Swami Yogananda Paramahansa
Swami Yogananda Paramahansa (1893-1952) was a hindu yogi and guru. As Yogananda was one of the first Hindu masters to make United State his home he is seen as a pioneer of bringing the yogi message to the West.
Swami Yogananda Paramahansa is reported to have often talked about the teachings of Jesus. Two key texts in which he talks about Jesus’ teachings are Autobiography of a yogi and Man’s eternal quest.
‘Jesus, a Christ of East and West’
In his book ‘Man’s Eternal Quest’ Yogananda has a chapter entitled ‘Jesus, a Christ of East and West’. Yogananda writes:
“Jesus Christ is a liaison between East and West. That great master stands before my eyes, telling Orient and Occident: “Come together! My body was born in the East; my spirit and message travelled to the West.” In Christ’s birth as an Asiatic, and his acceptance by Western people as their guru, is a divine implication that East and West should unite by exchanging their finest distinctive features.“
In another section Yogananda says:
“Christ is not the property of either East or West- and East West bond is manifested in his life. He belongs to both, and to all the world. His universality is what makes him so wonderful. Jesus took the body of an Oriental so that in being accepted as guru by the Occidental he would thereby symbolically draw East and West together.”
In the same text Yogananda made the following bold declaration regarding both his perception of the mission of Jesus and his own mission.
I will try to bring East and West together to fulfill the purpose for which Christ came on earth in an Oriental body. His soul in the West, his body in the East, bringing soul and body together unites East and West
Parallel Teachings of Jesus and Indian Scripture
Yogananda explores the similarities in the teachings of Jesus and the Hindu Vedas:
“The ideals of Christ are the ideals of the scriptures of India. The precepts of Jesus are analogous to the highest Vedic teachings, which were in existence long before the advent of Jesus. This does not take away from the greatness of Christ; it shows the eternal nature of truth, and that Jesus incarnated on earth to give to the world a new expression of Sanatan Dharma“
This excerpt suggests that Yogananda is claiming the similarity between the teachings of Jesus and the Vedas is due to them originating from an ‘eternal common truth’ of sorts.
Jesus Travelling to India in his Youth
In the following quotation, however, he specifically talks of Jesus’ travels to India during his youth.
“The parallelisms of Christ’s teachings with Yoga-Vedanta doctrines strongly support the records known to exist in India, which state that Jesus lived and studied there during fifteen of the unaccounted-for years of his life- no mention is made of him in the New Testament from his twelfth to thirtieth year. Jesus journeyed to India to return the visit of the three ‘wise men from the East’ who came to pay homage to him at his birth”
This extract shows that Yogananda was aware of the documents in the east talking of Jesus’ sojourn there, these are likely to be the ‘Notovitch Scrolls’.
The Name “Jesus” and “Isa”
Yogananda also compares the names Jesus and Isa, again suggesting his familiarity with the Notovitch scrolls or the Bahavishya Mahapurana:
““Even in the name and title of Jesus, we find Sanskrit words with a corresponding sound and meaning. The word Jesus and Isa (Pronounced “Isha”) are substantially the same. Is, Isa and Iswara all refer to the Lord or Supreme Being. “Jesus” derives from the Greek form of the name Joshua or Jeshua, a contraction of Jehoshua, “help of Jehovah” or “Savior””
More on Yogananda
- Self-Realization Fellowship (http://www.yogananda-srf.org/)
- Ananda Church of Self-Realization (http://www.ananda.org/)