Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship
LOS ANGELES — September 19, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival in the West of Paramahansa Yogananda—widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West—and his founding of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) to disseminate India’s ancient science of yoga meditation. A philosophy and practice that provides simple tools for building lasting inner peace, clarity, and strength regardless of outward conditions, Yoga is as relevant as ever—especially during these challenging times.
“What Paramahansa Yogananda brought to the West,” says SRF President Brother Chidananda, “is perhaps one of the greatest gifts to humankind—India’s ancient science of Yoga, the science of knowing the Self, of realizing and experiencing who we truly are, divine souls with unlimited potential.”
Today more than 36 million Americans practice yoga and 18 million meditate, in large part due to Paramahansa Yogananda’s pioneering efforts. “Yogananda put yoga on the map in America,” says Harvard scholar Diana Eck.
His best-selling classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, continues to be the definitive introduction to yoga meditation for millions of seekers around the globe. Those who have been profoundly influenced by his spiritual classic (available in more than 50 languages) include Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann, Beatle George Harrison, and Apple founder Steve Jobs (who arranged for the book to be gifted to all those attending his memorial).
SRF will host a special online Centennial Commemoration event on September 19, the exact day of Yogananda’s arrival in America to serve as India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. The online event will include a commemorative ceremony livestreamed from Boston, MA, and a special address livestreamed from SRF Headquarters by SRF President Brother Chidananda. For details, please visit www.yogananda.org/srfcentennial.
Yogananda’s maiden speech on the science of religion marked the beginning of his pioneering work in the West to introduce people of all races, cultures, and creeds to the ancient science and philosophy of Yoga—that through practice of universally applicable methods of meditation, they might realize and express more fully in their lives the true divinity of the human spirit.
He founded Self-Realization Fellowship the same year as his arrival and made America his adopted home until his passing in 1952. His internationally acclaimed life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, remains one of the most highly regarded spiritual classics. Among the many other works by Paramahansa Yogananda are the widely praised commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and the four Gospels, entitled, respectively, God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, and The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You.
From its humble beginnings in Boston, Self-Realization Fellowship, along with its sister organization Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (which Yogananda founded three years earlier in 1917), has grown over the course of its 100-year history to include more than 800 temples, ashrams, retreats, and meditation centers in more than 60 countries around the globe.
Today, the society, under the direction of its president, Brother Chidananda, publishes Yogananda’s writings, lectures, and informal talks (including the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons), Self-Realization magazine, and other publications related to his teachings; conducts worldwide lecture tours, retreats, and youth programs; and oversees the SRF Worldwide Prayer Circle, whose members around the world pray for the well-being of individuals and for world peace.
An annual World Convocation held each summer in Los Angeles attracts upwards of 4,000 participants each year. This year SRF held its first fully online convocation, with nearly 35,000 registering for the event. In addition, SRF/YSS annually contributes to many local, national, and international charitable causes.
The Government of India has paid tribute to the life and work of Paramahansa Yogananda on three occasions, most recently in October of 2019 when it issued a special commemorative coin to commemorate Yogananda’s 125th birth anniversary.
For more information about the life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and his society, Self-Realization Fellowship, please contact SRF at www.yogananda.org; 323 225-2471.