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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 Creation of a Yogi Guru Persona

The Creation of a Yogi Guru Persona

Marketing Swami Yogananda and His Yoga Instruction, 1925–1935

Chapter:
(p.107) Three The Creation of a Yogi Guru Persona
Source:
Finding God through Yoga
Author(s):

David J. Neumann

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648637.003.0004

In this chapter, Yogananda’s ministry is evaluated through the lens of modern consumer religion, mass marketing, and religious branding. The early portion investigates the religious products he touted, most centrally, his systematic, practical method for God-realization through yoga—in the innovative form of a correspondence course. Yogananda’s instruction inculcated a larger Hindu worldview, not just a set of meditative techniques. His East-West magazine was a promotional tool designed to highlight his brand’s distinctiveness. The chapter also explores the way the yogi, like evangelists of the time, promoted his message to a modern American audience saturated in savvy advertising and modern products. The final section considers the hazards of the religious market, including negative press attention and several lawsuits that threatened his brand image as well as his solvency just as the Depression arrived.

Keywords:   guru, persona, consumer religion, mass marketing, religious branding, God-realization, yoga, correspondence courses, modern advertising, religious market

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