What Did Yogananda Want?

From “Who & What is Swami Kriyananda?”

by Swami Kriyananda

Changes in Yogananda’s Books

“Why has Ananda made an issue of changes made by SRF in Master’s books, when Master himself requested those changes?”

Swami Kriyananda answers:

That he requested more than a handful of them is a myth. SRF has effective control over his material, and can make changes in it with impunity, with the claim that he authorized them. I was there at the time myself, however, and was actively involved in editorial activities. I know that the greater part of those changes were not authorized by Master.

I was present on one occasion when he complained about the change made by Tara (his editor-in-chief) of a single word in his poem “God! God! God!” in Whispers from Eternity. The line was, “I will drown their noises by loudly chanting, ‘God! God! God!’” Master’s remark was, “Laurie (Tara Mata) keeps changing ‘noises’ to ‘clamor.’ Every time I change it back, she makes it ‘clamor’ again.”

I piped up at this point, to my subsequent embarrassment, and said, “But, Sir, I have to admit I like ‘clamor’ better!”

“Split infinitive!” he rejoined with mock scorn, referring to a comment I’d made to him when we first met. (I’d hoped by mentioning that I’d found two or three split infinitives in his book, that he might consider me acceptable as a disciple if only for my usefulness as an editor, despite my other shortcomings.) He was not altogether pleased that I supported Tara on this point, for he realized, and I later saw he was right, that the question was one of vibration. “Clamor” may be more literary, but “noises” in this line is colorful, whereas “clamor” is vibrationally flat.

Tara Mata proceeded, after Yogananda’s passing, to change Whispers from Eternity so drastically that it became almost unrecognizable as the beautiful book he had authored. She even dared to forge a letter, as if written by him, commending her for her editorial labors on the book. The letter was predated to before his death.

Master himself had told me this book was the only one he’d edited personally, and in its entirety. The results of his labor were inspiring. Tara’s supposed “improvements” were, by contrast, like that change from “noises” to “clamor.” Her edition lacked beauty, simplicity, and inspiration. In a word, it lacked the right vibrations. Tara herself was growing in pride, a fact I’ve discussed in a book of mine named A Place Called Ananda. This defect caused the poetry of Whispers to seem heavy-handed. It lacked the flowing grace expressed instinctively by a true poet.

Other, even shocking, changes were made by Tara in Autobiography of a Yogi and were accepted by SRF: so many of them, indeed, that I leave to others the task of presenting them in detail lest the present paper become impossibly long. Suffice it here to say that they number over 140, some of them in the teachings themselves, whereas many others are intended simply to drive home the claim that Yogananda’s mission to the world and his organization are one and the same thing. SRF representatives have stated that his main purpose in coming to the West was to found an organization. I disagree. I believe he came primarily to bring a teaching, and a divine message. SRF monks, however, have actually declared publicly, “His mission was to start a monastery.”

On this last point, incidentally, it was only in 1949 that he placed me in charge of the monks. He did so again more formally in the summer of 1950. He later expressed approval of what I’d done in organizing them. Indeed, the monks hadn’t been formed as a group until he put me in charge of them, though he’d obtained the Mt. Washington headquarters twenty-five years earlier. If his coming to the West had been primarily to found a monastery, he wouldn’t have left it to me—a latecomer, relatively speaking—to organize it; nor would he have let matters ride for so many years. (It was on the example of my own work in organizing the monks, incidentally, that the nuns soon afterward organized themselves also.)


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