Archive for March 30th, 2018

My Interview with Philip Goldberg on His Book, “The Life of Yogananda”

March 30, 2018

 

 

Philip Goldberg

Welcome Phil, thank you for joining us today.
Hey, it’s good to be with you, Phil. Double Phil.

Allow me to introduce you. Philip Goldberg is the author of American Veda, which explores how the spirituality of India seeped into the cultural bloodstream of America. He co-hosts a spiritually themed podcast, leads American Veda Tours through India, and blogs regularly for popular media sites. His latest book, and the subject of our conversation today, is The Life of Yogananda, which is a biography of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.

(Click here to order your copy of The Life of Yogananda.)

Phil, why did you choose to write a biography of Yogananda, whose iconic autobiography has been read by millions of people?
I’m sure you will appreciate that that is the most commonly asked question I’ve had in the last few years as I worked on the book, and the answer is there’s an awful lot about Yogananda’s life that is not in his iconic memoir. Especially his life after he left India and came to America, where he would spend just about the rest of his life.

I did a page count of Autobiography of a Yogi, and it turns out that less than 10 percent of the book is about his years in America, and there are portions of those years that he summarizes in a sentence or two that in fact lasted four or five years. So there’s an awful lot that people don’t know about Yogananda if all they’ve ever read is Autobiography of a Yogi, and I wanted to fill the gaps.

What do you see as Yogananda’s place in the overall spiritual history of the western world?
It’s immense, actually. You know, when I first read Autobiography of a Yogi, at the risk of giving away my age, it was 1970, and it had a big impact on me and a big impact on my whole cohort of young spiritual seekers that were just then discovering Indian philosophy and the practices that come from the yogic repertoire, like meditation. The Beatles had just gone to India, and not long before that, the whole interest exploded.

Autobiography of a Yogi was probably the most borrowed and most often ripped-off book among that cohort of youngsters doing all that spiritual exploring. Falling in love with India, falling in love with practices like meditation, and with gurus like Yogananda. He was of course long gone by then, but the autobiography was a big deal, and launched millions of (more…)