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Perfect Master-Knowledge?

Helping yourself you help the world. - Ramana Maharsi (in Osborne 1970:99)

On the one hand Yukteswar's famous disciple Yogananda claimed a lot on behalf of his guru, similar to "my father pees longer than yours". On the other hand - it should be good to have a way out for safety reasons - Yogananda also purports such as:

Yogananda All those that are fully liberated are equal in wisdom . . . They understand everything, but seldom reveal that knowledge. To please God they play the role He has assigned them. If they seem to blunder, it is because such conduct is part of their human role. Inwardly they are unaffected . . ." [Yogananda 1980:24-25; SRF 1957:24]

Compare Yogananda's autobiography claim that Yukteswar was the wisest and most powerful guru of all he had met. (Chap. 12).

"The wisest of all that are equal in wisdom" - Consistency would not be bad.

Consider who hail whom, and why

Try to see who they are, those who praise someone, and probe possible reasons for doing so, and not only what they struggle with. What a sect or cult praises in high tones, could in fact be bad for you.

Learning to consider has (1) many sides and (2) possible depths to it too.

1. Some sides are probed by Harold Lasswell's communication formula, "Who says what in which channel to whom with what effects?" Or as a start, answer the interrogative pronouns who, whom, whose, which, and what and come up with some fit answers. Add ad lib.: "Who benefit(s)?" and "Where does the money accrue?" and you may gather so fit evidence that you refrain from selling your castle and other belongs to give them to a cult.

2. As for depth-probing, good evidence tends to be difficult to get to. Psychoanalysis may in part serve as an example of one way to do it. There are other ways too. However, in the dark, dim depths, much may not easily seen, and very little can be proved too. Mere agreements among psychoanalysts and other therapists is not good enough, for such agreements are of the surface, more or less. If you cannot offer substantial evidence of what you want to tell, refrain from telling may not be bad at all.

Ask well and you may gradually get a good groundwork for finding lots of good evidence.

Yogananda's SRF

"Such a tree, such a fruit" has its modifications and reservations to go along with it. We are going into that too.

Are transplanted seedlings lacking in good roots good?

Yukteswar trained and empowered the coming guru Yogananda. Yogananda was his disciple. In Yogananda's (1893-1952) Autobiography of a Yogi, many chapters are about Yukteswar (1855-1936), and it starts with chapter 10. The book is romantic and panegyric, and see what it has given rise to in America: another sect, says the late Laurie Pratt (a few passages further down). It was not meant to be a sect, told Yogananda, but study his fruits - what developed from his talks and lore.

So many have set foot on American soil and set up their own religious societies there. There have been both good and bad sides involved. There were about 2,500 sects there a few decades ago according to one estimate [1]. A Yukteswar seedling that is put it its soil, may first be quite less "rootloose", and then it may or may not develop "Americanally" sectwards, by drivel and twisted, deranged or contorted mentalities, unless there is a good gardener around to help the adaptation process and avert bad fruits, so to speak.

"Americanally", or sectwards, means the same in this context.

Count in what happens in the long run

Thus, good seeds in the fruits of an orange tree, need a good enough climate to grow in, fertile, nourishing soil to sprout and grow in. If the needs or orange seeds are not fully met, there may be stunted growth and deranged fruits in the long run. It is easily done. Gardening expertise is called for. So try not to blame "it all" on Yogananda, whose prime, original mission was to sow kriya seeds far away on another continent, and soon took to sow a host of ideas of his own - words. He got many of his ideas had in response to American minds also. He often did just that - responded to the minds of gatherings. It is not that Yogananda converted to Christianity, it seems, rather, that he took to praising Jesus for tactical reasons, to get better accepted among "good Christians", Marshall Govindam says too.

The idea of praising Jesus collides with the sayings of Jesus that his teachings, salvation and kingdom are for Jews only. One should not repress a thing like that. (Geza Vermes 2010:37-41)

Mispraise first, and maladaptations may follow

The church Yogananda started on 29 March 1935, Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, has taken to several good-looking tall titles of respect: Accordingly, Yukteswar is a Jnanavatar, that is, "Divine Wisdom (jnana) in a body (avatar, from Sanskrit 'step down'). [Pa 499-501]. However, the "jananavataric" wisdom of Yukteswar was plainly not good enough out of the waters of kriya yoga. His Yogananda-rendered, faulty Eden outlooks may alert us to that. But in kriya yoga waters he swam like a fish and practised things he had learnt from Lahiri Mahasaya, we are told in the Autobiography and other books.

Jnanavatar - a call for respect, well earned or not.

Sect calls

"We are a sect," SRF's late editor-in-chief Tara Mata (Laurie Pratt) reportedly said to a former vice-president of Self-Realization Fellowship, and the fellowship has ventured onto the cultish road by blatantly upholding such as, "We do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines . . . [W]e believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless." It is good to mind that this sort of high hopes, or faith, is a sign of a cult. And an endangering cult is something you do not want your little ones to end up in, for some of them may be harmed for life by it. [More]

Now, it helps very little to be taken in by some "gulch sect's" "our flawless guru" - that attitude. It is better to expose fraudulent teachings and steer out of sects that spread them. Get an overview too; it often helps. Yogananda, for example, ws an orator who often contradicted himself.

Hopes shared in a cult may speak of quite similar mental disturbances - or better, far better. So what about Yogananda's "Develop into cosmic consciousness by killing your ego"? A healthy ego is good!

Craziness continued

One can do worse than heeding the revealing:

Yogananda I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind. [Yogananda, 1993:270]

We reveal something of our mentality by what we are drawn to, by our tastes. [Yogananda, in 1993:145]

The trouble is that all of us, as Paramahansaji used to say, are a little bit crazy, and we do not know it. [SRF's late president, Daya Mata (1974).

In other words, craziness continued - and there is good reason to suggest that "a little bit crazy" is not the best thing to be, for it can mean withered or blighted neurotic, if not worse. The guru also tells, "We don't really know what is right or real . . . we are often incorrect in our judgements." [1986:414] Think of all it means. [All those enemies]

The sad thing about a shared mental maladies is that they can be awfully difficult to detect and treat well. Submitting to authoritarian-looking training may form creeps.

Beware of bluffs and difficulties involved

"Whatever I wanted to accomplish, I made up my mind it was going to be, and it was!" [Dr 100]. But no, it was not at all times. Several of his attempted projects failed, for example his world university atop Mount Washington. Face the facts. Mind the same can be said about a faking follower of Jesus who never threw mountains into the sea and made Sahara Desert a blossoming garden or savannah, although in the New Testament seems to promise it to good followers - they had to be Jews only (cf. Matthew 15:24). [Blossoming Sahara and a New Atlantis]

If you don't like your role as the underling, try to get rid of the claws of demagogy in you already also. To elaborate on that: How may you break the mould through constant confidence and transforming and renewal fit for you? Maybe small baby steps are fit at first. Align to the best methods of yoga-meditation, apply deep meditation: go to the inner source and want to change without mistakes, and go into expressing well. Seemingly good fortune may be a pitfall, and boldness may lead to degradations if Truthland is sorry for it. A good enough, solidly held aim may also be beneficial, and tact too.

More recently, a Canadian, Geoffrey Falk, writes on top of his stay at an SRF ashram in California where one strong lesson is "If you don't like the heat, stay out of the kitchen" somehow:

Each one of the SRF line of leaders/gurus - their "popes" - from Daya Mata [1914-2010] back to Krishna, are regarded by obedient SRF devotees as being infallible, and simply "working in mysterious ways" when it comes to any seemingly questionable actions on their parts. I, too, once foolishly viewed them thusly. [◦Link]

As for Yogananda's SRF: "Between 2000 and 2005 more than fifty monks and nuns are reported to have left the organization," writes attorney Jon Parsons (2012:170). They were estimatedly one third of all the SRF monastics.

When an organisation or fellowship's most ardent upholders decide to leave, take heed. You could do worse that seeking to find out why. Dr Lola Williamson writes about SRF and other fellowships in Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion (2010):

SRF is hierarchical . . . Former disgruntled members of SRF credit this top-down mentality with creating an unhealthy organization. (Williamson 2010:75) . . .

A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed to execute the suggestions made by the consultants. This was the beginning of a split among the monks and nuns who resided at the Mother Center [Headquarters, Los Angeles]. Some viewed the promise of change with exhilaration and hope; and some viewed it with fear. The end result was that a large number of monastics left SRF from about 2000 to 2001. Due to the entrenched resistance to change, the communication consultants were let go, the existing committee members replaced by others content with the status quo, and the psychologists relieved of their duties. It may be that so many people needed to talk to the counselors that the leadership became fearful of losing control. They reverted to the old style of dealing with problems, which, as the SRF catchphrase goes, is to "take it to your altar" (Williamson 2010:76) [More]

Be bold to your own advantage, even though boldness is far from all it takes to hold your ground well.

Yukteswar and leadership

Good leaders as good farmers

Yukteswar is described as a critically bent, scolding, upbraiding type of guru by Yogananda, and sarcastic too, by Yogananda's biographer, Sailendra Dasgupta (2006). And good leadership of groups or fellowships seems largely different, since one ideal for "good leaders" is to focus on the good sides, enlarge on the profitable, and not get hooked on blaming often and much. Wise leaders look ahead and address difficulties and if possible to remedy what is too bad, and get on, and hopefully for good. There has been written much on leadership and management in the world. There are vital points from those walks in life that may be applied by a person and in a family too, in a neat business, and further. There is a list of selected literature from this vast field here: [Management literature]

Yogananda is said to have trained some young women who came to him, to prepare them for later tasks. But SRF leaders have brought much unwelcome on many of its monastics who entered to serve, at least on the surface of things. SRF could have tried to work for good, but much untoward followed (some evidence is further down). His followers quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson in an old SRF magazine, that "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." There is reason to say there were other men too, and that the "shadow" wanted a life of its own "over there": SRF has removed old Yogananda ideals and become more restricted.

Addressing shadow figures - little good tends to come out of it.

Did Yukteswar prepare Yogananda full well?

Soon in America, Yogananda fell out with other kriya yogis who initially wanted to help. One of them, Dhirananda, took Yogananda to court after Yogananda did not pay him money he owed him and Dhirananda won, even though the testimony that Yogananda gave in the case, proved false.

Yogananda added features to kriya yoga, removed others, and his fellowship added many words that had nothing to do with the practice, which was what he was sent to spread, along with Yukteswar's teachings.

We may access the current fruits or problems and say, "There is good and bad involved, but one had better avoid bad, harmful, stunting elements in what is purported to be great help." And that is why Yogananda taught a disciple:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything." - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998).

However, if you take that Yogananda word for anything, you don't do as he tells . . . Aligning to Yoganandas larger kriya teachings and phrases may involve risks, and has caused problems to other than a large part of the fellowship's own, trained monastics.

Aligning well to a cult may be a cause of getting nervous problems.


Counsel reflects underlying attitudes. Cults or sects tend to represent authoritarian attitudes, because the sect leaders benefit thus. Look behind the masks and under the facades to your ability so as not to be taken in, and learn from others with relevant experience, and you might be better off.

A piece of good advice that is not taken, may seem quite wasted. However, give the seed a chance to lie dormant, strike root and seek the light also. The result depends in part on how straight the receivers of good counsels are, in part on their overall conditions and what is allowed.

Opinions differ, and all are not that worthwhile

Differences of opinion exist among Hindu savants too, and can be as great as differences between Hindus and Buddhists [Flood 1996:5].

Guru teachings of old differ substantially. Philosophies they associate with, differ too. Some say sages speak differently about one and the same thing. In some cases they seem to.

"Truth is one; sages call it by various names," is taught in the Rigveda, one of the oldest texts we have. However, that ancient, Vedic teaching does not reconcile everything: Gurus that teach the world is unreal - some do, like Yogananda - do not seem to be lovely aligned with those that teach the world is real, for example Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: "Those who are demoniac . . . say that this world is unreal." (16:7-8). So there is no need to ignore that there are widely diverging teachings in Hinduism. In passing, it stands out that Yogananda and three more gurus of SRF say the world is unreal, are demons according to the Gita, which Yogananda followers are encouraged to read extensively . . .

The Encyclopaedia Britannica [s.v. "Hinduism"] and Wikipedia [s.v.. "Hindu philosophies"] show that there are many and divergent philosophies and many separate schools of thinking in Hinduism. Most gurus nowadays probably advocate Vedanta. In addition to Vedanta there are five more orthodox Hindu philosophies with their differences. For example, although Advaita Vedanta now is the most influential of the many schools of Vedanta, it is but one of many Vedanta schools. They differ most of all by how they conceive of the relationship and the degree of identity between the individual Self (Atman) and the absolute (Brahma). These concenptions range from nondualism to theism and dualism (Dvaita).

The best known Vedanta form nowadays is Advaita (nondualism) Vedanta. Historically, as we know it, it started with the thinker Gaudapada of the 600s AD. He built on Mahayana Buddhist philosophy to argue that there is no duality. The Indian guru and thinker Shankara is said to have buildt further on Gaudapada's foundation in his Advaita Vedanta teachings . . . Fundamental for Shankara is the tenet that Brahman [Being beyond time, space and causality] is real.

Advaita is often described as the crux of Hindu thought. [Source: EB "Advaita" and "Vedanta"]

There are several Vedanta schools. Some are rooted in duality views, one to non-duality, and some are in between too, for example Nimbarka's Vedanta. In short, a soul may go back and forth from non-duality (transcendence) to duality (wakefulness), as Ramakrishna did.

In Sum

Yukteswar's yuga (era) teachings do not match dominant views of scientists today.

The Garden of Eden ideas of Sri Yukteswar consist of transposing guru views of yoga etc. onto the old myth. All the same, Yukteswar is reportedly not fond of blind believing:

Yukteswar "Many teachers will tell you to believe; then they put out your eyes of reason and instruct you to follow only their logic. But I want you to keep your eyes of reason open; in addition, I will open in you ... wisdom." [Yogananda 1986:114].

Yogananda, in turn, taught a disciple something like it:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. Apply the techniques and find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words. - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998).

Compare if you will Ramakrishna's teaching:

What is the use of counting how many mango-trees there are in the garden . . .? You are here to eat the mangoes . . . Why do you trouble yourself with other things? [More]

Get to the Source of wisdom and get wisdom added. That wider scenario is what the "mango teaching" of Ramakrishna is part of.

Avoid falling from what is good for you

To avoid falling, it helps to discern. It also helps to learn to meditate in freedom. In the Alps of life - higher teachings - it helps to have a life-line too, so don't drop your safe home for an unsafe fellowship.

"The allotted authoritativeness of a decree is one thing, how substantial it is is another". Also, our understanding of terse, gnomic sayings depends on how we interpret them. There is reason to ask calmly, "If everything will improve on Yukteswar's word, "he whose word commands the cosmos, etc., etc.:", does it mean everything for just one or for everyone? For both the lion and the lamb? Really? And how much will everything improve? In what ways? Will the great wrath of God improve too - Does improvement means increase?" There is room for many other questions.

In The Holy Science from 1894 it is told that all religions basically agree. They do not. What Jesus says yes to, includes:

Not to give occasion to the simple-minded to stumble on the road (Leviticus 19:14) (this includes doing anything that will cause another to sin)

Keep the Canaanite slave forever (Leviticus 25:46)

Slavery in Brazil, by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848). Detail.
"Do not allow yourself to be thrashed . . ." - Yukteswar

Accordingly, Yogananda and SRF seem to stand for slavery, for with their lips they claim to teach the Christianity of Jesus. However, there was no such thing. Jesus had only followers, and Christianity came later than him. (Deut 13:16-17; Matthew 5:17-19). What matters is to detect if a teaching has froth around the corners of the mouth.

Even a packhorse driver wears clothes (Japanese proverb). But the real, Jewish follower of Jesus will "sell all that you have and give to the [blessed] poor." (Mark 10:21; Luke 6:20-21; Mark 10:25). That is to say, the true Jesuan followers are naked, half of them without foreskins (Jews), and are to turn the other cheek. (See the picture and Matthew 15:24; 10:5-11).

Sluts of Religious Teachings


"Den unge flane, den gamle bedesøster" is Danish. In German it is "Junge Hure, alte Betschwester". The proverb talks of how initially unstable fellows are turned into hypocritical bigots, perhaps show-offs by exaggerated or hypocritical devotion. But here is perhaps a ray of hope for non-Jews: Jesus said his teachings, kingdom and salvation were for Jews only. Geza Vermes ascertains it. (Vermes 2010:37-41; 2012).

It means all religions are not alike. Not in their outer aspects, and not in some of their tenets either. For example, some are polytheistic, and others monotheistic, and so on.

The teachings of Jesus - all of them - do not apply to non-Jews, on his word (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-11).


Swami Sri Yukteswar writings and comments, Literature  

EB = Encyclopaedia Britannica - see Britannica Online.

Flood, Gavin: An introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, 1996.

Mata, Daya. "Only Love". Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1976.

Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Osborne, Arthur ed. Ramana Maharsi and the Path of Self-Knowledge. New ed. London: Rider, 1970.

Parsons, Jon R. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012. ⍽▢⍽ A good book.

Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). The Master Said: Sayings and Counsel to Disciples by Paramhansa Yogananda. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1957.

Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Vermes, Geza. The Story of the Scrolls: The Miraculous Discovery and True Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. London: Penguin, 2010b.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1971.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1986.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.

Yukteswar, Swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1972.

  1. Karbe and Mueller-Kueppers: Destructive Cults: Social and Health Consequences of Totalitarian Pseudo-religious Movements. Publishing House for Med. Psychology Goettingen 1983 [ISBN 3-525-45227-6]): The chapter "Cults: A Public Health Approach". [◦Link to a translation of the work]

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