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Paramahansa Yogananda (5 January 1893 – 7 March 1952), born Mukunda Lal Ghosh , was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.

Yogananda was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, to a devout family. According to his younger brother, Sananda, from his earliest years young Mukunda’s awareness and experience of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary.In his youth he sought out many of India’s Hindu sages and saints, hoping to find an illuminated teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest.Yogananda’s seeking after various saints mostly ended when he met his guru, Swami Yukteswar Giri, in 1910, at the age of 17. He describes his first meeting with Yukteswar as a rekindling of a relationship that had lasted for many lifetimes:

In 1920, Yogananda went to the United States aboard the ship City of Sparta, as India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. That same year he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) to disseminate worldwide his teachings on India’s ancient practices and philosophy of Yoga and its tradition of meditation.For the next several years, he lectured and taught on the East Coast and in 1924 embarked on a cross-continental speaking tour.

In 1935, he returned to India to visit Yukteswar and to help establish his Yogoda Satsanga work in India. During this visit, as told in his autobiography, he met with Mahatma Gandhi, and initiated him into the liberating technique of Kriya Yoga as Gandhi expressed his interest to receive the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya; Anandamoyi Ma; renowned physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman; and several disciples of Yukteswar’s guru Lahiri Mahasaya. While in India, Yukteswar gave Yogananda the monastic title of Paramahansa. Paramahansa means “supreme swan” and is a title indicating the highest spiritual attainment.In 1936, while Yogananda was visiting Calcutta, Yukteswar attained mahasamadhi in the town of Puri.

In 1917 Paramahansa Yogananda “began his life’s work with the founding of a ‘how-to-live’ school for boys, where modern educational methods were combined with yoga training and instruction in spiritual ideals.” In 1920 “he was invited to serve as India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. His address to the Congress, on ‘The Science of Religion,’ was enthusiastically received.” For the next several years he lectured and taught across the United States. His discourses taught of the “unity of ‘the original teachings of Jesus Christ and the original Yoga taught by Bhagavan Krishna.'”In 1920 he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and in 1925 established in Los Angeles, California, USA, the international headquarters for SRF.Yogananda wrote down his Aims and Ideals for Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society

Paramahansa Yogananda’s dissemination of his teachings is continued through the organization he founded – the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF)/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS).Yogananda founded Yogoda Satsanga Society of India in 1917 and then expanded it in 1920 to the United States naming it the Self-Realization Fellowship. In 1935 he legally incorporated it in the U.S. to serve as his instrument for the preservation and worldwide dissemination of his teachings.Yogananda expressed this intention again in 1939 in his magazine Inner Culture for Self-Realization that he published through his organization

In the days leading up to his death, Yogananda began hinting that it was time for him to leave the world.On 7 March 1952, he attended a dinner for the visiting Indian Ambassador to the US, Binay Ranjan Sen, and his wife at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. At the conclusion of the banquet, Yogananda spoke of India and America, their contributions to world peace and human progress, and their future cooperation,expressing his hope for a “United World” that would combine the best qualities of “efficient America” and “spiritual India.” According to an eyewitness – Daya Mata, a direct disciple of Yogananda, who was head of the Self-Realization Fellowship from 1955–2010— as Yogananda ended his speech, he read from his poem My India, concluding with the words “Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God—I am hallowed; my body touched that sod.””As he uttered these words, he lifted his eyes to the Kutastha center (the Ajna Chakra), and his body slumped to the floor.”Followers say that he entered mahasamadhi.His funeral service, with hundreds attending, was held at the SRF headquarters atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles. Rajarsi Janakananda, the new president of the Self-Realization Fellowship, “performed a sacred ritual releasing the body to God.” Yogananda’s remains are interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Great Mausoleum (normally closed off to visitors but Yogananda’s tomb is accessible) in Glendale, California.