A honra demasiada, interés hay encubierto ( (Spanish proverb). Behind overly praise lie hidden interests.
Beware of hidden interests behind great-looking talk, and study the fair evidence if you can. The Americanised Hindu swami that later came to be called Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), said and wrote that his guru, Yukteswar, was a yogi Christ. He also described him as "a master in every way," and that Yukteswar's words obliged or bound the cosmos, and that he was of "unerring spiritual insight". References are in the text further down.
Nowadays, Yogananda's fellowship, keeps up the foolery by telling that Yukteswar is a Jnanavatar, that is,"Divine Wisdom Descended" into human form. A reference is further down.
Facts matter. Yukteswar might have been wise on some issues even if not on all issues. However, an "unfailing, divine wisdom" that is clearly wrong on several issues, makes overpraise backfire. That is a problem. One may come to think, "When a disciple praises his guru too long, too loudly, too much and against facts, hidden interests that are not divine interestes may be lurking somewhere." Then, what was Yogananda up to by over-praise to promote his own work? It may seem like forming a big barrel with a leaking or lacking bottom to stand on.
❋ To avoid being fooled and made worse by it, it may be wise to learn how to demask big talk.
An "unerring" disappointment? "One - a driver, and the other - cook!" In the West, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri (1855-1936) has for most part been known through his disciple, Yogananda (1893-1952), who came to the United States in 1920, remained for thirty years, founded SRF, Self-Realization Fellowship in 1935, and got many followers. How good yogis most them became, is hard to say, but Yukteswar seemed to disapprove of the followers Yogananda brought with him to India in 1935-36, writes Sailendra Dasgupta. Yukteswar had first thought to serve them tea in silver cups, but "Now I hear that one them is a driver and the other is a cook!" he said, and seemed to become extremely disappointed and sank into his chair.
Dasgupta tried to make him understand that the two Yogananda disciples that Yukteswar spoke of, did such jobs because the jobs needed to be done. But Yukteswar "did not want to hear any of this. He just kept on muttering, 'One - a driver, and the other - cook!' It was impossible to reason with him." (Psy 70)
We are not all alike, and may not please everybody. Maybe Yukteswar was displeased for the wrong reasons, and maybe not. If he had said, "One - a driveler, and the other - crook!" it might have been more understandable to me.
❋ A drivelling crook had better not get many followers, for nastiness tends to backfire and may shame many of those taken in a lot.
Yukteswar became a monk after his wife died
Mark well that "Yoga for you" and "you under yoga and guys" spring from different mentalities and are likely to bring different fruits.
In recent years, Yukteswar has been presented in other works than those by Yogananda's fellowship. However, what follows is for most part a study of Yukteswar's book The Holy Science, first published in 1894.
Before he became a monk, Yukteswar was known as Priya Nath Karar, also written Priyanath Karar and Preonath Karar. He was born on 10 May 1855 in a suburb of Calcutta, got married and had a daughter, and died on 9 March 1936.
Some say that in his case Sri is part of the monk's name, and therefore write Sriyukt . . . However, in the Autobiography of a Yogi by Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda, a note says that Sri (holy) "is not a name but a respectful title". [Note 3 in Chapter 12 in the Autobiography's first edition, which is on-line [Link].
After Yukteswar's wife died after giving birth to a daughter, he was initiated in kriya yoga by Shyama Charan Sharman Lahiri (variously called Lahiri Baba and Lahriri Mahasaya) in Banaras in 1883, and within seven years he mastered kriya yoga too. He started to write, and most known is the book, The Holy Science (Kaivalya Darshanam) from 1894. Here comes material that is mainly based on Yukteswar's version of how things came about:
Yukteswar's Holy Science book
In 1893 or -84, in the shade of a tree, Priya met a yogi that he later thought was Babaji, the guru of Shyama Lahiri, but without recognising him at that time. The stranger called Priya 'swami', which he was not at the time, and said in essence, "You have been writing [a commentary on the Bhagavad] Gita . . . – write another book."
Priya was startled and consternated, "What a suggestion, sir! I am not a man of erudition in the shastras [scriptures]."
At this the stranger burst into a loud laughter, just as he had done when Priya had protested against being called a swami. Within the year the book, The Holy Science (Kaivalya Darshanam), was finished. It may not be an easy read. What you may learn from it depends considerably on your yoga background.
This seems to call for comments: (1) Swami Satyeswarananda says "Priyanath . . . visited Kumbhamela at Allahabad, Prayag in 1893. He mentioned that there he met a vibrant Yogi (whom he thought was Babaji) who addressed him as a Maharaj/Swamiji, and the same Yogi gave him a job to write a book." And the later Yukteswar assumed a title of Swami as if given to him from the address by the Yogi, but "he did not enter into the order of Swami formally, rather just added the word 'Swami'" . . .
The astrologer-yogi's Sat Sanga Sabha
Years later Priya was ordained as a hindu monk at the Bodh Gaya monastery, and was named Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. In the interrim period he called himself Priya Nath Swami. 'Giri' (mountain) is a 'branch name' in the swami order Among the others are sagar (ocean), bharati (land), aranya (forest) og puri (region, tract). There are ten swami branches in all.
Priya became an astrologer too in time. Further, in 1902 he established a socio-religious institution called Sat Sanga Sabha (Sat-Sanga Society). Through that society, centres of kriya yoga and deliberations on yoga shastras [scriptures, works] came about.
A Yukteswar disciple appears
In 1912 or 1913 Yukteswar and Mukunda Lal Ghosh met for the first time, and soon discovered they were fellow disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya – and Mukunda took the monk's name Swami Yogananda Giri in July 1915, after Yukteswar first had dipped a piece of silk into a dye of ochre and draped it around Yogananda as a monk's robe. That is something Yogananda (1893-1952) tells in his Autobiography.
Yogananda was sent to America in 1920. It is claimed among his followers that he founded an American sister organisation of Yukteswar's Sat Sanga Society the same year. However, there is no mention of any founding of that society in 1920 in Brenda Rosser's book about Dr Minott Lewis and his wife Mildred. Dr Lewis was Yogananda's first disciple in America. He got initiated on Christmas Night into Christmas Eve, and was a member of the Rosicrucian Fellowship at the time. It seems that Lewis was the only person Yogananda got as a disciple in 1920.
An US attorney, Jon Parsons, informs that Yogananda got an unregistered fellowship first. It had many names and only got registered in 1935. The fellowship had started to use its current name the year before, and on 29 March 1935 it became a registered church in California. It was registered right before Yogananda escaped being dragged to court for owing money. Yogananda left the country with "a cook and driver". He lost the court case after evidence of lies came to light. [Spa 62] [Embarrassing details]
In the years after 1920, Yogananda made his own, simplified kriya yoga quite well known. He was sent to the West to spread the kriya yoga methods Yogananda had learnt from his guru and a few others and his line - his father Bhagabati, whom he called one of the Christs, and also his Sanskrit tutor Keshabananda - but among Americans Yogananda had second thoughts and simplified the kriya yoga he had been sent to the West to spread. It was simplified for the sake of stiff-legged westerners. Some see cons in that move, others see pros too [Cf. Psy, last chap.].
SRF, headquartered in a hotel atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles from 1925, got registered as a church to get property, make lasting youth, "develop a world spiritual University at 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles", explaining that "human life is given to man . . . not for physical pleasure" and such things. The SRF Articles of Incorporation are public. SRF is known for publishing books and lectures by Yogananda. But there is no registered university on the hill-top at 3880 San Rafael Avenue today, and no lasting youth among its leaders either - just so you know.
Yukteswar's titles and Yogananda titlephrenia
Too much praise is mispraise; at least unpleasant.
Yukteswar became the main guru of the later Swami Yogananda, and trained the young man for several years. Yukteswar is venerated as a Jnanavatar, ie. 'divine wisdom incarnated' in the church set up by Yogananda and repented by him too - and bordering on being listed among cults if it is not that. Cult membership could prove detrimental to maturation and genuine winning in life.
Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi devotes many chapters to Yukteswar, after chapter nine. Facts include:
Yogananda established Yukteswar as a venerated guru with a standardised reputation of being "Divine Wisdom Descended" into human form. That is what the title Jnanavatar stands for, in essence. However, if such "unfailing, divine wisdom" is only so-called unfailing, a title of that sort looks inappropriate and backfires too. Compare these proverbs:
There is food for thought in many a folk saying.
Hoorays go on in SRF, in a world of inconsistencies
There are many fat claims in Yogananda's universe, which he calls non-existent: "There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion." [Autobiography, ch. 30].
To the degree it is so, don't hope to find anything of value in writings of Yukteswar, for they are in the material universe of illusion. The dogmatic talk, and SRF opinions are also rooted in such a warp and woof, according to Yogananda's key statement: "There is no material universe." As odd as it may seem, Yogananda yet stood up for dictatorship in his day too. Yogananda praised both dictatorship and his guru after he had been sternly discipled as Yukteswar's underling over many years back in India, and some years before he came to the conclusion that it was all illusion - his whole life in this world too, accordingly. "You cannot eat your cake and have it." That is to say: You cannot say the universe is illusion and count yourself and your teachings and books out of that.
You should not expect consistency either.
Sides to how Yogananda experienced Yukteswar's dealings with him and training of him are found in Yogananda's autobiography in chap. 12 and elsewhere. Also, Yogananda's fellow disciple, Sailendra Dasgupa, has written a Yogananda biography with interesting glimpses into Yogananda's relationship with Yukteswar, and with somehow less flattering sides to Yogananda. [Psy] But SRF says about Yogananda's guidelines - because it suits them to dogmatise that way: ["His wisdom is flawless": Notarised SRF letter]
One may find fit and fair claims too in Yogananda's bubbling mind universe. He had a fecund mind, and in one instance he claimed he managed to produce five hundred thousand thoughts a day. But what if none of them was good or none was recorded? More seriously, though, the evidence that he could think that fast is lacking. The evidence that he said so, exists, though. So what do we have? Guru claims without proof and second thoughts about Hitler, Mussolini and dictatorship at a time when Yogananda could have benefitted from just that. See a discussion of the claimed Fast Thinking.
Yogananda's great Mussolini regard lacked foresight, turned ill-conceived, and lacking in regard for the people.
In conclusion, there are in part embarrassing or unpleasant sides to unfounded and undue praise that is upheld for a long time. The weeds of exaggerations may lead to brambles growing wild and bear bitter fruits, and not everyone should have to accept the bitter with the sweet (good teachings).
It may be wise to count in much fear and not just proper respect or awe
In Yogananda's cult, SRF, they venerate Yogananda and the other gurus of his line as divine authorities, and may fear taking taking leave of the guru line. There is a Yogananda saying, against leaving him, to reckon with.
There is only one guru uniquely the devotee's own. . . . He who cannot learn through the wisdom and love of his God-ordained guru will not find God in this life. . . ."
That words are harsh and big do not necessarily make them true. Massive exaggerations come close to lies, if they are not. For all that, it is not sensible to throw out the baby with the dirty water either.
❋ Be exact. (American)
In 1920 Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda had a vision that he was lecturing before a large gathering of American men and women. At once he wanted to go to America.
Yukteswar advised that his book The Holy Science should be the basis of Yogananda's mission to America. However, SRF seems to front and publish Yogananda verbiage a lot more. And there are books by devoted guru followers too. They do not drown Yukteswar's book, but they do crowd in upon it.
[Retold. Sources: Reminiscences by Yogananda in SRF's Golden Anniversary Booklet, and a book by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta on Kriya Yoga and Swami Sri Yukteshvar, and the Autobiography of a Yogi, passim.]
Yukteswar's book, Kaivalya Darsanam: The Holy Science, is slender. There are several editions. The eighth edition is from 1990, and the 7th SRF edition came in 1972. The book is still published. Those who want to "circle in" on the book, may want to read Amazon.com comments and the publishers' praise and other sorts of promoting words that are included in the book. An example of too high-strung or cultish reader's praise ther may serve: A reader from Bay Area in California writes (October 14, 2001) that "most of it went over my head and probably will for a long time . . . The faultless spiritual vision of Swami Yukteswar pierces many mysteries . . ."
Amazon.com tells that 7 of 7 people found the "Bay Area" review helpful. But how can a person who does not understand a work, feel qualified or fit to judge the author's vision as "faultless"? Solid tact hinders a far juicier comment than "secratian drivel" at this point. [Source: Amazon.com; Books: The Holy Science. Page accessed May 7, 2003]
In September 2008 that particular review was no longer there, luckily. There is some improvement in the universe, in other words. But there are others reviews in its place, such as "It is difficult to grasp in many places but his wisdom and clarity are unmatched. (Michael Haigh)" And Eric S. Lloyd writes "Sri Yukteshwar in my opinion has been severly under-praised." And another: "I must frankly say that most of it went over my head and probably will for a long time to come. The faultless spiritual vision of Swami Yukteswar pierces many mysteries."
Praisers dominate the reader comments of the book. They seem to want something, these proselytes, banding together with books of sectarian faith. In several cases the clutter-flatter is plainly unpleasant.
That "wisdom and clarity is difficult to grasp" is not necessarily so. Compare how several top-notch physicists, like Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein, see it: " Even for the physicist the description on plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached. (Werner Heisenberg, Thd 27)." "If you cannot– in the long run– tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless." (Erwin Schroedinger, ibid.)." "Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone. (Albert Einstein, ibid.)." Not all ideas may be simply put, but a lot of them!
❋ To praise what you don't understand may be an act of foolishness after being taken in a lot.
Before you hail someone as a Christ, first grasp what you mean by that, and say it.
Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda called many acquaintances in India for Christs. Yukteswar is called one too, by Yogananda. Yogananda also claims to be in harmony with Jesus Christ, and that the guru's kriya yoga was known to Jesus and is a means to salvation. "Babaji is ever in communion with [Jesus] Christ; together they send out vibrations . . . and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. . . . Babaji realises the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga [Pa 307]."
It sounds good to the devoted, but does it hold water?
It seems altogether better to be told of this than to get enrolled in a cult and find out on the brink of death. Yogananda was a demagogue. In his llecture "Oriental Christ" he also says "it has been definitely proven that Jesus was connected with the High Initiates and the Masters of India." Then he draws on a sham story about Jesus in Tibet in the book Unknown Life of Christ by Nicholas Notovitch, accepting fictitious tales as true. But "To inquire is neither a disaster nor a disgrace [Ap 332]." It seems more appropriate to tell that "No, that is not definitely proven by Notovich fiction." [More]
Yogananda calls his guru Yukteswar Christlike on several occasions, not just once. "Each to his liking," you may say. In an article from 1937 he says that Shyama Lahiri (Lahiri Mahasaya) raised many Christs and Yukteswar is praised as "the greatest disciple" among such Christs. A question is whether it is due praise.
Yogavatar Lahiri Mahasaya created the following Christlike souls, some of them really possessing the highest Christ-consciousness:
"Bible Christs" Are Bad, Or?
The terms "Christs" and "Christ-consciousness" above are Yogananda adaptations, allegedly perfectly aligned to the teachings of Jesus, who allows no other Christ and Master than himself . . . [Matthew 6;24].
"Christ" is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah (Aramaic: Mshikha). The term 'Messiah' in the sense of "king of God's people" is from 1 Samuel, where Samuel pours oil over the head of a Saul, who is then "the oil-anointed one", that is, a king that will not be good for the people, no matter what they imagine, making them slaves, it says. [1 Samuel 8; 8:17; 10:1]
After some decades the Lord discarded King Saul whom he had first chosen, and chose the later Batsheba-whoring and husband-killing sleek one– David. His son, Solomon with a thousand wives and concubines, took to idolatry and ruined the kingship. Was that very wise? Jesus, in his turn, thought Solomon was the wisest man that had lived before he himself entered the scene. [Luke 11:31]. Jesus broke the Law and was executed as a criminal. [Lev 16:8-10]
Solomon said, "King Solomon will be blessed, and David's throne will remain secure before the Lord forever." [1 Kgs 2:45] Before "securing the throne"– which did not come to pass– God said to Solomon (in a dream): "I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. [1 Kgs 3:12]– Compare the great claims of Jesus against the Father's word. He broke his Law too. That could not be, says the Old Testament.
Do not be taken in and ensnared. The temple was demolished. The house of David fell asunder. God's words in the Bible were not taken seriously by big shots– promises and ordinances came to nothing as time went by.
The reason why gospels insist Jesus was the son of David through his non-carnal father, Joseph and by forgery: He could not count on being accepted as Messiah (king of Jews) without that "son of David" thing. Cater to your brain cells instead.
Jesus did not qualify as the son of David through the blood line of Joseph. Mary had him by an angel and risked being stone to death for it. Better rise above any 'Christ' notion than becoming a victim of it. [See John 14:12] Yukteswar did not use the Christ title himself. [Christ, a Bad King, a bad thing?].
There are several pages devoted to Yukteswar on the Internet. Facts and beliefs intertwine in some of them. As can be seen, Yukteswar teachings are surrounded by a "faith gang", and some "oh-so-devoted" ones who take to unkempt dogmatics. There is no need for that, says Yukteswar.
I wanted never to be so dogmatic that I would stop using my reason and common sense. When I met my guru ... he said: "Many teachers will tell you to believe; then they put out your eyes of reason and instruct you to follow only their logic. But I want you to keep your eyes of reason open; in addition, I will open in you ... wisdom." . . .
Yes, some source texts of the cult SRF show that Yukteswar himself does not want people to believe blindly; he advocates sound investigations. And Yukteswar's own guru – Lahiri Mahasaya (1828-95) – counsels against unprofitable speculations, like Buddha before him:
Against Blind Believing
Universites against blind believing could be altogether good.
Yukteswar spoke against blind believing. Good. Then the question should be how to do it, how to train your rational thinking in good ways among the narrow-minded too. Fear is a culprit here. An accepting, warm social climate or group climate that allows questions is a boon. For the lack of it, stay firm and learn lots of things as you go on through the school of life. Good learning should be welcome, and getting able or handy too.
There is deserved praise and silly praise. One should try not to let words and labels shoo one's critical and fair assessments and drive them overboard. We could look beyond more or less shallow, social esteem the day you can, and learn to judge by deep fairness for ourselves, to benefit ourselves and those near us too. At times such things develop from inklings.
Being soundly critical - fair - is hard, but being all too duped by labels and ceremonies and decor may in time become harder and bring neurotic derangement in its wake too. Proficiency in critical discernment takes practice. However, there are books that may help critical thinking on and up [cf. Cth; Cts]. It seems very likely that you will get better help from such skills in getting to fairness along with TM than by lots of narrow-minded yak in books and video talks.
One had better take care: Although Yukteswar stood up against blind believing and for rational thinking in his day, it looks like his book has become a fixture in Sect Gulch (one of the many American cults around).
Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1986.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1999.
Cth: Hills, Debra. Student Essentials: Critical Thinking. Richmond, Surrey: Trotman, 2011.
Cts: Brink-Budgen, Roy van den. Critical Thinking for Students: Learn the Skills of Critical Assessment and Effective Argument. 3. rev. utg. Oxford: How To Books, 2000.
Hos: Sri Yukteswar, swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1972.
Ls: Rosser, Brenda Lewis, comp. Treasures against Time - Paramahansa Yogananda with Doctor and Mrs. Lewis. Borrego Publications, 1991. (Rev ed 2001).
Spa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.
Thd: Zukav, Gary. The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. London: Rider, 1979.
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