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Is our Swami Yogananda an Avatar?

“I came into the ashram in the later years of Paramahansa Yogananda's life. At that time there was a discussion among the monks: "Is our Guru an avatar?" And when Master called me out to the desert, where He was finishing His writings, that thought came to me again: " Is He an avatar" I remembered having read in the "Autobiography of a Yogi" where Paramahansaji said that an avatar's body is not under the compulsion of duality, and that therefore it does not cast a shadow. I thought, "Well, that's very simple. All I have to do is look and see whether or not his body casts a shadow!"

The monks stayed in a little cottage about four miles away from Master's retreat, and one morning as we were driving to His retreat, I thought: "Now, today, I'm going to look". At that time, Guruji was working inside the house, dictating His interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita; and I was doing construction work outside. All day long I worked there, and the Master came out two or three times and talked with us. But as I sat in the car going back to our cottage in the evening, it hit me: "I forgot to look! " I thought : "Tomorrow! "
Next morning as I sat in the car, I determined, "Now, today I am going to look for His shadow" But the same thing happened. I forgot! - eventhough I had seen Him; He had come out and talked with us. And so it went on, day after day after day. At first I thought perhaps it was just an accident; but when it continued for so many days, I realized, "No, there's something fishy! He has something to do with it". Then I decided to sit and think it over. "All right!" I thought. "He Himself said He could fill the largest halls and draw hundreds of thousands of people through miracles, and so on. But He was not interested in attracting people with phenomenal demonstrations. He said, " I am interested in those who come sincerely with one desire: To love God and to find God". Then I reasoned that because He was not interested in performing miracles He wouldn't draw attention to Himself by having His body cast no shadow - eventhough He is an avatar.

The next day Master came out and we were talking and I saw a shadow. I followed that shadow to the Guru's body and up into His eyes - and they were dancing with laughter. Then with His cane, He hit me a little bit on my leg, playfully. He didn't say a word. And I didn't say a word, because I was perfectly satisfied.
And in the next edition of "Autobiography of a Yogi", the edition of 1951(Master gave me a copy), I looked up that passage about the shadow, and saw He had changed it. No longer did it say that an avatar's body does not cast a shadow. Now it said that an avatar's body "on occasion" does not cast a shadow. 

Sometime after this incident, when we were back in Mt. Washington, one of the monks asked Paramahansaji a direct question: "Sir, are you an avatar? " (As if we could understand, with our little human intellect, what an avatar is! ) The Master's answer was: "Yes, a teaching of this importance could not have been brought by a lesser one."I came into the ashram in the later years of Paramahansa Yogananda's life. At that time there was a discussion among the monks: "Is our Guru an avatar?" And when Master called me out to the desert, where He was finishing His writings, that thought came to me again: " Is He an avatar" I remembered having read in the "Autobiography of a Yogi" where Paramahansaji said that an avatar's body is not under the compulsion of duality, and that therefore it does not cast a shadow. I thought, "Well, that's very simple. All I have to do is look and see whether or not his body casts a shadow!"

The monks stayed in a little cottage about four miles away from Master's retreat, and one morning as we were driving to His retreat, I thought: "Now, today, I'm going to look". At that time, Guruji was working inside the house, dictating His interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita; and I was doing construction work outside. All day long I worked there, and the Master came out two or three times and talked with us. But as I sat in the car going back to our cottage in the evening, it hit me: "I forgot to look! " I thought : "Tomorrow! "

Next morning as I sat in the car, I determined, "Now, today I am going to look for His shadow" But the same thing happened. I forgot! - eventhough I had seen Him; He had come out and talked with us. And so it went on, day after day after day.

At first I thought perhaps it was just an accident; but when it continued for so many days, I realized, "No, there's something fishy! He has something to do with it". Then I decided to sit and think it over. "All right!" I thought. "He Himself said He could fill the largest halls and draw hundreds of thousands of people through miracles, and so on. But He was not interested in attracting people with phenomenal demonstrations. He said, " I am interested in those who come sincerely with one desire: To love God and to find God". Then I reasoned that because He was not interested in performing miracles He wouldn't draw attention to Himself by having His body cast no shadow - eventhough He is an avatar.”

By Swami Anandamoy Giri




About the Spiritual Author

Tarun Choudhury

Kriya yoga


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