Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952), was the first yoga master of India to take up permanent residence in the West. Yogananda arrived in America in 1920, and traveled throughout the United States on what he called his “spiritual campaigns”. His enthusiastic audiences filled the largest halls in America. Hundreds of thousands came to see the yogi from India. Yogananda continued to lecture and write up to his passing in 1952.
Yogananda’s initial impact was truly impressive. But his lasting impact has been even greater. His message was nonsectarian and universal. Yogananda’s Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, sent him to the West with the admonition, “The West is high in material attainments, but lacking in spiritual understanding. It is God’s will that you play a role in teaching mankind the value of balancing the material with an inner, spiritual life.”
Autobiography of a Yogi, first published in 1946, helped launch a spiritual revolution throughout the world. It introduces the reader to the life of Paramahansa Yogananda and his encounters with spiritual figures of both the East and West. The book begins with his childhood family life, to finding his guru, to becoming a monk and establishing his teachings of Kriya Yoga meditation. The book continues in 1920 when Yogananda accepts an invitation to speak in a religious congress in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He then travels across America lecturing and establishing his teachings in Los Angeles, California. In 1935 he returns to India for a yearlong visit. When he returns to America, he continues to establish his teachings, including writing this book.
Autobiography of a Yogi is an introduction to the methods of attaining God-realization and to the spiritual thought of the East, which had only been available to a few in 1946. The author claims that the writing of the book was prophesied long ago by the nineteenth-century master Lahiri Mahasaya.
Autobiography if a Yogi has been in print for seventy years and translated into forty-five languages. It has been highly acclaimed as a spiritual classics one of the “100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century.”