Paramhansa Yogananda was the first yoga master of India to take up permanent residence in the West. Yogananda arrived in America in 1920, and traveled throughout the United States on what he called his “spiritual campaigns”. His enthusiastic audiences filled the largest halls in America. Hundreds of thousands came to see the yogi from India. Yogananda continued to lecture and write up to his passing in 1952.
Yogananda’s initial impact was truly impressive. But his lasting impact has been even greater. Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (right), first published in 1946, helped launch a spiritual revolution throughout the world. His message was nonsectarian and universal. Yogananda’s Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, sent him to the West with the 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 Path of Self-Realization
Yogananda taught that “Self-Realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.”
The path of Kriya Yoga, which Yogananda called the ‘jet-airplane’ route to God, consists of ancient yoga techniques to hasten the spiritual evolution of the student.
“The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God.”
— Paramhansa Yogananda fromThe Essence of Self-Realization
Ananda – Fulfilling Yogananda’s Vision
Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda, founded Ananda Village outside Nevada City, California in 1968 to fulfill Yogananda’s vision of “world brotherhood colonies”, or spiritual cooperative communities. Yogananda envisioned a place where all people, not just monastics, could devote themselves to living a divine life, dedicated to practicing the teachings of yoga in every aspect of their daily life.
Ananda Village has over 300 adult members and children. Ananda Worldwide now includes world brotherhood colonies in four American cities, and in Assisi, Italy. All residents practice Yogananda’s teachings of meditation and apply his principles to all facets of life in this world: business, schools, relationships, healing, and much more. Ananda’s Expanding Light retreat has been sharing these principles for over 25 years.