Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952) is universally regarded as one of the most important spiritual teachers who ever lived. His classic Autobiography of a Yogi, published in 1946 and printed in dozens of languages, has touched the hearts of millions of people, and it remains the best-selling spiritual autobiography of all time.
On a Mission from God
In 1920, on a mission from Mahavatar Babaji, Yogananda was sent to America with this admonition: “The West is high in material attainments, but lacking in spiritual understanding. It is God’s will that you play a role in teaching mankind the value of balancing the material with an inner, spiritual life.”
The first Indian yoga master to reside permanently in the West, Yogananda carried his non-sectarian message across the country to huge, enthusiastic audiences that filled America’s largest auditoriums. Hundreds of thousands came to see the yogi from India. He continued to lecture and write prolifically up to his Mahasamadhi in 1952.
Although his in-person impact was tremendously impressive, his legacy has been greater still.
Autobiography of a Yogi helped to launch an extraordinary spiritual revolution in the West. It is one of the 20th century’s most influential books, and Yogananda is renowned globally as one of the most venerated proponents of India’s ancient spiritual traditions. Today hundreds of thousands of truth-seekers around the world practice his meditation techniques and consider themselves his disciple.
Yogananda’s Vision for a Better World
Many years before the community movement began, Yogananda spoke emphatically of the need for small, spiritual communities where devotees could live, work, serve and worship in divine friendship. As he would exclaim in his lectures and writings: “An urgent need on this war-torn earth is the founding, on a spiritual basis, of numerous world brotherhood colonies.” The Ananda network of spiritual communities, founded by Swami Kriyananda, his direct disciple, is a fulfillment of that long-standing dream. These are colonies where seekers gather together, supporting one another in an integrated, God-focused life.