Credit: yogananda.com.au

Credit: yogananda.com.au

yoga nanda

Yogananda was a remarkable Indian sage who took upon himself  the arduous task of introducing Hindu mystical thought and esoteric practices in Yoga to the West. He traveled to America in 1920 to attend a Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston but stayed on for over 30 years spreading his message from coast to coast. He founded the International Centre for Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Los Angeles to disseminate his teachings and practices. A large following of disciples developed over the years with numerous celebrities. Yogananda thus became the first pioneering Indian mystic to set up base in the USA and spread the teachings in the USA rather than in India. The second notable personage to do so was Prabupadh who founded the Hare Krishna movement with branches all over the states and thereafter in most parts of the world including India.

Yoganand’s ‘’The Autobiography of a YOGI’’ ( First Edition Copyright Paramhansa Yogananda) is an extraordinary story of his mystical life full of incredible miracles that gives one a fresh perspective of reality and shakes to the roots our settled beliefs about the ‘Natural Material Order’’. The book relates incredible accounts of Great Master Yogis materializing and vanishing, healing miraculously incurable ailments, bringing back people from death, walking on water, bringing trains to a halt through sheer will power, levitating and even resurrecting themselves.

What particularly struck me in the book was his explanation of our material reality as a grand illusion whose veil has to be penetrated to arrive at the true nature of reality. The Indian Master Yogis and sages appear to have succeeded in piercing that ‘veil’ and learned to become one with the quantum reality thereby performing what appear to be incredible feats. He quotes from Sir James Jeans’s book ‘The Mysterious Universe’ – ‘’the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.’’ An analogy he made impressed me deeply. Holding that the material world and we with it are aspects of light, he likens our ‘real world’ to the projection of images by a projector on a cinema screen . He relates his mystical experience in which his body lost its grossness and acquired an astral quality. While the walls and furniture remained gross, the ceiling of the room  became a blinding mass of light. From within the light a voice appeared to speak out saying ‘’ This is the cosmic motion picture mechanism …. It is producing the picture of your body…. Your form is nothing but light’’.

yogananda youthIn the book Yoganand as a youth refuses to conform to an ordinary life despite his father’s every effort and barely graduates before he continues his avid search for masters and Gurus. In the process he finds strange and amazing beings in remote corners of India engaged in their incredible and ‘magical’ feats which appear to give the lie to our settled beliefs about the nature of the reality in which we live, and the natural physical laws which appear to govern us.

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