Did Yogananda put a special spiritual charge into the portrait on the cover of his autobiography?
You are right, that cover picture is indeed charged. It has touched countless people, and is still working wonders today, on the book, on altars, on devotee’s walls…. It was Sister Gyanamata’s favorite photo of Yogananda, for example. She too must have felt that magnetic beauty.
Did Yogananda charge that photo consciously with spiritual power? Or is it charged simply because Yogananda was who he was? It’s hard to tell. Personally I think that the Divine Spirit moves through these great Masters, and things just happen powerfully, without their conscious thought, for example, “I will now charge that photo!”
Whatever the case, the magnetism of that photograph comes from God: I read in an Self-Realization Fellowship publication (can’t remember now where) that the picture was taken in the early 1920s, when Yogananda was just coming out of his hotel room, right after an ecstasy. That’s what you and many others intuitively feel: God is present there, in his eyes, in his aura.
Photograph aside: Sri Yukteswar told him that many seekers will be inwardly transformed simply through the look of his eyes. Durga Ma wrote a most beautiful homage to the “Master’s eyes.” Here it is, formatted as verse, for you to enjoy.
In divine friendship, jayadev
by Durga Mata
Master’s eyes were truly the windows of his soul.
Master’s forehead was broad and well-formed,
With perfectly arched brows that framed a beautiful nose,
And two large, dark lotus expressive eyes,
That would change expression
According to the different moods or roles that he played
At any particular time.
Mischievous when playful;
Fire when he became the disciplinarian;
Reason when he took the part of a father;
Tenderness when that of a mother;
Sadness and tears when sympathetic;
Wisdom when he taught;
Distant when his mind was beyond this planet.
Eyes that would magnetically heal
The body of disease,
The mind of psychological knots,
The soul of ignorance.
Eyes that could see even
What our words could not say.
Eyes that went beyond the physical
And penetrated through the individual’s mind and soul,
to see what even we did not know or see for ourselves.
Eyes that sparkled with Will
When he concentrated for SRF’s progress.
Eyes that saw the beauty in all nature.
Eyes that were ever on the alert
For souls that God wanted him to help.
Eyes that were capable of seeing the darker side of our nature,
But refused to look at them,
To only concentrate on our good qualities.
Eyes of determination
That could overcome any obstacles.
Eyes that sent out flames
To burn out the draught of delusion
And dryness of the soul.
And above all,
Eyes that had only sight and love
For his only Father, Mother,
-from Sri Durga Mata, A Paramhansa Yogananda Trilogy of Divine Love, Joan Wight Publications