He was called the father of yoga in the west, Steve Jobs ordered copies of his bestselling book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ to be given to everyone who attended his funeral, and he is regarded today as one of the most important Hindu monks of the 20th century. Who was Paramhansa Yogananda?
Yogananda Paramhansa was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh to a Bengali family in Uttar Pradesh.
Mukunda’s parents were followers of Lahiri Mahasaya and noticed that their son had an affinity towards spirituality from the very beginning. As his father was Vice President of Bengal-Nagpur Railway, he was able to sponsor many trips for his son and his friends, who chose to visit gurus and swamis all across the country from a very young age!
Having finished high school, Mukunda decided it was time to go out into the world alone.
Mukunda joined a Mahamandal hermitage in Varanasi but soon tired of the stark difference between what he wished to do and what he was actually doing. He did not wish to invest time in menial organisational work that took time away from meditation and mental peace. After looking for a new guru for a long time, he found Swami Shri Yukteshwar Giri, who he said he had known for many lifetimes.
The Mysterious Amulet
Mukunda’s mother died early in his life and she left him a special amulet which was given to her by a holy man, stating that Mukunda must wear this constantly until it disappeared. He did wear it for a long time, and the amulet eventually mysteriously disappeared when he met Swami Yukteshwar!
He completed his education and oversaw hermitages
As Swami Yukteshwar’s disciple, Yogananda, a name he gave himself upon being initiated, studied BA in the Scottish Church College in Kolkata and supervised ashrams in Serampore and Puri. He then founded a school in Dihika, shifted it to Ranchi and even taught the man who would teach Bikram Choudhury!