Autobiography of a Yogi

When Steve Jobs willed that the book should be given as a gift to everyone attending his funeral, it needed no introduction and had already attained cult status. 

Knowing that Elvis Presley, George Harrison, Dennis Weaver, Mariel Hemingway and many renowned persons were already in awe of the book and thereby the life of the Yogi. 




Author : P Yogananda
Originally Published : 1955
Publication :Rider, UK Edition
Pages : 480
Genre(s) :-
Non-Fiction, Religious Leader Biographies

In fact, many had become his disciples even back then. 

Paramahamsa Yoganand was among the pioneers who brought Eastern and Western spirituality together and hence appealed to people from both the regions. 

Born Mukund Lal Ghosh to saintly parents whom he observed and learned quite a bit of the good life, a young Mukund was an observant child. His parents were devotees of Lahiri Mahasaya who had a great influence over Mukund, who came to worship him deeply. The loss of his mother at an early age leaves deep impact on him. However, as was with him, his mother too knew that Mukunda would one day ascend the path of the Yogis and so it does. 

Amidst much excitement, Mukunda manages to escape to the Himalayas as per his wish and more against the wish of his elder brother. This journey opens up new avenues for him, bringing him close to several saints who have spent decades knowing the meaning of life. The astral miracles astonish Mukunda and he is keen to know that which lies beyond life and that was when he meets his Guru, Yuktanand.  “I was initiated into the spiritual path by my saintly guru. He opened my soul-doors, rusty and resistant with long disuse. Hand in hand, we soon set out for my training in the Himalayas.” It was Bhaduri Mahasaya who instils the thought that Mukunda could go to America whose people were interested to know more about Yoga and Yogic Kriyas. 

Mukunda’s trip to America brought forth new insights and introduced him to diverse people, including J. C. Bose whom he met in India to understand the West before setting out. Bose left a deep impact on him. The path that Mukunda had adopted for himself is mesmerizing. At one point, he says, don’t mistake the technique for the goal, the goal of knowing and understanding God, the divine. The ways are many, but the goal is the same. His Guru tells him once, Don’t worry, the divine will learn our ways. That liberates us from the burden of being on the right path. 

The initiation of Kriya Yoga

Paramhansa Yoganand describes the Kriya Yoga thus – The technique, which as you see is simple, embodies the art of quickening man’s spiritual evolution. 

Hindu scriptures teach that the incarnating ego requires a million years to obtain liberation from maya. This natural period is greatly shortened through Kriya Yoga

Just as Jagadish Chandra Bose has demonstrated that plant growth can be accelerated far beyond its normal rate, so man’s psychological development can be also speeded by an inner science. Be faithful in your practice; you will approach the Guru of all gurus. This technique enabled hundreds of devotees to meander through the path of spirituality with much ease. It was a Yogic key indeed. 

By Kriya, the outgoing life force is not wasted and abused in the senses, but constrained to reunite with subtler spinal energies. By such reinforcement of life, the yogi’s body and brain cells are electrified with the spiritual elixir. Thus he removes himself from studied observance of natural laws, which can only take him-by circuitous means as given by proper food, sunlight, and harmonious thoughts-to a million-year Goal. It needs twelve years of normal healthful living to effect even slight perceptible change in brain structure, and a million solar returns are exacted to sufficiently refine the cerebral tenement for manifestation of cosmic consciousness.

Paramahansa Yoganand has been fortunate to receive the Kriya Yoga initiation from not one but three Gurus, including from Master Sri Yuketshwara. Paramhansa is all praise for his guru, saying that his feet were firmly on the ground. 

The tales of wonder and miracles keep one hooked to the book and the life of Paramhansa Yoganand. The book indeed changed the life of millions ever since because of its simplistic nature but profound message. It removed the shackles around Yoga and Yogic Kriyas to pursue spirituality. This knowledge which was common in the East was happily adopted by the West. They were bewildered by the people, the yogis, the common people who pursued spirituality, like the girl Giri Bala who is widowed young but lives without food and hasn’t experienced sickness ever. The book went on to mesemrize millions and is a bestseller even today. 

Key takeaways

  1. The book takes us through an amazing life journey of a Yogi, from his childhood experiences to the people he meets on the way.
  2. The inquisitive nature of a young Mukunda towards spirituality and spiritual experiences, as also seeking knowledge incessantly, keeps you glued to the book.
  3. Having gained immense knowledge about life and divinity from several Gurus, Paramhansa Yoganand shares all that he learned about Kriya Yoga, through his center at Ranchi and also in the US.

Why I recommend this book

Not just because the West embraced it fondly and several famous people became its fan, but also because it is a very simple yet profound narrative, full of charm, wit and first hand experiences about pursuing the true meaning of life. 

Read also to understand that delving deep inside is not a difficult task, and anyone with the keenest desire can do that.

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