The Ananda Line of Gurus
Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952)
Yogananda went to the U.S. from India in 1920 and lived there until his Mahasamadhi (a great yogi’s conscious exit from the body) in 1952. He was the first great master of yoga to make his home in the West. He travelled around America teaching the timeless essence of spirituality, a direct inner experience of God, which he called “Self-realization.” With those God thirsty souls who responded to him he shared the powerful tool of Kriya Yoga meditation. He also emphasized how yoga offers practical solutions to all the challenges of modern life. His Autobiography of a Yogi is one of the spiritual classics of modern times. Yogananda was trained for his worldwide work by his guru, Sri Yukteswar.
Swami Sri Yukteswar (1855-1936)
Sri Yukteswar lived his life in India, and belonged to the ancient Swami Order of monastics. He initiated his disciple Yogananda into this same order. In his earlier adult life Sri Yukteswar was married and had a daughter, but after his wife passed he became a swami. Yogananda called him a gyanavatar, which means “incarnation of wisdom,” the hallmark of Sri Yukteswar’s teachings and writings. He in turn was a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya.
Lahiri Mahasaya (1828-1895)
“Lahiri” was his surname; his disciples added “Mahasaya,” which means “great-minded one.” It was he who asked Babaji if the ancient science of Kriya Yoga could be made available to all souls who are sincerely seeking God, and not just to those who had renounced the world. He was not a swami, he was married with two sons and worked as an accountant. His entire life is a wonderful example of one who lived “in the world” yet with complete dedication to the highest spiritual ideals. He was a disciple of Babaji.
His birth name and date are unknown, but Babaji’s (“revered father”) influence is felt throughout the world, for he brought the ancient science of Kriya Yoga back to the world. Yogananda said it was lost due to “priestly secrecy and man’s indifference.” He is the first in Ananda’s line of guru’s, and it was he who sent Yogananda to the West. Yogananda said that Babaji was a reincarnation of the great prophet Krishna; for this reason, we often say “Babaji-Krishna” when naming our line of gurus.
Yogananda said that it was Jesus who asked Babaji to send a teacher to the West, saying: “They do good works in the West, but they neglect the essence of what I taught them: communion with God.” Yogananda was that teacher, and he has said that his mission to the West included showing the essential unity of eastern and western spiritual traditions. Represented by the teachings of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ, and the teachings of original yoga as taught by Krishna.