Paramahansa Yogananda with Messenger of Peace

By Smt. Alkesh Tyagi
Deputy Director (M & C), Press Information Bureau, New Delhi.

Mahatma Gandhi

CALCUTTA, Sep 30, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) The decision of United Nations General Assembly to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, 2nd October as “International Day of Non Violence is not only the recognition of  Mahatma’s role in promoting the message of Peace across the globe but also vindication of the characteristic feature of Indian culture that have long been peace, non-violence, love and harmony. The decision also underlines the urgent quest of international fraternity for a harmonious way of life. This unique way of life had effectively been shown to the world by a Karamyogi and a Kriyayogi from India. One tried to harmonize politics through value based activities while the other tried to harmonize religions by merging the materialism of West with the spirituality of the East.

Arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on Indian political scene in 1917-18 was marked with another silent development taking shape in remote  India. A young Sanyasi from Bengal, fourteen years younger to Gandhiji, laid the foundation stone of a yoga school at Dihika in West Bengal for the right education of the youth. A year later in 1918, the school named Yogoda Satsang Brahmcharya Vidyalay was shifted to Ranchi. This school was later visited by Mahatma Gandhi on 17th September, 1925.

Paramhans Yogananda

The founder of the school was none other than — Sri Sri Paramhansa Yogananda , the founder of  Yogoda Satsang Society of India and the author of modern spiritual classic ‘Autography of a Yogi’. Considered to be the Upanishada of the new age, ‘Autography of a Yogi’ has been translated in to twenty one languages to satisfy the ever growing spiritual thirst of millions of readers world over. This book introduces the readers to the timeless truths underlying the religious traditions of East and West. This book also introduces Gandhiji to the world from Yogananda’s point of view.

Born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, on January 5, 1893, as Mukund Lal Ghosh, Paramahansaji  graduated from Calcutta University in 1915 and was initiated into sannyas. Paramahansaji was sent by his guru to Boston, USA in 1920 to represent India at an International Congress of Religious Liberals. His forceful address in fluent English on “The Science of Religion” there and his subsequent lectures were enthusiastically received. In 1925, he founded Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) at Los Angeles. In post world war-I era, when Gandhiji was trying to change the character of  Indian political movement with the help of his philosophy of TRUTH and NON-VIOLENCE, Yoganandji was introducing West to the essence of India’s ancient wisdom with the help of practice of ancient science of KRIYA YOGA. Both of them were serving the same cause in different places under different set of circumstances. While Gandhiji tried to make politics, a religion, Yoganandji strived to make religion scientific.

On March 7, 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda, left his earthly body. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of his mahasamadhi, in 1977, the Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in his honour, paying him the following tribute: “The ideal of love for God and service to humanity found full expression in the life of Paramahnsa Yogananda…. He takes his place among our great saints. His work continues to grow and shine ever more brightly, drawing people everywhere on the path of the pilgrimage of the spirit.”

Yogananda meets Mahatma

When Yoganandji returned to India  after fifteen years, he visited Mahatma Gandhi at his Wardha Ashram. He arrived there on 26th August, 1935,Monday the Mahatma’s day for observing silence.  On the following day, August 27, 1935 Yoganandaji initiated  Gandhiji in Kriya Yoga.  Narrating this incident in his biography Yoganandaji wrote “on the previous night Gandhi had expressed a wish to receive the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya. I was touched by the Mahatma’s open mindedness and spirit of enquiry…. The hour of my promised instruction had arrived; several Satyagrahees now entered the room-   Mr. Desai, Dr. Pingle, and a few others who desired the Kriya techniques.”

“I first taught the little class the physical Yogoda exercises.  The body is visualized as divided into twenty parts; the will directs energy in turn to each section.  Soon everyone was vibrating before me like a human motor.  It was easy to observe the rippling effect on Gandhi’s twenty body parts, at nearly all times completely exposed to view! Though very thin, he is not unpleasingly so; the skin of his body is smooth and unwrinkled.”

“Later I initiated the group into the liberating technique of Kriya Yoga.” On my last evening in Wardha I addressed the meeting ………in Town Hall. The room was thronged… with about 400 persons assembled to hear the talk on yoga….Our little group returned to ashram..good-night glimpse of the Mahatma—deep in peace and correspondence.”

“Night was still lingering when I rose at five a.m……..After breakfast our trio sought out Gandhi for farewell pranams. The saint rises at four o’clock for his morning prayers”

“Mahatmaji, good-bye!” I knelt to touch his feet.” India is safe in your keeping.”

Kiryayogi on Karamyogi

Further recording his meeting with Gandhiji, Yoganandji said in his autobiography “Alone among great leaders, Gandhi has offered a practical nonviolent alternative to armed might. To redress grievances and remove injustices, the Mahatma has employed nonviolent means which again and again have proved their effectiveness. According to Yoganandji, Gandhiji stated his doctrine in these words:

“I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction.  Therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction.  Only under that law would well-ordered society be intelligible and life worth living.

If that is the law of life we must work it out in daily existence.  Wherever there are wars, wherever we are confronted with an opponent, conquer by love.  I have found that the certain law of love has answered in my own life as the law of destruction has never done.

In India we have had an ocular demonstration of the operation of this law on the widest scale possible. I don’t claim that nonviolence has penetrated the 360,000,000 people in India, but I do claim it has penetrated deeper than any other doctrine in an incredibly short time.

It takes a fairly strenuous course of training to attain a mental state of nonviolence.  It is a disciplined life, like the life of a soldier.  The perfect state is reached only when the mind, body and speech are in proper coordination.  Every problem would lend itself to solution if we determined to make the law of truth and nonviolence the law of life.”

On World Political Events

“The grim march of world political events points inexorably to the truth that without spiritual vision, the people perish.  Science, if not religion, has awakened in humanity a dim sense of the insecurity and even insubstantiality of all material things.  Where indeed may man go now, if not to his Source and Origin, the Spirit within him?

Consulting history, one may reasonably state that man’s problems have not been solved by the use of brute force. World war I produced an earth- chilling snowball of dread karma that swelled into world war II. Only the warmth of  brotherhood can melt the present colossal snowball of sanguinary karma that may otherwise grow into World War III………

War and crime never pay.  The billions of dollars that went up in the smoke of explosive nothingness would have been sufficient to have made a new world, one almost free from disease and completely free from poverty….”

On  Non-Violence

Paramhans Yoganand ji said in his book “The nonviolent voice of Gandhi appeals to man’s highest conscience. Let nations ally themselves no longer with death, but with life; not with destruction, but with construction; not with hate, but with the creative miracle of love.

“One should forgive, under any injury,” says the Mahabharata.  “It hath been said that the continuation of the species is due to man’s being forgiving.  Forgiveness is holiness; by forgiveness the universe is held together.  Forgiveness is the might of the mighty; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is quiet of mind.  Forgiveness and gentleness are the qualities of the Self-possessed.  They represent eternal virtue.”

“Nonviolence is the natural outgrowth of the law of forgiveness and love.  “If loss of life becomes necessary in a righteous battle,” Gandhi proclaims, “one should be prepared, like Jesus, to shed his own, not others’, blood.  Eventually there will be less blood split in the world.”

Yoganandji quotes Gandhiji  “I am fighting for nothing less than world peace. If the Indian movement is carried to success on a nonviolent Satyagraha basis, it will give a new meaning to patriotism and, if  I may say so in all humanity, to life itself.”

Yoganandji comments “Gandhi’s epoch has extended, with the beautiful precision of cosmic timing, into a century already desolated and devastated by two World Wars. A divine handwriting appears on the granite wall of his life: a warning against the further shedding of blood among brothers.”

“Epics shall someday be written on the Indian satyagrahis who withstood hate with love, violence with nonviolence”. (PIB Features)