There is much more to be “seen” than what our physical eyes can perceive. Visible light, which includes all the colors of the rainbow, occupies only a very small section of the electromagnetic spectrum.

An aura is an electromagnetic energy field which surrounds all things. Paramhansa Yogananda explains that the aura radiates outward from a central core of energy within the energy or astral body.  As perceptible light, auras are visible to some people, though invisible to most.

Perceiving  auras

Auras are most often sensed or felt, rather than actually seen with our physical eyes. We may say, for example: “You’re looking bright today,” or “He’s walking around with a dark cloud over his head.” You have no doubt met people whose very presence emanated an indefinable power.

In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda describes the “feeling quality” of certain auras. He writes that Mahatma Gandhi emanated “an all-pervasive aura of peace and devotion”; Therese Neumann, “an aura of peace and joy”; and Rabindranath Tagore, “a soothing aura of charm, culture, and courtliness.”

Yogananda, of course, was also able to see auras. When the train bringing Sri Yukteswar to Serampore was pulling into the station, Yogananda exclaimed joyfully, “The whole train is filled with the light of Master’s aura!”

An inward awakening of energy

There are many indications that people have long been able to see auras. Renaissance painters, for example, usually painted a halo of radiant light around the heads or bodies of saints, angels, or holy persons.

Swami Kriyananda explains that spiritually sensitive persons often see an astral light, or aura, around the bodies of saints, and especially around their heads. In fact, the more one’s inner energy increases through deep meditation, the more one gradually becomes aware of that energy as a light radiating outward from the chakras and around the body as an aura of light.

This light shines with a variety of colors, depending on a person’s state of consciousness. Very generally speaking, the warmer colors like red, orange, and yellow indicate a high level of energy. Blue, indigo, and violet reflect calmness and a spiritual orientation. The brighter the color or light, the more spiritually refined the consciousness.  Around people of lower awareness, the light becomes progressively dimmer.

The auras of saints

Kamala Silva, a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda for many years, describes his aura in The Flawless Mirror:

All through the years, whenever I saw his aura, it was a “pure brightness of light.” A blue radiance extended beyond this light and haloed his head; a golden glow outlined the light around his body.

Swami Kriyananda writes that he tries consciously to expand his aura when speaking or addressing a group:

One thing I have found helpful is to ask Yogananda to expand my aura that it fill any auditorium in which I am speaking, or to encompass any group I address, no matter how small or large. Indeed, I feel this expansion.People tell me that this, more even than any words I utter, is what reaches them. When I meditate with a group, I try also to feel him expanding my aura to touch all who are present.

In Asha Praver’s book, Swami Kriyananda As We Have Known Him, a devotee relates an experience of seeing Swami Kriyananda’s expanded aura:

The first time I heard Swami Kriyananda speak…a golden aura began to fill the room. It looked like the angel hair you sometimes see on Christmas trees, only instead of white, it had this beautiful golden color. I watched as it wound itself around the hall until everyone was enveloped in it…. The most important thing was not what Swamiji said. It was being in that golden aura….

“Things” have auras, too

Places also give off a kind of aura. In some places it is very subtle and in others, it is obvious, even to less sensitive people. There are churches where you immediately feel caught up in the love of those who have worshiped there. Similarly, there are homes that seem to welcome you and surround you with warmth.

Even books and other literary works have auras. Swami Kriyananda describes his college experience of seeing a halo of white light around the greatest literary works such as Homer’s Iliad and Shakespeare’s plays. The light he saw around lesser works was diminished in intensity and darker in color. Around ordinary literary works, he saw no light at all.

He notes, also, that false spiritual teachings similarly have no aura except perhaps “some sort of grey mist.” The Bhagavad Gita, by contrast, conveys to the reader “an aura of the highest revelation.”

Aura photos

There are now cameras and various devices that can photograph people’s auras. When Swami Kriyananda visited a metaphysical bookshop in Australia during a lecture tour, the bookshop owners, a husband and wife, offered to take his photograph with an “aura camera.”

The resulting photo, which he later shared with friends, is covered from edge to edge with deep indigo blue, through which his face and upper body are only dimly visible. Most aura photos, according to the bookstore owners, show a mixture of colors, through which the person is clearly visible.

The bookstore owners also showed Kriyananda several aura photographs of themselves. He comments:

The colors in these photographs, and the way in which they blended together, corresponded strikingly to what I sensed about their personalities. They were pleasant people; therefore the colors surrounding them were pleasant also. It struck me how much more effectively these “aura” photos captured them than any normal photograph could have.

The wife showed me two more “aura” photographs of herself. One of them had been taken after a physical healing; the other one, just before the healing. The contrast between these two was remarkable.

People often ask whether they should have their aura photographed or analyzed. Remember that your energy is like a river that is constantly moving and changing. The colors in your aura at this moment will probably be different an hour from now, possibly quite different tomorrow if something in your day goes wrong, and very different right after your next deep meditation. Love, fulfillment, sickness, sadness—these are all reflected in the aura.

Strengthening the aura

We can strengthen our auras on a daily basis, and also in times of special need, by increasing our energy and will power. Especially important is doing everything we can—physically, mentally, and spiritually—to increase the stream of positive energy within ourselves. Saying “yes” to life greatly increases the flow of positive energy.

Energization Exercises, meditation, hatha yoga, Kriya Yoga, devotional chanting—all these are vitally important for helping us keep a strong aura at all times. Here are a few other ways to strengthen your aura.

  • Yogananda suggests that devotees wear an astrological bangle/bracelet made of metals (gold, silver, and copper) of specific purity and weight. Certain gemstones worn touching the skin may be used in the same way.
  • Whenever you see colors that you like especially, absorb them into yourself; let them vitalize your aura. Liking for a particular color may suggest a need for it in your aura, as the craving for a particular food may indicate elements that are lacking in one’s diet. Try wearing a color you might ‘hunger’ for, or inhaling a bright clear color into your aura whenever you feel the need.
  • In the privacy of your meditation room, place your arms down at your side. Then, mentally chanting AUM, bring them upward, straight out to the side, with your palms up, until you join the palms high above your head. Mentally create an aura of upward-moving light around your body. Repeat this exercise several times and also throughout the day, as needed. If you are in a public place and cannot comfortably move your arms as suggested, visualize the process instead.
  • As you meditate, feel that the surface of your body is not your skin, but an aura of light surrounding your body. Expand this aura. Feel as if, with every outgoing breath, you were gently inflating a shining balloon of radiant light. Now, reach out in all directions around you with finger-rays of astral light. Touch, feel, and explore the greater reality of the Spirit around you. Try to sense behind everything the subtle presence of divine consciousness.
  • Always imagine yourself surrounded by an aura of divine light. Live more within that light. Expand it consciously. Include in it the people around you and the space within which you live. Rest or move surrounded by the aura created by your inner peace.

A cloak of light

If a person’s aura is strong, the negative consequences of his bad karma (and even mass karma) will have a greatly lessened impact. Only when your energy flow and will power are weak can you be influenced in a negative way. In the long run, dynamic energy is the most important aspect of healing. It creates an aura around us that wards off disease or negativity of all types.

Work to strengthen your aura through your spiritual practices. Then strive always to radiate light and joy to everyone, and to the world around you. Swami Kriyananda writes that “the secret of happiness is learning how to pass through life’s storms with a peaceful heart, its aura enclosing you like a cloak of light.”

Savitri Simpson, a Lightbearer, lives at Ananda Village and serves in the Sangha Office and as a teacher at The Expanding Light Guest Retreat.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful article. It was really enlightening to read it.

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