Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time, had a huge impact on Hinduism. His teachings shaped and transformed Hinduism in ways that allowed his beliefs to continually inspire people. He changed the ideas of Western culture within a matter of years. His ideas and beliefs are still present in modern day teachings.
He made such a huge impact on the world, that even people like Steve Jobs and Russell Simmons admitted to being inspired by him. Yogananda dedicated his life to spreading his beliefs which are still very prominent in today’s world.Paramahansa Yogananda was born on January 5th, 1893 with the name Mukanda Lal Ghosh. He was born into a devout family and was the fourth of eight children. Yogananda’s mother passed away when he was eleven years old and he later had a vision of his mother who said to him “It is I who have watched over thee, life after life, in the tenderness of many mothers”.
His Divine Mother became the core of his devotion. Growing up, Yogananda would run away to the Himalayas to simply commit to God. One day Yogananda noticed a man with a formidable aura and soon realized that this man was his guru named Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. He ended up living with his guru for a long while and was soon given the name Swami Yogananda. He later started a school for young boys where traditional educational techniques were combined with yoga. In 1925, Yogananda established the Self- Realization Fellowship to spread his teachings on the philosophy of yoga and ancient Indian science. Yogananda was essentially a yoga guru.
Yoga is seen as a method of relaxation and exercise. However, these are additional benefits to yoga’s actual purpose, which is to detach an individual from their mind and body to all “enlightenment”. This practice is almost impossible to do yourself. All Hindu yogic texts explain how yoga is impossible to do without direction from a guru. A guru isn’t exactly a yoga teacher in this context.
It has a different connotation in India than it does in the West. In the West it’s meaning is someone who is good at something and is pompous about it, like a “beauty guru”. Whereas, the Indian definition is “a spiritual teacher, especially one who imparts initiation”.
The guru in Hinduism carries the karma of the whole group while teaching Vedic philosophy and meditation techniques. After Yogananda ran the school for young boys, his guru sent him to America to spread his teachings. He came to America and founded his Self-Realization Fellowship where he essentially became a guru for many people.Yogananda’s teachings had a significant impact on the West simply because he brought spirituality to them. Before Yogananda arrived to America in 1920, western culture relied on the idea of basic order.
However, Hindus now believe that life is a complex mixture of individual people and Karma somehow brings them together. Behind the Western belief of basic order was an underlying debate as to what the orderliness stems from. There were two viewpoints on what our response to this orderliness is and those include: Mysticism and Materialism. Mysticism is the idea that we all live entirely under God. The mystic goal of life is to ultimately seek harmonization with life through God. While Materialism looks at life as an of a world of material objects. The materialistic goal of life is to seek dominance over life itself through control of the material environment.
These viewpoints made up Western culture before Yogananda had spread his teachings. Yogananda spread his ideas of creating communities and the direct experience of truth. Although these ideas of mysticism and materialism are still present in modern Western culture, Yogananda’s teachings have emphasized that we need to expand our love for God so much that his beliefs are still being taught and practiced.