Book Review - Paramahansa Yogananda - Autobiography Of A Yogi.

photo taken by me - my book cases
Preston, England
March 16, 2018 3:34pm CST
1946 - Spoiler alerts How can a book be rubbish and brilliant at the same time? This one achieves it. Yogananda cornered the market in telling tall stories with a straight face, and making people swallow them. The plot of this long autobiography (fiction to the core) is straightforward enough. Yogananda traces his life story from infancy to when he took his place as a fully qualified Yogi. He is half-reluctant to take on such a role at first, for being unsure of himself and the temptations to take his life in other directions. He goes on to meet a series of incredibly remarkable people with occult powers beyond anything you’d see in The X-Files, but all of whom seem to take their abilities for granted. In fact, they actually find him the oddity for not having mastered such wonders. The ludicrous things he sees are legion, but my favourite is the one armed-policeman who has lost his arm to a tiger in the jungle. On meeting him again, Yogananda is somewhat surprised to see the man has two arms again. The man seems rather puzzled that Yogananda doesn’t know you can grow them back at will. Bemused and amazed by the various sages and miracle workers he encounters, Yogananda slowly grows more confident of his own abilities, and takes his place as a Yogi accordingly. For a supposedly true story, it reads with astonishing clarity and beguiling charm. Of course, it’s all straight out of Alice In Wonderland, but the sincerity oozes through every page with frightening ease. Many people utterly failed sadly to notice that they had been sold a yarn by a master story teller, and set off for India to see for themselves. Yogananda had effectively helped launch the migration to the East of many westerners, who disillusioned by Christianity, turned not to Atheitic Secular Humanism (which was too middle class to notice a gap in the youth market) but to the gurus and swamis who promised that they were just like Yogananda. Tragically, many of those gurus also realized the importance of selling their mysticism directly to the West, and the 1970’s saw the rise of cults ruled by Atavistic Maharajis, swamis, and Bhagwans. Yogananda’s book sold well in the early days of that invasion of the minds of the young; Yogananda was fully aware that he was contributing to this; he concludes the ‘autobiography’ by talking of meetings with western saints able to do equally impossible things before breakfast. So, a book can be rubbish and brilliant at one and the same time. I suppose that is a miracle of sorts. Arthur Chappell
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6 responses
@Courage7 (5529)
• United States
16 Mar
The story was that good that people travelled to India? Oh my! I do recall that era though of gurus and all in the 70s.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
16 Mar
@Courage7 yes a very influential book
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@Courage7 (5529)
• United States
16 Mar
@arthurchappell I remember people going to India, Morocco and all back in the day.
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@Courage7 (5529)
• United States
17 Mar
@arthurchappell Precisely Arthur..that was it exactly back then.
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@paigea (21755)
• Canada
16 Mar
Amazing. I did not know this book influenced that movement! Was it entertaining to read?
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
17 Mar
@paigea yes, that is much of its appeal, it is very well written
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@paigea (21755)
• Canada
17 Mar
@arthurchappell I may add it to my long list.
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• Preston, England
17 Mar
@paigea it is worth reading.
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@teamfreak16 (40499)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
17 Apr
Non fiction? Might be interesting.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
21 Apr
fiction masquerading as non-fiction @teamfreak16
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@mydanods (6782)
• Nigeria
16 Mar
To you it might be rubbish and brilliant but to others, it is really a must have book.
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• Preston, England
17 Mar
@mydanods a must have for me too as its influence extends to the cult world I was caught up in during the early 80's.
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@mandala100 (35750)
• Hong Kong
17 Mar
@arthurchapell Thank you for sharing this book review my friend.
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@JudyEv (118545)
• Bunbury, Australia
16 Mar
That is indeed an amazing book. Some people it seems will believe almost anything.
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