Well to start off I’ll say, the first thing that can be called a reaction from me was, ‘Oh, what rubbish’. How is it possible to believe that the Author, Paramhansa Yogananda, was cured by a major illness when he was young just by looking at the picture of his Guru and praying earnestly?
Then come a string of Saints, one could levitate; one could be at 2 places at the same time, and the other slept like say for only 2-3 hours per day. He tries to explain everything scientifically, giving scientific proofs, words from great men and stuff. But still, it is not completely believable. My friend asked me to read it with an open mind, and trust me, I have. But this stuff is so damn over the top.
All said and done, some of his scientific theories are worth pondering over and mentioning too.
His guru, teacher, could send thoughts and receive thoughts from anyone if he wanted to, and this he says can be achieved through ‘Kriya Yoga’ and meditation and something else which I don’t seem to remember or follow.
The scientific explanation he gives is interesting enough. He says every living being emits some Unknown rays. Telepathy, second sight, clairvoyance are some of the examples. Scientists have devised a radio-frequency spectroscope which can catch these rays emitted by living beings. One can act as a transformer or receiver just like the device. The author says his master could read anyone’s thoughts, dead or alive. And that dead people also emit rays. It is because body is nothing; it is the soul which remains even after one is dead. He describes bodies as unadorned skulls. Just loved that metaphor.
The entire book revolves around ‘Kriya Yoga’. This is what keeps coming up in the book every now and then. The author describes it as a science. He believes that every human being in this world has to undergo many births to reach God. And yeah, well, that is our primary goal. One thousand Kriyas practiced in 8 1/2 hours gives the Yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution.
The book also mentions many similarities between Christ’s teachings and what is written in the ancient Vedas. He cites examples which are believable enough.
He mentions the saint Therese Neumann who saw the last hours of Christ before he was crucified. She used to bleed at places where Christ was nailed and tortured every Friday. I think that is called Stigmata. The author says he could attune his thoughts to the saint’s and could see the last minute of Christ’s death as she saw it. Also he mentions a woman called Giri bala who went without eating anything for more than 50 decades. The explanation she gives is simple and scientific.
The nourishment is derived from the finer energies of the air and sunlight, and from the cosmic power that recharges the body through the medulla oblongata.
Okay, everything else aside, one thing I have gained from reading the book, I think, is to be open to ideas and miracles. As I have mentioned before I do believe in one God, but I never believed in Yogi’s or saints or Sadhus. But now I do believe that there were people, at least in Ancient times, though a handful, who were not fakes.
I won’t ever look at an ancient Guru’s photo and hide a smirk.
After almost 2 months of reading the book in parts when I read the last page and closed the book, I had to close my eyes to digest what I have read. I have a great respect for Paramhansa Yogananda for what he has done to spread Yoga in the East and the west. I have not been converted into a fan or a follower but I wont be averse to read any of his writing again.
I could almost feel him looking at me serenely from the front page of the book. I am surprised myself.