Yogananda’s Writings on the Bhagavad Gita & the Chakras



Can you please tell me in which book Paramahamsa Yogananda wrote about the chakras and the Bhagavad Gita?

—Kristine, United States


Dear Friend:

There is a book published by Self-Realization Fellowship called God Talks to Arjuna. It is Yogananda’s commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita. His original manuscript forms the basis of it, but it has been highly edited by SRF so it is not really his style or voice. Much of the information is from him, but by no means all of it. For example, the book is filled with footnotes which Yogananda never included.

Obviously, I am no so keen on that book, and, fortunately there is another option.

Swami Kriyananda wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita based on his knowledge of Yogananda’s commentaries both from reading the original manuscript and helping Yogananda with editing that manuscript. Swamiji said when he wrote this book with each stanza he was able to remember all of Yogananda’s explanations and that is what he offers. The style and voice of what Swamiji calls The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda is the way I understand Yogananda himself to be, whereas the SRF book is not.

This conclusion is not just SRF-bashing. In the course of the 12-years of litigation that SRF pursued against Ananda (see www.YoganandafortheWorld for details of that, or read the recently published A Fight for Religious Freedom by Jon Parsons) I had the opportunity to see many pages of the original manuscript of Yogananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita. SRF obtained a strict confidentiality order which is still in force and, unfortunately prevents me from being specific, so I can only say the manuscript is in Yogananda’s own voice. The book SRF published is mostly not. I have not read all the pages of the SRF book. In what I have read, occasionally to me it sounds like Yogananda, but mostly it does not.

Another way that is available to everyone that the voice of Yogananda can be contrasted to the voice of SRF is by comparing the original version of Autobiography of a Yogi published by Crystal Clarity (Ananda) Publishers with that 13th edition published by SRF. Ananda’s is the blue version; SRF’s the orange one. That tells the whole story. You’ll find more about versions of the Autobiography also on the website mentioned above.

The essential difference is that Yogananda’s own voice is warm, encouraging, forgiving, humourous, easy to understand, practical, down to earth. That is what you find in Essence.

By contrast, I find God Talks to Arjuna is difficult to understand, tends to be declarative in its statements rather than encouraging, and often dogmatic in its conclusions. After reading God Talks to Arjuna I didn’t have much hope that God would ever talk to me. Whereas Essence gives me hope for my spiritual future.

As for the chakras, I believe there is some information in God Talks to Arjuna, but I can’t think where else there are published writings by Yogananda about that subject. Maybe they exist, but I don’t know where. You will find the chakras well explained in the Art & Science of Raja Yoga by Swami Kriyananda. Also in a book by Savitri from Ananda, and in many recorded talks by Swamiji and other Ananda teachers. All are Yogananda’s teachings, but not his writings.