Autobiography of a Yogi

When it started off, it seemed as if the book is a collection of fictional stories. But as I continued reading, the picture became clearer. I realized, author Swami Paramhansa Yogananda is no ordinary man. How can someone get healed by just looking at their Guru’s (teacher’s) picture? How can he devise a technique that gives the practitioners a euphoric state of mind without doing anything much? All seemed baffling to me, till I ended up reading the entire book.

The book starts off on a really interesting note. It captures the readers mind with Swami Paramhansa Yogananda vividly describing his childhood. Then come a string of Saints, one could levitate; one could be at two places at the same time and the other slept only for three hours per day. Albeit the author had a scientific explanation for all these miracles, it leaves the reader awestruck and dumbfounded.

The entire book revolves around ‘Kriya Yoga’. According to Swamiji, one thousand Kriya’s practiced in 8 ½ hours gives the Yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution. He has also given very interesting in-depth information about Kriya Yoga, which I leave to the readers to find out.

The book also mentions similarities between Christ’s teachings and what is written in the Ancient Vedas. He cites examples which are believable enough. He mentions the Saint Therese Neumann who saw the last hours of Christ before He was crucified. She used to bleed at places where Christ was nailed and tortured every Friday. The author says that he could attune his thoughts to the saint’s and could see the last minute of Christ’s death as she saw it. I had goose bumps after reading that. There are loads of other interesting stories (read instances) which act as an eye-opener.

There are two-three aspects about the book, which could have been avoided though. The sentences are quite draggy at times, and also certain things are explained in very in-depth detail. I had to skip those parts, as they were quite difficult to comprehend. Also, the perplexed language makes the availability of an oxford dictionary a must for the readers.

Keeping everything aside, I have gained so much from the book that I can’t even describe. I myself am on a spiritual path and this book was the best thing that could have happened to me. It rekindled my faith on Indian Gurus, who these days are looked with suspicious eyes. It made me feel proud of our country, which has been instrumental in introducing Yoga and meditation to the West.

Yogananda is a graduate of Calcutta University. He writes not only with unforgettable sincerity but with an incisive wit. The book has some superb moments. Finally, when you read it you will get to know the answer to the ultimate question about life, the Universe and everything. For any spiritual seeker, it’s the best book that can quench his/her thirst. It’s a must for every layperson wanting to hold on to Divinity in the midst of chaotic reality.

Siddharth Jain