I read the book Autobiography of a Yogi (AOY) in my first year of college. I came to know about it while reading Steve Jobs’ biography.
AOY had a profound impact on Jobs, and he made arrangements before his death to give it as a gift to those who would be attending his funeral service. It was also the only e-book he had on his iPad, and he would reread it every year.
After reading 100 pages of AOY, I wondered what was so great about it and what Jobs saw in the book. Anyway, I decided to stick with it and read all the way through, and I’m sure glad I did
A brief about Autobiography of a Yogi
Autobiography of a Yogi is an autobiography of the Indian yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 – 1952) first published in 1946. The book has been in print for seventy years, sold more than four million copies, and has been translated into over fifty languages.
The book details the remarkable experiences of his childhood, his fascinating encounters with various spiritual masters, his search to find a guru, becoming a monk, and his travels across America lecturing and establishing a spiritual center in California.
Yogananda played a substantial role in popularising yoga and meditation in the west. However, he isn’t a widely known figure in India since he spent most of his adult life teaching in America.
Despite being a spiritual master, he expresses himself candidly in the book and shows that even he is subject to emotions (like anger, frustration, fears and worries), thus making it easier to relate to him.
The book also details his meeting with famous and interesting figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nobel Laureates: Rabindranath Tagore and Sir C. V. Raman, the Catholic mystic, Therese Neumann, Indian saint Anandamayi Ma, Giri Bala (the woman yogi who never eats) and Mahavatar Babaji.
How Autobiography of a Yogi changed my Life
Reading Autobiography of a Yogi blew my mind and completely transformed my outlook on life.
Our mainstream media, scientists, religions and educational institutions tend to present themselves as an authority and a credible source on almost everything there is to know regarding life and our world. As a result, how most of us perceive our world is shaped by what these sources tell us.
But reading AOY made me realise how little these sources actually know about reality and that there is so much more to life than what they tell us.
The book contained several mind-boggling incidents that made me think deeply and question what I had been conditioned to believe about life from a young age.
For instance, there are several miraculous incidents described in AOY. (Some of them seem straight out of a Sci-Fi/ superhero movie rather than from real life).
But later having read several other books by yogis after AOY, I found that such kind of miracles were common in those books as well. (Certain highly developed yogis attain “Yogic siddhis” which allow them to perform feats that we may consider miraculous or supernatural).
I couldn’t wrap my head around why more people in our world aren’t aware of some of the things mentioned in the book, especially surrounding some of the miraculous incidents, even though there is evidence to back up some of these events.
But then again, forget the rest of the world. Growing up and living my whole life in India, I couldn't help but wonder how had I not been exposed to any of these fascinating and true stories of my culture before.
Reading AOY made me realise for the first time that I was spiritually inclined. Shortly before reading the book I had started meditating, but it was on and off. After I finished reading it, I felt compelled to do it more, and nowadays, I meditate every day, and it’s definitely had a positive impact on my life.
The book expanded my perspective, shifted my priorities, and a lot of things which used to bother and worry me before I read the book began to seem immaterial.
One of the strange things that happened after I read the book was that my interest in shopping as well as the happiness I derived from it almost completely disappeared. AOY gave me the feeling there were far more important things in life.
I had many fear-based ideas about God and religion due to my catholic upbringing. AOY was the first among many other books that helped me let go of the fearful religious conditioning I grew up with.
AOY was the start of my exploration into lots of other profound spiritual books. If I had read it after reading many of the other spiritual books I read after AOY, it probably wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on me.
AOY is a book I’d highly recommend to people, but to gain the most out of it, it is vital to read it with an open mind and to let go of your preconceived notions about life and reality.
I do not ask you to blindly believe anything the book says but rather to let go of the need to instantly reject something that may not fit in with your current understanding of the world.
AOY is referred to as “the book that changed the lives of millions."
Apart from Steve Jobs, the book has had a profound impact on the lives of several prominent figures, such as musicians Elvis Presley and George Harrison (lead guitarist of The Beatles), Indian film star Rajinikanth, to cricketer Virat Kohli. All of them have been vocal about the life-changing impact the book has had on them.
Here’s what Kohli one of the best cricketers in the world had to say about AOY,
“I love this book. A must read for all those who are brave enough to let their thoughts and ideologies be challenged. The understanding and implementation of the knowledge in this book will change your whole perspective and life.”
Who knows, perhaps reading the book may have a life-changing impact on you as well.
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