Self-realized masters have a unique capacity to help those who are seeking inner peace and higher awareness. Yogananda was so helped by his spiritual predecessors, a story which he enchantingly tells in his Autobiography of a Yogi. Upon their request, he came to the Western world to help hundreds of thousands of people in their spiritual search. He gave these teachings impartially to people of all religions and philosophical persuasions, including atheists.
What Yogananda taught in the West was not religion, but practical spirituality. The techniques he taught are useful in all fields of human activity. They are based on methods of Self-awareness and Self-discovery which have been used by spiritual seekers for millennia. These practices include techniques for increasing the flow of vital energy into the body, for harmonizing body and mind with soul and spirit, and for entering higher states of spiritual awareness, which he called “superconsciousness.”
Yogananda came to Boston in 1920 as India’s representative to the Congress of Religious Liberals, where he presented a talk entitled, “The Science of Religion.” He established his first center in Boston, and began to give conferences and classes in Self-realization throughout the United States. His lectures were very well received, often attended by thousands of people in some of the largest halls in America.
In 1925 he established his headquarters in Los Angeles and continued to lecture in many other cities. He wrote many books, most notably his autobiography and his commentaries on the original teachings of Jesus Christ (The Second Coming of Christ) and of Lord Krishna (The Bhagavad Gita). By the time of his passing in 1952, he had hundreds of thousands of students and had established temples, centers, and meditation groups throughout the country.