Note the difference between editing a guru and editing him away. Also note the difference between editing him through fair standards, and editing him in foul ways without telling it has been done.
If Yogananda's output was clear and well formed in the first place, his "devoted editors" should not have made fools of themselves by resorting to trickery and duping as they have done. Why, they even imply their guru did not write his own title well enough. So they changed it after his death, resorting to forgery of his signature too.
To see the signs and add up some may be demanding, and yet much required. The conclusions of (semiotic) meaning-making may astonish guru's monastics who have not been told all of the foul and dilettante goings that the SRF management has rallied for six decades so far. However, proper knowledge of the art of making sense of signs and symbols might help. Meaning-making (semiotics) fosters the art of thinking for oneself and reach one's own conclusions. As with learning to walk, baby steps at first could help develop reasoning prowess. Yogananda and his own guru advocated it. (WP, "Semiotics") (See also Sebeok 2001)
The organisation that the guru Yogananda founded, and one day regretted he had founded, has published books for many decades, and edited some of them in ways it is hard to like. [More]
I will touch on "what's been hid and what's been did" below.
Think of a sort of egg as representing a "well rounded message" - edited with such an end in view, at least: In the figure, what is light blue, are holes that the SRF publisher has added or filled in - there is even surprisingly much that Yogananda is credited with formulating, that was made into readable sentences by his staff of secretaries or editors. What bulges out (violet) are guru teachings that the publisher has sliced off, perhaps because they were not acceptable far and wide, such as Yogananda's Yes! to Benito Mussolini and dictatorship. If you don't find all of Yogananda's talks in SRF today, one reason might well be discreet SRF censorship at work from the 1960s or so.
Thus, the yellow part of fig. 1 represents material that Yogananda is credited with, and which may not have been overly edited or edited away by SRF editors a long time after the statements were first made public. The light green parts are SRF-edited before and after his death, as the case may be. The violet are things more or less left out now, at least not fronted by the fellowship he started. His yes to dictatorship and Benito Mussolini in the East West magazine (1934) come to mind.
It has been an editorial policy on the side of SRF to drop Yogananda sayings and ideals that did not find favour with them after all - after the guru was gone. There is a broad range of evidence that SRF sanitised and changed a lot. Swami Satyeswarananda - not a yes-man when it comes to Yogananda - , points out Yogananda was not so good in English. "Admittedly Yogananda was weak in Sanskrit in which language the Bhagavad Gita is written. His handwritten letters in English and Bengali (his mother language) . . . revealed he was weak in both these languages," says Satyeswarananda.
Maybe Yogananda did the best he could with what he had learnt. Maybe his SRF editors wanted to make it better - that is, to make it correct English, and embellish it too. It has happened a lot. To the degree it is so, they undermine "the authentic Yogananda" by seeking to make their guru appear good! Note a twist here. It would be wise to consider that a very generous, helping guru sometimes does not depend on saying things in words. That is part of what Ramana Maharshi teaches - by words. [Talking without words, and rather in vain]
OK, so SRF may have had many reasons for not quoting Yogananda verbatim in all places, for not including embarrassing stuff and so on. They may also have thought they had good enough reasons to forge their guru's signature away from "Paramhansa" to "Paramahansa". "Could have been better, could have been worse" - However, it is more than embarrassing, a Palo Alto attorney makes out in A Fight for Religious Freedom (Jon Parsons, 2012).
In the summer of 1958 . . . SRF suddenly changed the spelling of Yogananda's title from "Paramhansa" to "Paramahansa." Without announcement or explanation, an extraneous "a" mysteriously appeared . . .
The lawyer wonders. There is more here. [Yogananda, victim of forgery]
The parallell found, and "they do it to dominate". There is an interesting parallell to be found, for freedom to apply forgery - lots of forgeries - was a dominant thing in the early Church. However, consider the consequences, the bad karma. There are informative books by Dr Bart D. Ehrman on this and similar topics. Forgeries and Counter-Forgeries (2013) is one of them. [Ehrman article]
Which forgeries to trust? I suggest none. But take heart, since "From the day you were born till you ride in a hearse, there's nothing so bad but it might have been worse (Proverb)."
The Swine of the Mystic
In a Greek, old story a goddess was the mystic, and the swine were once a crew who were changed and eaten up. [The story of Ulysses, chap. 10].
And now for The Wine of the Mystic, an SRF published Yogananda commentary by stock phrases "on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". But the book is not really that. [What it is - an analysis]
Let us focus on the sentence level here: A Hindu review of The Wine of the Mystic contained certain queries that SRF answered politely. Yogananda's commentary on the Rubaiyat was published at about the same time by another publisher. And what stands out through comparing the two versions? Yogananda's purported words are much different in the two versions.
The reason was explained by SRF - many of his words had been sanitised, moderated, changed. And there is nothing wrong with that if it is made clear that he is rendered (perhaps by guesses and half-guesses too) and not quoted verbatim.
Back to SRF's free-flowing changes of Yogananda's expressions:
Sri Daya Mata, president of SRF, took the original dictation from her guru. . . . Sri Mrinalini Mata, the Vice President of SRF [at that time], had the specific job of editing Yogananda's work. . . . There is a second version of Yogananda's Rubaiyat translation, edited by J. Donald Walters. . . . . Walter's edition is called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained. . . . In both the original writing of Yogananda has been substantially edited. Both editors say they were commissioned to do this work by Yogananda himself. It is a bit difficult to grasp just how extensively both Walters and SRF have edited Yogananda's words. . . . It was startling to this reader to learn that in neither edition is one even offered the original writing of Yogananda. SRF explained that all of Yogananda's writings had been so edited . . . Walters says he was specifically assigned by Yogananda to edit his Rubaiyat and explains the changes as required for clarity. [FA]
Kriyananda explains it better:
Yogananda . . . His preferred way of expressing himself was to touch lightly on a point, inviting others to meet him on his own level. It was to us, his disciples, usually, that he left the task of expanding on, or explaining, the truths he presented in condensed form in his writings. - [James Donald Walters, aka Kriyananda. [FB]
This does not seem even remotely like SRF Headquarters'
we, as his disciples, cannot change his words or the injunctions he gave in order to adjust them to your personal viewpoints [Notarised topics].
See what SRF has changed till now: Yoganandas' autograph, guru pictures - and they have removed parts of his teachings from the public glare, such as Yogananda's yes to Benito Mussolini, dictatorship and socialism in 1934. By adding and hiding stuff, and attempts to get a monopoly on publishing Yogananda material and spreading kriya yoga, SRF management should know it is against the law in many countries to violate Human Rights by a pledge that has no regret button, for one thing. [The SRF Kriya Yoga Pledge - with Jesus as a "guru bait" - Jesus who said "Don't swear"]
Now, in the illustration, the violet parts outside the big circle are Yogananda words, guidelines, and wisdom that SRF has left out by and by. Even parts of the kriya teachings or methods that once were handed over, are left out today. And what is taught may look like "Kriya yoga light" to yogis in the Indian kriya tradition.
Those who want to play it "safe", perhaps like the ostrich, are cautioned to stay within the rim of the large circle, to fit into the built up, edited and guru-sanitised SRF universe - which favours monastics going for control (by "remote dictates"), guru monastics that among other things tell couples how to have sex too, on the authority of their guru founder, who also was a monk -
If you should enroll in SRF as a student, such a mental universe is what is decreed onto you. Not everything is bad, and not even very bad. But also know that Human Rights allow normal guys to have sex and their own thoughts about vital matters. Also consider that if somebody is cruel to animals and someone else advances dictator-hailing authoritarianism in his own magazine, the latter may not be so good. Dictators and authoritarians are generally bad for underdogs (such as common members, lay persons). Human Rights aim against massive cruelty to humans - which is against the law in some countries also.
Authoritarianism: the belief that people should obey authority and rules, even when these mean loss of personal freedom.
SRF's stand is not for ample, rewarding, fulfilling sex, as you could halfway guess. [Cf. Yogananda 2005:194]. Will you let bullies interfere with your sex life? [See Yogananda's hard, verbatim quotations against sex for all unmarried ones.]
Enjoying the World
Yogananda also tells, "The Lord says, 'You can live in this world and enjoy it . . '" [In Why God Created The World. San Diego: Self-Realization Fellowship Temple, 16 Dec. 1945.
That's a relief. However, article II:13 among Yogananda's Articles of Incorporation of Self-Realization Fellowship Church in California in 1935 reads: ". . . human life is given to man . . . not for physical pleasure nor selfish gratifications." [◦Link]
Sound enjoyments matter. Goodness gracious! [Compare a list of Human Rights].
Yogananda quotes on dictatorship and reflections
The average man cannot think clearly . . . He needs the master mind of a Dictator in order to think right and do right." - Yogananda. "Interview". East-West, Vol. 6. [More]
Then, are you a dictator toward underlings? Authoritarians want others to submit and renounce freedoms. Beware. SRF refrains so far from reprinting their founder's hailing of dictarship and praise of Benito Mussolini in the February issue of his own magazine in 1934 (p. 3, 25) [PDF download].
Tantra, also Popularised as Sex Yoga
The proverb goes a long way toward saying something similar about sheep too. Sheep is the gospel way of saying 'follower'. But not every shepherd wants to stop his cattle or sheep from begetting calves and sheep and stop the milk from flowing. Here is something interesting to many: Human milk derives from having sex. Without milk of that sort, the human race would be in trouble, because of "no sex, and therefore no mother's milk", generally speaking. Now, there is tantra yoga too, also called sex yoga, and it is granted in such as Satyananda Yoga that kriya yoga is tantric. It is not just about sex, but it does mean that some may enjoy sex, life, success and kriya yoga in other lines of transmission. Good to know, or what?
There are many forms of tantra yoga.
Tantra or sex. That sex may be used for fulfilments and development, is one foundational idea in tantra. If it works that way, fine. If not, good . . . perhaps.
Amorous play and sexual unions should work for good. The question is to which degree they do. What are the requirements for a happy coupling, is an aligned topic. There is a knack to lots of other things than happy and fulfilling mating in life too.
Kriya yoga is tantric, as shown in Satyananda Yoga. One may say that when he was in his fourties, the monk Yogananda held restrictive views on sex and enjoying the world, but not on dictatorship. It was no youthful blunder.
The tantric tradition can be considered parallel or intertwined with the Vedic tradition. Also, "tantra" denotes teachings and practices found in the scriptures known as tantras or agamas.
Understanding of just what the word 'tantra' means, differs though. Further, how long the term has been used for the teachings and practices that are known as tantric today, is quite uncertain.
The tantras are many and varied scriptures.
The agamas are a collection of scriptures that teach regulations of worship, deities, philosophical doctrines, meditation practices, attainment of desires and kinds of yoga. Agamas speak of Kundalini Yoga as well.
Vajrayana, "the diamond way", denotes tantric Buddhism. Hindu and Buddhist yogas contain tantra teachings. They are varied. Here is one understanding among many; John Blofeld writes, "my Lama teachers summed up the general requirement for developing a Tantric attitude in three injunctions: "Recognize everything around you as Nirvana; hear all sounds as Mantra; see all beings as Buddhas." That could well be a good achievement. (Blofeld 2002:40)
Yogananda on Americans. Quotations
Many Yogananda words that are SRF selected as fit for Americans nowadays, are filtered and edited. That poses other problems. We go into some of them below.
All Yogananda sayings are not all whims. But guru hogwash does not help full well in some little flattering cases. What is it that he is saying about the United States were "ruled to death"? The country is still alive, but he did not say how long it would take for it to be "ruled to death" and what he meant by that.
The secretary of the Pittsburgh Yogoda Center once sent in the following report:
"On Saturday, April 14th, the Pittsburgh Yogoda Sat-Sanga Center had the great pleasure of having Swami Yogananda as honor guest . . .
"Swami Yogananda gave a short talk on a higher Journalism. He asked all those present to make a practice of writing to the daily newspapers at intervals, asking them not to print scandal and murder headlines, but instead something of a spiritual and educational nature.
"On Sunday night, the Swami . . . concluded by bringing out that the power of truth is greater than the power of untruth . . . the power of truth . . . may come slowly, but when it comes, darkness goes before the flood of light." ["Yogoda Center News", East-West, May-June 1928, Vol. 3-4]
Blofeld, John. Tantric Mysticism of Tibet. Revised and edited by Allan R. Bomhard. Charleston, SC: Charleston Buddhist Fellowship, 2002.
Ehrman, Bart D. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. ⍽▢⍽ "Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature is the degree to which it was forged," writes Ehrman. The Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip, and letters by Peter and Paul in the New Testament are forgeries. Nearly half of the books in the New Testament make false authorial claims: the Gospel of Mark was not written by Mark, and so on. The idea that deceivers who produce writings express the Spirit of Truth, may contain hidden dangers, such as that of leading people astray and then into some graveyard.
Lie, Kåre A, tr. Buddhas samtaler: De lange tekstene. Digha Nikaya. Bind 1: Moralavsnittbindet Silakkhandhavagga. Oslo: Solum Forlag, 1992.
⸻. Buddhas samtaler: De lange tekstene. Digha Nikaya. Bind 2. Det store bindet: Mahavagga. Oslo: Solum Forlag, 2005.
Parsons, Jon R. A Fight for Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigations. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012. ⍽▢⍽ An account of SRF's 12-year long legal battle against its spin-off Ananda, a legal battle that SRF lost almost completely. Such "warfare" is not known to be good for piousness.
Sebeok, Thomas, A. Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronty, 2001.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. Los Angeles: SRF, 1975.
⸻. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.
⸻. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.
[FA:] Himalayan Academy. "SRF Uncorks a Winner!". Hinduism Today. October 1994. Accessed 14 October 2005.
[FB:] Ananda Answers. "Preface from Rubaiyat". (Excerpted] Updated 26 November 2001. Accessed 14 October 2005.
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