God’s Role in Human History


Why didn’t Yogananda use even a small part of his powers to have a tangible positive effect on India where people die of poverty and hunger and all sorts of problems which western world can’t even imagine?

He didn’t do anything to protect India from British rule… So much of Indias wealth was taken away by the British and people were living as slaves.

Don’t you feel Edison, Nikola Tesla and other “materialist" people have had more profound effect on humanity in a tangible way?

—Varadaraya, India


My dear friend,

Many people down through the ages ask such questions: “Why does God permit suffering?” (being the most common and generic version of your question). Yoganandaji counsels us that God, in manifesting the creation, did so through various “devices” including the the principle of duality (opposites) and the related law of karma: action and reaction. In order for the drama of creation to perpetuate, He honors his own self-imposed laws of nature and creation that the creation and the creatures work out the adventure of Self-awakening through free will and the consequences of individual and group actions.

Before he went to America in 1920 he was asked by Bengali revolutionaries to lead the revolution against the British. His response was that such a role was not his dharma in that lifetime; but, he said, “India would free itself through non-violent means.” And so it was.

By the time of Yogananda’s life (1893–1952), India’s wealth had long been taken by British so it that was no longer a relevant issue. The karma of India is what it was as it is for the Tibetans, the American Indians, and so many indigenous peoples throughout the world as well as groups such as the Jews and many others. We all have to face our karma: whether ours personally or that of the group with which we are identified. To the extent that individuals face their karma with faith and equanimity, with energy and creativity, and with divine attunement, to THAT extent, and THAT extent only, do we become free of past karma. “Nishkam karma”: action without personal desire! (As taught by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita).

And no, I DON’T feel Tesla or Edison or other famous inventors (who I, too, admire, as did Swami Sri Yukteswar and Yoganandaji) have had a more profound effect on humanity… except, yes in a material way, as you say, but not in changing consciousness. Humanity has material power over life and death in weapons, science, and medicine but we have not yet achieved the peaceful and wisdom-guided consciousness to use these tools for our own, and others’, highest good.

Paramhansa Yogananda put yoga on the world map, and, Kriya Yoga especially. Other teachers and prophets too have made important contributions in modern times as well. Yoga (by which I mean principally meditation but also hatha yoga as a subset of meditation) is destined to help uplift human consciousness so that the world will survive our tribalism and our “toolism” (technological powers). This is the greatest contribution to world peace and human happiness. Meditation requires no religious system of belief or rituals. Anyone can experience the peace of yoga practice and the awakening of conscience, sympathy and intuition. The latest cell phone; a cure for cancer; all the food the world can eat… these only satisfy our material needs but can never satisfy our soul’s longing for true and lasting peace and joy! Only the human heart contains the potential to find happiness!

Blessings and joy to you… continue your search for Truth!

Nayaswami Hriman