Experience Yogananda’s Past Life in France
Are you inspired by Paramhansa Yogananda? Have you enjoyed his Autobiography of a Yogi and other writings? If so, you may have visited his sites in California and in India. But—did you know that there are shrines in Europe where Yogananda’s blessings can be felt? And those of his great guru, Sri Yukteswar? It’s true! I’ve felt those blessings. And so have a select few who knew where to go. It all has to do with something Yogananda told his close disciples. The great yoga master said that, in a past life, he had been a Norman duke and British king. . . .
“[Paramhansa Yogananda] told us that, in a former incarnation, he had been William
the Conqueror.” —from Conversations with Yogananda by Swami Kriyananda
He also said that Sri Yukteswar had incarnated as William’s spiritual advisor, Lanfranc.
When I heard about this, I was fascinated. My wife and I traveled to Normandy to visit places made famous by William and Lanfranc. We were overwhelmed by the powerful blessings we experienced there. And we would like to share those blessings with you. Many of these sites are only an hour or two by train from Paris. I encourage you to go there and meditate. Take that trip to France you’ve been dreaming about—and experience Yogananda’s blessings at the same time! To help you plan and make your Normandy pilgrimage, I have written this guidebook, filled with hundreds of tidbits that will enrich your pilgrimage experience.
Inside you’ll find
- Firsthand descriptions of the most inspiring William the Conqueror sites in Normandy
- Directions on how to get there, and site accessibility breakdown by train or car
- Maps with William sites highlighted, and diagrams of important sites
- Brief history lessons that enhance your appreciation of each site
- Travel diary excerpts—to give you a sense of what you might experience
- Photographs of William’s castles, his tomb, his birthplace . . . and much more!
List of Illustrations
- Mont-Saint-Michel and Avranches
- Off the Beaten Track
- The Twelfth Kriya
About the Author
Every year, followers of Paramhansa Yogananda—author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi—travel to India to mediate where that great master of yoga and other gurus of his lineage lived.
Yet there are similar pilgrimage spots in France that are seldom visited by yogis. These sites—blessed by Yogananda and by Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yuketeswar—are located in Normandy. In fact, just a two-hour’s train ride from Paris, one can find wonderful pilgrimage sites brimming with spiritual blessings.
I know. Years ago, my wife Laura and I included a week in Normandy as part of a trip to France. That week was the highlight of our trip. So much so that, two years later, we paid another visit.
The first time we went, we didn’t know what to expect. Yogananda said that in a past life he had been the great Norman duke and British king, William the Conqueror, who lived in the eleventh century. Yogananda also said that his guru, Sri Yukteswar, had been Lanfranc—William’s priest, counselor, and colleague.
(In addition, Swami Kriyananda, Yogananda’s direct disciple, is convinced he was William’s son, Henry I, in a past life. Historical evidence lends proof to this idea—see Catherine Kairavi’s excellent book, Two Souls: Four Lives—The Lives and Former Lives of Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple, Swami Kriyananda.)
Laura and I wondered what our experience in Normandy would be like. Although we both felt a deep connection with Yogananda and his spiritual path, there was no guarantee we had lived in Normandy with William. Would these places mean that much to us? We pondered this question, never reflecting that most Yogananda followers who visit India probably hadn’t lived with him there either. Nonetheless, they go there to feel the uplifting vibrations.
Similarly, it made sense that Yogananda’s blessings would linger in places he had lived in any of his lifetimes, and that Yogananda devotees would feel those vibrations.
Kamala Silva was a direct disciple of Yogananda. In her book, The Flawless Mirror, Kamala wrote that Yogananda had told her “of the divine magnetic qualities of saintly lives, and of the holy places that can strongly influence those who are responsive.” (The Flawless Mirror, p. 69)
Later, in that same book, Kamala described the powerful energy field that surrounded Yogananda. “I felt as if the sun’s radiance was lighting the whole area. . . . How can one describe this spiritual force?” (Ibid, pp. 79-80)
In his autobiography, The New Path, Swami Kriyananda (another highly advanced, direct disciple) tells the story of Yogananda wading into the water at the recently purchased Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, California, and saying, “I am sending the divine light all through this lake.” Later on, he informed the group of monk disciples that were with him, “This is holy water now. Whoever comes here in future will receive a divine blessing.” (The New Path, p. 324)
Receptive souls who have visited places where Yogananda had lived or frequented (his family home in Calcutta, India; and Mt. Washington, Lake Shrine, Encinitas Ashram, Hollywood Church, etc., in California) have felt his powerful spiritual energy.
And yet, as I said, Laura and I were unsure what we would feel in Normandy. Probably, as some had suggested, a trip there would be more of a history lesson than anything else. What was our surprise, then, to feel a flood of spiritual blessings at these Normandy sites—to experience the same “spiritual force” Kamala described.
In our experience, these places may be compared in spiritual power with the most inspiring sites we have visited: Assisi, Lourdes, and Yogananda’s shrines in California. The blessings were so transforming that we could have imagined ourselves in the Holy Land, or in one of the most sacred sites of India. And we became convinced that others who are open, and especially students of Yogananda’s path of Self-realization, would also feel these Norman blessings.
As I wrote in my travel diary:
Our pilgrimage to Normandy was an extraordinary experience, filled with deep inspiration. We walked where William had walked. We meditated in a church where Sri Yukteswar had served as the abbot. And we gazed at castle walls built under the direction of Swami Kriyananda as Henry I.
We felt powerful, uplifting vibrations where virtually no one had prayed or meditated before. Places where, for centuries, the residents had no idea of their sanctity. Yet the spiritual vibrations in those places were very real.
Laura and I will never forget our Normandy pilgrimage. It was the sort of trip that changes lives.
If you feel a spiritual connection with Paramhansa Yogananda, I heartily recommend a visit to Normandy. If your experience is anything like ours, you will be more than glad you went. . . .
Chapter 12—The Twelfth Kriya
Were you with William? Many who feel a connection with Paramhansa Yogananda probably were. Perhaps a trip to Normandy will answer the question. But that is not the only reason to go.
Each of a spiritual master’s incarnations has a unique flavor. William’s lifetime was highly active and visible. His actions changed the world. He held a position of authority and leadership, he played a large role on the world’s stage, and he channeled divine power and will through everything he did.
Lifetimes pass like waves, washing over the sands of centuries. Through the ever-changing backdrop of places, people, and languages, one constant remains—God pursues us, bearing his message of love and redemption.
William, that great leader of souls, came again as Paramhansa Yogananda to lead us in the conquest of delusion. He has placed in our hands the “weapons” of techniques, teachings, and grace. If we would only make the effort, we too can claim as our own the Kingdom across the sea.
May Yogananda walk with you.
P.S. Dear reader, if you discover other details about William or his sites during your Normandy trip, and would like to share them with others, please send me the information [via this website] and I will include it in future editions of this book, with acknowledgements and thanks.
“Beautiful! I think that many will be inspired by this book to take a similar pilgrimage.”
—Swami Kriyananada, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda
“Fascinating! Richard Salva brings to life the previous incarnations of Paramhansa Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar. . . . Enjoy it!”
—Dambara Begley, Meditation Instructor