Which Deity Did Yogananda’s Family Worship? And Did He Pray to the Divine Mother?


Although Yogananda was brought up Hindu, he later adopted Christian terminology when speaking to western people. But who was the deity worshipped by his family? Was it Devi — the Divine Mother? Is it fair to say his natural concept of God is more feminine than masculine?

—Aviva, UK


Dear Aviva,

The deity in Yogananda’s family must have been Goddess Kali, from all I know. In Bengal, this is quite common, specially in Kolkata.

At any rate, Yogananda for sure worshipped the Kali. In his boyhood friend’s house (Tulsi Bose) still today there is a Kali picture which Yogananda worshipped.

In the Autobiography of a Yogi we also read: “Our family moved to Lahore in the Punjab. There I acquired a picture of the Divine Mother in the form of the Goddess Kali. It sanctified a small informal shrine on the balcony of our home.” And we read how the Kali statue at Dakshineshwar became alive to Yogananda, through his intense devotion.

But maybe more importantly, Yogananda’s family was especially devoted to Lahiri Mahasaya, who was the guru of his parents. He writes (in the same book): “His picture, in an ornate frame, always graced our family altar in the various cities to which Father was transferred by his office.”

But yes, it is fair to say that Yogananda’s natural concept of God was more feminine than masculine. He personally prayed to the Mother, because “Mother is closer than the Father.”

All the best,