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Yogananda's Gospel Opinions

Yogananda A humble, little ignorant child on earth may be dear to all . . . Humbleness does not signify an assumed meekness. . . . [M]asters display all the qualities of sincerity, frankness, nonattachment, universality, uniformity of action, thought and speech, . . . . laughter and worrilessness, belonging to a child. . . . All divine masters who are liberated in God preserve their individuality throughout eternity.

- Yogananda, commenting on Matthew 18:2-4 in The Second Coming of Christ (1986:3, 21-23).

The swami that says it, introduces many thoughts that are not in the gospel verses themselves. He is free to do it. A commentary/opinionary allows for that. However, if you look for solid proof of anything, the four gospels and Revelation are at best second-hand sources. Do not put much faith in such material, and not at all in forgeries; that approach could save you from being taken in a lot. There are forgeries in the gospels, Dr Geza Vermes maintains (below). He is not the only bible scholar who does. Dr Bart D. Ehrman is another. Yogananda does not point out any forgeries for us; he uses verbiosity instead. And then, consider that the main gospel teachings are not for all, but only for ill, depraved Jews, according to gospels themselves in several places. Which places? Try Matthew 9:13 and Luke 5:31-32; Matthew 12:12; John 10:2-6; Matthew 5:18-21 and Leviticus 16.

The things to make sure of are in part that SRF aims to teach and preach Jesuanism without qualifying a bit according to the rules of that "game" as set up in gospels; and complicate matters; and are not actually Christians. Moreover, if you find a cult that preaches one thing and lives another, it should be time to run!

As for Yogananda's opinionated commentary: he uses gospel parts to spread his own creed or lore mainly - he omits mentioning such vitally important matters that eminent Bible scholars have divulged. In sum, Yogananda's commentary may not do much good - opinionation is hardly very wise. Yogananda should have applied a sound measure of bland textual criticism. He talked a lot instead.

The guru claimed to know Jesus directly. That is not really a guarantee his outlooks are right - and some do not seem to be compatible with gospel teachings either. For example, Yogananda teaches the soul is immortal, while Jesus of a gospel says the soul can be destroyed.

Also mind Yogananda's repeated statements:

Yogananda "We are all crazy. (Yogananda 1982, 425)"

"I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind (Yogananda 2002, 270)."

A former, long-time leader of the church society that Yogananda set up (and one day regretted), Daya Mata: "All of us . . . are a little bit crazy, and we do not know it." (1976: "Qualities of a Devotee")

The guru and a long-time SRF Mother President, did they know or not or what?

Alfred E. Neuman

It also matters to know there are two published works of his commentaries: one contains about 2.84 times more words than the other, and the wording differs somehow. Here are some examples:

  1. Amrita version (above): "A humble, little ignorant child on earth may be dear to all" by Yogananda is not found in the SRF version.

  2. Amrita version: "Humbleness does not signify an assumed meekness" is SRF-edited into: "Humbleness is not an assumed meekness." — Quite good. (Yogananda 2004:2,916)

  3. Amrita version: "The masters display all the qualities of sincerity, frankness, nonattachment, universality, uniformity of action, thought and speech, forgiveness, truthfulness, calmness, sweetness, laughter and worrilessness, belonging to a child, minus the latter's ignorance" is SRF-edited into: "The truly great master-minds of India that I have seen are divinely childlike, displaying the qualities that are natural to a pure mind – sincerity, frankness, nonattachment, universality, uniformity of action-thought-speech, forgiveness, truthfulness, calmness, sweetness, laughter, and freedom from worry – minus the child's ignorance." (Yogananda 2004:2, 916) — Good enough!

  4. Amrita version: "All divine masters who are liberated in God preserve their individuality throughout eternity" in the SRF book has become "liberated masters preserve their individuality throughout eternity." The word 'all' has been removed. (Yogananda 2004:2, 914) — One may wonder why, since there is a difference between "all masters " and "masters". The latter may mean 'some masters' and not all masters.

LET US SPEAK OF CHANGES: The allegedly verbatim quotations above are published by Amrita in Dallas, Texas, from a book that purports to contain the "unchanged writings of Paramhansa Yogananda". 'Unchanged' from what? Amrita does not say - yet it appears Yogananda had been edited in the first place.

In passing, let us halt a while at this point and chew on "humble, little ignorant child on earth". Is the meaning "wise child" or "little and ignorant child"? A little comma makes a large difference.

Did Yogananda write or speak with a little comma after 'little', or without one? You may think that SRF has taken trouble to preserve the original words of the guru they hail so loudly, but no. They have not been that sort of guys, not until recently at any rate.

IS THERE A PROBLEM? To think greatly of oneself as an interpreter may not always be a problem; what matters is what comes out of it for good or for bad or "between good and bad" or a mixture of things like that - also taking into account the goings "in the beginning, in the middle stretch, and in the long haul".

Yogananda versions differ, and that is a problem to those who mean that an "undiluted" Yogananda is good and better than any editor-changed Yogananda output. Or it may be a deep problem to those who like to think that his words stand after SRF has edited them away, or changed them.

Then, what if the first Yogananda text is full of errors - spelling, syntax and views? Original errors competing with later-edited, not-genuine Yogananda utterances might rise to complicate matters. [Examples of such complications]

One Yogananda book with purportedly original Yogananda text is published by Amrita in Dallas, Texas, and a 2.8 times larger version of the same text is published by Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles, California. Is bigger better in such cases? Maybe, if the text is expertly translated, for footnotes can make a book swell considerately. Then comes the question: "Is original truly original if that "original" was edited by others than Yogananda?" It depends, but the so-called original text might perhaps be closer to Yogananda's intent, if he took the bother to look over the instalments in his name. Then, is it good to be close to a failing source, and is it better than getting it edited to get smoother? It depends on the quality of the source and of the fitness or quality of the edited work.

Study and get to facts and discern better from it

SRF's former president, the nun Daya Mata, writes about how Yogananda's book Second Coming of Christ came into being:

In 1932 . . . the Guru found time . . . to begin including commentaries on the Gospels . . . in the magazine he had founded a few years earlier [The first issue appeared in 1925]. Each installment consisted of a few verses . . . along with [Yogananda] explanations. (Yogananda 2004, xv)

"You say explanations, I say marring opinions." - In the same place Daya Mata tells "it happened that Yogananda would send letters to the magazine by mail," and many of them contained gospel opinions to be installed in it. "Not infrequently, the copy was mailed to the magazine staff from whatever faraway city he was lecturing in." (ibid.)

A stare that matters, regardless of the interpretations?

The blank stare of Yogananda

And here is how another Yogananda disciple, the SRF editor Tara Mata, describes how Yogananda arrived at many gospel interpretations:

He will come to a passage which is so obscure that it defies all possibility of plain interpretation. He will look blankly at me or one of his other secretaries for a while, close his eyes, and presently out will come the whole plain meaning [of what defied plain interpretations, as she had just meant]. He gets it entirely from inspiration [right or wrong, as the case may be] (Yogananda 2004, xvii)

Sounds good? They do it to impress. Take that into account. Getting a second opinion help some. Another writer, Geoffrey Falk, tells that Tara Mata was no good judge of what was plain:

Yogananda's long-time editor-in-chief Tara Mata . . . bought some books on Hindi, read through them, and went on to "translate" the entire Autobiography of a Yogi into Hindu. However, it proved to be several hundred pages of gibberish. She refused to acknowledge that, and so did the SRF leaders.

But when the vice president of SRF, Swami Kriyananda, notified the officials of SRF that the manuscript that had been sent to India for printing, was utter nonsense, he was told to go ahead and get it printed (!) Only when the Indian publisher proved to the SRF directors that the manuscript that had been set up at the SRF board's insistence at great expense was nothing but a string of nonsense syllables, the leaders of SRF finally thought that translation had better not be printed. (Falk 2009:269)

Forefront SRF advocates of modesty were training others in humble modesty or loyalty that served the organization, SRF. And many SRF monastics found out that the actual living fell short. One third of them left SRF between 2000-2005 (Parsons 2012, 171).

What Tara Mata wrote was the whole plain Yogananda meaning of gospel passages might have been something very different. Keep the possibility open that various blank look interpretations of what defies interpretations are futile and not fully satisfactory. We can stick to that to our benefit from the very beginning.

Big books and great books - there is a difference there

The next questions to consider are: What is the genuine Yogananda in a book that has grown to get about 2.85 times bigger after he once dictated or wrote it, or both? Is a 529 000 words long book necessarily better than Amrita's book of 186 000 words? Is bigger likely to better when it comes to texts? Not necessarily. It depends. Those who like big books and many words, may say so. And those who like more plainly authentic stuff might consider otherwise.

Be that as it may, the exact opening line (above) is is not in the SRF-edited, forty-seventh discourse, for all its edited enlargements and rephrasings (Yogananda 2004, 912 ff). However, the SRF editor and publisher have added other phrases and ideas that may seem more helpful to a monastic breed, such as "obedience, humbleness, meekness". So what? Yogananda himself said:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. . . . There will be as many interpretations of my lectures as there are listeners. - Yogananda (Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings")

It is a paradox: If you take his word for anything, you don't. And if you don't take his word for anything, you do.

Then what about "his" SRF-edited words? Should we really take then for anything, or is it wrong? Here is a tip: Study the goings, doings and sayings. If they do not match well, or in all cases, beware of hanky-pankies - as there is a good chance that genuine goings or honesty have been forsaken. See how Jesus wanted to handle fakers in his day - he condemned hypocrites. Was it tactless?

Hailing many of their guru-founders words, SRF editors dumped several of them anyway - They did and did not take Yogananda's words for anything, as he had told his disciple Margaret B. Dietz to do or don't . . . SRF editors were faithful to some of his words, and edited away others as they pleased. They have done similar things with guru's ideals and even forged his signature, counting a genuine Paramhansa signature as - well - not quite good enough for them. Good enough for him, yet not good enough for Daya Mata once she held the reins.

A biblical perspective

SRF is an American church that has as one of its aims and ideals to "reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna." If there had been such oneness it could be good, but SRF and the four gospels contain widely different teachings about the Father, the soul, and reincarnation, for example. Better be warned: [More]

Are we then in another street than the Jesus street in dealing with SRF? Are SRF'ers quack Jesuans also? Do they qualify for standing up as lip-service Jesuans only, and have all SRF male members been circumcised? That may be hard to to decide, but wait till after you learn how reliable the gospel sayings are too, and what a bible scholar like Geza Vermes summarised a year before his death.

Fl. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-8; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-8). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Geza Vermes, 2012)

Bible scholars have written books to study. Based on what the gospels say, it is good to realised that many SRF people do not behave as Jesuans in every way. Are they common fakers, then, preaching gospel things, praying aloud in public, carefully ritualistic, but Jesus requires better from the real followers, according to the gospel of Matthew.

Will exposure to SRF change you too to make your inborn capacity for devotion directed to "that gilded boss" and make you serve SRF economically - offering money or tithe and letting SRF inherit your property? Devotionalism may get such results: it is a historical "classic", and operating not just in Self-Realization Fellowship.

Trust reviewers - which reviewers? - and better

This goes to say: If trust you must, trust that SRF is hard on the original Yogananda. It shows up in book after book, where they edit him away or rephrase him to make his statements look good. So they do not count their guru's word for much, and yet go on to serve SRF in ways that serve its leaders, those on top. They are perhaps not as humble and modest as is half-ritually thought. See what ends an organisation's attempts to appear favourable (its impression-management) tends to serve. SRF has changed Yogananda words, at times from edition to edition. [Book reviews]

But as Yogananda himself says, "Don't take my word for anything." One question is if you are up to it. Another and better question: Why bother to read Yogananda at all as long as there are better things to do?

Getting informed should be better than guessing to one's harm

Something is lost in editing Yogananda, but there may be gains for readers too - added words, removed words and phrases, and bettered phrases, and so on. Some added words are purportedly by Yogananda, long gone, and other added words are footnotes for elucidations. [SRF-editing is exposed in details and with examples]

Kriyananda, a former vice president of SRF, warns:

Since Yogananda's passing [in 1952], so many changes have been made to his writings, teachings, and his stated mission, aims, and ideals that his legacy is threatened. [◦Link]

Can a threat to a legacy for good or bad or something between good and bad? Yes! Much depends on how whimsical Yogananda's legacy was in the first place. He used to digress at length during lectures, seldom preparing for them but by jotting down a few notes, tells Daya Mata in Man's Eternal Quest. She writes how Yogananda

seldom made even the slightest preparation for his lectures; if he prepared anything at all, it might consist of a factual note or two, hastily jotted down. Very often, while riding in the car on the way to the temple, he would casually ask one of us: "What is my subject today?" . . . and then give the lecture extemporaneously. (Yogananda 1982:xi-xii)

So we might benefit from taking into account how that legacy was in the first place, and whether SRF's changes are menial to it. Also consider how greedy and authoritarian Yogananda was, advocating dictatorship and much else (below) .

Do better than guess you are facing one more American cult in the forming. Study the facts and findings of well qualified others. Lola Williamson (2011) shows how a devoted facade is not all there is to SRF. It may well be what is behind the facade that matters the most, all in all - the real content, that is, the package, not the glossy wrapping-paper.


Disagreements about how the organization should be run and how Yogananda's words should be interpreted have existed throughout SRF's history, occasionally erupting into organizational crises. (Williamson 2010:75)

SRF is hierarchical in its approach with the Board [of management] essentially controlling the decision-making process. Former disgruntled members of SRF credit this top-down mentality with creating an unhealthy organization. (Williamson 2010:75)

A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed to execute the suggestions made by the consultants. This was the beginning of a split among the monks and nuns who resided at the Mother Center. Some viewed the promise of change with exhilaration and hope; and some viewed it with fear. The end result was that a large number of monastics left SRF in the years 2000 to 2005. Due to the entrenched resistance to change, the communication consultants were let go, the existing committee members replaced by others content with the status quo, and the psychologists relieved of their duties. It may be that so many people needed to talk to the counselors that the leadership became fearful of losing control. They reverted to the old style of dealing with problems, which, as the SRF catchphrase goes, is to "take it to your altar:' (Williamson 2010:76)


In SRF they formed committees but did not solve underlying problems. Take into account how they behave, and not just what they say or write and want you to welcome and believe in.

Two main problems unless you stop reading a goading Yogananda

To revert to the quoted passages on top of the page: "Dear to all" is probably an exaggeration in any case. Besides, being loved by evil ones is hardly a lot.

Here we see two deep problems with Yogananda: he and his different editors do not discern much and well. And different editors render him differently. In the heavily SRF-edited counterpart, a discourse 47, much is different. One had better take the SRF's edited changes into account - they signify one does not get the original Yogananda.

Was there ever a "childlike, nonattached, dear to all and worriless, laughter-filled" Jesus who whipped money-changers, cursed a fig tree who did not bear fruit out of season, and said he came to bring war? If so, that is not being dear to money-changers and all.

Face the gospels instead: Jesus of the gospels was far from dear to all and worriless while praying in an olive garden right before he was captured and executed. And Yogananda ritually worships him on the strength of common agreements among Christians in the USA of his time. - That is not sweet at all if it goes against the gospels far and wide. It seems much like ritual hypocricy. Jesus does not favour it; he condemns the hypocrites a lot too.

Those who are taken in and get on board the romanticising train of Yogananda thoughts, may end up much disappointed and maybe maladapted too, after periods of far too little sleep at night - hard work in SRF, little pay for it, little sleep was advocated by Yogananda - A risk of undermining yourself has been pointed out. About one third of the SRF monastics left the fellowship's premises between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons, 2012, 171). Many have taken pains for years to tell why. Maybe you should listen to them, as "the other party is to be heard" too. [◦SRF Walrus Backup]

Consider what good unconditional loyalty to a "gilded" dictatorship-loving false prophet and necromancer might do you

Calm reserve offers room to consider and reconsider. If you have jumped on a bandwagon taking you to some very bad place, try to get off fast if you can.

"Gilding the guru" may be a work of marred id (libido)

The guru advocated dictatorship in his own magazine in 1934 (Self-Realization Magazine 1934).

The guru experimented with necromancy. (Williamson 2010:71)

Yogananda also revelled in false and odious prophecies. He prophesied a third and fourth World War before 2000 CE; Europe would be devastated by then, and Russia annihilated. Japan would be swallowed up by China, America would survive, and "England is finished. Finished. Finished!" All of it before 2000 CE. (Kriyananda 2011:125-26. Extracted; 1973, ch 6). [Failed Yogananda prophesies and gullibility]

A professor of the Catholic Church, "Father Mateo", says Yogananda brings heresy "to town": "His theology cannot be squared with Roman Catholic doctrine. He teaches . . . all religions are equally true . . . He also seems to teach the . . . heresy of salvation by human effort alone." (The article)

In sum: It may not feel good to learn of such things that SRF tends to hide only after you are sworn in as a church member (read: underling) and hear "he is love incarnated, worship him" regularly, and are sworn to unconditional loyalty to him and other unmet or idealised ones. Better learn about many fooling tricks than fall victim to many of them.

The lickspittle may have gone a long way in failing to watch out carefully for loss of one's own proper authority.

To extract unconditional loyalty to four, five or six unmet gurus, is it right? Who do extracted pledges serve, really? Uncommon loyalty demands may hide or mask something.

Luckily, there are fuller kriya yoga systems around than Yogananda's kriya. At least Satyananda Yoga does not do not bind members hand and foot to a former dictatorship-eager guru (Yogananda).

Some get outsmarted and some get too outsmarted. He is not the most outsmarted who knows he has been outsmarted.

There is also Yogananda's ideal that followers in his self-sufficient communities are to go hatless all year round.

Your first allegiance should be your Self - Be on the alert against being led astray.

Yogananda recoursed to Black Magic (Kriyananda 2011:131; also see Kriyananda 2004, No. 189; Dasgupta 2006) - and there is a risk of being swindled.

Consider possible losses before you swallow every shiny bait.


Sauerkraut of Yogananda, being outsmarted, Yogananda's said use of Black Arts on Hitler to expand World War II - sacrificing innocents, Self-Realization Fellowship, outsmarted and fearful, Literature  

Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. -- A fellow disciple of Yogananda has written of him, after serving as his secretary in India. The book contains a wealth of information and customary display of reverence or politeness signified by the ending '-ji' and things like that. You may like it!

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

Falk, Geoffrey D. Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment. Toronto: Million Monkeys Press, 2009. -- Not too kind.

Kriyananda, Swami. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2004, No. 189.

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

⸻. Yogananda for the World. 3rd ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012. -- Trying hard to show what Yogananda told and what SRF has worked up.

Mata, Daya. "Only Love". Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1976. -- It did not speak to me.

Parsons, Jon R. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012. -- Fine in its way. Written by a sagacious lawyer.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981. -- A daunting and detailed text for the supple and eager ones.

⸻. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001. -- A corollary to or enlargement of the Course (above).

SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship Publishing House). The Master Said: A Collection of Paramhansa Yogananda's Sayings and Wise Counsel to Various Disciples. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship Publishing House, 1952. -- It has the advantage of escaping the SRF editing after the guru's death.

Vermes, Geza. "From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity." Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012. -- A renowned Jesus scholar sums up.

Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010. -- An excellent gift.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.

⸻. The Divine Romance. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2002.

⸻. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Self-Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, 1982.

Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Second Coming of Christ: From the Original Unchanged Writings of Paramhansa Yogananda's Interpretations of the Sayings of Jesus Christ. Vol. 3, 1986.

Harvesting the hay

On many pages are simple markers, brackets and some symbols. What they stand for and how they are used for academic harvesting is shown on the page that the 'Gain-Ways link below will open.

Yogananda's said use of Black Arts on Hitler to expand World War II - sacrificing innocents, To top Section Set Next

Yogananda's said use of Black Arts on Hitler to expand World War II - sacrificing innocents USER'S GUIDE: [Link]  ᴥ  Gain-Ways: [Link]
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