Newspaper Accounts of Yogananda in India
Inner Culture, March 1937
The newspapers and illustrated weeklies in London and India devoted a great deal of space to Swami Yogananda’s presence in their lands. Mr. Wright, who accompanied Swamiji, came back loaded with newspaper clippings about Swamiji’s work and lectures in various places.
The large newspapers of India, in Bombay, Calcutta, Madres, Bangalore and Delhi carried many articles, welcoming Swamiji home to India after his 16-year absence. Many carried headlines and devoted whole pages to swamiji’s work.
Mahatma Gandhi is Host to Swami Yogananda
During his travels in India, Swami Yogananda went to Wardha as the guest of Mahatma Gandhi, who had already visited Swamiji’s Ranchi school and had expressed his admiration for the training given the boys there. The following is an Associated Press dispatch under date of August 27, 1936:
“Swami Yogananda of the Yogoda Sat-Sanga, Los Angeles, California, who is on a tour, arrived here yesterday and was received at the station by Messrs. Mahadev Desai, Babasaheb Deshmukh and Dr. Pingale, amongst others. He is coming here after 16 years’ stay in America. He is the guest of Mahatma Gandhi. The Swami arrived on the Mahatma’s silence day. He therefore conversed in writing. The Swami was impressed with the self-sacrifice of the Ashram inmates and the deep spirituality of the Mahatma. He was astonished to see the extreme humbleness of the Mahatma, who lunched with the Swami, giving him some of his food with a spoon from his plate.
“The Swami was asked to join the evening prayer and found the atmosphere intensely spiritual and was interested to see Miss Slade (Mira Bai) reciting Gita verses with a perfect Oriental pronunciation. At the end, beckoned by the Mahatma, the Swami chanted verses from the Hindu scriptures and gave a short talk about the East and the West . . . After prayer the Mahatma broke silence and talked on different subjects. The Mahatma showed interest in the extensive spiritual work fostered by the Swami in America. Swamiji is having a special discussion with the Mahatma on the origin of evil. The Swami is addressing a public meeting in the evening.”
“Daily Post,” Bangalore
A long report of a lecture given by Swamiji appeared in The Daily Post, Bangalore, South India, on November 5, 1935, part of which read:
“At a large gathering of students, officials, ladies and gentlemen, Swami Yogananda was introduced by the president, Justice Shankar Narayan Rao, in a meeting held under the auspices of the Mysore University Union, last night, preceded by wonderful demonstrations of ‘Yogoda,’ the action of will in the muscles, by the Swami’s brother, Bishnu Charan, and his two students. The Swami gave an enlightening and stirring lecture before an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.
“During the course of the lecture, the Swami’s age was conjectured to range from 17 to 100 years, but when asked his age point-blank, he answered, ‘Do you want to know my age? I never tell my age. For I am ageless. You failed to designate the age of this residence or body of mine. I am the immortal Soul, and am therefore ageless.’
“The president, Justice Rao, expressed gratitude and said, ‘We are proud of one who has placed the banner of India and her spirituality in America, awakening souls from slumber.’ He also spoke of the lecture as being most inspiring and one to be long remembered. He concluded by paying his ‘humble obeisance to our illustrious guest, Swamiji Yogananda.’
“The president of the university Union, Mr. L. Rama Rao, said, ‘I want to express the hearty thanks of you all to our revered guest, Swami Yoganandaji. He has delivered one of the most marvelous, thrilling, remarkable and dynamic addresses ever heard in Bangalore. I wish to express thanks to His Highness the Yuvaraj of Mysore, on behalf of you all, for inviting the Swamiji to Mysore State.”
Swami Gives Demonstration
While in Mysore, Swamiji also addressed a meeting held under the auspices of the Mysore Civic and Social Progress Association which The Daily Post of November 6, 1935 described as follows:
“Swamiji Yogananda gave a demonstration of the action of will power and magnetism, which he described as flowing from the cosmos through him and which he directed to the brain of those sensitive souls accurately in tune with him, arousing the energy in their bodies and concentrating it in the hand and locking their clasped hands as if shackled by ropes. Moreover, those with locked hands were unable to open them when ordered to do so by the audience, but immediately responded to the command of Swamiji, all except one man who was ailing from heart disease and stomach trouble.
“However, his hands instantly opened as Swamiji’s hand approached his and upon request, Swamiji gave a remarkable healing to this ailing man, by merely touching his heart and stomach, allowing the soothing vibrations of the Cosmic Energy to flow into the man’s body. The pain instantly vanished. In explanation Swamiji states that he merely served as a channel for the flow of the Cosmic Energy from God which has the power of healing. It is God who actually heals, and this capacity of directing God’s power lies dormant in all of us. It lies with each of us to learn how to arouse it and us it.
“In concluding the meeting, Sir Puttanna Chetty (donor of the Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall in which Swamiji spoke) said, ‘I am very happy to have heard your most enlightening lecture. I was deeply listening and especially enjoyed your unique explanations of Patanjali. You have packed this house and we already feel uplifted from your presence’.
“The audience was very enthusiastic and attentive and showed its courteous cooperation despite the crowded condition of Town Hall, the largest hall in Bangalore, for the hall was packed to overflowing with 3000 friends, some in window-sills, in aisles, doorways, on the stage and standing outside-a demonstration of the sincerity and earnestness with which the people are seeking to know God.”
This same meeting was reported by a columnist in The Daily Post as follows:
“The third big event of the week is the appearance of Swami Yogananda of Los Angeles in Bangalore, giving darshan to many eager hearts . . . showing us the way to contact God through Pranayam, the mixing of God-Consciousness with life-control. The rare yogic feats done by his disciples (Bishnu Charan, Buddha Bose and Bijoy Kumar) have opened the eyes of many to the latent powers in man and how they can become patent.
“The atmosphere of Bangalore, with its electro-protonic cell batteries charged by that Sadhu-Sanyasin Swami Yogananda (a man of immense powers, the result of his conscious efforts at the unity of body, mind and soul) I am sure has taken during the last 3 days, a fresher hue than it used to have. The ladies and gentlemen, young and old, that filled every vacant space in Town Hall ought to give testimony to what I say. All those who heard his lectures, I can say are really great souls, according to a stanza in Tamil poetic lore-’It is good to see a good man, more to hear the pearl-drops of wisdom, much more to keep company with him’“.
“Sunday Times,” Madras
The Sunday Times of Madras, March 29, 1936, had the following comment on Swamiji’s lecture at Gokhale Hall:
“For over two and a half hours, the Swamiji held the audience spellbound by his oration. It was a consummate address . . . He is certainly the master orator who can sway mass meetings at will. No finished product of the best elocution school of America could excel him in that art. He began with a glorious tribute to India’s heritage of spiritual ideals, and stressed that India should never swerve from her ancient ideals . . . His lecture was enthralling, his ideals were impressive, and the way in which he propounded them were quite interesting. He talked of the Necessity of implicit faith in God, of the power of the right kind of prayer, of the amazing miracles that can be brought by will-power”.
Arjuna the Warrior
Among numerous meetings, Swamiji addressed the All-India Kshattriya Conference presided over by H. H. Maharajah of Jhalwar. In this lecture at Calcutta, Swami Yogananda stressed the fact that the true duty of a Kshattriya (the warrior or second highest caste in India) was to follow the instructions give by Lord Chrishna in the Bhagavad Gita, to his great Kshattriya disciple Arjuna, who was bidden to fight evil, bad habits and ignorance.
In London, Swamiji spoke at a meeting arranged by Dr. Kedar Nath Das Gupta, famous director of the World Fellowship of Faiths. Sir Francis Younghusband was the chairman on this occasion. His introduction of Swamiji was reported by the London correspondent of Amrita Bazar Patrika, in the following way:
“Sir Francis Younghusband paid a great tribute to India for producing saints and holy men. ‘Greatest gift which India has offered to the world’, he declared, ‘is her gift of spirituality and spiritual forces. Great saints of India have found their way to this country and we are grateful to Swami Yogananda for coming this evening and addressing us for the first time’.”