Monday, July 15, 2013

"Autobiography of a Yogi"...a huge disappointment.

This book is supposed to be a autobiography of very celebrated Guru Paramahansa Yogananda. He is supposed to be one of the first Indian Gurus who traveled to west to spread awareness about Hinduism and Yoga, it seems he introduced many westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his lectures and books. I read lot of good things about this book and this book was mentioned even in biography of Steve Jobs (as the one of the reasons he visited India). I was very interested in reading  this book and finally got a chance to read it when it was available from Kindle store on Amazon. I was really excited to get this book and it started really well but after few chapters I started seeing where this book is going, and my doubt became reality when slowly Yogananda started mentioning all miracles and crazy things which he claims that he personally witnessed in his life, specially the book is full of description of supernatural powers of his Gurus and some other people.

I have no problem in he believing that his Gurus were phenomenal human beings and had some exceptional qualities, many people are exceptionally talented and naturally gifted, but to claim that they were with some supernatural powers and attribute so many illogical miracles to them doesn't make any sense to me, rather all these things look like very cheap publicity stunt. Some of the miracles mentioned in book are, predicting consistently exact future events, curing sick or even dead (that too instantly or in very short time, no matter what disease they were suffering from), making people sick just to make them realize power of their god, producing babies by blessings, being present at two places at same time, claiming that some of them never age and are 100s or even 1000s of years old, etc (the list is too long). I don't think there is any need for these type of stories (that too so many of them) in any book which claims it self to be a autobiography, I can understand these things if they are mentioned in fiction book or as dream sequences but we all (or most of us who are capable of thinking logically) know that these things are not possible in reality, sometimes somethings might click by chance (like future prediction) but most other supernatural claims are impossible to prove because they really don't happen. I think Yogananda was not aware that in future science will do so much progress that many things written in his book will sound like fictional stories. I was still looking for some interesting stuff among this huge desert of miracles, but there are very few oasis in this desert. 

Specially one should read his conversation with his Guru Yukteshwar, his guru comes and visits him after his (Guru's) death. It seems Yogananda had unique ability to visit dead people in person, I wonder why he felt sad when they died, if he knew that he can meet these people whenever both of them (the dead person and Yogananda) want then why to worry whether the person is dead or alive? So in this conversation they talk about some 'astral world' or 'Hiranya loka' and what all they describe is like scene from some fictional movie, it's somewhat funny but mostly like some child telling about candy land, trying his best to put all his imagination at work but honestly I was not expecting to read such things in the autobiography. He tells us in his book why his guru was so fond of him, it seems his guru wanted to have a son (and not daughter, these so called spiritual masters also failed to lift themselves above social norms of that time) so that he can teach his son all vedik and other spiritual knowledge so he wanted a son not daughter (because she can not carry his lineage), but he couldn't get it which is again a big surprise as in book it is mentioned that he gave blessings to others which resulted in children of whatever gender he desired to give them. It seems when Yogananda came to him, his desire (to have a son) was fulfilled.

There is no doubt that Yogananda must have been very popular spiritual leader of that time, in this book he recounts his meetings with famous personalities like Ravindranath Thakur (Tagore) and Mahatma Gandhi. Another interesting aspect is he never talks anything about independence movement of India or any problems faced by Indians because of foreign rule, his entire life in India was spent during British raj and I wonder how come he didn't find any problem with foreign rule in his own country. Freedom movement of India was at its peak during that time but he didn't bothered to mention anything about it in this book. I don't expect to read about freedom movement in any spiritual book but definitely  expect in a autobiography of a person who was there when this was happening. I think autobiography of any person no matter how self centered he or she is should say something about his mother land and its people.

Only chapter which was interesting to read (compared to others) and was without any miracles mentioned in it was related with his stay at Gandi's aashram in Wardha. The chapter is nice break from heavy dose of supernatural things happening in book. There is nothing like person with bleeding eyes, or person surviving without any food or water for 40 years, etc. so this chapter is nice relief and I enjoyed reading this part of book, but apart from this this book was huge disappointment for me.

Yogananda's main aim was to attract western population (specially people from North America) to his philosophy that's why I think he strategically praised Jesus so many times in his book, but he conveniently ignored similar personalities from other religions (like Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc.). This book, also like many other books belonging to many cult movements, is a self praising story written by Yogananda for specially for his devotees, I am sure they all love it and worship it as a holy book or scripture but for me it was very disappointing and very boring, there are few good lines or good paragraphs here and there but in general there is so much junk that you even forget when was the last you read any meaningful line which can teach you something new. May be this is a sacred book for some people but a huge disappointment for me, may be I expected too much.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramahansa_Yogananda

21 comments:

  1. what is wrong to attract people thru Yog! since it is the oldest science related to Health & Mind; it is duty of a Bharatiy to spread it across the globe. If you are a true yogi, then only u can feel the greatness of Yog science. and yes, it is definitely better than forceful conversion by Christi missionaries & islamic people. thnx-.. isha.teenager@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks a lot Isha for visiting the blog and sharing your views. There is nothing wrong to attract people through Yoga or any other thing (spirituality, religion, etc.). I don't know if every Bharatiya (Indian) thinks that its his/her duty to spread Yoga all over the world, many of them themselves are not familiar with it so, I think this is very ambitious expectation from you side.

      Forceful religious conversions are bad no matter who does it and it will be wrong to associate Yoga with any religion person belonging to any religion can practice it with same benefit.

      The blog is about my opinion about this particular book, it's not at all about Yoga or religious conversions. I think you got wrong impression that I am against Yoga, I practice it myself and know its benefits personally. Thanks again for your comment.

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  2. Clearly this book is not for you as you have a closed mindset when it comes to God and religion.

    So its no suprise that out of millions who have enjoyed this book and praised it, you want to write agaisnt it.


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    1. Thanks for your comment..I agree that this book is not for me, but what do you mean by closed mindset to God and religion??? On what basis you say this? So if someone doesn't agree with my opinions or views will it be right if I accuse them of having closed or narrow mindset??

      I specifically wrote that I am disappointed because author put too much emphasis on miracles and unproven supernatural events in the book. As a student of science I know that these things are not possible and there is no proof that these things happen. I am eagerly waiting to listen or read anyone (with open mind) who is willing to produce any evidence which can prove these events.

      I wrote what I felt after reading this book, I also wrote that there are many who might like this book and I have no problem with that but it seems you are not happy with my views, but I guess one has to accept that there can be more than one opinions about same topic.

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  3. If you take time to study your answer then you will find the answer to your own questions.

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    1. the big question is, do I have any questions about this book?? I don't think so, and about other questions which I might have at least this book didn't provide me any answers so I move on. For me every day or every moment of life poses new questions and my quest to find answers continues, this is what makes everything interesting for me. I am a student of science and in this field questions never end, answers keep coming, they keep changing..its all fun..

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  4. All you have ever done on these blogs is bash Hinduism in the name of 'fun' as you put it. Yet have the audacity to question others of being narrowminded.
    You need to look at your own self because one day you wont like what you discover.

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    1. Bash Hinduism in the name of fun?? Can you produce any evidence to support your this statement?

      First of all this blog is not just for fun but I dont mind if you enjoy it and feel funny. I express my opinions here and try to engage in serious debates or discussions, this is not the place to bash anything unnecessarily. I am not accusing here anyone of anything, sometimes just try to show them mirror, that's all.

      As a scientist I am not trained to discover things only which I like, doing research is only in my hand, what I discover is not in my hand, whether I like it or not doesn't matter at all, discovery is discovery. I criticize whatever I feel is not right according to me, I don't see from which religion it is, for me source doesn't matter but the content does. I am born and brought up in Hindu family may be that's why things from that religion come more frequently that's all, it's very simple.

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  5. "I criticize whatever I feel is not right according to me"
    This is exactly what Im talking about.
    This "I", "feel" "me" --yes we know its all you and you and you and your bashing, your fun filled quest and all your thoughts and all your twisting which you write agaisnt Hinduism. At least have the guts to look at your own self and see what you are writing instead of trying to give replies.
    Just because somethign does not click with you does not make it wrong! People dont live their lives for you! The history, the religion, is not happening to please you. Books are not written for you alone.
    Now you claim its all in the name of science.
    Its the same blabber with a different name for it.


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  6. So what you expect? I should agree with whatever I see or read? Is it what you do? Bot I can't do like this, for me questioning is integral part of life.

    I don't write against Hinduism or any other religion, I write about objectionable customs, traditions, rituals or rules from any religion. It's "your" opinion that I write against Hinduism not mine. Just for your information I do look carefully at what I write and standby it, that is why I bother to answer every question and explain things. I spend time to read about that particular subject and investigate the matter as much as possible before writing anything. I don't write only what I like, I like what I find and what I follow.

    So what is your suggestion for me? Not to write any replies? Stop writing blog or start writing all so called pro-Hindu posts, praising anything and everything? I am sure there are many blogs on internet who do this, but this is not the one, here each and everything can be questioned.

    Yes, if some thing doesn't sound right to me, it's wrong according to me (but I don't feel that others should feel the same way)...I guess that's how most people think, right? Whatever I wrote doesn't sound right to you that's why you are here trying to convince me that I am wrong, am I right?

    I know very well that people don't live their lives for me or as per my beliefs and they should not, I don't expect that or even want that. I want them to live their lives as per their own beliefs.

    I also know that religion is not happening to please me and books are not written for me alone...but these things are here for me also and I have equal right like anyone else on this plane to praise them or criticize them, I think it's very easy thing to understand. I wonder why you find it so hard to understand this simple fact.

    I don't claim anything in name of science, science doesn't need my support of help. I am not devotee or blind follower of science or religion or any other thing. I hope this clarifies your doubts, if not then don't hesitate to ask, this is one place where questioning is encouraged and appreciated, nothing is sacred here.

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  7. Basically you are only presenting your misunderstanding which you think is written objectively.
    You should stop writing on subjects you have no understanding of.
    Im sure that would go long way towards your incorrect thinking misleading people. This is why Im writing to you.

    You are not writing to learn or question or debate. You only write to push your opinions on the blog and if people disagree with it then you simply ignore their explanations by ranting on and on how only your opinion is the correct one, just like you are doing right now.

    You have no right to give blind opinions just to satisfy your own ego. That’s all you are doing on subjects you do not understand.

    It would be good if you wrote positive things on Hinduism. Why do you find that wrong thing to do? So what if others are writing the same.
    Does it mean that you only want to moan and complain and write nasty things about Hinduism?

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    1. Fist of all where did you read I say that ONLY my opinion is correct one? I would appreciate if you can give couple of examples of this.

      My opinion is my opinion, according to me it's right but I am no one to push others to accept it, it's totally up to them. I already said that I dint express blind opinions, I do my study and then wright the blog, I find it interesting when people accuse others for expressing blind opinions just because it doesn't match with their own opinion.

      I write whatever I feel, positive or negative I don't categorize them, may be problems attract me more than solved issues. Everyone thinks that he/she is correct and others are wrong (specially when there is difference of opinion), this is very common feeling and you are going through that, I hope you will get over this and will realize that there can be more than one views about same incident, person or thing and there can be more than one correct answer to some questions, when you realize this then I am sure you won't face this problem anymore and will enjoy reading more diverse opinions.

      Do you want to ignore nasty things from any religion and believe that they didn't exist, or you want to confront them and try to change them? Choice is yours, I already chose my way and now you can try to choose yours, but please don't expect everyone to follow your path, at least I don't expect it, let others choose what they want to do.
      Thanks.

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  8. "My opinion is my opinion according to me its right!!
    There you go --you just said it again. What more proof do you need and youre pushing your opinions right now instead taking some lessons away from what Im trying to tell you!
    But no--only you have to have the last word and only you are therfore right and my opinion does not count and you continually dismiss it.
    You claim your opinions are the only-- one --true --opinion even right now yet you cannot see it!
    You call this blog Self relalization yet you cant even realise your own self.

    You are not only writing nasty thigns about Hindu reigion but also constantly making the relgion out to be nasty. This is called an agneda. An agenda of hate. You then proclaim its a well reserached blog.
    Hate by any other name is HATE.

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    1. When was the last time when you know your opinion was wrong and still expressed it or pushed it (whatever term you want to use)?? I am interested in knowing when person like you willingly express wrong opinions (at least I dont do it).

      There is no first word or last word here, you have your opinion and I have mine, it's as simple as that. I don't say that I am the one who is ONLY right, go and read my replies again to understand what I mean, it might take time but I am sure you will get it.

      [[You claim your opinions are the only-- one --true--opinion even right now yet you cannot see it! ]]

      No pint in repeating same thing again and again, just give some examples, where I say that my opinion is "ONLY" right one. I believe everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, I have mine and you have yours.

      [[You call this blog Self relalization yet you cant even realise your own self.]]

      Really?? then did you realize who am I?? I always wonder when people talk so confidently about others, without even knowing them..it's amazing.

      Hate...yes, that's what organized religion spreads, there are ample examples of this if you look around.

      Yes, I write about nasty things which are still present in our society, so?? What's wrong in it? May be you don't like to read about them or you are OK with them, but I am not and I want to talk about them because there are people who are suffering because of these 'nasty things'...so if you think what I wrote is not true (this or any other post) then give evidence, produce relevant data and prove me wrong, I would love it and appreciate it. Just saying 'you are wrong' again and again is not going to help...it's very easy thing to do....take some effort to show some evidence also.

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  9. You are now twisiting the dialogue (your last pragraph in above reply) because you dont even know the point Im making. No wonder you find it difficult to understand anythign I or even your own writing.
    You just keep ranting about how great you are and about being so know it all, Mr perfect yet you are totally blind to what is said.

    Its good that you admit you like to write nasty thigns about Hinduism in your own little round about ways.

    This book is not making anyone suffer and there are no nasty thigns in their yet your twisted mindset is seeing only hate and making something out of nothing.

    This is a fantastic incpirational book that has led many to spiritual and righteous paths to people. but your twisted mind thinks otherwise.
    This is why people like you who hate Hindusims will go to any lenghts to find some faults where there are none.




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    1. First read carefully, understand it and then write your comment, as I said please provide evidence of your allegations, just repeating same things won't help.

      [[ts good that you admit you like to write nasty thigns about Hinduism]]

      Where did you read this, again some evidence will be highly appreciated.

      I know that this book is not making anyone suffer, but thanks for telling this. May be this is fantastic book for you and I have no issues with that, but it seems you don't like that I didn't find this book useful or interesting, so one can see who has feeling of hatred here. I have no feeling of hatred against anyone, I write what I see and feel, it's you who is categorizing it (love or hate), so it's your problem what you understand from what I write, I can explain it but can not force to change you your opinion.

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  10. [[it's you who is categorizing it ]]
    I dont have to do that. You are doing fine without anyone categorising your blogs for you. You clearly have an agenda of hate against Hindus and it shows up on ALL your blogs. They are ALL preachings of hate and certainly not love.
    You have even declared that you love to write nasty things about the religion.

    Another thing is you have stolen the blog name from Yogananda and his organisation who coined and uses and have popularised this phrase --Self realisation.

    You have stolen it and then write bad things about him with your backward intellect and understanding. This name stealing is nothing more than theft and backstabbing.

    You have an agenda for women so the blog should have been properly named with women in mind. This name is just an excuse to attract Hindus to your Hindu hating blog You try to demean the Hindu worshippers with your constant bashing.

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    1. WOW...really...I wonder how a person with so much LOVE can write such things?? I said this many times may be you didn't get it..so let me say once again..don't just repeat same things again and again, just produce some EVIDENCE, prove me WRONG, I will like it, readers will appreciate it...but please don,t repeat same things again and again.

      Please show me where I DECLARED that I like to write nasty things about religion?? First you said Hinduism and then religion, some evidence please...I doubt that you even read my replies, and if you read, you understand them...next time before writing this just quote my line where I say this...it will be great help.

      Stole the name?? So you mean the copy right of this term (self realization) is with Yogananda and his organization? (for your information, I din't even read one page of his book when I started this blog). Then tell them to sue me and file the case against the blog for copyright infringement. Just false rants won't help buddy, if you feel that I stole the name (which is a big deal) then take some action against this theft, don't just watch quietly, I am sure you are capable enough to take legal action and stop this theft. If not, then just keep quite and stop making some baseless personal allegations. I await for your response and action in this matter eagerly.

      So you mean self realization is only reserved for Hindus, really?? do you really mean this?? Wake up and look around, you will find the answer...

      There is no agenda behind my blog, this is place where I share and discuss my thoughts, this is my self realization. Again no hollow statements please, some evidence please...thanks

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    2. Dear friend, here is something for you to read about self realization,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-realization

      now please go and sue all countless people and organizations who use (or steal according to you) this term so frequently without taking permission from copyright holder..stop this this great crime...

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  11. I only expected you to deny your copy cat name.
    What else can you do.
    You keep asking where you write nasty thigns about Hindusim.
    Why dont you start reading your blog from the begining and keep a good tally.
    Ahh but what the point you wont see it because you enjoy abusing Hiduism and lol ..........I bored with your denials.

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    1. nice...as expected..nothing new...you can't produce a evidence..just run away..accusing anyone of copyright infringement is easy..producing evidence is hard..I know very well what I can do, just check how you chose to run away like a coward after I asked for evidence for all allegations you put on me (including a copy cat)...never mind, it was kind of expected.

      Once evidence is produced denials don't have any value, evidence speaks for itself, you me or anyone can't deny it. So don't worry about denials just produce the evidence, end of story. I wish you happy dreaming and hope that you get over this hang over of accusing others without any evidence.

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