Paramahansa Yogananda. A yogi (think "OM", not health club faddism). Came to US from India, early 20th century, and established an organization/ashram in California (which has continued since his death, under the auspices of Self-Realization Fellowship). Was one of the "magic people" on the cover of Sgt Pepper, and quite popular during the Guru Boom of the 60s/70s. Gary Wright (of "Dream Weaver" fame) was a devotee. He was on Carlos Santana's shortlist, losing out to Sri Chinmoy.

Paramahansa Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh on 5 January, 1893 in Gorakhpur, India, near the Himalaya Mountains.

He graduated from Calcutta University in 1915 and then became a monk in India's Swami Order. His guru, Sri Yukteswar, loathed formality and went out of his way to avoid Yogananda taking formal vows of monkhood. He devoted his life to helping all peoples realise the beauty, nobility, and divinity of the human spirit.

In 1917, he began a "how-to-live school", which now has over 20 centres across India. As well as teaching normal academic subjects, the schools concentrated on Yoga and Meditation.

In 1920, he was invited to serve as India's delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston. His speeches at the congress were widely well-recieved, and in 1924, he embarked on a speaking tour around the world.

Over the next 30 years, Paramahansa Yogananda was intent on bringing the spirituality of the East to the West. In Los Angeles, he established and international headquarters for Self-Realisation Fellowship.

Today, the humanitarian and spiritual work begun by Paramahansa Yogananda continues under the direction of Sri Daya Mata, one of his earliest and closest disciples. She oversees Yogananda's writings, temples, talks, retreats, and monastics of the Self-Realisation order.

Self-Realisation is not a cult, it is simply a method of helping the modern person be spiritual and to know God.

Paramahansa Yogananda entered mahasamadhi (a yogi's final conscious exit from the body) in Los Angeles, California on 7 March, 1952, after a speech given at a banquet given in honour of H.E. Binay R, Sen, Ambassador of India.

When he was taken to the mortuary, the directors noticed that "the absence of any visual signs of decay in his dead body offers the most extraordinary case in our experience...No physical disintegration was visible in his body even twenty days after his death."

When the golden cover was finally placed on his casket, observers say he looked the same as on the night he died.

The life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda can be found in his Autobiography of a Yogi.

thanks: riverrun, The Autobiography of a Yogi.

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