Hundred years of Yogananda’s Kriya Yoga in the West

Hundreds years of Yogananda’s soul-awakening Kriya Yoga

Special event on May 2, 2020 in Auckland 

This story was updated at 1230 pm on January 10, 2020

Paramahansa Yogananda (INL File Picture)

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) is considered as one of the preeminent spiritual figures of modern times.

Author of the bestselling spiritual classic, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ this world teacher came to America in 1920 from India and was the first great mentor of Yoga to live and teach in the west for an extended period (more than 30 years).

Paramahansa Yogananda is recognised as one of the greatest emissaries of Indian ancient wisdom to the West and has profoundly impacted the lives of millions with his comprehensive teachings on the science of Kriya Yoga meditation, the underlying unity of all true religions and the art of balanced health and wellbeing in body, mind and soul.

His teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds.


Yogananda emphasised the underlying unity of the world’s greatest religions and taught universally applicable methods of attaining direct personal experience of God.

He taught the soul-awakening technique of Kriya Yoga initiating more than 100,000 men and women during his 30 years in the West.


Prominent disciples

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.  

Mexico President Dr Emilio Portes Gil, became a lifelong admirer of Yogananda’s teachings after meeting him.

Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by Yogananda’s teachings and was initiated into Kriya Yoga by him; amongst other prominent Indian followers were Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Sir C V Raman; and some of India’s renowned spiritual figures including Ramana Maharshi and Anandamoyi Ma.

The ‘Supreme Swan’

Yogananda’s Guru, Sri Yukteswar Giri, bestowed India’s highest spiritual title of ‘Paramahansa’ on him meaning “supreme swan” (a symbol of spiritual discrimination).

The title signifies one who is established in the ultimate state of Union with God.

Paramahansa Yogananda’s final years were spent largely in seclusion, as he laboured intensely to complete his writings, including his voluminous commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Jesus Christ in the four Gospels, and revisions of earlier works such as Whispers from Eternity.

He also worked extensively with Sri Daya Mata, Mrinalini Mata, and a few other of his closest disciples, imparting the spiritual and organisational guidance that would enable them to carry on his worldwide work after he was gone.

He told them: “My body shall pass but my work shall go on. And my spirit shall live on. Even when I am taken away, I shall work with you all for the deliverance of the world with the message of God.”

The Maha Samādhi and after

On March 7, 1952, the great Guru entered Maha Samādhi, a God-illumined conscious exit from the body at the time of physical death, just after finishing a short speech at a banquet honouring India’s ambassador to the United States, Dr Binay R Sen, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

On the occasion of the 25th  anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda’s passing, the Government of India recognised his far-reaching contributions to the spiritual upliftment of humanity  by issuing a special commemorative stamp, 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. His work continues to grow and shine ever more brightly, drawing people everywhere on the path of the pilgrimage of the Spirit.”

In 2017, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi  characterised Paramahansa as one of India’s greatest yogis and teachers, one whose life and work demonstrated the tremendous value of India’s spirituality to the world. In 2014, an award-winning documentary was released on the life and work of Paramahansa Yogananda, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, which has since screened to enthusiastic audiences worldwide.

Celebration in Auckland

The Kriya Yoga Association of New Zealand is organising a public programme in Auckland on Saturday, May 2, 2020, Victory Convention Centre, 98 Beaumont Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland.

The event will commemorate 100 years of Yogananda Paramahansa’s journey to the West, in the divine presence of the current spiritual leader of Kriya Yoga Institute, Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

For more information, please visit
The above article was sent by Kriya Yoga Association of New Zealand

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