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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 Apotheosis of a Global Guru

The Apotheosis of a Global Guru

Paramahansa Yogananda and His Autobiography, 1933–1946

(p.156) Four The Apotheosis of a Global Guru
Finding God through Yoga

David J. Neumann

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores Yogananda’s growing status as a global spiritual authority and a divine figure. The chapter begins by placing Yogananda in the context of religious internationalism, a subset of interwar cultural internationalism driven by concerns for world peace. It details his use of East-West as a vehicle for a cosmopolitan spiritual vision. An extravagant worldwide journey in 1935-36 from California to England, the Continent, the Middle East, and ultimately to his home city of Calcutta solidified his reputation as a “global guru.” The chapter also explores his syncretism, through his lengthy exegesis of New Testament gospel narratives that transformed the story of Jesus and his teachings into a revelation of yogic truth that hinted at Yogananda’s own divine identity. But it was the 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi that firmly established Yogananda’s reputation as a guru to the world. An analysis of this text’s structural features reveals it to be a new scripture, designed to inculcate belief in the spiritual world Yogananda evoked and a hagiography of the yogi who wrote it.

Keywords:   global guru, divine figure, religious internationalism, cosmopolitanism, syncretism, New Testament, Jesus Christ, spiritual autobiography, Autobiography of a Yogi, hagiography

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