Site Map
Self-Realization Fellowship - Awfully Founded?
Section › 15   Set    Search  Previous Next


Reservations   Contents    

Self-Realization Fellowship - Awfully Founded?

The idea that SRF was "founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920" could well be due to loose backdating.

Good SRF symbol
Jungian symbol of SRF (see further down)

Unsourced founding date or not?

Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, presents itself as founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920. You find this stated in SRF books, SRF letters and more. Example:


Boston was the first city in America to receive and welcome the Yogoda Sat-Sanga message, in 1920, when Swami Yogananda arrived in that city as the delegate from India to the International Congress of Religious Liberals. The first Yogoda Sat-Sanga Center in America was established in Boston, under the local leadership of Dr. M. W. Lewis of West Somerville, who still continues in charge. - East-West Magazine, November - December 1928 Vol. 3 - 6.

Yogoda Sat-Sanga is the name of the Indian organisation that Yogananda had founded in India in 1917. It still exists. In the United States, Yogananda fronted an unregistered organisation until March 1935, when Self-Realization Fellowship was registered as a church in the state of California. Before that, his unregistered organisation went by different names, such as Yogoda Sat-Sanga. Just when Yogananda founded it, seems obscure. It could be a result of backdating, says a US attorney (private communication).

A little in the Early Organisation Box - if it ever existed or is found in a cellar - might change the starting tune that SRF pipes.

Late in Boston, 1920

In 1920, Yogananda (1893-1952) was Swami Yogananda. He went to Boston by boat in 1920. After a long voyage, the ship, The City of Sparta, docked at Pier 3, East Boston on September 19, 1920. Next day he was in the newspaper, the Boston Globe. He was to speak during a congress held in October, and on October 6 he delivered his maiden speech in America, "The Science of Religion" in Unity House before the International Congress of Religious Liberals. In a book with the same title, he claims, "We ought not to fear to practice conscious death . . . Death will then be under our control (1926, 80)." [Don't forget to doubt.] — At first Yogananda stayed at the Y.M.C.A. Later in 1920, he moved to Unity House, 7 Park Square, Boston (The building was later converted into a hotel, and still later demolished). In Unity House he got a visitor on Christmas Eve, 1920. It was the Boston dentist Minott W. Lewis, a Rosicrucian. [Source: Boston Meditation Group of Self-Realization Fellowship. In the Footsteps of Paramahansa Yogananda, Boston, 2011, passim]

Dr Lewis visited Yogananda without any previous arrangement on Christmas Eve into Christmas Night, and had not told his wife Mildred where he went. Wanting to see Hidden Light he had read about in the Bible, the dentist asked Yogananda insistently to show it to him, got his wish, and became a disciple of Yogananda from Christmas Night on, for Rosicrucians members "are equally as free to join as they are to leave the Order."

Yogananda later confirmed in The Master Said (1952, 6) that his Christmas visitor, Dr. Minott White Lewis, was his first American disciple, as it was said. From the description of the initiation, it looks like a lot, and maybe it left the Rocicrucian, Dr Lewis, with no idea that he had become a founding member of a fellowship he had not heard of late on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Night 1920.

Yogananda moved in with the Lewises in their home at 24 Electric Avenue in Somerville, Boston. "This was the home of Dr. and Mrs. Minott Lewis from 1920 to 1924. The Lewises occupied the second floor." Yogananda "stayed here frequently, and for some time had a room on the third floor at the back of the house." (In the Footsteps, 2011:9) He stayed with them in this way for about three years (1920-23).

Yogananda moved in with the Lewises in late 1920. Many years later, Yogananda got his formerly unregistered association - known by several names. including Sat-Sanga - registered formally as Self-Realization Fellowship on March 29, 1935. It was registered in the state of California as a church, one whose declared aims focused on getting values and lands, and to preach and teach a religion, not to forget.

A Rolling Pin in a Mildred Hand - Symbolic or Not?

Dr Minott White Lewis was rather likely the only American to be taught advanced yoga methods by Yogananda in 1920. When he met Swami Yogananda on Christmas Eve, he was very skeptical. More important, he had promised his wife Mildred that he would trim their Christmas tree and make it ready for their children by next morning.

He had been warned not to be fooled or misled by charlatans. But when he visited Yogananda in his room at Unity House, Park Square in Boston and brought up bible quotations about "single eye", he added, "For heaven's sake, please show me."

Then Yogananda said that when Minott would love him back, he would take charge of his life, and placed a tiger skin on the floor of his room and sat down opposite Minott on it. Minott soon saw a star and more. Yogananda followed up, "Promise that you will never avoid me." It is a matter of discretion how to understand "never avoid me".

Afterwards, after many, many hours, Minott drove his car back home to his wife, who knew nothing about where he had been. She had tried in vain to set up the Christmas tree herself, finally to sit down in a rocking chair with a rolling pin in her right hand. As the clock neared one o'clock in the night she was ready to swing the rolling pin also - and then Minott came home (Rosser 1991, chap. 1, sections 1-6, passim).

If this Christmas Night visit is stipulated as the founding of SRF, a rolling pin in a woman's hand can serve as its main symbol by a little Jungian syncronicity - see Jung's Man and His Symbols (1964) and Synchronicity (1974).


The reception scene at home on Christmas night included a waiting woman with a rolling-pin in her hand, and ready to swing it. If by agreements the rolling-pin serves as a reminder of Yogananda getting a non-avoider, it can be used as a symbol and emblem too. By agreements the rolling-pin is lifted to be an emblem. If it is apt, it suggest something vitally important as well. It could be:

  • Resent bad authority honestly, if not with tact.
  • SRF in the hands of monastic women ready to drive out of the "house and garden" many men, even a former vice president.
  • SRF headed by women - the rolling-pin for women's lib could be taken to be there too.
  • It is important to achieve something practical above mere talk.
  • To detect what is about, stay calm, be very careful, and ask pertinent questions first.
  • Adjust quickly and adequately, like Mrs. Lewis.

And so further.


There is also a story about Minott Lewis's wife, Mildred. It makes little sense if Yogananda moved in with the Lewises at Christmas 1920. But as one source has it:

The first place where Master [Yogananda] spoke in Boston (1920) was a Methodist church located in the neighborhood where the Lewis family lived and where Doctor Lewis had his practice. Alice Haysey . . . was one of the first Bostonians to meet Master. She . . . invited her friend, Mrs. Mildred Lewis to come and meet him at their community church. Mrs. Lewis accepted.

The young Swami exchanged pleasantries with the ladies. Then he told Mrs. Lewis that he would like to talk to her privately and she went along with him. He took her into an adjacent room where they could be alone.

Mrs. Lewis later said that she didn't remember anything of what the Swami said or did in that room, but she was with him for almost an hour. When she came out, she was in tears. She doesn't know what happened.

The incident supposedly took place after 1920 (Rosser 1991: "Mildred Lewis Becomes a Disciple"). The Swami was an eager hypnotist and had practised on his younger brother earlier (Williamson 2010:71). Sorting alternatives: he took her into states beyond compare - or she was immensely forgetful.

Thus, how and when Mildred Lewis, another Rosicrucian member, met Yogananda and spent an hour alone in his company, an hour she could not remember anything of afterwards, may be in the dark.


In searching for places and dates, compare:

On March 4, 1921, [Yogananda] gave his first public lecture in America at Jordan Hall. (p. 7)

In His Footsteps contains no mention of a Methodist church where Yogananda spoke in 1920: It says that his first public lecture was at Jordan Hall, and that he conducted classes in the home of Mrs. Alice Hasey from January 1921. These are the first dates the Boston Meditation Group of Self-Realization Fellowship tells of in their guidebook, apart from Yogananda's maiden speech in Unity House on October 6, 1920.

9 Lester Terrace, West Somerville, Massachusetts; Private residence - This is the former home of . . . Mrs. Alice Hasey). [Yogananda] was a dinner guest here shortly after his arrival in America [and] conducted many classes here from January through October 1921, probably in the room with the bay window. (p. 9)

A historian had better heed avaiable public sources.

Light Sayings in Two Gospels

Yogananda's first initiate was the Boston dentist and Rosicrucian member Minott White Lewis. Unannounced he visited Yogananda on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Night in the room that Yogananda rented. The dentist was curious and wanted to see Bright Light. (Matthew 6:22-23; Luke 11:34-36). A renowned Bible scholar, Geza Vermes, comments on the light sayings of Jesus in his The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. A quotation from it:

Stake. The eye, the symbolical lamp, is the source of light within man. If the eye is faultless, the spiritual light emanating from it will penetrate inside man and illumine his heart. But if the eye is not transparent, light will not pass through it, and darkness will reign inside man. No specific teaching attached to this proverb can be easily defined except that the seeker of God should hope and pray for the gift of enlightenment.

The saying presupposes the Jewish ethical . . . imagery of the good eye and the evil eye, the source of virtue or wickedness. The saying attributed to the late first-century AD Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus identifies the 'good eye' with the 'good way' and the 'evil eye' with the 'evil way' . . . The concept of man being inwardly made up of light and/or darkness is rendered more intelligible by a Dead Sea Scroll (4Q186) according to which each human individual consists of nine parts of light or darkness, or a mixture of the two. The surviving fragment describes two persons; one is fairly good, with six parts of light against three parts of darkness, but the other is very wicked, having eight parts of darkness and only one part of light. Luke's wording, 'your whole body is full of light, having no part dark' (11:36), reminds one of this Qumran model. (Vermes, p. 94-95)

That is Dr Vermes' understanding of the Subtle Light. Some time after two o'clock in the night the dentist went home to his wife Mildred who sat waiting for him with a rolling-pin in her hand, since he had not told her where he would be that night.

Things Got Worse

"Pay what you owe and you'll know what you're worth." (British, in Wilson 1970)

Swami Dhirananda

It happens at times that sources or reminiscences do not add up perfectly. SRF was hardly started by a woman in tears and no memories that it had happened. If the blocked or failed memory event happened before Christmas 1920, there is no mention that she was Yogananda's first American disciple - her husband was, the available sources tell: He saw Light in the hotel room of Yogananda on Christmas Eve into Christmas Night, during their first meeting. Later that Christmas, Yogananda moved in with the Lewises. And if that is so, the story of Alice Hasey telling her about Yogananda - living with the Lewises since Christmas 1920 - might lose at least some of its meaning.

Parts of the history of Yogananda's activities in the US are summed up in the very first issue of his own magazine, East-West, under the heading "Work In America":

Swami Yogananda came to this country in 1920 . . .

Thru the financial assistance of his father, and the enthusiasm of a few devout students, the Swami started a small Sat-Sanga (Fellowship with Truth) Center in Boston. He lectured before many clubs, colleges and associations . . . The work grew and Swami sent for his beloved associate, Swami Dhirananda, to come to America and help in the spread of the message of Yogoda and all-round human education. [East-West magazine, November-December, 1925 Vol. 1—1, highlighting added]

Neither the Boston Meditation Group's guidebook (2011) nor Brenda Rosser (1991) mentions any Yogoda Centre in Boston as early as 1920.

"Beloved Dhirananda" later sued Yogananda for a substantial amount of money to get paid for good work for many years (!). Yogananda in reply charged Dhirananda for lots of money, charges that were proven false and untrue in court. "Don't praise the day before it is evening," is a Havamal reminder (v. 81). Can we totally trust a swami that brings false charges to court, trying to escape paying money due? The trial judge declared Yogananda's claims were demonstrably false.

Does lack of trustworthiness in money matters matter?

To some, an organisation's dating matters, and not only to historians. The difficulty to handle is that of jarring sources and lack of good, published evidence. And what about jubilees? SRF could ask a professional historian to help them find their most fitting founding year as an unregistered association in the USA. "A clean nook stands inspection (Proverb)." Anyway, the formal fellowship registration was in March, 1935, days before Yogananda left the country by boat, heading for India and thereby escaping to be dragged to court by Dhirananda in the lawsuit.

There is a mention by Yogananda's guru Yukteswar in 1935-36. He says something similar to "Now you have got your organisation - be happy." It is in the Yogananda biography. (Dasgupta 2006). However, Yogananda did not get happy about his organisation. He came to regret that he had started it. In this piece of evidence, a word - uncultured slang - used by Yogananda allows for three translations. Two of them:


"I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization."

"I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization."

Source: [◦This and more is at the Sanskrit Classics]

It might not have been a great blunder to stop an organisation of that sort, if so. He did not. Or was it a ghoul posing as Yogananda that saw these things and prevented stopping it?

Then, why look into a claimed founding year an organisation that the founder meant was a great blunder and subsequently lost much interest in, preferring to sit in a desert hut in California unknown to almost all during his last years (Dasgupta 2006, 102-3)? An answer: Yogananda passed away in 1952, but the organisation still exists and tells how old it is -

In the years after 1920, Yogananda's fellowship may have grown little by little and somewhat loosely. It was not a registered organisation until 1935, the SRF-knowledgeable attorney Jon Parsons informs in a letter to me. There are traces of the process in Brenda Rosser's book (1991). As late as in 1934 the name "Self-Realization Fellowship" was introduced for it, and on May 29 1935 SRF was registered as a church in California.

- "Founded" in 1920 . . . The quotation marks signal some cool reservation.


SRF's Founding Years: Cavalcade

What Yogananda had "founded" - perhaps floatingly - in 1920 became registered as a church in California on March 29, 1935, on the eve of Yogananda's trip to Europe and India. When he left he was being chased about a lawsuit, and it was not clear when or if he would return to the US.

His organization had been an "unincorporated association" (under California law), and had been going by a variety of names: Sat-Sanga, Satsanga, Sat-Sanga Yogoda, Yogoda Sat Sanga Society of America, and many others. He started using "Self-realization Fellowship" for the corporation from 1934. Such fellowship names are found in the early materials published. So Self-Realization Fellowship Church, a California corporation, was formed in March 29, 1935, to carry on the work of the variously-named Sat Sanga organization that Yogananda had "founded" or founded with a member, loosely, in 1920 or perhaps a year or so after 1920. Who knows?

It seems SRF was "founded" in 1920 from the standpoint that Yogananda's mission in the US began that year. After living in Boston for three years, he was occupied with lecture tours and publishing books like Songs of the Soul (1923), Yogoda Introduction (1923), Science of Religion and Scientific Healing Affirmations (both 1924).

In 1925 he published the Yogoda Course, and with the help of disciples raised money to buy a hotel with 18 rooms atop the hill called Mount Washington - it is a Los Angeles neighbourhood northeast of downtown Los Angeles and Chinatown. Yogananda got the hotel there on October 25. He tried to establish a "how to live" school there, and failed. He also started to publish his own magazine. He named it East-West (1925-36), Inner Culture (1937-44) and Self-Realization Magazine (1948-69). SRF renamed it Self-Realization (1970-)

In the years after 1925, Yogananda continues to lecture "all over America". On January 24, 1927, President Calvin Coolidge received him at the White House. In 1929, Yogananda published Whispers from Eternity, and Swami Dhirananda, lecturer and writer in the Yogoda Satsanga from 1922 to April 1929, fought him in a lawsuit to get payment for his hard work. Yogananda in return charged Dhirananda for lots of money, charges that were proven false and untrue in court some years later, when stored-away evidence had been found.

Swami Yogananda was judged to pay Dhirananda the 8,000 dollars he owed him, but Yogananda was not an American citizen, he was in the United States on a British visa, and left the country in early 1935, while the property on Mt. Washington changed hands. So Dhirananda got nothing then. But in 1936, Dhirananda, now a Ph.D., got 4,200 dollars to clear Yogananda's debt (there was a Promissory Note of $8,000 that Yogananda had not paid till then), a debt made public though a costy lawsuit marred by false evidence (!). After his lawyer fees were paid, Swami Dhirananda, now Dr. Bagchi, was left with nothing, none of the 4,200 dollars.

In 1931 a monastic order started when the teenager Faye Wright (Daya) joined Yogananda. Next year Yogananda published a little book, Metaphysical Meditations, and Faye's sister came too. Yogananda met a restless, self-made millionaire on January 10 the same year, and the millionaire in time became his successor as leader of the fellowship.

From 1934 Yogananda stopped his lecturing tours in America and stayed most of the time at Mount Washington, eating self-grown tomatoes. Why he and his followers there did not grow vegetables may seem odd, for the hotel site had about 14 landscaped acres - including two tennis courts -, one or more roof gardens, etc. Balconies were fit for growing vegetables and berries too. And the climate was mild, to say the least. They still say, "Times were hard." [A hotel history]. (Cf. Hardigree 1980; Harrison 2010; McLaughlin 2013; Tepe 2013.). [They don't know what awfully hard is, then.]

Yogananda started calling his fellowship Self-Realization Fellowship. In 1935 Yogananda registered it as an official church in California, before his millionaire disciple, James Lynn, afforded him a long trip out of the country. And thus Yogananda escaped being dragged to court for money he owed Dhirananda. Off he went, on June 9.

1935-36: In India Yogananda's guru said of him to another disciple that Yogananda "had a disease - where a ghoul comes and sits on his back". (Dasgupta 2006, 83) I don't know how helpful such a Yukteswar diagnosis is. It is strange-looking, but it could help to get 'ghoul' explained. Here is a start:

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

It could be understood as Yogananda had a flesh-eating ghost on his back, one who soon ate him up and then looked like him, but since Yogananda - or the ghoul passing as him - writes in his autobiography that he put on much weight during his stay in India . . . I think the essence of the old guru's diagnosis is that Yogananda was possessed by a malevolent spirit. In SRF they say Yukteswar had unerring insight, on Yogananda's word (in Yukteswar's book The Holy Science. However, the Yogananda-furnished credo of unerring insight is so wrong.

In late October 1936 Yogananda was back in the United States, landing in New York, and in late 1936 he was back at Mt. Washington in Los Angeles. Yogananda was given an Encinitas estate in San Diego county by his millionaire disciple the same year. The "ghoul on his back" disease - let us hope he got the ghoul off him. Otherwise the estate might have been given to a hungry ghoul with donkey hooves, posing as Yogananda.

Now, remote possibilites seldom have much credibility, and long shots may not hit well. The ghoul words of Yogananda's guru, should they be given a low rank too, although Yogananda claimed he had unerring insight? What a problem!


Further Ponderings

How loosely can a fellowship be started without being (formally) started?

If the fellowship had been "written in the stars" - by date and location - for astrologer and historians alike -, SRF could have escaped being "founded" with no members apart from the founder, nothing written", or "SRF was founded during the night before the celebration day of a deity in Ancient Roman religion, perhaps without knowing that either (WP, "Sol (mythology)".

For example the nativity story in the first two chapters of Matthew may be invented on top of another and older tale in the first place. The Bible scholar Geza Vermes (2010:73-87) says the nativity story is invented and based on a folk tale. Everybody does not know that. And Yogananda started to hail Jesus and claim him as one of the gurus -

"What the German will do for money," is a little proverb.

Sources that go back to 1920

There is a biography on Yogananda's first Western disciple, the Boston dentist Dr. Minott W. Lewis (Rosser 1991), and a booklet by SRF on Lewis, and some online material on Dr. Lewis - and photos and sermons too. That Dr Lewis was the first American disciple of Yogananda, is confirmed in Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda (1980, 62). Lewis in time became SRF's vice-president for about eight years till his passing in 1960. We are told that Yogananda let him see the Spiritual Eye and his own brain while on a tiger skin in the swami's hotel room very late on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Night in 1920. Some of the details are told by SRF (note 7) and some by Rosser (1991).

In the book by Rosser (1991) there is no specific mention of any founding of SRF in 1920. Mrs Lewis tells that she and her husband were Rosicrucians* then: "Before Swami Yogananda came to America, Doctor and I had joined the Rosicrucian Society" (Rosser, 1991).

Rosicrucian: member of a worldwide society professing esoteric religious doctrines, venerating the emblems of the rose and Cross as symbols of Christ's Resurrection and Redemption, and claiming various occult powers. Rosicrucian teachings include Hermeticism, Jewish mysticism, and Christian Gnosticism, and more. The central feature is the belief that its members possess secret wisdom handed down from ancient times. During the late early 20th centuries, various groups styled themselves Rosicrucian. (Cf. Collins Dictionary; EB, "Rosicrucianism"; WP, "Rosicrucian Fellowship"; "Rosicrucianism").

Like his wife, Dr Minott Lewis was a Rosicrucian when he met Yogananda and says he saw Light. The idea that this member of a Rosicrucian Society should all of a sudden start a new formal, registered fellowship with Yogananda very late at Christmas Eve or in the first hour or so at Christmas Night is lacking in credibility and written evidence so far as I can see. From how the meeting is presented, it looked informal too, and perhaps there was not even one mention of any formal fellowship, just an initiation by a swami.

There were some days left between Christmas and New Year's Eve for the dentist to stop being a Rosicrucian and start a fellowship with Yogananda, but we are not told of any such happening in two books on the Lewises (Rosser 1991) and Dr Lewis (SRF booklet). There seems to be no mention that it happened. Was it such an insignificant event? Could Yogananda or SRF been backdating the founding to an false date? Possibilities are many. If no founding papers are found, SRF's founding year may be "twisted". That may be no big deal for followers, but of interest to historians.

When a society claims a founder and a founding year, there should be some real documentation and support of the event - why not a founding date, founding papers and members?

Looking so America-adapted religious

Sometimes a fruit looks good but is rotten inside or infested by works. In any case, Yogananda once wrote that he regretted he had started his organisation. But he did not do what was needed to stop those wheels from rolling, and as a result the SRF Church has evolved its sort of hybrid Guruism. Lola Williamson posits that meditation movements like Self-Realization Fellowship make up

a new hybrid form of religion. This new religion combines aspects of Hinduism with Western values, institutional forms, modes of teaching, and religious sensibilities. Lying at the conjunction of two worldviews, this phenomenon could be called "Hindu-inspired meditation movements:' or HIMMs. . . . [T]his book explores the contours of Hindu-inspired meditation movements and their implications for American culture. (cf. Williamson 2010, ix)

At bottom SRF stands for "Self-Realization Fellowship", loyalty to its gurus, and spreading kriya yoga. The core technique is a common pranayama method of hatha-yoga. Yogananda's and SRF's "Christianity" is not traditional Christianity, and is arrived at by constructs of a Christianity that alter the meaning of the perishable soul, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Christ. The guru also reads reincarnation into the Bible by interpreting some passages as it suits him, and disregarding biblical contexts (settings) and the opinions of most scholars. More important should be that Jesus said his teachings are for depraved Jews only, and the same with his salvation and kingdom (Geza Vermes 2010:37-41). [Bible references].

According to Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, the teachings of Jesus are forbidden teachings for non-Jews. That includes most Christians. Therefore ask: "Why drag Jesus into a fellowship and go against many of his teachings too?" Lip service has many outlets.

As a means to get better accepted in the USA, a formerly overwhelmingly Christian country, the kriya yoga marketing by the founding Hindu swami gradually changed to look all right among Christians. Marshall Govindan explains that after five years in America, Yogananda began to modify and adapt his teachings to the West in order to overcome the resistance of Christians. The alignment may be understood as a work of fawning.

After five years of effort in America, beginning in 1925 . . . Yogananda began to modify and adapt his teachings to the West . . . to overcome the . . . resistance of Christians who were suspicious of the foreign teachings of a Hindu swami. As a result, Yogananda began to enjoy remarkable popularity. . . . However, in his attempts to attract Westerners to the path of Yoga, he tended to focus on the miraculous, and most readers of his "Autobiography" come away with many romantic notions of the path. They are left with many unrealistic expectations. - Marshall Govindan. [◦More]


Today the hybrid SRF theology contains many sham claims, that seemingly suit a brand of Hinduism that lowers itself. The fellowship and church claims in its Aims and Ideals to unite yoga teachings of Hinduism with teachings of Jesus. In reality, its Christianity is not according to central gospel teachings and does not square with Catholicism either, for that matter. [More]

In 1920 a . . . Hindu missionary effort was launched in America when . . . Paramahansa Yogananda, was invited to speak at the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston, sponsored by the Unitarian Church. After the Congress, Yogananda lectured across the country, spellbinding audiences with his immense charm and powerful presence. In 1925 he established the headquarters for his Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Los Angeles on the site of a former hotel atop Mount Washington. He was the first Eastern guru to take up permanent residence in the United States after creating a following here. - ◦Elliot Miller (Recommended)
Basic kriya yoga is gentle breathing (a form of pranayama called ujjayi), with something added. To learn kriya yoga in SRF, you have to swear an oath of loyalty and devotion for your whole life and more - it is rather alarming, all possibilities considered, or at least some of them, for the oath waives several human rights. [SRF Oath, in part in the name of Jesus who said, "Don't swear".]

SRF aims to show and teach a hundred percent harmony between the Bhagavad Gita's teachings and the Gentile-forbidden, cruel and self-maiming gospel teachings of Jesus. SRF claims against gospel warnings to the contrary that Jesus is one of the fellowship's gurus, along with Krishna. A picture of Krishna was included among the SRF gurus around 1970, and he was included in SRF guru invocation from then on.


Unless you are a Jew, and ill
Jesus is not meant for you, the gospel says.
Only an ill Jew will do.

SRF and Yogananda claim in their Aims and Ideals and elsewhere to show and present "original Christianity as taught by Jesus", and that Jesus is one of the SRF gurus. It boils down to this: (a) Jesus says his teachings are for Jews only, and that healthy ones do not need him. That is clear. (b) Swami leaders and all other SRF members just tell about the teachings of Jesus - teachings meant for Jews only . . . This may look good, but consider the fog of disrespect involved.

  1. Jesus taught Jews only, and strictly so, gospels tell (e.g. Matthew 15:24; Vermes 2010; 2005).
  2. SRF is headed by nuns and monks of a Hindu Swami Order. There was ◦no monasticism in early Christianity, no monks and nuns in trappings, surrounding and serving several christs as they say they do in SRF against warnings of Jesus against hungry wolves. Make no mistakes: those who are heading SRF are members of a Hindu swami order.
  3. Christianity rose according to what all the apostles and the Holy Spirit agreed on in the Apostolic Decree from somewhere around 50 CE (Acts 15; 21:25). Insistent no's to blood food, strangled animals (including wrangled chicken) and adultery became three quarters of true Christianity then. Since there was no such thing as "original Christianity of Jesus Christ", it looks like fool's play, what we are dealing with.

  4. Make sure: SRF has none of the traditional dispensations of Christianity. Its salvation is not God "falling on you", which is Christian salvation, but is related to kriya breathing, maybe for many lives. Christian sacraments are not included either. But there are outré claims, Mother God-wailing, guru worship and many regulations one could do well without. You find such offensive parts of that "SRF pack" on these pages.

In short: To include Jesus among the line of gurus, backfires. He said his teachings, salvation and Kingdom were for Jews only.

Jesus says so clearly in the Bible. He says that healthy ones among the Jews do not need him, and restricted his teachings and salvation and healing ministry to ill (read: depraved) Jews only, and that healthy ones do not need him. It is in the Bible. [Sources] An ill Jew who wants to do as Jesus tells to avoid his condemnation of hypocrites, is called to make himself or herself poor, tear off limbs and turn the other cheek so that badmen get the house and land.

The Catholic Church has traditionally turned to his mother for veneration. At least she did not say explicitly she was for Jews only. The early church also incorporated a large body of vestige, ceremonies, rituals from other religions in the Roman Empire [Borrowed feathers etc.]

There was no original Christianity of Jesus either. He had Jewish followers only, perhaps 120 of them when he was executed. The first Church launched Christianity with its four requirements only after Jesus was gone. Sayings of Jesus were not included - not even mentioned - in the founding dictate. An array of gospels were written and in part forged years later.


From the start of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF gurus, Swami Yogananda, Literature  

Boston Meditation Group Historical Committee. In the Footsteps of Paramahansa Yogananda. 5th ed. Waltham, MA: Boston Meditation Group of Self-Realization Fellowship, 2011. ⍽▢⍽ A guidebook compiled June 1989 and updated until September 2011.

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

Ehrman, Bart D. Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Hardigree, Peggy. The Edible Indoor Garden: A Complete Guide to Growing over 60 Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs Indoors. New York. St. Martin's Press, 1980.

Harrison, John. Vegetable, Fruit and Herb Growing in Small Spaces. London: Constable and Robinson, 2010.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. Tr. R. F. C. Hull. Paperback ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973.

Jung, Carl Gustav, ed. Man and His Symbols. New York: Anchor Press / Doubleday, 1964.

Ko, Woon Young. Jung on Synchronicity and Yijing: A Critical Approach. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.

Kriyananda, Swami. Rescuing Yogananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2010. Online.

McLaughlin, Chris.The Vertical Garden. New York: Alpha Books, 2013.

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.

Progoff, Ira. Jung, Synchronicity, and Human Destiny: Noncausal Dimensions of Human Experience. New York: Delta Books, 1973.

Rosser, Brenda Lewis, comp. Treasures against Time - Paramahansa Yogananda with Doctor and Mrs. Lewis. Borrego Springs, CA: Borrego Publications, 1991. (Rev ed 2001).

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

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

Stewart, Robert B. The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart D. Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace in Dialogue. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.

Tepe, Emily. The Edible Landscape: Creating a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden with Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers. London: Voyageur Press / Quarto, 2013.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2011.

Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.

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

Wilson, Frank Percy, rev. 1970. The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs. 3rd ed. Comp. William George Smith. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.

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

Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Second Coming of Christ. 3 Vols. Dallas, TX: Amrita Foundation, 1979 (Vol 1), 1984 (Vol 2) and 1986 (Vol 3).

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.

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

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

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Wine of the Mystic. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1996.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.

Yogananda, Swami. 1926. The Science of Religion. 5th ed. Los Angeles: Yogoda and Sat Sanga Headquarters (from 1935 called Self-Realization Fellowship). ⍽▢⍽ The first edition was published in India in 1920. The second and third edition were American and published in 1924. The fourth edition appeared in 1925 and the fifth edition in 1926.


  1. Karbe, Klaus, und Manfred Müller-Küppers: Destruktive Kulte: Gesellschaftliche und gesundheitliche Folgen totalitärer pseudoreligiöser Bewegungen. Göttingen: Verlag für Med. Psychologie 1983 (ISBN 3-525-45227-6): Das Kapitel "Die Kulte als Problem der öffentlichen Gesundheit." [◦Link]
  2. (Karbe and Mueller-Kueppers: Destructive Cults: Social and Health Consequences of Totalitarian Pseudo-religious Movements. Publishing House for Med. Psychology Goettingen 1983 [ISBN 3-525-45227-6]): The chapter "Cults: A Public Health Approach". [◦Link to a translation of the work]
  3. Zimbardo, Philip. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Reprint ed. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007. - Online parts: 2006-2014. [◦Link]
  4. Swami Yogananda. "How to Acquire Initiative - by Swami Yogananda". East-West Magazine, March—April, 1930 Vol. 4–4.
  5. Ed Sharrow brought several older Yogananda works and early magazines edited by Yogananda, but his site has changed since.
  6. (a) SRF. "Organizational Leadership." Online. [◦Link]

    (b) SRF. "Monastic Order: A Centuries-old Tradition". Online. [◦Link]
  7. Self-Realization Fellowship. Paramahansa Yogananda Reveals the Light of the Spiritual Eye: The first meeting of Yogananda and Dr. M. W. Lewis. 2015. Online.

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

From the start of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF gurus, Swami Yogananda, To top    Section     Set    Next

From the start of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF gurus, Swami Yogananda. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
© 2015–2019, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]