Yogananda had thought many times about returning to India; but the rapidly developing work kept his attention and his energies in America. He had been traveling widely throughout the United States, giving lectures and seminars in many major cities. In 1925 he acquired Mt. Washington, where he transferred the center of his operations from Boston. He wrote his early Yogoda Lessons from 1925 until 1934, and continued his lecture tours.
In 1934, he received the inner call from his Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, to come soon to India to see him once again before his earthly departure. Leaving Mt. Washington in the care of sisters Seva Devi, Gyanamata and Durga Mata, Yogananda left for Europe, accompanied by his secretaries, Richard Wright and Ettie Bletsch, and by a Ford automobile. Their journeys took them to these places:
England (where Yogananda promised to return to speak in London); Scotland, France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. In Italy they visited Venice, Assisi and Rome, and embarked from Brindisi for Athens. From Greece they visited the Holy Land and Egypt, where they embarked for Bombay.
After arriving in Bombay, they stopped to see Mahatma Gandhi on their way to Calcutta, where they were greeted by a large crowd. They visited Sri Yukteswar in Serampore, and later went to southern India where they visited Bangalore (where Yogananda spoke to thousands of people), Mysore and Madras. They stopped to see Ramana Maharsi, where they also met Dr. Evans-Wentz and Paul Brunton.
Throughout this trip Yogananda was gathering information and photographs for the autobiography he would write—which he did in part to fulfill his promise to Sri Yukteswar to write about the life of Lahiri Mahasaya.
Yogananda gave much attention during this trip to organizing his work in India. With the help of his American students, he was able to purchase and secure the property at Ranchi. In Calcutta he established a lodging house for the Ranchi graduates who were attending university in Calcutta. He also made plans with his brother Sananda for the design and construction of Sri Yukteswar’s samadhi mandir at the Puri ashram.
On his return trip to London, Yogananda gave a lecture to an overflow crowd in Caxton Hall.
Richard Wright was keeping a diary of the journey, and would often write letters to Mt. Washington, which were published in the magazines. Occasionally Yogananda also wrote letters. The ones we have been able to find are reprinted here, together with a few others enjoyable items.
If I Visit India
Poem by Yogananda
Article by Yogananda
From Sri Yukteswar
Letter to Yogananda