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THEMES: Yogananda teachings on maya are quack from one end to the other.

Mishmash-led, Taken In

To be led by bad mishmash equals being taken in. Yogananda likens the Hindu concept of Maya to the Bible's Satan, saying Maya is Satan, and his Self-Realizaton Fellowship (SRF) back up such wrong teachings. Hindu scriptures tell otherwise, and the Bible too. - On this page are many fake SRF notions laid bare.

HO"Heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your web site . . . Your articles are well done and full of information, including the obvious and noted contradictions within SRF."  - JW

Maya Definitions

Maya SHANKARA (AD 700? - 750?) says Maya is a matrix of names-and-forms (the universe).

The term 'maya' comes from the root ma or "measuring". When one adds the suffix ya to the root ma it can be defined as "relating to measuring". Maya provides actualisations.

Maya is "akin to 'to measure', 'show forth'. Through ideation - imaginative activities - Maya may foster will and coping. Maya shows what food that fits us, including food for thought. Go for constructive activity, and Maya tends to help, just as sound measurements and judgements help man in general.

What is more, Maya is none other than the Divine Mother, says Ramakrishna. Maya even becomes beautiful with your own real self, holds Vivekananda. [Rap 30; cf Via 243].

Figuring, that is the clue in all this. [Maya of Hindu scriptures]

On another page, is some Vedic, succinct information about maya from the ranks of notable persons.

SRF-published teachings on maya in the name of their guru Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). What is construed makes so little sense that it is hardly worth going into.

Some Mother Worship

"All nature that we behold is the Mother aspect of God, because in nature we find beauty, gentleness, and kindness," said Yogananda [Note 1]. You find other other things in nature too, not just pottery, but stalking, murder, and beer, to name a few things. And, interestingly, Kali worship (that sort of Mother worship) in India included human sacrifice in some places till into the 1600-1700s or so, writes the translator Frederick Eden Pargiter in Markandeya Purana [Ma xii]. The reason why mother Kali (Divine Mother) is depicted with a garland of human skulls, has not been solely figurative everywhere and at all times.

Ramakrishna says Mother is Maya. So, to Ramakrishna, maya itself is God, the Mother of the Universe, identical with the Brahman of Vedanta. [Goa 51]. "When I think of the Supreme Being . . . as active . . . I call Him . . . Maya . . . Personal God." - Ramakrishna [Goa 54].

Yogananda says, a bit oversimplified: "Maya is bad, Mother is good! (Let us forget that Maya is the Mother)". When trolls in folklore are exposed to sunlight they burst. The divine Mother of Yogananda - his favourite goddess - was gruesome, murderous Kali. Such an attraction is rather telling. "From very early on in childhood, Mukunda Lal was devoted to Mother Kali as his Divine Supreme Goddess." (Dasgupta 2006, 26 - also 21). Wendy Doniger writes:

Kali, (Sanskrit: "She Who Is Black" or "She Who Is Death") in Hinduism, goddess of . . . doomsday, and death . . . Kali's iconography, cult, and mythology commonly associate her not only with death but also with sexuality, violence, and, paradoxically, in some later traditions, with motherly love. . . .

Kali is most often characterized as black or blue, partially or completely naked, with a long lolling tongue, multiple arms, a skirt or girdle of human arms, a necklace of decapitated heads, and a decapitated head in one of her hands. . . . [T]he association of Kali with an extended tongue has early roots. A precursor of Kali is the ogress Long Tongue . . .

Kali is both geographically and culturally marginal. (Wendy Doniger. Kali: Hindu goddess. In Britannica Online)

Not Kali but maya is vehemently talked against in SRF publications, with sordid inconsistency and bungling of concepts, alas.

More on Maya

Yogananda professes that the world is maya, meaning illusory. He might as well bite his tail. If his teachings that the world is illusory, a dream, maya, were true, so would be all his teachings too, as parts of the world and expressed and found in the world - they would have to be illusory and fit to be disregarded. Are they? You cannot count on them and Yogananda, if it really were as he tells about the world. Also, you had better not count on them if not either. It stands to reason.

So what will you do next? May I suggest you study the evidence before settling on any conclusions, tentative or other ones, if this topic means anything to you. Granted that the maya concepts deals with any human's figuring, it could be wise to think things over about it, if your thinking maya works for you. Study and education frequently helps that. On these pages are dozens of referenced Yogananda quotations about the world, as if just one would not be enough:

  • The world talked of as a dream: [Link]
  • The world talked of as a dream again: [Link]
  • The world is talked of as illusory: [Link]

Ramakrishna says that maya operates in the relative world in two ways and he termed these "avidyamaya" and "vidyamaya." Avidyamaya sustains lower planes, but vidyamaya is enlightening, including qualities like kindness. Vidyamaya elevates a man to a better consciousness. With the help of vidyamaya he then gets free of maya, if only for a while. The two aspects of maya are two forces of creation [Goa 51, 52].

Erroneous Yogananda Lore

Satan is a Biblical concept. Maya is a Hindu concept. They stand for different things, and their uses do not overlap.

Maya is a fundamental concept in Hindu philosophy. To some, Maya is the same as Brahman (God). [EB "maya"]

When it comes to such as maya as a fabric and maya as a weaving agent deep inside, later editions of Paramahansa Yogananda's autobiography contains a footnote [Au 243n] and some other footnotes against maya. Many false views are the bottom line of it. We need to do better than Yogananda, and not bungle with Bible concepts to put a completely erroneous understanding of maya into Bible passages as if by whim and folly led.

The Old Testament prophets called Satan by the name of Satan, and the much Kali-fond Yogananda's function is to divert women from reality to his unreality. In a gospel it is warned ahead of time against hungry wolves." Yogananda's autobiography jumbles concepts from two cultures - bungles main concepts from different frames of references repeatedly and thereby produces distorted notions -, and adds negative value to the Sanskrit 'maya' by far too unschooled claims.


Maya Exhibition

Maya comes from ancient Sanskrit roots where it ties in with "mete out", i.e. proportion out etc. In Sanskrit literature, basic meaning(s) took on added, extra meanings, and such a process is rather common in English and scientific vocabulary as well. Words have central cores and people may elaborate or add to them one way or another, often in many directions too. So, "Maya is thus that cosmic force that presents the infinite Brahman (the supreme being) as the finite phenomenal world [Britannica Online: s.v. "maya"]." That is one outlook.

In religious Hinduism 'maya' is either looked on as Divine Mother or something not so good in that context. The phenomenon Ramakrishna saw and experienced Maya as the Divine Mother, the acme of goodness in many Hindu (Tantra) circles.

Sect-founding Yogananda and SRF hail his Hindu gurus as Christs. Jesus compares false Messiahs to hungry wolves and warns against false teachers and false Christs. Yogananda hails many yogis and gurus he knew in India, as Christs, many Christs. Interesting.

Yahweh and apostles on the positive value of maya

Positive thinking at times makes a lot of difference.

Bible saying: The Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and said, "Listen I reveal myself to a prophet of the Lord in visions, and speak to him in dreams. But with Moses I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles. [Numbers 12:5-8, paraphrased]

Clear guidance from within is the boon - Visions and dreams may need to be interpreted, and to interpret you could need to be educated, for example in the subject of dream interpretations. There are many works on i; at the back are some.

Prophesies and visions and dreams - such figuring prowess (maya from within) - is not barred from reborn Christians. [Acts 2:17-18]

Extensive wisdom is much praised in the whole Bible as valuable to man, and coming from God, and maya is wisdom.

Art is made use of by God in designing his tent and utensils - and maya is art -

Extraordinary power(s) can be said to accompany the chosen ones of God in both the Old and New Testament - such prowess may be of maya. [All three highlighted terms are part-definitions of maya from very old times in Monier-Williams' Sanskrit-English Dictionary]


Second Thoughts

Gautama Buddha, son of Queen Maya, speaks for rich blessings. Compare: The Maha-Mangala Sutta] and [ Vyagghapajja Sutta: Conditions of Welfare]

ANECDOTE The author of a rather foolish book entitled Thoughts asked the British actor and playwright Samuel Foote (1720-77) if he had read it.

"No, let us wait for the second volume," Foote replied.

Somewhat baffled, the author asked why.

"I have heard that second thoughts are best," said Foote.

A writer's own second thoughts may be validly put into his autobiography, but massive additions by editors long after the author is dead, is at least questionable, as in the case of Yogananda's heavily post-mortem edited autobiography. [An Autobiography review]

In the hands of Yogananda and SRF, a devil has gone into their teachings as well.



Be careful with what you believe. It seems to be a recurrent lesson.

Satan is an entity in the Abrahamic religions, and usually seen as a fallen angel.

A figure known as "the satan" first appears in the Tanakh as a heavenly prosecutor, a member of the sons of God subordinate to Yahweh, forcing people to suffer to test them. Ha-Satanusually refers to the that heavenly accuser: the satan. Later the satan was held to be a malevolent entity. When Jews were living in the Achaemenid Empire, Jewish conceptions of Satan were impacted by the Zoroastrian god of evil, darkness, and ignorance.

In the three first canonical gospels, Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and is identified as the cause of illness and temptation. Satan is described in the New Testament as the "ruler of the demons" and "the god of this age".

In Christianity, Satan is also known as the Devil. Since the ninth century, he has often been shown in Christian art with horns, cloven hooves, unusually hairy legs, and a tail, often naked and holding a pitchfork. These are an amalgam of traits derived from various pagan gods. Much of Satan's traditional iconography is apparently derived from the Greek god Pan. Satan's appearance is never described in the Bible.

Satan had a minimal role in medieval Christian theology, but was recurring comedic stock character in late medieval mystery plays. In them he was portrayed as a comic relief figure who "frolicked, fell, and farted in the background".

Belief in Satan has persisted, particularly in the Americas. According to a 2013 poll conducted by YouGov, fifty-seven percent of people in the United States believe in a literal Devil, compared to eighteen percent of people in Britain. Fifty-one percent of Americans believe that Satan has the power to possess people.

Enoch, Satanael, Samael and other Watchers

The Book of Enoch, which the Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed to have been nearly as popular as the Torah, describes a group of 200 angels known as the "Watchers", who are assigned to supervise the earth, but instead abandon their duties and have sexual intercourse with human women. The leader of the Watchers is Semjaza. Another member of the group, known as Azazel, spreads sin and corruption among humankind. The Watchers are ultimately sequestered in isolated caves across the earth.

The Second Book of Enoch, also called the Slavonic Book of Enoch, contains references to a Watcher called Satanael. The text, which is of an uncertain date and unknown authorship, describes Satanael as being the prince of the Grigori who was cast out of heaven and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was "righteous" and "sinful". The name Samael, used to refer to one of the fallen angels, later became a common name for Satan in Jewish Midrash and Kabbalah.

Each sect of Judaism has its own interpretation of Satan's identity.

(Chapter source: WP, "Satan")


Maya and Yogananda, SRF lore, Satan, Literature  

Apa: Walters, James Donald. A Place called Ananda. Rev. 2nd ed. Nevada City: Hansa Trust: 2001.

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

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.

Bik: Gambhirananda, Swami, tr. Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya of Sri Sankaracarya. 4th ed. Calcutta: Advaita, 1983.

Daff: Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen Series / Princeton University Press, 1972.

Dre: Jung, Carl Gustav. Dreams. Translated by by R. F. C. Hull. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen / Princeton University Press, 1974.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Online or yearly DVD Suite. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015 (e.g.).

Goa: Nikhilananda, Swami, tr. The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Abr. ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, 1974.

Idln: Boss, Medard. "I dreamt last night ." New York: Gardner, 1977.

Ma: Pargiter, Frederick Eden, tr. Markandeya Purana. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1904.

Medm: Hall, Calvin. The Meaning of Dreams. New ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.

Mii: O'Neil, Louis. Maya in Sankara: Measuring the Immeasurable. Delhi: Banarsidass, 1980.

Puh: Deussen, Paul. The Philosophy of the Upanishads. New York: Dover (Reprint of Clark's 1906-ed), 1966.

Rap: Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, 1942. Online.

Retr: Hark, Helmut. Religiöse Traumsymbolik. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1980.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Tp: Walters, James Donald. The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 1977.

Via: Nikhilananda, Swami. Vivekananda. The Yogas and Other Works. Rev. ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, 1953. Online,

Ycm: Satyananda, Swami. Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasay. A Biography. Portland, Mn: Yoganiketan, 2004. Online.

Ys: Satyanananda, Swami. Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya. A Biography. Tr. Amitava Chaterjee. Portland, Mn: Sevayatan and Yoganiketan, 2001. Online.

Ysl: Bhattacharya, Jogesh Chandra. Yogiraj Shri Shri Lahiri Mahashaya. Kadamtala, Howrah: Shrigurudham (Ghosh), 1964. Online read-only text at Yoganiketan, Portland, Mn


1. Paramhansa Yogananda. "Is God a Father or a Mother?" Inner Culture magazine, October 1939.

2. Independent: The Daya Dynasty

3. Yogananda Rediscovered:

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