“For the sake of the true seekers all hidden truth must be revealed for their benefit.”
— Paramhansa Yogananda, Inner Culture, February 1939
Yogananda may well be the most prolific realized master of recorded history. Books, articles, poems, scriptural commentaries flowed through his pen almost effortlessly, carried along by divine inspiration. The wisdom of the ages, uniquely expressed, poured through his informal talks and lectures. Yet, much of what Yogananda said and wrote, how he looked and moved, is locked away from his devotees in the SRF vaults. It’s been fifty years since Yogananda passed away. A whole generation of devotees will soon also pass away. Is this generation less worthy than future generations, for whom, presumably, SRF is saving this spiritual treasure trove?
Yogananda’s commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita remained hidden from view for forty years. Only after extensive scholarly and editorial revision were they considered ready to be released. His important commentaries on the teachings of Jesus Christ went through the same process. Of great concern, however, is the fact that, from what we’ve seen so far, Yogananda’s power and dynamism is being watered down and sanitized for general consumption.
His original writing is filled with unusual and colorful expressions, and powerful, challenging ideas. Yet, the versions published by SRF are greatly changed from the original. Sometimes the meaning has been dramatically changed, or even suppressed, as in the example of world brotherhood colonies.
If SRF would honestly state that his works had been significantly edited, then the public would at least know, and be able to take that into account in their reading. But his books are issued as if written by him. The public does not know.
Yogananda’s words and image do not belong to SRF alone. He belongs to the ages. His words, the look in his eyes, the way he moved, are personal messages from the guru to devotees everywhere. No institution should stand between the master and those he came to awaken.
The first biography of St. Francis of Assisi was written by his direct disciple, Thomas of Celano. Later, the Catholic Church commissioned an official biography to be written by Bonaventura, the Director General of the Franciscan order. The Celano biography was then suppressed for centuries. Only recently has it been published again in its entirety. The words of a direct disciple, about one of the greatest and most beloved saints of our time were withheld for hundreds of years.
Will Yogananda’s devotees, too, be deprived for centuries of the words and images of the master we love?
Yogananda’s image, especially his moving image, would be of precious value to his devotees. Why does SRF keep him hidden from view? Ironically, those who are hiding him from us are those who need the photos and movies least of all, since they saw him living. This is not stewardship of Yogananda’s heritage.
Movies of Yogananda in India, 1935-36
During Yogananda’s return to India, which included his joyful reunion with his guru, Sri Yukteswar, Richard Wright took films of Yogananda, Yukteswar and other saints in India.
Mr. Wright also took moving pictures of Sri Yukteswar during his last Winter Solstice Festival in Serampore.
Movies of Yukteswar’s Mahasamadhi
In what must be extraordinary footage, Mr. Wright filmed Sri Yukteswar’s body upright in the lotus posture after his mahasamadhi (the final release of a fully self-realized master). We believe many hours of precious film are locked away in SRF’s storage vaults.
Film of the Lake Shrine Dedication
Only rarely is this film shown. Even then, what viewers see is only a portion of the complete footage. All of the scenes, for example, which show Swami Kriyananda have been removed, as well as other portions of the film.
Many of Yogananda’s talks were recorded, especially during the last years of his life. None were available until the 1980’s, when Ananda released two audio tapes of talks by Yogananda that were given to Ananda. Then SRF released a few. Many more exist. There are even recordings of talks Yogananda gave at Kriya initiations. Think what a boon it would be to Kriyabans to have Yogananda himself explaining Kriya. However, if students have Yogananda’s original talks, they could compare them to SRF’s written edited versions.
The India Travel Diaries
When Yogananda went to India in 1935-36, Richard Wright served as his secretary and travel companion. Mr. Wright’s diary of the trip was a fascinating first-hand account of meetings with saints, and descriptions of beautiful India. It is especially captivating because it was written by a Westerner and a close disciple of Yogananda. Some portions were published in Autobiography of a Yogi, some in SRF’s magazine. But the complete diaries themselves—where are they?
Letters to Disciples
Yogananda had a vast correspondence. Some of the letters he wrote to Sister Gyanamata and Rajarsi Janakananda have been published, but they are only a fraction of what he wrote. Where are the rest of them? Where are the countless letters written to other disciples and friends?
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
Yogananda taught classes on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras between 1942-1947. These contain some of his deepest teachings on yoga, including insights into the Pranayam Kriya Yoga taught by Lahiri Mahasaya. Extensive, detailed notes exist, giving both the content and the spirit of those classes. Why can’t we be allowed to read the notes now? Will they ever be published?
Mushroomburgers & Calcutta Croquettes
These are not the items themselves, but the recipes for making them, created by Yogananda himself. A gifted cook, Yogananda’s recipes are now filed away, one presumes, between the Movies of Sri Yukteswar and Patanjali class notes. These were on the menu of SRF’s cafe, so no one can say Yogananda wanted them kept secret, or the world isn’t ready yet for “Calcutta Croquettes.” In the great scheme of things, recipes aren’t that important. But for that very reason, why keep them hidden away?
This is only a partial list of what we believe to be in SRF’s vaults. If you know of other items, please write to us using the Contact Form. If you wish to serve as a channel for getting these items released, we urge you to contact the SRF Board of Directors:
You may reach them at:
3880 San Rafael Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90065-3298
(323) 225-5088, fax