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SRF's Editorial Strives for Decades

Editing a guru and editing him away are quite different. The same goes for editing through fair standards and editing in foul ways.

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 that hardly conform to mature editoral standards. [More]

Much Editing of Yogananda

A "well rounded, edited SRF message" may be likened to a rather repaired egg.

  • The original egg by Yogananda was sloppily launched with many lacunas or cavities in it. He relied on SRF secretaries to fill them and make him understandable, we are told.
  • There were times when he may have crossed the line. In such cases SRF has hid those "warts" or blemishes.
  • Also, SRF have added to his messages in time, by and by.

Readable, English Yogananda sentences - beware. It could be wise to suspect an editorial hand in them. Yogananda may not have been overly edited or edited away by SRF editors a long time after the statements were first made public, but will the insider trust it? After all, the former secretary known as Daya Mata after several decades,

signed a declaration, under oath, that Autobiography of a Yogi had not been written by Yogananda himself, but by a committee! [and, further, that] he had written Autobiography of a Yogi as a "work for hire."[◦From Yogananda for the World, Chap. 16]

The declaration was made for a lawsuit. It may be added that SRF has resorted to signature forgery, changing direct quotations, and changes in books too. They are books that Yogananda is credited with by SRF managers. [More]

It has, further, 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 points out Yogananda was not so good in English. "His handwritten letters in English and Bengali (his mother language) . . . revealed he was weak in both these languages," writes Swami Satyeswarananda.

To the degree that others than Yogananda have made his outputs conform to grammatically correct English, and embellished some of them, to the same degree it could undermine "the authentic Yogananda" by attempts to make the guru appear better than he was.

However, gross signature forgery is nowhere good enough:

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 change was unnecessary and raised uncomfortable questions. If Yogananda could not get his own name right, how could he be trusted on less verifiable matters such as achieving union with God? If it was a minor thing, why bother at all? . . . Maybe SRF figured . . . it was their job to clean up after him. . . .

[So SRF changed] his signature as well as his name. . . . Goodness. Why . . . such subterfuge? (Jon Parsons 2012:72)

The lawyer wonders. There is more here. [Yogananda, victim of forgery]

A parallell. Freedom to apply forgery - lots of forgeries - was a dominant feature of the early Church of conflicting fractions. 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]

Forgerers in control of members does hardly look good.

A Sanitised Something

In The Wine of the Mystic, an SRF published Yogananda book of many stock phrases allegedly by mystic attunement with the Persian Omar Khayyam through the writings of the English Edward FitzGerald. Let us agree that Yogananda's mystical method is largely unsupported by translations. [What it is - an analysis]

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 still 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].

It boils down to: They have edited him, changed many of his words, and feign.

For those who enroll in SRF as a student, such features may come to the fore as time goes by. Not everything is very bad, though.

However, a dictator-hailing authoritarian guru may not be as good as members imagine. Dictators and authoritarians are generally bad for common people, including members beneath a party or sect. 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.

Editing a Yogananda Awry

Sound enjoyments matter. Yogananda of very many conflicting sayings also 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 should be a relief. However, article 2:13 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]

Should a human life be given to a dictator, then? Yogananda says 'yes." However, his view of dictators around the middle 1930s are not fulfulling.

YOGANANDA 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]

Dictatorship may not be enjoyed by all and sundry, maybe not by even all on top. Mussolini was killed, "then hung upside down from a metal girder above a service station on the square" and "beaten, shot at, and hit with hammers." It might be hard to enjoy shooting oneself too. Hitler did. Yogananda may have been - eh - shortsighed, but he was more likely authoritarian-disposed.

Authoritarians want others to submit. SRF does not go out public, year after year, with their founder's hailing of dictatorship and his praise of Benito Mussolini. Should one ask why? Yogananda hails dictatorship in his way in his own magazine in 1934 (p. 3, 25) [PDF download].

Hogwash does not help full well in all cases.


Cult matters, Cult detection, probing cultish dealings, sect basics, sectarians at a glance, Paramahansa Yogananda, Self-Realization Fellowship teachings of Yogananda, authoritarian issues, Literature  

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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