Mahatma Gandhi


Was Mahatma Gandhi a liberated soul?Is it necessary for me,as a practitioner of kriya yoga,to believe in the principles led down by Mahatma Gandhi and agree with whatever that he has said?

—Sukhmandeep Singh, India


Dear Friend,

Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda (who was a direct disciple and trained by P. Yogananda) reported that when Yogananda was effectively asked this same question he replied that Gandhi was not a liberated soul. A “mahatma” (a great soul) surely, however.

Yogananda initiated Gandhi in kriya yoga and years later when Yogananda was asked whether Gandhi continued with his kriya practice, Yogananda said yes he had, as Gandhi was a man of his word.

Gandhi is not a spiritual teacher in the lineage of Yogananda, Babaji, etc. His teachings on ahimsa, satyagraha, the chakra (spinning wheel) are his own teachings. Yogananda was very gracious in his own autobiography allowing Gandhi’s words to be expressed without comment, but in person Yogananda taught that there are times when a just war or self-defense or the incarceration of criminals was necessary. Yogananda said WW2 and the Korean war (which took place during his lifetime) were just wars.

Yogananda even publicly urged that an international police force be created to deal with what we would now call terrorists or rogue states. As to other teachings of Gandhi, I can say that Yogananda strongly urged people to buy land in the country with others of like-mind and grow one’s own food. He warned audiences that a time was coming when this would be necessary for survival owing to economic, natural, and military “catastrophes” and conditions. Yet, Yogananda was not against technology as such, only against an unbalanced, inequitable, and unsustainable life style of exploitation (whether natural or human).

As to the strict rules of Gandhi’s satyagraha, Yogananda applied similar rules to the monastics under his direct guidance but not for his students generally, except in moderation. But those rules of celibacy and moderation are universally applied in monasteries around the world. Yogananda’s application was not informed by satyagraha tenets.

Blessings to you!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA