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The Many Incarnations of Paramhansa Yogananda — Ananda


An avatar and his Divine mission by means of the ages

“Sir, are you an avatar?” a younger Swami Kriyananda as soon as requested Paramhansa Yogananda.

With quiet simplicity, Yogananda replied, “A piece of this significance must have been began by such a one.” (The New Path, Swami Kriyananda)

What’s an avatar? What “work of significance” was Yogananda referring to? Is there multiple avatar and do all of them have works of significance? Who assigns them these works? And, lastly, has Yogananda come as an avatar in different lifetimes with different works of significance?

These fascinating questions come up naturally from Kriyananda’s quick dialog with Yogananda.

On this article, we’ll embark on an tour that can reply these questions intimately. The solutions will give us a deeper understanding of Yogananda’s non secular stature, the extraordinary roles he performed over many incarnations as a divine instrument, and the transformative affect Yogananda’s most up-to-date incarnation and mission are destined to have on the world and on you and me.

What’s an avatar?

This query is a pure place to begin for our journey.

In yogic parlance, an avatar is a soul who comes again to the fabric airplane after having reached the head of non secular evolution.

Kriyananda defined the soul’s journey towards Self-realization as follows:

When a soul, after many incarnations of non secular striving, reaches the very best state of nirbikalpa samadhi, it irrevocably realizes its oneness with God. Such a soul is alleged to have attained Self-realization and known as a jivan mukta, Sanskrit for “freed whereas dwelling.”

A jivan mukta has dissolved his ego; subsequently he can’t create new karmic entanglements or slip again into delusion. Nonetheless, the jivan mukta will not be but utterly free: his previous karma, accrued from ego-driven actions of earlier incarnations, nonetheless must be labored out. By means of reincarnation(s), the jivan mukta step by step works out all his previous karma. When the jivan mukta has freed himself of all previous karma as properly, he turns into a param mukta (supremely free soul) or siddha (perfected soul).

Souls that attain this highest state of emancipation are free of the cycle of compelled reincarnation. Their pure state is to stay eternally immersed within the highest realm of ever-new bliss. If one such soul ever incarnates once more, it by no means does so besides on the command of the Divine Will. When such a supremely free soul returns to this world, it comes just for the sake of humanity. A soul with such an incarnation known as an avatar or divine incarnation.

Yogananda offers an identical, concise description of the levels of Self-realization in Autobiography of a Yogi:

The Sanskrit phrase avatara means descent; its roots are ava (down), and tri (to go). Within the Hindu scriptures, avatara signifies the descent of Divinity into flesh.

The Upanishads have minutely categorised each stage of non secular development. A siddha (perfected being) has progressed from the state of a jivan mukta (freed whereas dwelling) to that of a paramukta (supremely free—full energy over demise); the latter has utterly escaped from the mayic thralldom and its reincarnational spherical. The paramukta subsequently seldom returns to a bodily physique; if he does, he’s an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world. (Ch. 33, “Babaji, Yogi-Christ of Fashionable India”)

Is there multiple avatar?

Lord Krishna

The reply is sure. Yogananda mentioned that amongst others, Rama, Krishna, and Buddha had been avatars. He additionally acknowledged that every one the masters of this ray of Self-realization—Jesus Christ, Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Yogananda himself—had been avatars as properly. There are most likely others he didn’t point out.

Do avatars at all times include a mission of world significance?

The reply, once more, is sure.

Yogananda defined that when jivan muktas reincarnate, they achieve this to work out their very own previous karma and progress towards full emancipation (the state of param mukta or siddha). Moreover, they information their very own disciples on the journey towards Self-realization. Primarily, jivan muktas are given the accountability to assist their very own disciples.

The avatars, having already received their very own full freedom, incarnate with the total energy of divinity. They arrive not solely to assist their very own direct disciples towards soul-freedom but additionally to meet divine missions which are designed to uplift complete civilizations.

The Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture that’s primarily a dialog between Krishna (who represents God, the Supreme Spirit) and Arjuna (who represents the ardent and honest seeker), states this cosmic precept in one in every of its most well-known shlokas (verses):

Although I (a completely liberated soul) am the Lord of all creation, but I, by My yoga-maya, assume (on occasion) an outward kind.

O Arjuna! each time advantage (dharma) declines, and vice (adharma) is within the ascendant, I incarnate Myself on earth (as an avatar). Showing from age to age in seen kind, I come to destroy evil and to re-establish advantage. (Bhagavad Gita, IV:6-9)

Has Paramhansa Yogananda come earlier than as an avatar?

Certainly, sure!

In his poem “God’s Boatman” Paramhansa Yogananda guarantees to return as usually as wanted as a way to carry salvation to truth-seekers:

I need to ply my boat, many instances,
Throughout the gulf after demise,
And return to earth’s shores
From my house in house.

Oh! I’ll come again time and again!
Crossing one million crags of struggling,
With bleeding toes, I’ll come,
If want be, a trillion instances,
So long as I do know that
One stray brother is left behind.

(Learn the total poem right here.)

Along with his promise to future generations of seekers, Yogananda instructed his disciples that he had incarnated quite a few instances within the close to and the distant previous to function an instrument of the Divine.

What follows is a abstract of a few of Yogananda’s previous incarnations, some talked about by Yogananda himself. Others had been advised by Kriyananda primarily based on his personal instinct and conversations with Yogananda. These present deep perception into the numerous roles Yogananda has performed over the millennia. Every of those incarnations, as befits an avatar, has had a deep and lasting affect on the course of human historical past.

Yogananda as Arjuna

Arjuna and Lord Krishna

Yogananda instructed his disciples that he had been Arjuna (circa 700 BCE), historical India’s foremost warrior, and Babaji had been India’s foremost prophet, Krishna. Yogananda was already a completely liberated soul in that lifetime. The Sanskrit phrase Arjuna actually interprets as one who has untied the twine (of delusion).

Though the precise lives of Arjuna and Krishna are shrouded in thriller, their roles as principal heroic characters of the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita have been a transformative affect on the evolution of spirituality in India. Yogananda mentioned that one motive he was tasked with writing the commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita was that he had been Arjuna in that lifetime.

Yogananda as William the Conqueror

Yogananda additionally usually instructed his disciples that he had been William the Conqueror (circa 1028–1087 AD), King of Normandy and England. Swami Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda’s guru, had been Lanfranc, William’s closest buddy and counselor and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

William united the consistently warring earldoms into one kingdom and gave England a lot of its present-day character. He additionally guided England away from the wanton affect of the Danes and into that of Roman Catholic Christianity. England, as a foremost colonial energy, later performed a central and far-reaching position in shaping the course and the affairs of the trendy world.

William’s historic repute is blended. He’s regarded extremely in Norman society and historical past however British historians usually view him in an unfavorable mild. The historian David Douglas writes:

Varied controversies have led to William being seen by some historians both as one of many creators of England’s greatness or as inflicting one of many best defeats in English historical past. Others have considered him as an enemy of the English structure, or alternatively as its creator.

The written data of medieval instances might be conflicting and extremely unreliable. When somebody talked about a very unflattering incident from William’s historic life, Yogananda remarked, “How they distort historical past. That incident by no means occurred. William was a terrific man.” In response to Norman historic data, William’s physique was incorrupt when it was exhumed practically 400 years after his passing.

Yogananda generally instructed his disciples who they’d been throughout William’s lifetime. By some means, it didn’t happen to Kriyananda to ask what position he had performed. He later felt that Yogananda had prevented that query from arising in his thoughts. A number of years after Yogananda’s passing, Kriyananda had a deep instinct that he had been King Henry I, William’s true inheritor and successor. As King Henry, Kriyananda helped full the mission that William had begun.

Two Souls, 4 Lives by Catherine Kairavi, a long-time resident of Ananda Village, is an enchanting and well-researched ebook about Yogananda’s incarnation as William and Kriyananda’s incarnation as Henry. It’s properly price studying.

Yogananda as Jesus Christ?

Masters of Self-Realization: Yogavatar Lahiri Mahashaya, Mahavatar Babaji Krishna, Jesus Christ, Gyanavatar Swami Sri Yukteswar, & Paramhansa Yogananda.

Yogananda by no means acknowledged instantly that he had been Jesus in a earlier life. Nonetheless, he did state that Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar had been the three sensible males who visited the newborn Jesus.

When Kriyananda heard this, he questioned, “Properly! Who, then, had Yogananda been?” Moreover, Yogananda known as his current mission The Second Coming of Christ and wrote profound commentaries on Jesus’ teachings from the New Testomony as a part of that mission. Kriyananda additionally felt the identical vibration in Jesus’ phrases, deeds, and teachings as he felt in attuning to Yogananda’s consciousness.

Kriyananda, with so many clues swirling round, lastly requested his guru the point-blank query… (Thanks, Swamiji, for asking all these questions!), “Sir, had been you Jesus Christ?”

Yogananda would solely give an oblique reply to Kriyananda’s query:

What distinction does it make? It’s the identical ocean that produces all of the waves.

One suspects that such a public revelation would have brought about extra commotion (a tsunami!) than profit.

Because the years handed by, Kriyananda felt increasingly strongly that Yogananda had certainly been Jesus. On this article, we’ll depart it at that. You may make up your individual thoughts! By the way in which, in an ongoing course concerning the Bible commentaries of Yogananda, we discover lots of the yogic truths hidden within the teachings of Jesus.

Yogananda as Adi Shankara?

Adi Shankara (circa 510–478 BCE or circa 800 CE based on students) was India’s foremost proponent of the Vedanta philosophy and founding father of the traditional Swami Order. He revived Hinduism at a time when it was in decline and had practically been supplanted as India’s principal faith. Though Shankara lived solely 32 years, his affect on the evolution and expression of spirituality in India has largely been unmatched. The impact of the non secular renaissance he began in India might be felt to at the present time.

Yogananda as soon as once more didn’t state instantly that he had been Shankara. Kriyananda, nevertheless, felt that this had been so. Kriyananda famous amongst different issues, the numerous tales that Yogananda instructed of Shankara’s life that exist nowhere else in literature. Yogananda might solely have identified them if he had himself been Shankara.

Right here is one such fascinating story that Yogananda narrated (from Kriyananda’s ebook Conversations with Yogananda):

Babaji, many centuries in the past, lived in a home in Benares. He had a servant. When Swami Shankara got here to that metropolis, his renown preceded him as an astrologer. Babaji’s servant went to him for a studying. When he returned, he was trembling.

“What’s the matter?” Babaji requested him.

“Swami Shankara says I’ll die tonight!”

“Return to him,” mentioned Babaji, “and inform him that it received’t occur.”

The servant returned to Shankara with Babaji’s message. That saint replied, “This karma is so robust that, in case your grasp can forestall its coming to fruition, I’ll go to him and grow to be his disciple!”

That evening, Babaji prolonged himself on the physique of the quaking man. An enormous storm all of the sudden swept over the world. Complete timber had been uplifted. Lightning struck repeatedly throughout the home. When morning got here, nevertheless, the person was nonetheless alive. He went again to Swami Shankara who, on seeing him, hurried again with him and prostrated himself earlier than Babaji. It was then that he requested for initiation, and Babaji taught him Kriya Yoga.

Babaji as Shankara’s guru and Shankara’s training Kriya Yoga are additionally bonds that lend weight to Kriyananda’s instinct that Yogananda had been Shankara in a earlier lifetime.

Yogananda as King Ferdinand III of Castile?

Let’s start this part with one other fascinating excerpt from Conversations with Yogananda:

King Saint Ferdinand, III

One evening, these dwelling close to the Grasp’s condominium at Mount Washington heard a loud sound of clanking steel. The next morning they realized the reason for that tumult.

At this level, I need to again up an area. The Grasp had instructed a few of his disciples that he had lived, centuries in the past, as a army commander in Spain. His divinely appointed job at the moment had been to assist liberate that nation from the Moors, as a way to shield the integrity of Christianity. The noise that earlier evening had been attributable to a Spanish soldier who had been beneath his command at the moment. He had materialized in full armor to ask for the Grasp’s blessing that he be launched – in what means, I don’t know. From what I perceive, the Grasp gave him the discharge he sought.

Within the current lifetime, the Grasp knew no Spanish. I bear in mind him greeting me as soon as, nevertheless, with a giant smile, in Spanish. Señor Cuaron was visiting Mount Washington from Mexico Metropolis. What the Grasp mentioned was, “Cuál es su nombre?” (What’s your title?) I answered in Spanish, upon which the three of us had an excellent snort.

Yogananda by no means instructed his disciples precisely which army commander he had been in that life. Ananda members, nevertheless, researched extensively and advised to Kriyananda that Yogananda should have been Ferdinand, III – King of Castile  (circa 11/29/1201–1252 AD).

Ferdinand was undefeated in battle. His outward mission, bravery, considered rule, and deeply non secular nature — all come collectively to make him a worthy alternative. He was additionally deeply dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He spent the nights earlier than battle in deep prayer and rode into each battle with a small statue of the Divine Mom in his saddle. That statue nonetheless survives and is named the Virgin of the Battles.

Ferdinand is revered as a Catholic saint. The Spanish name him Fernando, el Santo. His physique stays incorrupt to at the present time.

In his later years, Kriyananda was capable of meditate privately subsequent to Ferdinand’s incorrupt physique in Seville. He got here away with a powerful feeling that Yogananda had certainly been Ferdinand. Kriyananda additionally felt that he had been Ferdinand’s son and inheritor, King Alfonso X, known as el Sabio (the Sensible) by the Spanish. Alfonso’s mission had been, as soon as once more, to finish the mission that Ferdinand had began.

Ferdinand’s life had a dramatic affect on the evolution of Spain as a nation. Spain later, as a mighty colonial energy, had a far-reaching affect on the evolution of the present-day world, together with many countries, their languages, and their customs.

Yogananda’s subsequent incarnation

One can solely wrap up this fascinating roster of Yogananda’s previous incarnations by pondering the plain query, “When will Yogananda be born once more?”

Kriyananda notes in The New Path that Yogananda addressed this query partially:

His subsequent life on earth, Grasp instructed us, could be spent within the Himalayas. Having devoted a lot of his current life to public service, he deliberate to stay for a few years of that incarnation in deep seclusion. ‘In my later years,’ he instructed us, ‘I’ll collect about me those that are near me now.’

200 years would elapse, he instructed us, earlier than his subsequent incarnation.

How the Divine makes use of an avatar

A research of Yogananda’s many previous incarnations offers us deep perception into how the Divine Will makes use of an avatar.

All devotees most likely really feel at one level or one other (justifiably so) that God stays far too aloof from his Creation. In spite of everything, God created this world. Certainly, it behooves Him to take extra of a direct curiosity on this world and to affect it for the higher!

Kriyananda mentioned that God does certainly take an actual and lively curiosity— by means of the company of the avatars. Time and again, these absolutely liberated souls come and play a divine half in guiding the world’s evolution in the correct route.

A few legitimate questions come up: Can’t the avatars do extra? Shouldn’t they do extra?

Kriyananda defined that it’s not God’s option to impose His will by means of a diktat or by means of an awesome present of divine energy. The avatars work to reshape and information the world in accordance with the legal guidelines of particular person karma that govern the progress of every soul and the legal guidelines of mass karma that govern the evolution of a planet. In different phrases, they search to affect slightly than impose.

Take into account how a guru works together with his disciples. A real guru doesn’t impose or pressure Self-realization on his disciples. He slightly permits them to take detours and to expertise the results of their decisions. A disciple’s Self-realization is a gradual course of that takes incarnations.

The identical ideas additionally inform an avatar’s mission of guiding world evolution. It’s a gradual course of. The complete extent of an avatar’s useful affect turns into evident solely over millennia.

Paramhansa Yogananda – an avatar for the current age

Yogananda got here with a multi-faceted mission on this lifetime. Kriyananda talks about this intimately in his ebook Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography. For brevity’s sake, here’s a shortlist of a few of these sides:

  • He introduced the strategy of Kriya Yoga, the jet-plane path to Self-realization, as part of a terrific lineage of masters.
  • He interpreted key scriptures (the Bhagavad Gita, Bible, and Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam) in a means that explains their highest ideas and exhibits that these liberated souls spoke from their notion of the identical One Reality. Specifically, his commentaries on the Bible assist honest Christians tune into the true teachings of Jesus, free from Church dogma. His commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita carry out the truest teachings of Yoga, free from sectarianism, misunderstanding, and the forest of pointless ritual.
  • He defined the deepest yogic teachings in a means that’s comprehensible and in sync with the instances we reside in.
  • His teachings make spirituality sensible. They cowl each facet of life and present us spiritualize life’s varied departments.

For these causes, Kriyananda felt that Yogananda would come to be referred to as the avatar for the present age (Dwapara Yuga). Yogananda’s useful affect will likely be felt increasingly strongly as this Age of Power progresses. It’ll step by step information humanity in a route that’s in ever-greater concord with everlasting non secular ideas.

Paramhansa Yogananda — God’s Boatman for you and for me

Along with guiding a world mission, an avatar brings extraordinary grace for his disciples. Yogananda as soon as instructed Kriyananda:

When touring on the ocean, one comes upon areas, right here or there, the place the ocean is calm. Even so, on the good ocean of delusion one finds, often, areas of outstanding calmness. This occurs when an avatar, or divine incarnation, is shipped to earth with a particular dispensation. All who come to him and tune in to his spirit discover it comparatively straightforward to flee delusion’s energy. –The Essence of Self-Realization

When Yogananda was slightly child, as shared in Autobiography of a Yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya blessed him and instructed his mom:

Thy son will likely be a yogi. As a non secular engine, he’ll carry many souls to God’s kingdom.

When Yogananda was about to depart for America, Swami Sri Yukteswar blessed him:

All those that come to you with religion, searching for God, will likely be helped. As you take a look at them, the non secular present emanating out of your eyes will enter into their brains and alter their materials habits, making them extra God-conscious.

Yogananda himself mentioned:

Those that be part of us on this path of Self-realization will not be related to some printing press however to a line of God-realized masters. God Himself, by means of them, overshadows this work. All who comply with it sincerely, with devotion, will likely be dropped at Him.

The approaching of Paramhansa Yogananda thus represents a rare non secular alternative for seekers such as you and me. Really, as Yogananda wrote within the chapter about Babaji:

“An avatar is a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.”

Buddies, allow us to hop into the boat with this distinctive Boatman of God in order that he might bear us away swiftly to the Divine Shores!

-Brahmachari Sagar

FURTHER READING
You may also have an interest within the following sources that impressed this text:
Paramhansa Yogananda – A Biography, Swami Kriyananda, Chapter 15, “Reincarnation” and Chapter 27, “Magnetism.”
The New Path, Swami Kriyananda, Chapter 37, “The Guru’s Reminiscences.”

You may also have an interest within the upcoming retreat, The Promise of Immortality, hosted by Sagar on the Increasing Mild Retreat (Ananda Village, California) from March 04 to March 07, 2022 to commemorate Yogananda’s Mahasamadhi (last acutely aware exit from the physique).

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