When I was first here over forty years ago, I had an intense desire to make Yogananda and his mission known, because I saw that books about the great saints of modern India left him out entirely. Today I find that many Indians have read Autobiography of a Yogi and have been very moved by it.
Recognized by the great saints
But a surprising number of people think of Yogananda as a fortunate young man who got to meet the great saints of his day. In his last years he told us that when he visited those saints, they actually wanted instruction from him. They recognized him as a great master even though he was still a youth.
There are only a handful of great masters who are fully liberated (as he told us, “I was liberated many lifetimes ago.”), and yet keep coming back to this world to raise the consciousness of humanity. He said, for example, that Babaji was Krishna in a former incarnation and that he himself had been Arjuna.
These great masters come again and again to uplift the world. It’s very important to understand that a great master like Yogananda comes with a mission.
Yogananda—a divine warrior
Yogananda’s mission was similar to Arjuna’s in the Bhagavad Gita in that he had to fight to make righteousness transcendent over evil. His life demonstrated that it’s not enough to say, “I will withdraw into samadhi and forget that evil exists.” There’s a part of the divine play that needs to fight evil, and this was the role that Yogananda took up. To bring these teachings to people he had to be a divine warrior like Arjuna.
Now that he’s physically left this world, we must carry on his mission and serve as his hands and feet. He brought a call to divine battle, inflaming people to change their lives and bring Kriya Yoga into action. It’s a good thing to be centered in your spine, but today it’s even more important to take this centeredness out to others.
The role of communities
At almost every public lecture Yogananda gave, he spoke of the importance of coming together to create communities, or world brotherhood colonies, as he called them. I was present at a talk he gave in Beverly Hills at which he said that thousands of youths must go North, South, East, and West to spread this concept. I vowed I would do it. There were several hundred people at that garden party, but I’m the only one who took him seriously and founded communities.
I would like to plead with all of you to join hands with us to start communities in this country. Right now we have mostly Americans living in the ashram here, but I hope in time that it will be far more Indians, and we’ll be a small minority.
The beautiful thing about living in such communities is that everybody becomes joyful, forgiving, and filled with love. I believe with all my heart that in the future people will look back and say that the most important thing happening in the world at this time was the founding of communities, places where people got together and said, “Let’s live the right way. Let’s not worry about what other people do.”
We must share our joy with others
Today isn’t the time for a few monks to be hidden away in monasteries. It’s the time for people everywhere to live lives dedicated to God. You’ve no idea what an impression these communities have already made. We get letters from people from all over the world saying that their lives are more worthwhile knowing that our communities exist.
Just as Master pleaded with everyone at that garden party to join in this mission, I plead with you now to take these words seriously. This was one of the most important things he came to bring. He knew that if people could live together in harmony, practice Kriya Yoga, and understand that their reality is within themselves, they could change the world.
For India, a return to spiritual values
Today we see that India has been drawing from the West in the wrong ways. Going Western is one thing, but bringing materialistic values to India is quite another. There is something in India that no other country has—a power implanted in the soil for millennia by great rishis seeking God. I have encountered many Indians who say, “How can we bring these values back?”
This is our job. I’ve incarnated in a Western body, but I’m not a Westerner at heart. I’m an Indian. But my job, our job if you will accept it, is to bring these values back to India and to help people to realize that we need both God and material efficiency.
America and India must unite
There is a karmic bond between India and America that goes back thousands of years. It’s the divine will today that these two cultures be united to blend the best of East and West. Yogananda predicted that some day India and America would unite to lead the world in a balanced life of material and spiritual efficiency.
This is Yogananda’s mission, and this is what I’ve come to India to help accomplish. I would love to start communities where this ideal can be brought to a focus, because otherwise these words just disperse into the ether. But if a few people can get together and create such communities, then we can set an example for others to follow.
The need for divine warriors
We are at the very beginning of a new age, and I’ll tell you quite truthfully that this isn’t going to be an easy beginning. My Guru said that a time will come when no corner of this planet will be safe from bombs. He spoke also of great economic depression. We have great suffering and trials ahead, and we will need to be divine warriors.
But at the same time, spiritually, this is a wonderful time to be born, because we don’t grow when everything is smooth and easy. An easy life is not a victorious one. We have an opportunity now to be warriors for God, like Arjuna.
We will see the real fruit of these teachings after these trials are over, but now we are at the beginning of it. In our own small way, if we can help to bring Master’s teachings out, we can help to change the world.
Kriya Yoga must be put into action
I’m grateful to be in India now and do what I set out to do forty years ago: to make Yogananda and his mission known. I don’t do this with the ego of a disciple who wants his Guru to be known, but with the conviction that what Yogananda brought is what India and the world need at this time. You can change the world if you live these truths.
This was the message that the Masters sent to the world through Yogananda. Kriya Yoga needs to be put into action. We need to meditate, to feel the divine joy within, and to bring that divine joy outward to all. The surest way of doing this is if a few people who believe in these values band together, grow their own food, build their own buildings, and educate their own children.
We have done this in our communities for the past thirty-six years. We can do it here. I know that this is what Yogananda wants to do through me and through all of us here.
During Yogananda’s last moments before his mahasamadhi on March 7, 1952, he pleaded with us to bring the best of the East and West together, and to live in a better way in order to know what life is really all about.