Before Yogananda left India in 1936, he heart that Nirmala Devi, also known as Ananda Moyi Ma (joy-permeated mother) was staying at the home of a disciple in Calcutta. He and Mr. Wright set out at once in the Ford. When they neared the house, they saw Ananda Moyi Ma standing in an open-topped automobile.
Yogananda: "She was evidently on the point of departure . . . in a high state of samadhi."
"The Blissful Mother travels widely in India," one of her disciples told Yogananda. "A group of us always travel with her . . . we disciples feed her . . . Wherever she goes, we must go."
Yogananda invited her to Ranchi. There he asked her, twice: "Please tell me something of your life."
"Little to tell . . . Even when I quietly accepted [the] proposal of my husband's, 'I was the same.' . . . 'I am the same.' [and] 'I shall be the same.'"
Dusk approached. She was 'ever the same.'"
One morning Mr. Wright was driving the Ford in Bengal, he asked Yogananda where.
"God willing," Yogananda replied, "we are on our way." He wanted to see Giri Bala. She was known as a woman who did not eat.
Someone who said he knew her well, told them: "She employs a certain yoga technique which enables her to live . . . The Maharaja of Burdwan once invited her to his palace. There she was locked up for two months in a small section of his home. Later she returned for twenty days; and then for fifteen days. The Maharaja had not seen her eating anything.
The Yogananda party found her brother, who said, "Yes, my sister is living . . . at present she is at our family home in Biur . . . If you ever get there, I am sure Giri Bala will be glad to see you. She is approaching her seventies . . . in excellent health. . . . In more than five decades I have never seen her eat a morsel."
We chuckled together.
Giri Bala had lived her entire life surrounded by her family and friends, her brother also told. Yogananda and company headed east through sun-baked rice fields into the Burdwan section of Bengal. At one point Yogananda said: "Dick, halt!" Then the party dashed like children to a mango-strewn earth.
Yogananda: "How I have missed this fruit in the West! A Hindu's heaven without mangoes is inconceivable!"
Richard Wright: "The Westerners are a sceptical lot; we cannot expect them to believe in the lady without any pictures!"
Yogananda: "You are right, Dick. . . . Photographs we must have!"
Dick: "The road led us . . . over mount and ridge; we bounced and tossed, dipped into small streams, detoured around an unfinished causeway, slithered across dry, sandy river beds and finally, about 5:00 P.M., we were close to . . . Biur. . . . Soon we were threading our way along the two ruts of antiquity, women gazing wide-eyed from their hut doors.
"Soon a short figure came into view in [a] doorway — Giri Bala!"
Yogananda: "Mr. Wright's impression of Giri Bala was shared by myself . . . she was not emaciated."
She told him, "If I felt a craving for food, I would have to eat."
Giri Bala was relaxing, and told that when she was a child, she had "an insatiable appetite". Her mother warned her that it might not be liked full well in her coming husband's family: "Try to control your greed," she told the girl, who was only twelve when she joined her husband's people. There her mother-in-law shamed her "morning, noon, and night about my gluttonous habits". . . . One morning her ridicule was merciless.
"I shall soon prove to you," the married girl said, stung, "that I shall never touch food again."
Then she set out for the Nawabganj ghat on the Ganges. Then someone materialised himself before her.
"Dear little one," he said, and told her he had been sent to fulfil her prayer. "From today you shall live.'"
Giri Bala: "The ghat was deserted, but my guru cast round us an aura of guarding light, that no stray bathers later disturbed us. He initiated me into a kria technique . . . No medicine or magic is involved."
Yogananda, who in chapter 42 told put on fifty pounds during one year in India, for the sake of being appreciative, asked, "What is the use of your having . . . to live without eating?"
Yukteswar, his guru, one day "weighed myself and found that in one day I had gained fifty pounds; they remained with me permanently."
Accommodations may cost. Further, much in life is not as free as it used to be.
In September, 1936, Yogananda and his party of travellers had left India and was in England. They drove around in their Ford. In late October they left Southhampton for the United States. Once they were allowed to enter the States, they travelled by Ford to California and came there in late 1936.
Yogananda was subjected to banquets, festivities and delicacies like kuje gucchi mushrooms from Kashmir, canned rasagulla and mango pulp, papar biscuits, and an oil of the Indian keora flower which flavoured their ice cream.
From about 220 to 180 pounds of Yogananda
Four years later, in 1940, Yogananda told he had finally managed to lose much weight - about forty pounds in less than four months, and also said: "If you have a tendency to become fat, don't blame your eating habits alone. . . . It is good to be flexible.
"There was a time when I was trying to lose weight . . . and still I saw that days went by and there was no change in my weight. Then I thought: "So, . . . Some people have a tendency toward thinness, and some have a tendency toward fatness. . . . Why should I have to think all the time about diet, diet, diet?"
"'You are losing weight.' I held tenaciously to that thought. . . . I even ate fattening foods, and still I found I was losing steadily.
"After reaching a hundred and eighty pounds, I stabilized myself."
(Yogananda 2002, 175-78, excerpts).
COMMENT. He was just above five feet tall. Yogananda's fellowship today seems to withhold or retouch photos of Yogananda from the years when he had just returned from India, but their Golden Fellowship Booklet (1970) contains some.
- Harnessing buildings, scenery and good events -
Main parts of the site that Yogananda was given at Encinitas when he returned from India slid into the sea. Before it came that far, he was happy there. He travelled some too.
One day in Boston the dentist Minott Lewis said to him, smiling, "During your early years in America you stayed in this city in a single room, without bath. I wanted you to know . . .!"
The Second World came. Which side was Yogananda on? A direct Yogananda disciple writes that Yogananda said it was he who influenced Hitler to attack the Soviet Union during World War II. If he bluffed, it is bad. If he did not bluff, it is also bad. "Yogananda . . . During World War II he said it was he who placed the thought in Hitler's mind to invade Russia." (Kriyananda 2011:131).
Yogananda does not write of it in the Autobiography. The US government and the Nuremberg tribunal did not get to "rebuke him a million times" or start any witchhunt before Yogananda's passing in 1952. His fellowship anyway says he is Embodied Love.
One day, strolling in the Encinitas sunshine, he told his dentist disciple who came visiting, that "a project I have long considered is beginning to take definite form. In these beautiful surroundings I have started a miniature world colony" that might eventually "inspire other ideal communities over the earth."
"A splendid idea, sir!"
Yogananda: "Far into the night my dear friend — the first kriya yogi in America — discussed with me the need for world colonies.
Yogananda and his Fellowship after 1945
Towards the end of the 1940s Yogananda remained mostly in a desert cottage in Twenty-Nine Palms, California. In his will the leadership of the organization was to be laid on Janakananda (born James Jesse Lynn, 1892–1955) after Yogananda was gone.
Often Yogananda was not fully in touch with the world when he came away from the cottage. A disciple recounts, "He could not walk on his own from the intoxication. We had to hold him up as we walked." Yogananda was saying, "Where am I? . . . Where am I going?" This happened regularly during his last days.
It was at or near Twenty-Nine Palms he took a female disciple, known as Mrinalini Mata (1931–2017), with him to watch an UFO, some have been told: At an SRF convocation at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles in 1971 the SRF minister Bhaktananda (1914–2005) recounted the happening to a group of listeners, me included.
In March 1952 there was another gathering at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. After his speech there, Yogananda - who had been suffering from high blood pressure - breathed his last. As the final speaker, when he went to take his seat, suddenly his body collapsed. He died of heart attack, said the doctor who examined him.
Yogananda's enbalmed dead body remained without much decay for twenty-one days. In 1957 Dasgupta asked Sister Daya [later: Daya Mata (1914-2010)] about this matter, and she said, "On the twenty-first day, a white spot was seen on the tip of the nose -- the first sign of flesh beginning to decompose. Then we buried his body without any further delay." (Dasgupta 2006, 104) However, the Mortuary Director, Harry Rowe, writes it was a brown spot on the tip of the nose, and it appeared after 20 days. The spot was about one-fourth inch in diameter, and indicated that drying up might be starting. The whole report is here; SRF most often brings some flattering parts of it only: [Yogananda's Official Mortuary Report]
Janakananda died of pneumonia in 1955. From then Sister Daya took over along with her mother and sister, all of Mormon origin, like Mrinalini Mata (1931–2017), later SRF's editor-in-chief and the SRF president after Daya from 2010. Since 2017 Swami Chidananda has been the SRF president.
After 1955, many kriya initiators left the organisation for some reasons.
The SRF management soon took to forgery in "small" matters, such as what how Paramhansa was to be written. The attorney Jon Parsons writes in A Fight for Religious Freedom, chap. 7:
In the summer of 1958, after Sister Daya's trip to India, SRF suddenly changed the spelling of Yogananda's title from "Paramhansa" to "Paramahansa." Without announcement or explanation, an extraneous "a" mysteriously appeared in Yogananda's title beginning with the July-August 1958 issue of Self-Realization [the SRF magazine]. . . The change was unnecessary . . . If Yogananda could not get his own name right, how could he be trusted . . . ? If it was a minor thing, why bother at all? . . . Maybe SRF figured . . . it was their job to clean up after him. . . .
Lola Williamson says, "Disagreements about how the organization should be run and how Yogananda's words should be interpreted have existed throughout SRF's history, occasionally erupting into organizational crises." (Williamson 2010:75)
The Yogananda-biographer Sailendra Dasgupta informs that under the Daya leadership [1955–2010] SRF and its Indian twin organisation, YSS (of 1917)
Many of the men and women who where older disciples of the order either removed themselves from the central organization or were forced out - not only in America, but in India as well. (Dasgupta 2006:106)
Williamson highlights further:
SRF is hierarchical in its approach with the Board [of management] essentially controlling the decision-making process. Former disgruntled members of SRF credit this top-down mentality with creating an unhealthy organization. (Williamson 2010:75)More specifically,
A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed to execute the suggestions made by the consultants. This was the beginning of a split among the monks and nuns who resided at the Mother Center. Some viewed the promise of change with exhilaration and hope; and some viewed it with fear. The end result was that a large number of monastics left SRF from about 2000 to 2001. Due to the entrenched resistance to change, the communication consultants were let go, the existing committee members replaced by others content with the status quo, and the psychologists relieved of their duties. It may be that so many people needed to talk to the counselors that the leadership became fearful of losing control. They reverted to the old style of dealing with problems, which, as the SRF catchphrase goes, is to "take it to your altar:' (Williamson 2010:76)
In five years after 2000, one third of the fellowship's monastics left the premises. But many years before that again, Daya Mata had left the building (Mt. Washington headquarters) too. Nearly none in her society knew about it. For about thirty years she lived in a villa with a view to the mountains, while monks and nuns of the SRF order thought she lived at the headquarters. After a Los Angeles newspaper published the story, about fifty monks, nuns and novices were reported to have left the premises. (Russel 2000; cf. Parsons 2012, 170)
For the faults of the many - run away!
As for the SRF kriya yoga methods, some are different from the traditional ones, as Swami Satyeswarananda has laid bare. [Deviations]
Dasgupta (2006) confirms some changes that Yogananda and SRF made.
Lola Williamson goes a bit deeper into this topic:
According to SRF tradition, these techniques, other than the energization exercises, were known in ancient India but were forgotten. In actuality, the techniques have been used continually in many yoga and tantra traditions throughout India. . . . (Williamson 2010:58, emphasis added)
Such information could become intensely embarrassing to SRF, because it disproves one of the SRF tenets - an SRF cornerstone, really. Thus, kriya is no great secret after all.
A former SRF vice president, Kriyananda, sums up SRF strivings over decades. You can read more on them yourself, although it is hard for an outsider to penetrate these strivings from years ago. [More]
Not all kriya practitioners and initiators of "Lahiri's kriya yoga" belong to the SRF organization. Some initiators have fled, and from India several forms of kriya yoga are free and explained in books and in other ways Satyananda Yoga. (Satyananda, 1981; 19)
Contrary to such "kriya for you" approaches, SRF puts an oath of unconditional loyalty to six gurus in the way of those who are crazy enough to commit themselves to swearing in the name of Jesus, who said no to swearing and yes to slavery, for example. "We are all a little bit crazy," Yogananda and Daya Mata are known to say. SRF calls for oath-binding. (Cf. Dasgupta 2006, 109)
❋ Otherwise consider: "How a little love and good company improves a woman!" [George Farquhar] Mere aims and ideals hardly ever do.
The first publication of Yogananda's aims and ideals that we have come across, was not thoughtful enough if you consider widespread food allergies. About half of the school children in Scandinavia contract allergy and asthma, for example.
The second version of the Aims and Ideals follows the first.
First Aims and Tenets of the Yogoda Sat-Sanga Movement (i.e., Self-Realization Fellowship)
Set forth by Paramahansa Yogananda, founder
Here come the SRF-reworked SRF ideals and aims. In other words, the first set was not good enough. But the second set has its great flaws too; there should be no question about that. For example, take a look at the concept "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ". It is a bluff. Besides, the original kriya works by special breathing for a long time. To see a kriya yoga explained, there is Satyananda Yoga. Its kriya system is freely dispensed, and is described in very good repository books (compendiums) on kriya (Satyananda 1981; 2001).
The SRF array of aims and ideal is also in the 13th edition of Autobiography of a Yogi (1998, 432), in many SRF published books, and on this SRF address: [◦Link]
Words and actions differ at times.
A time in misfortune does not make the man of god give up. (Papyrus Insinger)
Do not abandon a woman of your house when she does not become pregnant or give birth.
Do not do a thing that you have not first examined. (Ankhsheshonq)
Do not make many words. (Ankhsheshonq)
Do not send a wise man in a small matter when a big matter is waiting.
Do not start a fire if you cannot put it out. [Probably] (Ankhsheshonq)
Enjoy yourself with whom you wish as long as no fool joins you. (Papyrus Insinger)
If a crocodile loves a donkey it puts on a wig. (Ankhsheshonq)
Let your heart not sink!
Finally, "The daily life of city dwellers today is technically a form of mild but persistent torture . . . And all call it 'progress'." (West 1993, 26)
Dasgupta, Sailendra. 2006. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.
Kriyananda, Swami. 2010. Rescuing Yogananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity. Online.
Lichtheim, Miriam. 2006. Ancient Egyptian Literature. Vols 1-3. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.
Parsons, Jon R. 2012. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.
Russell, Ron. 2000. "A Mountain of Discontent." New Times Los Angeles, 1 June.
Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. 1981. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust.
Self-Realization Fellowship.1970. Golden Anniversary. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Simpson, William Kelly, ed. 2003. The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry.3rd ed. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.
West, John Anthony. 1993. Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.
Williamson, Lola. 2010. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press.
Yogananda. Paramahansa. 1980. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1998. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF).
⸻. 2002. The Divine Romance. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
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