We keep hearing about spirituality, yoga, meditation, kundalini awakening and salvation. For those of you who are vaguely knowledged about such terms but seeking a reliable source of sensible and practical information, Autobiography of a Yogi is a great choice. If you expect a yogi's autobiography to be a boring account of how he found God, this shall be a different kind of an autobiography for you.
To clear any prejudice you might be having towards picking up this book:
- You need not be a follower of Paramahansa Yogananda
- You don't have to have an opinion about how good a spiritual master he is.
- You really don't have to know a word on spirituality.
- The book is not about Hinduism. In fact, more Biblical references than Hindu scriptures can be found throughout the book.
The book doesn't teach you to become a yogi. Rather, Paramahansa Yogananda discusses his spiritual affiliation since childhood, scientific and logical explanations about meditation, breathing techniques, past lives, reincarnation, astrology and his experiences of meeting other revered masters of India and elsewhere.
Paramahansa Yogananda was born on January 5th, 1893 in a middle class Bengali family.
I am writing this tribute on his 123rd birth anniversary, January 5th 2016,
to honour the presence of his writings in my life.
Autobiography of a Yogi includes 49 chapters of which in the first 10 chapters, he explains how he was drawn towards the Himalayas since childhood. He makes a few funny and futile attempts to visit the Himalayas and comes home disappointed every time. His inner search for a Guru makes him yonder hither and thither during which he meets several masters in close acquaintance. Though he realizes the Godliness in such masters, his heart doesn't rest until he finds his way one day to Sri Yukteswar, his destined Guru.
In the next 10 chapters, Paramahansa Yogananda describes the scientific basis of several phenomena which happen around us in our daily lives but to which we remain blind. How human minds are capable of intuition, how our horoscopes and the alignment of stars and planets take effect on our lives, how some people demonstrate magical wonders - imagine what happens when someone who passed out of IIT or Harvard becomes a yogi. That's how I felt while reading the extraordinary explanations.
He soon becomes a monk of the Swami Order and establishes a yoga school at Ranchi. An interesting account of how he discovers the rebirth of one of his dead disciples is an astounding read. The narration of meeting God in the form of the Divine Mother shall inspire us to tread a step further in our evolution. The history behind the meeting of his Guru and his Guru, Lahiri Mahasaya and his meeting with his great Guru, Mahaavatar Babaji are awakening reads. In 1920, he leaves India to the US to spread spirituality to the west. More accounts of his meetings with Rabindranath Tagore, Luther Burbank, Ramana Maharishi, Anandamoyi Ma, Saint Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi takes us to a different dimension of respect and surprises. Most importantly, the chapter of 'The Science of Kriya Yoga' explains the biological and physiological changes humans undergo while practising yoga and meditation.
One who has read the book will certainly acknowledge how meaningful and honest the account of his life is. No wonder Autobiography of a Yogi is prescribed as a text for courses in comparative religion, psychology, literature, philosophy, sociology and biology, in over 100 universities and colleges across the US.
It was difficult to choose an excerpt as there are too many to be quoted. The following is one in random:
"All creation is governed by law," Sri Yukteswarconcluded. "The principles that operate in the outer universe, discoverable by scientists, are called naturallaws. But there are subtler laws that rule the hidden spiritual planes and the inner realm of consciousness; these principles are knowable through the science of yoga...."
- Chapter 'Years in My Master's Hermitage' (Page 113)
Every line of the 'The Law of Miracles' chapter is an excerpt.