In the chapter "Ressurrection of Sri Yukteswar," from Autobiography of a Yogi, it says:
"The undeveloped man must undergo countless earthly and astral and causal incarnations in order to emerge from his three bodies. A master who achieves this final freedom may elect to return to earth as a prophet to bring other human beings back to God, or like myself he may choose to reside in the astral cosmos."
Is he saying that he has already achieved this final freedom and has merged with God? Same as Jesus?
Yogananda often used the phrase “Christlike masters” to refer to great souls like Sri Yuteswar who had acheived the same “final freedom” as Jesus.
Christlike masters are alike in their utter freedom from all karma and limited awareness, but unalike in their earthly roles. Jesus’ role on earth was that of a Savior. His life was led (as we know) very publicly for the purpose of reaching millions with his message and his grace.
Not all Christlike masters are given such dramatic roles. Some are largely unknown to the world, others, like Sri Yukteswar have quiet missions. Sri Yukteswar said he incarnated on earth with the mission to help a small number of disciples, then return to the astral level of existence to help even more advanced souls who had overcome their earthly karma but not yet freed themselves from their astral karma.
Yogananda emphasized that everyone will eventually attain the same freedom as Jesus and become Christlike masters themselves.
Joy to You,