It was on October 6, 1920, that Paramahansa Yogananda delivered his maiden address in the United States, as India’s delegate to the Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston, on the subject “The Science of Religion.”
Paramahansaji had arrived just a few weeks before, to bring to the world at the behest of his renowned line of gurus that sublime soul-science — yoga. The great value of the yoga meditation he taught would become deeply apparent to receptive students as they put its methods into practice, and his way of explaining India’s wisdom for the modern world increasingly appreciated around the globe ever since.
As Rajarsi Janakananda, the American businessman who became a saintly yogi and succeeded Paramahansaji as president of SRF, said: “India, in the person of one of her great masters, Paramahansa Yogananda, has brought to us this priceless knowledge of soul-realization....What India has given us today in Paramahansaji’s teachings is worth more to us than anything we could give India in exchange.”
Would you like to get a deeper understanding of yoga and how it is meant for all?
The quotes from Paramahansaji below offer a glimpse of the universal nature of India’s ancient science of union with Spirit, and what Paramahansaji achieved by delivering it to the shores of America and the world — transcending constricting boundaries of culture, creed, and time.
From the talks and writings of Paramahansa Yogananda:
India’s priceless contribution to the world, discovered anciently by her rishis, is the science of religion — yoga, “divine union” — by which God can be known, not as a theological concept but as an actual personal experience.
Yoga consists of the actual methods for rising above our narrow identification with the mortal body and restless mind and identifying ourselves with the calm immortal soul.
Its techniques are not meant only for certain types and temperaments, such as those few persons who incline toward the monastic life….Because the yogic science satisfies a universal need, it has a natural universal appeal.
The science of religion identifies the universal truths common to all — the basis of religion — and teaches how by their practical application persons can build their lives according to the Divine Plan. India’s teaching of Raja Yoga, the “royal” science of the soul, supersedes the orthodoxy of religion by setting forth systematically the practice of those methods that are universally necessary for the perfection of every individual, regardless of race or creed.
Just as electricity was discovered in the West, and we in India benefit from it; so India has discovered the ways by which God can be known, and the West should profit by them. By experimentation, India has proved the truths in religion. In the future, religion everywhere will be a matter of experimentation; it will not be based solely upon belief.
It is possible to put religion into practice, to use it as a science that you can prove by experimenting on yourself. The search for Truth is the most marvelous search in the world….Learn how to build your life around spiritual ideals.
The soul is absolutely perfect, but when identified with the body as ego, its expression becomes distorted by human imperfections….Yoga teaches us to know the divine nature in ourselves and others. Through yoga meditation we can know that we are gods.
To absorb more about key contributions of universal spirituality that Paramahansa Yogananda brought to the world upon his arrival in the West in 1920 — revolutionary ideas that are still taking root and transforming more and more lives as time goes on — we invite you to read a blog post from Brother Chidananda, president and spiritual head of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India.