LOS ANGELES—Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) has announced the September 15, 2020 release of a special Centennial edition of Paramahansa Yogananda’s groundbreaking work, The Science of Religion, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Yogananda’s historic arrival in the United States on September 19, 1920, and his founding of SRF.
This seminal book is an amplification of Yogananda’s 1920 maiden speech in America delivered to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston, which introduced his teachings to the Western World and paved the way for yoga to become the American mainstay it is today.
Yogananda explains in his introduction to The Science of Religion: “I have tried to show in this book that as God is one, necessary to all of us, so religion is one, necessary and universal. Only the roads to it may differ…. it is illogical to say that there are two religions, when there is but one God.”
Defining God as “Sat-chit-ananda”—ever existing, ever conscious, ever new Bliss—he states: “Religion necessarily consists in the permanent removal of pain and the realization of Bliss, or God. And the actions that we must adopt for the permanent avoidance of pain and the realization of Bliss or God are called religious.”
In further exploring the meaning of religion, Yogananda writes: “Religion is really nothing but the merging of our individuality in universality. Therefore in the consciousness of this blissful state we ascend the steps of religion. We leave the noxious atmosphere of the senses and vagrant thoughts and come to a region of heavenly Bliss.
“We learn by this process what will be found to be universally true: When, by constant practice, the consciousness of this blissful state of the spiritual Self becomes real, we find ourselves always in the holy presence of the blissful God in us.”
His analysis of four traditional approaches to this goal includes a detailed discussion of the scientific basis of yoga meditation.
In continuous print for more than ninety years, the original version of The Science of Religion has been published in twenty additional languages, and is used as a reference work in colleges and universities. The special centennial edition of the 108-page book features a new cover and foreword, as well as archival photographs of Yogananda’s early years in America, and is available for purchase through major and independent booksellers including the publisher, Self-Realization Fellowship.
Virtually unknown in America upon his arrival, Paramahansa Yogananda would later come to be regarded as the father of Yoga in the West. His best-selling spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, has introduced millions to the philosophy of yoga and its methods of meditation, and has influenced the lives of such internationally renowned figures as Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann, Beatle George Harrison, and Apple founder Steve Jobs (who arranged for the book to be gifted to all those attending his memorial service).
Yogananda arrived in America from his native India on September 19, 1920 to serve as India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. His maiden speech, on the science of religion, would later be described by the Congress organizers as “forcible” and “impressive.” His subsequent talks on the universality of religion and the efficacy of yoga meditation would receive media coverage in all the major newspapers in the U.S. and draw thousands of seekers who filled the nation’s largest auditoriums to capacity to hear him speak.
He founded Self-Realization Fellowship the same year as his arrival to introduce to people of all races, cultures, and creeds the ancient science and philosophy of Yoga, that through practice of universally applicable methods of meditation they might realize and express more fully in their lives the true divinity of the human spirit.
During his more than 30 years in the U.S., Yogananda made America his adopted home and sought to bring unity to the world through his focus on the science and universality of religion, and to teach the 5,000-year tradition of yoga philosophy and its techniques of meditation. His pioneering efforts—including his numerous lectures, writings and the many temples and centers he established—have profoundly contributed to the ever-increasing interest in yoga and meditation today, with more than 36 million practitioners of yoga in the U.S. and 18 million people who regularly meditate.
His internationally acclaimed life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, remains one of the most widely regarded spiritual classics, influencing a diverse range of luminaries, from Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann to opera star Amelita Galli-Curci to Beatle George Harrison to Apple Founder Steve Jobs (who left instructions for all those attending his memorial service to be gifted with a copy of Yogananda’s book). Among the many other works by Paramahansa Yogananda are the highly acclaimed commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, God Talks With Arjuna, and the four Gospels, The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You; and the three-volume series of Collected Talks and Essays on Realizing God in Daily Life.
From its humble beginnings in Boston, Self-Realization Fellowship, along with its sister organization Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (which Yogananda founded three years earlier in 1917), has grown over the course of its 100-year history to include more than 800 temples, ashrams, retreats, and meditation centers in more than 60 countries around the globe.