Autobiography Of A Yogi by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda was there in my bookshelf from a long time but I’m famous for starting a spiritual book and closing it without even reading more then ten pages. It is only when I read about the book in the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson that the former was greatly influenced by the Sri Yogananda’s, that I thought to read the autobiography.
When I started reading the book, my father-in-law advised me not to gulp it down like tequila shots. It is a very special book. It is like red wine which should be taken in one sip at a time, hold it for few moments in the mouth, smell it, feel it and then let it go down your throat.
Well I understood the significance of his advice only when I started reading it. The first thing which strike me about Autobiography Of A Yogi is that it’s a very beautifully written book. The choice of the words are magnificent and its effect on the reader is endearing. He has the great mastery over words and uses them effortlessly. His words has the power to take the reader to a completely different world of solace and purity. Indeed, it has to be read slowly in order to fully understand the real essence of the book.
Autobiography Of A Yogi is quite similar to Living With the Masters of the Himalayas by Swami Rama. Both the sages narrates about their various meeting and encounters with masters, spiritual advanced sages, saints and miracles connected to them. The Autobiography is full of tales of miraculous healing, people being raised from the dead, strange intercessions.
But unlike Swami Rama, Sri Yogananda was very passionate about his parents especially his mother. The sudden death of his mother left behind the little Mukunda, who later on go on to be known as Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda , devastated and bitter. Till he finds solace in Divine Mother.
Sri Yogananda’s guru Sri Yukteswar never asked him to renounce the world or earthly relationships. He stayed with father to continue his studies while with the help of his Master he continued on the path of realization of the ultimate eternity. Sri Yogananda was never born perfectionist. He has his shares of vices but with the help of his Master he manage to iron them out.
The book does not emphasizes on the renunciation of the world. Rather, Guru of Sri Yogananda and his guru as well, believes in continuing to fulfill worldly obligations and duties while keeping focus on self realization of God. The message is to forsake the worldly pleasure and not duties and responsibilities.
Sri Yogananda is a true international yogi. He has spread the Kriya Yoga and his message of Guru of realization in god through yogic science to the West. The book has few accounts and anecdotes of his experience in West.
The book doesn’t have lengthy spiritual and philosophical lessons and lectures which it is difficult to connect or comprehend. But there are many words of wisdom and wit in the book which were bestowed by his guru on Sri Yogananda. There were many thought provoking lines in the book like,
“Good manners without sincerity are like a beautiful dead lady.”
“Straightforwardness without civility is like surgeon’s knife, effective but unpleasant.”
“Candour with courtesy is helpful and admirable.”
I’m not a spiritual inclined person but strive to become a better person. By reading Autobiography of a Yogi, I realized that yoga and meditation helps us, as it keeps our mind at peace. It will also increase the faith in that invisible hand which always cares for us.
There is a full chapter on Kriya Yoga but the author doesn’t tells how to do it. For that one have to get initiated by a guru who is expert in Yogic science.
The book had been published in 1946 and till date people read it fondly. It was the first book Steve Jobs has read in his newly launched iPad and continue to read it once every year.(As mentioned in his biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson)