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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Yogananda, Paramahamsa

(1893-1952). Indian yogi, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship and Yogoda Sat-Sanga Society in India. He was born on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur in north-eastern India. His family name was Mukunda Lal Ghosh; he took the name Yogananda when he entered the monastic Swami order in 1914 and his guru bestowed the religious title of Paramahamsa on him in 1935. He was born of Bengali parents into the Kshatriya caste, the second caste of warriors and rulers.

Yogananda graduated from Calcutta University in June 1914 and immediately asked his guru, Sri Yukteśwar to initiate him into the Swami Order; the ceremony took place in July 1914. Four years later, in 1918 Yogananda founded his school for boys, at Ranchi, calling it the Brahmachārya Vidyālāya. In August 1920 he embarked on the ship, The City of Sparta, as an Indian delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston and thus began his mission to the West which was to continue until his death thirty-two years later. During his time in America Yogananda initiated more than 100,000 into Kriyā Yoga and was instrumental in alerting large numbers to the possibility of following a spiritual path in the intensely materialistic environment of that country. First published in 1950, his book Autobiography of a Yogi became a best seller and has remained in print until this time.

Yogananda died in Los Angeles, California, on March 7, 1952. The body was first placed in a glass-topped casket and became the object of amazement for the mortuary director, Harry T. Rowe, who testified in a sworn statement that over a period of twenty days the body showed no signs of decay and no odor emanated from it. Rowe stated that this was unique in his experience.

P.S.H.

 

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