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Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1998.

Some previous editions: 12th ed, 1981; 11th ed, 1971), and 1st ed, 1946.

Autobiography changes that go on for decades after the author's death, edition after edition, are not the signs of a well done autobiography.

The 12th edition has perhaps a thousand changes since the first three editions that Yogananda had the credit for, and the 13th too. It looks like autobiography malpractice. Lines of Yogananda's poem Samadhi have been removed. More: [Critique]

The first edition is there to check later editor changes against. For an English edition (Rider, London) Yogananda added material to the last chapter, and otherwise added footnotes. For the third American edition he added a new chapter, and added footnotes. Later SRF has created a "flood of changes, on almost every page." The "further revisions" have numbered well over 1000 changes, we are informed by Ananda Sangha India.

In the 6th edition of 1955 the guru-line is presented as including five gurus (without specific mention of Krishna). The first Autobiography of a Yogi to mention Krishna as part of the guru-line is the 12th edition, we are informed.

In the 7th edition of 1956 over 850 paragraphs and footnotes with thousands of words are changed. There are "text additions, text deletions, word changes and rearrangements - with many of these revisions resulting in major changes to spiritual concepts presented during Yogananda's lifetime and in earlier editions of the book. Hardly a page is left untouched," informs Ananda further. That may well be, but not all the editorial changes of the later editions are unwelcome, and not all of them distort the original message either. This calls for an example:

A note on Yukteswar in the first edition, says that sri is "a title of respect." The 12th edition says, "a respectful title".

Now there is good reason to consider whether most of the changes that are made in later editions of the Autobiography - long after he was gone - were not authorized by Yogananda. It has further been observed that in the later editions of the Autobiography, what is written becomes more restrictive as to who may teach kriya yoga according to SRF, and the role of the organisation is magnified - and some additions seem marring. Example:

In the 11th, 12th, and 13th edition (p. 243n) there is a long footnote about miracles and maya. You find it discussed here: [Link]. The first edition does not have any indoctrinating footnote at the place; it could have been added from a lecture or something by Yogananda. In the end SRF's editorial changes over decades serve a narrowed, quite cultish stand.

The Gold Scales has a page with analyses about the Autobiography.

[Source: Why Read the First Edition of Autobiography of a Yogi? Ananda Sangha India. ◦Link]

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

The second volume of Yogananda's collected talks and essays from his three decades of giving talks and sermons in the United States. It is not a particularly difficult reading, but can be ensnaring.

Books can be regarded as an income source to a group, directly or indirectly, a means to members and influence, and so on. If the content of a book is formative, it can make readers venture into the future with estranging concepts on board and corresponding changed ways of responding to life's happenings. That is not always too bad. [The Hare and the Heiress]

God's Talk with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita.2 Vols. 2nd ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001.

Yogananda comments on verses of the Bhagavad Gita, claiming to be specially linked to its traditionally ascribed writer, Veda-Vyasa. It may not be true: good evidence is missing.

In this case, there are some problems. First, the Bhagavad Gita that has come down to us, is a 700-verses long Hindu scripture in Sanskrit, and it is a part of the massive Hindu epic Mahabharata (chapters 23–40 of the 6th book of Mahabharata). This Gita is a result of centuries of formation or gestation, says Dr Poul Tuxen (1962) and others too. Given that, all that is said by Sri Krishna in the handed-over Bhagavad Gita may not be what Vyasa once composed in the first place. Dr Phulgenda Sinha tells in The Gita as It Was: Rediscovering the Original Bhagavadgita (1986) that only 84 of its verses may be the real deal from post-Vedic times, that is, somewhere between ca. 500 BCE to ca. 800 CE, roughly. It is estimated that Vyasa composed the Gita in 400 BCE. Estimates differ. [More]

Dr Sinha confirms and clarifies some of the things Dr Paul Tuxen sum up when he introduces the Gita by telling that many of the sayings in it are placed in the mouth of Bhagavan Krishna through centuries of formation or gestation.

Parts of the text are additions; and it is likely that large parts originally belonged to some other context, just as some verses are fetched from Upanishadic literature. (Tuxen 1962, 12)

Many Indian and Western scholars agree that Mahabharata underwent three stages of formation, and the Bhagavad Gita, a lesser part of that poem, has changed and been enlarged along with it too. Dr Sinha considers, as already mentioned, there was an original Bhagavad Gita of 84 verses by Vyasa, and that the Bhagavagita of 700 verses has got additions by Brahmins for centuries later on. All the chapters after the third are additions, and parts of the first three chapters too, Dr Sinha concludes.

From this several questions arise One is: "If Yogananda communed with Vyasa, why did Yogananda comment on verses of the later, enlarged version which probably has nothing to do with the very first Gita and what Vyasa taught in it?" Or "If Vyasa communicated things to Yogananda at all, why did he not ask him to restrict himself to his real, old teachings and leave what Vyasa might have had nothing to do with?" Yogananda just accepted the traditional, enlarged Gita that has been handed over, without checking how it came into being, and claimed both telepathic contact with Vyasa and recall of a past life where he said he Arjuna. One had better not be taken in by guru claims, but study the evidence - Go for reliable information; that is basic.[More about the formation of the Bhagavad Gita]

Unproved and maybe improbable claims are not much worth. Ask for good evidence.

Yogananda makes interesting and quite similar claims in his Rubaiyat commentary in that he claims to intuitively understand what the author, Omar Khayyam, wanted to express, even though it was not in the original poem . . . "It looks like soap, it smells like soap, and if we wash it off, we are cleaner for it." [More, with many examples]

There are many translations and interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita. Find a good one. How? Adhere to "respectable translators, respected publishers, well received products." That could help.

There are indications that Yogananda copied main parts of his own guru's Bhagavad Gita interpretation. If so, don't waste time on a copycat. First find and study the best texts and versions available. Otherwise, perhaps a mare of indoctrination starts to ride on the chests of many who are taken in.

How You Can Talk with God. 1st hardcover ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1998.

Yogananda and other yogis say a human may talk with God and get definite responses. One question is whether you are fit for the honour, or there is still one more mile to go.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
. . .
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
(From Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost)

Can you handle a ride in the woods? Can you handle the ride to God? Become a good rider and take care of your horse also.

The Hindu monk taught Divine Mother would respond if -- -IF - - and then he gave the conditions. They included a 24 hours concentrated, uninterrupted vigil to implore God Mother to talk to you. Nearly nobody can stay "focused" like that - and besides there are degrees of uninterruptedness, and freakish teachings in other places too.

Wailing for Mom Divine . . . ouch! More than disappointments may be in store, and the snow may get deep. [More]

Good yoga, by contrast, is based on letting go of Mom constructs and other constructs by contemplating - going inwards mentally. That is a process that is violated by frantic begging and much drama and ado. Begging, wailing and crying as yoga at Yogananda's behest - could carry with it masked, very unwelcome, unwholesome effects.

One thing is the disappointment when God Mom does not deign to appear to talk with you - this time either, and so on - in a circus of dualism-based circus that may end up in bitter frustrations. Another thing is if she comes and you don't find her appealing. A third problem is if she comes but shies away because you are not good enough to be with her there and then, and so on. So it does not have to be a good idea to wail and weep, not even in vain, and it could be good to learn to meditate calmly the TM way ("best in tests").

Some God-wailers have gotten awfully disappointed, but only by first taking no-good wailer doctrine seriously, while those who just let those sleeping dogs lie may live in peace another day.

In the Sanctuary of the Soul. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1998.

A guide to prayer by someone who thinks you should increase your "demand power" by yoga, praying wisely, cultivating inner peace, and concentrating on your real needs. When you do it well, God "will satisfy your every desire when you are one with Him. Your wildest dreams will come true," says Yogananda [p. 66].

The thing to observe: "Get one with God first." High meditation is for that. The Bhagavad Gita teaches it is a "one-in-some millions" thing, so setting off ample time for deep meditation as time goes by - or life and life goes by, as the case may be, is good. Some things take time to mature. A quick fix is not always recommended. And suppose your wildest dreams had better not come true? Compare the movie Jurassic Park and the dreams you wake up from in alarm

Yogananda also told, "I don't pray. That may seem a strange thing to say [Ak 121]." So we are dealing with someone who does not pray, but speaks at length on how to do it!" If we first face it, then we may come to wonder, for example like this: "Maybe some dreams will come true, maybe the dreams of others, and dreams of others that oppose mine. What then?"

One had better avoid being manipulated or twisted in one's outlooks. "Fair play is a jewel," is a proverb. Anyway, the prayer way is open, and "every little helps someone . . ."

The main method Yogananda vouches for, is related to the yoga method of samyama (sanyama), mentioned by Patanjali [3:4 ff]. During samkalpa one focuses in deep meditation on something in order to make it real, manifest (get) it. That is the key to the guru's method.

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The victims of grandiloquence may be looted by and by as cult members -


Yogananda book reviews, books by Yogananda commented on, Yogananda literature with annotations, Literature  

Johnson, W. J., tr. 2008. The Bhagavad Gita. Reissue paperback. New York: Oxford World Classics.

Nikhilananda, Swami, tr. 1944. The Bhagavad Gita: Translated from the Sanskrit, with Notes, Comments, and Introduction. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1944. ⍽▢⍽ Reprint edition: 2010.

Sinha, Phulgenda. 1987. The Gita as It Was: Rediscovering the Original Bhagavadgita. Paperback ed. La Salle, Ill: Open Court Publishing Company, 1987.

Tuxen, Poul. 1962. The Bhagavadgita. Herrens Ord. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.

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

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