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Yogananda explains kriya yoga v. Francois Boucher. The Setting of the Sun, 1752. Mod. section.
"Oh, save us! Save us from help to die!"

Yogananda Explains Kriya Yoga

Kriya yoga, a way to die
A man has learned much, who has learned how to die. - Proverb (In Bechtel 1922, 47)

Yogananda on kriya yoga In The Science of Religion, the first book that Yogananda (1893-1952) is credited with, his overriding aim is to teach others how to die. The means to bring it about he calls kriya yoga. The core of it is a way of breathing.

In the book, Yogananda tells how good it is to die at will, what great benefits come with it, and so on. "We ought not to fear to practice conscious death . . . Death will then be under our control," writes Yogananda (1926, 80). Compare:

In 1935, Yogananda returned to India, where his brother Bishnu Charan arranged a gathering. Yogananda was to stop his heart there in front of millionaire merchants to demonstrate his extraordinary and inhuman ability and thereby clear the way for financial funding. After the attempt, Bishnu Charan disappointedly said that Yogananda had "ruined everything. He wasn't able to stop his heart from beating." (Dasgupta 2006, 83)

A fable: The Boasting Traveller.

Also worth some thought: The official cause of Yogananda's death was heart failure (WP, "Paramahansa Yogananda").

How to live well comes first and is amiable.

Consider Sideshow Bob's chest tattoo, "DIE BART, DIE" (in "Cape Feare", a 1993 Simpsons episode where Bob explains it is German for "THE BART, THE").

Blue-Haired Lawyer: What about that tattoo on your chest? Doesn't it say 'die Bart die'?

Sideshow Bob: No, that's German -

[unveils tattoo)

Sideshow Bob: for 'The Bart The'.

Woman on Parole Board: No one who speaks German could be an evil man.

Yogananda came for "THE WESTERNERS, THE", and wanted to let many, many learn special breathing, otherwise known as victorious breath, ujjayi.

The pranayama method ujjayi is the basic kriya yoga method. There is nothing secret about that victorious breath, the core kriya yoga method, as it is public. Further, there are pleasant variants of it. (Hewitt 1991, 102-4; also Niranjanananda 2009, 251-56).

Years later Yogananda seems to have got second thoughts about his "grand death" approach: Now he focused on kriya yoga as a means to godly joy while alive - probably a more enticing way of promoting kriya yoga than submitting to dying.

The book that the following quotations and gist is from, has a long history by now. Yogananda writes in a note to the second edition, from 1924:

The first edition of this book was published in India. The second edition, appearing now, is a revised and enlarged one.

My thanks are due to Swami Dhirananda, M.A., Swami Satyananda, B.A., and Sj. Tulsinarayan Bose, for various forms of help I have received from them.


October, 1924

The same year of copyright, 1924, appears in the next few editions too, including the fifth from 1926, and there may be no changes in the text that far. The book of lectures were later - in 1953 and 1980 - copyrighted, recast, modified and paginated afresh by SRF, the guru's California-registered church and publisher. After Yogananda's passing in 1952, SRF editors took the liberty to replace 'paramhansa' with 'paramahansa', in part by forging his signature (!), and in this book a 'swami' has become 'paramahansa' in what is presented as a direct quotation in the book (1982, ix). That is due to a bad editorial practice. Text in direct quotes is not to be changed.

All books by Yogananda published before his passing in 1952 are in the public domain. His magazine articles and lessons published before 1943 are in the public domain too.

Reading Has Many Levels and Proficiencies

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) is credited with The Science of Religion. However, a former SRF editor says the book was written for Yogananda by a ghost writer. (Dhirananda).

This makes sense:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything . . . please remember. - Yogananda, (in Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings")

In later editions of the book, Douglas Ainslee is credited with "Reading this small book by Paramahansa Yogananda". However, his preface is from 1927, and Yogananda's title was 'swami' then. [Link].

FACE The age of logic is here. You must look in the face of every experience with intelligent discrimination until you understand it . . . in this age of analysis, you must seek that understanding. - Paramahansa Yogananda (1986b, 75).


1. Introduction

Theoretical inspiration will perhaps flounder, but hardly directly felt gladness welling forth from deep inside. Otherwise, to debate and argue around Inward Being is a millennium-old tradition. To realize God is to realize the Self inside, is the Atmajnana (know-your-Self) teaching. What we conceive of, differs. This is amply recognised in ancient Indian writings too. Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti. "One alone exists, Sages call it by various names" is from the Rigveda, 1.164.46.

The gladdening thing is to get first-hand experience of it. We may make very good use of our lives by meditating a lot all the same, without the crowning experience.


2. For Your Own Sake

A hermitage may be good at times.

Miseries come for many reasons.

Does sound pleasure depend just on outward things and happenings? There is to be someone with the ability to delight and take pleasure too. Pleasure is the response to fulfilled needs and a life well lived too. (cf. Maslow 1987, chap. 11)

A meditator learns to transcend. ◦TM is made for doing that often and well.

Bright Consciousness tends to favour calm influences.


3. "Magnetising the Spine" without Magnets Is a Lot

Yogananda spoke for "scientific" - but he also said the world is illusory. If that be true, development by kriya needs to be illusory as well [◦ More]. Better explaining is obviously needed in Yogananda circles.

You may use your brain to detect which Yogananda interpretation of scriptures are out of step with good evidence.

Grossly false teachings need to be transcended.

Not all rules change as we change.

Yogananda talk of dying by yoga is annoying - teachings drawn from experiences of the very few are hardly fit for all.


4. Interpreters of Reality Differ

The variety of outlooks in ancient yoga works stands out. At times it will pay to interpret interpreters too. Some are careful but foolish. Intuitive interpreters are either right or wrong or so-so. Test them if you can, as you can. Intuition awakens by good meditation (cf. Yogananda 1926, 99), and "Our senses are, as it were, windows." (Yogananda 1926, 91-92)
Anecdote A certain university professor was about to depart on his sabbatical and addressed a few parting words to his students.

"This parting is very melancholy to me. I wish there might be a window in my breast that you might see the innermost recesses of my heart."

"Professor," called a young man from the class, "would a pane in the stomach do?" [Fuller 1971, 177)

Intuition comes from within - and many so-called "intuitive insights" show up to be faulty. Better be on your guard and check when you can. Yogananda foretold many serious world events to come before 2000 CE, and luckily he was wrong over and over. England is still around (2018), Russia is not annihilated, and World War 3 and 4 did not come before 2000 CE either.

"It is by intuition that God can be realized in all His aspects." (Yogananda 1926, 104) Intuition may be cultivated. See a need - Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. "Through intuition humanity reaches Divinity." (Yogananda 1926, 103) (8)

Intuition comes from Reality, teaches Yogananda also, and that the world is an illusion - which has to include all his teachings. [Yogananda's illusion teachings at fault]

Consider as calmly as you can: "What is he up to by murky slogans?"


Fine-sounding Words

Be as careful as you can. It pays to be on one's guard against "fine-sounding words", also in this book.

In a section of the online God is for Everyone (2004), the long-time SRF main editor Tara Mata is rendered thus: "The Science of Religion . . . Master [Yogananda] never actually wrote it."

"Who did write it, then?"

"Swami Dhirananda. The outmoded, heavy and pedantic style is his."

A late SRF president, Daya Mata, held a different view. She said Dhirananda was an editor of it.

(Kriyananda 2004)

Dhirananda, Nerode and others

In the USA, close long-time friends from India ended up very disappointed with Yogananda.

One of them was Swami Dhirananda, born Basu Kumar Bagchi. In 1929 he got upset by Yogananda's personal life in New York. After leaving, Dhirananda sued Yogananda and won in 1935, and never spoke to Yogananda again. Yogananda was found to bring false and untrue charges against him in a Californian court of law. [Yogananda told untruths in a court case]

After listing all the court cases that Yogananda and SRF have been engaged in, Swami Satyeswarananda, residing in San Diego, comments: "It seems Yogananda showed the path of litigation instead of liberation." [◦Sanskrit Classics page]


Yogananda explains kriya yoga as an art of dying, Literature  

Bechtel, John Hendricks. 1922. Proverbs: Maxims and Shrewd Phrases Drawn from All Lands and Times: Carefully Selected and Indexed for Convenient Reference. Philadelphia: The Penn Publishing Company.

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. 1998. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.

Fuller, Edmund. 1970. 2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions. New York: Wings.

Hewitt, James. 1991. The Complete Yoga Book: The Yoga of Breathing, Meditation and Posture. London: Rider. ⍽▢⍽ Three volumes in one. Highly recommended source, comprehensive and of possible value for a beginner. The style of writing is "western orientated". The yoga poses are well described.

Kriyananda, Swami. 2004. God Is for Everyone. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity. [◦Preface and 3 chapters online]

Maslow, Abraham. 1987. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins.

Niranjanananda, Swami. 2009. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ Detailed instructions for practicing pranayama (including ujjayi variants), with illustrations.

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.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1982. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

⸻. 1982b. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: SRF.

Harvesting the hay

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

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