"I always bow to the Guru who is bliss incarnate, who bestows happiness, whose face is radiant with joy. His essential nature is knowledge. He is aware of his true self. He is the Lord of yogis, he is adorable, and he is the physician who cures the disease of birth and death."
Paramahansa Yogananda is one of the greatest spiritual figures of the twentieth century, and also was one of the first Spiritual Masters to bring the Yoga of the East to the aspiring West.
Yogananda means "Bliss" through yoga (divine union with God) The title "Paramahansa" was given by his Guru Sri Yukteswar . Paramahansa means literally "Supreme Swan". It is given to Swami's who have established constant communion with God.
Sri Yukteswar (1855 – 1936) was a Spiritual Master from India, who was originally named Priya Nath Karar. Sri Yukteswar took his monastic name when he became a Swami of the Giri order. Sri Yukteswar was also the Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda named Sri Yukteswar a Jnanvatar or “Incarnation of Wisdom." See Sri Yukteswar in Autobiography of a Yogi.
Sri Yukteswar was born into a relatively wealthy Indian family. He inherited some properties which enabled him to later buy his own hermitages. Sri Yukteswar married and led an ordinary life but his wife died early. However on meeting his Guru Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar started to practise intense spiritual practices. Lahiri Mahasaya initiated him into Kriya Yoga and would later give Sri Yukteswar permission to initiate others. Practising Kriya Yoga with great sincerity Sri Yukteswar was able to attain a profound state of spiritual realisation.
Sri Yukteswar was a Spiritual Master of great sincerity and sought to direct his disciples through strict discipline. Yogananda said of his Guru that if he did not speak with such sincerity he would have had many more disciples. (Yogananda would take a more forgiving attitude “Yogananda” means “incarnation of divine love”)
Sri Yukteswar was asked by Babaji to write a book showing the underlying similarities between Hinduism and Christianity. This book was called “The Holy Science” and is an in depth look at the underlying harmony between the Bible and Hindu scriptures. There is a story that Sri Yukteswar wrote a very perceptive commentary on the Bible, however this was given to a French gentleman who never returned it.
Sri Yukteswar also studied deeply astrology and wrote about the different cycles or Yugas. Other famous disciples of Sri Yukteswar included Sri Satyananda and Paramahansa Hariharananda. Sri Yukteswar entered Mahasamadhi (A Yogi’s conscious departure from his body) at the age of 81.
Much of what we know about Sri Yukteswar comes from Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda writes with great reverence, love and gratitude for his Master.
Perhaps the most revered yogi to touch the earth, a yogi who is reported to have been meditating in the Himalayas for many centuries, guiding the course of yoga's constant expansion.
During his lifetime he initiated many seekers from different faiths into the ancient Indian art of Kriya Yoga. In particular he was willing to break down the rigid caste barriers that were present at the time. Lahiri Mahasaya saw God everywhere and was unencumbered by social status.
Babaji revived the ancient science of Kriya Yoga by teaching it to Lahiri Mahasaya in 1861. Devoted practice of Kriya Yoga leads to realization of God. Jesus, Krishna, St. John, Gandhi, Pantanjali, St. Paul, Kabir, and other prophets were past Masters in the use of Kriya Yoga or a similar technique.
Babaji has retained his physical form for centuries and currently works with Jesus in helping mankind towards its Spiritual development.