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The Americanised Spiritist

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) experimented with fortune-telling, calling a spirit to enter his brother, and hypnotised him too. (Williamson 2010, 71)

And Yogananda also told several disciples that he had been the wife-sharing Arjuna of the Bhagavad Gita (with many other wives and concubines also), and the mutilating, greedy and murderous William the Conqueror, the writer William Shakespeare, and others. Also, in the Yogananda biography by Sailendra Dasgupta, Yogananda tells that in one life he had been a vicious, murderous desert marauder, and shivered even when he told it. (Dasgupta 2006:112; Williamson 2011, )

Now, Yogananda himself did not say "I was a wife-sharer, a mutilating tyrant, and Sir Henry Neville." But he feared himself! We are not all like that, or tellers of unproved tales like that. And fame is not necessarily good or a lot. Nor are all sorts of oddities.

The intricacies of past lives of gurus should not interfere with steady practice of meditation and wisdom.

Seth sayings

These sayings are from chapter 4 and 21 of Jane Roberts, Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul (1994)
My previous personalities . . . still exist and are independent . . . (Roberts 1994, Chap 21)

The lives or the plays are happening at once. (Ib.,. 4)

I exist as I am while my reincarnational lives - in your terms - still exist. (Ib., 21)

The conscious self forgets all this. (Ib.,. 4)

The soul is not a separate, apart-from-you thing. (Ib., 21)

You are not separated from the animals and the rest of existence by virtue of possessing an eternal inner consciousness. Such a consciousness is present within all living beings, and in all forms. (Ib., 21)

I hope you will realize the eternal validity of your own consciousness, and the impermanence of those physical aspects of your environment, and of your universe, that now seem so secure. (Ib.,. 4)

The times and names and dates are not nearly as important as the experiences. (Ib., 21)

A siddha stops the storm

Once, a great siddha was sitting on the sea-shore when there came a great storm. The siddha, being greatly distressed by it, exclaimed, "Let the storm cease!" and his words were fulfilled. Just then a ship was going at a distance with all sails set, and as the wind suddenly died away, it capsized, drowning all who were on board the ship.

Now the sin of causing the death of so many persons accrued to the siddha, and for this reason he lost all his occult powers and had to suffer in purgatory. (Ramakrishna 1974, No. 39)

Siddha means "one who is accomplished" spiritually, that is. Siddha may also refer to one who has attained a siddhi, a magical capability or several of them. (Wikipedia, "Siddha")

Back to Yogananda

Suppose that karma is "out to get Yogananda" for his murders and mutilations and why not his use of necromancy, spiritist practices and claimed, low, Black Arts on Hitler, and misleading folks through a set of false prophesies too. Suppose he will be reborn as a dog, the vicious, murderous dog Brutus.

Also suppose some thousand persons did not behave as badly as Yogananda in former lives but got tied to him for lifetimes by SRF's kriya yoga oath. Since he had killed and maimed too many, he might be reborn as a dog named Brutus with such traits. Yogananda teaches such things himself about special cases.

The guru teaches that humans ordinarily are reborn as humans, but if they have transgressed too much, down they go, into the animal kingdom. Such cases are rare, teaches the guru. It seems easy to fall, and may take long to get upwards again, due to instinct-grounded conformity that governs much in the animal kingdom (too).

Yogananda's direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda, writes this about Yogananda:

During World War II he said it was he who placed the thought in Hitler's mind to invade Russia, thereby dividing his fronts and making it possible for his "invincible" army to be destroyed. (Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography (2011:131)

An inhuman and "needed" invasion that maimed and killed tens of millions - really? Why did he not simply influence Hitler to get mild and supportive, and thereby save tens of millions? Ask for decent evidence if you can get it. And often there are alternative "explanations", or hypotheses.

Still, for the sake of argument, suppose Yogananda managed to cause tens of millions of wounded and dead humans, not to speak of cattle: If he did not tell the truth in the matter it is bad; if he did tell it, that is not good either. So, for the sake of argument, suppose those who tell and retell these things have good sources for doing it. If so, the murders and other crimes of William the Counquerer and an unnamed desert marauder may not be the only causes for the Kali-fond guru of Black Arts going down, down, down into an animal body, if it happens. Or which hell?

Besides, the animal to be reborn if such a fall should happen, might not be a dog; it could be a monkey, a toad, a fish and so on. Which animal, and for how many lifetimes, would depend on so much in a case when someone has gone severely wrong. Mind too that in the case of telling untruths to many who believe in them, there are scriptures that speak of hells for such ones too.

Simply, why not be on your guard?

Now, suppose many of Yogananda's followers will be reborn as humans, each with a tie to a presumptive and vicious dog. Will they be tangled up? The scenario might seem a bit awkward. For Brutus the Dog may not help anyone to improve his or her standing. Are the chains to vicious Brutus glued to the hands who hold him in his chains? According to Yogananda, they would be until the Brutus-attached get free (further down).

If we are too quick to believe or disbelieve, it could be good for us to take into account things like, "Brutus-attached does not rule out Brutus-attacked." Possibilities -

Suppose, further, that Yogananda has to go to a hell because of his notorious and many crimes in former lives (according to him). Will it help being tied to him if he has to go to some hell and remain for a long, long time? It may be good to know for sure - but the idea of a fierce dog might help many anyhow.

Speaking of helpful dogs . . . Swami Smaranananda told during the annual SRF Convocation in 2010 how the now late

Swami Anandamoy of SRF had finished work and took a break for meditation and lunch. He went to a place to meditate with closed eyes. A little later someone came and settled next to him; he thought it was Yogananda. At once he went deep into meditation. Sometime later someone was scratching his foot. It was a dog. The thought that it was Yogananda had helped him.

Yogananda in utter darkness or in hell already?

There is a sad court case where Yogananda failed to tell the truth. He brought false and untrue money charges to court in America. [Link].

Is he already in hell?
It may be hard to tell.

At any rate, "Headlong, in utter darkness shall the sinful man tumble into hell, who being interrogated in a judicial inquiry answers one question falsely." (Manu Samhita, 8:94)

Coming out of the coffin

There is the issue of extra-sensory perception had by yoga. In the Yoga Sutras, it is stated that many sorts of powers may be had through developing yoga-meditation.

Some developed yogi powers may explain or explain away guru claims of past lives. In the case of Yogananda who said he had been William the Conqueror, there is a scene where he enters a building started by William but expanded and completed after the body of William had exploded in his coffin, creating a horrible smell that sent mourners running for the exits (!). Yogananda described rooms that William had not built or been in - described the rooms to his secretary at the time - before he entered those rooms, that is. Some have taken that scenario as evidence that Yogananda had been William the Conquer, who started the building. However, so far as the rooms were not there at the time of William, it disproves the simple view that "He had been William and he remembered his buildings" - no matter how others had changed them later on, after William died and his belly burst so badly.

1. You might think that such an enlightened guy would be a good guy in future lives, but study the evidence. He also told friends back in India that he had once been a vicious, murderous desert marauder, and the thought of it made Yogananda shudder, Sailendra Dasgupta informs. He was Yogananda's secretary in India and wrote his biography in time [Psy 111-12].

2. Also consider how the guru never taught kriya in the lives he had lived after he was enlightened by Krishna. Two cats have been taken out of the bag now.

Polyandric again?

Arjuna of the religious teaching-poem called the Bhagavad Gita, gets enlightened by Krishna in Chapter 11. For the sake of argument, say there was a polyandric (wife-sharing) Arjuna with several of co-wives and many concubines, and that he was quite "lighted up" by Krishna as told in chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita. Based on the scenario it was not Self-Realization Arjuna got there, though. Self-Realization means Self as Centre, and to be "lighted up" suggests "you as Centre", simply put.

If Arjuna was ever taught kriya yoga or similar by Krishna, as Yogananda claims he was, would the soul that had become enlightened by Krishna be at least a good guy and good teacher from then onwards? There is not much evidence of it. The soul that was "Arjuna" lived degraded lives in ensuing lives, and at last became Yogananda – according to him, that is. Further, it appears that in life after life he did neither learn nor teach kriya yoga - not until after his conditions had become desperate, as he shows in his autobiography, and he had become a formidable clinger for help too. [More]

Don't think everything a good guy does, brings trouble and ruin on him or her

Consider this: Yogananda said informally and attestedly that he had been a vicious, murderous desert marauder and William Shakespeare among others. There is no evidence that William Shakespeare ever taught kriya yoga:

Yogananda There is only one guru uniquely the devotee's own. But if you turn away from the emissary of God, He silently asks: 'What is wrong with you, that you foolishly leave the one I have sent to help you learn the divine science of the soul? Now you shall have to wait long, and prove yourself, before I shall respond again.' He who cannot learn through the wisdom and love of his God-ordained guru will not find God in this life. Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity."

[Yogananda. Spring 1974 Self-Realization Magazine, Spring 1974:6. From a talk at SRF Headquarters in Los Angeles, 17 Oct 1939.]

Damn if you leave him, and damn if you don't - are those the choices if Yogananda is reborn as the vicious dog Brutus for his misdeeds in former lives, for example?

Non-kriya claimed Yogananda lives

There are significant elements that need to match. Factors to take into account in such a scenario:

  • If or when the disciple is ready to commit again, the reincarnated guru may not be, if he has incarnated as someone who does not teach kriya, like Shakespeare or William the Conqueror, a lawyer, or a desert marauder - whatever.
  • If the guru is ready, the former disciple may have become unfit for it as a reborn titmouse or whatever.

Yogananda spoke to disciples of many past lives. He told he had been William Shakespeare, William the Conqueror, a laywer, a Spanish fighter - and a vicious desert mauraider, according to his biography [Psy 112]. He also said he had been the Hindu bowman Arjuna who had to share his wife with his four brothers, but who is not known to have been the guru of anyone either. Consider the "proof value" of much that guru aimed at Americans. There is all the more reason not to sell out one's freedom:

Yogananda In this one incarnation I can sleep and dream that I am born in England as a powerful king. Then I die and dream I am born a devout man. And then I die again and am born as a successful lawyer. Again I die and am reborn as Yogananda. But they are all dreams. That is what I am saying. I used to find such pleasure in discovering my past incarnations. But that has lost its enchantment. They are just so many dreams. [Dr 169]

Accordingly, in seven Yogananda-claimed past lives, he initiated others in none. If it continues, a kriya-teaching incarnation of that reincarnating entity might not be easy to come by, no matter how ready you have been for millenniums. And SRF teaches as a mouthpiece of Yogananda that you shall have to get back to you guru - and that is their belief, as documented here. That is much of what SRF nuns believe in and also teach. [More].

Suppose the disciple was ready when Yogananda was Tyrant William who fought and bullied, or a desert maurauder who killed but did not initiate, and so on?

There are some conclusions to be drawn about the guru's teachings. One is that something is wrong with Yogananda's teachings. One may take into account that a disciple in good Hinduism is allowed to go to a suitable guru and also from one to the other. It is much allowed.

And, as it is said:

Buddhic Happiness is the outcome of good. [Buddha]

One is to clarify the mind to arrive at its source [Zen counsel]

As for the cult guru -

  1. If you leave him, several incarnations may be part of the fuller prospect. "Great fear (the colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death)" [Bhagavad Gita 2:40, Yogananda's translation]. Such a worst case scenario of huge sufferings may shake a trepid Yogananda follower, but how true is it of what could come to pass? Krishna says more in the same connection, words that should not be overlooked for the sake of a Yogananda scare - In Lars M. Fosse's translation it reads: "There is no unsuccessful effort here, nor is there any backlash. Even a little of this law saves one from great distress."

    If you consider "colossal sufferings" (alias great distress, etc.) as a form of backlash or part of it, they shall not happen, for no unsuccessful efforts are had, says Lord Krishna in the same verse. So take the time read the whole verse and the verses surrounding it too, in adequate translations. And remember to look to the bright side so as to make good things happen and make much else favourable. There are these and other lessons in the school of life. Lessons - and lesions also. So be very careful when it comes to "godly-bites", if you understand me well . . . [◦More verse translations]

  2. If you don't leave him, will he be teaching kriya and similar when you are ready? There is no evidence of that to be found. Also consider his many, claimed "stray lives" as such as murderer and tyrant anew. There is not a trace of him teaching anyone kriya yoga in those lives. No extant scripture says Arjuna did it, that is. It either means Arjuna did not teach it, or that the kriya knowledge got lost, as Yogananda writes in his Autobiography. And regardless of all that, basic kriya is the gentle pranayama method called ujjayi. It is free and a popular part of hatha-yoga [Tyy 1991:85-86]. There are several variants. [Ppa]

  3. Further, "Is a scoundrel someone we should want to be bound to?" you may ask. And that is perhaps a big problem to some followers, if not all fallen and dangerously misled followers.

These are wider prospects and could help against being taken in.

Helpful Gita Words for Yogis

Now the Yogananda dictum against freedom and Human Rights hardly matches something vital, which is "Feel free to aim solely for successes without backlashes!" Buddha talks for behaving well and improving oneself in a several-lives perspective in his karma teachings. The Bhagavad Gita also speaks of the dominant trend in the life-after-life scenario pertaining to yogis:

GITA STATEMENTS Having attained to the worlds of the righteous and, having dwelt there for [many] years, he who fell from Yoga is reborn in the house of the pure and wealthy [a good and prosperous home]. [6:41]

Or he is born in a family of even the wise yogis; verily a birth like this is very difficult to obtain in this world. [6:42]

There he [he revives the divine consciousness] comes in touch with the knowledge acquired in his former body and strives more than before [to achieve complete success] for perfection, Arjuna! [6:43]

The power of former yoga practice is sufficient to force, as it were, the yogi on his onward path. . . . [6:44]

But, the yogi who strives diligently, purified of sins and perfected gradually through many births, reaches the highest goal. [6:45]

Debunking false lore needs more than study if it's personal. If Yogananda had been an enlightened, polyandric Arjuna in a former life and a true Well-Wisher as claimed - or one who lived what he otherwise professed in public, "teach me to think rightly, and to behave rightly [Wf 181]" he would have behaved less naughtily as to this vital concern. The proverb, "The cow forgets she was a calf," applies to the guru; he once "hid and sulked, not seeking Thee till Someone whispered, "Hello, playmate!" [Wf 254, extracted].


Krishna's solution to any possible Yogananda-caused dilemma is simple: Meditate throughout to improve your lot, no matter what.

You can find out which meditation methods work best according to substantial research - it is ◦Transcendental Meditation, TM - and learn and train yourself in good yoga and meditation techniques and cope well in freedom, and the fruits of your efforts will be yours and follow you into the future, says the Gita above. Even if you have learnt Yogananda's kriya, you are free to learn the no longer secret core practice of kriya yoga - ujjayi - here on this site. A little practice may clear your head and "save you from guru-caused fears". But that is not all. Freely given and good methods could help you on through many lives, says the Gita. And if you want to practice a much more elaborate kriya yoga system, there is Satyananda's system, handed out without imposing on your daily habits, sex life, and most other vital maters. There are counsels, but one is not asked to submit wholesale to anyone, as far as I can see. At any rate things like these are what the author of the books says [Cy; Kta].

Yogananda's "idea-curse" on your future should ideally lose out when you get future births in prosperous, good homes, allied with Krishna. For Yogananda tells dogmatically that he stands for Krishna's teachings too - to the degree and in the ways he understands them. The good point is this: Make the efforts so as not to come to grief. Further, rout deep causes of dukkha, sufferings, to the degree you can. Buddhism is in part for routing stress and sufferings, dukkha.

Gain in positive thinking: those who are lucky enough, learn to practice kriya freely and go for benefits, also on their own terms, which had better be good ones, or all right, or not too bad . . . The "Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity" must be one of the unworthy Yogananda dictums, for he says - with one of his mouths - that he came to reveal Krishna's yoga, and he stands for that. SRF does too, in their Aims and Ideals. Yogananda could have stuck to it and not imposed worse conditions on moral men and women.

Don't Offset Good Diagnoses

Honest with Yourself

Great honesty includes honesty with oneself. Big bluffs may breed feigning, which soon may "freeze" into hypcricy. Hypocrites were once condemned by Jesus. Ah, how things have changed!

Here is a self-help test; it may still be working. [◦Self-help test]

Are you considering seeking therapy, but are unsure whether it is the right choice for you? Therapy may help. Almost anyone with a dysfunction can benefit from professional help from a therapist. Fill out the questionnaire as truthfully and sincerely as you can. Results depend on it.

Instead of working long and hard to insult and damage unmet others because it gives you a kind of relief, get a diagnosis. For "honesty should favour yourself." In psychoanalytic thinking, much comes down to that.

Listening to spiritual teachings can lead into meditation.

Non-bossy Jungian Thinking

Differentiation is a process by which an individual becomes conscious of buried thoughts and feelings. (1)

People should be working for solid restitutions to combat alarming denials of a sect and cult.

One important discovery will be "What is it about me that allowed myself to give away my power and put myself in a vulnerable position in relationship to these people for so long?" - when the full scene is reconstructed. (5)

We can undermine betrayals or betrayers. We need to shine a bright light into our closeted emotions. But one is on some wrong path if where this is all heading is more sophisticated realms of denial.

Followers in narrow-minded groups cannot be engaged in a discussion of the issues that matter most without angered (defensive) or parrot-like responses. ✪ 

When solid differentiation is attained, integration sets in, hopefully. (7)


The ◦UN Declaration of Human Rights may help some. The gist is "Preserve your old rights and freedoms. Do not trade any of them away to join a sect's or guru's "farm" or circles."

Three instances of the personality are often drawn to the fore. Terms to the right are from Dr Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis, TA:

  • Superego vs the Parent
  • Ego vs the Adult
  • Id, libido vs the Child

We also have a witnessing instance, the ability to watch ourselves and others too. Berne includes it in the Child, but the Witness is a spirit-thing.

Violation of the superego's standards, or even the impulse to do so, may produce anxiety. If parental standards are overly rigid, the individual may be guilt-ridden and inhibit all aggressive or sexual impulses. But then, on the other hand, a self-indulgent person can be considered to have a weak superego.

At times the three components of personality are in opposition, at times the superego battles with both the id and the ego because behaviour often falls short of the moral code it adheres to at bottom. In the normal person, the three instances can work together to produce integrated behaviour.

In a cult or monastery, or a community, there may be rigorous demands on the person due to what is allowed and not allowed, endorsed and not endorsed, etc. If there are stiff conformising demands, the superego becomes a battleground, and feigning takes place too easily.


Possibly past lives of Yogananda, Seth material, past lives, reincarnation ideas, Self-Realization Fellowship and Paramahansa Yogananda, Literature  

Kriyananda, Swami. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. . Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2004.

⸻. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.

Ramakrishna: Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974.

Roberts, Jane. 1996. Dreams, "Evolution," and Value Fulfilment.. Vol. 1. San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing.

Roberts, Jane. 1997. Dreams, "Evolution," and Value Fulfilment.. Vol. 2. San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing.

Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Cy: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

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

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2008.

Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Pesd: Clark, Sandra, ed. The Penguin Shakespeare Dictionary. Rev. updated ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999.

Ppa: Niranjanananda, Swami. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2009.

Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.

Tdg: Fosse, Lars Martin. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY:, 2007.

Tyy: Hewitt, James. Yoga.. 4th ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992.

Wf: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. 8th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1959.

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

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