A honra demasiada, interés hay encubierto ( (Spanish proverb). Behind overly praise lie hidden interests.
Beware of hidden interests. The Americanised Hindu swami, Yogananda (1893-1952), said and wrote that his guru Yukteswar was a yogi christ, "a master in every way," and that Yukteswar's words obliged or bound the cosmos, and that he was of "unerring spiritual insight."
Yukteswar on his part, said of Yogananda in 1935 or 1936: "He has a disease – where a ghoul comes and sits on his back. First there was Basu-ghoul, and now Bishtu [Bishnu]-ghoul is sitting on his back." Hearing this directly from Yukteswar's mouth, the writer of the Yogananda biography was completely dumfounded. (Dasgupta 2006, 83; Also cited in Foxen 2017, 122).
Ghoul: a malevolent spirit or ghost. Ghouls in Muslim folklore are evil demons that change their shape but has donkey's hooves for feet.
"Shame, shame!" (Yukteswar) Did Yukteswar talk in figurature ways? "In any case, relations between him and Yogananda appear to have been strained at best (Foxen 2017, 122)." Nowadays, Yogananda's fellowship, Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, keeps telling that Yukteswar is "Divine Wisdom Descended" into human form, but hardly that Yogananda was diagnosed by Yukteswar as being an uncommonly diseased disciple.
Yukteswar might have been wise when he diagnosed the adult Yogananda, but he reacted to Yogananda with surprise on occasions, in unwelcome ways:
1. Yogananda writes that Yukteswar's "unfailing guidance was with him," while the Yogananda biography shows it was not: When someone read for Yukteswar an article that Yogananda had written, Yukteswar said: "You're saying that Yogananda wrote all this? Shame, shame!" Saying this, he listlessly sank back into his easy chair (Dasgupta 2006, 71, highlighting added). If he had been unfailingly with Yogananda he would have known all about it beforehand, at least.
2. There is also a case where Yukteswar was shocked by Yogananda who tried to take credit for a legal deed that Yukteswar and he had decided on. When the deed was to be witnessed and signed, Yogananda said, "I was really the one who did everything . . ." Yukteswar was shocked; he looked at Yogananda's face for a second, took his walking stick and marched out of the attorney's office. "Everyone was absolutely dumbstruck by this." Yukteswar was so wounded and angry by Yogananda's behaviour that he said while riding away from the office in a car, "That . . . is unlawful conduct." (Dasgupta 2006, 85)
There might be lurking self-interests behind flattery. Hidden self-interests may be a source of unsound flattery, including marring flattery of someone. Panegyric, stiff drivel is not the best kind of writing to get into, and "unfailing, divine wisdom" that is shocked, makes overpraise backfire.
One may come to think, "When Yogananda praises his guru too long, too loudly, too much and against facts, what hidden interests are lurking somewhere?" Then, what was Yogananda up to by over-praise to promote his own "looks and books"? Yoganande writes to impress, and presents Yukteswar as a "yogi-christ of India". However, over-praise may seem like a big barrel with a leaking or lacking bottom to stand on.
◎ Better demask Yogananda's big talk, demagogy, propaganda and weasel words before they mar.
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." (Dasgupta 2006, 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; what led up to it; and what surrounded it somehow.
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, a cult book by Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda and secretaries. A note in the book 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 online.
When Yukteswar wrote his book, he had got formal education in the British-governed educational system in the large India at that time. Swami Yukteswar, born in the Serampore suburb of Calcutta, got his education in an English school, and after he had passed the Entrance Examination of the Calcutta University, he got admitted in a College for higher studies. However, his formal education was cut off one day when he had been attending a lecture in a class on Physics.
The teacher was explaining the functions of the human eye, and Yukteswar could not understand just how an inverted image formed on the retina could not be seen as erect, but upside down. He stood up and asked the teacher, and asked him again, and then the teacher got irritated and said, "First go to the Medical College, then come to my class."
The teacher's remark provoked Yukteswar to drop the class and the College for good. However, he got permission to attend classes on such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Anatomy at the Calcutta Medical College. He attended various classes in the Medical College for about two years. [Cb; Ky; Yb]
Serampore, where he grew up and settled, was a centre of Christian missionaries back then. As a native of Serampore, Yukteswar came in close contact with some of them. As a result he became conversant with Christian evangelists and parts of their teachings. [Ky, "Kriya"]
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.
And then, after he had become a disciple of the kriya guru Lahiri Mahasaya and been initiated in his laborious kriya yoga system, he was asked to write a book on (a) the underlying basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures" and (b) show that "the inspired sons of God have spoken the same truths."
Two main conclusions of his book were grafted onto Yukteswar. They were not his own at the time. However, to scrutinise hypotheses and main assertions forms part of a scientist education. This learning is needed for writing acceptable works among scholars as well. Further, what Yukteswar was enjoined to tell does not hold water. (1) There is very little basic unity even among Hindu scriptures. If you have not made heads and tails of that simple fact, you are as good as waylaid. (2) Even though the six orthodox philosophy systems of Hinduism have in common that they accept the divinity and immense authority of the hoary Vedas, do Christian scriptures do that? No. [Wo]
He started to write. The book, The Holy Science (Kaivalya Darshanam) was made in 1894.
◎ Incredible mission, incredible solutions.
Yukteswar's Holy Science book
Here comes material that is mainly based on Yukteswar's version of how things came about: 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.
This could 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. 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 and leaves for America
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 left the country and thus 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 guru lies came to light. [Spa 62] [Embarrassing details] -- [Yogananda's false charges in court are telling]
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, or Christlike, and also his Sanskrit tutor Keshabananda. However, 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. Dasgupta 2006,, 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 line of earthly leaders either - just so you know.
Already we may sense how "Such things are wont to rebound . . . thorns and brambles may crop up - or some things are too easily detected.
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. Claims include:
Yogananda held up Yukteswar as a venerated guru, nay, as "Divine Wisdom Descended" into human form. That is what the title Jnanavatar means. However, when "unfailing, divine wisdom" is only so-called unfailing and not much wise either, 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 a web of illusions. You cannot say the universe is illusion and count yourself and your teachings and books out of it.
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 fearful relationship with Yukteswar. The book includes less flattering sides to Yogananda. [Dasgupta 2006]
Veneration of Yukteswar in the West is largely Yogananda-induced - a result of many chapters on Yukteswar in Autobiography of a Yogi. That yogi one could have benefitted from less claims without proof, and second thoughts about Hitler, Mussolini and dictatorship at a time when Yogananda could have benefitted from it. Yogananda's great Mussolini regard lacked foresight, turned ill-conceived, and lacking in regard for the people.
In conclusion, the weeds of exaggerations may lead to brambles growing wild and bear bitter fruits.
It may be wise to count in much fear and not just proper respect or awe
There is much to learn from the blessed milkthistle, also called Mediterranean milk thistle, Silybum marianum, which is now spread to many countries:
Massive exaggerations on behalf of the looming blessed milkthistle and by Yogananda may come close to lies. However, it is not wise to throw out the baby with the dirty water either, so we had better learn to say carefully, "More research is needed" where it fits.
◎ Be exact (American)." It often helps.
Don't forget to distrust. - Greek proverb
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.<
Yukteswar advised that his book The Holy Science should be the basis of Yogananda's mission to America. However, as seen by the bulk of lessons and books published by the fellowship church that Yogananda started, books of Yogananda verbiage weighs more. It does not drown Yukteswar's book, but 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 disciple Yogananda called many acquaintances in India for Christs. It sounds good to the devoted, but is it really so?
In his lecture "Oriental Christ," Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda 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 a 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. Jesus, in his turn, maintained that Solomon was the wisest man that had lived before he himself entered the scene. [Luke 11:31]. Jesus was executed as a criminal. [Leviticus 16:8-10]
Solomon said, "King Solomon will be blessed, and David's throne will remain secure before the Lord forever." [1 Kings 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 Kings 3:12]
Do not be 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 be counted as an acceptable Messiah (king of Jews) without a "son of David" heritage line through a composed blood line of Joseph. However, Mary had him by an angel and risked being stoned to death for it.
Astrologer Yukteswar did not use the Christ title himself. [Christ, a Bad King, a bad thing?].
Yukteswar teachings are surrounded by somewhat intertwined "faith gangs." 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." . . .
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.
Panegyric praise of Yukteswar's book
Stupid praise is no good. Honest appraisals may be far better. Besides, "Don't criticise what you don't understand" has a sort of twin: "Don't praise what you don't understand".
It is often tolerable to speak plainly. Here is 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, in Zukav 1979, 27.
Not all ideas may be simply put, but a lot of them.
Against Blind Believing
To praise what you don't understand is foolish. Universities against blind believing could be altogether good.
There is deserved praise and silly praise. There are books that may help critical thinking skills. [cf. Cth; Cts].
Although Yukteswar stood up against blind believing and for rational thinking in his day, his book has become a fixture in Sect Gulch.
Foxen, Anya P. 2017. Biography of a Yogi: Paramahansa Yogananda and the Origins of Modern Yoga. New York: Oxford University Press. ⍽▢⍽ Dr Anya Foxen examines Yogananda's career and Yogoda in the wider context of the development of yoga world-wide.
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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