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Autobiography Of A Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
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From Publishers Weekly
The original text of Yogananda's classic introduction to Eastern mysticism.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
After half a century in print, this widely acclaimed autobiography is now available in a superb audio translation narrated by Academy AwardR-winning actor Ben Kingsley. The work is enduringly popular because it introduces millions of readers to Eastern spiritual thought. Yogananda's masterly storytelling epitomizes the Indian oral tradition with its wit, charm, and compassionate wisdom. The yogi begins by showing how his childhood experiences in turn-of-the-century India produced a spiritual youth in search of an enlightened teacher, continues with an account of his years of training in the hermitage of a revered master, and concludes with the highlights of a period, beginning in 1920, during which he lived and taught in America. Yogananda sensitively interprets not only his own spiritual evolution but also his relationship with elements of the West's spiritual tradition, such as the story of Adam and Eve, providing a penetrating look at the ultimate mysteries of human existence. Bibliographical footnotes, which would have interrupted Kingsley's magnificent narration, are thoughtfully included in an accompanying booklet. This extraordinary work will greatly enrich any library.?James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
More than the story of the life of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), this autobiography offers an insider's view of many of the great teachers, saints and traditions of yoga. Ben Kingsley's smooth, articulate performance makes the formal writing style accessible to the listener. Kingsley never falters with the Indian individual and place names. The individual case for each tape increases portability and slips into a package sized to fit comfortably on any bookshelf. The slipcase also provides an outline of chapter headings included on each tape, which is a great aid for those using this volume as a reference. Footnotes are omitted from the reading but presented in a separate chapter notes. J.E.M. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Midwest Book Review
Yogananda's autobiography has long been regarded as a spiritual classic, revealing the sentiments and teachings of one who helped spread Eastern knowledge in the West. British actor Ben Kingsley's voice embellishes this audio edition, which provides the complete text of the Yogi's life story, sans footnotes (available in an accompanying booklet to the audio package). Prepare for 18 hours of listening on 12 audio cassettes - but Kingsley's voice is excellent in enlivening the Yogi's account.
David Frawley, Director, American Institute of Vedic Studies
"In the original edition, coming from the period of Yogananda's life, one is more in contact with Yogananda himself. It is prior to his institutionalization that often follows many great personalities once they have passed on. While Yogananda founded centers and organizations, his concern was more with guiding individuals to direct communion with Divinity rather than with promoting any one church as opposed to another. This spirit is easier to grasp in the original edition of this great spiritual and yogic classic."
This acclaimed autobiography presents a fascinating portrait of one of the great spiritual figures of our time. With engaging candor, eloquence, and wit, Paramahansa Yogananda narrates the inspiring chronicle of his life: the experiences of his remarkable childhood, encounters with many saints and sages during his youthful search throughout India for an illumined teacher, ten years of training in the hermitage of a revered yoga master, and the thirty years that he lived and taught in America. Also recorded here are his meetings with Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Luther Burbank, the Catholic stigmatist Therese Neumann, and other celebrated spiritual personalities of East and West. Autobiography of a Yogi is at once a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. The author clearly explains the subtle but definite laws behind both the ordinary events of everyday life and the extraordinary events commonly termed miracles. His absorbing life story thus becomes the background for a penetrating and unforgettable look at the ultimate mysteries of human existence. Considered a modern spiritual classic, the book has been translated into more than twenty languages and is widely used as a text and reference work in colleges and universities. A perennial bestseller since it was first published sixty years ago, Autobiography of a Yogi has found its way into the hearts of millions of readers around the world. This edition of Autobiography of a Yogi includes extensive material added by the author after the first edition was published, including a final chapter on the closing years of his life.
From the Publisher
Autobiography of a Yogi is not an ordinary book. It is a spiritual treasure. To read its message of hope to all truthseekers, is to begin a great adventure. This is a verbatim reprinting of the original, 1946 edition of "Autobiography of a Yogi". Although subsequent printings, reflecting revisions made after the author's death in 1952, have sold over a million copies and have been translated into more than 19 languages, the few thousand of the original have long since disappeared into the hands of collectors. Now, with this reprint, the 1946 edition is again available, with all its inherent power, just as the great master of yoga first presented it.
Editions past the third have been prepared since the author's passing in 1952. In 1953, Self-Realization Fellowship, acquired the rights to "Autobiography of a Yogi" from Philosophical Library; it has been the publisher of all subsequent editions, until this original reprint put out by Crystal Clarity, Publishers. In order to be faithful to the original edition, we have not corrected errors of spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
Because of certain ancient yogic injunctions, I cannot give a full explanation of Kriya Yoga in the pages of a book intended for the general public. The actual technique must be learned from a Kriyaban or Kriya Yogi; here a broad reference must suffice.
Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.
Kriya is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his guru, Babaji, who rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.
"The Kriya Yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century," Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, "is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples."
Kriya Yoga is referred to by Krishna, India's greatest prophet, in a stanza of the Bhagavad Gita: "Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control." The interpretation is: "The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control."
Krishna also relates that it was he, in a former incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to Manu, the great legislator. He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father of India's solar warrior dynasty. Passing thus from one to another, the royal yoga was guarded by the rishis until the coming of the materialistic ages. Then, due to priestly secrecy and man's indifference, the sacred knowledge gradually became inaccessible.
Kriya Yoga is mentioned twice by the ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, who wrote: "Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Aum." Patanjali speaks of God as the actual Cosmic Sound of Aum heard in meditation. Aum is the Creative Word, the sound of the Vibratory Motor. Even the yoga-beginner soon inwardly hears the wondrous sound of Aum. Receiving this blissful spiritual encouragement, the devotee becomes assured that he is in actual touch with divine realms.
Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or Kriya technique thus: "Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration."
St. Paul knew Kriya Yoga, or a technique very similar to it, by which he could switch life currents to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: "Verily, I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ, I die daily." By daily withdrawing his bodily life force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of maya.
In the initial states of God-contact (sabikalpa samadhi) the devotee's consciousness merges with the Cosmic Spirit; his life force is withdrawn from the body, which appears "dead," or motionless and rigid. The yogi is fully aware of his bodily condition of suspended animation. As he progresses to higher spiritual states (nirbikalpa samadhi), however, he communes with God without bodily fixation, and in his ordinary waking consciousness, even in the midst of exacting worldly duties.
"Kriya Yoga is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened," Sri Yukteswar explained to his students. "The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery. This is India's unique and deathless contribution to the world's treasury of knowledge. The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath."
The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment.
The astral system of a human being, with six (twelve by polarity) inner constellations revolving around the sun of the omniscient spiritual eye, is interrelated with the physical sun and the twelve zodiacal signs. All men are thus affected by an inner and an outer universe. The ancient rishis discovered that man's earthly and heavenly environment, in twelve-year cycles, push him forward on his natural path. The scriptures aver that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to express cosmic consciousness.
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