Yogananda wore many different hats during his lifetime. One was that of an inspired author, who tried to uplift us all. He tried with his pen to unite Eastern and Western religion. He tried through his books and lessons to teach practical spirituality. He tried to open our hearts to God, with poetry and song.
This chapter describes what he wrote, and when.
Yogananda may well be described as a long-distance runner, where his major books are concerned. In other words, he didn’t sprint and finish one book, then starting the next. He wrote his main books, rather, over a period of decades, working on them side by side.
Thus Yogananda stated that his “Autobiography of a Yogi” took him 25 years to write – which means that he started it in 1921, soon after coming to America (it was published in 1946). His commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible took him 30 years to complete – he published one article after another in his magazine: those articles began to appear in “East-West” in 1932. His commentaries on the “Rubaiyat”(verses written by the Muslim mystic, Omar Khayyam) started to appear in 1937 in his magazine.
Apart from these “marathon” works, Yogananda actually didn’t publish all that many books during his 32 years in America: his introductory book (“Science of Religion”), his two books of poetry (Whispers of Eternity,” and “Songs of the Soul”), his little book with affirmations (“Scientific Healing Affirmations”) and one on meditations (“Metaphysical Meditations”); his chant-book (“Cosmic Chants”); a tiny booklet “Attributes of Success;” and his guru’s book “The Holy Science.”
Then of course he wrote many more articles for his magazine, as well as his various lessons. His lessons are given here with their content, so that you have an idea what they were all about.
Still in India, Yogananda’s published his first book: “Dharmavijnana” (Wisdom of Dharma), later called “Science of Religion.”
Yogananda published his book of poetry, “Songs of the Soul.”
He published YOGODA INTRODUCTION. These were Yogananda’s first written lessons, basically describing some energization exercises; and giving a first introduction to meditation- but not Hong Sau yet.
He published both Science of Religion and Scientific Healing Affirmations.”
Yogananda started his magazine: East-West (1925 to 1936) and (1945 to 1947); Inner Culture (1937 to 1944); Self Realization Magazine (1948 to 1969); Self-Realization (1970 to present). The magazine featured amongst other things his commentaries on the Second Coming of Christ, on the Bhagavad Gita, and on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
And he published his “YOGODA” COURSE. It described the Art of energization, Hong Sau, and several philosophical and spiritual topics.
Lesson 1—Yogoda System of Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Perfection
Lesson 2—Individual Charging of the 20 Body parts
Lesson 3—Mechanical Movement and Tissue-Will Exercises Combined
Lesson 4—Highest Technique of Concentration
Lesson 5—Highest Technique of Meditation
Lesson 6—The Cure of Nervousness
Lesson 7—Art of Developing Memory
Lesson 8—Art of Spiritual Healing
Lesson 9—Spiritualizing and Transmuting Creative Force
Lesson 10—Art of Material and Spiritual Success
Lesson 11—Psycho-Analysis and Dreams
Lesson 12—Occult Vision and Metaphysics of Cosmic Consciousness
Spiritual Pledge of Yogoda Students
Yogananda published his ADVANCED COURSE IN PRACTICAL METAPHYSICS
Lesson 1: The True Scientific Conception of Genesis
Lesson 2: Divine Will Healing
Lesson 3: How to Develop Intuition Consciously
Lesson 4: The Five Pranas
Lesson 5: Reincarnation
Lesson 6: The Law of Karma
Lesson 7: Spiritual Marriage
Lesson 8: Disembodied Souls
Lesson 9: Bhagavad Gita (The Hindu Bible)
Lesson 10: Chemistry of Feelings
Lesson 11: Spiritual Food
Lesson 12: Awakening of Kundalini or Serpent Force
In this year he published SUPER ADVANCED COURSE
Lesson 1—Christian Yoga and the Hidden Truths in St. John’s Revelation
Lesson 2—Developing Response-Bringing Mental Whispers…
Lesson 3—Reversing the Searchlights of the Senses
Lesson 4—Art of Finding True Friends of Past Incarnations
Lesson 5—The Divine Magnetic Diet
Lesson 6—Installing Habits of Success, Health, and Wisdom in the Mind at Will
Lesson 8—Obliterating the Malignant Seeds of Failure
Lesson 9—Conquer Fear, Anger, Greed, Temptation, Failure, & Inferiority
Lesson 10—The Art of Super-Relaxation
Lesson 11—Converting the Hands into Healing Batteries
Lesson 12—Esthetic Way of Developing Cosmic Consciousness
Yogananda published his Metaphysical Meditations.
He published the ADVANCED SUPER COSMIC SCIENCE COURSE
Lesson 1—Healing by Spiritual Affirmation and by Astral Food
Lesson 2—How to Develop Creative Intuition
Lesson 3—The Tree of Life—Adam and Eve Consciousness
Lesson 5—How to Contact Departed-Disembodied Souls
Lesson 6—Cosmic Meditations
He published his Cosmic Chants.
And published the PRAECEPTA LESSONS: a compilation of previous lessons, with added stories, poems, topics etc. These lessons are much bigger than what had been published before. They were the bases of the SRF lessons of today. Each section included:
- Praeceptum inspirational poems
- Praecepta prayers
- Scientific techniques and principles
- Health culture
- Inspirational messages
- Special features
Publication of Attributes of Success, now called Laws of Success.
Yogananda published his main and most famous book, the Autobiography of a Yogi.
Publication of Sri Yukteswar’s book The Holy Science.
Yogananda spent much time in his desert retreat 29 Palms to complete his writings, and to write new books. These were extremely busy times for him, trying to get his books published. It was a race against his last hour, which he knew was approaching.
Surprisingly, in his 1951 Autobiography of a Yogi (3rd edition), Yogananda already announced that his Bhagavad Gita commentaries were published, and were for sale. They weren’t. But this public announcement must have been his adamant affirmation that the book will see the light of day during his lifetime. In that Autobiography of a Yogi he wrote: “Another work, completed in 1950 during my stay at an SRF retreat near the Mojave desert, is a translation, with commentary, of the Bhagavad Gita. The book, God Talks With Arjuna, presents a detailed study of the various paths of yoga.”
In a footnote on the bottom of the page he added: “Published in 1951 (see page 6n.)”
And on that page 6, in a footnote one reads that one may buy the book for $3.50 from SRF.
He kept pushing hard. Yogananda wrote to Kamala in a letter (on Jan.17, 1952): “I have received a letter from the Consul General about joining with the celebration in San Francisco for the India Independence Day. I am busy getting the book ready for publication so I will be unable to attend.”
And on Feb.20, 1952, he wrote her: “I have been snowed under with the work on the book, and have been unable to take care of letters that have arrived. The book is progressing very nicely, and I hope it won’t be too long before it will be ready for publication. I am working day and night toward that end.”
A few days later, on Feb. 25, 1952, Yogananda wrote to Peggy Deitz: “I am still at the desert where my days and nights are spent with God and working on the new book. It is coming along very well and I hope it will be ready for the publishers before too long. The Bhagavad Gita is being printed now, and after I have checked it over again, it will be ready for the public. I am sure you will like the latest book on Genesis, as the interpretation given to me by God has never before been presented.”
The Master had worked day and night, the Bhagavad Gita commentaries were already at the printer and needed only a final check… it seems that only a few seconds were missing before publication. The goal was so near, but then, on March 7 1952, Yogananda passed on. His fire for publication was extinguished at that tragic moment. The publishing department had obviously more cautious feelings about the Master’s books. More editing was needed, they must have felt.
Thus 42 years passed before Yoganada’s Bhagavad Gita commentaries got published in book form. The Rubaiyat‘s timing was similar. 52 years were needed for the Second Coming of Christ. His commentaries on Revelation, Genesis, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are still waiting for their moment.
It seems a lot of time, but one thing is certain: the editor disciples did the best they could, and certainly did what they thought best for their Guru’s writings.