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Have your read “ Autobiography of a Yogi” “?, a friend had asked me many years ago. No, I said, and added, must have been written by a Bengali. Yes, I was right, said my friend. The horoscope I had of Yogananda, given to me in Calcutta in the middle seventies, is as given here: The discussion of his most popular book, Autobiography of a Yogi, can be done after an introduction which many people may not know. That is being done first, and then the discussion of the horoscope will be done technically. 

Horoscope of Paramhamsa Yogananda

Vimshottari Dasha: Ketu ends on 10 June, 1898, Venus 11 June, 1918, Sun 11 June 1924, Moon 11 June 1934, Mars 11 June 1941, Rahu-Ketu ends on 11 December, 1952, 

He died on 7 March, 1952. 


Bengalis have written maximum number of books on recent living saints, mostly about their own gurus, often long, profuse and well-documented lives, with the miracles also recorded with proofs and evidences. I picked up Bengali only to read these books. They fall into a pattern, become repetitive. After reading more than twenty such books, only three seem to stand out. Many people do not know that this trend of writing started in the middle ages in northern India in Hindi, actually braja bhasha.

The Classic Model :Bhaktamaal

This trend of writing was started many centuries ago in the Bhaktamaal of Nabhadas. But that archaic medieval Hindi and style of narration is beyond the understanding of the modern Hindi reader . But Bhaktamaal will continue to be an all-time classic and a perennial source of inspiration , as ever, because it does not extol one saint, yogi or guru from ancient times to middle ages alone but presents a portrait gallery of so many with their spiritual message and miracles. It is the most inspired book on saints but written in a style, which is totally out of date for the modern reader.

Miracles take place in the life of everyone, a bhakta, a gyani, a yogi, a tantrik. The bhakta is instructed not to emphasize it. The gyani ignores it but the Yogi stresses it. This useful distinction should be remembered.

We have legends of the great Yogi Gorakhnath and the Nathpanthi yogis even. It was in Gorakhpur, the place named after Yogi Gorakhnath that Yogananda was born. It is not known to what extent the influence and lineage of Yogi Gorakhnath is traceable in Yogananda’s stories and sadhana.

Modern Model 1: Master Moshai’s Account of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa

Here Master Moshai 1 is the chronicler, narrator and witness to the life events of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa which give many good hints about sadhana, the obstacles one meets and how they are overcome. Yet, it is the Master who is narrating it, after he has reached the transcendental stage, a strength of the book which is its limitation as well. It then is an ascent .

In such a description, the shrubs, weeds, thorns, the monsters and the temptations a sadhak more often than not get ommitted or blurred because the Master either cannot recall them all or does not feel impelled to go on record stating them in explicit terms..

All other books written about Ramakrishna Paramhamsa have been inspired by this work.

Modern Model 2: Sadguru Sang of Kuldanand Brahmachari

A sadhak, Kuldananda Brahmachari, goes to his Guru Prabhu Bejoy Krishna Goswami whose own initiation was through cosmic manifestation of his Nanakpanthi Guru which I have referred to in my Yogis, Destiny and the Wheel of Time and, in turn my own Guruji had his spiritual manifestation in a similar way.

I have always recommended the five volumes in Bengali or three in Hindi (the other two have not been translated) to serious sadhaks. Here the sadhak begins his story from the very beginning. It is a beautifully written diary, in a chronological order and is therefore a story of the best spiritual adventure and excitement I have ever read. It is a case of ascent of a disciple. There is always that description of the shrubs, weeds, thorns, the monsters and the temptations, a sadhak, has to face as the ancient rishis like Vishwamitra, Durvasa, Narad and many others.

To be born as a human and not face, on the spiritual path the shrubs, weeds, thorns, the monsters and the temptations during the days of intense sadhana is a falsehood, which many writers avoid speaking or writing about.

Kuldananda Brahmachari refers to them, in artistic Bengali and nowhere projects himself as a realized soul. Later, after the samadhi of his Great Guru, he spent some years in Gaya in intense sadhana, which has been produced in the unpublished sixth volume, which is said to be lying the Puri ashram of Kuldanand Brahmachari, next to his own Guru’s ashram, known as the Jatiya Baba ashram.

Many people failed to get it published as I was told that the Brahmachari had said that it contained those experiences of higher stages, which could not be disclosed to people. Some persons who have read them have told me that it was too rich and could not be appreciated even by many advanced sadhaks. It had better remain a secret manuscript only. But how long ? It will get destroyed and lost, unless it is preserved properly, as the curators of a museum do with their trained skill.

For generations to come, this will be the most inspiring book for any sadhak anywhere in the world. Yogananda had these two successful models before him in his own Bengali language before his Autobiography of a Yogi was written.


The miracles described in the Autobiography of a Yogi are common experiences of millions of Indians who know that they do not solve their material problems but keep alive their spirit in Higher Life .

It is the angilicized Indian who is out of touch with the spiritual tradition of India that benefits most from this book, and either totally disbelieves Yogananda or accepts him, with some qualified admiration.

A great Indian explained it and talked of it, even initiated some Americans into Kriya yoga is what impresses him more than the spiritual greatness of Yogananda.

Opposition Faced

The opposition faced by Vivekananda in the USA and campaign of the Church against him has never been narrated in India with all its lurid details. The American habit of pouncing with racial arrogance to destroy an icon of the East is well known. But they, in their ignorance, forget that Christ whom they follow was an Easterner.

In human history there never was any civilizing influence of any religion without the East and there never was, so much religious fundamentalism as the Semitic religions, Christianity and Islam (remember the Crusades), have unleashed on the world, mistaking barbarism for religion. 

Even today no Hindu can go to many West Asian ( Muslim) countries with his own holy books and idols he worships.

In the USA, the Christian Church, always bankrupt spiritually , but strong materially and monetarily, is opposed to the sway of Indian and Buddhist sadhanas.

Intuitively, Yogananda must have known it and, had to devise a method of meeting this opposition——and he knew the method.

References to Christ and the Bible

One can easily see that Yogananda overcame this opposition in the USA in his Autobiography of a Yogi by more references to Christ (45 or more ) and the Bible (36 or more) than any other Indian guru in the USA, perhaps, has ever done. It was the tradition of only Bengal.

Keshav Chandra Sen was an imitator and founded a Church of the Brahmo Samaj on the lines of Christian Church. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa referred to Christ once or twice. Prabhu Bejoy Krishna Goswami compared the Cross of Christ to the Trident of Lord Shiva.

It may also be because of the instruction of his Guru that Yogananda did it. No blunt assaults on the ego of Americans but accomodative patience and forebearance is what must have compelled him to do it.

Outside Bengal, those who read the Bible always thought and, said that it was too elementary and diffuse for them while, they could not object to the preachings of Christ.

One of them said that what was contained in only the Uttarkanda of the Ramcharit Manas of Tulsidas was the best and sublimest synthesis than can be found in any book of Bengal.

In his “Why I Am Not a Christian”, the author, Bertrand Russel, has accused Christ of plagiarising the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Yet it is in India that I have found some Bengali saints and yogis praising Christ and describing him as a Yogi or even, a Mahayogi.

In other parts of the country, I have not seen any reference to Christ ever made in any ashram I have visited.

The Confluence of Four Currents

There is the Bhaktamaal style of giving an account of miracles, the Sadguru Sang style of quoting the preachings of Guru and his admonition-cum-instruction and finally, the Master Moshai’s references to Goddess Mother with feelings, though he was a Yogi and also the son of a disciple of Yukteshwar, also a Yogi.

Finally, the reference to Christ and the Bible as many Bengali in Calcutta had done when the capital of the British Indian Empire was Calcutta in Bengal and the Christian Church was a dominant influence. 

These influences can be seen shaping his style of narration in the book, which, however, does not appear to be the English of an Indian or of a Bengali. The book must have been, I guess, edited by some competent disciple of his.

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