Review of Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”
“Autobiography of a Yogi” is a spiritual classic, which has inspired countless seekers. It gives invaluable insight about the life of a yogi. This book is credited with introducing numerous westerners to yoga and meditation. It has been translated into more than 25 languages, and has sold countless copies around the world. In 1999, this tome was voted among the 100 most important spiritual books of the 20th century. This selection was done by a panel of selectors convened by HarperCollins, a publishing company.
Land of Saints
The book starts in Calcutta, India, with Yogananda’s childhood. Mukunda, as Yogananda was known in his childhood, desired to meet realized men and wished to experience God-realization himself. The early chapters are replete with tales of fascinating saints like Master Mahasya, the levitating saint, and Tiger Swami, whose earlier profession was to tame tigers with bare hands. The India of that period comes across as a land replete with inspiring saints.
Unity between Religions
Yogananda then meets his guru, Sri Yukteswar, and begins his spiritual training under him. In this book, Yogananda strives to unravel the science behind yoga. He points out the underlying unity in the messages of the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible. The book highlights Yogananda’s universal approach to spirituality and religion.
The author also expresses deep gratitude and admiration to realized men and women of various religious traditions. These saints include Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Anandamoyi Ma and Therese Neumann, to name a few. The book portrays Yogananda’s attitude of ignoring superfluous outer differences, in favor of appreciating the underlying oneness of the universe.
A full chapter is devoted to explaining a meditation method called kriya yoga. Yogananda even taught this technique to Mahatma Gandhi. Yet another chapter clarifies how miracles occur. The book contains many other-worldly events that may make skeptics raise their eyebrows, but the overall tone is so convincing that one is inspired to learn more. Read this book to discover a whole new world of spirituality, and the means you can take to realize your inner self.