The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God.
Sri Yukteswar ji initiated Mukunda into sannyas in 1914, the heretofore Mukunda now became Swami Yogananda. Yogananda’s outward mission began in 1916 with the establishment of the Brahmacharya Vidyalaya in Ranchi. The school was financed by the Maharaja of Kasim Bazar and fulfilled Yogananda’s ideal of all-round educational, physical and spiritual training for the youth of India.
While meditating in his school one afternoon in 1920, Yogananda experienced a Divine Vision, a summons to commence the mission foretold by his Gurus: taking the sacred yoga teachings of India to the West. Soon Yogananda left for Boston, there to speak as India’s representative at the International Congress of Religions Liberals. Yogananda thereafter primarily lived in America till his mahasamadhi in 1952.
In America Yogananda travelled extensively, lecturing in all the major cities. His ‘spiritual campaigns’ were a huge success: Thousands filled the largest city halls to receive the Self-Realization teachings of India. Among his adherents were many prominent people of his time. Such was his acclaim that he was received at the White House by the U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, the first Indian to be so honored.
A prolific writer, Yogananda also shared the yoga precepts with his pen. His Self -Realization Lessons clarified the yoga teachings and taught their application to all walks of life. Among his writings are original commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, the Christian Bible and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and books on the art and science of chanting, prayers and healing affirmations. His mission, he often stated, was “the interpretation of the scriptures and the dissemination of Lahiri Mahasaya’s meditation technique of Kriya Yoga.”
Yogananda devoted his later years to the personal training of disciples who would carry on his message after his passing. Among these disciples was Swami Kriyananda, who founded Ananda in 1969 to share Yogananda’s teachings and to fulfill his vision for Spiritual Communities.
Paramhansa Yogananda entered mahasamadhi on March 7, 1952 at a banquet in honor of India’s ambassador to the U.S., Binay R. Sen. It was a fitting setting, for Yogananda himself had served as India’s Spiritual Ambassador to the West for thirty two years.
Yogananda’s best known work today is the Autobiography of a Yogi. Considered a spiritual masterpiece and acclaimed by prominent men from many fields, the book has inspired and continues to inspire millions with a vision of their own innate Divinity.