How Did Yogananda Benefit India?


Greetings. Yogananda came to India in 1935 (returning after 15 years in the West), during which India was under British rule. My question is: how did Yogananda’s visit benefit India? Didn’t the British try to harm Yogananda? After all they must have been terrified by the fact that he could have easily freed India.

—Pushkar, India


Dear Pushkar,

Yes, Yogananda was very powerful (an ancient warrior) and could have easily lead the Indian nation into a successful revolution. But that was not the divine plan. Yogananda recounts:

“When I was young, a certain student of mine wanted me to lead a revolution to free India from foreign domination. ‘That is your job,’ I told him. I added, however, ‘India will be freed during my lifetime by peaceful means.’ He was determined to follow the way of armed revolution, however, though I tried to dissuade him from it. The British caught him, and he was executed. Divine Mother punished him for trying to use force.” (from Conversations with Yogananda)

He returned to India from the USA in 1935, as you say. And you are right, the British were afraid of him and his power. Yogananda tells this amazing story:

“Because it was a time of political agitation in India, when the country was making increasing demands for independence from England, the British police were suspicious of me, and followed me everywhere. They wanted to make sure I didn’t add to the general unrest by fanning revolutionary fervor. When I visited the Maharaja of Mysore, the police there tried to entrap me. They paid an English woman to create a public scene. Their plan was for her to approach me, throw her arms around me, then kiss me ardently. Press photographers were to be standing nearby, ready to snap that photograph. The picture would then be published in the newspapers.—.locally, and perhaps nationally.—.as a means of slandering me. God showed me their plan, however. At a public gathering, a young white woman came up to me in view of everyone, and was about to embrace me when I grabbed her by the waist, lifted her high above my head, and turned to the photographers. ‘Now,’ I called out smiling, ‘take your photograph!’ Of course, they did nothing of the kind. To have published such a picture would only have embarrassed the authorities!” (from Conversations with Yogananda)

I think India mostly benefitted spiritually from Yogananda’s presence, not politically. He spread Kriya Yoga, gave talks all over, and blessed his beloved homeland. He so much loved India, with all his heart, saying that if he has to put on mortal garb again, he wants it to be in India.

But thinking about it… maybe Yogananda benefitted India also politically, in 1935. His first stopping point, in fact, after landing in Bombay (Mumbai), was Mahatma Gandhi ashram. He gave Gandhi a lot of shakti, because Gandhi took Kriya initiation from Yogananda, during which a strong energy is transferred. Yogananda’s blessing was certainly not a small thing. It might indeed have contributed to Gandhi’s success: not long after that initiation Gandhi led India to freedom. Gandhi must have acted with the great Master’s hidden blessing, including Yogananda’s.

When Gandhi died, part of his ashes were sent to Yogananda in America. That is quite significant. He enshrined the ashes there, in Lake Shrine. Later Yogananda met the first Indian prime minister, Nehru, In San Francisco. So yes, Yogananda also had a political mind and might indeed have benefitted India also politically.

But the real revolution he was trying to bring was spiritual, through Kriya Yoga. In India, in the USA, and in the whole world.

All the best,