We did an interview recently with our good friend, Phil Goldberg, author of The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru. The interview was in honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the first publication of Autobiography of a Yogi in December 1946.

During the interview Phil raised an interesting question: “What would the world be like today without the Autobiography?” This intriguing query launched a series of thoughts that kept falling like dominos in my mind for many days.

First, there are the big, bold strokes of famous people inspired by the book who have had a huge impact on society.

Steve Jobs, the visionary behind Apple, read the Autobiography every year of his adult life. It was the only book he kept on his iPhone, and he left instructions to give a copy of it to everyone who attended his funeral when he died tragically at an early age.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, once gave an interview to a young actor (who happened to be a disciple of Yoganandaji). The actor saw a copy of the Autobiography on a bookshelf behind Mr. Roddenberry’s desk, and asked him, “Have you read that book?” He replied, “Read it? I get lots of my ideas from it. The thought of ‘beaming people up’ came from the chapter, ‘The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar.’”

George Harrison of the Beatles became a disciple, and the music written later in his life was influenced by this association.

Virat Kohli, the captain of India’s undefeated cricket team, said of the Autobiography: “I love this book. A must-read for all those who are brave enough to let their thoughts and ideologies be challenged. The understanding and implementation of the knowledge in this book will change your whole perspective and life.”

yogananda public lecture Minneapolis author of autobiography of a yogi

Yogoda students at one of Yogananda’s classes in Minneapolis, October 1927. The students are bowing in “pronam,” the Hindu form of greeting.

Then there are the four million copies in over thirty languages that have been sold to date. In the years that Jyotish and I have been sharing Yogananda’s teachings around the world, we’ve met countless people everywhere who have read it.

Some have said, “Oh, I read the Autobiography years ago. I wish I had followed him.” Others told us, “When I read it, my whole perspective on life changed.” And still others quietly said, “After reading it, I have followed him as a disciple ever since.” Not one person we met who had read it was untouched by its spiritual influence.

Towards the end of our interview, Phil asked us another question: What was the impact on us of our first reading of the book? Strange to say, I had never really thought deeply about this. My spontaneous reply was, “I felt like I had met my dearest friend, who combined depth, wisdom, and truth with warmth, childlike joy, and humor.”

So, I offer you, too, this question to ask yourself: What impact has the Autobiography had on your life? Perhaps in answering it, you’ll receive increased clarity and commitment in your own spiritual search.

The waves of inspiration, hope, and meaning that Autobiography of a Yogi has radiated out to the world since its publication have been forces of upliftment for society, whether people were aware of it or not. Its message is one of unity of all races, religions, and beliefs; of the potential of every sincere seeker to find God; and of the loving presence of Divine Consciousness behind all the seemingly dark dreams of this world.

Through his autobiography, Yogananda has created a bridge to the future where people can experience their unity with God and with one another. As he wrote in the concluding sentence of his book: “‘Lord,’ I thought gratefully, ‘Thou hast given this monk a large family!’”

We bow at your feet, dear Master, for your gift to the world of Autobiography of a Yogi.

Nayaswami Devi

A 75th-anniversary celebration of Autobiography of a Yogi was presented this past Wednesday. The recording is available for viewing here.

Listen to the weekly commentary for this blog, with special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:16):

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15 Comments

  1. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this blog. What an impact this book has created for countless souls and continues to be an inspiration.

    Every time we read the book. It is new and something important comes up that can be pondered over and put into practice.

    Sincere Gratitude to Master for giving us this great gift.

    Aum,
    Prem

  2. Thank you for this blog, Deviji.
    Like many seekers, AY has been the starting point on the Path for me too. The book is by my bedside and it is the picture on the book that I bow to, first thing in the morning. It is also the last thing I do before sleep. Over past 15 years, I have gifted it to almost all my friends and relatives.

  3. My lasting impression from reading Autobiography of a Yogi: Anything is possible! I saw my own destiny in a different and brilliant new light.

  4. In 1975 the Autobiography was sitting on a coffee table looking at me for days. A room mate put it there and I asked why.
    “Because I liked the look of it” came the answer. No one else touched it so I read one page and simply commented to myself that ….it made sense. Later a chapter and then the whole book made more than “sense”. It transformed me from the inside out… like it tends to do with everyone who reads it. After all, it is written by a human who changed the course of humankind, a real Avatar.
    So in 1980 I came to Ananda for Spiritual Renewal Week and that did the same thing… transformed me from the inside out.. This path is the real deal. If you feel connected, read the book and let it seep into the pores of your being and see if it creates a subtle change, a yearning for something substantial in life. Best to you all and thanks Master.

  5. I just ordered Yogananda’s book this evening after reading the blog. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

  6. Dear one, thank you for the consistent reminder that through Master I hear and KNOW always…”THOU ART MY LIFE”. “that book has my VIBRATIONS in it!” . It most certainly does. Namaste

  7. Like many spiritual books, I was near or owned AY for many years before I was “ready” to read it. When that moment came, I read AY and most of Swami Kriyananda’s books, as well as visiting Ananda. A lot of information / gfits come to me this way, God puts it under my eyes, and patiently waits for me to awaken enough to see the gift that’s there.

  8. I received a copy of this book in the late 80s. Sadly Never got around to reading it. Gave away that copy to somebody. In 2019 I was once again gifted this book. Read it cover to cover over a weekend without a break. Changed my life forever. Forever!! I had found my guru at last after decades of searching. My big regret? Not having read it the first time around.

  9. 1981, my inner lament: “There has to something more!”. Shortly thereafter I met my teacher who had a reading list of holy ones writings. Autobiography was at the top of the list. I read it and and said to myself “I knew it!”

    I’ve been on the path ever since. Namaste.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your dominoes.

    This concise treasure trove could provide a wonderful basis for any of us who might be asked the same question.

  11. Respected Mother,

    At the outset, I would like to congratulate you for choosing and writing this kind of topic. To everyone who likes Kriyoga, should read this book.

    But what I think is that Yoga is for everyone. We are connected with Almighty every time. May be we accept His omnipotence or do not – is not an issue to Him at all. The issue is, we all are the creation of Him and the whole universe is his creation – so there is no other way but to connect Him every time and to realise it, is Yoga what I think and we can realise because we exist. The essence of this thinking is obtained by the inspirational writings of Pujyapad Swami Yoganandaji that he got from his Gurudev Swami Sri Yukteshwar Giriji, Lahiri Mahashaya and Mahabatar Babaji without whom Kriyayoga is not fulfilled.

    Thank you once again Mataji

    Indranath Sinha
    Kolkata, West Bengal
    India

  12. Dear Deviji,

    Namaste.

    Thank you for this beautiful blog. Yes, certainly after reading Autobiography of a Yogi, there’s a new direction in my life. Ever so grateful to Master for this priceless gem he has given to us.

    Aum Guru 🙏

    Joy
    Ilango

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