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Yogananda & His Contribution To The Yoga Field

Yogananda & His Contribution To The Yoga Field

Yogananda Paramhansa  biography Summery

Yoga has been with us for centuries ago. Yoga now has become a very vast field and is an area of interest to many. How has yoga become what it is to the modern world? Ancient people and the religious people of the Hindu community believe that yoga was gifted to humans by Mahadev / Lord Shiva himself. This may be a myth, but yoga is very real, and its advantages and benefits are also very real. Yoga today is not what it was centuries ago.

The yoga which we practiced is vastly different than what the ancient people practiced. The reason for this is because yoga is evolving and becoming better and more integrated. Why is this happening? The main reason this has happened is that in the late centuries many yogi and yogi experts raised who redefined yoga with their knowledge and life experiences. There were various yogi and still are many who had their life devoted to yoga and yoga practices. Among the many yogis who lived on this earth, Yogananda had considerable influence in the field of yoga in the late century.

Yogananda brief Intro

The full name of Yogananda is Paramhansa Yogananda. The most notable feature of Yogananda that separates him from other experts in his time and before him is that he was the first Indian yoga expert to permanently reside in the western country. He guided many through the yogic path and the path of spirituality. He was the message of the East to the West, who traveled there to disperse the knowledge of yoga and spirituality.

Childhood of Yogananda

Yogananda was born on January 5, 1983, in Uttar Pradesh of India. Gorakhpur was the name of the village in Uttar Pradesh where Yogananda was born. He was given the name Mukunda Lal Ghosh at the time of his birth. The name of his father was Bhagwati Charan Ghosh, and his mother was Gyan Prabha Devi. He belonged to the Kayastha family, which originally belonged to Bengal.

His parents had eight children in a total of which he was the fourth. Bhagwati Charan Ghosh father of Yogananda was vice president of Bengal-Nagpur railway, so their family was economically very stable. As the father was employed in a good position at railways Yogananda as a child got many opportunities to visit and travel to various places. Their family also moved to various places as the job of father demanded so.

Yogananda from childhood stood out among the children of his age. Even among the siblings, he stood out as an outstanding individual. From an incredibly early age, he was extremely interested in the spiritual way of life, yoga, and other similar things.

Death of mother

When Yogananda reached the age of 11 his mother died. Some sources say that at her death bed Gyan Prabha Devi gifted her son Mukund an amulet which was given her to by a holy man with a prophecy. His mother then added that the amulet would remain with him for some years until he vanished forever from this world.

Every child misses their mother, however, those who had lost them are at such an early age miss their mother more. After, passing of his mother he was brought up by his father. His father would send him on many trips and destinations to help him get through the loss.

Teenage and education

Yogananda belonged to a financially stable family, so he got through school efficiently without any problems. He completed his school life and wished to pursue what his heart always desired. When in school also Yogananda was inclined to the life of hermits and sages. He often would travel to pilgrimage sites and the locations of the hermits, and his father would also allow that as that was the wish of his son.

After completing the school-level education Yogananda left his home and went where his heart desired. He went to live in Banaras and joined Mahamandal hermitage. There he initiated his hermit lifestyle. However, Mahamandal did not meet all his expectations. He left his previous life and came there intending to pursue God through knowledge and meditation.

However, upon living there he realized that they are not leaving up to their potential and goal. According to him they were tangled and limited by their organizational structure and work. His expectations were not met; however, this was still better than nothing, instead of complaining he pushed himself to find the answers and the life he sought.

Yogananda now was in search of a worthy teacher, who would give water to his thirst for knowledge and spirituality. He approached and met many teachers, however, most of them were not able to keep up with his desire for knowledge and could not satisfy him with the answers he sought. This continued for some time; however, this did not demotivate his quest but further inspired him to find his teacher.

A fateful meeting with the teacher

Yogananda found his teacher when one fateful day he met Swami Sri Yukteswar. He was 17 at the time when he met his teacher, who was everything he had imagined and whose sea of knowledge would satisfy his thirst for knowledge. It is also said that when he met his teacher, as his mother prophesized, his amulet vanished without a trace. He used to keep his amulet very safe as it was something his late mother gave him. As the circumstances that it came under his possession, it held great sentimental value towards him. However, at that time it vanished leaving no trace.

Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri

Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri was born on May 10, 1855. The name he was given at the time of his birth was Priya Nath Karar. He was an Indian sage that has proficiency in several types of knowledge and arts. Aside from being the scholar of the ancient texts, Vedas and Purans he also was a very amazing astronomer who could predict the future of the peoples concerning their planetary alignments.

Swami Sri Yukteswar was married and had a daughter with his wife. Sadly, his wife passed shortly after their marriage and gave birth to their daughter.

Swami Sri Yukteswar and Yogananda

Swami Sri Yukteswar and Yogananda had the relation of student and teacher. He met his teacher for the first time in 1910. Since then, he has been under his guidance and has learned many things and aspects of life from him. From Vedic knowledge to yogic forms, Yogananda under the guidance of Swami Sri Yukteswar in time started to master all of them.

Swami Sri Yukteswar was popular for his path of Kriya yoga, on which he walked due to the initiation by his guru. Swami Sri Yukteshwar lived the life of a hermit and followed every principle required by it. Aside from Yogananda Swami had other students who were personally taught by him and walked on the path paved by him.

Swami Satyananda Giri, Swami Bhavananda Giri, Swami Hariharananda Giri were some of his notable students. However, it is his relationship with Yogananda that is most cherished. As a guru, Drona had many students in his life but his teacher-student relationship with Arjuna will be forever remembered. It is a similar chase with Yogananda and Swami Sri Yukteswar.

In his autobiography, Yogananda described his relationship with his teacher as:

“We entered a oneness of silence; words seemed the rankest superfluities. Eloquence flowed in soundless chant from heart of master to disciple. With an antenna of irrefragable insight, I sensed that my guru knew God and would lead me to Him. The obscuration of this life disappeared into a fragile dawn of prenatal memories. Dramatic time! Past, present, and future are its cycling scenes. This was not the first sun to find me at these holy feet!”

Yogananda studied under Swami Sri Yukteswar for 10 years from 1910 to 1920.

Yoga and meditation in America

Yogananda received a vision that he will soon be going to America in 1920. At that time, he oversaw a school in Ranchi. Soon after he received an invitation from America by American Unitarian Association. After receiving the invitation, he took the blessing and perception of his Guru. His guru also blessed him in his new journey and like that Yogananda went to America.

After reaching America in October of 1920, he gave a speech at the International Congress. The audience at the gathering highly praised his perception and views regarding various subjects.

Yogananda always wished to distribute knowledge and spirituality to the world. He used to think that it was his duty to distribute the findings that he had amassed, and the knowledge that he had gained to the world. For this, he needed a place where he could do it, and he also needed his students who would learn from him and teach others in time. He could not reach all the people in the world; however, his ideas could pass from one person to another.

The very year he had visited the USA, he founded SRF, Self-Realization Fellowship intending to distribute knowledge to his followers and students in a single place. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) specialized in teaching meditation, yoga, ancient Indian philosophies, and practices. Yogananda established an organization there and started teaching settled in America for some time. He was in Boston for four long years.

During his stay in America, he gave speeches and conducted meetings in various places at various times. As time passed, the followers of Yogananda also increased. From few to hundreds and from hundreds to thousands. At that time the teaching, yoga and meditation, way of life was so persuasive that even celebrities and powerful people of America of that time came seeking guidance from him.

With the teachings of yoga and meditation from Yogananda, SRF members increased in number. Shortly, the space of SRF was not enough to hold all the peoples that were willing to be the family with SRF and Yogananda. After this SRF was opened in other places of the United States like Los Angles, California, etc. As the people in favor of Yogananda increased so did the number of people who were willing to tarnish his reputation. He was also facing some immigration law issues by the authorities. This continued like this for some time, and he decided to return to India.

Return to India

He returned to India in 1935 and then again returned to America after his short stay in the country.

Return to America

When Yogananda decided to return to America and returned his disciples and followers were overjoyed at his arrival. In his second time stay in America Yogananda authored his famous book Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda applied for citizenship in the United States of America, and it was approved by America. In 1949 he officially became a US Citizen. This became possible as America loosened the immigration laws as per the demand of the changing times. In this period Yogananda wrote many messages and books to convey his message and teachings.

To this point, Yogananda’s health had started to get worse. He had also realized this and wished to complete his remaining works before leaving this world forever. That is why during those times he heavily relied on the help of his inner circle and sought help from them regarding his incomplete messages, books, and other things.

Death of Yogananda

On March 7, 1952, Yogananda left this world. Yogananda was not bedridden during his final hours. On that day he went to the Baltimore hotel in Los angles to meet the Indian ambassador and his wife. At the function, Yogananda also gave some speeches and his views regarding many topics and how many elements of society can be reformed. Yogananda ended his speech and recited a beautiful poem.

After he finished speaking, he lifted his eyes and his body collapsed to the ground. The medical cause of death of Yogananda was the failure of the heart. However, some people and his followers believe that he entered Maha Samadhi and willingly left his body. His funeral was conducted in Los Angles at SRF headquarters. After the death of Yogananda Rajarshi Janak Ananda succeeded him as per his wish and became president of SRF.

Pattabhi Jois: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Guru

Pattabhi Jois: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Guru

Pattabhi Jois: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Guru

Pattabhi Jois is one of the greatest yogic gurus of this century. He specialized in Ashtanga yoga of vinyasa yoga. Pattabhi Jois had contributed a lot in the field of yoga and spirituality. He is known among the few Indian gurus who took ancient yoga to modern yoga as it is today. Pattabhi Jois in his lifetime acted as the bridge between the old style of yoga and modern yoga. Due to the efforts of people like him yoga is practiced as a form of exercise all over the world.

Ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga yoga is the eight limbs of yoga as described by the great sage Patanjali. Yamas, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi are the eight limbs that are described by him. There are many types and forms of yoga. Yoga that was discovered thousands of years ago has just grown with time. However, at what time the yoga comes into the origin or what form it possesses or who invented it, it does not matter it must follow the rules of the Astha limbs and falls into one or more of these categories.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a form of yoga that became popular after Pattabhi Jois started to teach in various places of India. As per Pattabhi Jois, this form of Yoga was taught to him by his yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is an amazing form of yoga that combines many branches and segments of the energy system of the body as one outputting the maximum amount of benefit. Various postures and positions combined with various breathing exercises and movements, and various other elements synchronize as one to give birth to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Now, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is also known as the Mysore style. This was named after the city where that form of yoga was originally taught.

Childhood of Pattabhi Jois

Pattabhi Jois was born on July 15, 1915, in south Karnataka India. The name of the village where he was born was called Kowshika. Pattabhi Jois was born on the day of Guru Purnima. Guru Purnima is a very auspicious day in the Hindu religion. This day in the Hindu religion is celebrated as the day of knowledge and the sacred relation between a teacher and student is worshipped. Being born on such an auspicious day, it was predicted that he would be a great scholar one day.

Father of Pattabhi Jois was a priest, landholder, and astrologer. Being a landholder and a priest at that time the economic condition of the house of Pattabhi Joi house was nice. His mother was a housewife and looked after the children and the house. Which was the most common job of the women of that time. His father and mother had nine children in total. There were five girls and four boys in total. He was fifth among the nine children. At that time education was the privilege of the family with a good name, position, and power.

Being born in the brahmin family, Pattabhi Jois had all three. He also studied Sanskrit from an early age, which was the privilege of only a good Brahman family. From the age of 5, he also started to learn the Brahmin rituals, astrology, and similar fields which were taught to him by his father. Even being from under the family of the Brahman priest, Pattabhi Jois was the only one among his nine siblings who had learned yoga in their lifetime.

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

Krishnamacharya was born on November 18, 1888, in South India. The name of the place where he was born was Muchukunda Pura, which is situated in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka. Krishnamacharya has an immense impact on yoga and a great contribution to yoga as we know it today. He is also known as the father of modern yoga. Aside from being one of the best yoga teachers of his time he also was an ayurvedic healer and scholar. He held degrees on all six Vedic Darsana.

Krishnamacharya was one of the greatest yogic teachers of his time, he spent his life teaching people yoga, Ayurveda, and another knowledge. It is said that he used to travel from place to place instructing people and promoting the ancient knowledge of yoga. He had amassed so profound knowledge of yoga and taken that knowledge to so much practical level that it is said he could stop his heartbeat momentarily at his own will. He had demonstrated this feat several times while promoting yoga.

Krishnamacharya is also well known as the founder of vinyasa. Breathing or pranayama is an ancient yoga method that has numerous benefits and unparalleled possibilities. Krishnamacharya combined breathing from yoga with movement, by which he gave birth to the new form which was called Vini yoga.

Krishnamacharya had a principle about teaching which he followed in his life “Teach what is appropriate for an individual.” He was knowledgeable about many fields and a true genius. He was the best among the yogi when it came to the topics of yoga. He was the best healer when it came to the topics of Ayurveda. Krishnamacharya was also one of the greatest scholars of that time when the topic was that of education. He had various degrees from various fields and expertise.

Students of Krishnamacharya

Krishnamacharya taught many as he spent his entire life distributing knowledge to others. Only talking about the students who later became the Master of Yoga and healing themselves, there are also quite a few in numbers. This further proves his capacity as a teacher. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, A.G. Mohan, Srivatsa Ramaswami are some of his most notable students.

Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois

At the age of 12, Pattabhi Jois met first time Krishnamacharya who was going to be his teacher. He attended the lecture of Krishnamacharya at the place where Krishnamacharya had arrived to give knowledge to the masses. Their meeting was like it was made possible by the gods. Pattabhi Jois was so enchanted by his teacher that he decided to become his student the next day. Pattabhi Jois studied and stayed with Krishnamacharya for the next two years learning many things from him. He used to practice yoga and meditation daily with him. The place where Krishnamacharya had arrived to stay was Hassan and Pattabhi stayed with his teacher in Kowshika at Hassan.

With his teacher, two years passed like the wind. As today and tomorrow, two years passed like nothing. Krishnamacharya had a duty to the masses and all the people of the world, so he could not settle in one place. His life was traveling from one place to another and dispersing knowledge. So, it was time for Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois to depart from one another as the teacher needed to travel to another place.

Pattabi Mysuru (Mysore) and reunite with Krishnamacharya

Pattabhi Jois ram from home to Mysuru (Mysore) by stealing two rupees to study Sanskrit. He learned many things in Mysuru (Mysore) and stayed there. As fate would have it after two years Krishnamacharya also arrived at Mysuru (Mysore). Pattabhi Jois was once again reunited with his beloved teacher.

Pattabhi Jois became remarkably close with his teacher and always accompanied him wherever he went. The Maharaja of Mysuru (Mysore), at that time, was seriously ill. They had tried other forms of meditation, but everything had failed, and they had lost hope. However, Krishnamacharya through the power of yoga and meditation had healed the Maharaja. After getting his health back Maharaja was very much impressed by the knowledge and abilities of Krishnamacharya. The Maharaja also established Yoga Sala in the palace where the teachers and students live and practice their knowledge and healing techniques.

Pattabhi Jois spent quite an amount of time with Krishnamacharya. Under his guidance, he learned many things. Krishnamacharya was a very capable teacher while Pattabhi Jois was a very capable student. So, the bond between them was incredibly special. Under the guidance of the teacher he learned, Hata yoga pradipika, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, Pranayama, Bandhas, Asaan, Vinyasas, and many other techniques.

Pattabhi had dedicated his complete focus to the teaching of his teacher, so he had learned this in no time.  Now Pattabhi Jois was so expert in the subjects that were taught to him by his teacher, he could take the classes of this teacher in his absence. Krishnamacharya had enough faith in the knowledge of Pattabhi Jois that he would often travel to other places and works giving the responsibility of teaching to his student Pattabhi Jois. Pattabi Jois had met Krishnamacharya again at Mysuru (Mysore) in 1932 and stayed with him learning till 1953.

The career of Pattabhi Jois in Yoga at college and various organizations

Pattabhi Jois now had begun his career in yoga and Ayurveda after gaining sacred knowledge from his teacher. He now started teaching at Sanskrit college at Mysuru (Mysore). Maharaja was also impressed by the knowledge and learning ability of Pattabhi Jois. He often would visit the class when Pattabi Jois was teaching in yoga Sala. Maharaja also had arrangements for a good salary, a place to stay, and other accommodation.

This also proves how deeply immersed and impressed Maharaja was with yoga and the knowledge of Ayurveda. He taught Sanskrit till the year 1973. Till, that time due to his intellect, teaching ability, and vast knowledge, had made Pattabhi Jois a popular and powerful name there. Pattabhi Jois also taught in the Government college of Indian medicine from 1976 to 1978. This was the teaching career of Pattabhi Jois in various organizations and colleges.

Own Yoga Institute

Pattabhi Jois at this point in life had amassed enough knowledge and name that he could now teach yoga and its techniques individually without attaching to other peoples or organizations. In 1948 Pattabhi Jois opened the Ashtanga yoga research center in his hometown. The yoga research institute gained popularity and increased with time. Also, after leaving teaching Pattabhi could focus more on his institute. The yoga institute of Pattabhi Jois was famous among the local peoples and the people of the country, however, he still had not gained any international recognition as a yoga institute and organization.

Ashtanga Yoga research center had a turning point as an organization in the year 1964 when a foreigner came to visit there. He was a Belgian named Andre Van Lysbeth, who spent some time at the institute of the yoga of Jois. He spent two months at the institute and learned Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga directly from the master there. With the knowledge amassed there and learned from the master, Andre authored a book called Yoga-Self-taught. The Yoga book had extensive knowledge about the practices of the institute and mentioned the address and the contact number of the institute. This was the turning point and the international recognition the yoga institute was hoping got getas a successful organization.

The number of flows of the students in the institute suddenly increased. It was so exponential that they had to open a new branch of the institute to match the exponential flow of the students.

International Trip

Pattabhi Jois has the first international flight to attend the international yoga conference was in 1974, to South America. He visited foreign countries many times after that to disperse his knowledge of yoga and meditation to many people.

Family and Students

Pattabhi Jois was married and had a family, unlike some other yogis. He got married to his wife at the age of 18. With his wife, Pattabhi Jois had three children. Saraswati, Manju, and Ramesh were the names of the three children of Jois.

Pattabhi Jois also had many students in his lifetime. He wanted to pass down the knowledge acquired by him from his guru Krishnamacharya to his students. He also taught many students in his life and passed down the knowledge.


Pattabhi Jois died on 18th May 2009. He was at the ripe age of 94 when he passed from this world. The Yoga Institute opened by him at Mysuru (Mysore) is still run by his family members. His grandson R. Sharath Jois leads the Organization and under his direction, it is run.