"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.
In 1920, Paramahansa Yogananda embarked on a mission to introduce yoga and meditation to the Western world. He moved to the United States and quickly gained a following, delivering lectures on the science of yoga and the art of balanced spiritual living. His groundbreaking work, "Autobiography of a Yogi," published in 1946, became a spiritual classic and has since inspired countless seekers worldwide. Yogananda's teachings emphasised the unity of all religions and the importance of direct personal experience of God through meditation. He founded the Self-Realisation Fellowship (SRF) to spread his teachings, established its international headquarters in Los Angeles, and tirelessly toured the United States, sharing his profound insights and practices. Paramahansa Yogananda's life and legacy continue to influence and inspire individuals on their spiritual journeys, making him one of the most revered spiritual figures of the 20th century.
He also enjoyed meetings with Mahatma Gandhi who requested initiation in Kriya Yoga; Nobel‑prize‑winning physicist Sir C. V. Raman; and some of India’s most renowned spiritual figures, including Ramana Maharshi and Anandamoyi Ma.
It was during this year that Sri Yukteswar bestowed on him India’s highest spiritual title, paramahansa. Literally “supreme swan” (a symbol of spiritual discrimination), the title signifies one who is established in the ultimate state of union with God. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds.
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.
Lahiri Mahasaya was a highly revered spiritual luminary and one of the key figures in the revival of Kriya Yoga, a profound system of yogic meditation techniques. Lahiri Mahasaya's life is marked by his remarkable spiritual awakening and the transmission of Kriya Yoga to earnest seekers. He was initiated into Kriya Yoga by his guru, Mahavatar Babaji, an immortal yogi said to have lived for centuries. Under Babaji's guidance, Lahiri Mahasaya attained spiritual realisation and became a householder yogi, living a simple life as a family man and working as an accountant.
Lahiri Mahasaya's spiritual teachings and the practice of Kriya Yoga drew the attention of seekers from various backgrounds. He played a pivotal role in demystifying the esoteric teachings of yoga and making them accessible to ordinary individuals. His profound insights into the science of meditation and the importance of inner communion with the Divine influenced many, including his most famous disciple, Paramahansa Yogananda. Lahiri Mahasaya's legacy continues to endure through the Kriya Yoga tradition, which has spread worldwide, guiding countless spiritual seekers on their path to self-realisation and inner transformation. His life exemplified the harmonious integration of spirituality into everyday existence, emphasising the universality of divine realisation attainable by all.
The life of Mahavatar Babaji remains shrouded in mystery and legend, making him one of the most enigmatic and revered figures in the realm of yoga and spirituality. It is said that he is an immortal yogi, residing in the Himalayas, and has been alive for centuries, maintaining a youthful appearance. Babaji is believed to have been the guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, who was instrumental in popularising Kriya Yoga in modern times. Mahavatar Babaji's exact date of birth and personal history are unknown, but his presence in the lives of spiritual aspirants is deeply felt through his teachings and spiritual guidance.
Babaji revived the ancient science of Kriya Yoga by teaching it to Lahiri Mahasaya in 1861. Devoted practice of Kriya Yoga leads to realisation 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 is often described as a highly advanced yogi who has mastered the science of self-realisation and the secrets of immortality. He is said to have the ability to traverse time and space and appears to sincere seekers when needed, imparting profound wisdom and guidance. His teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, self-realisation, and the unity of all spiritual paths. Mahavatar Babaji's existence and teachings continue to inspire countless individuals on their spiritual journeys, and his influence can be felt throughout the global spiritual community, where he is regarded as a living symbol of divine wisdom and eternal truth.