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Perfect Master-Knowledge?

Yogananda All those that are fully liberated are equal in wisdom . . . Inwardly they are unaffected . . ." [Yogananda 1980:24-25; SRF 1957:24]

But in Autobiography of a Yogi is a claim that Yukteswar was the wisest and most powerful guru of all Yogananda had met. (Chap. 12).

Consistency would not be bad.

Yukteswar used to tell humorous stories, joking and kidding around, his biographer Swami Satyananda writes, and offers examples of Yukteswar pranks also (2004, 1-2, and further).

The elderly Yukteswar is presented by his disciple Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) as a Christ, wise and depth-probing and also given to pranks. Second-hand evidence is in "The Cauliflower Robbery," a chapter in Yogananda's Autobiography and in Satyananda's Yukteswar biography. First-hand evidence - by Yukteswar directly - might be more difficult to get to, though.

Psychoanalysis may in part serve as an example of one way to probe into minds. There are other ways too. However, in the dark, dim depths or dizzy heights, much may not be easily seen, and very little can be proved too. Mere agreements among psychoanalysts and other therapists is not quite good enough: if you cannot offer substantial evidence of what you want to tell, then refraining from telling may not be bad at all.

Ask well and manage to find fit evidence if there is any.

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 as you wish: "Who benefit(s)?" and "Where does the money gather?" That could help.

Are transplanted seedlings lacking in good roots good?

Yukteswar is presented in Autobiography of a Yogi. The book is romantic and panegyric.

There were about about 5,000 sects in the United States around they year 2000, by one estimate (Singer 2003, xvii). A seedling of Hinduism that is put it its soil, may first be quite "rootloose", and then it may or may not develop sectwards through menial mentalities. Maybe a good gardener may help the adaptation process and avert bad fruits. Lola Williamson has gone into American hybridisation of Hindu movements in her good book Transcendent in America (2010). It means Americans may make sects of movements and make church societies of them too by many small steps. There is that risk, and it may be a large one too.

Count in what happens in the long run

Good seeds of orange trees and grapes need a fit climate to grow in, and fertile, nourishing soil to sprout and grow in. If the needs of imported orange trees and grapes are not fully met, there may be room for hardy or other cultivars in some cases. That is one way of adaptation. Otherwise, stunted growth and deranged fruits may result. Soil and climate should follow suit, or cultivars be formed. Gardening expertise is called for.

So it may not be wholly wise to blame "it all" on Yogananda. The ground he came to, called for much Christian-looking adaptations, and "grrreat" and so on. It is not that Yogananda converted to Christianity, but he started to praise Jesus and was more accepted by it, Marshall Govindam tells.

The idea of claiming and praising Jesus immoderately collides with gospel sayings of Jesus that his teachings, salvation and kingdom are for Jews only, and that healthy onese do not need him. How many repress that. (Geza Vermes 2010, 37-41)

Mispraise first, and maladaptations may follow

'Jnanavatar may call for respect, well earned or not.

Sect calls

SRF's stand about Yogananda some decades after his passing in 1952: "[W]e believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless." Mind that this sort of high esteem may well be a sign of a cult, and a peculiar one in the light of Yogananda's "We don't really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." (1982, 414).

Further, 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"? But a healthy ego is good and even necessary for living - One cannot deal with life without the egohood.

In other words, there is good reason to suggest that "a little bit crazy" is not the best thing to be.

The sad thing about cult-shared mental maladies is that they can be awfully difficult to detect and treat well in such settings. Submitting to authoritarian-looking training may form cloven tongues.

Beware of bluffs and difficulties involved

"Whatever I wanted to accomplish, I made up my mind it was going to be, and it was!" said Yogananda. [Dr 100]. If it had been true, it would be fine if he had been wise. But several of his attempted projects failed, for example a Golden World City in Encinitas, San Diego county, California. Face the facts. He said he would make a supreme effort for that city, and failed.

A faking follower of Jesus who never threw mountains into the sea and did not made Sahara Desert a blossoming garden or savannah, is like that too. However, in the New Testament, Jesus promises it to Jews only (cf. Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8).

If you don't like your role as the underling, maybe small baby steps are first may pass. 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.

Recently, a Canadian, Geoffrey Falk, writes:

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 back then.

When an organisation or fellowship's most ardent upholders decide to leave, take heed. 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.

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). 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: [Some 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 less permissive.

Addressing shadow figures or puppets - little good tends to come out of it apart from entertaining folks.

Did Yukteswar prepare Yogananda full well?

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. Solid proofs were different.

Yogananda added features to kriya yoga, removed others, gave sermons and lectures, and his fellowship added many words that had nothing to do with the practice he was sent to spread. 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.

Aligning well to a cult may later cause nervous problems.

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. Results depends in part on how straight the receivers of good counsels are, and also on their overall conditions and what is allowed.

Opinions differ, and all are not that worthwhile

Differences of opinion exist among Hindu savants. 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. [Flood 1996, 5].

"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 all the four gurus in Yogananda's line back to Babaji - 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). Four the-world-is-unreal demons.


When man understands by his Parokshajnana (true comprehension) the nothingness of the external world, he appreciates the position of John the Baptist . . ." (Yukteswar 1972, 39)

Not really. John the Baptist would be a part of the nothingness too, if so. And where was Yukteswar living? In the nothingness? Interestingly, there would be no moss there, if so.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica [EB, "Hinduism"] and Wikipedia [WP, "Hindu philosophies"] show that there are many and divergent philosophies and many separate schools of thinking in Hinduism. Most gurus nowadays may advocate Vedanta. In addition to Vedanta there are five more orthodox Hindu philosophies with their differences. Vedanta schools differ most of all by how they conceive of the relationship and the degree of identity between the individual Self (Atman) and the absolute (Brahman). These concenptions range from nondualism (Advaita) 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 7th century CD. 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. 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 (Yogananda 1986, 114).

Avoid falling from what is good for you

To avoid falling, it helps to look sharp and discern. It also helps to learn to meditate well and skilfully. Our understanding of terse, gnomic sayings depends on how we interpret them. Ask: "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? And how much will everything improve? Will it be enough? In what ways? Will the great wrath of God improve too - Does improvement means increase?" And so on.

In The Holy Science from 1894 it is told that all religions basically agree. They do not. What Jesus says yes to (in Matthew 5:19-21), 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

This parrot is no more!

In Self-Realization Fellowship they make use of Yukteswar as Yogananda presented him, and of Jesus too. However, Jesus says his teachings, kingdom and salvation were for Jews only. Geza Vermes ascertains it. (Vermes 2010, 37-41; 2012).

Yukteswar is "gone from the earth to a better place," teaches the Autobiography, where it is also told that he helps people to be saved from heaven (1998, 353-45). "This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot!" - Graham Chapman and John Cleese (in Ratcliffe 2000, 100)

Now, Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda and SRF say they are in complete harmony with "original Christianity of Jesus." If you say A, B follows: They agree to slavery, for with their lips they claim to teach and preach the Christianity of Jesus. However, there was no such thing. Jesus had only followers, and Christianity came later than him, starting ca. 50 CE. (Deuteronomy 13:16-17; Matthew 5:17-19; Acts 15:19-29).

All religions are not alike. Some are polytheistic, and others monotheistic, and so on.

What matters is to detect if a teaching has froth around the corners of the mouth.

Another View

A supertanker

The largest part of a supertanker is where the oil is stored. At the back is the elevated wheel house. From it one may see farther and better.

Let us say that Yogananda's Yukteswar is filling the large first part of the collection (a figurative tanker), and that Satyananda's Yukteswar is painted differently, and reaches higher up, like a tanker's wheel house. How? Satyananda presents him as a long-armed humorist; he was able to recognise and appreciate humou. That is exactly what an elevated mind does . . .

Swami Satyananda Giri has written a Yukteswar Biography. It appears in A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus (2004). Each guy describes the guru somewhat differently. Satyananda describes Yukteswar as tall, athletically built, with long arms. Further, Yukteswar used to tell humorous stories, joking and kidding around, and was affectionately welcoming - yet with a reputation of being emotionless. (Satyananda 2004, 1-2)

"Different strokes for different folks" may have some relevance here.


Yukteswar discipline and comments, Literature  

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.

Ratcliffe, Susan, ed. 2000. The Oxford Dictionary of Thematic Quotations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Satyananda, Swami. A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2004. (Also: Google Books).

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]

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

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