Paramahansa Yogananda
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


     Paramahansa Yogananda—Indian Yogi, Guru, Founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship

January 5, 1893, Gorakhpur, India, 8:25 PM, LMT. (Source: According to LMR,  Mercury Hour, July, 1976, his ashram, the Self Realization Fellowship) Died onstage in a self-induced trance on March 7, 1952.  

(Source: recorded) (Ascendant, Leo with Moon also in Leo, H12; Sun in Capricorn; Mercury conjunct Venus in Sagittarius; Mars and Jupiter in Aries; Saturn in Libra; Uranus in Scorpio; Neptune conjunct Pluto in Gemini)       

Yogananda was and is a much loved teacher of Indian spirituality, coming forth on the second and sixth rays. His principal theme was the realization of the One Self, and accordingly, the organization which he founded is called the “Self-Realization Fellowship”. The theme of Leo (“I am That and That am I”) is clearly to be seen. Yogananda’s Moon in Leo and the placement of his Sun in the fifth house (the house correlated with Leo) all support the fulfillment of this quest for the Self.        

The initiatory status of Yogananda was clearly that of at least the third degree. The “Hansa” is the third degree initiate. He was, however, “Paramahansa”, and thus beyond the third degree.       

One might say that his approach to yoga or union was mystical rather than occult, although he did teach certain occult breathing techniques related to Kriya Yoga. His principal method was through love and devotion—the Bhakti Yoga approach. Neptune, the planet of the sixth (and second rays) is elevated in his chart, conjunct to first ray Pluto, in the second ray sign, Gemini. Neptune is the planet of the Bhakti, and the esoteric ruler of his Leo Ascendant, as well as the planet most probably veiled by the rising Moon which sits on the Ascendant in the twelfth house.       

It is said that esoterically all Saviours and Sun Gods are born in Capricorn. A “Sun God” is a transfigured initiate. Capricorn is the sign most associated with the Transfiguration Initiation, in which the initiate is infused by the Sun of the soul and perceives the spirit as the Sun upon the mountain top. The solar theme is profoundly present in Yogananda’s chart—not only through Capricorn but through his Leo Ascendant and Moon (ruled by the Sun on all three levels).  

One of Yogananda’s greatest services was the writing of the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, in which he tells the spiritual story of his life. Many thousands of seekers have found inspiration through this little book. It is clear that even spiritual teachers conditioned by Leo feel the urge to write autobiographically. This was also true of Alice Bailey who had Leo rising.    

Yogananda was a teacher (Leo the Illuminer), a healer (Chiron rising in Virgo), a divine enthusiast (Mars and Jupiter both in Aries), a disciplinarian under law (Sun in Capricorn squared by Saturn in Libra, the ruling planet of Capricorn, placed in the H2, the house of desire, a musically expressive Bhakti Yogin (musical Neptune elevated in H10, Sun in the fifth house of expression, and one divinely enraptured by identification with the One Self (the power of Leo—“the relinquished point”). The combination of the second ray, Capricorn and Leo generated a great light of love and wisdom.


Why take the surface details of life so seriously? Be drunk with the inner peace of divine realization, whatever your earthly lot.

Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.

The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.

The hard core of human egotism is hardly to be dislodged except rudely. With its departure, The Divine finds at least an unobstructed channel.

As every wave, if it were conscious, could feel the ocean beneath it, so every liberated being feels the entire Sea of Spirit behind his perception.


Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, West Bengal, India into a devout Bengali family. From his earliest years, his awareness and experience of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary as can be seen from his autobiography. In his youth he sought out many of India's Hindu sages and saints, hoping to find an illumined teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest.

Yogananda met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, in 1910, at the age of 17. After passing his Intermediate Examination in Arts from the Scottish Church College, Calcutta, he did his graduation in religious studies from the Serampore College, a constituent college of the University of Calcutta and in 1915, he took formal vows into the monastic Swami Order and became Swami Yogananda. In 1917, Yogananda began his life's mission with founding and running a school for boys in Ranchi, India that combined modern educational techniques with yoga training and spiritual ideals.

In 1920, he went to the United States as India's delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. That same year he founded Self-Realization Fellowship to disseminate worldwide his teachings on India's ancient science and philosophy of Yoga and its tradition of meditation. For the next several years, he lectured and taught on the East coast and in 1924 embarked on a cross-continental speaking tour. The following year, he established in Los Angeles an international headquarters for Self-Realization Fellowship, which became the spiritual and administrative heart of his growing work.

After twenty years of his services in the West, Sri Yukteswar conferred upon him the title Paramahansa, which means "supreme swan."

Yogananda taught his students the need for direct experience of truth, as opposed to blind belief. He said that “The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God.” (from The Essence of Self-Realization)

To that end, he taught scientific yoga techniques that help the student achieve Self-Realization. He said that “Self-Realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.” (The Essence of Self-Realization)

Yogananda's work is continued by several organizations. Self-Realization Fellowship, which he founded, is headquartered in Los Angeles and has meditation centers and temples across the world. The current head is Sri Daya Mata, a direct disciple of Yogananda.

Ananda is another organization, founded by direct disciple Swami Kriyananda. Ananda is unique in that it expresses an aspect of Yogananda's vision for world brotherhood colonies. Ananda Village is located in Nevada City, California, while other Ananda "colonies" are worldwide. Ananda also has centers and meditation groups throughout the world.

Song of the Morning Retreat Center, near Vanderbilt, Michigan, was founded by a chief disciple of Yogananda's: Yogacharya Oliver Black. As of September 2004 work is continuing on building the Clear Light Community on the 800 acre retreat property. The retreat center offers classes on yoga and meditation and hosts programs featuring visiting spiritual teachers.

Direct disciple Roy Eugene Davis founded The Center for Spiritual Awareness, located in Lakemont, Georgia. The CSA publishes books and audio cassettes, and offers meditation seminars at its retreat center headquarters on a voluntary donation basis.

The Puri, India, ashram of Yogananda's guru Sri Yukteswar Giri continues to this day.

Kriya Yoga
Yogananda's guru lineage was responsible for providing him with a central discipline of his teachings. Sri Yukteswar was the disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, in turn the disciple of the mythical guru Mahavatar Babaji, who had revived and through his disciples begun the spread of Kriya Yoga, described as a "spiritual science of Self realization." It was through Yogananda that Kriya Yoga was brought to the West.

Autobiography of a Yogi
In 1946, Yogananda published his life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, which was instrumental in introducing vedic philosophy to the West. It has since been translated into eighteen languages and remains a best seller. It includes Yogananda's and Sri Yukteswar's attempts to explain certain verses and events of the Bible such as the Garden of Eden story, and descriptions of Yogananda's encounters with leading spiritual figures such as Therese Neumann, the Hindu saint Sri Anandamoyi Ma, Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, noted plant scientist Luther Burbank (the book is 'Dedicated to the Memory of Luther Burbank, An American Saint'), and Nobel Prize winning physicist Sir C. V. Raman.

Some of Yogananda's followers have made claims of his bodily incorruptibility. As reported in Time Magazine on August 4, 1952, Harry T. Rowe, Los Angeles Mortuary Director of the Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, stated in a notarized letter:

The absence of any visual signs of decay in the dead body of Paramahansa Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience.... No physical disintegration was visible in his body even twenty days after death.... No indication of mold was visible on his skin, and no visible drying up took place in the bodily tissues. This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one.... No odor of decay emanated from his body at any time....

Skeptics point to Yogananda's death certificate, which indicates his body was embalmed. They claim the full text of Rowe's letter, as included in a memorial booklet put out by the SRF, indicates his surprise at the described effect was based merely on the lack of use of special creams in addition to the embalming fluid.

Paramahamsa Yogananda was a practitioner of Kriya Yoga who recorded his spiritual journey in the classic work "Autobiography of a Yogi". He was born in Calcutta in 1893. His autobiography was first published in 1946, twenty-six years after he was instructed by his Guru to leave India and go to America to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga (literally, the Yoga of "ritual action").

Some unusual events are recounted by his mother concerning his early life in the autobiography. His mother described how once when visiting her spiritual teacher, the guru asked her to come forward from the back of a crowd of people and took the young Yogananda in his lap. The master said:

"Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God's kingdom".

Another unusual event she recollected occurred when an unknown monk came to her door and told her she did not have much longer to live. He then explained to her that an amulet would materialize in her hands during meditation and that she should make sure that her son Yogananda was given the amulet a year after her death.

Yogananda describes how "a blaze of illumination" came over him and how "many dormant memories were awakened" when he was given the silver amulet by his brother, who explained to him its significance. Yogananda believed the amulet was a gift from teachers in his former lives who were "invisibly guiding" the course of his current life.

Yogananda's writings document his early life in Calcutta, his college days, his efforts to visit the Himalayas to find a teacher, his meetings with various saints, his finding a guru at age seventeen, and finally his becoming a monk. Later in life, he founded a school in Ranchi, Bihar, based on yogic principles. He later went to live in America for many years. There he lectured widely, wrote books on yoga, and started the Self-Realization Fellowship, an organization dedicated to teaching the art of Kriya yoga to Westerners.

Yogananda's spiritual experiences fit into two general categories: the yogic type which focuses on the experience of "cosmic consciousness" and altered perception, and the devotional type which focuses on worship of deities.

The emphasis in the following section of the biography is on Yogananda's spiritual experiences. The first three experiences mentioned here are of the yogic type. In the first, Yogananda has just returned to visit his teacher from an unsanctioned trip to the Himalayan mountains. After apologizing to his teacher for making the trip without his permission, Yogananda went off to meditate, but his thoughts were uncontrollable "like leaves in a storm".

His teacher sensed his mind was disturbed and called him back, expressing sympathy that his trip to the mountains did not produce any tangible spiritual results. The teacher then comfortingly said "your heart's desire will be fulfilled" and struck him gently on the chest above the heart. Yogananda described his experience in the following words.

"My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some strange magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness, I knew that I had never been so fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body but embraced the circumambient atoms. (Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, p. 148)

A different saint induced the second spiritual experience in Yogananda. It had some similarities with the first experience as both were induced by the same means. The saint tapped him on the chest above the heart, as both of them stood on a busy Calcutta street. Yogananda described the transformation in his perception that occurred:

A transforming silence ensued. Just as the modern "talkies" become inaudible motion pictures when the sound apparatus goes out of order, so the Divine Hand, by some strange miracle stifled the earthly bustle. Pedestrians as well as passing trolley cars, automobiles, bullock carts, and iron-wheeled hackney carriages were all noiseless transit. As though possessing some omnipresent eye. I beheld the scenes behind me and to each side as easily as those in front. (Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, p. 83)

Yogananda described his initiation into Kriya yoga by his guru in this third yogic experience.

Master possessed a transforming power; at his touch a great light broke upon my being, like a glory of countless blazing suns together. A flood of ineffable bliss overwhelmed my heart to the innermost core.

"It was late in the afternoon of the following day before I could bring myself to leave the hermitage." (Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, p. 109)

Yogananda wrote later that his guru Sri Yukteswar taught him "how to summon the blessed experience at will, and also to transmit it to others" when their intuitive channels were developed.

The second type of experience mentioned by Yogananda is devotional in nature. In this experience, he had a vision while meditating on a statue of the goddess Kali in the Dakshineswar temple. This is the temple near Calcutta where the noted nineteenth century saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa worshiped and had many visions of the divine mother in the form of the goddess Kali.

Yogananda's sister had complained to him that her husband was ridiculing her religious practice of maintaining pictures of saints in a meditation room in their home. She told her younger brother she had great faith in him and asked for his help. Yogananda went to the temple to ask for the intercession of the "divine mother" to influence his brother-in-law to be more open and accepting of his sister's spiritual interests.

He arrived at the temple at 7AM and began meditation in front of the statue of Kali. He was visualizing her inwardly, and he prayed that she would appear before him in a vision. By noon he had still not received a vision and the temple doors were closed, as was customary. He got up discouraged and walked into the courtyard stepping on the hot pavement. He inwardly addressed the divine mother saying he wanted to offer a prayer to her on behalf of his brother-in-law, but the statue was now hidden from his view with the closing of the temple doors. He describes the vision that followed.

"My inward petition was instantly acknowledged. First a delightful cool wave descended under my back and over my feet, banishing all discomfort. Then, to my amazement, the temple became greatly magnified. Its large door opened slowly, revealing the stone figure of the goddess Kali. Gradually the statue changed into a living form, smiling, nodding in greeting, thrilling me with joy indescribable. As if by a mystic syringe, the breath was withdrawn from my lungs; my body became very still, though not inert.

An ecstatic enlargement of consciousness followed. I could see clearly for several miles over the Ganges River to my left, and beyond the temple into the entire Dakshineswar precinct. The walls of all the buildings glimmered transparently; through them I observed people walking to and fro over distant acres. (Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, p. 243)

Yogananda goes on to describe how only the goddess statue and the temple were enlarged, how his body seemed to be "composed of some ethereal substance", and how he could read his companions thoughts when he gazed at him through the now transparent temple walls. At this point, Yogananda addressed Kali asking her that his sister's husband be changed spiritually. Kali spoke to grant his wish and the scene changed back to normal.

Someone from the temple staff then offered the two visitors a good meal following the vision. The brother-in-law had been angry at Yogananda for making him miss the temple lunch prior to this. After this unlikely event, the brother-in-law became pensive. Yogananda claims his bother-in-law changed from that point on and became increasingly interested in spirituality.

Yogananda described his relationship with his guru in some detail. Several chapters are devoted to descriptions of how his guru handled different situations at the Serampore ashram. Yogananda was always off doing work for his teacher, and as a result had little time for his university studies. He describes how on a variety of occasions, his guru took steps to make sure "the mad monk" as he was known at school would pass his examinations. He considered his final graduation from college a miracle considering how little time he spent in class.

The guru also predicted a variety of sicknesses that would affect visitors and friends, and helped in the cure of some of them. Yogananda also described how on one occasion, his guru manifested a physical body out of thin air, and addressed him telling him about a change of plans and his coming arrival by train that evening.

Yogananda became a monk and was initiated by his guru into the "Giri" or mountain branch of the Shankaracarya order, one of India's largest and most respected yogic lineages. He wrote a number of books and lectured widely in Europe and the United States before his death in 1952. His organization "The Self-Realization Fellowship" is very much alive in the United States and continues to teach thousands of students the art of Kriya yoga.

Paramahansa Yogananda was born on 5 January, 1893, near the Himalayas, in Gorakhpur. His parents, brothers and sisters were all saintly and pious, but Mukunda (the boyhood name of Yogananda) was unique amongst all of them. He displayed his spiritual gifts and powers even from his childhood.

His line of Gurus descended from Babaji, the deathless Guru said to be the reincarnation of Lord Krishna. Babaji’s disciple was Lahiri Mahasaya, who in turn had as his disciple, Sri Yukteswar. It was Sri Yukteswar who was destined to be the spiritual master of Paramahansa Yogananda.

For ten years Yoganandaji trained for his high duty at the Ashram of his Guru, pursuing his university career at the same time. After his rigorous training, filled with the light of God-vision, he was now ready to undertake the mission entrusted to him by his line of Gurus.

The education of the youth was always dear to the heart of Yoganandaji. He set up his first school in Bengal in 1917. Its curriculum includes the standard high school subjects as well as Yoga concentration, meditation and the Yogoda system of physical development.

In 1920, Yoganandaji went to America as a delegate from India to the International Congress of Religions at Boston, and from then on America became his home. Five years later he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship with its head quarters at Mount Washington, Los Angeles. In his famous Autobiography of a Yogi, Yoganandaji has given graphic descriptions of his spiritual experiences and his contact with the great Yogis of India. This book has since become one of the greatest spiritual classics in the world and has been translated into many languages.

Paramahansa Yogananda had a broad and liberal heart. Even though he himself was a great Master, he approached other saints with great reverence.

Kriya Yoga was the method of God-realisation taught by Yoganandaji. His mission in the West was to spread the knowledge of Yoga practices, by which man can enter into union with God. Yoganandaji also gave new explanations to the teachings of the Bible, showing the similarity of its teachings with that of Hinduism. He promoted the cause of a better understanding between the East and West. Numerous students got personal instructions in Yoga teachings in the classes conducted by him in his ministry of thirty-two years. He spoke in churches, societies, universities and clubs.

In 1935, Yoganandaji’s class instructions were published in the form of lessons and mailed to students all over the world. In India the same teachings were spread by the Yogoda Satsanga Society, with its headquarters at Dakshineswar.

The Self-Realization Fellowship today has hundreds of centres throughout the world. There are seven large centres in California, where renunciates stay to serve and practise Yoga. A number of trained monks tour all over the world, giving discourses and Kriya Yoga initiation to students.

Besides giving instructions on Yoga and balanced living, SRF also conducts many social services, especially in India.

Yoganandaji attained Mahasamadhi on March 7, 1952. The great Master showed his power over death, for his body did not decay for many weeks.




to all Astrological Interpretations by Michael D. Robbins
to other commentary and projects by Michael D. Robbins
to the University of the Seven Rays

to home