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Self-Realization Fellowship's Kriya Yoga Pledge
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The Short of It

Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) asks those who want to learn kriya yoga after reading Yogananda's glorious hype about it, to sign a binding oath. They say they stand for the same as Jesus, who said, "Do not swear at all (Matthew 5:34-37)." If you are eager to learn kriya, you have to swear allegiance for life-times. That is a hard promise to extract, since you may not know today all that the future holds in store for you, or whether you can keep it or not. All the same they bind you by your word. They bind you by a fidelity oath (below), and by that you drop various Human Rights. If you believe such nonsense as "This is how Jesus would have it by his 'no to swearing'", you lose and risk getting ridiculous and fallen.

In SRF they further believe Jesus and other SRF Christs band together. It is a remarkable belief against solo Christ gospel teachings. (cf. Matthew 7:15-20; 24:5; 24:24 etc.). See how they act; they cheat and bind, and in no slight degree.

Self-Realization Fellowship's Kriya Yoga Pledge

A guru's talk Don't be bound by anything. That philosophy will save you. - Yogananda [Dr 26]

Self-Realization Fellowship's Kriya Yoga Pledge - TEXT "No hoaxes" could be a better policy. As for the kriya oath in SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship), here are four intricate things to tackle, and probably yoga terms too (note the link in the left, bottom corner). These issues intertwine a lot:

  • False play on Jesus and his words, and also giving lip service.
  • Fooling and binding by a pledge that is inconsistently founded.
  • Abuse of certain human rights.
  • One's individual outlooks and morality are at stake along with facets of one's personal life, including the sex life.

This gruelling article is rooted in: "SRF delivers premises, and here are at least some of them brought together so you can discern to what degree they are proper". You get facts and findings around Self-Realization Fellowship's kriya yoga pledge. It is by that oath you will be bound, in case, bound for lots of lives and to many Christs to stay loyal to no matter what - and you do not even know them.

An alternative to binding yourself and fall because of it is to learn sound kriya in freedom, for the core method (called ujjayi) is public knowledge, and kriya yoga hinges on that easy pranayama method. At least try to consider what a guru pledge against Human Rights may bring you.

An Alarming Oath

Here is quite an oath - it involves Yukteswar Christ and other Christs, and Jesus who warned against other Christs than himself (Matthew 7:15-20; 24:5; 24:24 etc.). Yet in Self-Realization Fellowship they write or speak of lots of Christs, and worship some of them, but not Yogananda's father, Bhagabati Christ, on Yogananda's word. As for "Guru Jesus Christ", have you considered if he want you if you are non-Jewish? His teachings and Kingdom were for Jews only, he says in Matthew (13:24). And now, the controlling SRF oath:

Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, and our Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda: I bow to you all.

I will practice Kriya Yoga faithfully and regularly to the best of my ability.

I will not reveal its techniques to anyone without written permission from the Mother Center of Self-Realization Fellowship at Los Angeles, California.

In my path toward God I accept you as my Gurus, O Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Paramahansa Yogananda. To God and to you, my Gurus, I offer my unconditional devotion and loyalty.

With this spiritual baptism of Kriya Yoga Initiation I now become a member of Self-Realization Fellowship, and pledge that I will do my best to exemplify the ideals and promote the aims of this path. [◦Source]

COMMENT. When Yogananda wrote warmly for dictatorship, Hitler and Mussolini before World War II broke out, those who had succumbed to the guru, had promised unconditional loyalty to him. Better say "Danger!" and live decently.

The Stand of Krishna

In the Babaji line of SRF gurus, some teach differently than Krishna too, in important respects. Krishna says the world is real and those who teach differently are demoniac [16:7-8]. Now it gets interesting, for the four kriya gurus of SRF state that the material world is illusory. What does that make the four gurus according to the Gita teachings? Demoniacs. That is the teaching of Krishna in the Gita. It should be emphasised.

Some demoniacs for gurus, or some plain illusory gurus?

There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. [Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, ch. 30 [Link]

When man understands by his Parokshajnana (true comprehension) the nothingness of the external world, he appreciates the position of John the Baptist . . ." [Yukteswar, Hos p. 39]

Whatever Vikara, or outwardness, is seen, is Vrama, or illusion. [Lahiri Mahasaya, Gv 60]

The divine realm extends to the earthly, but the latter [is] illusory". [Babaji, as quoted in Autobiography of a Yogi, ch. 34. Cf. Pa 319].

"Illusion, nothingness, illusory" they say. Then, accordingly, their kriya pledge (as part of the universe) is unreal too. PUFF. And if the gurus are in the universe, their outward appearances and teachings are found to be unreal too - and still are called demoniacs by Krishna. Note it well: You can't have it both ways, can't tell the world is unreal without passing the same judgement on yourself and your teachings - in the world, of the world. So trust little here; your life is at stake.

If you want to be loyal to the Gita-Krishna who says those who teach the world is unreal, are demoniacs, these must include Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Yukteswar and Yogananda, all the four of them. At any rate, believing in cultish contradictions and erroneous beliefs is not truly good for having a sound mind.

The issue of solemn swearing

Solemn swearing in a mist is still supposed to be binding. What could be wrong with solemn swearing in the name of Jesus who said, "Don't swear at all"? (Matthew 5:34-37) Or in the light of Yogananda's "Don't be bound by anything"? Is there a regret button on not against victimising?

Being duped and victim of preposterious claims and oaths or not, that is the question. Facts first, at any rate. One fact: core kriya and much else can be learnt for free otherwise. Another: to overstretch as a promise-dupe is not good for the moral. There is a bit on individual moral into all this. And a free, on-line book to help you consider things like these, and whether sound, non-dwarfing giving and learning kriya for free is fit. Some key issues elaborated on below are:

Promises and control. You have to swear an oath for learning kriya in SRF. It is an oath that binds for life-times, according to Yogananda. And Jesus, appearing in the same oath, says no to swearing at all - and that is in the Bible. If you do not want to develop a split mind, think twice about staking your whole life to a perhaps maddening promise and fraudulent teachings, trapped into committing yourself foolishly - for accumulating results - such as debunked rationality - can be hard to live with.

Swearing to be loyal and devoted to humbug or not? The issue: free or oath-fettered. The SRF kriya pledge serves to "keep kriya yoga holy and pure" is one idea, and to have control over its transmission is also an idea. It goes somewhat against some voiced directions of Jesus to his main disciples, such as, "Freely you have received, freely give." [Matthew 10:8]". What part of "freely" is into swearing unconditional devotion and loyalty to six Christs in the name of no-oaths-Jesus? The actual gurus of SRF bind and cramp some by an oath against "freely received". And we are not talking about money here.

Free giving against dwarfing has to be a concern for a Buddhist too, for Gautama Budda sets an example:

Dharma Wheel The Blessed One [said] "I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back.

[◦Last Days of the Buddha (Maha-parinibbana Sutta, Digha Nikaya 16, 2:32]

Esoteric doctrines for insiders, and sordid pledges for such ones, were not what Buddha lived out. Idiotic pledges can hold you back and go against sound moral development also.

SRF swearing - infamous. To learn SRF's kriya yoga, you have to be eligible and next promise things way over your head - including unconditional devotion. And as for gurus involved, some of those you pledge life-lasting devotion and loyalty to, are probably not involved in the project in the way Yogananda tells, since vital parts of their teachings are opposed to each other, and since their claims are mutually exclusive. For example, Jesus of the Bible warns beforehand against having other masters than himself. Simply put: If you want to be loyal to the Jesus of the gospels, who warns against having other masters than himself, you cannot become an SRF member with five other masters, or can you? Further, if you want to be loyal to Krishna of the Bhagavad Gita, who says those who teach the world is unreal, are demoniacs (and not good for you) [Bg 16:7-9], know that the four Indian gurus behind SRF teach that the world is illusory. They teach much else too. They are Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Yukeswar [Hos 39] and Yogananda; the latter in Man's Eternal Quest [Ak 182 etc. Cf. the links to a more comprehensive listing above].

Kriya Yoga Issues

What kriya yoga is. Kriya yoga narrowly refers to a discrete breathing method, or pranayama. The core kriya is described in detail as ujjayi, and is public knowledge. The first mention of a way of breathing called ujjayi, is in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 2, verses 51-53 from the 1400s. But the description there contains features that are taken out of it in many current ways of doing ujjayi, as shown in James Hewitt's Yoga [Tyy]. [WP, s.v. "Ujjayi"; "Hatha Yoga Pradipika"]

Types of more elaborate kriyas and how they are arranged, differ between different schools of yoga. [Kriya detailed]

Two well-known kriya lines. Kriya is taught in Swami Satyananda's yoga tradition, and also in the Yogananda-founded Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF).

1. Satyananda Yoga offers a kriya yoga medley in publicly available books. The kriya one may learn through Satyananda's Bihar Yoga, hardly violate any human rights. Why should it? It does not seek to interfere dogmatically and in greatly bossy ways with your sex life, diet, beliefs, and autonomy either, and thus stands a lot of comparison: [More]. Satyananda books are compilations from teachings given by Swami Satyananda (1923-2009) and serve in part as step-by-step guides, in part as repositories. The aim is to pass on practices to fit into daily routines of householders and students - whatever. The stated focus is maximum fulfilment. [Cy; Kta].

2. SRF kriya. There are several schools or lines that teach significant parts of kriya yoga and variants, but in this article the focus is on Self-Realization Fellowship's system. In the footsteps of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) the fellowship teaches a simplified kriya yoga with discrepancies. Guru speeches are formed into churchy rigmarole with strange beliefs rigidly upheld; slavish guru-bonding by the kriya yoga oath; and being a member interferes with the sex life up to notoriously, with one's non-vegetarian diet, and so on. [Compare]. SRF has a mounting credibility problem inasmuch as the fellowship makes extreme claims against scriptural evidence, and also binds those who want to learn kriya yoga there by an oath forlifetimes against words of the Bible's Jesus [!]. I should say nice, loving deals are different.

No regret buttons and a prospect of colossal sufferings

If you think my solution is unfit in your case, consider what SRF's Yogananda would have you believe:

Regret buttons or Yogananda. Many would say that it is folly to bargain away essential parts of one's freedom. Consider two of the six past men that Yogananda lays claim on as SRF gurus: Krishna and Jesus - do they teach the same things, for example? No. Still, SRF claims they are in complete harmony. They are not. For example, Yogananda teaches that the universe is an illusion, but does he tell that his teaching and the kriya oath are parts of it and don't really exist? Hardly. Moreover, the guru uses teachings and an alarming oath to impress and form bonds designed to last for future lives, even. If the guru goes bad again - and who says he won't? - it implies the loyality bond to him is horrible. There seem to be reasons for pointing it out. It may not be a remote possibility in "Yogananda's universe". See further down about a fallen guru who said he had been the enlightened Arjuna and Krishna's friend, and later a vicious desert marauder, a brutal tyrant and so on, till he became Yogananda. Believe it if you must. The point is there is evidence he said it. If he has turned that bad before, why imagine he won't again? That is the matter if you accept reincarnation. I do.

Try to stand up to your Human Rights. They are formed as laws in many countries today.

Suppose you don't stay away from the folly and more or less skewed pretences from the beginning, only to swear and regret? Yogananda does not say there is a regret button, but a lot of sufferings for lives to come. That is what he tells, and that he is in charge of SRF, is in its teachings.

A guru's talk "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 . . .?' . . . 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." - Paramahansa Yogananda, SRF magazine, spring 1974, p 6. From a talk at Mother Centre, 8/17/39

One could be led to imagine that those several incarnations could contain misery, pain and colossal sufferings, and that such is Yogananda's estimate. But is so sure? No. For the record, compare:

A guru's talk Babaji added, 'Repeat to each of your disciples this majestic promise from the Bhagavad Gita: "Swalpamasya dharmasya, trayata mahato bhoyat"—"Even a little bit of the practice of this religion will save you from dire fears and colossal sufferings [Bhagavad Gita 2:40]". [Autobiography, ch. 34, and note 8]

Put these two quotations together and get a glimpse of "colossal sufferings" ahead, if . . . But also being saved from them. The crucial element is fit dharma, or behaving properly.

Moreover, rather than being scared, take heart according to this twist: "Neither of these two SRF gurus say just who is about to suffer misery, pain, and colossal sufferings in case: None of them say it has to be you, so stop being scared. And to some that is irrelevant: The decisive factor is whether the one who has parted with Yogananda has acted morally soundly and well, and to which degrees fit dharmic actions continue.

Actually, the "colossal sufferings" scenario is a part of a very positive statement in the Bhagavad Gita, and the ring to the whole verse there is firmly positive, and not designed for scaring.

The proper perspective and wider scenarios are fit and count a lot for fair handling of scriptural phrases.

Dharma and scaring

Remain the positive side of things and watch out for a richer, more rewarding view. Now, in the Yogananda translation of the Bhagavad Gita the passage runs, "Even a tiny bit of this real religion [dharma] protects one from great fear (the colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death) [Yi 70]." Doesn't it suggest that help and protection against much suffering is had? Just a little bit of proper and just dharma has that reward, says the Gita. You can't suffer colossally if you have gained that protection.

Gita translations bring a fuller view of what the term dharma reprepents.

  1. Sivananda has for the same passage: "Even a little of this knowledge (even a little practice of this Yoga) protects one from great fear."
  2. Bhaktivedanta has "A little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear."
  3. Lars Martin Fosse has "Even a little of this law saves one from great distress. [See Tdg 20]"

Moreover, Babaji's and Yogananda and SRF's "colossal sufferings" are not quite that in the three reliable translations cited. What will it be on the Gita's word? Colossal sufferings, dangerous fear, great distress - all of them, or a mixture of some, like "dangerous, colossal, great distress"? Well, none, really, for the Gita says firmly you are in for great protection from such nasty experiences.

So, "When in doubt, win the trick (Edmund Hoyle)." How to proceed next? First check a bit, since the "givens" may not be just as Yogananda or Babaji would have them. It has already been pointed out that you could do better than accepting a victim role for the future: Yogananda did not say who should suffer. Be happy about that if you can, and see how Yoganand's "several lives" goes against the Gita's message of fit efforts in meditation and its long-range boons life after life.

Further details:

Dharma is and old term with a cluster of traditional, interlinked meanings. Where the said Babaji has "practice", the three others have "knowledge", "advancement", and "law". At the root of the Gita's statement lies "Dharma", which means righteousness, natural and universal law (natural justice which upholds or supports), and religion. Dharma in Hinduism is the principle or law that orders the universe; individual conduct in conformity with this principle; the essential function or nature of a thing, and includes subsets of individual obligation with respect to caste, social custom, civil law, and sacred law. Dharma has historically denoted a variety of ideas.

Further, the difference between "protect" and "save" is also worth noting.

And last of these, Babaji tells of a "majestic promise" of the Bhagavad Gita. But three quality translations have the same passage differently.

The positive side to Krishna's words should not be ignored. Krishna does not use the stansas as a way of control with doom or gloom, but to encourage meditation efforts. So yes, there is a bit more in Krishna's great promise and no good reason to keep that half away: What is not recited by Babaji and Yogananda from the same verse is "There is no unsuccessful effort here, nor is there any backlash (Fosse)."

The Gita advocates a resolute, well unified mind, clarity, and self-possession in surrounding verses. "No backlash" says no to "colossal sufferings" from the kriya oath made when drunk too. And "no unsuccessful efforts" means getting steadied in bliss and great happiness and siddhis (yoga powers, perfections, accomplishments, attainments, successes) too - in the opposite of sufferings. Compared to this majestic, full promise, the "many lives" of "colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death" from Yogananda should turn out to be like farts in a wicker chair - hardly discernible in the greater symphony of sounds, that is.

Sort out what you must do to get the truth and bite through with yogic success free from any backlash! That is what the other half of that "majestic promise" also suggests. Also, perhaps you should study Sanskrit! For don't you have a right to a proper understanding of the Gita saying? At any rate be watchful that perhaps distorted or twisted translations do not serve to make you a guru' serf for the wrong reasons. So why not stay out of that deal in the first place? After all, the terms of discipleship under SRF gurus involve "colossal sufferings".

Watch out: Along with the SRF kriya oath you get many bogus teachings into the bargain. The kriya pact of Yogananda is more restrictive than common guru-disciple relationships of India where the door is kept open for a disciple to seek better or other gurus without threats of colossal sufferings on his or her heels.It may be that SRF as an organisation of this human world says, "If you cannot stand it any longer, you are free to go." But the guru's word is different, though, and that is a great problem SRF has to deal with frankly. One of the reasons is that SRF teaches Yogananda's wisdom is flawless, which it is not.

You will find these topics elaborated on and substantiated further down.

SRF Ideals - in part shewbreads?

Official SRF ideals for members are here: [◦Link]

What they keep out of sight for beginners, is the whole list of ◦articles of the SRF Church, as they are officially registered. Article 2.13 contains this: "Human life is given to man . . . not for physical pleasure."

Laughter and joys while living thereby tends to be banished, and many human rights are lost to common members also. [Normal Rights to Consider]

You see from the ideals that SRF goes for evolution into God consciousness, while the Catholic Church teaches that such a teaching is heresy. Who are proper Christians, will it be SRF members or others? [Link].

Smell a rat somewhere and consider in peace. There is good reason to listen to experienced ones that tried that before you. Buddha teaches a sound approach in the ground-breaking Kalama Sutta, but you have to be firm for it. Note the last few sections there.

All the same, we have to evaluate evidence first, before committing to anything at our own risk or expense. Some ignore signals and end up like the crew of Odyssey, and turned into swine. Figuratively understood, bewitched swine (or other animals) may be taken to mean sectarians -

An objection to "SRF Christianity". SRF ideals contain parts that shy away from concrete evidence, and they go starkly counter to sciptural evidence as well. It should be vital to see that in their public aims and ideals, SRF stands for "harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna," and that there is no such perfect harmony. For example, Krishna and Yogananda teach the soul is immortal, whereas Jesus says it can be killed. [Matthew 10:28].

SRF also aims at this: "to unite science and religion". Science is not based on unverified faith, contrary to many a creed and religion. I am not against all kinds of religion, though, far from it. A calculated, rational approach, very much as in Buddha's ground-breaking Kalama Sutta, suits science-minded people very well.

The issue of blunderbuss propaganda. My stand is: We can do better than succumbing to bogus doctrine. There is savoury doctrine in the world; also in the writings of Yogananda here and there. However, we need to understand which is which, and also consider sensible enough limits of many of the guru's blunderbuss sayings if we seek to progress by them. We also need to understand what is asked of those who invest a lot in a cult-like setting. But first things first: Lots of efforts to understand the limits of unrewarding demagoguery and propaganda is a must.

Skeletons in the Closet

Be warned before plunging into the wrong society for you. Look before you leap.

1. How can you be loyal to teachings at odds with one another without a split mind or marked stupidity? Moreover, the SRF kriya pledge is not kind to you, and it fixates positions with you as the inferior guy, and not just for a very short time. It is an oath that ties a follower hand and foot, against the words of Jesus against swearing -.

2. It pays to look behind the devotional facade: Note the word "unconditional". It signifies that once you make the promise, you are bound, no matter what happens to you or the alleged gurus. A study of the claimed, former lives of Yogananda - the one to swear so much to - reveals that he claims he was Arjuna, and therefore enlightened, long ago. Then he claimed to be other persons later on, including a vicious, murderous desert marauder - according to his biographer [Psy 112] - and William the Conqueror. The guru was once a murderous marauder and also a maiming killer and tyrant (William), Yogananda disciples have said [Link]. Now, well documented, solid facts of former lives and humbug claims differ - the key factor is the accepted, fair evidence. Hold on to sound research ways if you are up to it, much as Buddha likes. Further arguments against expecting the worst as a hearsay-abused one:

  1. Future lives free from Yogananda should be a blessing, particularly if he has got worse in seven or eight lives following the one he had. The hearsay canon based on things he told, has it that after he had been enlightened as Arjuna, he was brutal and murderous, and a tyrant in some. It is best not to be the bonded and fettered soul under such ones, I dare say.
  2. Proper activities (dharmic, proper action) in conformity with the scenarios of the Gita, save from future sufferings, the quoted Gita verse says. So where is the problem? Is there a problem?
  3. You might be able to do better than falling beneath a crooked, twisting fakir of a sort.

Much future swearing may be in store for the companion of a future marauder or killer - or former Yogananda. He wrote for dictatorship too in his own magazine in February, 1934. [Read and weep] [◦PDF]

But halt!

1. There are sayings by four of the Indian gurus in the pledge that say the world is unreal. Accordingly their kriya pledge (as part of the universe) is unreal too, as Yogananda would be, and his former lives - they too. Puff.

3. To the degree that the SRF kriya oath goes against Human Rights laws in your country, it is correspondingly offending and unlawful here on earth at least. Poof.

4. If you find out you have been conned into the SRF pledge, which violates moral decency a lot, and is a shame garbed in great-looking words, remember things that help you: A pinpointing: "I did not say for how long I would go by such crap".

Elaboration: Will Yogananda become a murderous desert robber again?

Luckily to some, core kriya is ujjayi pranayama and public knowledge nowadays. It stands out from the Yogananda quotation above that even if you were to get ready for a good guru in this life, after dropping Yogananda, Yogananda will not help you, no matter how needy or ready you might hope to be: he says "several incarnations at least", and claims God is on his side in such a scheme. And that is taken to be truth among his devotees. (!)

In his set-up, what if you got ready after one, two, or ten lives, and find that Yogananda was not teaching kriya at all in those incarnations? Is that far out, or an unlikely scenario? See what is let out about "Yogananda's past lives" (read and weep):

Yogananda (falsely?) claimed to have been an avatar, Arjuna. Arjuna in Hindu iterature is an archer who shared his wife with his four brothers if that means a thing. According to the Bhagavad Gita's chapter 11, Arjuna got enlightened, and fought hard afterwards. Yogananda also said he had been "a vicious and murderous desert marauder" in another life. Thinking of it made Yogananda shiver with horror from time to time, says his biographer [Psy 112]. Yogananda also claimed to have been the brutal and greedy William the Conqueror, William Shakespeare, a fighter in Spain, and others. [More]

If croaking is an asset of yours, keep it tidy. If a vivid imagination or mystic power is another, try not to lame others by it.

Being free from Yogananda in the future, is that bad at all?

Basically, after the Arjuna claim, none of his so-called past incarnations seem to have been enlightened. He never taught kriya or stood up as a guru after being enlightened by Krishna, or so it seems. Such points add up to a rather gnawing suspicion. In the guru's alarming stick-to-me-or scenario, if it be true that his follower has to be encumbered by him even after abandoning him, getting a new incarnation where Yogananda is a guru at all, may not be as easy as "as soon as you get ready again, Yogananda will appear to help you on." To the contrary if he has ended up as a vicious, murderous desert murderer again.

Various things that are taught in SRF - about the results of abandoning Yogananda for good reasons and less - about his claimed past lives - and so on, add up to this disconcerting gist:

It is a tyrant who ties down people to serve him by inculcating a deep and naïve faith contrary to what good sense and gurus otherwise would have it.

Guard your human rights; do it well. How? Don't succumb in the first place. Refrain from getting involved with what causes your downfalls in the garb of help and salvation.

"Don't be bound by anything. That philosophy will save you," said Yogananda. Accordingly, not to be bound by Yogananda and SRF, can save you from Yogananda and SRF, on Yogananda's word. [Dr 26]


Moral and Yogananda

Sincerity will save you. - Yogananda
Self-Realization Fellowship teachings represented
Teachings that act like smoke can ruin health in the long run.

Or maybe it will not; it depends. Outcomes of honesty and bravery also vary. On the journey of life, you have perhaps seen a similar "Honesty will save you" too. The question is how true and valid such blunderbuss sayings are in a given setting, under different circumstances, and in Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF.

Good honesty is to be honest with yourself first. One may be honest in a lot of ways throughout life, and many lessons may be learnt of it. In good situations, honesty may help you, and in bad situations it may cost you your life - so do not be fooled by sayings that seem to promise much, but end in smoke if inspected. It is wise to dare to question teachers and teachings in the way Buddha advocates - very politely for the sake of their nerves.

Further, one significant problem with SRF is their take that Yogananda's guidelines are without fault, even though he said man needs a dictator to guide him, and gave in to many wrong ideas, as shown on other Yogananda-related pages on the site. As for what will save you, the orator Yogananda also said that "Understanding . . . is the only thing that will save you," and "Befriend the Self and the Self will save you. There is no other savior than your Self." [Dr 245; Ak 9]

There is one "only" too much in the quotations above about "Only understanding, only your Self, and sincerity (not barring honesty)," for good understanding is not the Self, but of the Self - and so further. A question is how to get to understanding, Self-friendship, and saving sincerity at their best. It should help to meditate by one or several methods working together nicely and neatly.

And it is old wisdom that "Honesty is praised and left to starve," and that "The best gambler is the man who doesn't gamble." Both are American proverbs [Ap 305, 246]. Some there are who praise honesty as a saving thing, but do not implement it full well in their society, where many suffer from the lack of it. It tends to be that way. Some SRF beginners choose with the SRF management and its publishing department to put a mass of faith in selected guru quotations and drop focusing on other quotations that gainsay and do not support the selected ones very much, or not at all. That looks like how it is in several church societies that form imbeciles. They gamble together in a "spree of so-called devotion and loyalty" that their selections are worthy a or at least OK, while what they tend to disregard in their actual practice, may possibly work better for SRF members on the whole.

A lot of churches seem to have dubious or ill-omened selectivity in common. It tends to suit those in power the most, often at the expense of the under-dogs. So do not get outsmarted. How? Be free to find guru words and guru methods that help you and not enslave you all over - for "It's not the gale but the set of the sail that determines the way you go [Ap 245]."

These are basic ideas for profiting from a cult where there are medleys of leader words - some helpful and others not - but cultishness may be hard to tackle anyway. It should be very well not to enter, and go for good and gentle meditation practices instead. I find Transcendental Meditation, TM, to get to the marrow of it.

If you are sincere, you will realise that you cannot foresee and "fore-set" the feelings, attitudes, and conduct that the SRF Kriya Pledge demands from you, and will refrain from making the pledge. Here come the moral grounds for such a fit stand:

Do not promise what you cannot keep

To "promise" you must be able to deliver. - Jerome Bruner, Acts of Meaning [Acom 63].

Lo To be on the safe side, do not promise what you cannot deliver. It is reasonable not to promise something over your head, and that you cannot foresee alarming consequences of. Your feelings during one single day only, are they under your control at the break of day so that you can guarantee how you are going to feel? You may be free to promise you are going to love six unmet leaders for life-time after life-time onward - ignoring that they teach against one another - but can you keep your word? If you do not know whether you are going to love unconditionally forever, refrain. Period. The point is that future feelings - life after life - usually lie outside our control. In SRF's Kriya Pledge, you promise to love others without condition for the rest of their lives, and yours, no matter what happens, no matter how you change, or they change. The cost may become formidable.

Haim G. Ginott

Dr Haim G. Ginott tells that unrealistic promises cause grief "for everyone". His focus is dealing with children, but the lessons apply equally well to SRF kriya applicants:

Promises should neither be made to, nor demanded of, children. Why . . .? Relations . . . should be built on trust. When parents must make promises to emphasize that they mean what they say, then they are as much as admitting that their "unpromised" word is not trustworthy. Promises build up unrealistic expectations . . . Life is not without mishaps . . . The relentless complaint "But you promised!" is painfully familiar to parents who belatedly wish they had not.

Promises about future good behavior or the cessation of past misbehavior should not be requested or extracted from children. When a child makes a promise that is not her own, she draws a check on a bank in which she has no account. We should not encourage such fraudulent practices. [Bpc, 61]

Most people have the freedom to make silly promises about loving others - but had better refrain, for the repercussions may be bad.

Burdens ahead for most guys

Marriages flounder in thousands every day, so why add the burden of broken promises to the other burdens? At a Sikkim wedding ceremony the priest in charge says just, "Stay together till distaste (aversion) splits you apart," - something like that. It is a most beneficial public sanction. Even Jesus says something that means in effect "Do not solemnly promise at all". Here is the saying:

FACE You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made . . ." But I tell you, do not swear at all . . . Simply let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No"; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. [Matthew 5:33-37]

Consider wedding promises and ordination promises in the Church in this light too. The issue is that you contribute to evil in our own future and that of others by certain high-flown promises. Consider, too, the broken marriages and the unneeded extra burdens of broken promises.

Promises that are imposed on you serve as agents of control on your behalf. Paramahansa Yogananda formed several kriya promises that were designed to bind people. After a horse first is bound, it often is tamed as a further "development". The current SRF kriya pledge binds people against several of their vital Human Rights. To the degree this is so, the SRF kriya pledge seems to be unlawful.

Differences in the teachings - a repeat

Romantics dream of love forever, but if something untoward happens, or love just wears out, what next? You probably cannot tell in advance how you will feel and behave forever, or what? But what if you have promised to revere six masters and be loyal to them unconditionally anyway, no matter how they are and become? The bet is that you do not know if you are able to deliver what you are made to say in advance of your whole future, which is far more than one life, according to SRF teachings. The bet is you are made a fool by pledging way over your head.

Is Jesus into it?

Bluffing one's way. Is Jesus into the SRF pact at all when the gospel's Jesus says no to having other masters than himself, and warns beforehand of false Christs? Further, Jesus and Yogananda teach differently from one another, for example on the soul, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father. Yogananda and SRF say Jesus is one of the SRF gurus, but valid proof seems missing, and central gospel evidence goes against Yogananda's great claim. Also, reading reincarnation into the bible as Yogananda does, is far-fetched and largely unsupported by bible scholars.

In the kriya pledge they have not included "Divine Mother" as Kali etc, and which occupies a central place in Yogananda's and SRF's idea universe. The six claimed, but unmet gurus that appear in the pledge after Krishna was added to the list many years after Yogananda's death, teach against each other in very significant respects. In an earlier version of the pledge, allegedly by Yogananda, that too, you pledged unconditional loyalty, love and devotion to the six said gurus of the SRF deal. In a still earlier pledge, to the five said gurus of SRF. So they change a pledge attributed to Yogananda. Is there a problem here?

As I see it, it is one of fooling around and messing with scriptural evidence to suit oneself, without enough skill or consideration, as the case may be. It is well to go for quality teachings rather than swindle teachings.

Further consider that many gurus have had bad falls, Indian tradition tells. Then why should you promise your worth off by always "kneeling" to them, no matter how they might ill-behave?

Forever is such a long time: to demand unconditional [unlimited] devotion and loyalty to six conflicting gurus - Krishna, Jesus, and the four Hindu gurus Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Paramahansa Yogananda - is to overstep: Take into account they teach differently, that some of their core teachings are clearly opposed to one another - and still the demand is for unconditional loyalty - It is not soap. Yogananda is out to get subservience. Consider whether you or anybody else can keep your word and be devoted and loyal (to demoniacs) without condition. Sound and constructive devotion really does not works like that. What if you have a change of heart? Study just what the guru's "loyalty" implies in your case, and you could be better off.

Reminder: Jesus says in effect "Have only me for your Master," for example in "False Messiahs [Christs] . . . will appear . . . to deceive even God's chosen people, if possible [Matthew 24:24, etc.]." And in the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna teaches the world is real, and demoniacs teach otherwise (16:7-8). Babaji, Lahiri Baba, Yukteswar and Yogananda teach the outer world is unreal somehow. Hence, are they false guides (a Biblical view) and demoniacs (the Bhagavad Gita view), and also worthy of being loved unconditionally? These issues and others are elucidated further down on the page.

The value of keeping your word should not be overlooked

A proverb with many variants says, "A man's word is his bond". When people are made to swear oaths they may not estimate the reach of, they get bound by their oaths, by their word, and may one day wake up to contrition when they find they could not keep their promises, which presumably were made in good faith. That is a problem that many married couples get too, because the church acts against a clear saying of Jesus, and thereby serves the evil one, according to him. "Do not swear at all . . . [Matthew 5:33-37]." Control of such a kind serves some in power. If such control is undemocratic, problems grow. That is the philosophical side of this matter.

The more control you give away to others, the more others may take away from you. It may be better to go fishing than to succumb hand and foot to non-democratic rascals in adult life.

If you want to learn kriya yoga in SRF, their kriya pledge is put in your way. But in the SRF kriya pledge you pledge unconditional devotion, and loyalty to God and "the six-pack" of alleged SRF gurus that teach against one another at times:

  1. Krishna of Hinduism;
  2. Jesus, originator of a hard sect of Judaism;
  3. "Babaji" ("revered father", no certain name and dates given),
  4. Shyama Lahiri (1828-95),
  5. Yukteswar (1855-1936),
  6. Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952).

Yogananda decreed there would be no other gurus added. The last four are held to be Hindus. You may come across variant spellings of their names, and other names used too. Consider how Krishna was added to that SRF list of gurus only a decade or two after Yogananda's death in 1952. Are the six of them strange bedfellows or not? And are they really bedfellows solely because Yogananda tells so? - and contrary to Biblical evidence and sayings told ahead of time?

Do not be taken in. There are harsh, halfway hidden sides of the "shining, new coin (pledge)". If you do not overstretch in any severe way you could save yourself harm and trouble. Otherwise, the effects of overstretching might last a lifetime, if not longer. Why promise more than you have control over yourself? Isn't it stupid to promise things you do not know if you can keep later? Promising far too much and being made to promise so are moral issues. But the effects of breaking one's word can be felt tangibly and severely. [More]

Yogananda's carrot, whip, and saddle

Yogananda wanted to get many followers. He adapted to Christianity by hook and crook for it. As it shows up, much of what he did was unwise. He took to alluring "convincing" verbiage and much else to attract followers; the carrot is several divine-looking promises, especially the idea of self-realization understood as great joy or bliss in the end.

The kriya oath serves to bind submitting fellows to him, also against Human Rights, and he used whip sayings too, against "irregularities" and losing disciples. Several lives of "extreme misery" or "colossal sufferings", and wasted opportunities etc. may suggest much of what constitutes his so-called whip.

As with animals who get tamed to carry a rider, the saddle seems to be hundreds of seemingly well-meaning guru goading, shoulds and shouldn'ts, do's and don'ts restrictions and injunctions and guidelines as to what to do and not to do. Not a few disciples have got overloads. But fear is a factor to reckon with in SRF. Maybe not naked fear, but guru fear among many bound by their words, by the oath (a pledge is a solemn oath) and a commitment to SRF along with it.

To repeat, Yogananda tells: "If you turn away from the emissary of God, He [decides] "Now you shall have to wait long . . . Several incarnations [with extreme misery] at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity. [Source: SRF Magazine, spring 1974, p 6., emphasis added]"

At the start of SRF the pledge did not contain any oath of loving six gurus at all. They were added by stages. Yogananda dictated the following on 10 January 1921.

I promise and swear to act according to the following rules.
  1. . . .
  2. I will never reveal it to anyone without your permission.
  3. I will try my utmost to follow your general advice . . .
  4. . . .
  5. If I divulge without your permission extreme misery will overtake me according to natural laws.
  6. I will in every way help to spread this cause . . . I will help others to get this divine knowledge if I myself think I enjoy it . . . [SOURCE: Rosser, Brenda Lewis. Treasures Against Time, p 380]

There could have been other versions of the pledge at that time.

"In every way" - bah!

Spreading the cause in every way was a too stiff demand, as there was no limit to it, and the guru was given all power - and bad ways were not excluded here . . . Why should a dentist's wife have to strip naked on the streets of Boston for the guru's cause? Because she had been made to swear "in every way". Stripping naked was absolutely not outside it . . . Ugh! Poor followers.

The said, extreme misery [stemming from not stripping naked in the city streets and so on] involves several incarnations, the later Yogananda divulges - but at that time he had changed the oath to swear. You normally do well in preserving savoury and useful freedom that you have, and refuse to succumb to a someone with a carrot, saddle, and whip and be ridden - pranawise, otherwise, or both).

Question and Avoid Crooks

Question the legal validity of the SRF kriya pledge first, before you submit

Outsmarted: denied human rights, including some good old Hindu rights too. Know your UN sanctioned human rights. These articles from the UN charter of human rights will do at this point:

  • No one shall be held in [deep, ignoble] servitude . . . [Article 4, text in square brackets is added for clarity.]
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom . . . [Article 18]
  • No one may be compelled to belong to an association. [Article 20] [More]
The UN charter is made legally valid through a human rights law. Your country's back-up Law of the Charter is the legally valid thing in this, for example throughout the EU (European Union). You may have to check it yourself. [Link]

Gerrit van Honthorst. The Incredulity of St. Thomas. Ca. 1620. Central part.
A somewhat embarrassing first-hand check may save you a future of being bound.

SRF's kriya pledge could bind you to deep servitude if you commit to it - and if you do not commit, there is not that bondage, and you should not swear that oath either. Even though Yogananda's fellowship permits persons to leave, the guru says truly scary things about such a prospect (below). SRF also thinks that a member that leaves eventually has to come back to the guru, even after lifetimes. That is in their line of thinking. [More]

AUTHORITARIAN SUBMISSION. Look before you leap, says the proverb. It pays to be circumspect. It could be the mistake of a lifetime to submit to six unknown gurus, some of which teach strangely differently: gurus that very few would say band together. Inspect well beforehand before submitting, for the troubles brought on by inconsistent and confusing Yogananda teachings will not serve all persons well. Do not be tricked into submission that is not necessary for good progress in yoga and otherwise either. Consider your freedoms before you succumb to this and that and anyone. Have in mind that some persons (devotees) appear to turn bossy and perhaps too dogmatic if devotionalism and sulkiness takes over.

OPPOSED TO FREEDOM. The outlook of this talk is that people - especially beginners - need to be warned, and there is much to become aware of as a "yoga consumer" too: In the SRF kriya tradition students by steps get tied and spiritually wed to "hidden and long gone" gurus by an oath, and many become slavish - and some add to that. But in Hinduism in general there are often changes of guru. The disciple is moved from one to another. It happens lots of time, it is in the tradition, it can be fair, and is seldom thought to be odious. In this respect, the teachings and first and foremost the kriya pledge of the Self-Realization Fellowship Church tie you - as a submissive part - to one guru for your future, which involves many lives (!). You should be well aware of that, and the strictness of the terms of the pledge. [More]

Freedom through submission seems strange and may seldom work well enough.

Bound through life-times through the SRF pledge

"Do not swear," said Jesus.

FACE Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool . . .[Matthew 5:34-35]

HARSH DEVOTIONALISM. But in order to learn kriya yoga through SRF (an American organisation), you have to take an oath - it is solemn swearing in which you promise to unconditionally love and be loyal and devoted to six gurus, one of them called Jesus Christ -

Thus, your faith and good will and word is taxed as if you were the Almighty even at the beginning of such a quest. And what if you should renege altogether through judiciousness as time goes by? Here is "the harsh answer" to that: 

Paramahansa Yogananda quotation "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." - Paramahansa Yogananda, SRF magazine, spring 1974, p 6. From a talk at Mother Centre, 8/17/39

Here the guru locks you in. But his claim of furthering "original Christianity" is a hoax. Jesus taught differently than the gurus on some core issues, and Yogananda opposes his sayings too.

DISAPPOINTMENTS FOR MANY. It could be good to be forewarned. You should be well informed before anyone "hooks" the "blue-eyed" you. Some do get disappointed in SRF, including monastics. In 2001-2002 one third of them left the SRF organization - but they may fear leaving the guru, for reasons as found in the Yogananda quotation further above, which is scary, because of the so-called "colossal sufferings" of being born and of dying, and of being reborn and dying, and the like.

That devotees disappoint, Yogananda learnt too, as rendered by Kriyananda. And "The cow forgets she once was a calf (Proverb)." Yogananda was not so very faithful to his guru.

The "Original Christianity" hoax of SRF

SHEWBREAD CHRISTIANITY IS TO BE DEALT WITH. SRF claims it brings "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ". There is no such thing, since Jesus said he came for Jews only, his words were only for Jews, and that salvations was from the Jews - who rejected him by and large. Jesus also said the Law of Moses was valid. It institutes slavery, demanding such as "Keep the Canaanite slave forever (Leviticus 25:46)". And Jesus says it is valid "till heaven and earth disappear" [Matthew 5:18-19].

Traditional Christianity is a later-comer, as revealed in Acts 15, mainly. In that new deal for gentiles, only four things were requested. Abstaining from blood food is one of them.

But SRF goes on to teach they stand for "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ", by preposterous fabrication. [More]

Further, "father Matheo", a professor of the Roman Catholic Church decrees,

[Yogananda's] theology cannot be squared with Roman Catholic doctrine. He teaches indifferentism.

He also seems to teach the Pelagian heresy of salvation by human effort alone.

He misunderstands and even implicitly denies the Christian doctrine of Incarnation. [Read on]

A Noble Way Out

It can be hard to find a decent way out if the world is merely illusory -

SURRENDER TO CEREMONIALISTS OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. To take leave of Yogananda as a kriya-initiated disciple (kriyaban) is meant to be impossible, but wait, there is good news in store too. Yogananda has stated many things, and on the depressive side to some is that leaving him as a guru is wont to cause bad 'repercussions' for not only decades, but several future lives (see the quotation just given). He also called those who left in his days such as "quitters or traitors" in an old article of what is now called Self-Realization Magazine. The yoga society he set up, SRF, writes in an insider's letter:

". . . sooner or later, every Truth-seeker will unfailingly find his way back to his God-given guru and, having learned to surrender himself to the guru's guidance, will make swift progress toward the Divine Goal" [Link]

- that is their faith, and they may not be all happy that this information has leaked out. Jesus seems to be missing in this Yogananda-given scenario, for some obscure reason, or none. The faith is encumbered with difficulties. For example, if you were ready for Yogananda guidance when he was William the Conqueror (yes, he said he was), you would not be given kriya, but maybe a scolding or far worse. Or suppose you were ready for guidance when he was William Shakespeare (yes, he said he was), and all you got was a play to listen to. The point: Judged from insider talk in the fellowship, Yogananda was far from always in a kriya-giving role or mood, no matter what you might have been. This should not be overlooked either in such a universe of ideas or figments of imagination.

Now, progress in kriya is something imagined if the world is unreal (!). Few think of that, but Yogananda repeatedly says the world is unreal, like a dream and so on. He also says "You are already enlightened, but you don't know it". [Say, see index]

Messy slogan teachings over and over

THE GURU we look into did not seem to find fault with his own messy sermonising. Below are a few examples; the coupled statements do not fit together like a key and its keyhole, do they?

bird "We don't really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." - Paramahansa Yogananda. [Ak 414] – "We find his guidelines infallible." - Self-Realization Fellowship.

"The universe is an illusion". - Paramahansa Yogananda –

The Bhagavad Gita says, though: "Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done . . . Neither . . . proper behaviour nor truth is found in them. (16:7)

DEMONIAC? NO FOUNDATION? They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation . . . (16:8)

Following such conclusions, the demoniac . . . engage in unbeneficial, horrible works . . . (16:9)" [Emphasis added]

"Our best friends are those who criticise us the most ... who never condone our faults." - Paramahansa Yogananda – "We find his guidelines infallible." - Self-Realization Fellowship.

"When a true guru performs an action ... no marks remain. - Paramahansa Yogananda [Cf. [Say 14] – (His words remain -)

Hence, Krishna maintains in the Bhagavad Gita that the world is real. The gospels do not teach the world is unreal either. But Yogananda (and Babaji) say the material world is unreal. It may not be reconciled. Have you ever considered how real they and their words and teachings are if the whole wide world is unreal?

Learn to consider: How can unreal gurus demand unreal pledges from unreal people?

Do you think unreal gurus are big, big or players?

Boss infallibility on top of that

THE SECT or cult is characterised by dogmatised boss infallibility. Great damage may be done through sugar-coated but unfit, "invaluable" boss infallibility. The thing may victimise in the long run, and is far from democratic in the way we know it. As for SRF, it may be viewed as a cult.

[Non-Christian] Self-Realization Fellowship - Blends pagan Hinduism and the teachings of Jesus. Founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. [Check A]

[The cult] Self-Realization Fellowship, Paramahansa Yogananda Los Angeles, CA: New Age, Awaken the God within, Yoga, Meditation. Publishes the Self Realization Fellowship magazine. [Check B]

This gives a chance to clarify main concepts used against cults or sects or to describe them - such purposes appear to blend in some cases:

  1. Christianity incorporates dozens of pagan elements from the times of the Roman Empire. Hence there is a need to make clear what sort of paganism we are talking about, and to be fair about all the pagan elements in Christianity also. [LINK]
  2. Sects and cults may or may not work better than the large society. It depends on what country you are in, among other things. Besides, there are differences among sects and among cults - and it has to be taken into account. Christianity started as a sect (or cult) of Judaism, and should not be so very much different now. [LINK]
  3. New Age is a stupid term that covers a multitude of elements; some of them are constituents of medicine, even. Others reflect deep philosophies, and so on. The term "New Age" is too variegated to say much of value unless it is nuanced. It can mean a social movement (waned), ways of life, and much else. [Link]
  4. Sects and some cults do, however, deal in treating members as "underdogs and weaklings" in various set-up rigmaroles of conformity. Over-bossy slogans may be detected too.
      Many cult outputs tend toward bossy slogans.

The chance of being outright fooled

A guru's talk If I had a thousand mouths, I would speak through them all to convince you. - Yogananda, Ak 111]

Well, putting aside for now all questions of extreme tooth-brushing, a thousand times more tooth-aches, and corresponding dentist bills, the guru appears to talk with two mouths at any rate. With one of them he insists the ego must go. With the other he appears to aim at developing the ego. - You can't have it in both ways, presumably. Take care. [More]

Ancient Indian teachings tell that the real, hidden mission of Narada, who is thought of as a guru prototype, is to fool and madden persons into perdition, and also for no particular, good reasons at all but unfair and partial ones. Beware. [Summarised story]

This is to say that all gurus are not very friendly . . . Yet, not everyone that is called a guru may be too bad. It is held in the common Hindu tradition that about nine out of ten of those that set themselves up as gurudevas (divine friends and helpers) are fakes, not anything like true gurus. In Hinduism there is a tradition of being firm and circumspect and question the guru before committing in any "dense" way.

Being circumspect is seldom for free, but being taken in and meddled with can be worse.

Hailing out of place, and Jesus plot-incorporated

THE GURU that you have to tie in with he as God's channel and you as one of his "brides", perhaps, if you get caught in his net, hails his own guru as an incarnation of wisdom. Recently published evidence shows it is hailing out of place, for his guru did make blunders and often taught wrong. That is far from showing unerring spiritual insight. Yogananda boasts too much, also by overdoing things. Formalised, excessive praise of one's guru and divinity-allied assertions out of place, tend to reflect a problem. Just manage to "inspect the legs of the peacock", that is, check the lay of the land before you trust widely and to your long-term harm. Do not let guru boasting become your problem. [Link]

You pledge to honour Hare Krishna too. The Upanishad evidence that Krishna was a real person, is meagre, just a couple of lines that are found in three separate works. But the long epic poem Mahabharata contains information about him and a capital he built, and very recent excavations have found the now underwater site as described in parts of the old poem, and its recent dating conforms with Mahabharata information about Dwarka, long suspected to be a legend only. By such tokens Krishna is thought to have existed; the odds (chances) can be good, even, so we do not discredit Krishna as someone that has been solely invented any more.

But many popular stories of Sri Krishna are fabrications in that Vedic, old tales were reused and modified with Krishna as the protagonist (hero, main character) instead of the thunder-god Indra, for example. This is pointed out in The Cultural History of India, Vol 1 [Xm]. The Indian Puranas (books) do contain stories that are shuffled or retold in similar ways [Link] [cf. [Clh].

Jesus is given a sort of adaptive credit, but the full impact of what he set up, according to the gospels, is withheld or toned down or pushed away so that Hindu teachings do not flounder. For example, he never advocates more than one master - himself, that is . . . Further, in SRF you find that some of the regular features of traditional Christianity are missing. Thus, be on your guard so as not to be taken in.

A problem with those who call their living or passed-away gurus unerring, infallible and the like, is that these followers play all-knowing thereby, and often by whim.

Through regulated top-dog wilfulness, Christianity much at stake

YOU MAY say that in Yogananda's SRF, handed over Christianity is placed in a strange position for the sake of guru hailing and wilful adaptations that seem very much out of place. If you enter as a Christian, you will find yourself in a church where hailing and worship of some avatars is a common lot, and odd or semi-ritual wailing to the Divine Mother, and so on. The one of assumed supreme responsibility for followers in SRF is Babaji, a "Yogi-Christ", according to Yogananda. There is clear documentatio of such teachings on some other pages. Do not be like victims of insincere salesmen that persuade rather than inform like a report in a consumer magazine. Be aware and alerted to what is really found in SRF, and do not be satisfied with facades and what is for show, then. Take a good look beforehand, and find out how Christian it seems to your minister, if you can. For vital sacraments in Christianity are dispensed with. What is missing or changed into a Hindu gift, is Holy Communion, and you may meet no tongue-talkers - and there is no apostolic succession from the ranks of Jesus.
      Big words of Jesus in the New Testament may be twisted to suit Hindu proselytising. [Debating it]

Many unprincipled guru followers are satisfied with transgressing against historical Christianity for the sake of present hypocrisy.

The problems of verbiage and unclear teachings

DISAPPOINTMENTS IN STORE FOR BLIND BELIEVERS. It can be hard to apply Yogananda's early words of non-violence once you learn that he sent followers to fight in World War II, for example. There are some very striking examples of drifting teachings and radically changed teachings from Yogananda, and when SRF holds his guidelines are infallible and so on, the tables are set for frustrations that may seem without end if you miss the historical development or retrogression of the guru's main teachings. It seems to me he got more or less caught in a reciprocal web of "situational" utterances that SRF maintain are infallible, contrary to evidence and to what they have done to some of them - removed parts of his autobiography in later editions, for example [More].

To claim infallibility on behalf of someone who is so not, must be called a serious offence, and not only a childish whim. One should not overlook or ignore that some of the guru's teachings are situational. It is similar with some words by Jesus: Once he said his mission was reserved for Jews only. We know how that mission failed, and how the "project" of Jesus and his Father changed.

To recap: As a member of the SRF church, you belong to six avatars - Krishna, Jesus Christ, Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya (or Baba), Sri Yukteswar and Paramahansa Yogananda, according to the SRF's Kriya Pledge. And Yogananda is the last guru of that said line. That's part of the thinking that goes into it. You pledge unconditional loyalty and devotion to them too. Making innocents promise unconditional devotion and loyalty to six gurus (four of them in a dynasty) could go against the law, and not just be morally offensive in the light of UN Human Rights and the like. You need to find and stick to a balance between the freedom to choose a big, fat swindle as your favourite religion and that of catering to good enough personal freedom. Yogananda's SRF maims several basic human rights through the kriya pledge. Decency is elsewhere.

Further, SRF's kriya pledge appears to overtax anyone's control-in-advance-for-any-eventuality forces, by framing and binding your activity, emotional life and will for a lifetime, without admitting any reneging (going back on your overconfidently made promise or commitment).

Promising over your head may in time deplete your funds (widely understood), binding the central core we call heart, its feelings and actions far into an unknown future through, "A word is a word (a promise is to be kept)".

But when you promise to love unconditionally for ever, you seldom or never know if that is within your power. And by the way, if you really knew it in advance, maybe you would not have any need to be guided too. As for pledging love for a life-time, there are divorce statistics that give solid evidence of how little widespread keeping one's word is to some, maybe half of a population, to hint at something.

To tie up inexperienced ones by severe pledges very many cannot survey the implications of in time, can very well molest and endanger more than personal liberty rights (which may have been thrown into the bargain). Such things may occur under the surface for some time and spread into the unforeseen future and make life bad. Yes, there is a danger in promising too much, making pledges to hard-hearted ones that do not even want to consider reasonable objections to some guru-sown quasi things -

Serious kriya pledge disappointments are only for those that have their own moral sense intact.

Regulated submission is part of the game

WHAT THEY call kriya-yoga requires initiation to work successfully, they insist. The training may get rigorous, eventually. See Garland of Letters, 1-10 to get an inkling of what original kriya looked like [F2]

You pledge unlimited devotion and loyalty to God, Jesus and the rest of them.

In a church or flock there can be moral submission and after that life-style submission, which may be hard to tackle and a detriment to inner growth. It is best to stay out of a kriya pledge that binds hand and foot for no good enough reason.
      To illustrate guru mentalities in SRF:

A guru's talk [Sri Yukteswar to Yogananda:] You ignore my wishes."

"No longer, guruji! Your wish shall be my law!"

[Sri Yukteswar again:] "That's better! Now I can assume responsibility for your life."

"I willingly transfer the burden, master." [Link]

Can guru responsibilities end when a follower is greatly enlightened, illumined?

A guru's talk [When he was eighty, Sri Yukteswar told Yogananda:] "My task on earth is now finished; you must carry on." . . . My heart was palpitating in fear.

. . . Sri Yukteswar went on. "I leave everything in your hands. You'll be able to successfully sail the boat of your life and that of the organisation to the divine shores."

"You'll be able to successfully sail the boat of your life . . . to the divine shores" - But what actually happened, according to Yogananda himself? One night in a Mumbay hotel, Satan (with a catlike tail) leaped on his chest so that Yogananda could not breathe. There and then the long departed Sri Yukteswar appeared and shooed the devil. This is all according to Yogananda in a talk that was published in the Self-Realization Magazine, Summer 1976, p. 8-9. [Yogananda lamed].

Sri Yukteswar did not leave all (and not all of the devil either) in Yogananda's hands. See?

There are many other interesting topics, such as "What is Sri Yukteswar really talking about by "You will be able to sail the boat of the organisation to the divine shore"? Could we have a counterpart to the Markandeya Purana tale where King Harichandra and his people are taken up to heaven alive? [Ma 32-58]

It may be better to remain yourself - if you can handle it - than to transfer great burdens onto others and expect them to assist you greatly too, on top of that. But who can tell?

Noble Warps Out

Yogananda and Babaji teach that the material world is unreal, and that also includes your body and clothes. The appearances of gurus are not real either, or the serious-looking SRF kriya pledge. It is not really utterable unless there is a world to utter it in - you are free accordingly. Maybe free from the favours too, unless you "sit" well or plead your case convincingly. Here is evidence fit for a court of law - and we do bring much more on other pages:

Paramahansa Yogananda quotation The material universe is not real. [Paramahansa Yogananda, Ak 182]

There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. [Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, ch. 30.]

Never believe that you live. [Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi. [Ha 88]

The world is nothing more than a cosmic dream — This life is a dream. [Paramahansa Yogananda Ak 237, 240]

When he [man] awakens in cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly dematerialise the illusions of the cosmic dream. [Paramahansa Yogananda, ch. 34]

Babaji observed. "The divine realm extends to the earthly, but the latter [is] illusory". [In Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography ch. 34]

Remember, the problems of explaining these and other stubborn guru quotations and what they mean to any believer, will be their problems. Do not let them bother you. You could have far better things to do in "The Dream Nature of the World" [Ak 237 ff] for "God . . . is running this universe for you" [Ak 206]. "God is managing the whole universe, down to the most minute detail - and we are made in His image," asserts Yogananda, and "hard work has never hurt anyone." [Ak 204] - Of course it has! So do not trust the guru's every word; there are utterances that can be tested.

Illusions brought about by Paramahansa Yogananda talk of the guru's cosmic dreaming, according to his basic tenet about the world.

A Good Bargain?

It is hardly wise to put long-range benefits at risk by being intrigued

IN the book Autobiography of a Yogi [Pa] the guru author goes into apotheosis, god-making.

A guru's talk Life by life, each man progresses (at his own pace, be it ever so erratic) toward the goal of his own apotheosis." [Ha 473] "Yoga, through which divinity is found within, is doubtless the highest road". [Ha 136] "Through use of the Kriya key, persons who cannot bring themselves to believe in the divinity of any man will behold at last the full divinity of their own selves." [Ha 330]

Means involve kriya-yoga and guru blessings.

Are you intrigued by these guru mentions? Fine. But see to it that you steer well so as to derive benefit and filter out unwelcome plots and things in your life as you move along. That is actually what this page talks for: "Forewarned is forearmed." There are many other sides to the SRF rigmarole than plainly unwelcome ones, and more good to say of Yogananda's teachings than what is on this page. But it is in the art of living to prepare for the worst in order to limit severe damages or totally hinder them from happening. Those who learn to do that well, could derive long-range benefit.

Being forewarned and taking heed in time can bring long-range benefits and one's own family.

What is exactly in the SRF kriya pledge?

Maggie de Watt questions,

"What wrong is there to pledge unconditional love and devotion to God, all the gurus of SRF, Hare Krishna and Jesus all together?

Her friend Uffe,

"Can you keep your promise? Do you have control over your future happenings, emotional states and your fat? Can you keep your New Year's Eve promise of losing weight and stop smoking? These things are very simple in comparison."

Maggie de Watt:

"As for Bhagavan Krishna, must I love him in as portrayed in many stories made up about him in old times, that is, as an idolised production of several artists of old like a freak throughout my life? How can I relate to him as he is or was, seeing that he claims "With a single fragment of myself I pervade and support this entire universe (Bhagavad Gita 10:42)"? Wonder what is outside the universe. I'm curious to know whether there is space-and-time, whether there is room for time and things and sizes - - beyond the universe I know. I suspect there is not, alas.

I have also become aware that SRF's regular altar worship started only many years after the demise of Yogananda. It suggests that Yogananda hardly considered it momentous to specify Krishna, for several reasons. Strange tidings surround this note." [Link]


"Yes, I see - And who can tell what they (SRF) would impose on you next? I would not. It hardly seems needed to me, I dare say. Anyway, regular Krishna-worship in SRF temples was established by SRF only long after Yogananda's passing, and the reasons seem strangely out-of-the ordinary:" [LINK]

Paramhansa Yogananda did not put a picture of Krishna on the altar, nor did he mention Krishna separately when he prayed to the line of gurus. Instead he would say "Babaji-Krishna," since Krishna is a former incarnation of Babaji. [F1]

Is he now? That's what they teach - gurus add themselves to hoary lore over and over, and various claimed past lives serve it too. No proofs are given, though. It is quite similar to what is done to give kriya yoga a tradition or two: They teach that this and that passage describes kriya yoga, and very often such statements seem to come out of the blue, to have no genuine foundation. There are so many examples. Be alerted to the possibility of quack teachings. [How can kriya-yoga be mentioned in scriptures even before the term was coined?]

Maggie: "When you read that the SRF gurus dissolved themselves, how can you find them and worship them as pledged?"

Uffe: "It's a good question. Let them answer that. That's placing the burden where it belongs, I think."

Maggie: "What if I do not find myself in a God-Jesus-Krishna-gurus loving state at any time? Haven't I broken my pledge then?"

Uffe: "It is more likely than not, but after all not a few things depend in part on the meanings you yourself put into them. Is there a need for rationalisations and seemingly good decor for a member?"

Maggie: "As I read the Bible, Jesus says no to serving many masters, and no to others than himself - thus: "You have one Teacher, the Christ." [Matthew 23:10] Is he really into the SRF?"

Uffe: "Birds knows. But if Jesus now has learnt go against half a dozen statements of his in the gospels, the Yogananda medley in the matter is not just a bait."
      Maggie: "Speaking of God, is the God Hare Krishna the Father of Jesus? What do you think?"

Uffe: "All I want to say at this time is that many, many descriptions of God in such as Christianity and Hinduism do not form a perfect match, and that is in part contrary to what Yogananda decrees. You can see for yourself here: [Link] And you're free to think as you will. But do not let secret and snug hopes influence your thinking. For example, when Yogananda claims the soul is immortal and Jesus maintains that it can be destroyed in hell with the body, it is not a perfect match of tenets here either. Jack and Jill do have to consider these things before maiming their integrity and freedom through half-slave pledges of any sort."

SRF leads some into worship of Kali as the Divine Mother.


The Drift

An institution is the lengthening shadow of one man. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

SRF has used this Emerson-quotation to suggest something about themselves in an SRF magazine published about a generation ago. See what happened. Here is a part of it: About one third of the SRF monastics left SRF around 2001. They were much disappointed with their SRF experience, but some stick to the guru-founder of SRF anyhow. To the degree it is so, they have left the shadow but not the origin of the shadow. Moreover, some of them have got deep cult member troubles too, as told of on a few SRF discussion boards, mainly the SRF Walrus.

The idea here is that if the shadow is difficult to tackle, its originator may be studied far better than sycophants tend to delight in together.

From "aren't a sect" to "are a sect" and Paramahansa Yogananda's variegated heritage

In the organization Yogananda set up, the emphasis and talk drifted from step-by-step methods for the person on the way to Self-Realization - to devotional proselytising and more rudimentary "pep talks" on "finding God". Devotionalism and churchism have got a hold in time, despite Yogananda words like ""Sectarianism is anathema to religion." [Paramahansa Yogananda in "The Essence of Self-Realization"]

Self-Realization Fellowship today has been called a cult - even a sect by the editor of Self-Realization Magazine - more than the original concepts from the twenties and further lead us in on.

FOLLOWER You told Nehru we aren't a sect. I admit Master said we aren't one. Well, we are a sect." - Self-Realization Fellowship's main editor Tara Mata [Laurie Pratt] as rendered by James D. Walters [Kriyanana] in his book A Place Called Ananda, ch. 14. [Apa]

Tara Mata (Laurie Pratt) was the Fellowship's main editor for many decades.

Paramahansa Yogananda quotation Yogoda [now: Self-Realization Fellowship] is not a new religion, nor a new cult, nor a new interpretation; it aims to teach the practical methods, the exact technique of widening the channel of human consciousness, so that Truth might flow in ceaselessly, endlessly, without obstructions of dogma or unproved beliefs. Yogoda points out the path of concentrating on the practical system and not only on the words and personality of Saints and Prophets. Yogoda teaches the step-by-step progress to individual personal realization and attainment of divinity. - Yogananda, in "Occidental Christianity and Yogoda", 1926.

These words are strangely counteracted by the churchism that Yogananda set up later (1935), and which disciples have enforced during half a century after his passing in 1952. Taming is likely to be one mark of a cult in the beginning.

Better be alerted to what is really SRF than to wake up to it later in a tense, disillusioning process.


Gentle Guidelines May Help

Paramahansa Yogananda quotation There are food "cranks" whose only interest revolves around "calories" and "vitamins" . . . when you meet them, until you wonder how they can be so blind to other and more interesting phases of life.
- Paramahansa Yogananda, in East West, Volume 1-5 July 1926 - August 1926.

Succumbing or submitting to speculation can mar and ruin some. Proverbs do not welcome undue speculation either: "If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there'd be no trade for tinkers (British)". Or as it is said in courts of law: "Speculation . . . overruled!" It suggests you do not really have to consider it. It is just the same with many articles of belief. Judge whether you like them and really need them. In Buddhism and favourable yoga, teachings may be treated as working hypotheses, that is, they allow for testing. That is better for the mental health too. [More]

SRF (The Fellowship) has been classified as a cult. Now, are the guru guidelines as infallible as thought? We have found much and sound evidence against that notion. In fact, recent evidence indicates that Self-Realization Fellowship itself in actual practice has discontinued some guidelines in order to serve peculiar purposes. Yogananda-rallied Aims and Ideals of the Fellowship have been changed and removed too. [More]

One of the Yogananda guidelines that SRF seems to have dropped concerns self-serving communities:

Paramahansa Yogananda quotationWe must go on - not only those who are here, but thousands of youths must go North, South, East and West to cover the earth with little colonies [i.e., communities], demonstrating that simplicity of living plus high thinking lead to the greatest happiness!
- Paramahansa Yogananda quoted in James D. Walters' book The Path [Tp]

Since Yogananda's passing, SRF has removed references to such colonies in the Autobiography of a Yogi and Yogananda's Aims and Ideals. Yogananda had originally written one of them to read, "To spread a spirit of world brotherhood among all peoples and to aid in the establishment, in many countries, of self-sustaining world-brotherhood colonies for plain living and high thinking." This sage aim was kept through many editions of his Autobiography, till it was abandoned in the eight edition in 1959, long after his passing in 1952. In that edition his preferred 'Paramhansa' - he wrote it - was changed into 'Paramahansa' through a bit of "mild after-death-forgery". Authenticity was downplayed and is still quite troublesome in SRF, as evidenced in heavily edited Yogananda words, and a retouched photo of Yukteswar, where authenticity was left out to accommodate the tastes of American women who apparently did not think he looked well enough. Cheating has many forms and variants and some border on arts, for example retouching and colouring old photos.
      Thus, The SRF publishers have treated some Yogananda guidelines as fallible and dispensable, "at least for now" - Such things have happened to his own legacy in the fellowship he gave rise to, a fellowship directed by nuns he trained personally. And further, if Yogananda had changed his mind about self-serving communities at the end of his life, his former guidelines on the subject might not been worthy enough. It seems, however, that he changed neither his mind nor his autograph for the 8th edition seven years after his demise -

It seems that SRF is quite capable of selecting Yogananda tenets and guidelines that suit the present leaders and following, while downplaying or removing others from sight, especially some of the old ones. We have many examples of it.

Do not Believe Everything Big Guys Tell

One should also be alerted to that Yogananda in the United States tried to start some enterprises that did not succeed. It suggests that his public invitations to spend money on some projects were what you may call "poor guidelines" - since more than one of his plans did not materialise. A few examples:

Failed to come true: a publication deal in his mid-career.

Withered: A how-to-live-school for children on top of Mt. Washington in Los Angeles.

An apparently "easy" comment: "Even though he claimed omnipotence on behalf of gurus behind him, and talked loudly of his indomitable will to bring about his needs, certain things he went for, did not come to pass anyhow." Actions speak louder than words. It can be much useful to check along such veins. And when you tell of your findings, devotees of the "guru family" may still send gross and vile and stubborn flame mail. Plain goodness of heart or decency hardly dominates the hundreds of mud-slinging letters I have seen -

These tidings against the cherished "indomitable will" of Yogananda and other false glorifications of him for fame on his behalf, are found in the guru's own yoga magazine, called East West and Inner Culture before it was changed into Self-Realization (Magazine). Some of the oldest volumes are on-line today.

Do not succumb to murky avatar teachings, for your own good

More evidence connected to the dogmatised guru infallibility pops up on page after page, starting here: [Link]

Our main reasons for using some figurative mentions to beginners and "old dogs" in these matters is here: [Link]

Many examples of circumlocutions are given here; you may find some of them instructive: [Link] As you can see if you click on that link, we have found it somewhat fit to compare duped individuals with farm animals. There is some truth in it, but let little monkeys do what little monkeys do best - Seeing God in one's Self is hardly done by anyone, seeing God all around is not supposed to be a common experience either, like perceiving divinity in masters. But all gurus are not odious, and "honour and give credit to whom honour is due".

The inner sides of man should not be overlooked, at any rate. Conscience, an individual, mature moral, a growing sense of "I Am" (identity), and much else reside in the depths (inside), not just your last meal -

Added topics

The "Kriya revolution". After all the above, you may miss something about how delicate kriya practice makes currents of something revolve around the spine or go up and down the spine, and what sort of evidence we have. Kriya gurus explain kriya differently too. [Link]

The said fire. Next you should wonder how gentle breathing (kriya yoga) can be a fire extolled in Vedic writings. Further, how could gentle and delicate breathing "roast seeds" of bad karma - without harming seeds of good karma? Yogananda says kriya roasts both good and bad karma, and evidence for it is wanting. Also, it may pay to consider that "Man should make himself lots of good karma [Buddha, attr]." Then why roast it? Good karma of yogis bring future benefits, declares the Bhagavad Gita 6:37-43]. [LINK]

Scriptures Yogananda seem to drum up, are they real? Yogananda speaks in his autobiography of "the scriptures" and "ancient rishis [seers]", attempting to ally himself and his mission with authorities in some circles, so as to make a better impression, in all likelihood. The problem in this is that the scriptures he talks of, hardly ever refer to kriya yoga at all, and for a good reason: They were put down in writing many centuries before the term "kriya yoga" was coined to describe gentle breathing methods and corollaries by the said Babaji, apparently in the second half of the 1800s, as told of in Yogananda's autobiography. "Kriya" is a common word in Sanskrit, and means "action" and the like. [REFERENCES]

"The ancient rishis discovered that man's earthly and heavenly environment, in twelve-year cycles, push him forward on his natural path. The scriptures aver that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to express cosmic consciousness," writes Yogananda [Autobiography, ch 26], as part of his kriya promotion efforts. If you come across Yogananda statements like "The scriptures aver" and "ancient rishis found", know for sure that proper referencing is different - it tells which scripture and seers, and where to find evidence. Yogananda fails in furnishing it. That practice looks like demagoguery too, which should disappoint those taken in initially. 

To my knowing, Yogananda has never specified which scriptures says man needs a million years to reach cosmic consciousness, and which rishis found that gold, silver, other metals and gems can protect against planetary influences. Compare Yukteswar's saying, "our rishis; they found helpful not only a combination of metals, but also of plants and—most effective of all—faultless jewels of not less than two carats. The preventive uses of astrology . . . [Autobiography, ch. 16]" To repeat, which scriptures really speak of Babaji's kriya yoga by the Sanskrit word "kriya", and what ancient seers talk for bangles against planetary influences," is shrouded in a cloud of unknowing in Yogananda's fellowship. It is good to know that, and that lack of proper evidence is not the same as "effective" or vice versa. It is good not to be brainwashed.

How to do a basic kriya technique. With things like these in mind, take a look at how basic kriya is to be done - gently. And remember that a complete kriya system contains something more added to this gentle breathing.

There are gifts without strings. In Buddhism, giving, dana, is for gaining merit, and does not have to dwarf anyone. Sound giving is related to generosity, and also associated with wisdom. The highest type of giving should benefit worthy ones too.


Good to Know: A Repeat

Yogananda Propaganda

Here is a repeat focused on the SRF Kriya Yoga Pledge, granted that SRF is currently a sect: Don't be bound, says Yogananda who binds followers through an oath -

Kriya yoga is above all the otherwise publicly well-known pranayama method called ujjayi. In Yogananda's SRF you have to swear an oath to get it; in Satyananda Yoga there are courses and books, and on this site you find the core technique of kriya explained in detail, without any hype. Those ujjayi directives are for starters.

Extreme Yogananda claims contrary to scriptural evidence are alarming, and claims that appear to be without sound evidence, such as "The scriptures aver", without saying which scriptures, does not look like pedagogy, but much more like quite narcissistic propaganda. "The scriptures aver that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to express cosmic consciousness," writes Yogananda in his autobiography, chapter 26. Interestingly, his own guru, which he tells much fit of, writes it would take twelve times more time, believe it or not. Yogananda changed his kriya hype during the first years after he came to America. This goes to say that it is probably best not to become an ardent believer in demagogy. [More]

Kriya Swearing - A Loss

"Freely you have received, freely give," says Jesus in Matthew 10:8. Despite that "original Christianity" stand, SRF membership binds you by an oath, in part in the name of Jesus and against gospel words of Jesus.

Yes, there are harsh, halfway hidden sides to Yogananda's oath. Jesus says something that pertains to it: "Keep the oaths you have made . . ." But . . . Do not swear at all . . . Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. [Matthew 5:33-37, passim] Consider that what he says implies that Yogananda's SRF oath comes from the evil one, and was designed to bind people.

The SRF oath binds Yogananda followers for lifetimes, according to Yogananda. That presents further, delicate problems that some have never thought about. The pledge demands unconditional devotion and loyalty, which is more than ungrudging. To the degree that the SRF kriya oath goes against Human Rights laws in your country, it is unlawful.

Suppose that Yogananda becomes a murderous desert robber in another life? All his past lives he tells of, are not spiritually uplifting. Yogananda claimed to have been "a vicious and murderous desert marauder." Thinking of it made Yogananda shiver with horror from time to time, says his biographer [Psy 112]. Yogananda also claimed to have been the severe William the Conqueror.

Guard your human rights. Yogananda says somewhere that "Sincerity will save you." Hold him to it , but do far more also!

Another old problem with SRF is their take that Yogananda's guidelines are without fault.

Don't promise what you cannot keep, is an existential take. "To "promise" you must be able to deliver," writes Jerome Bruner aptly. [Acom 63].

A good point: Future feelings - life after life - usually lie outside our control.

Haim G. Ginott tells that unrealistic promises cause grief "for everyone". The professor's lessons apply equally well to SRF kriya applicants. "Promises should neither be made to, nor demanded of, children . . . We should not encourage such fraudulent practices." [Bpc, 61]

"Colossal sufferings" - by whim?

With the SRF kriya yoga pledge, there is no regret button, as far as Yogananda is concerned. "Several incarnations at least must pass before he [who leaves Yogananda] will have another such opportunity," says Yogananda. It was published by SRF in 1974. In the SRF universe of ideas, it suggests at least several incarnations of colossal sufferings. Bhagavad Gita 2:40 is used to such an aim. [Autobiography, ch. 34, and note 8].

"In this path (of yoga action) there is no loss of the unfinished effort for realization, nor is there creation of contrary effects. Even a tiny bit of this real religion protects one from great fear (the colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death)," writes Yogananda in his translation of the Gita. [Gt 270; Yi 69-70]

Other Gita translations understand the verse somewhat differently. For example, Prabhupada has: "In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear [2.40]." And Sivananda: "In this there is no loss of effort, nor is there any harm (the production of contrary results or transgression). Even a little of this knowledge (even a little practice of this Yoga) protects one from great fear." [Link]

What stands out is that "colossal sufferings" are interpolated into the text by one or several gurus in the SRF line. In this case, there is no better "scriptural authority" than such an interpolation.

Alarming Ideals and Beliefs

To "exemplify the ideals and promote the aims of this path" contains its dangers too, since some of the guru ideals are founded on gross errors. So try to evaluate fit evidence in such vital matters, before committing.

Be wary: Yogananda teaches the soul is immortal, and Jesus says it can be killed. [Matthew 10:28] Yogananda and SRF say Jesus is one of the SRF gurus, but Jesus did not half-ritualize crying for "Divine Mother" as Kali etc, or submitting wholesale to unmet gurus by pledging unconditional loyalty and so on.

Krishna says the world is real and those who teach differently are demoniac. Three of the SRF gurus say that the material world is illusory. Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Yogananda.

Look before you leap. How can you be loyal to teachings at odds with one another?

Seek to look behind the devotional show or facade: In about six or seven former, claimed lives, Yogananda did not appear to teach kriya yoga to anyone in those lives, which were after being enlightened in the form of Arjuna, allegedly. Further, he wrote for dictatorship in his own magazine in the February issue in 1934.

Jesus also says: "Have only me for your Master," for example in "False Messiahs [Christs] . . . will appear . . . to deceive even God's chosen people, if possible [Matthew 24:24, etc.]."

And in the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna teaches the world is real, and demoniacs teach otherwise (16:7-8). Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Yogananda teach the world is unreal. So are they demoniacs (the Bhagavad Gita view), worthy of being loved unconditionally? I don't think so.

And romantics dream of love. That may signal problems and burdens ahead for those who are not wary. And effects of breaking one's word can be felt tangibly and severely.

Yogananda's carrot, whip, and saddle

Question the legal validity of the SRF kriya pledge first, before you submit. It pays to be circumspect. At the start of SRF the pledge did not contain any oath of loving six gurus at all. They were added by stages.

The kriya oath serves to to bind submitting fellows to Yogananda, also against Human Rights. As with animals who get tamed to carry a rider, the saddle seems to be hundreds of seemingly well-meaning guru goading, shoulds and shouldn'ts.

In order to learn kriya yoga through SRF (an American organisation), you have to take an oath in which you promise to be unconditionally loyal and devoted to six gurus, one of them called Jesus Christ -

Shewbread Christianity is to be dealt with. SRF claims it brings "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ", in part by preposterous fabrication. [More]

A professor of the Roman Catholic Church decides that Yogananda's theology cannot be squared with Roman Catholic doctrine, but that he teaches heresy, misunderstanding and denial of Christian doctrine. [Read on]

SRF followers do not seem too happy that this information has leaked out.

What you get as an SRF follower are "hodgepodge slogan teachings," for the SRF Lessons consist to a large part of mixed fractions of Yogananda speeches and other Yogananda output, and SRF's stand is: "We find his guidelines infallible." - Self-Realization Fellowship. Boss infallibility is one of the top signs of cults. Many cult outputs tend toward bossy slogans.

Ancient Indian teachings tell that the real, hidden mission of Narada, who is claimed to be a guru prototype and also is held in high esteem by Yogananda, is to fool and madden persons into perdition, and also for no particular, good reasons at all but unfair and partial ones. [Summarised story]

The cultish stand of SRF is that Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar, was wisdom incarnated and showed unerring spiritual insight. Far from it. But Yogananda often boasts and overdoes his praise. No one should let cult-protracted guru boasting become his or her problem. [Link]

If you enter Yogananda's cult as a Christian, you will find yourself in a church where ritual hailing and worship of some avatars is usual, and maybe crying like a naughty baby for the Divine Mother - on Yogananda's word. It hardly pays in the long run to be taken in by any devotionalist show and facades.

In the words of "infallible Yogananda", words of Jesus in the New Testament are given Hindu spins over and over till they suit his variant of Hinduism. [Link]

We need to find and stick to a balance between the freedom to choose a big, fat swindle as our favourite religion and that of catering to good enough personal freedom degrees.

To tie up inexperienced ones by severe pledges that very many cannot survey the later implications of, can endanger rights, and holistic health too. This said, serious kriya pledge disappointments rest on having one's own moral fibre intact and something that goes against it.

An Illustrative Story of Yogananda

A repeat first:

When he was eighty, Yukteswar told Yogananda, writes Yogananda: "My task on earth is now finished; you must carry on . . . I leave everything in your hands. You'll be able to successfully sail the boat of your life and that of the organisation to the divine shores." [Autobiography, Ch. 42]

But what happened? One night in a Mumbay hotel, Satan (with a catlike tail) leaped on his chest so that Yogananda could not breathe, according to Yogananda. Right then the long departed and buried Yukteswar appeared and shooed the devil. [Self-Realization Magazine, Summer 1976, p. 8-9].[Yogananda lamed].

Sri Yukteswar did not leave all (and not all of the devil either) in Yogananda's hands. Yogananda could not manage his own "sailing" either. He needed help so much that a dead Yukteswar appeared to help him - according to Yogananda.

There is more to it:

Some months earlier, according to Yogananda's biographer Sailendra Dasgupta, Yukteswar commented on Yogananda: "He has a disease - where a ghoul comes and sits on his back. First there was Basu-ghoul, and now Bhistu[Bishnu]-ghoul is sitting on his back." [Psy 83]

A ghoul is "one who delights in the revolting, morbid, or loathsome," or shows morbid interest in shocking and repulssive things. In Muslim folklore it is a legendary evil being that feeds on corpses, among other things.

Yogananda needed help against evil and his conduct against his guru was not good enough on some occasions, also over a decade after Yukteswar had "knocked him into cosmic consciousness." [Autobiography, Ch. 14]

Baits of Glorification

Now is it wise to let SRF - the guru's representatives - answer the pressing problems caused by the guru cult. For, as Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "An institution is the lengthening shadow of one man." A "Yogananda shadow" has its responsibilities, seemingly. But what freedom of movements does a shadow have? What can you expect from a shadow? All this said, not a few things depend in part on the meanings you yourself put into them. And if Jesus now has learnt to do as he pleases or go against half a dozen central statements of his in the gospels, the Yogananda medley in the matter is not just a bait. How likely is it that Jesus has changed his gospel-described schemes?

It is largely unwise to let secret and snug hopes influence your thinking, and let loose unrealistic desires of attainments. "We are a sect," said Self-Realization Fellowship's main editor Tara Mata [Laurie Pratt] to James D. Walters [Kriyanana] once, as quoted in his book A Place Called Ananda, ch. 14. [Apa] [More] Better be alerted to what SRF really is than to wake up to it later, after the grave.

One of the Yogananda guidelines that SRF seems to have dropped concerns self-serving communities: Since Yogananda's passing, SRF has removed references to such colonies in the Autobiography of a Yogi and Yogananda's Aims and Ideals. In these ways and other ways, the SRF publishers have treated several Yogananda guidelines as fallible and dispensable.

It is also good to be aware that Yogananda in the United States tried to start some enterprises that did not succeed. A Yogananda-announced publication deal in his mid-career, failed to come true. A how-to-live-school for children on top of Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, withered. Even though he talked big about his "indomitable will" to bring about his needs, certain things he went for, did not come to pass anyhow.

The aimed-at "Kriya revolution" that Yogananda told of, is at best only squatting, not standing erect. Some have woken up to the fact that Yogananda at times talked big about many central kriya issues without furnishing proper evidence, and that he misused scriptures for faulty and more than suspect interpretations as well. That is not the way to sweep the world.



Self-Realization Fellowship kriya yoga pledge, Literature  

Acom: Bruner, Jerome. Acts of Meaning (the Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Man's Eternal Quest. Self-Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, 1975.

Apa: Walters, James Donald. A Place called Ananda. Rev. 2nd ed. Nevada City: Hansa Trust: 2001.

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946. Online. []

Bpc: Ginott, Haim G. Between Parent and Child. Rev. and updated by Alice Ginott and H. Wallace Goddard. New York: Three Rivers, 2003.

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. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2002.

Gt: Yogananda, Paramahansa. God's Talk with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, 2 Vols. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1999.

Gv: Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. I: The Gitas: The Vedic Bibles. Guru Gita. Omkar Gita. Abadhuta Gita. Kabir Gita. 2nd rev. ed. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.

Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). Los Angeles, 1981.

Hos: Sri Yukteswar, swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1972.

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

Ma: Pargiter, Frederick Eden, tr. Markandeya Purana. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1904.

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971.

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

Puh: Deussen, Paul: The Philosophy of the Upanishads. Dover (Reprint of Clark's 1906-ed). New York, 1966.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Sayings of Yogananda. Self- Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, 1958.

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

Tp: Walters, James Donald. The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 1977.

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

Xm: Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, ed: The Cultural Heritage of India, Vols 1- 5. Rev. ed. Ramakrishna Institute. Calcutta, Vol 1: 2nd ed 1958. Vol 2: 2nd ed 1962. Vol 3: 2nd ed 1953. Vol 4: 2nd ed 1956.

Yi: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: An Introduction to India's Universal Science of God-realization. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.


[F1] "SRF makes changes after Yogananda's passing".

[F2] Mahasaya, Lahiri. "Garland of Letters (Patravali)." In The Scriptural Commentaries of Yogiraj Sri Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, Volume 1, tr. Yoga Niketan. Lincoln, Ne: IUniverse, 2005.

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