Celebrating the Beginnings of Kriya Yoga Meditation Worldwide
The year 2020 marked a profoundly significant milestone in the history of Self-Realization Fellowship — the 100th anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda’s arrival in America from his native India and his founding of Self-Realization Fellowship, the worldwide spiritual organization he established to spread the universal Kriya Yoga teachings.
Just before Paramahansa Yogananda came to America in 1920, Mahavatar Babaji told him:
You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West….Kriya Yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization, will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man’s personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father.
Ever since its founding, Self-Realization Fellowship has been dedicated to realizing this vision — disseminating the sacred science of Kriya Yoga and helping people worldwide to realize their highest potential and deepest joy.
SRF celebrated its Centennial throughout the year 2020 in numerous ways, including several livestreamed events. The SRF Centennial was also covered by media around the world and honored by California state and civic government officials. For more, please see the “Videos of Events” and “News Coverage” tabs.
Yogananda’s Momentous Arrival
On September 19, 1920, The City of Sparta, the first steamer sailing from India to America after the close of the First World War, arrived in Boston’s Chelsea Harbor. Among its disembarking passengers was a “picturesque figure,” as described by The Boston Globe, who “has come to attend a religious conference in Boston and later plans to make a lecturing tour through the country.” Virtually unknown in America upon his arrival on that autumn day, Swami Yogananda — later given the honorific title of Paramahansa from his illumined guru — would become known as “the father of Yoga in the West” and one of the most preeminent spiritual figures of modern times.
Yogananda had come to America as the Indian delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals. His maiden speech, on “The Science of Religion,” would establish for his new audience that the purpose of life is to find true happiness as Bliss — the presence of God discovered within oneself. His subsequent talks on the efficacy of Kriya Yoga meditation to achieve this universal goal would draw thousands, filling the nation’s largest auditoriums to capacity with those wishing to learn the “science of the soul” from this divinely magnetic speaker.
Founding a Path for All Seekers, for All Times
In the year of his arrival, Yogananda began the organization he later named Self-Realization Fellowship to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga worldwide. He created the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons as a modern-day means by which the techniques of the Kriya Yoga science would be transmitted in their full power from guru to students, regardless of distance. Today, SRF (together with Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS), the name by which Yogananda's work is known in India) has more than 800 locations encircling the globe, with members in almost 200 countries.
Coming from all walks of life, faith traditions, and cultures, a remarkably diverse fellowship of souls has been drawn to the yoga wisdom of this world teacher. These seekers of enlightenment have found in Yogananda’s teachings the scientific meditation techniques and essential spiritual guidance to live truly balanced and successful lives.
For Further Exploration
We hope you will enjoy these videos of the major events that SRF held to celebrate its centennial:
Centennial Inauguration, January 5, 2020
SRF/YSS President Brother Chidananda inaugurated the yearlong centennial celebrations of SRF on January 5 (the birth anniversary of Sri Yogananda) at the SRF International Headquarters in Los Angeles.
The event began at 8:00 a.m. with a traditional Indian-style devotional procession. Carrying a flower-bedecked palanquin bearing the image of the great Guru, SRF monastics chanted "Jai Guru" (“Victory to the Guru”) and "Joy, Joy, Joy" to the accompaniment of kirtan instruments such as harmonium, khol (drum), and kartal (cymbals).
At the front of the procession, Brother Chidananda showered rose petals all along the path of the procession in a symbolic offering — made on behalf of all SRF/YSS devotees — of devotion and reverence for Guru; holy Ganges water was also sprinkled, and conches were blown to signify the sacred Aum vibration.
Following the precession, the monks and nuns assembled in the main hall of the International Headquarters Building to continue the joyous celebration with meditation, kirtan chanting, and a satsanga (inspirational talk) by Brother Chidananda. This portion of the event was livestreamed to SRF and YSS devotees taking part from across the world.
Centennial Convocation, August 9 – 15
In 2020 the SRF World Convocation — an annual weeklong immersion in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda held in Los Angeles — was transformed into a fully online experience reaching out to greater numbers than ever before in the history of SRF/ YSS. Thus it became a groundbreaking manifestation of the great Guru’s vision of universal spirituality to unite the world family.
SRF continues to offer this weeklong online program of classes on Paramahansa Yogananda’s “how-to-live” teachings and meditation techniques, guided group meditations and kirtans (devotional chanting), virtual pilgrimage tours to the ashrams where the great Guru lived and communed with God, and more.
For the full complement of 2020 Convocation videos, we invite you view a selection of videos without logging in or registering by viewing the 2020 Convocation playlist on the SRF YouTube channel.
Commemoration of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Arrival in the West, September 19
On September 19, SRF livestreamed a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the actual date that Paramahansa Yogananda first arrived in the West. The event was conducted by Brother Chidananda, president of Self-Realization Fellowship/ Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, who spoke from SRF International Headquarters in Los Angeles. Also featured was a special commemoration event with SRF monastics and members at Piers Park on the waterfront in Boston, the very spot where the great Guru disembarked from the ship that brought him from his beloved motherland.
In 2020 SRF’s Centennial was covered by media around the world and honored by California state and civic government officials. Here are links to related articles that were posted on the SRF Blog during that year.