The Spiritual Path and Desires for Fashion, Wearing Brands, Luxury


What would have Yogananda said to people (both men and women) who consider that: wearing brands is very important, even necessary (designer shoes, bags, etc.)? And that dating or marrying a rich man who can buy such expensive things and a luxurious lifestyle is important, or a priority?

—Christina, Cyprus


Dear Christina,

Paramhansa Yogananda encouraged students to avoid luxuries and to focus on the necessities of life — and to live a more modest, simple, and what we would now call “sustainable” lifestyle. Keeping up with fashionable trends and brands would not have been encouraged by him.

It must needs be said also that nothing outside ourselves can define or sully our soul’s purity and joy. If one were born into a family and a social circle where such things were either one’s actual trade or business — or otherwise part and parcel of one’s life, family and social circle — one can have wealth and status without attachment. Many great saints in the East and West were born into wealthy circumstances. Outer circumstances need not define our heart’s natural love and devotion. Such circumstances, moreover, should spur our commitment to use our privileged circumstances to help others, to set an example of at least a more moderate and modest way of life, devoid of pride and ostentation, and to show nobility of character as well as status.

Life, it is well said, is what you make of it. But your question was what would Yogananda have thought of the value or importance of living a trendy lifestyle. In truth he would not have thought much of it for its own sake.

He said once to his women renunciate disciples, “Ladies, don’t devote too much time to dressing or caring for your appearance, lest you fall into temptation.” He didn’t mean they should be indifferent to the normal standards of neatness and good taste, but only that they should not be oversolicitous in these matters. (from Conversations with Yogananda by Swami Kriyananda)

If one could somehow use such a status to greater personal spiritual benefit and for the upliftment of others, then of course one might at least find some higher value. I think of the saint, Bhaduri Mahasaya, depicted in Autobiography of a Yogi, or the young man who came to ask Jesus’ advice: in both cases relinquishment of wealth in favor of the disadvantaged was the remedy. But because of the strong tendency to be attached to beauty and wealth, few have the courage to do so. So for most, making the spiritually best of it is the next step. Okay?


Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA USA