Paramahansa Yogananda

1893 - 1952
human image - Paramahansa Yogananda

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

country of citizenship:  British Raj, India
languages spoken, written or signed:  English

Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh; January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952) was an Indian Hindu monk, yogi and guru who introduced millions to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India, and who lived his last 32 years in America. A chief disciple of the Bengali yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, he was sent by his lineage to spread the teachings of yoga to the West, to prove the unity between Eastern and Western religions and to preach a balance between Western material growth and Indian spirituality. His long-standing influence in the American yoga movement, and especially the yoga culture of Los Angeles, led him to be considered by yoga experts as the "Father of Yoga in the West."Yogananda was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House (by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927); his early acclaim led to him being dubbed "the 20th century's first superstar guru" by the Los Angeles Times. Arriving in Boston in 1920, he embarked on a successful transcontinental speaking tour before settling in Los Angeles in 1925. For the next two and a half decades, he gained local fame as well as expanded his influence worldwide: he created a monastic order and trained disciples, went on teaching-tours, bought properties for his organization in various California locales, and initiated thousands into Kriya Yoga. By 1952, SRF had over 100 centers in both India and the US; today, they have groups in nearly every major American city. His "plain living and high thinking" principles attracted people from all backgrounds among his followers.He published his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, in 1946, to critical and commercial acclaim; since its first publishing, it has sold over four million copies, with Harper San Francisco listing it as one of the "100 best spiritual books of the 20th Century". Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had ordered 500 copies of the book for his own memorial, for each guest to be given a copy. The book has been regularly reprinted and is known as "the book that changed the lives of millions." A documentary about his life commissioned by the SRF, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, was released in 2014. He remains a leading figure in Western spirituality to this day; a biographer of Yogananda, Phillip Goldberg, considers him "the best known and most beloved of all Indian spiritual teachers who have come to the West". Source: Wikipedia (en)

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