Autobiography of a Yogi is one of the 20th century’s best-loved spiritual classics. This book is the original edition first published in 1946.
It details the life of Paramahansa Yogananda — one of India’s Spiritual guru’s, who is often referred to particularly in the West as, the Father of Yoga. Yogananda chronicles his life’s journey and his many encounters with spiritual luminaries such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Therese Neumann, and many more. The result is wondrous, and profoundly inspiring.
On meeting Gandhi Yogananda observed…. “The tiny 100-pound saint radiated physical, mental, and spiritual health. His soft brown eyes shone with intelligence, sincerity, and discrimination; this statesman has matched wits and emerged the victor in a thousand legal, social, and political battles. No other leader in the world has attained the secure niche in the hearts of his people that Gandhi occupies for India’s millions.”
In 1935 Yogananda travelled to Bavaria to meet Therese Neumann, the famous Catholic Mystic who was also a stigmatic. It is said that Neumann survived without food or water and her only intake was one consecrated sacred Host a day. At his meeting with Neumann, Yogananda asked…. “Don’t you eat anything?” I wanted to hear the answer from her own lips.
“No, except a consecrated rice-flour wafer, once every morning at six o’clock.”
“How large is the wafer?”
“It is paper-thin, the size of a small coin.” She added, “I take it for sacramental reasons; if it is unconsecrated, I am unable to swallow it.”
“Certainly you could not have lived on that, for twelve whole years?”
“I live by God’s light.” How simple her reply, how Einsteinian!
“I see you realize that energy flows to your body from the ether, sun, and air.”
A swift smile broke over her face. “I am so happy to know you understand how I live.” “Your sacred life is a daily demonstration of the truth uttered by Christ: ‘Man shall not live by bread, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’”
In his foreword, Walter Evans-Wentz, the co-editor and translator of The Tibetan Book of the Dead observe; “The value of Yogananda’s autobiography is greatly enhanced by the fact that it is one of the few books in English about the wise men of India which has been written, not by a journalist or foreigner, but by one of their own race and training – in short, a book about yogis by a yogi. As an eyewitness account of the extraordinary lives and powers of modern Hindu saints, the book has importance both timely and timeless.
To its illustrious author, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing both in India and America, may every reader render due appreciation and gratitude. His unusual life-document is certainly one of the most revealing of the depths of the Hindu mind and heart, and of the spiritual wealth of India, ever to be published in the West.
About the author
Paramahansa Yogananda is recognized as one of the greatest emissaries to the West of India’s ancient wisdom. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds.
Birth & Childhood:
He was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India, into a devout and well-to-do Bengali family. From his earliest years, he developed a depth of awareness and experience in the spiritual. In his youth he sought out many of India’s sages and saints, hoping to find an illumined teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest.
It was in 1910, at the age of 17, that he met and became a disciple of the revered Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. In the hermitage of this great master of Yoga he spent the better part of the next ten years, receiving Sri Yukteswar’s strict but loving spiritual discipline. After he graduated from Calcutta University in 1915, he took formal vows as a monk of India’s venerable monastic Swami Order, at which time he received the name Yogananda (signifying bliss, ananda, through divine union, yoga).
Beginning of World Mission:
Yogananda began his life’s work with the founding, in 1917, of a “how-to-live” school for boys, where modern educational methods were combined with yoga and spirituality. In 1920, he was invited to serve as India’s delegate to an international congress of religious leaders convening in Boston where he presented his discourse “The Science of Religion.” Shortly thereafter, he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) for the purpose of disseminating his teachings. His founding and ongoing development of his society was at the heart of his mission for the more than 30 years that he lived and taught in the West.
Pioneer of Yoga:
For the next several years, he lectured and taught on the East coast and in 1924 embarked on a cross-continental tour. Over the next decade, Yogananda traveled and lectured widely, speaking to capacity audiences in many of the largest auditoriums in the US - from New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He emphasized the underlying unity of the religions, and taught universally applicable methods for attaining personal experience of God. To serious students of his teachings he introduced the soul-awakening techniques of Kriya Yoga, a sacred spiritual science originating millenniums ago in India.
Among those who became his students were many prominent figures in science, business, and the arts, including horticulturist Luther Burbank, operatic soprano Amelita Galli-Curci, George Eastman (inventor of the Kodak camera), poet Edwin Markham, and symphony conductor Leopold Stokowski. In 1927, he was officially received at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge, who had become interested in the newspaper reports of his activities.
Return to India:
In 1935, Yogananda began an 18-month tour of Europe and India. During his yearlong sojourn in his native land, he spoke in cities throughout the subcontinent and enjoyed meetings with Gandhi, C. V. Raman, Ramana Maharshi and Anandamoyi Ma, among others. In this year his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, bestowed on him the title of “paramahansa” (supreme swan - a symbol of spiritual discrimination), that signifies one who manifests the supreme state of unbroken communion with God.
Books and Literature:
During the 1930s, Yogananda began to withdraw somewhat from his nationwide public lecturing so as to devote himself to the writings that would carry his message to future generations. Yogananda’s life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, was published in 1946 and expanded by him in subsequent editions. A perennial best seller, the book has been in continuous publication since it first appeared and has been translated into 18 languages. It is widely regarded as a modern spiritual classic.
On March 7, 1952, Yogananda entered mahasamadhi, a God-illumined master’s conscious exit from the body at the time of physical death. His passing was marked by an extraordinary phenomenon. A notarized statement signed by the Director of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park testified: “No physical disintegration was visible in his body even 20 days after death…. This state of perfect preservation of a body is… an unparalleled one…. Yogananda’s body was apparently in a phenomenal state of immutability.”
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda’s passing, India issued a special commemorative stamp was issued in his honor, together with a tribute that read, in part: “The ideal of love for God and service to humanity found full expression in the life of Paramahansa Yogananda….Though the major part of his life was spent outside India, still he takes his place among our great saints.”
Biography courtesy of
Based on Yogananda’s official biography at www.yogananda.com
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published July 2011
Size: 229 x 152 mm