Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1986.
The first book of Yogananda's Collected Talks and Essays goes into a variety of subjects, including healing, death, and reincarnation. One could say the Hindu orator rattles off - he used to lecture unprepared and "seldom made even the slightest preparation for his lectures; if he prepared anything at all, it might consist of a factual note or two, hastily jotted down," according to SRF. [Ak xi-xii]
His theology mishmash is revealed in one chapter in particular, and discussed here: [Yogananda Christianity]. He applies concepts from Hindu philosophies, particularly the Sankhya and Vedanta philosophies, onto Christian teachings. The guru's solutions seem not to undermine Hindu canon, but large, central parts of common Christianity are gone. [cf. the just given link].
Au: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. (13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1998)
Previous editions referred to on the site are: Ha (12th ed, 1981); Pa (11th ed, 1971), and Ay (online 1st ed, 1946).
The 12th edition has perhaps a thousand changes since the first three editions that Yogananda had the credit for. The very first edition of Yogananda's Autobiography shows how many changes the publishers, Self-Realization Fellowship through its editors, has included in later editions, at times changing direct quotations in the text. Photos have been tampered with by SRF too. Yogananda's signature has been forged [see Sob for further information of the SRF malpractice.]. Lines of Yogananda's poem Samadhi have been removed. More is summed up here: [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. Autobiography changes that go on for decades after the author's death, edition after edition, are not the signs of a well done autobiography. 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 organization 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, somewhat cultish stand.
The online edition on the Gold Scales has some added information. Among it are salient points from the Yogananda biography by Sailendra Dasgupta [see Psy below].
[Source: Why Read the First Edition of Autobiography of a Yogi? Ananda Sangha India. ◦Link]
Dr: Yogananda, Paramahansa. 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.
The publisher fought a twelve years' non-romantic legal battle for exclusive rights to Yogananda stuff, and lost in 95 percent of the cases. The lawsuit dealt mainly with trademark and copyright issues. [◦ A source well worth reading]
Books can be regarded as an income source to a group, directly or indirectly, and if the content is formative, it can make readers venture into the future with other concepts on board and corresponding changed ways of responding to life's happenings. It study of this book strangles human romances, it could be for good and bad. If you are coupled to a veritable "monkey" and try to be human or get better, a strangled romance helps perhaps. It depends on how the break is done also. There have been those who were swallowed up by Yogananda guidelines against sex for the unmarried, for example, and who got lots of regrets as time went by. And partners have regretted losing SRF-turned mates as well, sensing something twisted.
Gt: Yogananda, Paramahansa. 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. Beware, it may or may not be true. Where is the evidence?
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). 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. As a matter of fact, 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, from somewhere between ca. 500 BCE to ca. 800 CE, roughly. It is estimated that Vyasa composed the Gita in 400 BCE.
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 put in the mouth of Bhagavan Krishna through centuries of formation or gestation.
In many cases in the text it is evident that there was later additions; and it is very possible 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 all the Gita verses of the traditional, enlarged version which probably has nothing to do with the proper 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?" Avoid letting faith creep in if you seek for reliable information; that is basic.[More about the formation of the Bhagavad Gita]
Another interesting point is that Yogananda claimed he had been Arjuna. If so, why didn't he remember he was not told some 600 verses by Krishna, verses that were added centuries later, but no more than ninety, perhaps?
A cat let out of the bag: 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. Good, scholarly credential are of much worth, while unproved claims are not.
For the lack of good and decent support of grand-looking claims, it might do us good to smell a rat or three as early as can be. In this case there may be a danger of mistaken notions dressed up as revelations. Not to let unverified claims in large numbers creep into your imagining parts of the mind, settle there and and indoctrinate you, is fair and fit. Therefore, ask for evidence and refuse to believe a lot to what could be your later harm.
It should be worth noting that Yogananda makes a bit 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." Call the bluff the moment you see it. False play is naughty. Don't let baloney dry on your skin and penetrate it. [More, with many examples]
The monk Yogananda speaks with the Gita for renunciation and non-attachment, even though he should have been attached to neither the Gita nor renunciation by such high standards. Many who have not renounced renunciation have not come far, says the Avadhut Gita, 4:21. Many Brahman knowers stroll beyond dutiful rituals too. [Gt 450]
There are many translations and interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita. Yogananda's is one. I do not recommend it. For example, should you not be informed by the publisher that Yogananda copied main parts of his own guru's Gita interpretation if that is how it was? Should SRF publisher leave out that Yogananda's writing is much as Yukteswar's older work? In a case like that it is good to get the facts straight and do the work that is needed for it. In this case there is a common-sense way to do it: On-line at yoganiketan.net is Yukteswar's Bhagavad Gita commentary, and it is also available in print from iUniverse.com (located in Bloomington, Indiana), and all these versions are for sale through Amazon.com. It is not that I recommend any of them.
As for the other sides to the issue of reliability, try to find and study the best texts first. A translation without any commentery may be good first, for commentators may find support of their own main views or pet ideas (such as philosophical schools or orientations) in the poem. Anyway, after a long time's study you may or may not be able compare for oneself and smell some rats.
I throw in the book data of a Gita commentary at the bottom of the page. Be careful, and look up the mentions around it in reliable arenas: Amazon reviews may be circus-like in that sectarians overpraise their own sects' various books and show lack of fairness in other ways too. Amazon reviews may still help, but such a general caveat (buyer, beware) is in place, especially when reviewers are hidden beneath the hood and cloak of anonymity (using pen names).
The basic idea is: Try to stay on your level, and if possible improve it, instead of being engulfed by a mare that rides on people's chests. The mare is found in folklore. Here the term is employed figuratively for indoctrination and its effects.
Tuxen, Poul. The Bhagavadgita. Herrens Ord. Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1962.
Nikhilananda, Swami, tr. The Bhagavad Gita: Translated from the Sanskrit, with Notes, Comments, and Introduction. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1944. ⍽▢⍽ There is a reprint edition from 2010.
Sinha, Phulgenda. The Gita as It Was: Rediscovering the Original Bhagavadgita. Paperback ed. La Salle, Ill: Open Court Publishing Company, 1987.
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