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Finding God through YogaParamahansa Yogananda and Modern American Religion in a Global Age$
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David J. Neumann

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648637

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648637.001.0001

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The Making of a Modern Religious Seeker

The Making of a Modern Religious Seeker

From Mukunda Lal Ghosh to Swami Yogananda, 1893–1920

(p.24) One The Making of a Modern Religious Seeker
Finding God through Yoga

David J. Neumann

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter places Yogananda’s spiritual development in the context of Indian modernity, with rapid travel, exposure to diverse traditions, and awareness of the outside world—particularly the U.S. and the larger West. The chapter examines his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, focusing on the spiritual journey that culminated in his decision to become a swami under the leadership of a guru. He grew up in Kolkata, influenced by the writings of the Bengali Renaissance who opposed British imperialism. His connection to modernity continued with his college education and adoption of modern Hinduism, a framework that severed belief from its historic embeddedness in land, caste, life stage, and gender. This universalizing of Hinduism paved the way for Yogananda’s American ministry as a Hindu missionary.

Keywords:   religious seeker, Swami Yogananda, Indian modernity, swamis, gurus, modern Hinduism, Bengali Renaissance, British imperialism, Kolkata, Hindu missionary

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