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Yogananda in Miami in 1928

Yogananda got 35 dollars from about 200 Miami women each to teach them intricacies of his "love cult", a Miami newspaper wrote in 1928. Wealthy women were taught "how to love". However, angry husbands in Miami did not like the idea of Yogananda touching their wives in private sessions, and threatened him with violence and asked the police to arrest him or get him out of town.

"I'm ordering you out of town to satisfy a horde of protests against your activities and save you from a repetition of what happened to you in Los Angeles, when an irate husband handed you one on the nose," Chief H. Leslie Quigg said [to Yogananda], but Yogananda's nose did not seem hurt.

The Swami stared fixedly across the desk at the beginning of the interview, seemingly intent upon hypnotizing Quigg.

"Cut that out," snapped the chief, "and listen to me!"

Later the police came and placed themselves with tear gas bombs in their hands outside the hall where Yogananda was scheduled to deliver an address. The meeting was called off.

"There won't be any more lectures," said the police chief.

A month later the chief was charged with a first degree murder, but regained his job nine years later . . . [◦Miami Daily News Evidence]

Yogananda suffered in Miami

Can we trust silly newspapers and absurd games? In this case Yogananda protested against the harassment through an attorney and defended his reputation in a newspaper article, stating: (1) The charge was 25 dollars, not 35. (2) He did not run a love cult. (3) Someone he knew had been hit on the nose in Los Angeles (attestedly), but not himself. (4) He wrote that the Daily News had too grossly distorted something else he had said in an interview. (5) He pointed out that only few of his lessons were given privately. (6) He also rebutted that he had tried to hypnotise the chief. (7) Hundreds of character witnesses would vouch for him too. He concluded that in Miami he suffered from false reports and injustice.

[Source: The same collection of newspaper articles, the two first ones in particular]

Yogananda and the Lion Woman

Another article appeared in the Miami news in 1928:

A lion woman

A superintendent of a hospital for nervous and mental diseases told a court of law in Miami that a woman entered his hospital on January 31 and refused to eat unless assured that her food "had come in contact with the swami [Yogananda]." The superintendent testified that she "imagines she's a lion, and attempts to roar and conduct herself as a lion does." She said the swami told her he was a lion and held Miami in his grasp.

Yogananda said she came to his meetings on request of her husband who asked that she be cured of sleepwalking. But in the article, Yognanda does not confirm he was a lion that held Miami in his grasp, as the poor woman said. [◦"Story 4"]

When the "cure" is not better than the disease, take care - The swami was not a lion, nor was the woman. Yogananda told he wanted Americans to improve and get more self-assertive, but his methods were not quite up to snuff. It is the same with other visualisations and affirmations - they are not ranked as the very best Vajrayana methods either. Good meditation, however, may help basic self-confidence through improved Self-awareness and corresponding Self-attunement. Also, some good achievements help somewhat, and self-help books offer tips on how to be self-confident, self-assertive and see through some plots of others, as in Transactional Analysis, TA.

Be a little careful as to who you teach to roar like lions, then. It may be a fun pastime, but little help otherwise. There is a yoga pose called "The Roaring Lion" or "The Lion Pose (Simhasana)", by the way. But in this case it was perhaps a yoga simile about a leonine Self that got out of hand. Such lion teachings are found in Yogananda's book Whispers from Eternity. He was at making non-rhyming blank verse from the 1920, as evidenced in Songs of the Soul (1983, xiii-xvii). In this SRF published book it is documented how later versions of Yogananda blank verse or "sections" were changed by himself or one of his editors, and up to a lot.

Here a little from Yogananda's Whispers will do. This outpouring is a "classic Yogananda":

Paramahansa Yogananda teaching Make Me a Lion of Thy All-Conquering Wisdom

A lion-cub of the Divine Mother, I was somehow thrown into life in the sheep-fold of human frailties. Living long with the sheep of fear, failure and disease, I bleated with weakness. I forgot my roars which had frightened away all wicked, pestering sorrows. O Lion of Realization, Thou didst drag me away from the sheep-fold unto the waters of meditation. And Thou didst say: "Open thine eyes and roar!" But I kept my eyes tightly closed and bleated with fear. The roar of Thy wisdom reverberated through me, and Thy hard shakings of spiritual urge made me open my eyes. Lo! there in the crystal pool of peace, Thou didst show me my face to be like Thine!

Now, I know I am the Lion of cosmic power. I will no more bleat in fear of weakness and suffering: I will roar with the vibrant power of the Almighty! Bounding in the forest of experiences, I will seize the little creatures of vexing worries, the timid fears, and wild hyenas of disbelief, and devour them ruthlessly.

O Lion of Immortality, roar through me Thine all-conquering power of wisdom! (Whispers, No. 43.)

Time is much likely better spent in meditation that transcends ballyhoo, hue and cry in higher states of awareness. Instead of many wordy outpourings and concepts of others, better learn to attune to your Self. After all, you should learn to do away with Yogananda words in good meditation; that is basically what Yogananda was sent to the West to do. It was his mission - to teach people how to meditate. Don't settle for a "squatting wordy fare" instead of an upright ones. Not a fourth best deal, then, or sixth and ninth, for very little helpful teachings may not work well enough to counteract the effects of an uncongenial, unhelpful environment and so on. Also see:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998

To top

Murky Waters

Buttered phrases don't bring God as easily as they bring weariness
Paramahansa Yogananda teaching Flatterers do not help us. - Yogananda (1982:100).

Much and unsound drivel drives away good use of one's time, for one thing. Self-Realization Fellowship has published Yogananda books - some too bulky, other quite large, and some thin and tiny. You may think Yogananda books are just right, but there is another side to the story: Some of his books are of a kind that makes you wonder why they are sold.

He writes he was sent to the West at the best of his guru and other gurus to spread liberating techniques of yoga. He did that too, but at a price. He also talked and talked in town after town, and wrote bible-looking poetry, affirmations and capsules - paragrams, as his fellowship published them as.

If wordiness squeezes away time that could be far better spent, for example in deepening meditation, it is hardly a good thing. If that sort of wordiness weakens the time for your mission, and its impact - to spread techniques and the good forms of yoga lifestyle that go along with them - there is a deflection, small or large. And if the wordiness serves to give yoga a bad reputation, as with Yogananda in Miami in 1928, there could be other areas of improvement too.

Affirmations come at a price if they prevent deepening meditation.

The value of lojong also depends on the value of axioms that are meditated on

There are some sayings that help a meditator, but a lot who do not. It may be hard to know the difference. It is also possible to meditate on good sayings to improve one's mind up to a level. In Tibetan Buddhism it is called lojong. If you focus on insignificant sayings, not helpful sayings, time and effort has not been well spent. There was a woman who gave ear to Yogananda's so-called autobiography in her car, saying she had been through it a hundred times or something. Then she quit. She quit SRF, Yogananda, and probably quit reading and listening that book too. [Lojong]

Aside: If you want to learn what is in a book, you can learn all-round study methods to improve the yield and benefits of learning a thing. It is really simple. You focus on the main things and fill in also, using carefully spaced repetitions, and so on.

Lojong may work well if we steer out of insignificant sayings to dwell on. Such mind-training has been known since the Middle Ages.

Who wants not quite good enough thought-seeds, and sown in infirm minds as well?

First, Yogananda talks as presented in an SRF trilogy (so far) are rarely structured for in addition to digressing at length, he "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," according to SRF. [Ak xi-xii]

A great idea is to tell first what is contained in a talk, then tell it and finally sum up the good points one might find. Such structuring has not been done full well by the publishers yet.

Second, verbal outpourings indiscriminately for a general audience may be of little meditative value and contain few really good ideas, generally valid or reliable ones to build further on. There is a danger that the good thought-seeds of Yogananda - yes there are some! - drown in the verbiage. They could be singled out, as SRF has done in part by making sections and headings. If the SRF editors would assist Yogananda-learners further, they could add some pinpointed end lessons too behind each sections; that could help also, and is one of the easier things to do. At any rate, good ideas to meditate on are said to be auxillary to deep meditation, and not the best meditation helpers in the world. Suitable mantras are taught to be best for many.

Third, the issue of metaphoric affirmations: Allegories or metaphors are not the "real things", not what they seek to allude to by tricks of language. Yogananda frolicked in giving out "not-real things" in his day. However, metaphors and allegories can backfire for two reasons: One, in the wrong heads such ideas may lead to hospitalisation from calling forth twisted ideas (A Miami newspaper episode below). Two, figurative ways of communicating have a common default weakness: they tell in masked ways of something that is not the "real thing, not the main thing, and hence figurative talk may be understood poorly too.

The inner Self comes to the fore in deep meditation, not by allegories and metaphors and lots of herding. And some "get hit" for it. Yogananda was struck in the chest till he lost his breath, he writes in his autobiography.

Aside: "There is a proper way to do it, and all the others," we can surmise. And to make "a thousand changes" in an autobiography for many decades after the author is gone, may not look like a proper activity. [Learn the details]

The sage Manu teaches this about prayers or meditative thoughts and mantras:

An offering, consisting of muttered prayers, is ten times more efficacious than a sacrifice performed according to the rules (of the Veda); a (prayer) which is inaudible (to others) surpasses it a hundred times, and the mental (recitation of sacred texts) a thousand times. [Chap. 2, verse 85]

Consider it a suggestion of what is the more valuable turn.

In the older days of the fellowship, many disliked that prayers and sermons and poems by Yogananda were gathered and made into a course that one had to subscribe to in order to learn yoga and meditation from his fellowship. They preferred that he kept the kriya yoga teachings as they had been from the start, without all the added "glamour". So these points are not new.

Wonderful ideas rarely bring about hospitalisation when carefully and well communicated.

The difference between copious veneration of Yogananda and learning valuable lessons from his outpourings, is seen in how they are taken, that is, in how he is studied. There are up to very helpful study methods around. Tony Buzan's general study approach is rewarding to many.

In a non-classy setting the need to choose the good from the bad and the best from the good, is paramount. Good discernment is tall.

Yogananda said it himself, that if one uses only a tenth of the techniques he handed out, self-realisation would be had. Those are his words, according to one of his monks. The proper handling of his material is to select the very best tenth of techniques and verbiage. This percentage - a tenth - corresponds roughly with the percentage of key words or key phrases in a text also.

Old, ritualistic drivel abounds

Set-backs come when it loses its appeal. Yogananda led American ladies to do what he didn't himself. He said, "I don't pray. That may seem a strange thing to say [Ak 121]." Yet he wrote Whispers from Eternity - a book with flowing phrases and "answered prayers". Tip: emulate the bigwig rather than succumb to beer or good-looking phrases where reasonable actions speak louder than words and work much better.

To believe all you hear, may contain future dangers.

Study the best and learn from the best to become one of them - that is a lot.

Yogananda's Dreamy University

As discussed earlier, fit and fair study that yields degrees is better than lots of unsound drivel.

You should not flinch from the real student idea, but stick to your part and ask for the best of methods for study. But former SRF members may not have much of a choice if they weep too much, and feel so troubled by their former membership that they do not manage to focus on textbooks. Still, a general counsel stands: Learn from the professionals and then learning gets better, and then the lot in life unless you find your whole life damaged through SRF or Yogananda. At any rate, solid improvement is to be hoped and not feared. For the lack of a jolly good education some suffer terribly. [More on study methods]

Unsound Instructions and Others

Paramahansa Yogananda All realities seem unreal . . . the material universe is not real. – The body is unreal. - Yogananda, Ak 182, 421]

Fair and sound evidence that it is so, is not found.

To menace others suggests trying to take their dignity or worth away. To imply they are unreal is like "You mean nothing to me!" and so on. Is Yogananda menacing or not? SRF contains a farcical mental universe - a body of teachings - to tackle as you accept the guru's repeated words: It is all unreal, quite like a movie.

It is better to get an education. A sound one. An accredited one.

Further reading: [Link].

Fantasy Figures?

Airy speculation without foundations is not a thing of accuracy. Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), the founding guru of Self-Realization Fellowship, said:

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

the shame of it There is a need to think it through. A larger perspective is fit:

  • Yogananda said he had been a prince, Arjuna, and if so he was a former wife-sharer with a harem, and at least partially enlightened by Krishna as Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita's chap. 11. ([Maybe not in the original Gita!] What did he become after the said enlightenment as Arjuna? A murderer, he said.
  • He said he had been the ruthless killer William the Conqueror in a past life. He did not describe William as an unreliable, ruthless tyrant and dungeon-murderer of his wife's former fiance, but that is what historians may tell.
  • He had been a vicious and murderous desert marauder in a past life, as recorded by his biographer. The thought if it made Yogananda shiver. (Dasgupta 2006, 112)
  • [There is more here]

One may do well to shun a reborn unreliable tyrant and marauder and his goadings. Yogananda hailed dictatorship and Mussolini in his own magazine, alas.

He dreamt it?

One problem with such claims is attestability - whether correct, attested satisfactory evidence is provided. For the lack of tenable evidence, alternative suggestions (hypotheses) abound, such as "he hallucinated, he had hypnotised himself, he fancied, he mistook dream images for past lives, he lied," and further.

The bystander is left with "He told it. Either it is true or not true. Either something in it is true and other parts not. Or nothing fits." A bystander has nothing to get hold on. The faith that seeks to affirm the "past lives" teachings, has nothing much to bolster it but a group-shared faith in the credibility of the guru - And that is what is at stake.

Ashram focus and prestige

Stories of past lives may remind of a family tree. The good and well-known guys get the focus, even a billboard-posted someone where billboard posters counts for much. But the highwaymen or worse often go unmentioned, if not unheeded. Many persons focus for prestige, and often it is might and riches that bring it about, all in all.

See what has been "guaranteed" in SRF's Hidden Valley ashram (closed community for monastics and novices): "In one (question-and-answer session) satsanga, the administrator at Hidden Valley "guaranteed" that an unspecified number of the members of SRF's Board of Directors will have been rulers/pharaohs in ancient Egypt." [Falk: 270].

The greatness of proper evidence is not to be done away with by tales of great, former lives . . .

Speaking of kings of ancient Egypt, Egyptians believed their pharaoh to be divine with sacred, magical powers, supreme will, and control of nature - but criticised and plotted against him too, and even plundered his grave. It is an imperfect world - parts of it.

Rulers of Egypt

In ancient teachings the divine "Priapus of fertility" is reckoned with, and among some celibates too. Without human fertility, no humans around, and a human's perception of time-and-space depends this. In ancient Egypt too the phallus was a symbol of fertility: the god Min is often depicted with an erect penis. (WP, "Priapus"; "Phallus")


Yogananda information, Literature  

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

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

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

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line or yearly DVD suite.

Falk: Falk, Geoffrey D. Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment. Deepstep, AL: Million Monkeys Press, 2009.

Ms: Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Master Said. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1952.

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

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

Scp: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1953.

Ssh: Buzan, Tony. Buzan's Study Skills: Mind Maps, Memory Techniques, Speed Reading and More!. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2011.

Uy: Buzan, Tony. Use Your Head. Harlow: BBC Active / Pearson, 2010.


  1. Helen Goa. "Sex and the Singular Swami". The San Franscisco Weekly. 10 Marcdh 1999.
  2. Ananda Sangha. "The Fight For Religious Freedom: Ananda Wins 95% of the 12-Year Lawsuit Instigated by Self-Realization Fellowship" Nevada City, CA: Ananda Church of Self-Realization, 2011.

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.

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