The Versatilist

A rhythmic space for Hindi Poetry, Book Reviews and Travel Stories

Book Review: Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda

Author: Paramhansa Yogananda
Published: 2006 (Third Paperback Edition)
Publisher: Jaico Publishing
Pages: 486
My Rating & Recommendation: 5/5, Must Read

I had bought this book because it is in the list of recommendations of a certain Steve Jobs. This was much before Virat Kohli, the captain of Indian Cricket Team, in a tweet, credited the transformation of his life to the understanding and implementation of knowledge in this book. For me, Kohli’s tweet was a signal that this book should move it up in my ‘To Read’ list.

The story of Yogananda Paramhansa G’s life is so inspiring that it has stirred in me an energy and a thought process so powerfully moving that I am no longer able to deny or ignore the presence of immensely positive universal cosmic forces that exist around all of us, all the time.

Right from his childhood, a gifted sense of spiritual awareness kept directing him relentlessly in the spiritual path. After his several attempts, to run from his home to the Himalayas to be a sanyasi were thwarted by his family, finally, ‘as destined’ he miraculously found his guru Swami Sri Yukeswar Giri in Serampore, West Bengal.

Throughout the book, Yogananda G has quoted numerous miracles performed by his Guru, his guru’s Gura, Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (Disciple of Sri Sri Mahavatar Babaji) and Babaji himself and many other saints. These miracles include healing the life threatening diseases, teleportation, levitation, creating materialistic things out of thin air, being present at two places at a time and seeing into the future etc. He has also written about his meetings with many saints, both in the east and the west, who had unique abilities like surviving without food or water for decades, surviving without sleep and taming the tigers.

All this sounds like the stuff of and from dreams, right? It does! But Yogananda G has clearly explained the logical and scientific reasons and causes that can produce such effects or enable a human to perform such acts of dreams. Personally, I could not really paint some such instances on the highly fertile imaginary canvas of my brain, but a huge majority of so called miracles don’t look too far-fetched if one could really unleash the force of spiritual powers vested inside them, through continuous practice.

Yogananda G recommends daily practice of a technique i.e. Kriya Yoga to slowly but surely progress on the path of spirituality and attain self realization. Basically, Kriya Yoga activates the latent energy stored in Spinal Chakras. 

His society, Yogoda Satsang Society (YSS), India (founded in 1917) and Self Realization Fellowship (founded in 1929), headquartered in Encinitas, California are the proponents of this technique in the present day.

The content of the book is very powerful as on one hand, it meaningfully builds on and derives from the knowledge stored in the Vedas, the treasure troves of Hinduism and the Bible on the other hand. The inter-linkage between life of Indian Saints and Lord Jesus, and the principles of Hinduism and Christianity is depicted very consistently. More importantly, every page is projection of an unshakable belief rather than mere words printed on paper.

One thing that has stuck with me is the timeline of the spread of Sri Yogananda’s ideas (1893-1952). Yogananda G enjoyed such a high stature that while India was getting battered under the British Raj, he was captivating the west (America and Europe) through his academic discourses in the philosophy of Yoga and initiation of disciples in Kriya Yoga under the aegis of Self Realization Fellowship.

Overall, this is a book which has made me think, and think deeply about spirituality, my individuality, my existence and its connection with the universal energy. It has helped me to reconnect with myself on a much deeper level than I was hitherto able to. May be just reading it has not changed my life already, but it has definitely made me more aware about my innate abilities to do what I want to do, and I treasure that! Happy Reading.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: