“Have you read my Essence of the Bhagavad Gita?” In 2007 I met Swami Kriyananda for the first time in India. It was the final day of an intense, two-week pilgrimage to many of the country’s holy sites — made so, in part, by our line of yoga masters.
Part of the pilgrimage was based in Gurgaon, where Swamiji was living. We were celebrating the first International Kriyaban Retreat and there were hundreds of pilgrims converging from all over the world. It was a thrilling time, with a palpable spiritual buzz in the air.
Swami was having major health concerns at the time and after each public talk, he was brought away quickly in order to rest and recuperate before the mobs of devotees could detain him. The main reason I had traveled to India was to meet him in person. I had written him a letter a year prior to the pilgrimage, introducing myself and thanking him for all the work he had done on behalf of his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. His books had brought Master to life for me and for so many other truth-seekers.
On the final day of our pilgrimage, I knew I needed to be a little bold if I was going to meet Swamiji. Our pilgrimage-guides, Krishnadas and Mantradevi, were going over to bring Swami to the mall to get new hearing aids. Next thing I knew, I was hopping on their rickshaw heading to Swami’s home, called Ten by Eight.
I was asked to wait in the foyer, while the others went in to see if Swamiji was feeling up to meeting a visitor. I heard him, very jovially, say “Well, of course, send her in!”
I remember it like it was yesterday — coming through the door to what seemed like the longest dining room on the planet, with Swami at the far end. As soon as I came through the entryway, I felt waves of love hit me so powerfully that I thought I might be blown right back out of the room! All I could do was stand there looking toward him. Swami very sweetly motioned me to come closer… then, again, closer. He reached out his hand and shook mine. I was at a loss for words. Needless to say, I was a bit in awe of the great soul in front of me — a feeling that has never gone away.
Krishnadas broke the silence for me: “This is Alli (before I received my spiritual name), she came all the way to India to meet you for the first time, Sir.” Swami looked at me somewhat puzzled and said, “But I’ve met you before. You sent me a letter from Georgia.” I was blown away that he remembered a little one-page letter sent a year prior.
Swami could tell I was nervous and kindly started making conversation:
“So, have you read my Essence of the Bhagavad Gita?”
“No, Sir, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.”
“Oh, well then, have you read Hope for a Better World?”
“Nooo, not yet, Swamiji.”
At this point, I was praying for him to pick one of the five books of either his or Yogananda’s that I had read. Now, mind you, I’ve never been an avid reader, so for me to have read Autobiography of a Yogi, The New Path, Conversations with Yogananda, the Essence of Self-Realization, and one other, I thought I was doing really well!
“…have you read Out of the Labyrinth?”
Darn! That wasn’t one of them.
“No, Swami, I’m sorry, I haven’t.”
“That’s ok,” he said sweetly, “why don’t you just tell me what books of mine you have read.”
“Well, I’ve read Money Magnetism.” It was the first book of Swamiji’s I had read and it remains very special to me to this day.
“Really? That is probably my least favorite book!”
He laughed and so did I.
Now, I’m so grateful that a big part of my job is to read Swami Kriyananda’s books. I sometimes hear him saying in my head, “Have you read ____?” And I find that it is perhaps a book of his that has fallen out of print or needs attention in some way. I still have many more of his books to read but I’m getting there.
So, now I’d love to ask you, dear reader — What books of Swami Kriyananda’s and Paramhansa Yogananda’s have you read? Feel free to share in the comments section below or just reflect with gratitude in your heart.
Back many years ago, as a young divorced adult looking for that answer to “there has got to be more to life than this,” something shifted in me from really not caring to read at all to realize, “hey, if I had to read multiple books at a time for school, why can’t I do that now with the books I want to read?” I had become addicted to books but was limiting myself to reading only one at a time. I was also spending practically all of my excess income on buying books.
Then a friend moved in with me temporarily and talked of her life being married to a Hindu man. One day while vacuuming or maybe it was some other type of cleaning, I noticed the book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” on her bookshelf. I never read it while she lived with me, but an overwhelming emotion drove me to the nearest bookstore to buy it shortly after she left. My addiction to books now had a direction. A few years later, my mantra became – “Learn anything and everything about Ananda.” I have read all of these books. Now it’s time for a deep dive into their essence!
Blessings for all that you do to share Master’s teachings and help people find the Light within! – Shankari
• The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita
• The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi
• The New Path
• Awaken to Superconsciousness
• Your Sun Sign as A Spiritual Guide
• Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography
• Money Magnetism: How to Attract
• Conversations with Yogananda
• Secrets of Life (Most of the Secrets books and the collection)
• Intuition for Starters
• Affirmations for Self-Healing
• The Promise of Immortality
• Art as a Hidden Message
• Rays of the One Light
• Rays of the Same Light
• Out of the Labyrinth
• How to Be a True Channel
• In Divine Friendship
• Sadhu, Beware!
• Demystifying Patanjali
• A Place Called Ananda
• The Art of Supportive Leadership
• Visits to Saints of India
• Do It NOW!
• Do It Well!
• Shaped By Saints
• Hope for a Better World
• Love Perfected, Life Divine
• Living Wisely, Living Well
• Education for Life
• Time Tunnel
• Finding Happiness
• The Peace Treaty
• Yogananda for the World
• The Need for Spiritual Communities
• A Renunciate Order for the New Age
• Religion for the New Age
• The Singer and the Nightingale
• The Search: A Young Person’s Quest for
• The Story Behind the Story
• Crisis in Modern Thought
• Cities of Light
• The Art and Science of Raja Yoga
• The Eternal Christ
• God is for Everyone
• The Wisdom of Yogananda series
• The Essence of Self-Realization
• Whispers from Eternity
• Metaphysical Meditations
• Scientific Healing Affirmations
• The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization: God Talks With Arjuna
• Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You
• The Science of Religion
• The Divine Romance
• Man’s Eternal Quest
• The Journey to Self-Realization
• Where There is Light
• Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda
• The Law of Success
• Inner Peace
• Living Fearlessly
• The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita
• The Yoga of Jesus Christ
• In the Sanctuary of the Soul
• Why God Permits Evil and How to Rise Above It
• Spiritual Diary
• To Be Victorious in Life
• Songs of the Soul
• Cosmic Chants
• A World in Transition: Finding Spiritual Security in Times of Change
I could feel Swamiji’s LOVE myself as I read about your beautiful experience of entering the hall and seeing Swamiji at the end motioning for you. So beautifully illustrated with your words Dharmadevi, it was tangible and a thrilling story – thank you.