, nor did he do any kind of job. It has been heard that Gurudev wished to leave all of the village land to Manu, and the rest, including Priyadham – his Serampore home, the Puri ashram and aforementioned savings, to the institution directed by Yoganandaji.
[As mentioned above, the new sanyasi leaves his home, but in Sriyukteswar's case, being a sanyasi, he did not follow the traditional rules. He stayed in his home and virtually converted it into an ashram.]
“Guru [Sriyukteswar] and his dear disciple [Yogananda] discussed all of this and decided to form a legal deed which would connect all of the organizational branches of India and America under one institution. The responsibility of preparing the paperwork was given to an established attorney by the name of Roy Choudhury from the High Court area. The central organization was to be named ‘Yogoda Satsanga Society of India and America,’ with Sriyukteshvar Giri as its founder and Swami Yogananda as its president.
[Under the circumstances, with due respect to the old Swami, it would be fair to say that he had no business to propose to transfer the rights of the family, which he already relinguished as per the spirit of sanyas in the Vedic tradition.]
On the day the deed was to be witnessed and signed, everyone went to the attorney’s office. Guru Maharaj Sriyukteshvarji was driven there by Sananda Lal [Yogananda’s younger brother]. Satyanandaji and several others were also present. The agreement started that Sadhu Sabha [Sriyukteswar’s organization] and all of the branches of Yogoda Satsanga, including all of the property and funds of both organizations, would be merged as one under a new name. At the time of signing, this came out of Yoganandaji’s mouth: ‘I was really the one who did everything …’ – meaning the title of founder, particularly because of America, where the entire institution was founded by him. Sriyukteshvarji Maharaj was shocked; he looked at Yoganandaji’s face for a second, took his walking stick and marched out of the attorney’s office directly to Sananda Lal’s car, and went back. Everyone was absolutely dumbstruck by this and completely unexpected and unimaginable event.
“Thus Sriyukteshvarji’s heart’s desire – leaving all that belonged to him to his worthy disciple -- was never carried out. Sriyukteshvarji was so wounded by Yoganandaji’s behavior at that time that, on that very day, Gurudev gave up all hope of a future for his institution [which was not supposed to be started in the first place as per Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay’s injunction.]
“When the writer [S. B. Dasgupta] met Sananda Lal for the last time in 1978 [42 years later], this event was brought up. Sananda Lal said at that time, ‘Swamiji Maharaj [Sriyukteshvarji] was so angry while we were riding in the car that he said: ‘That is not self-will; that is unlawful conduct.’ ’ ” Paramhansa Swami Yogananda – Life-portrait and Reminiscences by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, private Secretary of Yogananda and Sriyukteswar’s disciple, p. 96-97
6. Lastly, Yogananda’s Paramhansa title
Under these circumstances another valid question arises - how could Sriyukteswar confer the Paramhansa title upon Yogananda in 1935 when admittedly his I-ness still continued in 1937?
Once again, one has to bear in mind that we are connecting the ‘six dots’ from his writings and published works of his dear disciples, beloved private secretary and associates. The real story from Yogananda’s own ‘Private Secretary,’ the eyewitness of the saga of his Paramhansa title is as follows:
“On another day, Ananda-da – Ananda Mohan Lahiri [a bachelor grandson of Lahiri Mahasay] was with us. It was almost nightfall. Maharaj ji was standing on the upstairs veranda and someone was standing next to him. Ananda-da and the writer [Dasgupta] were downstairs. Before going upstairs, Yoganandaji went to a drainage spot, a bit apart from the area, and began to urinate into the drainage passage.
“This caught Gurudev’s attention and he cryptically joked, ‘Yogananda has become a paramhansa [great swan, or great soul]!’
“After urinating, Yoganandaji saw Ananda-da standing at the front door and quietly said, ‘Ananda-da! Did you hear? Swamiji [Sriyukteswarji] called me a paramhansa!’ Later, Ananda-da laughed and said to the writer, ‘You’ll see, Yogananda will one day use this title!” Paramhansa Swami Yogananda – Life-portrait and Reminiscences by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, p. 95
The Original Kriya Chapter 13: The Kriya Modifications
How modified Kriya came to deviate from original Kriya