New Thought Library is an online public library with free eBook and audio downloads.
Links to downloads for Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda are at the bottom of this web page
This library should make your reading, research and writing projects easier.
Fully processed books have yellow page scan links to check text accuracy.
File numbers for .jpg and .htm files etc... match the original page numbers for accuracy and ease of use.
This enables writers to create reference links for research or publication. Use it, send in additions and keep in mind that your support means more free books, better processing and more downloads.
I Become a Monk of the Swami Order
"Master, my father has been anxious for me to accept an executive
position with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. But I have definitely refused
it." I added hopefully, "Sir, will you not make me a monk
of the Swami Order?" I looked pleadingly at my guru. During
preceding years, in order to test the depth of my determination,
he had refused this same request. Today, however, he smiled graciously.
tomorrow I will initiate you into swamiship." He went on quietly,
"I am happy that you have persisted in your desire to be a
monk. Lahiri Mahasaya often said: 'If you don't invite God to be
your summer Guest, He won't come in the winter of your life.'"
I could never falter in my goal to belong to the Swami Order like
your revered self." I smiled at him with measureless affection.
that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord,
how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the
things of the world, how he may please his wife."1 I had analyzed
the lives of many of my friends who, after undergoing certain spiritual
discipline, had then married. Launched on the sea of worldly responsibilities,
they had forgotten their resolutions to meditate deeply.
To allot God
a secondary place in life was, to me, inconceivable. Though He is
the sole Owner of the cosmos, silently showering us with gifts from
life to life, one thing yet remains which He does not own, and which
each human heart is empowered to withhold or bestow --- man's love.
The Creator, in taking infinite pains to shroud with mystery His
presence in every atom of creation, could have had but one motive --- a
sensitive desire that men seek Him only through free will. With
what velvet glove of every humility has He not covered the iron
hand of omnipotence!
day was one of the most memorable in my life. It was a sunny Thursday,
I remember, in July, 1914, a few weeks after my graduation from
college. On the inner balcony of his Serampore hermitage, Master
dipped a new piece of white silk into a dye of ocher, the traditional
color of the Swami Order. After the cloth had dried, my guru draped
it around me as a renunciate's robe.
you will go to the West, where silk is preferred," he said.
"As a symbol, I have chosen for you this silk material instead
of the customary cotton."
In India, where
monks embrace the ideal of poverty, a silk-clad swami is an unusual
sight. Many yogis, however, wear garments of silk, which preserves
certain subtle bodily currents better than cotton.
am averse to ceremonies," Sri Yukteswar remarked. "I will
make you a swami in the bidwat (non-ceremonious) manner."
The bibidisa or elaborate initiation into swamiship includes
a fire ceremony, during which symbolical funeral rites are performed.
The physical body of the disciple is represented as dead, cremated
in the flame of wisdom. The newly-made swami is then given a chant,
such as: "This atma is Brahma"2 or "Thou
art That" or "I am He." Sri Yukteswar, however, with
his love of simplicity, dispensed with all formal rites and merely
asked me to select a new name.
give you the privilege of choosing it yourself," he said, smiling.
I replied, after a moment's thought. The name literally means "Bliss
(ananda) through divine union (yoga)."
so. Forsaking your family name of Mukunda Lal Ghosh, henceforth
you shall be called Yogananda of the Giri branch of the Swami Order."
As I knelt before
Sri Yukteswar, and for the first time heard him pronounce my new
name, my heart overflowed with gratitude. How lovingly and tirelessly
had he labored, that the boy Mukunda be someday transformed into
the monk Yogananda! I joyfully sang a few verses from the long Sanskrit
chant of Lord Shankara:
nor intellect, nor ego, feeling;
Sky nor earth nor metals am I.
I am He, I am He, Blessed Spirit, I am He!
No birth, no death, no caste have I;
Father, mother, have I none.
I am He, I am He, Blessed Spirit, I am He!
Beyond the flights of fancy, formless am I,
Permeating the limbs of all life;
Bondage I do not fear; I am free, ever free,
I am He, I am He, Blessed Spirit, I
swami belongs to the ancient monastic order which was organized
in its present form by Shankara.3 Because it is a formal order, with an unbroken line of saintly representatives
serving as active leaders, no man can give himself the title of
swami. He rightfully receives it only from another swami; all monks
thus trace their spiritual lineage to one common guru, Lord Shankara.
By vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the spiritual teacher,
many Catholic Christian monastic orders resemble the Order of Swamis.
addition to his new name, usually ending in ananda, the swami
takes a title which indicates his formal connection with one of
the ten subdivisions of the Swami Order. These dasanamis or ten agnomens include the Giri (mountain), to which Sri
Yukteswar, and hence myself, belong. Among the other branches are
the Sagar (sea), Bharati (land), Aranya (forest), Puri (tract), Tirtha (place of pilgrimage), and Saraswati (wisdom of nature).
new name received by a swami thus has a twofold significance, and
represents the attainment of supreme bliss ( ananda) through
some divine quality or state --- love, wisdom, devotion, service, yoga --- and
through a harmony with nature, as expressed in her infinite vastness
of oceans, mountains, skies.
ideal of selfless service to all mankind, and of renunciation of
personal ties and ambitions, leads the majority of swamis to engage
actively in humanitarian and educational work in India, or occasionally
in foreign lands. Ignoring all prejudices of caste, creed, class,
color, sex, or race, a swami follows the precepts of human brotherhood.
His goal is absolute unity with Spirit. Imbuing his waking and sleeping
consciousness with the thought, "I am He," he roams contentedly,
in the world but not of it. Thus only may he justify his title of
swami --- one who seeks to achieve union with the Swa or Self.
It is needless to add that not all formally titled swamis are equally
successful in reaching their high goal.
was both a swami and a yogi. A swami, formally a monk by virtue
of his connection with the ancient order, is not always a yogi.
Anyone who practices a scientific technique of God-contact is a
yogi; he may be either married or unmarried, either a worldly man
or one of formal religious ties. A swami may conceivably follow
only the path of dry reasoning, of cold renunciation; but a yogi
engages himself in a definite, step-by-step procedure by which the
body and mind are disciplined, and the soul liberated. Taking nothing
for granted on emotional grounds, or by faith, a yogi practices
a thoroughly tested series of exercises which were first mapped
out by the early rishis. Yoga has produced, in every age of India,
men who became truly free, truly Yogi-Christs.
Like any other
science, yoga is applicable to people of every clime and time. The
theory advanced by certain ignorant writers that yoga is "unsuitable
for Westerners" is wholly false, and has lamentably prevented
many sincere students from seeking its manifold blessings. Yoga
is a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts,
which otherwise impartially prevent all men, of all lands, from
glimpsing their true nature of Spirit. Yoga cannot know a barrier
of East and West any more than does the healing and equitable light
of the sun. So long as man possesses a mind with its restless thoughts,
so long will there be a universal need for yoga or control.
ancient rishi Patanjali defines "yoga" as "control
of the fluctuations of the mind-stuff." 4 His very short and masterly expositions, the Yoga Sutras, form one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy.5 In contradistinction
to Western philosophies, all six Hindu systems embody not only theoretical
but practical teachings. In addition to every conceivable ontological
inquiry, the six systems formulate six definite disciplines aimed
at the permanent removal of suffering and the attainment of timeless
common thread linking all six systems is the declaration that no
true freedom for man is possible without knowledge of the ultimate
Reality. The later Upanishads uphold the Yoga Sutras, among the six systems, as containing the most efficacious methods
for achieving direct perception of truth. Through the practical
techniques of yoga, man leaves behind forever the barren realms
of speculation and cognizes in experience the veritable Essence.
The Yoga system as outlined by Patanjali is known as the Eightfold
Path. The first steps, (1) yama and (2) niyama, require
observance of ten negative and positive moralities --- avoidance of
injury to others, of untruthfulness, of stealing, of incontinence,
of gift-receiving (which brings obligations); and purity of body
and mind, contentment, self-discipline, study, and devotion to God.
next steps are (3) asana (right posture); the spinal column
must be held straight, and the body firm in a comfortable position
for meditation; (4) pranayama (control of prana, subtle
life currents); and (5) pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses
from external objects).
last steps are forms of yoga proper: (6) dharana (concentration);
holding the mind to one thought; (7) dhyana (meditation),
and (8) samadhi (superconscious perception). This is the
Eightfold Path of Yoga6 which leads one to the final goal of Kaivalya (Absoluteness),
a term which might be more comprehensibly put as "realization
of the Truth beyond all intellectual apprehension."
is greater," one may ask, "a swami or a yogi?" If
and when final oneness with God is achieved, the distinctions of
the various paths disappear. The Bhagavad Gita, however,
points out that the methods of yoga are all-embracive. Its techniques
are not meant only for certain types and temperaments, such as those
few who incline toward the monastic life; yoga requires no formal
allegiance. Because the yogic science satisfies a universal need,
it has a natural universal applicability.
A true yogi
may remain dutifully in the world; there he is like butter on water,
and not like the easily-diluted milk of unchurned and undisciplined
humanity. To fulfill one's earthly responsibilities is indeed the
higher path, provided the yogi, maintaining a mental uninvolvement
with egotistical desires, plays his part as a willing instrument
are a number of great souls, living in American or European or other
non-Hindu bodies today who, though they may never have heard the
words yogi and swami, are yet true exemplars of those
terms. Through their disinterested service to mankind, or through
their mastery over passions and thoughts, or through their single
hearted love of God, or through their great powers of concentration,
they are, in a sense, yogis; they have set themselves the goal of
yoga --- self-control. These men could rise to even greater heights
if they were taught the definite science of yoga, which makes possible
a more conscious direction of one's mind and life.
Yoga has been
superficially misunderstood by certain Western writers, but its
critics have never been its practitioners. Among many thoughtful
tributes to yoga may be mentioned one by Dr. C. G. Jung, the famous
a religious method recommends itself as 'scientific,' it can be
certain of its public in the West. Yoga fulfills this expectation,"
Dr. Jung writes.7 "Quite apart from the charm of the new, and the fascination
of the half-understood, there is good cause for Yoga to have many
adherents. It offers the possibility of controllable experience,
and thus satisfies the scientific need of 'facts,' and besides this,
by reason of its breadth and depth, its venerable age, its doctrine and method, which
include every phase of life, it promises undreamed-of possibilities.
religious or philosophical practice means a psychological discipline,
that is, a method of mental hygiene. The manifold, purely bodily
procedures of Yoga8 also mean a
physiological hygiene which is superior to ordinary gymnastics and
breathing exercises, inasmuch as it is not merely mechanistic and
scientific, but also philosophical; in its training of the parts
of the body, it unites them with the whole of the spirit, as is
quite clear, for instance, in the Pranayama exercises where Prana is both the breath and the universal dynamics of the cosmos.
thing which the individual is doing is also a cosmic event, the
effect experienced in the body (the innervation), unites with the
emotion of the spirit (the universal idea), and out of this there
develops a lively unity which no technique, however scientific,
can produce. Yoga practice is unthinkable, and would also be ineffectual,
without the concepts on which Yoga is based. It combines the bodily
and the spiritual with each other in an extraordinarily complete
East, where these ideas and practices have developed, and where
for several thousand years an unbroken tradition has created the
necessary spiritual foundations, Yoga is, as I can readily believe,
the perfect and appropriate method of fusing body and mind together
so that they form a unity which is scarcely to be questioned. This
unity creates a psychological disposition which makes possible intuitions
that transcend consciousness."
Western day is indeed nearing when the inner science of self-control
will be found as necessary as the outer conquest of nature. This
new Atomic Age will see men's minds sobered and broadened by the
now scientifically indisputable truth that matter is in reality
a concentrate of energy. Finer forces of the human mind can and
must liberate energies greater than those within stones and metals,
lest the material atomic giant, newly unleashed, turn on the world
in mindless destruction.9
1 I Corinthians 7:32-33.
Back to text
Literally, "This soul is Spirit." The Supreme Spirit,
the Uncreated, is wholly unconditioned (neti, neti, not this, not
that) but is often referred to in Vedanta as Sat-Chit-Ananda, that
Back to text
Sometimes called Shankaracharya. Acharya means "religious teacher."
Shankara's date is a center of the usual scholastic dispute. A few
records indicate that the peerless monist lived from 510 to 478
B.C.; Western historians assign him to the late eighth century A.D.
Readers who are interested in Shankara's famous exposition of the
Brahma Sutras will find a careful English translation in Dr. Paul
Deussen's System of the Vedanta (Chicago: Open Court Publishing
Company, 1912). Short extracts from his writings will be found in
Selected Works of Sri Shankaracharya (Natesan & Co., Madras).
Back to text
"Chitta vritti nirodha"-Yoga Sutra I:2. Patanjali's date
is unknown, though a number of scholars place him in the second
century B.C. The rishis gave forth treatises on all subjects with
such insight that ages have been powerless to outmode them; yet,
to the subsequent consternation of historians, the sages made no
effort to attach their own dates and personalities to their literary
works. They knew their lives were only temporarily important as
flashes of the great infinite Life; and that truth is timeless,
impossible to trademark, and no private possession of their own.
Back to text
The six orthodox systems (saddarsana) are Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta,
Mimamsa, Nyaya, and Vaisesika. Readers of a scholarly bent will
delight in the subtleties and broad scope of these ancient formulations
as summarized, in English, in History of Indian Philosophy, Vol.
I, by Prof. Surendranath DasGupta (Cambridge University Press, 1922).
Back to text
Not to be confused with the "Noble Eightfold Path" of
Buddhism, a guide to man's conduct of life, as follows (1) Right
Ideals, (2) Right Motive, (3) Right Speech, (4) Right Action, (5)
Right Means of Livelihood, (6) Right Effort, (7) Right Remembrance
(of the Self), (8) Right Realization (samadhi).
Back to text
Dr. Jung attended the Indian Science Congress in 1937 and received
an honorary degree from the University of Calcutta.
Back to text
Dr. Jung is here referring to Hatha Yoga, a specialized branch of
bodily postures and techniques for health and longevity. Hatha is
useful, and produces spectacular physical results, but this branch
of yoga is little used by yogis bent on spiritual liberation.
Back to text
In Plato's Timaeus story of Atlantis, he tells of the inhabitants'
advanced state of scientific knowledge. The lost continent is believed
to have vanished about 9500 B.C. through a cataclysm of nature;
certain metaphysical writers, however, state that the Atlanteans
were destroyed as a result of their misuse of atomic power. Two
French writers have recently compiled a Bibliography of Atlantis,
listing over 1700 historical and other references.
Back to text
Links to Additional Media for Keep A True Lent by Charles Fillmore such as audio and ebooks are located at the bottom of this web page.