'Christ' is a term that once took off from 'oil-anointed', which is what the Hebrew 'messiah' (king) meant originally, apart from "topdag enemy of the people" (1 Sam 8). From the Bible: "Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him (1 Samuel 10:1)." This is how Saul was appointed. Later he went insane, but that is another story.
Those who wrote the New Testament long after Jesus had been put on a cross and executed as a blaspheming, criminal Jew, meant he should be labelled 'king' without mockery, ignoring the sayings of 1 Samuel 8. (Ehrman 2011). Constructs like 'Mshikha Jeshua' were made, and translated into Greek as 'Jesus Christ'. The term 'Christ' - from 'Messiah', king -, started to swell in New Testament letters.
Later, others who took a shine to great-looking terms started to use them, they too, and freely. But Jesus never used the term messiah about himself. (Ehrman 2014)
There are many odd terms in the hybrid religion that Yogananda set up. He is free with 'Christ' and 'Christlike', and applies such terms to friends and relatives among others. His Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is a registered church. Former SRF monastics describe it as a cult. There are estimatedly between 1000 and 5000 cults in the United States (Singer 2003, xvii). All are not equally good or bad for adherents. And the traditional, multifariously segmented church does not have a monopoly on the term 'christ' and its meaning.
Yogananda uses concepts that were alien to Jews - guru, reincarnation, and further. Bible scholars at large do not find any substantial backing for a lot of claims by Yogananda.
A "prediction of reincarnation" (below) is only a prediction if read that way.
John the Baptist said he was not Elias, and Yogananda explains it away - that is soap.
To repeat: Bible scholars hardly find any passage in the bible that speaks unequivocally of reincarnation. The passage that some point to as evidence for reincarnation is Matthew 17:10-12 which links John the Baptist with Elijah (Elias). But the passage is not usually taken to mean that John the Baptist was Elijah reincarnated: is not understood literally but rather referring to a forerunner role [Matthew 17:12]. Also, John the Baptist said when asked if he was Elijah: "No, I am not" [John 1:21].
Mark 6:14-16 and 8:28 show that the people distinguished between John the Baptist and Elijah. Furthermore, no matter what Yogananda drems up, John the Baptist himself identifies himself as the messenger of Isaiah 40:3, not as the Elijah of Malachi 3:1. [John 1:19-23].
The alleged "Eli" cry on the cross is a Canaanite word for God that Jews incorporated and Jesus used, and seems to be no "proof of Elijah" whatever.
It is another subtle point that if Elijah had reincarnated, it would be no proof of reincarnation either, for the bible says he was taken up to heaven alive in a chariot, and if Elijah was reborn as John the baptist, it would have been a "resurrection" at any rate.
Elijah himself appeared with Moses at Jesus' transfiguration after John the Baptist's death. This should not have happened if Elijah had changed his identity [Matthew 17:11-12].
As for Jesus, he said he was from above, called God his father, etc.
Yogananda puts grand-looking concepts of reincarnation and the guru-disciple relationship concept onto two bible figures - Elijah and Elisha - in a farfetched manner and without substantial foundations.
Rise to ponder: "Did Yogananda sow fair idea-seeds in my mind-field? Are thistles growing there without my knowing? And where did his seeds come from?" [Cf. Matthew 13:27]
"Your wife is improving," Shyama Lahiri once told the superintendent he was working for.
"I am unable to believe that!" said the other.
Finally he saw it was right, after she had voyaged to India.
Lahiri taught: "A Moslem should perform his namaj . . . worship four times daily."
The term Kutastha Chaitanya became translated into Christ Consciousness by Yogananda.
Described as an able swimmer, Lahiri one day cried out on dry land: "I am drowning!"
"I am ever with those who practice Kriya," he said. But which kriya? Who can tell if core kriya, ujjayi, is included?
"Shyama Lahiri's words were mild and healing, even when he was forced to speak openly of a chela's faults," said Yukteswar.
Shyama Lahiri carefully graded Kriya into . . . progressive initiations.
A poor workman may find fault with his tools.
"Let the fragrance of the kriya flower be wafted naturally, without any display," he said. "Its seeds will take root in the soil of spiritually fertile hearts." However, Yogananda ignored that to attract crowds.
Wrong, great-looking Yogananda assertions around kriya yoga
Yogananda: "Like Jesus and other great prophets, Shyama Lahiri himself wrote no books". But he did!.
After 1885, Shyama Lahiri permitted his alfa-disciple, Panchanan Bhattacharya (1853–1919), to open an "Arya Mission Institution" in Calcutta. Here the disciple spread the message of kriya yoga and prepared herbal medicines. Swami Satyeswarananda writes:
After retirement in 1885, Lahiri engaged himself in writing interpretations of the scriptures. First, he started with the Bhagavad Gita. He became very busy in the project. . . .
Yukteswar and Yogananda were not the eminent disciples SRF presents them to be, granted that Lahiri wrote books, published books - but disciples withheld them from Yogananda.
The acts of Shyama Lahiri set an example to let us understand Yukteswar's and Yogananda's proper relation to the guru and his writings. It was not so bad. However, not so good either.
Yogananda: "The law of kriya yoga is eternal. It is true like mathematics; like the simple rules of addition and subtraction, the law of kriya can never be destroyed.
"Burn to ashes all the books on mathematics . . . destroy all the sacred books on yoga." [Hiccup! But there is more:]
Yogananda: "[The] fundamental laws [of yoga] will come out whenever there appears a true yogi who comprises within himself pure . . . knowledge."
Yogananda on thin ice again: "Yukteswar a Jnanavatar or Incarnation of Wisdom." [Please - Why was Yukteswar so often wrong?]
Yogananda: "New hope for new men! "Divine union is possible through self-effort, and is not dependent on theological beliefs or on the arbitrary will of a Cosmic Dictator."
The Catholic Church sees it differently. [Heresy charges]
"Without truth there can be no virtue (American proverb)."
Yukteswar said that he had seen Babaji three times. He could be right on that one, and he could be wrong. The trouble with ascertaining it is that Babaji is presented as a shape-shifter and able to make others not recognise him. Yukteswar did not a few times.
Yukteswar: "I have been thinking of the scientific men . . . They are the men who could benefit greatly by meetings with India's masters. But . . .'
The other assented. "'East and West must establish . . . activity and spirituality combined."
"'You . . . have a part to play . . . I shall send you a disciple."
Yukteswar to Yogananda: "You are the disciple."
Yukteswar tells in retrospect that the other was Babaji, who said: "Whose work is all this, and Who's the Doer of all actions? Whatever the Lord has made me say is bound to materialise as truth."
The other: "'Do you know Lahiri? . . . Tell him of our meeting."
Yukteswar went to Varanasi. Lahiri lived there.
"'Never mind,' Shyama Lahiri said. But then his figure trembled as though touched by a lightning current. Like a wooden statue his body became colourless. It lasted for three hours.
Yukteswar went home. "In the quiet of night I busied myself over a comparison of the Bible and the scriptures of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism)."
The morning after Yukteswar had written his slim book, he went to bathe in the Ganges. Afterwards, on his way home, he passed a large banyan tree near the river bank. There he saw Babaji sitting under the shade of the tree and surrounded by a few disciples.
Yukteswar wanted to serve the company delicacies, "I shall be back at once with some special sweetmeats."
But when he returned in a few minutes with a dish of delicacies, he found none and was deeply hurt, he said.
"A few months later he met Babaji again and did not recognise him, for this time Babaji was invisible to him, "hiding behind the sunlight," as he said later.
Babaji, now visible and audible to Yukteswar: "I told you I would see you, but not how long I would remain." He laughed. "Your gaze is not yet faultless."
Later, Yukteswar heard about the passing of Shyama Lahiri in 1895.
From another source: Shyama Lahiri's disciple Pranavananda tells the astral figure of his guru appeared before him and said, "There's no haste." Panchanan Bhattacharya and (Keshavananda) were also blessed with similar visions.
"Here in Calcutta," Panchanon said, "at ten o'clock of the morning which followed his cremation, Shyama Lahiri appeared before me."
Swami Pranabananda, the "saint with two bodies," also confided to me the details of his own supernal experience.
"A few days before Shyama Lahiri left his body," Pranabananda told me at the time he visited my Ranchi school, "I received a letter from him, requesting me to come at once to Varanasi. I was delayed, however, and could not leave at once. About ten o'clock in the morning, I suddenly saw the shining figure of my guru.
"'Why hurry?' Shyama Lahiri said.
"I sobbed," said Pranabananda, for he understood what was about.
From the lips of these three we get a picture: At the morning hour of ten, on the day after the body of Shyama Lahiri had been cremated, he appeared before three disciples in three cities.
And now to a Yogananda-claimed "Jesus and Babaji spread kriya together". Dr Geza Vermes sums up the Biblical stand:
During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012).
To clarify these matters still further:
Jesus reserve his teachings and salvation for Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012), but only depraved Jews: those of sound moral and spirit are not called by him, and the healthy do not need him (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12.11). Jesus further puts his sheep on a path to perdition in that he teaches his sheep what is opposed to sound self-preservation. Thereby eyes, limbs, property, fit living-conditions and life itself soon enough are at risk (Matthew 5: 29-30; 39-42). Finally, marring losses come to those who call him 'Lord, Lord' without doing as he tells. (Luke 6:46)
Learn the basics well.
"Surely these people are Americans!" - Yogananda
Yogananda: "I am going forth to discover America, like Columbus. He thought he had found India; surely there's a karmic link between those two lands!"
Yogananda very soon sought out Yukteswar in Serampore. "Shall I go?"
Yukteswar: "It is now or never."
Yogananda. "When I broke the news of my plans to Father, he was utterly taken aback. "How can you go?" he asked sternly. "Who will finance you?" The following day he handed his son a check made out for a large amount.
Sobs and meetings
Yogananda: "An Oriental teacher who will dare the Western airs must be hardy . . . One early morning I began to pray [for] assurance that I would not lose myself in the fogs of modern utilitarianism."
"I prayed and prayed, muffling my sobs. . . . [Oh,] the pressure of my agonies. If I cried once more with an increased depth of my inner passion, I felt as though my brain would split."
At that moment there came a knock on a door, and a young man came in, closed the door behind him and wished to talk to Yogananda while standing.
"I am Babaji," said the young man in Hindi.
Yogananda was speechless.
"Please, Babaji, do not go away!" Yogananda cried repeatedly.
"Till now, I have never recounted to anyone this story of my meeting with Babaji."
For your information, Yogananda's biographer, Sailendra Dasgupta, has some doubts about the happening. He writes that when Yogananda was in India in 1935-36, he
was gathering information about the miraculous lives of sages and saints had decided to write a book about this subject after he returned to America. Yogananda particularly wanted to find out more about Babaji. He had gone as far as the Kumbha Mela to find Babaji, only to be unsuccessful and disappointed. One morning Yogananda took Dasgupta with him to the house of a renowned physician of that time in Calcutta, to meet with Sri Bhupendra Nath Sanyal, one of the disciples of Shyama Lahiri. Sanyal had not himself seen Babaji, but he said that he had heard that Babaji and Lahiri looked very similar, only that Babaji looked a bit young. Yogananda restated this conversation about Babaji in his New Year's Day talk in America on January 1, 1937. Nowhere did Swamiji ever say that he saw Babaji Maharaj with his own eyes. (Dasgupta 2006, 90, rendered)
Yogananda's biographer Dasgupta tells that a public speech by Yogananda from the 1st of January 1937 and a Yogananda article on Babaji in "Inner Culture" magazine of March 1937, show that at least up till that time he had not seen Babaji directly. Dasgupta adds, "There is no believable evidence that the [Yogananda-]propagated picture of Babaji Maharaj was drawn from having seen [him] directly." (Dasgupta 2006, 99)
Yogananda, belletristically again: "The eve of my departure for the United States found me in Sri Yukteswar's holy presence."
"Forget you were born . . and do not be an American . . . even in a wilderness," Yukteswar said.
Yogananda left India in August, 1920, on The City of Sparta. A fellow passenger found out that he was an Indian delegate to a Boston congress and asked him to give a lecture on 'The Battle of Life and How to Fight It', one Thursday night.
He could never remember, afterward, a word that he had spoken.
The ship docked near Boston in late September. Yogananda's maiden speech in America was well received, and he sighed in relief. And due to his father's check, he was able to remain in America after the congress was over.
Yogananda: "Four happy years were spent in humble circumstances in Boston."
He was helped by a Captain Rashid from Bombay. They met for the second time on the "City of Sparta", and a third time in the United States, unexpectedly. At that time Yogananda asked Rashid if he would like to help him in his work, and Rashid said that he would take full responsibility for building the organisation. Then Yogananda's propagation methods changed completely. Rashid rented the best halls in whatever city they would be in, advertised in the most respected newspapers of those cities, put up posters with colour pictures of Yogananda from street corner to street corner, and charged an entrance fee for the lectures.
Right from the start, Carnegie Hall in New York was rented for a lecture. Rashid then informed Yogananda about it. Yogananda was shocked and said, "There's not enough money in the bank account to rent Carnegie Hall! If we cannot pay the rental fee, we'll have to go to jail!"
But they made a few thousand dollars, and a newspaper wrote an article that lauded Yogananda and his lecture. Afterwards Swami Yogananda was in demand as a lecturer. He received invitations from many cities and institutions. Money also began to come in abundance, and Yogoda [SRF] centres were established in several cities.
(Dasgupta 2006, 39, 50-51, passim)
After a transcontinental tour that started in summer 1924, Yogananda bought a little hotel on a hill in Los Angeles for his headquarters. Yukteswar responded with "Everything here is going on well."
Sometimes Yogananda thought longingly of India. He had money problems and troubles too. There is no doubt about that. [Yogananda in Miami]
To enlarge on that: If you really love flowers, why not let them live - and set seeds? Buddhist monks are enjoined not to cut down trees and grass. "You should not cut down grass or trees," says Buddha to the monks in Buddha's Last Bequest (2.1). The alternative to mowing, cutting, and trimming body hairs and garden plants alike is an encouraging one of beards, ripe fields of grass and flowers, and fruit trees along roads - with shade and food for travellers and birds alike. An alternative community that grew out of the combined efforts of Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean at the Caravan Park at Findhorn Bay on 17 November 1962, has published books with more hints, and so has Dorothy MacLean separately. [From Findhorn]
It is good to be well groomed and take to decent, winning ways also -
The US horticulturist Luther Burbank in his Santa Rosa garden once handed Yogananda three leaves.
Burbank, of "intimate communion with nature", told him his first notable triumph was the large potato. He later came up with varieties of tomato, corn, squash, cherries, plums, nectarines, berries, poppies, lilies, roses.
As Yogananda was taking leave of Burbank, the American autographed a small volume and presented it to his visitor.
"Here's my book on The Training of the Human Plant. New types of training are needed – fearless experiments."
In 1935 Yogananda travelled to India, and thereby escaped being dragged to court by a former co-worker called Dhirananda at the time. The case lingered on until Yogananda returned.
A disciple and several others gave Yogananda money for sailing via Europe for India. In March, 1935 Yogananda had the Self-Realisation Fellowship chartered under the laws of the State of California as a a church devoted to getting property, lands, means, and advocating no carnal pleasures. [◦The SRF church charter of late March 1935]
The church did not owe money; Yogananda did.
Yogananda: "I sailed from New York on June 9, 1935 in the Europa." Mr. C. Richard Wright, and an elderly lady, Miss Ettie Bletch, accompanied him.
They walked around in city of London and spent a pleasant day at an estate in Scotland. They soon crossed the English Channel to the continent, where Adolf Hitler had refused to meet him.
Yogananda instead visited a nun who had been blind and paralysed, and then healed. He asked her: "Can you teach others how to live without food?"
She appeared a trifle shocked.
At the time of parting, he said he would like to be present in Konnersreuth. When he came, he saw her there, her hands extended in a maternal gesture.
"Dick [Wright]," he inquired anxiously after someone fell, "were you the one who fell?"
"Yes, I fainted."
The following day their little group went by their Ford southward, through Germany, Holland, France, and the Swiss Alps to Italy and then to Greece. From there they went by boat to Palestine and on to Egypt. Then by boat down the narrow Red Sea, over the Arabian Sea to India.
On the value of eating
Happiness rarely keeps company with an empty stomach. - Japanese
Eat with pleasure; drink with measure. - French
Hunger is the best cook, but he has nothing to eat. - German
If a rich man eats a snake people say, "This is wisdom!" If a poor man eats a snake people say, "This is folly!" - Lebanese
Men eat fish - thanks to the sauce. - French
The most dangerous food to eat is a wedding cake. - Traditional
The rich eat when they want, the poor eat when they can. - Georgian
So: Happy are the cooks who have the wisdom to make sauces people can benefit from until a ripe, old age. Certain foods or combinations of foods can also foster health and help healing. There is edible Ayurveda around (for more: see the book list below). Balancing ingredients, cooking recipes, and following the ways of health as a lifestyle are parts of it. ⚴
"Many Biblical passages reveal that the law of reincarnation was understood and accepted," writes Yogananda.
It happens that words of Jeremiah, John, and Jesus are cited out of context as evidence for reincarnation. The context of these Scripture passages, however, shows they are likely to have nothing to do with reincarnation. Christianity rejects reincarnation. It is contradicted by orthodox tradition in all churches. (Equip.org; EveryStudent.org; Bible.org)
Herbs were employed in a rejuvenation treatment in 1938 of Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya, 77-year-old Vice-Chancellor of Benares Hindu University. The noted scholar regained in 45 days his health, strength, memory, normal eyesight. All wrinkles vanished. The herbal treatment, known as kaya kalpa, is one of 80 rejuvenation methods outlined in Hindu Ayurveda. Pundit Malaviya underwent the treatment at the hands of Sri Kalpacharya Swami Beshundasji, who [had] documents proving him to be more than 100 years old; Associated Press reporters remarked that he looked about 40.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. 2006. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.
Ehrman, Bart D. 2011. Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. New York: HarperCollins.
⸻. 2014. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne
Hebbar, J. V. 2015. Living Easy with Ayurveda. DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon: Partridge India.
Lad, Usha, and Vasant Lad. 1997. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. 2nd ed. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press.
Rockridge Press. 2015. Easy Ayurveda Cookbook: 30-Minute Recipes to Balance Your Body, Eat Well, and Still Have Time to Live Your Life. Berkeley, LA: Rockridge Press.
Sharma, Hari, and Christopher Clark. 2012. Ayurvedic Healing: Contemporary Maharishi Ayurveda Medicine and Science. 2nd ed. London: Singing Dragon.
Singer, Margaret Thaler. 2003. Cults in Our Midst. Rev ed. San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sondhi, Amrita. 2006. The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook: Healthful, Healing Recipes for Life. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press.
Svebak, Sven. 2000. Forlenger en god latter livet? (Does a Good Laugh Prolong Life?) Bergen: Fagbokforlaget. -- Yes, there is research to document it.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1946. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library.
⸻. 1953. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship. (The pagination of the second SRF-edition from 1982 is different).
⸻. 1958. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1980. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1982. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1993. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1997. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1998. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF).
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