Paramhansa Yogananda was a monk, yogi, and guru who introduced the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga to the West through his U.S. organization known in the East as the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India.
Yogananda’s global mission was to spread the teachings and practices of Self-realization to uplift humanity. Yogananda is often referred to as “Master” and he traveled throughout the world East to the West sharing his teachings and wisdom. The principles of his teachings include:
- Spiritual unfoldment through yogic exercises.
- The ancient techniques of breath mastery (pranayama) that consist of calming and stilling the mind starting with the breath. Pranayama is a bridge to a higher consciousness that one gets from a state of physical consciousness to the Divine presence within.
- Yogananda says in the Autobiography of a Yogi (AY) that, “Sitting in silence or introspection is an unscientific way of trying to force apart the mind and senses… Kriya controls the mind directly and is the easiest, most effective, and most scientific avenue of approach to the Infinite.”
As a child, Yogananda’s name was Mukunda. When he was eleven, his mother died. A little while later he had a vision of Divine Mother and devoted his life solely to Her. An extract from the AY talks about how Master was blessed at the age of eight to receive miraculous healing powers from a picture of his family’s guru, Lahiri Mahasaya. Master had contracted the deadly Asiatic Cholera and the doctors had given up hope for his life. Master’s mother prompted him to look at the guru’s photo and said, “Bow to him mentally. If you really show your devotion and inwardly kneel before him, your life will be spared!” Mukunda gazed at the photo and there was a blinding light. Suddenly all of his symptoms disappeared. All it took was a prayer, an instant blaze of luminous light, and faith to cure him of the fatal disease.
In 1948 a young man, Donald Walters came across the AY and described it as the best book he had ever read. Soon after, he hopped on a bus to California, hoping to meet Master. When they first met, Donald Walters’ first words to Yogananda were, “I want to be your disciple,” and then he fell to Master’s feet. Swamiji said that Master blessed him above his heart and on that day his consciousness was changed forever. Walters became known as Swami Kriyananda and was one of Yogananda’s most sincere direct disciples. Swamiji was the strong channel through which Ananda was created and he spread the ideology of world brotherhood colonies across the globe.
What is a miracle?
Miracles are extraordinary, rare events or moments that occur without logical explanation. Hence, they are often credited to divine agency. The process of miracles, generally speaking, positive or negative, will always have a beneficial learning outcome. It is often advised that miracles are worth noting down in a journal or even committing to memory in order to read or recall their impact in times of despair to help us maintain faith and reduce doubt in God.
The miracles that I have chosen to share here are relatable and might help readers to connect on more of a deeper, rather than personal level within their own realm of interpretations.
In context to Yogananda, he received celestial responses such as, “I am Iswara. I am light,” and “We are the Himalayan Yogis” which can also be considered miracles.
Another story about Master and the miracles he created and experienced was told in the AY in the chapter “Mother’s Death and the Amulet.” After his mother passed away, Mukunda was given an amulet. The sadhu that brought it to his mother said that Mukunda was to have the amulet in order to help him give up worldly desires and to focus on his vital search for God. She was told that after the amulet had served its purpose, it would disappear — which it did.
When Swami Kriyananda experienced the blessings given by Yogananda after he first arrived, it greatly impacted his life. After that day, Swami devoted his life to being Master’s disciple and immersed himself into the work appointed to him by Master. His life’s work was to spread Master’s teachings. As a result of that initial blessing and miracle, Swamiji formed spiritual communities and touched thousands and thousands of lives. Swamiji created and established the Ananda Worldwide Brotherhood Communities, which many of us call and know as our Home today.
The miracles created by Master affected many people’s lives, not only his disciples’. For instance, Luther Burbank and Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs, one of the most acclaimed and renowned American businessman was deeply influenced and inspired by the teachings of Master. He downloaded the AY on every device he had and gifted it to thousands of his friends and customers. This just proves how life-changing this book was for devoted disciples, common people, and leading-entrepreneurs as well.
There are other, various instances and miraculous circumstances mentioned in the AY. Once Mukunda’s sister Uma asked, “Why are you so quiet?” Mukunda replied, “I was just thinking how wonderful it is that Divine Mother gives me whatever I ask.” At that point, Mukunda’s sister asked him to ask Divine Mother to give him two kites that were flying above them, far away. It was almost impossible for him to attain the kites from such a distance and heights since both kites were tied to poles and held tightly. Mukunda mentally and inwardly prayed for instant possession of one of the kites and then a sudden breeze brought it right above him. Uma was astonished but would only believe him if the second kite would also come. A few seconds later, he prayed once more and the second kite, that was even further away than the first, got caught in their cactus plant nearby. He held it and handed it over to Uma. She said, “Indeed Divine Mother listens to you. This is all too uncanny for me!”
This just proves how effective and powerful Master’s prayers were, even as a young child. He would always continue to receive celestial responses from The Universe and Divine Mother.
In continuation, another chapter in the AY called, “Two penniless boys in Brindaban” had another miracle related to Yogananda.
The story starts off with an argument between Mukunda and Ananta, his older brother, regarding what comes first, God or money. Ananta told Mukunda in a very sarcastic tone, “Life has shielded you thus far.” Ananta challenged Mukunda to go with his friend Jitendra to Brindaban without a single penny and gave them the following rules:
You must not beg, either for food or for money; you must not reveal your predicament to anyone and at the same time you must not go without your meals and must not be stranded in Brindaban. If you return home, before midnight without breaking any rule, I will be the most astonished man in Agra.
Mukunda immediately accepted the challenge with no hesitation, doubt or second thoughts. As Mukunda and Jitendra sat in the train, two men seated opposite them in their compartment, took an unusual interest in their whereabouts. The men offered to provide food and shelter to both boys for the night, but Mukunda refused. At the end of the train ride, Mukunda then sensed that these two men were disciples of Lord Krishna and hence, he accepted their request. In fact, the boys were treated as princes and all the rules given by Ananta were met. The two boys returned home, untouched by any challenge or obstacle. Ananta was amazed by what had happened. He couldn’t believe or understand it.
Mukunda expected this result. This was the reason he accepted and embraced the challenge in the first place.
Master works in mysterious but miraculous ways.
As described earlier, Yogananda is the foundation and inspiration for all of the Ananda Worldwide communities. He is a channel of love, light, and wisdom. Master works in mysterious but miraculous ways. He flows through each one of us who prays to him and allows him to take charge of their lives. He is the Doer. If we allow him to take charge of our lives, he will flow through us whether and while we speak, think or act.
My miracle from Master
When I was a young child (nine years old) my mom and I visited a sacred cave in Ranikhet with a group of Ananda devotees. There were about five of us in the cave. While I was there, I prayed to Master to give me a sign that he was also there with me. I decided that I would give him a few minutes, so I meditated for a little while. When I opened my eyes, right in my hands were a few pieces of a traditional Indian sweet delicacy often used for offerings during prayers which are called “mishri.” I was spellbound and in that very moment, I realized this was the indication I asked for that Master was with me. It was, coincidentally, my favorite dessert. I was younger at the time and so excited that I ate the mishri right away. Ever since that day I have felt most connected to our Master, Paramhansa Yogananda.
That was a life-changing experience for me and it made me a firm believer and a stronger disciple on The Path of Self-realization. I took my discipleship vows that same year and now that I am old enough, I will be able to take my initiation very soon.
The direction that Master has led and supported through the practices of Self-realization has really impacted and touched many souls forever. Master has always inspired me and millions of others to follow the path of dharma (right action). His teachings have spread from the East to the West, across borders and nations, and directly into people’s lives. Master’s influence has raised consciousness and brought positive changes to so many lives. His teachings and practices will help more souls to achieve freedom and ultimately merge with God as One. The teachings also help individuals establish a deep and personal connection with The Divine.
Another disciple’s miracle from Master
Since this article is about the miracles of Yogananda as discussed earlier, miracles can be on a large scale and also in the hearts of common people and disciples. I interviewed a Nayaswami (Ananda instructors that have taken vows in a new renunciate order that Swamiji founded in 2009). I asked Nayaswami Kabir Macdow who has been on the path for 40+ years a question: ‘Have you ever experienced a life-changing miracle about or associated with Yogananda? If yes, explain what it was and how it influenced you.’ This is how he responded:
When I was about 30 years old and had been on the spiritual path for about six years, I went to a spiritual workshop at one of the Ananda Meditation Centres in the US. The workshop leader first asked us to think of our best friend and I thought of Yogananda. Then, he said to say goodbye to our best friend, which to me meant say goodbye to Yogananda. I said okay, goodbye and at that very moment, I felt as if the presence of Yogananda within me had left my heart. I experienced a great emptiness and hollowness within, as if 90% of me was gone. This went on for three painful, tear-filled days and after many prayers, the presence of Yogananda returned. Through this experience, Yogananda taught me to more fully recognize and appreciate his presence within and to be much more careful about the power of the words I use and the choices I make. That experience was like a miracle in my life, and it changed me.
The miracle of the teachings
In conclusion, Master left a legacy – a trail and a direction for those willing and destined to follow. Master laid down a road where there are two choices: to be on the Path or to not be on the Path. Those who choose the first over the latter will selflessly be able to realize their highest potentials because they will have a true teaching to follow and will be surrounded by those who have a high and light level of consciousness. Inside, we will be reminded that we don’t have to look for the light because the light is already within us. This Light will grow forevermore if we choose to nurture it and follow the miracle of the teachings that Paramhansa Yogananda brought and shared with the world.
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