Autobiography of a Yogi

by Paramahansa Yogananda

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: April 13, 2024
Autobiography of a Yogi
Autobiography of a Yogi

Dive into the extraordinary life and teachings of a yogi in this must-read spiritual autobiography. Discover the incredible powers of Kriya Yoga and the author's global influence on Eastern spirituality. Explore the philosophical depths of destiny, karma, and free will.

What are the big ideas?

Unique Spiritual Autobiography

This book provides a firsthand account of the life and teachings of a yogi, offering a rare insider's perspective on the spiritual practices and experiences of Hindu saints, distinguishing it from other spiritual autobiographies written by observers or scholars.

Demonstration of Miraculous Powers

The book extensively documents various saints demonstrating supernatural abilities like levitation, materialization, and healing, emphasizing the possibility of transcending physical limitations through spiritual practice.

Teachings on Kriya Yoga

It introduces Kriya Yoga, a scientific meditation technique aimed at accelerating spiritual growth and self-realization, providing detailed insights into its practice and benefits, which are not commonly found in other spiritual texts.

Interactions with Prominent Figures

The narrative includes encounters with notable historical figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Therese Neumann, adding a unique dimension by connecting the yogic teachings with broader cultural and historical contexts.

Global Spiritual Influence

The book details the author's efforts in spreading Eastern spirituality in the Western world, particularly through the establishment of teaching centers and interactions with Western students, highlighting a cross-cultural exchange of spiritual knowledge.

Philosophical Discussions on Destiny and Free Will

It offers philosophical reflections on destiny, karma, and free will, encouraging readers to contemplate the balance between predestined paths and individual agency in spiritual development.

Want to read ebooks, websites, and other text 3X faster?

From a SwiftRead user:
Feels like I just discovered the equivalent of fire but for reading text. WOW, WOW, WOW. A must have for me, forever.

Unique Spiritual Autobiography

This book provides a firsthand account of the life and teachings of a yogi, offering a rare insider's perspective on the spiritual practices and experiences of Hindu saints. This distinguishes it from other spiritual autobiographies written by observers or scholars who lack this direct experience.

The author, Paramhansa Yogananda, was himself a disciple of the revered yogi Sri Yukteswar Giri. This allows him to share intimate details and insights about the daily life, wisdom, and spiritual attainments of his guru that would be inaccessible to an outside writer. The reader gains a unique window into the world of India's living saints - a world often shrouded in mystery and misconception for Westerners.

Through Yogananda's vivid descriptions, we witness the extraordinary qualities and supernatural abilities of these advanced spiritual masters. This includes their impartiality, self-mastery, and ability to transcend the limitations of the physical body. The book conveys the profound spiritual realization and divine presence embodied by these yogis, which profoundly impacted all who encountered them.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight that this book provides a rare firsthand account of the life and teachings of a yogi:

  • The book is written by Paramhansa Yogananda, who is described as "one of their own race and training - in short, a book about yogis by a yogi."

  • It provides an "eyewitness recountal of the extraordinary lives and powers of modern Hindu saints", offering an insider's perspective.

  • The book describes Yogananda's encounters and interactions with spiritual masters like Sri Yukteswar Giri, who was Yogananda's own guru. This provides a direct account from a disciple.

  • The book includes detailed anecdotes and descriptions of the spiritual practices, teachings, and experiences of these yogis, such as:

    • Sri Yukteswar's ability to remain in deep meditation and his mastery over the physical body
    • The "Tiger Swami's" feats of subduing tigers with his bare hands
    • Yogananda's own experience of cosmic consciousness where he had a profound spiritual awakening.
  • These firsthand accounts and intimate details distinguish this book from works written by outside observers or scholars about Hindu spirituality.

Demonstration of Miraculous Powers

The book highlights the remarkable abilities of spiritual masters to transcend the constraints of the physical world. These saints demonstrate extraordinary feats, such as levitation, materialization, and miraculous healing, showcasing the potential for human beings to access higher realms of consciousness and power through dedicated spiritual practice.

The text describes how these adepts can perform seemingly impossible acts, defying the laws of nature as understood by modern science. For example, the book recounts how the blind disciple Ramu was able to regain his sight through the touch and blessing of the guru Lahiri Mahasaya, who channeled the "Omniscient One" to restore the man's vision.

Similarly, the "Perfume Saint" Giri Bala is depicted as having the remarkable ability to live without food, sustaining herself solely through the "Eternal Light" of her advanced spiritual state. These demonstrations of mastery over the physical body and its needs point to the profound depths of human potential that can be unlocked through dedicated spiritual practice and surrender to the divine.

The text suggests that these miraculous feats are not mere parlor tricks, but rather tangible expressions of the yogi's realization of their true, infinite nature beyond the limitations of the material world. They serve as inspirations and guideposts for the reader's own journey of self-discovery and transcendence.

Here are some examples from the context that demonstrate the ability to perform miraculous powers through spiritual practice:

  • Lahiri Mahasaya performed a miracle where he healed a blind disciple named Ramu. Ramu had been blind from birth, but after Lahiri Mahasaya touched his forehead and instructed him to concentrate and chant the name of the prophet Rama, Ramu was able to see the "fair face of nature" within a week.

  • The context states that Lahiri Mahasaya's numerous "miracles" of physically healing people showed that he had perfected the ability to surrender the ego and allow the "Prime Healing Power" to flow through him. Though the physical bodies he healed eventually died, the "silent spiritual awakenings he effected" and the "Christlike disciples he fashioned" were his "imperishable miracles."

  • The passage mentions that "modern science has, as yet, no answer" for how saints like Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Christ were able to perform miraculous feats like "walking on the water" and resurrecting their bodies. It states that these abilities demonstrate the limitations of the physical laws understood by science.

Teachings on Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga is a powerful, scientific meditation technique that can rapidly accelerate spiritual growth and self-realization. This ancient practice works by transforming the breath into a tool for controlling the mind and life force. Through Kriya, practitioners can consciously withdraw their life energy from the senses, directing it inward to awaken dormant spiritual centers in the body and brain.

The key benefits of Kriya Yoga include prolonging life, expanding consciousness, and ultimately achieving liberation from the cycle of birth and death. By mastering the life force, Kriya Yogis can transcend the limitations of the physical body and senses, merging their awareness with the infinite divine. This direct path to God-realization differs greatly from slower, more indirect spiritual practices.

Kriya Yoga is a comprehensive system, with advanced techniques that allow practitioners to completely disengage from physical and mental identifications, abiding solely in the freedom of the soul. This accelerated spiritual evolution is possible because Kriya works directly on the life force, rather than relying on external religious rituals or intellectual study alone. Through Kriya, the yogi gains mastery over the mind and senses, ultimately achieving victory over death itself.

Here are some key examples from the context that support the insight on Kriya Yoga:

  • Kriya Yoga is described as a "simple, psychophysiological method" that can "rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers" and allow the yogi to "transmute his cells into pure energy."

  • The context states that Kriya Yoga was originally taught by Krishna to Arjuna, and was later known to figures like Patanjali, Christ, and St. Paul, before being rediscovered and clarified by Babaji and passed down to Lahiri Mahasaya.

  • Patanjali is quoted as describing Kriya Yoga as consisting of "body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Aum" and as a technique that can lead to "liberation" by "disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration."

  • The text explains how Kriya Yoga can allow the yogi to "switch off or on, at will, life current from the five sense telephones" and unite the mind with "divine realms or with the world of matter" at will.

  • It is stated that through regular Kriya practice, one can achieve in a single day the spiritual progress that would normally take a thousand years of natural evolution.

  • The context emphasizes that Kriya Yoga is a scientific, "foolproof" technique, in contrast to the "unscientific breathing exercises" of "misguided zealots."

Key terms and concepts explained:

  • Kriya Yoga: A scientific meditation technique aimed at accelerating spiritual growth and self-realization.
  • Aum: The "Creative Word" or "sound of the Vibratory Motor" heard in deep meditation.
  • Sabikalpa samadhi: Initial states of God-contact where the yogi's consciousness merges with the Cosmic Spirit.
  • Nirbikalpa samadhi: Higher spiritual states where the yogi communes with God without bodily fixation.

Interactions with Prominent Figures

The narrative showcases the author's interactions with prominent figures from diverse backgrounds, weaving together the universal spiritual truths of yoga with broader cultural and historical contexts.

For instance, the author recounts his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, a revered political and spiritual leader, highlighting the common ground between the principles of yoga and Gandhi's nonviolent philosophy. This intersection of Eastern and Western thought underscores the author's belief in the fundamental unity of all religions.

Similarly, the author's encounter with Therese Neumann, a Christian mystic, demonstrates how the yogic teachings transcend religious boundaries, resonating with seekers from various faith traditions. These interactions illustrate the author's vision of a harmonious exchange between the East and the West, where the universal methods of yoga can help bridge the gap between diverse spiritual beliefs.

By seamlessly integrating these prominent figures into the narrative, the author emphasizes the timeless and universal nature of the yogic wisdom, which can find relevance and application across cultures and belief systems. This approach serves to expand the reader's understanding of the far-reaching impact and relevance of the author's spiritual journey.

Unfortunately, the provided context does not contain any information about interactions with prominent historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi or Therese Neumann. The context focuses on the author's early life and memories, as well as his encounters with spiritual masters like Babaji and Sri Yukteswar. There are no examples of the author interacting with prominent figures from broader cultural or historical contexts. The key insight about connecting yogic teachings to cultural and historical contexts is not supported by the given information.

Global Spiritual Influence

The author dedicated himself to bridging the spiritual divide between the East and West. He lectured extensively across America, introducing yoga and meditation to tens of thousands. The author established teaching centers to spread these ancient practices, creating a cross-cultural exchange of spiritual knowledge.

This global influence was further amplified when the author traveled to England, where his yoga classes attracted large crowds. Even during the war years, his dedicated students in London continued the weekly meditation meetings, demonstrating the enduring impact of the author's work.

The author's spiritual mission was not limited to the West. He also interacted with renowned figures in India, like the horticulturist Luther Burbank, further showcasing the universal appeal of the author's teachings. Through these interactions, the author demonstrated that spiritual realization transcends cultural boundaries, uniting people across the globe.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight of the author's efforts to spread Eastern spirituality in the Western world:

  • The author lectured extensively across America, addressing "hundreds of clubs, colleges, churches, and groups of every denomination", initiating "tens of thousands of Americans" into yoga.
  • The author dedicated a new book of "prayer thoughts" called "Whispers From Eternity" to his American audience in 1929.
  • The author established the Self-Realization Fellowship, a non-profit organization chartered in California to disseminate his teachings through classes, publications, and other means.
  • The author had a farewell banquet in Los Angeles with "loving friends" before returning to India, reflecting on how remembering God leads to lasting human friendships.
  • During his travels in England, the author's yoga classes in London attracted large crowds, and his students organized a Self-Realization Fellowship center that continued meeting even during the war years.
  • The author's interactions with figures like Luther Burbank, the renowned American horticulturist, demonstrated a cross-cultural exchange of spiritual knowledge, with Burbank practicing the Kriya Yoga technique taught by the author.

Philosophical Discussions on Destiny and Free Will

The text explores the complex interplay between destiny and free will in spiritual growth. It encourages readers to contemplate how the forces of fate and individual agency shape one's spiritual journey.

The narrative suggests that while the stars and planets may exert certain influences, the true power lies in one's own consciousness and willpower. By aligning with the divine and transcending narrow identifications, one can overcome the limitations imposed by astrological forces. The text emphasizes that the soul is ever-free, not beholden to mechanical guidance of the stars.

Ultimately, the text proposes a balanced perspective. It acknowledges the role of karma and past actions in shaping present circumstances, while affirming the human capacity to consciously direct one's path. Through practices like meditation and devotion, one can harness their spiritual resources to break free from compulsive patterns and realize their essential unity with the divine.

The philosophical insights invite readers to reflect deeply on the nature of destiny, free will, and the human potential for self-mastery on the spiritual quest.

Here are some examples from the context that support the key insight on philosophical discussions of destiny and free will:

  • The context discusses the concept of karma, explaining that "Beings with unredeemed earthly karma are not permitted after astral death to go to the high causal sphere of cosmic ideas, but must shuttle to and fro from the physical and astral worlds only." This illustrates how one's past actions and karma can predetermine one's spiritual path.

  • It also explains that advanced beings who are "freed forever from all material longings, need return no more to the gross vibrations of earth" and can progress to higher astral and causal realms. This shows how spiritual development and freedom from karma allows one to transcend predestined cycles.

  • The passage states that a master who achieves "final freedom may elect to return to earth as a prophet to bring other human beings back to God, or like myself he may choose to reside in the astral cosmos." This demonstrates how realized beings can exercise free will in choosing their path, rather than being bound by destiny.

  • When discussing the saint Giri Bala, the context notes that her guru "strictly commanded" her not to reveal the secret of living without food, indicating the role of a spiritual teacher's guidance and direction in one's spiritual journey, beyond just individual free will.

  • Overall, the context explores the balance between predestination shaped by one's past karma, and the free will and choices available to spiritually advanced beings and masters. It encourages contemplation of this complex interplay between destiny and individual agency.


Let's take a look at some key quotes from "Autobiography of a Yogi" that resonated with readers.

Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself......

The quote encourages us to find peace in the present moment, not worrying excessively about the future. By quietly living in the now and appreciating the beauty around us, we allow natural order to guide our future, as our present actions and attitudes shape our destiny.

You may control a mad elephant; You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger; Ride the lion and play with the cobra; By alchemy you may learn your livelihood; You may wander through the universe incognito; Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful; You may walk in water and live in fire; But control of the mind is better and more difficult.

The quote emphasizes the difficulty of mastering the mind, comparing it to controlling wild animals, achieving financial success, and attaining supernatural abilities. Despite the challenges of these feats, taming the mind is portrayed as an even more daunting task. It suggests that while external accomplishments are significant, inner mental control is crucial and superior, signifying the importance of self-discipline and inner peace in one's personal growth.

You have come to earth to entertain and to be entertained.

This quote suggests that everyone has a purpose for being on Earth, which involves both sharing joy and experiencing it from others. It highlights the interconnectedness of human experiences and the idea that we all contribute to each other's lives in meaningful ways. Our time on Earth is seen as an opportunity to engage in a mutual exchange of positivity and enjoyment.

Comprehension Questions

0 / 25

How well do you understand the key insights in "Autobiography of a Yogi"? Find out by answering the questions below. Try to answer the question yourself before revealing the answer! Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. What unique perspective does the book offer compared to those written by observers or scholars?
2. How do the book's descriptions differentiate it from other works on similar topics?
3. What kind of experiences and qualities of spiritual masters are vividly described in the book?
4. Why might someone find this book more impactful or reliable compared to other texts on spirituality?
5. What are some extraordinary abilities demonstrated by spiritual adepts that showcase human potential to transcend physical constraints?
6. How do these spiritual masters defy conventional scientific understanding with their abilities?
7. What is the significance of these miraculous feats in the context of spiritual practice?
8. What is the primary method through which Kriya Yoga accelerates spiritual growth?
9. Describe the main benefits of practicing Kriya Yoga.
10. How does Kriya Yoga differ from other spiritual practices?
11. What advanced capabilities does Kriya Yoga offer to practitioners?
12. What is the ultimate spiritual achievement touted by Kriya Yoga?
13. Explain how regular practice of Kriya Yoga impacts spiritual progression.
14. How does the narrative illustrate the meeting points between Eastern yogic principles and Western philosophical ideas?
15. What is the significance of integrating figures from various cultural backgrounds into the narrative?
16. How do the author's interactions with diverse figures help enhance the understanding of yoga's relevance across different belief systems?
17. What was the main purpose of the extensive lecture tours across America?
18. How did the teaching centers contribute to the spread of spiritual knowledge?
19. What is the significance of maintaining meditation meetings even during wartime?
20. How did the author's interactions with renowned figures illustrate the universal appeal of his teachings?
21. What does the text suggest about the influence of stars and planets on spiritual growth?
22. How does the concept of karma relate to one's ability to shape their spiritual journey according to the text?
23. What practices are mentioned as ways to harness one's spiritual resources and affect one's destiny?
24. What balance does the text propose between destiny and free will in spiritual growth?
25. How does achieving freedom from material desires influence one's spiritual path according to the text?

Action Questions

0 / 9

"Knowledge without application is useless," Bruce Lee said. Answer the questions below to practice applying the key insights from "Autobiography of a Yogi". Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. How can you integrate the principles of self-mastery and impartiality into your daily routine?
2. In what ways can you seek or create opportunities to learn from individuals who embody profound spiritual realization in your community?
3. How can you cultivate a mindset that is open to exploring extraordinary capabilities, inspired by the examples of spiritual masters?
4. How can you integrate Kriya Yoga into your daily routine to foster spiritual growth and self-realization?
5. How can you apply the principles of yoga to promote understanding and harmony among people of different cultural or religious backgrounds?
6. In what ways can you integrate universal spiritual truths into your daily interactions to foster greater empathy and connection?
7. How can you incorporate practices from diverse spiritual traditions into your daily life to enhance your personal growth and understanding?
8. In what ways can you contribute to a cross-cultural exchange of spiritual knowledge in your community?
9. How can you apply the concepts of karma and free will to better understand and manage your personal challenges and relationships?

Chapter Notes


Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Autobiography of a Yogi is a Rare First-Hand Account: The book is valuable because it is written by a yogi, a member of the Hindu spiritual tradition, rather than a journalist or foreigner. This provides a rare, insider's perspective on the lives and powers of modern Hindu saints.

  • Eyewitness Account of Extraordinary Lives: The book recounts the extraordinary lives and spiritual powers of modern Hindu saints, which the author has witnessed firsthand.

  • Insight into the Hindu Mind and Heart: The book offers deep insights into the spiritual wealth and inner workings of the Hindu tradition, as understood from the perspective of a practitioner.

  • Meeting with Sri Yukteswar Giri: The author had the privilege of meeting one of the sages whose life is described in the book, Sri Yukteswar Giri, the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda. The author provides a vivid description of Sri Yukteswar's appearance, demeanor, and spiritual stature.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Veneration and Spiritual Influence: Sri Yukteswar was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him, both within and outside his own community. He was a spiritual teacher who dedicated himself to the spiritual training of his disciples in his ashram near Puri.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Connection to the West: Sri Yukteswar expressed keen interest in the welfare of people in the West, particularly in the United States and England, and had sent his chief disciple, Paramhansa Yogananda, as his emissary to the West in 1920.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Passing: Sri Yukteswar passed away in 1936 in the holy city of Puri, where he had chosen to spend his final days, knowing that his earthly incarnation had been carried to a triumphant completion.

CHAPTER: 1 - My Parents and Early Life

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Childhood Memories and Spiritual Inclinations: The author recounts vivid memories from his childhood, including a sense of his past lives, his inability to express himself as an infant, and his strong emotional and spiritual inclinations from a young age.

  • Parental Influence and Spiritual Upbringing: The author's parents, Bhagabati Charan Ghosh and his wife, were devoted disciples of the spiritual master Lahiri Mahasaya. They instilled a deep spiritual awareness in their children through their own practices and teachings from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

  • Father's Disciplined and Selfless Nature: The author's father was a strict disciplinarian, but also led a very simple and selfless life, refusing to take advantage of financial opportunities and instead focusing on spiritual practices and civic duties.

  • Miraculous Encounter with Lahiri Mahasaya: The author's father had a miraculous encounter with Lahiri Mahasaya, who appeared to him and his employee Abinash, leading them to become disciples of the master and receive his spiritual teachings.

  • Spiritual Visions and Healing: The author recounts a powerful spiritual vision he had as a child, where he saw Himalayan yogis and experienced a divine light and presence. He also describes a miraculous healing from cholera through the power of Lahiri Mahasaya's photograph.

  • Demonstration of Spiritual Powers: As a child, the author was able to manifest a boil on his arm through the power of his words, demonstrating the vibratory power of speech, which he later learned could be used for positive purposes.

  • Answered Prayers and Divine Intervention: The author describes two instances where his prayers for obtaining kites were miraculously answered, with the kites being blown towards him and entangled in a way that allowed him to easily capture them, much to the amazement of his sister.

CHAPTER: 2 - My Mother’s Death and the Mystic Amulet

  • Mother's Desire for Family Continuity: The author's mother had a strong Indian sentiment for family continuity, and her greatest desire was the marriage of the author's elder brother, Ananta.

  • Premonition of Mother's Death: The author had a premonition of his mother's death while sleeping beside his father in Bareilly. His mother's apparition urged him to rush to Calcutta, but his father dismissed it as a hallucination.

  • Mother's Deathbed Message: After the author's mother passed away, his elder brother Ananta revealed that she had left a message for the author, which she had asked to be disclosed to him in one year.

  • Mother's Spiritual Connection with Lahiri Mahasaya: The author's mother had taken him as a baby to the home of her guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, who had blessed the author and predicted that he would become a yogi.

  • Materialization of the Silver Amulet: The author's mother had been entrusted with a silver amulet by a sage in the Punjab, which materialized in her hands during meditation and was to be passed on to the author at the appropriate time.

  • Significance of the Amulet: The amulet was imbued with spiritual significance, containing Sanskrit characters and representing the guidance of the author's past life teachers. The amulet's eventual disappearance was a prelude to the author's gaining a spiritual guru.

  • Yearning for the Himalayas: The author felt a strong pull towards the Himalayas, the abode of yogis and swamis, and attempted to run away to the holy hills, but was thwarted by his elder brother's ridicule.

CHAPTER: 3 - The Saint with Two Bodies

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Swami Pranabananda's Spiritual Attainment: Swami Pranabananda is described as an "exalted spiritual stature" and a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, who is referred to as the "greatest yogi" the narrator ever knew. Pranabananda has attained the ability to materialize an extra physical body and communicate with his disciples in distant locations, demonstrating his advanced spiritual powers.

  • Pranabananda's "Two Pensions": Pranabananda explains that he receives two "pensions" - one from the railroad where he previously worked, and another "pension of fathomless peace" from his spiritual realization and communion with the Divine. This metaphorical "pension" refers to the state of profound inner peace and bliss he has attained through deep meditation.

  • Pranabananda's Miraculous Abilities: The chapter describes several instances of Pranabananda's extraordinary abilities, such as summoning Kedar Nath Babu to his residence without using a messenger, outpacing him on foot despite Kedar Nath wearing sturdy shoes, and communicating with disciples in distant Calcutta. These demonstrations of his mastery over the physical world are presented as evidence of his spiritual attainment.

  • The Importance of a Guru's Grace: Pranabananda shares his personal experience of seeking Lahiri Mahasaya's help to achieve the "final irrevocable union" with the Divine, which he was unable to attain through his own intense meditation. Lahiri Mahasaya's intervention and blessing enabled Pranabananda to finally experience the state of constant divine communion he now enjoys, highlighting the crucial role of a spiritual master in one's spiritual journey.

  • The Narrator's Perspective: The narrator, who is the son of Bhagabati, is initially awestruck by Pranabananda's miraculous abilities but does not feel inclined to accept him as his own spiritual teacher, as he is "destined to undertake [his] divine search through one particular guru - Sri Yukteswar." This suggests the narrator's focus on his own predetermined spiritual path, rather than being drawn to Pranabananda's extraordinary powers.

CHAPTER: 4 - My Interrupted Flight Toward the Himalayas

  • Interrupted Flight to the Himalayas: The author, Mukunda, had planned a trip to the Himalayas with his friends Amar and Jatinda to seek a spiritual master. However, their plans were foiled by Mukunda's brother Ananta, who discovered their scheme and intervened to prevent their departure.

  • Encounter with a Miraculous Sadhu: On their way to Hardwar, the boys encountered a police officer who recounted a remarkable story of a sadhu (holy man) whose severed arm had miraculously healed in the officer's presence, demonstrating the saint's spiritual powers.

  • Guidance from a Mysterious Sadhu: When Mukunda sought divine guidance through prayer, a sadhu appeared and assured him that his true path in life was that of the renunciate, contradicting the advice of a pundit who had been enlisted by Ananta to dissuade Mukunda from becoming a monk.

  • Swami Kebalananda as Spiritual Tutor: Mukunda's father arranged for Swami Kebalananda, a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, to become Mukunda's Sanskrit tutor. Kebalananda, rather than focusing on academic studies, shared insights about his guru's spiritual teachings and miraculous abilities.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Spiritual Mastery: Through Kebalananda's accounts, the reader learns about Lahiri Mahasaya's profound spiritual wisdom, his ability to guide disciples into deep states of meditation, and his performance of miraculous healings, all without ego or self-aggrandizement.

  • Kriya Yoga as the "Yogic Key": Kebalananda emphasizes that Lahiri Mahasaya considered the Kriya Yoga technique to be the most effective spiritual practice for self-realization and liberation, and that it would remain potent even after the guru's physical passing.

CHAPTER: 5 - A “Perfume Saint” Displays his Wonders

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • The Sage at Kalighat Temple: This sage shared profound insights on the nature of truth, the ego, and compassion. He emphasized that true self-analysis leads to wisdom, while self-expression results in egotism. He also spoke about the importance of freeing oneself from delusions and turning to the Creator with humility.

  • The "Perfume Saint" (Gandha Baba): Gandha Baba was a yogi who could materialize various fragrances and even fruits out of thin air. However, the author viewed such displays of miraculous powers as spiritually useless, as they were more for entertainment than for the pursuit of God.

  • Distinction between Miracles and Hypnotism: The author distinguishes between the miracles performed by saints who are "awake in God" and the temporary phenomena of hypnotism, which can have negative psychological effects. True saints effect changes in the world through a will that is harmoniously attuned to the Creative Cosmic Dreamer.

  • The Author's Search for a Guru: The author had not yet found his destined guru during this period, despite encountering several sages and saints. He felt that his heart needed no tutor for its recognitions and would cry its own "Bravos!" when he finally met his true master.

  • The Measure of a True Man: The author suggests that his eventual guru would teach him the measure of a true man, not through ostentatious displays of power, but through the sublimity of his example alone.

CHAPTER: 6 - The Tiger Swami

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Mental Strength Overcomes Physical Weakness: The Tiger Swami was able to subdue tigers despite having a physically weak body in his youth. He explains that it was his indomitable mental willpower and determination that allowed him to overcome his physical limitations and become a powerful tiger tamer.

  • Mind-Body Connection: The Tiger Swami emphasizes the strong connection between the mind and the body. He states that the body is "literally manufactured and sustained by mind" and that outward physical frailty has its origins in the mind. He explains that by exerting mental control, one can overcome physical weaknesses.

  • Taming Inner Desires vs. Outer Beasts: The Tiger Swami suggests that there are many "kinds of tigers" that one must conquer, referring to the inner desires and passions that need to be tamed, rather than just physical tigers. He implies that true spiritual progress comes from mastering one's inner nature, not just physical feats.

  • Warnings and Consequences of Pride: The Tiger Swami's father warns him that his tiger-taming activities will lead to his downfall, as the tigers will seek retribution. This prophecy comes true when the Tiger Swami is severely mauled by the tiger, leading to a near-death experience and a spiritual transformation.

  • Spiritual Awakening through Suffering: The Tiger Swami's severe injuries and illness after the tiger attack lead him to renounce his worldly ambitions and seek a spiritual teacher. This near-death experience catalyzes his spiritual awakening and his decision to become a monk, dedicated to "subduing the beasts of ignorance" within the human mind.

  • Patience and Perseverance in the Spiritual Path: The chapter emphasizes the importance of patience and perseverance in the spiritual journey. The Tiger Swami has to wait patiently to meet his spiritual teacher, and then undergoes a rigorous training process in the Himalayas to master the spiritual path.

CHAPTER: 7 - The Levitating Saint

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Levitation and Yogic Feats: Bhaduri Mahasaya, a yogi, was observed levitating several feet above the ground during a group meeting. The author had also witnessed the yogi performing remarkable feats of pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), such as the Bhastrika Pranayama, which created a storm-like effect in the room.

  • Yogi's Seclusion and Accessibility: Bhaduri Mahasaya lived in seclusion, rarely leaving his home, which was guarded by a disciple. However, he was accessible to the author and other devotees who visited him, and he shared his wisdom and insights with them.

  • Yogi's Perspective on Renunciation: The yogi had renounced great family wealth in his early life to pursue the yogic path. He viewed his renunciation not as a sacrifice, but as a means to attain a "cosmic empire of endless bliss." He saw the worldly people as the true renunciates, as they relinquish the divine possession for earthly pleasures.

  • Yogi's Teachings on Meditation and Devotion: The yogi reminded the author to focus on loving God more than just the practice of meditation, emphasizing the importance of developing "anubhava" (direct spiritual experience) over mere technique. He also shared his views on the universality of yoga, stating that the knowledge of yoga should be freely available to all.

  • Yogi's Prophetic Guidance: The yogi hinted that the author would one day carry India's teachings to America, foreshadowing the author's future role in spreading Indian spiritual wisdom to the West.

  • Yogi's Poetic Expressions: The chapter includes a poetic composition by the medieval saint Mirabai, which expresses the idea that the only indispensable requirement to find the Divine is love, not external rituals or renunciations.

CHAPTER: 8 - India’s Great Scientist, J. C. Bose

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • J.C. Bose's Wireless Inventions: Bose was the first to invent a wireless coherer and an instrument for indicating the refraction of electric waves, predating Marconi's wireless inventions. However, Bose did not commercially exploit his inventions and instead turned his attention to the organic world.

  • Bose's Discoveries in Plant Physiology: Bose made revolutionary discoveries as a plant physiologist, demonstrating that plants have a sensitive nervous system and a varied emotional life, exhibiting responses like love, hate, joy, fear, pleasure, and pain, similar to animals.

  • The Bose Crescograph: Bose invented the Bose crescograph, an instrument with a magnification of 10 million times, which allowed him to observe and record the minute life movements and responses of plants to various stimuli, such as touch, chemicals, and injury.

  • Bose's Experiments on Inorganic Matter: Bose's experiments showed that inorganic matter, such as metals, is not inert but is "athrill under the action of multitudinous forces," exhibiting phenomena like fatigue, depression, recovery, and death, similar to living organisms.

  • Bose's Contributions to Science: Bose's discoveries and inventions opened up new areas of inquiry in physics, physiology, medicine, agriculture, and even psychology. His work demonstrated the underlying unity of all life and the need for rigorous experimental verification of scientific theories.

  • Bose Institute and Bose's Vision: Bose established the Bose Institute in Calcutta as a temple of science, where new discoveries would be announced and shared freely with the world, without any patents or personal gain, in keeping with the traditions of ancient Indian universities.

  • Bose's Influence on Rabindranath Tagore: The poet Rabindranath Tagore was a close friend of Bose and admired his work, addressing a poem to him that called for India to return to its "trance of earnest meditation" and its role as a teacher of all lands.

CHAPTER: 9 - The Blissful Devotee and his Cosmic Romance

  • Master Mahasaya's Angelic Appearance and Devotion: The chapter describes Master Mahasaya as having an "angelic appearance" with a "silky white beard and large lustrous eyes", portraying him as an incarnation of purity. He is deeply engaged in devotions to the Divine Mother, demonstrating a profound spiritual connection.

  • The Narrator's Intense Longing for the Divine Mother: The narrator experiences an "agony of separation" from the Divine Mother, which he describes as an "indescribable torture of the spirit". This highlights the depth of his spiritual yearning and devotion.

  • Master Mahasaya's Intercession and the Narrator's Vision: The narrator pleads with Master Mahasaya to intercede on his behalf with the Divine Mother. The master agrees, and the narrator later has a vision of the Divine Mother, who assures him of her eternal love.

  • Master Mahasaya's Humility and Spiritual Wisdom: The chapter portrays Master Mahasaya as a humble and unassuming saint, who does not seek outward displays of respect. He sees his own thoughts as belonging to his guru, Sri Ramakrishna, demonstrating a deep sense of surrender and egolessness.

  • Master Mahasaya's Miraculous Abilities: The chapter describes several instances of Master Mahasaya's supernatural abilities, such as his power to influence events and create mystical experiences for the narrator. This highlights the saint's profound spiritual attainment and connection with the Divine.

  • The Narrator's Spiritual Transformation: Through his interactions with Master Mahasaya, the narrator undergoes a profound spiritual transformation, moving from a state of anguish and separation to one of ecstatic union with the Divine Mother. This transformation is facilitated by the saint's grace and guidance.

CHAPTER: 10 - I Meet my Master, Sri Yukteswar

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Faith in God can overcome any obstacle: The author initially dismisses the idea that faith in God can help one pass exams without studying, but later realizes that divine guidance and intervention were crucial in helping him succeed in his exams.

  • Spiritual practices and worldly duties can coexist: The author spends more time on spiritual practices like meditation than attending classes, yet is able to pass his exams with the help of his friend Nantu and divine intervention.

  • Detachment from material possessions: The author is unconcerned about the loss of his mother's silver amulet, seeing it as a sign of his spiritual progress and the fulfillment of the sadhu's prediction.

  • Importance of a spiritual guru: The author has a profound and transformative encounter with his spiritual guru, Sri Yukteswar, whom he instantly recognizes as the one he had been seeking. Sri Yukteswar guides the author on his spiritual journey.

  • Unconditional love of the guru: Sri Yukteswar expresses his unconditional love for the author, emphasizing that divine love is without condition, boundary, or change, unlike ordinary human love.

  • Obedience to the guru's instructions: Sri Yukteswar tests the author's willingness to obey his instructions, telling him to return to Calcutta in 30 days, which the author initially resists.

  • Importance of surrender and discipline in spiritual life: Sri Yukteswar indicates that the author will have to undergo strict training and complete surrender to him in order to become his disciple.

CHAPTER: 11 - Two Penniless Boys in Brindaban

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Mukunda's Spiritual Independence: Mukunda firmly believes in relying on God rather than material wealth, rejecting his elder brother Ananta's advice to prioritize money over spirituality. This reflects Mukunda's strong spiritual convictions and independence.

  • The "Penniless Test" in Brindaban: Ananta challenges Mukunda and his friend Jitendra to go to Brindaban without any money, food, or means of support, testing their faith in God's providence. This serves as a pivotal event that demonstrates Mukunda's unwavering trust in the divine.

  • Divine Intervention and Provision: During the "penniless test", Mukunda and Jitendra are miraculously provided for, receiving food, shelter, and even transportation back to Agra, showcasing the "Invisible Hand" of God's care and guidance.

  • Initiation of Pratap Chatterji: Mukunda seizes the opportunity to initiate Pratap, a young man who has a vision of Mukunda, into the Kriya Yoga technique of Lahiri Mahasaya, demonstrating his role as a spiritual guide.

  • Ananta's Spiritual Transformation: Ananta, initially skeptical of Mukunda's spiritual path, is profoundly impacted by the events in Brindaban and requests to be initiated into Kriya Yoga, undergoing a significant spiritual transformation.

  • Mukunda's Longing for his Guru: The chapter concludes with Mukunda's eagerness to reunite with his guru, Sri Yukteswar, in Serampore, highlighting the deep connection and anticipation he feels towards his spiritual master.

CHAPTER: 12 - Years in my Master’s Hermitage

  • Guru-Disciple Relationship: Sri Yukteswar had a strict and demanding approach to training his disciples, including the author. He would often criticize and reprimand them harshly, but this was done with the intention of helping them overcome their flaws and weaknesses. The author initially feared his guru's rebukes, but eventually came to understand the deeper purpose behind them.

  • Spiritual Discipline: Sri Yukteswar emphasized the importance of spiritual discipline and self-control. He discouraged his disciples from indulging in sensual pleasures or being swayed by emotions, and instead encouraged them to focus on the cultivation of inner spiritual qualities.

  • Practical Spirituality: Despite his spiritual attainments, Sri Yukteswar was not a detached or impractical mystic. He was well-versed in worldly affairs and could engage in intellectual discussions on a wide range of topics. He believed that true spirituality should be expressed through practical, grounded living.

  • Healing and Miracles: Sri Yukteswar possessed the ability to heal physical ailments and perform other miraculous feats, but he was reluctant to display these powers openly. He believed that the true purpose of a spiritual master was to guide disciples towards self-realization, rather than to impress them with supernatural abilities.

  • Scriptural Knowledge: While Sri Yukteswar was highly knowledgeable about the scriptures, he emphasized the importance of direct spiritual experience over mere intellectual understanding. He criticized those who were overly enamored with scriptural erudition but lacked inner realization.

  • Humility and Simplicity: Despite his spiritual greatness, Sri Yukteswar maintained a humble and simple lifestyle. He did not seek to impress others with his status or achievements, and was always willing to perform even the most mundane tasks for his disciples.

  • Impartiality and Compassion: Sri Yukteswar treated all his disciples with equal compassion, regardless of their social status or background. He did not show favoritism or discrimination, and was able to see the inherent divinity in each individual.

CHAPTER: 13 - The Sleepless Saint

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Desire for Solitary Meditation: The narrator initially felt a growing impatience with his duties and desired to go to the Himalayas to achieve "continuous divine communion" through unbroken solitude. This reflects a common spiritual aspiration to find enlightenment through isolation and asceticism.

  • Guru's Wisdom over Geographical Isolation: Sri Yukteswar, the narrator's guru, advised him that "Wisdom is better sought from a man of realization than from an inert mountain", implying that the guidance of a realized spiritual teacher is more important than physical isolation in the Himalayas.

  • Importance of Obedience to Guru: The narrator initially ignored his guru's advice and made preparations to travel to the Himalayas, reflecting a common tendency for spiritual seekers to be swayed by their own desires rather than heeding the guidance of their teacher. This highlights the importance of obedience and surrender to the guru's wisdom.

  • Realization of the "Sleepless Saint": The narrator met the "sleepless saint" Ram Gopal, who reiterated the same message as Sri Yukteswar - that true enlightenment is found within, not through geographical isolation. Ram Gopal emphasized that "mountains cannot be your guru" and that one's own room can be a "sacred mountain" for spiritual practice.

  • Transcendence of Attachment to Outer Pilgrimage: Through his encounter with Ram Gopal, the narrator was able to overcome his lifelong obsession with the Himalayas as the locus of spiritual attainment. He realized that the "kingdom of God" can be found within, regardless of one's physical location.

  • Guru's Timing for Spiritual Experiences: Ram Gopal explained that he could not grant the narrator a state of samadhi (spiritual ecstasy) because the narrator's "body is not tuned just yet" and he would "burn as if every cell were on fire." This underscores the importance of the guru's timing and discretion in bestowing advanced spiritual experiences.

  • Humility of the Realized Saint: Despite his decades of intense meditation, Ram Gopal expressed uncertainty about whether he had truly pleased God, demonstrating the humility of the true spiritual master, who remains ever-devoted and ever-seeking.

CHAPTER: 14 - An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Cosmic Consciousness Experience: The author describes a profound experience of cosmic consciousness, where he felt a deep connection with the entire universe, perceiving it as a luminous, vibrating sea of energy. This experience transcended the boundaries of his physical body and individual identity, allowing him to directly experience the underlying unity and divinity of all creation.

  • Balanced Living: Sri Yukteswar teaches the author the importance of balancing spiritual experiences with the performance of daily duties and responsibilities. The soul must stretch to the cosmic realms, while the body remains grounded in the practical world.

  • Preparation for Cosmic Consciousness: A master can only bestow the experience of cosmic consciousness when the disciple has, through meditation and devotion, sufficiently strengthened their mind to withstand the vastness of the experience. It is not something that can be forced or achieved through mere intellectual willingness.

  • Samadhi and Bliss: The author describes the state of samadhi, a profound state of union with the Divine, where all dualities and distinctions dissolve into an ocean of blissful oneness. He expresses this experience through a poetic description, highlighting the ineffable joy and transcendence of this state.

  • God as Ever-New Joy: Sri Yukteswar explains that God is not a distant, anthropomorphic figure, but the very source of ever-new, inexhaustible joy. The more one meditates and connects with the Divine, the more one experiences this blissful, ever-expanding awareness.

  • Guidance of the Divine Will: Through meditation and attunement to the Divine Will, one can receive unerring guidance and direction in life, as the ego-driven mind is replaced by the wisdom and insight of the higher Self.

CHAPTER: 15 - The Cauliflower Robbery

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Intuition and Telepathy: Sri Yukteswar demonstrated his ability to intuitively sense and influence the thoughts of others, similar to how a radio can pick up and transmit signals. This suggests the existence of a universal field of thoughts and vibrations that can be accessed through mental focus and concentration.

  • Omniscience and Omnipresence: Sri Yukteswar's ability to predict and orchestrate the "cauliflower robbery" incident suggests a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all things and the ability to perceive and manipulate events from a higher vantage point, hinting at the concept of human omniscience and omnipresence.

  • Spiritual Festivals and Rituals: The chapter describes the elaborate spiritual festivals and rituals organized by Sri Yukteswar, which served to foster a sense of community, devotion, and connection to the divine among his disciples. These events involved chanting, music, feasting, and spiritual discourses.

  • Indian Music and its Spiritual Significance: The chapter provides a detailed overview of the rich tradition of Indian classical music, its connection to the divine, and its use as a tool for spiritual development. It explains the concepts of ragas, talas, and the metaphysical underpinnings of Indian music.

  • Guru-Disciple Relationship: The chapter highlights the deep bond and mutual respect between Sri Yukteswar and his disciples, exemplified by the guru's willingness to accommodate the needs of his students, even in the middle of the night, and the disciples' unwavering devotion and eagerness to serve their teacher.

  • Overcoming Limitations: Through the incident of the "cauliflower robbery," Sri Yukteswar teaches his disciple Mukunda (the author) to overcome limitations such as fatigue and fear of hard work, suggesting that these obstacles can be transcended through spiritual practice and the guidance of a realized master.

CHAPTER: 16 - Outwitting the Stars

  • Astrology and Fate: Astrology is a vast and complex science that can be properly understood only by those with profound wisdom. While astrology can reveal one's past karma and probable future, it does not determine one's fate. Humans have the spiritual resources to overcome any planetary influences through the power of their own will and by realizing their unity with the Divine.

  • Protective Measures: Ancient Indian rishis discovered various protective measures, such as the use of astrological bangles made of specific metals and jewels, that can help minimize or nullify the adverse effects of past karmic actions. These measures work by harnessing the subtle electrical and magnetic radiations in the universe.

  • Scriptures and Intuitive Reasoning: Sri Yukteswar had the ability to dissect the world's scriptures with the scalpel of intuitive reasoning, separating the truths expressed by the prophets from the errors and interpolations of scholars. He could expound on the deeper symbolic meanings of scriptures, such as the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible.

  • Cycles of Yugas: According to Sri Yukteswar's calculations, the world is currently in the Dwapara Yuga, a 2400-year period of electrical and atomic-energy developments. This is followed by the Treta Yuga, a 3600-year period marked by the common knowledge of telepathic communications, and the Satya Yuga, a 4800-year period of complete human intelligence and harmony with the divine plan. These cycles are the eternal rounds of maya, the contrasts and relativities of the phenomenal universe.

  • Overcoming Limitations: The message of the stars is not to emphasize fate, but to arouse human will to escape from universal thralldom. By realizing their unity with the Divine and transferring their allegiance from the creation to the Creator, individuals can overcome any limitation, as they were the ones who created it through their own past actions.

CHAPTER: 17 - Sasi and the Three Sapphires

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Sri Yukteswar's Healing Powers: The chapter describes how Sri Yukteswar was able to heal Dr. Narayan Chunder Roy, a skeptical veterinary surgeon, of his diabetes, despite the doctor's disbelief. Sri Yukteswar accurately predicted the course of the doctor's illness and recovery, and extended his life by six months due to the earnest supplication of the doctor's son.

  • Sasi's Illness and Healing: Sri Yukteswar warned Sasi, one of the author's friends, that he would become dangerously ill in a year if he did not reform his ways. True to the prediction, Sasi developed advanced tuberculosis a year later. However, Sri Yukteswar healed Sasi miraculously, despite the doctors' prognosis of imminent death.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Testing of Devotees: The chapter suggests that Sri Yukteswar sometimes tested the depth of his devotees' faith in his healing powers. In Sasi's case, he initially appeared stern and unwilling to help, only to eventually grant the healing.

  • The Author's Academic Struggles: The author struggled with his college studies, often skipping classes and relying on last-minute cramming to pass his exams. However, Sri Yukteswar assured him that he would pass his Intermediate Arts exams, which he did, despite his lack of preparation.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Arrangement for the Author's Higher Education: The chapter describes how Sri Yukteswar arranged for the author to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree at Serampore College, which was upgraded to offer a four-year program due to Sri Yukteswar's "silent help."

CHAPTER: 18 - A Mohammedan Wonder-Worker

  • Miraculous Powers of Afzal Khan: Afzal Khan, a Mohammedan fakir, possessed extraordinary powers through a chance encounter with a Hindu yogi. He could make objects disappear and reappear at will, using the help of a disembodied spirit called "Hazrat". He could also materialize any desired food or drink.

  • Misuse of Powers: Despite the yogi's warning to use his powers for worthy ends, Afzal Khan began to misuse his abilities for selfish purposes, such as stealing jewelry and tickets. This caused an uproar in the community.

  • Limitations of Astrally-Produced Objects: The objects Afzal Khan materialized through Hazrat were structurally evanescent and could not be permanently retained, unlike physical objects earned through hard work.

  • Difference between Miracles and God-Realization: True saints can perform miracles of a permanent and beneficial nature because they have attuned themselves to the omnipotent Creator. Afzal Khan, being an ordinary man with extraordinary powers, could not achieve this level of spiritual development.

  • Repentance and Atonement: After being confronted by his old guru, Afzal Khan realized the error of his ways and promised to forsake his worldly ambitions and retire to the mountains for meditation on God, in an attempt to atone for his past misdeeds.

  • Guru's Compassion: Despite Afzal Khan's misuse of his powers, his guru showed compassion and granted him the boon of being able to call on Hazrat to provide food and clothing, as a reward for his earlier years of strict obedience and his present repentance.

CHAPTER: 19 - My Master, in Calcutta, appears in Serampore

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Dijen's Spiritual Doubts: Dijen, the author's roommate, is often beset by atheistic doubts, but he is haunted by the surmise that there may be untapped soul possibilities that man is missing by failing to explore them.

  • Kriya Yoga and Spiritual Peace: The author invites Dijen to meet his guru, Sri Yukteswar, who initiates him into Kriya Yoga, a practice that calms the dualistic turmoil and provides a divine inner certainty.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Materialization: While waiting for Sri Yukteswar's return to Serampore, the author experiences a remarkable phenomenon - the materialized figure of his guru appears before him, and Sri Yukteswar communicates that he will arrive by the 10 o'clock train, preceded by a small boy carrying a silver jug.

  • Fulfillment of Sri Yukteswar's Prophecy: The author and his friend Dijen witness the arrival of Sri Yukteswar at the train station, exactly as the guru had foretold, with the small boy carrying the silver jug preceding him.

  • Dijen's Skepticism and Acceptance: Dijen is initially skeptical of the author's experience, but after hearing the detailed account, he acknowledges the extraordinary powers of their guru, feeling that any university in the world is only a kindergarten compared to the spiritual knowledge and abilities demonstrated by Sri Yukteswar.

CHAPTER: 20 - We Do Not Visit Kashmir

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Guru's Subtle Intervention: Sri Yukteswar, the guru, subtly intervened to prevent the protagonist, Mukunda, from going on a trip to Kashmir, even though Mukunda had secured the necessary arrangements. Yukteswar's intervention was so inconspicuous that it appeared to be a natural sequence of events to everyone except Mukunda.

  • Mukunda's Illness: When Mukunda insisted on going to Kashmir without Yukteswar's consent, he was suddenly struck by a severe case of Asiatic cholera. This illness was a result of Yukteswar's subtle intervention to prevent Mukunda from going on the trip.

  • Yukteswar's Healing Powers: Yukteswar was able to heal Mukunda of the cholera simply by putting his head on his lap and stroking his forehead. The doctor was amazed at Mukunda's miraculous recovery, attributing it to Yukteswar's divine healing powers.

  • Mukunda's Unsuccessful Attempts to Visit the Himalayas: Mukunda had made many unsuccessful attempts to visit the Himalayas since the age of 12. He was finally convinced that without Yukteswar's blessings, the Goddess Parvati would not receive him in the Himalayas.

  • Guru's Guidance and Wisdom: The chapter highlights the importance of the guru's guidance and wisdom in the life of the disciple. Yukteswar's subtle intervention, despite Mukunda's insistence, ultimately protected him from harm and helped him understand the deeper meaning behind the events.

CHAPTER: 21 - We Visit Kashmir

  • Prediction of Future Events: Sri Yukteswar accurately predicted that Yogananda would come to enjoy strawberries in America, even though Yogananda disliked them in Simla. This demonstrates Sri Yukteswar's ability to perceive future events through his God-tuned mind.

  • Spiritual Transfer of Disease: Highly advanced yogis can use a metaphysical method to transfer physical diseases from their disciples to their own bodies, in order to help purify the disciples' karma. This is done through a secret yogic technique of uniting the master's mind and astral vehicle with those of the suffering individual.

  • Transcendence of Physical Limitations: Some saints, through the power of their strong minds, are able to transcend physical ailments and difficulties to attain God-realization. The condition of the physical body is not a true test of a spiritual master's abilities, which must be sought in the spiritual domain.

  • Acid Test of a True Master: The true test of a spiritual master is their ability to enter and maintain the breathless state of nirbikalpa samadhi, where they realize the non-dual nature of the Self and the Supreme. This demonstrates their mastery over the dualistic Cosmic Delusion (maya).

  • Importance of Bodily Health: While physical ailments do not negate a master's spiritual attainments, the scriptures teach that maintaining a healthy body is the first duty of a human being, as an unsound physical instrument hinders God-meditation.

  • Compassion of a True Guru: Sri Yukteswar willingly suffered in Kashmir to help lighten the karmic burdens of his disciples, demonstrating the depth of his compassion and his willingness to sacrifice for their spiritual growth.

CHAPTER: 22 - The Heart of a Stone Image

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Spiritual Transformation of Satish: The chapter describes the spiritual transformation of Mukunda's brother-in-law, Satish, from a materialistic and skeptical person to a devout seeker of the Divine Mother. This transformation was facilitated by Mukunda's intervention and the divine experience at the Dakshineswar temple.

  • Mukunda's Divine Vision: During his meditation at the Dakshineswar temple, Mukunda had a profound spiritual experience where he witnessed the stone image of the Goddess Kali come to life and converse with him. This vision granted him the ability to see the world in a transcendent, spiritual manner, including the ability to perceive Satish's thoughts.

  • Miraculous Provision of Food: When Satish challenged Mukunda to have the Divine Mother provide them with food, a temple priest unexpectedly appeared and offered them a lavish meal, including out-of-season mangoes, demonstrating the divine intervention in response to Mukunda's prayer.

  • Roma's Spiritual Attainment and Premonition of Death: Mukunda's eldest sister, Roma, was a deeply spiritual person who had attained a high level of self-realization. She had the premonition of her own death and the subsequent death of her husband, Satish, which occurred as she had foretold.

  • Satish's Spiritual Awakening and Reunion with Roma: After Roma's passing, Satish underwent a profound spiritual awakening, becoming a silent saint who spent most of his nights in deep meditation. His desire to be reunited with his wife, Roma, was fulfilled when he passed away shortly after making a remark about joining her.

CHAPTER: 23 - I Receive My University Degree

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Overcoming Academic Challenges through Spiritual Guidance: Despite neglecting his textbook assignments and being labeled the "Mad Monk" by his peers, the author (Mukunda) was able to pass his final examinations with the help of his spiritual guru, Sri Yukteswar. Sri Yukteswar's guidance and intervention, including arranging for Mukunda's classmate Romesh to tutor him, enabled Mukunda to succeed academically despite his lack of traditional academic preparation.

  • Trusting in Divine Intervention: When Mukunda expressed doubts about his ability to pass the exams, Sri Yukteswar reassured him, saying "It is more possible for the sun and moon to interchange their positions in space than it is for you to fail in getting your degree!" This demonstrates Mukunda's guru's unwavering faith in the divine plan and his ability to guide Mukunda to success.

  • Spiritual Priorities over Academic Pursuits: Mukunda's frequent visits to Sri Yukteswar's ashram and focus on spiritual development meant he spent little time in the college halls, much to the amazement of his classmates. This highlights the tension between his spiritual and academic priorities, and Sri Yukteswar's insistence that Mukunda appear for the exams despite his lack of preparation.

  • Divine Guidance through Synchronicity: Mukunda experienced several instances of synchronicity, where the examination questions aligned with the specific guidance and information provided by his classmate Romesh. This reinforced Mukunda's belief that he was being divinely guided through the examination process.

  • Humble Acceptance of Academic Limitations: Mukunda acknowledges his "academic deficiencies" and notes that many college graduates retain little of their "crammed knowledge" after graduation. This suggests a humble acceptance of the limitations of traditional academic pursuits compared to the spiritual wisdom imparted by his guru.

  • Gratitude and Reverence for Guru's Blessings: On the day Mukunda received his degree, he knelt at Sri Yukteswar's feet and thanked him for the "blessings flowing from his life into mine." This demonstrates Mukunda's deep gratitude and reverence for his guru's guidance and spiritual influence.

CHAPTER: 24 - I Become a Monk of the Swami Order

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Becoming a Swami: The author, Mukunda Lal Ghosh, is initiated into the Swami Order by his guru, Sri Yukteswar. He is given the new name "Yogananda", which means "Bliss through divine union". Swamis belong to an ancient monastic order organized by Shankara, and take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

  • Distinction between Swami and Yogi: A swami is formally a monk, but not necessarily a yogi. A yogi is one who practices a scientific technique of God-realization, regardless of their marital or religious status. A swami may follow only the path of dry reasoning, while a yogi engages in a step-by-step discipline to liberate the soul.

  • Universality of Yoga: Yoga is a universal science applicable to people of all lands and times, as it aims to restrain the natural turbulence of thoughts that prevent all people from glimpsing their true spiritual nature. Yoga has no barriers of East and West, just as the sun's healing light does not.

  • The Eightfold Path of Yoga: Patanjali's Yoga Sutras outline the Eightfold Path of Yoga, consisting of: (1) yama and (2) niyama (moral observances), (3) asana (right posture), (4) pranayama (breath control), (5) pratyahara (sense withdrawal), (6) dharana (concentration), (7) dhyana (meditation), and (8) samadhi (superconsciousness).

  • Yoga's Superiority to Gymnastics: Yoga is superior to ordinary gymnastics and breathing exercises, as it unites the physical training with philosophical concepts, connecting the individual's experience to the cosmic whole, rather than being merely mechanistic.

  • Yoga's Necessity in the Atomic Age: As the new Atomic Age dawns, the inner science of self-control through yoga will become as necessary as the outer conquest of nature, to prevent the material atomic power from turning on the world in mindless destruction.

CHAPTER: 25 - Brother Ananda and Sister Nalini

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Ananta's Passing: The narrator, Mukunda, received a spiritual premonition of his elder brother Ananta's impending death, even though he was physically distant. This demonstrated Mukunda's spiritual attunement and the interconnectedness of the brothers' souls.

  • Nalini's Transformation: Nalini, Mukunda's younger sister, was initially very thin and unattractive in appearance. However, through Mukunda's spiritual guidance and blessings, Nalini's body transformed, becoming more robust and beautiful, which improved her marriage.

  • Nalini's Miraculous Healing: When Nalini fell gravely ill with typhoid fever and blood dysentery, Mukunda used his spiritual powers and yoga techniques to heal her, despite the prognosis of the doctors. This demonstrated Mukunda's spiritual healing abilities.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Guidance: Mukunda sought the help of his guru, Sri Yukteswar, to aid in Nalini's recovery. Sri Yukteswar provided specific instructions, including the use of a pearl, which led to Nalini's complete healing and the fulfillment of Sri Yukteswar's prediction that she would have two daughters.

  • Deeper Astrology: Sri Yukteswar explained that there is a "deeper astrology" that goes beyond the physical birth charts, and that he could perceive Nalini's characteristics and future without knowing her birth details, demonstrating his advanced spiritual perception.

  • Spiritual Interconnectedness: The chapter highlights the deep spiritual interconnectedness between the narrator, his family members, and his guru, Sri Yukteswar, showcasing the profound impact a realized spiritual master can have on the lives of those around him.

CHAPTER: 26 - The Science of Kriya Yoga

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Kriya Yoga: Kriya Yoga is an ancient science of yoga that was rediscovered and clarified by Babaji, and later taught to Lahiri Mahasaya. It is a simple, psychophysiological method that decarbonizes the blood and recharges it with oxygen, transmuting the atoms of oxygen into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers.

  • Historical Lineage: Kriya Yoga was originally taught by Krishna to Arjuna, and was later known to Patanjali, Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples. It was guarded by rishis until the coming of materialistic ages, when it gradually became inaccessible due to priestly secrecy and man's indifference.

  • Kriya Yoga Technique: Kriya Yoga involves mentally directing the life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers. This process is said to effect subtle progress in human evolution, with one-half minute of Kriya equaling one year of natural spiritual unfoldment.

  • Benefits of Kriya Yoga: Kriya Yoga can accelerate spiritual evolution, with one thousand Kriyas in eight hours equaling the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution. It can also prolong life, enlarge consciousness, and free the devotee from the tug of war between the mind and the matter-bound senses.

  • Comparison to Other Practices: Kriya Yoga is a scientific and effective method, in contrast to the slow, uncertain "bullock cart" theological path to God. It is also different from unscientific breathing exercises that forcibly hold the breath in the lungs, which are unnatural and unpleasant.

  • Relationship between Breath and Consciousness: The ancient yogic technique of Kriya Yoga converts the breath into mind, as there is a mathematical relationship between one's respiratory rate and their state of consciousness. Controlling the breath can help the yogi achieve higher states of consciousness.

  • Overcoming Limitations of the Body and Mind: Kriya Yoga enables the yogi to switch off or on, at will, the life current from the five senses, allowing them to unite their mind with divine realms or the world of matter. This frees the yogi from the slow, evolutionary monitors of egoistic actions and the thralldom of natural living.

  • Importance of Realized Knowledge: Kriya Yoga is a technique of spiritual inquiry, as intellectual knowledge alone cannot destroy ignorance. Realized knowledge, gained through practices like Kriya Yoga, is necessary to truly understand one's true nature as a living soul rather than a corruptible body.

CHAPTER: 27 - Founding a Yoga School at Ranchi

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Overcoming Aversion to Organizational Work: The guru, Sri Yukteswar, challenged the author's aversion to organizational work, stating that both the "divine honey" (spiritual knowledge) and the "hives" (organizations) are necessary. He encouraged the author to share the spiritual truths he had learned with others.

  • Founding the Brahmacharya Vidyalaya: The author founded the Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, a school in Ranchi, India, that provided an all-rounded education for young boys, including academic subjects, vocational training, and spiritual practices like yoga and meditation.

  • Yogoda System of Physical Development: The author developed a unique system of physical training called "Yogoda," which aimed to recharge the body's energy through the power of the human will, without the need for complex exercises or equipment.

  • Lessons from the Deer's Death: The author learned a deep lesson about attachment and the cycle of life and death when a pet deer he had become deeply attached to died. He realized that by holding onto the deer's life through his prayers, he had prevented the soul from progressing to a higher form.

  • Swami Pranabananda's Spiritual Attainment: The chapter describes the author's encounters with the great yogi Swami Pranabananda, who demonstrated his mastery over the physical body and his deep spiritual realization, even as his body aged. Pranabananda eventually left his body consciously to join the group of saints around Babaji in the Himalayas.

CHAPTER: 28 - Kashi, Reborn and Rediscovered

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Premonition of Kashi's Death: The narrator has a premonition that one of his young students, Kashi, will soon die. This shocks and grieves both the narrator and the other students present.

  • Promise to Find Kashi's Reincarnation: Kashi asks the narrator to find him when he is reborn, and the narrator promises to do so if possible, with the help of divine grace.

  • Searching for Kashi's Reincarnation: After Kashi's death, the narrator is haunted by his face and begins an intensive search to find his reincarnated soul, using a secret yoga technique to try to locate him.

  • Detecting Kashi's Reincarnation: While walking in Calcutta, the narrator detects electrical impulses and a familiar voice calling out "I am Kashi; I am Kashi," leading him to a house where a pregnant woman lives.

  • Accurately Predicting the Reincarnated Kashi: The narrator accurately predicts the physical appearance and spiritual nature of the child that will be born to the couple, who later name the child Kashi.

  • Kashi's Spiritual Inclination: The reincarnated Kashi shows an immediate affection for the narrator and later expresses a deep longing to follow the spiritual path, which the narrator helps facilitate by directing him to a Himalayan master.

CHAPTER: 29 - Rabindranath Tagore and I Compare Schools

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Tagore's Influence on Education: Tagore taught his students to sing as a natural form of self-expression, similar to how birds sing. He believed that true education should aid in bringing out the innate wisdom and creativity within the child, rather than being imposed from the outside.

  • Tagore's Poetic Style: Tagore's poetry mixed colloquial and classical expressions, disregarding the traditional literary forms. This unconventional style was initially criticized by literary scholars, but later gained widespread acclaim after his work was translated into English and he was awarded the Nobel Prize.

  • Tagore's Santiniketan School: Tagore founded the Santiniketan school, which emphasized outdoor instruction, simplicity, and ample scope for the child's creative spirit. The school was located in a beautiful natural setting, which Tagore believed was essential for the child's full self-expression.

  • Comparison between Ranchi and Santiniketan Schools: Both the Ranchi school and Santiniketan shared many identical features, such as outdoor instruction and emphasis on the child's creativity. However, Santiniketan placed greater emphasis on the study of literature and poetry, as well as self-expression through music and song.

  • Tagore's Family Background: Tagore came from an illustrious family of geniuses, with his father, Devendranath, and grandfather, Dwarkanath, being renowned for their spiritual and philanthropic contributions. Tagore's brothers were also distinguished artists and philosophers.

  • Tagore's Poetic Spirituality: Tagore's poems often referred to God without directly mentioning the sacred Name, reflecting his deep spiritual connection. His poetry was characterized by a sense of divine love and harmony, which he shared with his students and devotees.

CHAPTER: 30 - The Law of Miracles

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • The Law of Miracles: The chapter discusses the ability of spiritual masters to perform miracles, such as materializing and dematerializing their bodies, moving at the speed of light, and manipulating light rays to bring physical manifestations into existence. This is explained through the concept of the masters' consciousness being identified with the universal structure, rather than a narrow physical body.

  • Maya and Duality: The chapter introduces the concept of maya, the cosmic illusion or principle of relativity and duality that governs the physical world. It explains that the physical world operates under the fundamental law of maya, which creates the appearance of separate and diverse manifestations, when in reality, there is only the Absolute Unity of God.

  • Light as the Fundamental Reality: The chapter emphasizes the centrality of light in the understanding of the nature of reality. It discusses how modern science, through discoveries like Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the wave-particle duality of the electron, is converging with the ancient Vedic understanding of the primacy of light as the fundamental substance of the universe.

  • Consciousness and Mastery of Maya: The chapter explains that to overcome the illusion of maya and perceive the unity of the Creator, one must attain the state of nirbikalpa samadhi, where the individual consciousness is effortlessly identified with the universal consciousness. This allows the master to transcend the limitations of the physical body and manipulate the light-based nature of reality.

  • The Cosmic Motion Picture: The chapter uses the analogy of a motion picture to illustrate the nature of the physical universe as a "cosmic motion picture" or "play of chiaroscuro" (light and shadow), where the apparent reality is merely a projection of the underlying divine light and consciousness.

  • Personal Mystical Experience: The chapter concludes with the author's own mystical experience of perceiving his physical body as a manifestation of light, demonstrating the principles of the "law of miracles" and the true nature of reality as a divine play of light and consciousness.

CHAPTER: 31 - An Interview with the Sacred Mother

  • Kashi Moni's Spiritual Awakening: Kashi Moni, the wife of Lahiri Mahasaya, had a profound spiritual experience where she witnessed her husband levitating in the center of the room, surrounded by worshiping angels. This event led her to realize Lahiri Mahasaya's divine stature and she became his disciple, receiving initiation into Kriya Yoga.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Transcendence of Sleep: After Kashi Moni's spiritual awakening, Lahiri Mahasaya never slept in her room again, nor did he ever sleep thereafter. He remained in the company of his disciples both day and night.

  • Kashi Moni's Moment of Delusion: Kashi Moni confessed to a "sin" she committed against her guru-husband, where she addressed him scathingly, expressing her desire for more material wealth. Lahiri Mahasaya responded by making her realize the importance of seeking divine wealth over earthly possessions.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Miracles: The chapter recounts two miracles performed by Lahiri Mahasaya - stopping a train for a disciple who was running late, and ensuring the survival of a disciple's ninth child, who had previously died shortly after birth.

  • Trailanga Swami's Extraordinary Feats: Lahiri Mahasaya's friend, Trailanga Swami, was renowned for his miraculous abilities, such as drinking deadly poisons, floating on the Ganges, and remaining exposed to the scorching sun for days without harm. These feats demonstrated the yogi's mastery over the physical body.

  • Trailanga Swami's Spiritual Realization: Trailanga Swami was not only physically extraordinary, but also spiritually realized. He was able to instantly heal a man who had tried to poison him, demonstrating his understanding of the divine law of justice and the interconnectedness of all life.

  • Shankari Mai Jiew, Trailanga Swami's Disciple: The chapter introduces Shankari Mai Jiew, a woman saint who was a disciple of Trailanga Swami. She lived in solitude in the Himalayas for decades and had the opportunity to interact with both Trailanga Swami and Lahiri Mahasaya.

  • Trailanga Swami's Respect for Lahiri Mahasaya: The chapter highlights an incident where Trailanga Swami, known for his silence, publicly honored Lahiri Mahasaya, describing him as a "divine kitten" who had attained the same level of self-realization despite remaining in the world as a householder.

CHAPTER: 32 - Rama is Raised from the Dead

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Resurrection of Rama: Sri Yukteswar recounts how his guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, resurrected his friend Rama from the dead. Lahiri Mahasaya instructed Sri Yukteswar to administer seven drops of castor oil to Rama's lips, after which Rama revived and claimed to have seen Lahiri Mahasaya in a blaze of light.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Prediction: Lahiri Mahasaya predicted that around 50 years after his passing, his life would be written due to a growing Western interest in yoga. This prediction was fulfilled in 1945, the year this book was completed.

  • Importance of Spiritual Masters: The chapter emphasizes the importance of spiritual masters like Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar in preserving India's ancient spiritual heritage and spreading the message of yoga to the world.

  • Survival of India's Civilization: The chapter suggests that India's survival as an ancient civilization is not an accident, but a result of the devotion of its spiritual masters who have hallowed the land in every generation.

  • Kriya Yoga: Lahiri Mahasaya was initiated into the ancient technique of Kriya Yoga by Babaji, and later went on to initiate many others into this soul-awakening practice, which had long been lost or forgotten.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Life: The chapter provides details about Lahiri Mahasaya's birth, upbringing, family, and early life, highlighting his spiritual inclination from a young age.

CHAPTER: 33 - Babaji, the Yogi-Christ of Modern India

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Babaji is an Avatara: Babaji is a divine incarnation or descent of the Divine into the physical form. As an avatara, Babaji has transcended the limitations of the physical body and death.

  • Babaji's Spiritual Attainment: Babaji's spiritual state is beyond human comprehension. He has attained the highest state of spiritual liberation, known as paramukta, where he has completely escaped the cycle of rebirth and death.

  • Babaji's Physical Manifestation: Babaji has retained his physical form for centuries, perhaps millennia. His body does not cast a shadow or leave footprints, indicating his freedom from material bondage.

  • Babaji's Role as a Mahavatar: Babaji is classified as a Mahavatar, a great avatar who works to assist other prophets and spiritual figures in carrying out their divine missions. He has initiated spiritual figures like Shankara and Kabir.

  • Babaji's Collaboration with Christ: Babaji is in constant communion with Christ, and together they work to inspire humanity to overcome conflicts and materialism, and to spread the spiritual liberations of yoga.

  • Babaji's Elusiveness: Babaji has never openly appeared in public, preferring to remain in humble obscurity. He has the power to become invisible at will, which is why there are few historical references to him.

  • Babaji's Resemblance to Lahiri Mahasaya: Babaji bears an extraordinarily exact resemblance to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, to the point that in his later years, Lahiri Mahasaya could have passed as Babaji's father.

  • Babaji's Miracles and Powers: Babaji has demonstrated miraculous powers, such as resurrecting a dead disciple, and the ability to instantly transport himself and his group to different locations in the Himalayas.

  • Babaji's Promise of Bodily Immortality: Babaji has proclaimed the possibility of bodily immortality, demonstrating that it is possible for a human being to transcend the limitations of the physical form.

  • Babaji's Eternal Presence: Babaji has been chosen by God to remain in his physical body for the duration of the current world cycle, so that he can continue to guide and inspire humanity throughout the ages.

CHAPTER: 34 - Materializing a Palace in the Himalayas

  • Babaji's Deathless Love and Reunion with Lahiri Mahasaya: Babaji had been waiting for over three decades to reunite with his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, whom he had known in a previous life. Babaji's love for Lahiri was eternal and deathless, as he had followed and watched over Lahiri throughout his various lifetimes, waiting patiently for this moment of reunion.

  • Materialization of a Golden Palace: Babaji demonstrated his divine powers by materializing a magnificent golden palace in the Himalayas, complete with jewel-encrusted decorations and opulent furnishings. This palace was created solely for the purpose of Lahiri's initiation into the Kriya Yoga technique, and was later dematerialized once the purpose was served.

  • Babaji's Teachings on the Nature of Reality: Babaji explained that the materialized palace, like the entire physical world, was a manifestation of divine consciousness, created and sustained by the will of God. Just as a human can create and dissolve dream objects, the great masters can materialize and dematerialize physical forms through the power of their consciousness.

  • Relaxation of Kriya Yoga Initiation Requirements: Traditionally, Kriya Yoga was only taught to those who had completely renounced the world. However, at Lahiri's request, Babaji agreed to relax these strict requirements and allow the technique to be shared more freely with earnest spiritual seekers, even those still engaged in worldly duties.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Role as a Householder Yogi: Babaji instructed Lahiri that his role in this incarnation was to be a "yogi-householder", setting an example of how one can attain spiritual liberation while fulfilling family and societal responsibilities. Lahiri was to guide others to understand that the highest yogic attainments are not barred to the family man.

  • Babaji's Humility and Compassion: Babaji demonstrated great humility by washing the feet of a seemingly inferior ascetic, teaching Lahiri the importance of seeing the divine in all, regardless of outward appearances. Babaji also showed compassion in relaxing the strict requirements for Kriya Yoga initiation, in order to make the technique more accessible to the suffering masses.

CHAPTER: 35 - The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya

  • John the Baptist as Elijah and Guru to Jesus: The chapter suggests that John the Baptist was the guru of Jesus in their previous incarnations as Elijah and Elisha, based on references in the Bible. This eternal bond of guru and disciple is also seen in the relationship between Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Kriya Yoga Initiation: Lahiri Mahasaya was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Babaji and later disseminated this spiritual technique to people of all faiths, including Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. He carefully graded Kriya into four progressive initiations, only bestowing the higher techniques upon disciples who had demonstrated spiritual progress.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Balanced Householder Life: Despite his spiritual attainment, Lahiri Mahasaya lived as an ideal householder, balancing his spiritual duties with his business and family responsibilities. His harmonious and unassuming lifestyle inspired many seekers.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Omnipresence and Miraculous Powers: The chapter recounts several instances demonstrating Lahiri Mahasaya's spiritual powers, such as his ability to perceive distant events, heal the sick, and perform other miracles. However, he cautioned against publicly discussing such supernatural feats.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Scriptural Commentaries: Though Lahiri Mahasaya did not write any books himself, his disciples recorded his profound interpretations of various ancient scriptures, which helped elucidate the scientific and spiritual significance of these texts.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya as the "Yogavatar": The chapter describes Lahiri Mahasaya as the "Incarnation of Yoga", who elevated the spiritual level of society and made the ancient practice of yoga accessible to people from all walks of life through the simplicity and effectiveness of the Kriya technique.

CHAPTER: 36 - Babaji’s Interest in the West

  • Babaji's Interest in the West: Babaji expressed interest in the West, recognizing the potential for spiritual awakening among Westerners. He encouraged Sri Yukteswar to write a book comparing the unity between Christian and Hindu scriptures, to help bridge the gap between the East and West.

  • Babaji's Encounter with Sri Yukteswar: Babaji met Sri Yukteswar at the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, where he bestowed the title of "Swamiji" on Sri Yukteswar, despite the latter's protests. Babaji also gave Sri Yukteswar a message for his guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, indicating that Lahiri's time on Earth was drawing to a close.

  • Lahiri Mahasaya's Passing: Lahiri Mahasaya's passing was marked by a profound spiritual event, as he consciously relinquished his physical body. Three of his disciples – Swami Keshabananda, Panchanon Bhattacharya, and Swami Pranabananda – were blessed with visions of Lahiri Mahasaya's resurrected form after his cremation, demonstrating the master's continued spiritual presence.

  • Resurrection and Immortality: The chapter explores the concept of resurrection and immortality, as Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples witnessed his physical form reappearing after his cremation. This event is likened to the biblical passage about death being "swallowed up in victory," highlighting the transcendence of the physical body and the eternal nature of the spiritual self.

  • Guru-Disciple Relationship: The chapter emphasizes the deep, spiritual bond between the guru (Lahiri Mahasaya) and his disciples, as evidenced by the disciples' profound experiences and visions of their master even after his physical passing. This underscores the enduring nature of the guru-disciple relationship, which transcends the limitations of the physical realm.

CHAPTER: 37 - I Go to America

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Yogananda's Vision of Americans: While meditating in the storeroom of the Ranchi school, Yogananda had a vision of a vast multitude of Western faces gazing at him intently. This vision convinced him that he was being called to go to America.

  • Invitation to the International Congress of Religious Liberals: Yogananda received an invitation to serve as the delegate from India to an International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston, which he decided to accept.

  • Overcoming Language Barriers: Yogananda was initially apprehensive about giving lectures in English, as he had little experience with public speaking. However, with the help of his guru Sri Yukteswar, he was able to overcome this challenge and deliver a well-received address at the congress.

  • Establishing Centers in America: After the congress, Yogananda spent four years in Boston, giving lectures, teaching classes, and writing a book of poems. He later established an American headquarters on the Mount Washington Estates in Los Angeles, which he had seen in a vision years earlier.

  • Spreading the Message of Kriya Yoga: Yogananda was tasked by the great yogi Babaji to spread the message of Kriya Yoga, a "scientific technique of God-realization," in the West. He dedicated himself to this mission, initiating tens of thousands of Americans into the practice.

  • Appreciation for the Spirit of America: Yogananda came to appreciate the "great heart of America" and its welcoming spirit, as expressed in the poem by Emma Lazarus at the base of the Statue of Liberty. He saw a growing understanding between the East and West.

CHAPTER: 38 - Luther Burbank-A Saint Amidst the Roses

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Luther Burbank's Approach to Plant Breeding: Burbank believed that the "secret of improved plant breeding" was not just scientific knowledge, but also love and care for the plants. He would talk to the plants, assure them they had nothing to fear, and protect them, which he felt helped create new, improved varieties.

  • Burbank's Achievements in Plant Breeding: Burbank was responsible for developing numerous new varieties of plants, including the large Burbank potato, as well as new types of tomatoes, corn, fruits, flowers, and more. He was able to dramatically accelerate the natural evolution of plants, such as a walnut tree that reached maturity in half the normal time.

  • Burbank's Views on Education: Burbank was highly critical of the contemporary educational system, which he felt was "severed from nature and stifling of all individuality." He strongly supported the author's Ranchi school, with its outdoor classes and atmosphere of joy and simplicity, seeing it as the "only hope of a future millennium."

  • Burbank's Spiritual Beliefs: Burbank was deeply spiritual, believing in reincarnation and feeling a strong connection to the "Infinite Power." He reported having visions of his deceased mother, and said he had been able to heal both people and plants through this spiritual connection.

  • The Author's Admiration for Burbank: The author held Burbank in the highest regard, calling him a "beloved friend" and an "American saint." He was deeply saddened by Burbank's passing and conducted a Vedic memorial rite to honor him. The author saw Burbank's spirit living on in the flowers and nature he had so lovingly tended.

  • Burbank's Legacy: Burbank's name has become a verb, "to burbank," meaning to improve something by selecting good features and rejecting bad, or adding new positive features. The author saw this as a testament to Burbank's lasting impact and legacy as a force for goodness.

CHAPTER: 39 - Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Sri Yukteswar's Recall: Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda's guru, telepathically recalled Yogananda to India after 15 years of spreading his teachings in America.

  • Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist: Yogananda traveled to Konnersreuth, Bavaria to meet Therese Neumann, a Catholic mystic who exhibited the stigmata (wounds of Christ) and could survive without food.

  • Therese's Miraculous Abilities: Therese Neumann had been blind and paralyzed but miraculously regained her sight and mobility. She has abstained from food and drink for 12 years, except for a daily consecrated wafer. During her weekly Friday trances, she experiences the Passion of Christ and speaks in ancient languages.

  • Yogananda's Spiritual Rapport with Therese: Yogananda was able to enter a yogic trance and attain telepathic and "televisic" (clairvoyant) rapport with Therese, allowing him to witness her visions of Christ's Passion.

  • Yogananda's European and Holy Land Pilgrimage: After visiting Therese, Yogananda and his companions traveled through Europe, visiting sites like Assisi and Athens, before journeying to the Holy Land and Egypt, finally returning to India.

  • Significance of Pilgrimage: Yogananda found great spiritual value in pilgrimages, as they allowed him to walk reverently in the footsteps of Christ and other spiritual figures, deepening his connection to their teachings and experiences.

CHAPTER: 40 - I Return to India

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Warm Welcome in India: Yogananda received a grand and emotional welcome upon his return to India, with a large crowd, garlands, and joyous celebrations at the train station and his family home. This highlights the deep affection and reverence he was held in by his countrymen.

  • Reunion with Guru Sri Yukteswar: Yogananda's meeting with his spiritual teacher, Sri Yukteswar, was a profoundly moving experience, filled with unspoken joy and soul-connection. The description emphasizes Sri Yukteswar's majestic presence, wisdom, and non-attachment to material comforts.

  • Revitalizing the Ranchi School: Yogananda worked tirelessly to address the financial difficulties facing the Ranchi school he had founded, securing new donations and legal incorporation to ensure its long-term sustainability as a center for yoga education and humanitarian activities.

  • Unique Features of the Ranchi School: The Ranchi school provided a well-rounded education, with academic subjects, vocational training, sports, and most importantly, instruction in Kriya Yoga and spiritual development. The students demonstrated remarkable focus and poise through yogic practices.

  • Expansion of Yogoda Sat-Sanga: Yogananda oversaw the establishment of additional Yogoda Sat-Sanga schools and centers, including a new hermitage in Dakshineswar, which provided a peaceful haven for spiritual seekers near Calcutta.

  • Dedicated Teachers and Workers: The success of the Yogoda Sat-Sanga activities was attributed to the self-sacrificing service and devotion of numerous teachers and workers, inspired by the ideals of Lahiri Mahasaya.

  • Impression of India's "Racial Aura": Yogananda's secretary, Mr. Wright, described his impression of India as one of "peace," reflecting the spiritual and tranquil atmosphere he experienced throughout the country.

CHAPTER: 41 - An Idyl in South India

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Mysore, a Scenic and Progressive State: Mysore is described as a scenic wonderland, with dense tropical forests, wildlife, and impressive architectural and cultural heritage. The Maharaja of Mysore is portrayed as an enlightened and progressive ruler, who has empowered a Mohammedan as his Premier and given popular representation to the people.

  • Hyderabad's Rich History and Architectural Marvels: The chapter highlights the rich history of Hyderabad, which has been ruled by various Hindu and Mohammedan dynasties over the centuries. It particularly emphasizes the ancient rock-sculptured caves of Ellora and Ajanta, which are described as the most breath-taking display of architecture, sculpture, and painting in all of India.

  • Asoka's Wisdom and Legacy: The chapter discusses the legacy of the great Emperor Asoka, who ruled over a vast empire in ancient India. Asoka's rock inscriptions are quoted, emphasizing his belief in the "conquest of religion" over military conquest, and his desire for his descendants to avoid unnecessary wars.

  • Alexander the Great's Encounter with Indian Sages: The chapter recounts the interactions between Alexander the Great and Indian sages, particularly the encounter between Alexander's emissary and the yogi Dandamis, who rebuked Alexander's offer of gifts and wealth, and emphasized the spiritual independence of the Brahmins.

  • The Caste System and Social Reforms: The chapter discusses the origins and evolution of the caste system in India, highlighting both its positive and negative aspects. It notes the efforts of social reformers like Mahatma Gandhi to restore the ancient values of the caste system and address the issue of "untouchability".

  • South Indian Saints and Their Miracles: The chapter introduces several revered South Indian saints, such as Thayumanavar and Sadasiva Brahman, and recounts various miraculous stories associated with their lives, such as Sadasiva's ability to transport children to distant festivals and heal severed limbs.

CHAPTER: 42 - Last Days with My Guru

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Yogananda's Desire to Hear His Guru's Affection: Yogananda had long yearned to hear his guru, Sri Yukteswar, explicitly express his love for him. After 15 years of silent affection, Sri Yukteswar finally told Yogananda "Yogananda, I love you always," which Yogananda described as his "passport to heaven."

  • Sri Yukteswar's Premonitions of His Passing: Sri Yukteswar gave several hints and premonitions that he was nearing the end of his earthly life, such as refusing to visit Kidderpore and saying "I shall go to Kidderpore no more." However, Yogananda tried to ignore these signs, not wanting to face the reality of his guru's impending passing.

  • Yogananda's Absence During His Guru's Passing: Yogananda was away attending the Kumbha Mela festival when Sri Yukteswar passed away. Yogananda noted that God had compassionately arranged for him to be distant from the scene of the death of those dearly beloved to him.

  • Sri Yukteswar's Burial and Memorial Service: Sri Yukteswar's body was buried with the ancient rituals of the swamis, and a memorial service was held at the Puri ashram on the vernal equinox, which was attended by many of his disciples. The Amrita Bazar Patrika newspaper published a tribute highlighting Sri Yukteswar's spiritual accomplishments and influence.

  • Yogananda's Grief and Struggle to Accept His Guru's Passing: Yogananda was deeply grief-stricken and struggled to accept the reality of his guru's passing. He lamented the loss of being able to bring his friends to meet Sri Yukteswar and proudly introduce him as "India's Jnanavatar (incarnation of divine wisdom)."

Key terms:

  • Jnanavatar: An incarnation or embodiment of divine wisdom.
  • Swami: A Hindu religious teacher or monk who has taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • Sadhu: A Hindu holy man or ascetic.

CHAPTER: 43 - The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar

  • Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar: The chapter describes how Sri Yukteswar, the guru of Yogananda, appeared to him in a resurrected form after his physical death. Sri Yukteswar explained that he had materialized a new astral body and was now residing on the astral planet of Hiranyaloka, where he was helping advanced beings attain liberation.

  • Astral Worlds and Planes of Existence: The chapter provides a detailed description of the astral worlds and planes of existence beyond the physical realm. It explains that there are various astral planets and spheres inhabited by astral beings with different levels of spiritual development, and that these astral realms are more attuned to the divine will than the physical world.

  • Causal World and Causal Body: The chapter delves into the concept of the causal world, which is described as the realm of pure ideas and thought, where beings exist in a state of blissful oneness with the divine. It explains that the causal body is the innermost layer of the human being, made up of 35 essential ideas or thought-forces.

  • Reincarnation and Karma: The chapter discusses the process of reincarnation, explaining that human beings are reborn into the physical, astral, and causal worlds based on their accumulated karma, or the consequences of their past actions and desires. It describes how the desire-driven soul is bound to the cycle of rebirth until it attains liberation.

  • Abilities of Astral Beings: The chapter highlights the unique abilities of astral beings, such as their power to materialize and dematerialize their forms at will, to communicate through telepathy and astral television, and to instantly manifest their thoughts into physical reality.

  • Resurrection and Afterlife: The chapter presents a profound understanding of the concept of resurrection, explaining that it is not a one-time event but a continuous process of shedding the physical, astral, and causal bodies to attain ultimate liberation in the divine. It also emphasizes that the physical death is not the end, but rather a transition to the astral and causal realms.

CHAPTER: 44 - With Mahatma Gandhi at Wardha

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Mahatma Gandhi's Simplicity and Humility: Despite being a revered leader, Gandhi lived a simple life in the Wardha ashram, following a strict regimen of vows such as non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy, and body-labor. He radiated physical, mental, and spiritual health, and was known for his ability to detach his mind from the senses.

  • Gandhi's Commitment to Non-Violence: Gandhi firmly believed in the principle of non-violence, or "ahimsa," which he defined as the avoidance of harm to any living creature in thought or deed. He was willing to face danger and even death rather than retaliate with violence.

  • Gandhi's Influence on Social Reform: Through non-violent means, Gandhi was able to achieve significant political concessions for India and also address complex social issues, such as the eradication of untouchability and the reconciliation of Hindu-Muslim tensions.

  • Gandhi's Spiritual Beliefs: Gandhi had a deep respect for all world religions and believed in the fundamental unity of humanity. He saw his work for India as part of a broader mission to promote peace and love throughout the world.

  • Gandhi's Emphasis on Satyagraha: Satyagraha, or the use of non-violent civil disobedience, was a central tenet of Gandhi's philosophy. He trained thousands of "satyagrahis" (those who have taken the eleven vows) to spread this message and engage in non-violent resistance against injustice.

  • Gandhi's Critique of Materialism: Gandhi was critical of the materialistic and consumerist tendencies of modern society, and advocated for a more simple, self-sufficient, and spiritually-oriented way of life. He encouraged the revival of cottage industries and the use of homespun cotton (khaddar) as a symbol of this ethos.

  • Gandhi's Commitment to Vegetarianism and Dietary Reform: Gandhi believed that diet was an important aspect of the Satyagraha movement, and he was constantly experimenting with vegetarian diets that would provide the necessary nutrients for his celibate followers.

  • Gandhi's Openness to Learning: Despite his stature, Gandhi remained open-minded and eager to learn, as evidenced by his interest in learning the Kriya Yoga technique from the author.

CHAPTER: 45 - The Bengali “Joy-Permeated Mother”

  • Ananda Moyi Ma, the "Joy-Permeated Mother": Ananda Moyi Ma is a highly revered Bengali woman saint, known for her intense sanctity and advanced state of God-realization. She is referred to as the "Blissful Mother" due to the ineffable joy that radiates from her.

  • Ananda Moyi Ma's Spiritual Experiences: The saint describes her consciousness as always being the same, even from before her birth, through her childhood, and into womanhood. She sees no difference between her physical body and the Divine, and her husband took a vow of silence and celibacy after realizing her true nature.

  • Ananda Moyi Ma's Spiritual State: The saint often enters deep states of samadhi, or ecstatic trance, where she becomes oblivious to her physical body and surroundings. During these states, her eyes become fixed and her breathing becomes shallow, and she must be cared for by her disciples to prevent her from disappearing from the world.

  • Ananda Moyi Ma's Spiritual Impact: The saint is known for her widespread influence and large following of disciples, who travel with her and care for her needs. She is also recognized for her efforts in bringing about social reforms and her disregard for caste distinctions, despite being a Brahmin.

  • The Importance of Loving God: The chapter emphasizes the importance of the first commandment, as stated by Christ, to love God with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength. Ananda Moyi Ma's unwavering devotion to the Divine is presented as an example of this pure, monotheistic love.

  • Ananda Moyi Ma's Timeless Presence: The saint's words, "Behold, now and always one with the Eternal, 'I am ever the same,'" convey her sense of being eternally connected to the Divine, transcending the limitations of time and space.

CHAPTER: 46 - The Woman Yogi Who Never Eats

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Giri Bala, the Woman Yogi Who Never Eats: Giri Bala is a woman saint in Bengal, India, who has not eaten or drunk anything for over 50 years. She employs a certain yoga technique that enables her to live without food, recharging her body with cosmic energy from the ether, sun, and air.

  • Rigorous Investigations by the Maharaja of Burdwan: The Maharaja of Burdwan conducted three rigorous investigations of Giri Bala, locking her up in a small section of his palace for two months, then hosting her for visits of 20 and 15 days. These investigations convinced the Maharaja beyond doubt of her non-eating state.

  • Giri Bala's Early Life and Spiritual Awakening: As a child, Giri Bala had an insatiable appetite, which led to ridicule from her mother-in-law after her marriage. This roused her spiritual tendencies, and she prayed for a guru to teach her to live by divine light rather than food. Her guru then initiated her into a kriya technique that freed her body from dependence on gross food.

  • Giri Bala's Spiritual Abilities: Giri Bala requires very little sleep, can control her heart and breathing, and has no bodily excretions. She often sees her guru and other great souls in visions. She feels only slight pain when accidentally injured and has never experienced any disease.

  • Giri Bala's Reluctance to Teach Her Technique: Giri Bala was strictly commanded by her guru not to divulge the secret of her technique, as it would disrupt the natural order of creation. She believes that misery, starvation, and disease are "whips of our karma" that drive us to seek the true meaning of life.

  • Giri Bala's Purpose in Living Without Food: According to Giri Bala, her purpose is to prove that man is Spirit and can learn to live by the Eternal Light rather than food, through divine advancement.

CHAPTER: 47 - I Return to the West

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Yoga Classes in England: The author conducted successful yoga classes in London, England, where the English students were receptive to the timeless yoga message. The classes grew so large that they had to be moved to a larger hall.

  • Establishment of a Self-Realization Fellowship Center: After the author's departure from England, the London yoga students organized themselves into a Self-Realization Fellowship center, which continued to hold meditation meetings weekly throughout the war years.

  • Mr. Dickinson's Spiritual Journey: Mr. Dickinson, a long-time disciple of the author, shared the story of his spiritual journey. As a child, he had a vision of a man who later turned out to be Swami Vivekananda, who told him that his teacher would come later and give him a silver cup.

  • Vivekananda's Prophecy Fulfilled: After years of waiting, Mr. Dickinson's prayer for a guru was answered when he attended the author's lectures in Los Angeles in 1925. On Christmas night, the author gave Mr. Dickinson a silver cup, fulfilling Vivekananda's prophecy made 43 years earlier.

  • Celebration of Christmas at the Los Angeles Center: The author and his students celebrated Christmas at the Los Angeles center with an 8-hour group meditation on December 24th, followed by a banquet and gift-giving on Christmas Day. The gifts included items from various parts of the world, reflecting the global reach of the author's teachings.

CHAPTER: 48 - At Encinitas in California

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Encinitas Hermitage: The author is surprised and delighted to find that his American disciples have built a large, beautiful ashram for him in Encinitas, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The ashram has 16 large, well-appointed rooms, a central hall with panoramic ocean views, meditation caves, and extensive grounds with orchards, gardens, and a private beach.

  • Cosmic Chants: During his time at the Encinitas hermitage, the author completes a songbook called "Cosmic Chants", which includes both original compositions and adaptations of ancient Hindu and Bengali devotional songs set to English lyrics and Western musical notation.

  • Spreading the Teachings: The author divides his time between the Encinitas hermitage and Los Angeles, engaging in a wide range of activities to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga and Self-Realization, including Sunday services, classes, lectures, interviews, correspondence, and directing activities in India and other centers in the US.

  • Self-Realization Churches: The author oversees the establishment of Self-Realization Churches of All Religions in Washington D.C., Hollywood, and San Diego, which incorporate elements of various spiritual traditions and serve as hubs for meditation, study, and community.

  • World Colony: The author envisions creating a "miniature world colony" at the Encinitas hermitage, with the goal of inspiring other ideal communities around the world. This would involve hosting conferences and congresses of religion, building small temples dedicated to the world's faiths, and opening a Yoga Institute to further the spread of Kriya Yoga in the West.

  • Spiritual Awakening: The author notes that the war years brought a spiritual awakening among many people, leading to a growing need for the teachings of Self-Realization and a deeper study of the New Testament. This underscores the importance of the work being done at the various centers.

  • Personal Reflections: The author reflects on the challenges and rewards of his work in America, expressing gratitude for the devotion and understanding of his American students and a sense of fulfillment in seeing the East and West brought closer together through the bond of spirituality.


What do you think of "Autobiography of a Yogi"? Share your thoughts with the community below.