In 1948, an American young man of 22, after years of contemplating God and searching for the meaning of life, discovered the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.
For three days and nights the young man rarely slept or ate. He existed in an altered state of consciousness, vascillating between tears and laughter, walking around as if in an ecstatic dream, as he devoured the book.
Autobiography of a Yogi–A Thrilling Literary Adventure
Autobiography of Yogi turned out to be the best book the young man had ever read. One brief perusal was enough to change his life. He later described the book as “the most thrilling literary adventure of my life.”
That young man later became known worldwide as Swami Kriyananda. In his book The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda, Kriyananda describes Autobiography of a Yogi:
Autobiography of a Yogi is the story of a young Bengali Indian’s intense search for God. It describes a number of living saints he met on his journey, especially his own great guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar.
It also describes, more clearly than any other mystical work I have ever read since, the author’s experiences with God, including the highest one possible, samadhi: mystical union.
In chapter after chapter I found moving testimony of God’s living reality, not only in infinity, but in the hearts and lives of living human beings.
I read of how Yogananda’s prayers, even for the little things, had been answered, and of how, by placing himself unreservedly in God’s hands, his unanticipated needs had been met unfailingly.
I read of intense love for God such as I myself yearned to possess; of a relationship with Him more intimate, more dear than I had dared to imagine possible.
Until now, I had supposed that a life of meditation might give me, at best, a little peace of mind. But here I discovered, all at once, that the fruit of the spiritual life is a love and bliss ‘beyond imagination of expectancy’!
Two days after finishing the book, Kriyananda—who was living in New York—boarded the first California-bound bus. His mission: to meet the author of the book—Paramhansa Yogananda—and to become his disciple.
A Short Test
After four days on a bus, Kriyananda arrived in Encinitas where Yogananda had his hermitage.
The eager young aspiring monk was told he couldn’t join Yogananda’s work until he had completed much of the printed lessons . . . which was estimated to take four years.
“Four years! Why, this was out of the question!” He protested silently.
Upon learning Yogananda was lecturing at his organization’s Hollywood Church that day, Kriyananda returned to Los Angeles.
At Hollywood Church, he was told Yogananda would not be available for an appointment until two and a half months later.
Two and a half months! That seemed like an eternity to young Kriyananda. The thought of waiting that long to meet HIM . . . was unbearable.
But worse, what if Yogananda would not accept him?
Kriyananda agonized. His mind was in complete turmoil.
“You must take me!” He prayed. “You must! This means everything to me. It means my whole life!”
The following excerpt from Kriyananda’s The New Path describes what happened next.
Disconsolately I wandered about awhile longer. Finally, it occurred to me—a novel thought!—that perhaps I simply wasn’t ready, and that this was why the doors weren’t opening for me.
If this were true, I decided, I’d just go out in the hills near Hollywood, come to the services regularly, study the lessons, and—I sighed—wait. When I was ready, the Master would surely know it, and would summon me.
With this resolution in mind, and with no small disappointment in my heart, I made for the front door.
No doubt I’d needed this lesson in humility. Perhaps things had always gone too easily for me. Maybe I was too confident. At any rate, the moment I accepted the thought of my possibly not being ready spiritually, the situation changed dramatically.
I had reached the door when the secretary came up behind me.
‘Since you’ve come such a long way,’ she said, ‘I’ll just ask Master if he’d be willing to see you today.’
She returned a few minutes later.
‘Master will see you next.’
The Pilgrim Meets His Guide
Kriyananda began to tremble . . .
Here he was, about to meet the author of that magical book . . . the person he had traveled thousands of miles to see . . . the person he knew could teach him everything his soul had yearned to know.
In this moving excerpt from The New Path, Swami Kriyananda described that fateful meeting.
Shortly thereafter I was ushered into a small sitting room . . .
What large, lustrous eyes now greeted me! What compassionate sweetness in his smile! Never before had I seen such divine beauty in a human face . . .
The Master seated himself on a chair, and motioned me to a sofa beside him. ‘What may I do for you?’ For the third time that day these same, gentle words. But this time, how fraught with meaning!
‘I want to be your disciple!’ The reply welled up from my heart irresistibly. Never had I expected to utter such words to another human being.
The Master smiled gently. There ensued a long discussion, interspersed by long silences, during which he held his eyes half open, half closed—’reading’ me, as I well knew.
Over and over again I prayed desperately in my heart, ‘You must take me! I know that you know my thoughts. I can’t say it outwardly; I’d only burst into tears. But you must accept me. You must!’
‘I am taking fewer people now,’ he said.
I gulped. Was this remark intended to prepare me for a letdown?
I told him I simply could see nothing for myself in marriage or a worldly life. ‘I am sure it’s fine for many people,’ I said, ‘but for myself I don’t want it.’
. . . Then again, silence.
At one point in our discussion he asked me how I had liked his book.
‘Oh, it was wonderful!’
‘That,’ he replied simply, ‘is because it has my vibration in it.’
Vibrations? I’d never before thought of books as having ‘vibrations.’ Clearly, however, I had found his book almost alive in its power to convey not merely ideas, but a new state of awareness.
Incongruously, even absurdly, it now occurred to me that he might be more willing to take me if he felt I could be some practical use to his work. And what did I know? Only writing. But that, surely, was better than nothing.
Perhaps he was in need of people with writing skills. To demonstrate this ability, I said:
‘Sir, I found several split infinitives in your book.’ Twenty-two years old, literally untried, but already a budding editor! I’ve never lived down this faux pas! But Master took it with a surprised, then a good-humored, smile.
The motive for my remark was transparent to him.
‘All right,’ he said at last. ‘You have good karma. You may join us.’
The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda
Swami Kriyananda’s book The New Path is a revised, expanded version of his original book titled The Path, first published in 1977. The New Path is a magical, deeply moving, awe-inspiring book, and a must-read for every sincere truth seeker.
The book details Kriyananda’s unrelenting search for Truth as a young man, how that search led to his Guru, and consequently, his transformation, life mission, and destiny.
It is also a complete account of what it was like to live in close proximity to that great man of God, Paramhansa Yogananda—one who Kriyananda deeply believes, was destined to bring major changes to the world.