Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Mass Market Paperback: 604 pages
Publisher: Self-Realization Fellowship (December 12, 1946)
When writing an autobiography, the challenge for the writer, I would imagine, would be to write a story that everyone would say, “I want to read that!” More often than not, autobiographies of celebrities, statesmen and others can be deadly dull. I found, however, that Autobiography of a Yogi is anything but dull.
In so writing his autobiography, I would say, Paramahamsa Yogananda has probably fulfilled his life’s mission and that was to introduce Eastern philosophy to the Western World. He writes with humour, simplicity and pure entertainment. However, all throughout the book you are learning. Learning about a philosophy, learning about the truth and yourself. Perhaps, one can say that he went beyond his divine mandate and actually introduced Eastern philosophy to the world.
What then is this Eastern philosophy that he talks so much about? It is all based in the art and practice of Kriya Yoga – prevented by divine injunction from explaining the whole concept, Paramahamsa Yogananda explains this as comprehensively as he can:
Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will. Kriya is an ancient science.
On the Amazon.com website, under Product Description it is stated as follows:
Autobiography of a Yogi is at once a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. This acclaimed autobiography presents a fascinating portrait of one of the great spiritual figures of our time. With engaging candor, eloquence, and wit, Paramahansa Yogananda tells the inspiring chronicle of his life: the experiences of his remarkable childhood, encounter with many saints and sages during his youthful search throughout India for an illumined teacher, ten years of training in the hermitage of a revered yoga master, and the thirty years that he lived and taught in America. Also recorded here are his meetings with Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Luther Burbank, the Catholic stigmatist Therese Neumann, and other celebrated spiritual personalities of East and West. The author clearly explains the subtle but definite laws behind both the ordinary events of everyday life and the extraordinary events commonly termed miracles. His absorbing life story becomes the background for a penetrating and unforgettable look at the ultimate mysteries of human existence.
It is a profoundly inspiring and at the same time vastly entertaining read. I would recommend it to anyone!