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Did Yogananda Mean What He Often Said?
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Any real ghoul likeness is not guaranteed

The ghoul-on-the-back idea

Yogananda's aged guru Yukteswar once said that Yogananda "had a disease - where a ghoul comes and sits on his back". (Dasgupta 2006, 83). In Yogananda's fellowship, SRF, the faith is that the guru of Yogananda was wisdom incarnate - such things. Are there any passages that say the ghoul on Yogananda's back was removed, and if so, by any kind of surgery?

Ghoul: a malevolent spirit or ghost; a person interested in morbid or disgusting things; a person who robs graves. In Muslim legends, ghouls are evil demons thought to eat human bodies, stolen corpses or children, and then taking the form of the person most recently eaten. Such demons chould change their shape but had one unchanging feature: donkey's hooves for feet.

Surprised? There is some more, such as Yogananda's unfounded charges in court to escape paying money he had signed that he owed. [Enlightening evidence]

Give yourself the benefit of doubt if you are up to it, for example by looking carefully to see whether that ghoul had eaten up Yogananda and later hid his hooves - or more easily done to many, realise that Yogananda obviously tried to escape paying money he owed by bringing untrue money charges to court. Acts often speak louder than words.

Yet, dealing with wrong beliefs - "It ain't easy, you know," as Bob Dylan sings somewhere.

Yogananda teachings
ICON "We don't really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." - Paramahansa Yogananda [Ak 414].

"The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success." - Yogananda, 1987.

Is that so? Say: "Hardly" and realise that some know right from wrong, and that the season of success gives good and well sown seeds the better growing-conditions.

Paramahansa Yogananda quotation Ninety-nine percent of all people fail under this test. Tell a person, for his own good, to do a particular thing, and he will do exactly the opposite. Why? Because he can't help himself. [Yogananda, 1982 321].

"Is it exactly like that?" you may come to wonder. "Possess the power of thought . . . Utilize!" says Yogananda in The Law of Success (1987). It could well be attainable and useful when facing conundrums and the intrigue tightens. Then it is high time to make use of the power of thought.

The words that fail

Granted the Yogananda "premises" just given, should you think that Yogananda said things for the good of SRF people, but expected them to do the opposite and not go for self-governing communities, or "colonies" and very much else he said? Perhaps not.

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything." - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings").

Did he mean what he said this time? Here you see an easy way out. Save yourself from wasting precious time on words you are told not to take for anything. That is far more elegant, and yields time for meditation. The Tibetan Dhammapada:

Buddhas will work, or are working now
To eliminate many sorrows.
If you like yourself and like to help yourself,
Be not like merchants lured by cannibals,
But dispel dullness, go beyond,
And look to help worldly beings.

- The Tibetan Dhammapada 23.1-14, reworked. (Sparham 1986).

Quite so -

Headquartered on a hill in Los Angeles, his fellowship may have abandoned their founder-guru's ideas on top of the Mt. Washington hill. But is that so sure?

You may also come to wonder: "Should Yogananda have told them not to go for self-supporting communities so that they would establish some instead?" Don't count on it as long as good evidence is absent.

Further, is it sure that the correct number is 99 and not 96, for example? If it is sure, some evidence of it ought to be given, although orators may want it otherwise.

And can you really count on that Yogananda followers do exactly the opposite of what he tells them to do, and not nearly the exact opposite? I would not count on that either. A follower is someone who does what is told and not anything opposed to it - ideally. An automaton is also marked by that, ideally.

Further, in many cases there is no exact opposite to be found - perhaps something different, as expressed by antonyms. "Opposites" or opposing ideas are fairly often approximations and intimations, and at times hard to find. An example follows.

Escape to quite self-supporting communities
Yogananda Let every man gather from five to ten thousand dollars, and, in groups of thirty, let them build self-sustaining, self-governing colonies, starting with California." - Paramahansa Yogananda

By 'colonies' Yogananda meant rather 'self-supporting communities'. "Every man" - adhere instead to this: people are different, and "Different strokes for different folks." That is sounder. And those who live well, should they really follow the exhortations of Yogananda? Many swamis must say no if they are no underlings of that guru. Most are not.

Five thousand dollars may or may not do today. Anyway, there is the Cost-of-living index to look into for those who believe that they should not believe blindly, as Yogananda says: "No more blind believing (1982, 456)." They should not believe that blindly either - that is a part of what it means.

The opposite of "every man" is no man, the opposite of 'gather' is squander, the opposite of 'build' is tear down, demolish, but what is the opposite of California? What is right west of California other than what is in the Pacific Ocean?

The guru decreed in a similar vein at a garden party in the Beverly Hills in the summer of 1949: "Thousands of youths must go North, South, East and West to cover the earth with little colonies."

This may be understood differently by different persons. In such cases, apply "When in doubt, win the trick."

The thousands of youths who start off from the south pole, however, have to think: "Ten steps to the north, followed by ten steps to the south - okay. But west and east are north too down there". On an ice floe on the north pole it is much the same in that the only direction to turn is southward.

Like wildfire means burning and too hot for thriving all at once

Yogananda also said: "This colony idea will spread through the world like wildfire." What he had in mind by "wildfire" is left unexplained by him. Consider how very little helpful a wildfire all over the world might be. Why not compare with Armageddon all over the world, along with hail, earthquake, flooding downpour, fire and sulphur, lightning, and disease. (Revelation 16:16; Jeremiah 25:32-34; Ezekiel 39:17-20.)[◦Source]

Yogananda's organisation, led by swami guru-followers, has seemingly dropped Yogananda's community ideas. If you find guru followers walking shoeless and hatless in the howling winter storms, it might be different for a little while. Yogananda set up still more ideals for "hatless, shoeless communities".

Get away from the slavery of jobs, says Yogananda

However, Yogananda does not seem to focus on just that; his guidelines include:

Yogananda Live in the luxury of literary wealth. - Yogananda, 1934

Get away from the perpetual slavery of holding jobs to the last day of your life. - Yogananda, 1934. Both are in New Super Cosmic Science Course, Lesson 5 (1934)

Should he have talked less and written less too? Maybe a little bit, such as his hailing of dictatorship and Benito Mussolini in his own magazine in 1934 (PDF). "Truth will out (Proverb)."

For persons interested in astrology

The well-known guru's autobiography shows he believed in astrology, and his own guru, Yukteswar, was an astrologer with enlarged interests in "opposites" - teaching that the Piscean Age is a Virgo Age too somehow. [More]

Accordingly, we are dealing with a combo-Age, maintains Yukteswar. This further means that "things" pertaining to Pisces go along with "things" pertaining to Virgo "opposites". But there are many other choices than "exact opposites" in life, and a good and able person's free will rides over astrological patterns, quite as Edgar Cayce often tells in his sleep readings. His dictum may need some qualifications too.

"And just where in Pisces is the Age-defining precession-axis point (vernal equinox) today?"

Astronomy teaching: "The vernal equinox is at present in Pisces, "due south of Omega Piscium and, due to precession, slowly drifting . . . towards Aquarius." This means the vernal equinox is somewhere in the first part of Pisces. We are still living in the Age of Pisces-and-Virgo, that Combo-Age, according to Yukteswar and other sources - the axis refers to intersections. And the Age of Aquarius-and-Leo is yet to come. Now, the irregularly shaped constellations lack clear boundaries and are of different lengths too, so it is a tad difficult to say exactly when the vernal equinox will move from the constellation of Pisces into that of Aquarius, i.e. when the so-called Age of Aquarius will begin. Depending on where the boundary is drawn, this will happen somewhere between 2100 and 2500 AD. Suffice for now: "We're not there yet."

Get out of dregs

Get out of dregs; that could help. Let us use the reasoning power, as Yogananda calls for.

To begin with: "When Yogananda refused to pay a former co-worker what he had signed that he owed him, was it tantamount to stealing? Then when he accused the other in a court of law and the accusations and claims were proved to be false, was it bearing false witness too?"

A "right thing" is spelled out in moral injunctions. Then, was Yogananda so advanced that he had risen above right and wrong, just wanting his way? Or did he set an inverse example (by deeds and words) to make followers upright by his "99 percent estimate" [Cf. Ak 321]?

I hardly think so. Let us study a sad case of withholding money due, false testimony in court - the case of Dhirananda versus Yogananda. And if you say, "Do not judge," a society has judges to do that for you. It is not for uninformed persons to judge others, but informed ones are to do it at times. To cut a sad story short: The judge James MacLachlin found Yogananda's money charges against his former fellow worker false and untrue and judged in favour of Dhirananda, against Yogananda.

There is much more to say about it:

A very sad old court case

On 11 April 1929 Yogananda signed a Promissory Note. He was to pay his partner Dhirananda eight thousand dollars for serving as a teacher, lecturer and writer for Yogoda (now: SRF) from 1922 to April 1929. However, Yogananda never did as he had promised. That is no good example. Dhirananda received one instalment of a hundred dollars on 1 August, 1929. A little bit, 1/80th of the total, and the only instalment Yogananda ever paid of what he owed.

Dhirananda then filed a complaint in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the county of Los Angeles in or about December 1929. The original filing of his complaint was lost or destroyed by the court, as stated in the 1935 court lawsuit files. The lawsuit remained on hold.

Swami Dhirananda received a Ph.D. degree in June 1935. He refiled his complaint on the Promissory Note on 3 May 1935. The court permitted his copies of the original complaint files to be used. In the trial of the lawsuit of Swami Dhirananda vs. Swami Yogananda, Yogananda accused Swami Dhirananda "of taking secretly, against Swami Yogananda's will, and without Swami Yogananda's consent 20,066.61 US dollars from 14 April 1923 and each year up to and including 24 April 1929. Yogananda said Dhirananda owed him 20,066.61 dollars. But the financial records were lost.

However, a janitor found them in a box in a rubbish heap in the basement of Yogananda's headquarters on 8 May 1935. Inside the box were the said lost checks and cancelled checks or otherwise, books, confidential records, papers and files. Dhirananda did not know of this box in the rubbish in the basement of Yogananda's headquarters, a former hotel. Dhirananda had not received any pay, but had had his room and board there from about 1 January 1925 to ca. 11 April 1929. He was not the disciple of Swami Yogananda either, even though Yogananda would have it otherwise.

The judge in the case, James MacLachlin, concluded in the light of the box evidence that all charges by Swami Yogananda against Dhirananda were false and untrue. On 22 October 1935 came a verdict in favour of Dhirananda: Yogananda owed him eight thousand dollars. False accusations and claims had not helped Yogananda to prosper. On 26 November 1935, the Court denied Yogananda a new trial.

Yogananda made no effort to pay the Promissory Note. By the time the judgement was made, he had left the USA for India. He was not an American citizen, but was in the USA on a British visa, and could not legally own US property. There was always a stand-in person who served as the owner of his headquarters. And on 29 March 1935, Self Realization Fellowship was chartered in the State of California as a church. By that stroke Yogananda's headquarters was not owned by Swami Yogananda's Yogoda Society any more. The property had changed hands, and the Promissory Note of 8,000 dollars was against Swami Yogananda personally.

Yogananda returned to the US in October 1936, though. A sum of 4,200 dollars was paid to clear the debt of Yogananda's Promissory Note of 8,000 dollars. But the former swami Dhirananda, now Dr. Bagchi, got no money, for lawyer fees were to be paid.


Shame! Dr Bagchi got no money himself of the 8,000 dollars Yogananda owed him and tried to escape from paying. The saddest part may be that Yogananda's money claims and testimony in court were proved false, in addition to his not paying back anything near what he owed and had given his word to pay.

Where was "Where there is a will [to pay] there is a way" in all this? That is something his aged guru Yukteswar could well have cried "Shame, shame!" over. He did cry so over Yogananda, on another occasion within a year: "Shame, shame!" he said, and "listlessly sank back into his easy chair." [Dasgupta 2006, 71]

Here is the time to guess: "There, but for the grace of God, goes I (or: - goes John Bradford)." Bradford watched executioners lead prisoners to their deaths. But he was soon enough executed, he too.

Anyway: Ugh.

A wake up call

Most people would think that what Yogananda tells near the top of the page does not make sense and check to what degree it could fit. Astrology can be used to seemingly prove and disprove a thing, but be guarded and get enough nightly sleep if you can. It may help.

The need for sleep is individual. Many need more nightly sleep than the short sleepers. How long we sleep at night increases with diseases and old age too. From 7 1/2 to 8 hours of nightly sleep could suit many. That is about the average amount needed, sleep researchers estimate, although with some disagreement in their ranks: Some find the average amount of needed sleep is up to an hour less, while others find it is eight hours. Some need more than the average, and some less. [Sleep findings]

Preserve Good Ideas If You Can

ICON "No more blind believing," said Yogananda [Ak 456].

The new generation will not give us a thought." [Ak 344]

Methods for using doubts to meditate are given in Chinese and Japanese Zen. You may also benefit from getting skilled in rigorous, research thinking, and its use of alternative assertions (hypotheses).

If you believe Yogananda blindly, train yourself to assess better instead, "Don't believe blindly that the new generation after Yogananda would not give him a thought, for SRF published books about him.

A new generation did think of Yogananda, and SRF spread his teachings too. Two or three generations of Americans and others after Yogananda's passing in 1952 have given him some thought. His devotees assist that by publishing his lectures and books and so on.

So don't believe blindly all that Yogananda said and doctrinated others to believe on his word alone. You may train yourself in this. All scientists have learnt some basics in it, so that they may launch reasonable "alternative hypotheses" to a proposition or claim. And where good evidence is completely lacking, a proposition is justly classified as speculation. It might pay to deal squarely with Yogananda speculation as you are up to it. Why not go for thinking for yourself too, as Yogananda puts it to a follower, Margaret Dietz? Again:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything." - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings").

It may be seen as a liberating paradox, a conundrum and a way out from the whirling round dances of "trust Master", "do as the SRF leaders teach the guru says", and "- but is it the opposite that is aimed at for the good of people?"

Blind Belief is Opposed to Research

Avoid reductionism; it has many forms.

Get entertained enough to thrive better.

Preserve freedom. Good homes tend to help it.

Try not to disregard top-notch experts.

Man grapples with theories for the lack of true thriving.

Making a fool of oneself is not absolutely necessary.

Though Jesus let thistles choke the good seeds as his farming method, try bio-organic, decent and sustainable enough farming and gardening and its fruits instead.

You do not have to believe at all to practice yoga and meditation. You just choose neat methods and practice to your ability - almost so may also do.

Skilled uncertainty can help higher mental faculties.

That fools are many and some have might may halfway be reckoned with "A villain, try as he may to act the honest man, should not get away with fooling men of sense without shame." [Fable wisdom, cf. Fo 99].

An all right life functions along with many meanings, and some of them may be opposing.

Through good tales many are helped to understand better.

Not all gurus are deceivers or robbers.

Accepted vice may yet be dangerous.

Higher than well composed tales of art is art itself. Higher than art is the good artist.

It is largely good to go carefully against duping ones, to avoid getting outsmarted.

The burden of proof rests on those who assert.

The more we put our trust in miracles and rare occurrences, the more disappointments we risk, is the bet.

One's awareness can be trained.

Take into account that some stories are formed for indoctrination.

Various old and younger texts contain useful lessons. Sigmund Freud found some in ancient Greek tales, for example.

Fables have favoured thinkers, lawyers, storytellers and audiences for thousands of years already.

Modern science would suffer for lack of taxonomic (grouping, ordering) means. Close enough classifications (a bit tentative groupings, clustering) of interesting material can help too, in general.

Try to consider what is at stake. You can ask "Who, what, where, why, how, when?" to come to grips with anything that seems important, and add "Who benefits?" and "What is most likely at stake somehow?" too.

You have to be extremely ignorant or hard or hateful to lead many astray in the name of Jesus.

When you read Yogananda's glorious descriptions of angelic gurus and the like, also consider that "The best . . . of old had fine natures, mysterious, too deep, they could not be understood. [Tao Te Ching, ch 15], and perhaps only arbitrarily described. This tells us: "Calm down."

Tale-tellers also get heard and believed, not only matter-of-fact people.

Falling for a blunt claim makes it harder to welcome many counter-hypotheses as part of scientific handling.

Being unduly impressed can turn dangerous.

Let no one rob you of what is heart-felt by what they say or set in motion.

Fit measures reach levels and thresholds that count far and wide.

It is fair to add mental reservations to great-looking claims. Much indoctrination goes by the name of 'religious'.

We may use feedback for monitoring our dominant, solid, cogent, not careless climbs upwards.


Swami Dhirananda vs Swami Yogananda, Yogananda found guilt of false charges in court, Literature  

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1987. The Law of Success: Using the Power of Spirit to Create Health, Prosperity and Happiness. 7th ed. Booklet. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship (1944)

Agha: Ashliman, D. L. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. New York: Greenwood, 1987.

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

Dr: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.

Fo: Handford, S., tr. Fables of Aesop. New ed. London: Penguin, 1964.

Nov: Bø, Olav, mfl, redr. Norske eventyr (Norwegian Folktales). On: Mata, Daya. "Only Love". Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1976.

Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. - Also: Google Books, partial view.

Ti: Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Vols 1-3. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.

Vip: Dutt, Manmatha Nath. Vishnupuranam. 2nd ed. Varanasi: Chowkhamba, 1972.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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