The first time I beheld Paramahansa Yogananda, he was speaking before a vast, enraptured audience in Salt Lake City. The year was 1931. As I stood at the back of the crowded auditorium, I became transfixed, unaware of anything around me except the speaker and his words. My whole being was absorbed in the wisdom and divine love that were pouring into my soul and flooding my heart and mind. I could only think, This man loves God as I have always longed to love Him. He knows God. Him I shall follow. And from that moment, I did.
As I felt the transfiguring power of his words on my own life during those early days with Paramahansaji, there arose within me a feeling of the urgent need to preserve his words for all the world, for all time. It became my sacred and joyous privilege, during the many years I was with Paramahansa Yogananda, to record his lectures and classes, and also many informal talks and words of personal counsel-truly a vast treasurehouse of wondrous wisdom and God-love. As Gurudeva spoke, the rush of his inspiration was often reflected in the swiftness of his speech; he might speak without pause for minutes at a time, and continue for an hour. While his hearers sat enthralled, my pen was flying! As I took down his words in shorthand, it was as though a special grace had descended, instantly translating the Guru's voice into the shorthand characters on the page. Their transcription has been a blessed task that continues to this day. Even after such a long time-some of my notes are more than forty years old-when I start to transcribe them; they are miraculously fresh in my mind, as though they had been recorded yesterday. I can even hear inwardly the inflections of Gurudeva’s voice in each particular phrase.
The Master seldom made even the slightest preparation for his lectures; if he prepared anything at all, it might consist of a factual note or two, hastily jotted down. Very often, while riding in the car on the way to the temple, he would casually ask one of us: What is my subject today? He would put his mind on it, and then give the lecture extemporaneously from an inner reservoir of divine inspiration.
The subjects for Gurudeva's sermons at the temples were set and announced in advance. But sometimes his mind was working in an entirely different vein when he began to speak. Regardless of the subject for today, the Master would voice the truths engrossing his consciousness at that moment, pouring forth priceless wisdom in a steady stream from the abundance of his own spiritual experience and intuitive perception. Nearly always, at the close of such a service, a number of people would come forward to thank him for having enlightened them on a problem that had been troubling them, or perhaps for having explained some philosophical concept in which they were particularly interested.
Sometimes, while he was lecturing, the Guru's consciousness would be so uplifted that he would momentarily forget the audience and converse directly with God; his whole being would be overflowing with divine joy and intoxicating love. In these high states of consciousness, his mind completely at one with the Divine Consciousness, he inwardly perceived Truth, and described what he saw. On occasion, God appeared to him as the Divine Mother, or in some other aspect; or one of our great Gurus, or other saints, would manifest in vision before him. At such times, even the audience would feel deeply the special blessing bestowed on all present. During such a visitation of Saint Francis of Assisi, whom Gurudeva deeply loved, the Master was inspired to compose the beautiful poem, God! God! God!
The Bhagavad Gita describes an enlightened master in these words: The Self shines forth like a sun in those who have banished ignorance by wisdom (V:16). One might have been overawed by Paramahansa Yogananda's spiritual radiance, were it not for his warmth and naturalness, and a quiet humility, which put everyone instantly at ease. Each person in the audience felt that Gurudeva's talk was addressed to him personally. Not the least of the Master's endearing qualities was his understanding sense of humour. By some choice phrase, gesture, or facial expression he would bring forth an appreciative response of hearty laughter at just the right moment to drive home a point, or to relax his listeners after long and intense concentration on a particularly deep subject.
One cannot convey in the pages of a book the uniqueness and universality of Paramahansa Yogananda's vivid, loving personality. But it is my humble hope, in giving this brief back ground, to afford a personal glimpse that will enrich the reader's enjoyment and appreciation of the talks presented in this book.
To have seen my Gurudeva in divine communion, to have heard the profound truths and devotional outpourings of his soul, to have recorded them for the ages, and now to share them with all-what joy is mine! May the Master's sublime words open wider the doors to unshakable faith in God, to deeper love for that One who is our beloved Father, Mother, and Eternal Friend.
For a blessed half-century and more I have been humbly privileged to participate in and witness the growth of the Kriya Yoga mission of Paramahansa Yogananda’s. I have seen the fire of love for God that emanated from his being and ignited my heart similarly kindle divine love in countless other hearts, be- stowing the blessing of its transforming light. So it is with deep satisfaction and joys that Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self- Realization Fellowship presents The Divine Romance, a long-awaited companion volume to Man’s Eternal Quest.
The romance with God is perfect and everlasting, Guru-deva once said. In Paramahansaji the glory and sweetness of that eternal relationship with the Divine was fully expressed. These years of endeavouring to follow his example-living by the ideals and practicing the precepts he taught-have brought an answer to every longing of my heart. The promise of that first thrill of divine love that spread through my soul has been fulfilled beyond all possible expectation.
Paramahansaji's one desire was to help others experience God as a conscious reality in their lives. Often he wept tears of compassion for all of God's children, praying to the Lord from the depths of his soul, May I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts. Divine love is the answer-the only answer-that can permanently remove the ache of emptiness from every heart, and cauterize and heal all wounds of division, hatred, and nonun-derstanding that have sundered the peace and unity of this beautiful world created by God. May the flame of that divine love reach out from the pages of this volume in fulfilment of Parama-hansaji's fervent prayer, awakening the love of God in every heart it touches.
The Divine Romance is a volume of talks by Paramahansa Yogananda’s, one whose life was a continual romance with the Divine. It is thus a book about God's love for each soul created by Him, and how we as incarnate souls can experience God's loving presence in our lives.
The author's message holds universal appeal, for what human being has never yearned for perfect love-a love that does not fade with time, old age, or death? Certainly everyone has longed to experience the lasting satisfaction and perfection of such a relationship, but the question has always been, Is it really possible? Paramahansa Yogananda boldly declares that it is possible. Through the example of his life and teaching, he proves that the inner fulfilment and love we seek does exist and can be attained-in God. The greatest love you can experience is in communion with God, he states, in the opening lecture of The Divine Romance. The love between the soul and Spirit is the perfect love, the love you are all seeking.
Paramahansaji does not speak from mere theory or theology; his words flow from experience of the love and wisdom of God, providing an inspirational and pragmatic approach, that those who have ears to hear may also discover this all-fulfilling Divine Presence in their own lives. His wisdom is not the studied learning of a scholar; it is the empirical testimony of a dynamic spiritual personage whose life was filled with inner joy and outer accomplishment, a world teacher who lived what he taught, a Premavatar (incarnation of love) whose sale desire was to share God's wisdom and love with all.
Paramahansa Yogananda was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, on January 5, 1893. He had a remarkable childhood that clearly indicated his life was marked for a divine destiny. His mother recognized this and encouraged his noble ideals and spiritual aspirations. When he was only eleven, the loss of his mother, whom he loved above all else in this world, made firm his inherent resolve to find God and to receive from the Creator Himself the divine love yearned for in every human heart.
Yoganandaji soon became a disciple of one of a line of exalted gurus with whom he had been linked from birth: the great Jnana-vatar (incarnation of wisdom) Sri Sri Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. Sri Yogananda's parents were disciples of Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, guru of Sri Yukteswar. When Paramahansaji was an infant in his mother's arms, Lahiri Mahasaya had blessed him and foretold: Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God's kingdom. Lahiri Mahasaya was a disciple of Sri Sri Mahavatar Babaji, the deathless master who revived in this age the ancient science of Kriya Yoga. Praised by Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, and by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, Kriya Yoga is both a transcendent technique of meditation and an art of living that leads to union of the soul with God. Mahavatar Babaji revealed the sacred Kriya to Lahiri Ma-hasaya, who handed it down to Sri Yukteswar, who taught it to Paramahansa Yogananda.
When in 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda was deemed ready to begin his world mission of disseminating the soul-liberating science of Yoga, Mahavatar Babaji told him of the sacred responsibility that was to be his: You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West. Long ago I met your guru Yukteswar at a Kumbha Mela; I told him then I Would send you to him for training. Kriya Yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization, will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man's personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father.
Paramahansa Yogananda began his mission in America as a delegate to the International congress of Religious Liberals in Boston in 1920. For more than a decade he travelled the length and breadth of America, speaking almost daily to capacity audiences in all the major cities. On January 28, 1925 the Los Angeles Times reported: “The Philharmonic Auditorium presents the extraordinary spectacle of thousands…being turned away an hour before the advertised opening of a lecture with the 3000-seat hall filled to its utmost capacity. Swami Yogananda is the attraction. A Hindu invading the United states to bring God…” It came as no small revelation to the West that Yoga-so eloquently expounded and clearly interpreted-is a universal science, and that as such it is indeed the essence of all true religions.
In Los Angeles in 1925, Paramahansa Yogananda founded the international headquarters of Self-Realization Fellowship, the Society he had started in India in 1917 as Yogada Satsanga society of India. From the International headquarters, the Guru’s teachings are speared worldwide, including his many books and the printed Self-Realization [Yogada Satsanga] Lesson on the science of Kriya Yoga meditation and the art of spiritual living. Seekers in India and surrounding territories receive these publications from Yogada Satsanga Society of India. The Guru’s work is guided and served by monks and nuns of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization of carrying on his work and preserving the purity of his teachings.
In the late 1930s Paramahansaji began to withdraw gradually from nationwide public lecturing. “I am not interested in crowds,” he said, “but in souls who are in earnest to know God.” Thereafter, he concentrated his efforts on talks and classes for those who were deeply interested in seeking God; he spoke mostly at his own Self-Realization Fellowship temples and the international headquarters.
Pramahansa Yogananda had often voiced this prediction: “I will not die in bed, but with my boots on, speaking of God and India.” On March 7,1952, the Prophecy was fulfilled, At a banquet in honour of the Ambassador of India, B.R. Sen, Paramahansaji was a guest speaker, he delivered a soul-stirring address, concluding with these words from a poem he had written, “My Indian”: “Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves and men dream God-I am hallowed; my body touched that sod!” He then lifted his eyes upward and entered mahasamadhi, an advanced yogi’s conscious exit from the physical body. He died as he had lived, exhorting all to know God.
The great Guru’s lifelong efforts to awaken souls everywhere to the one Truth underlying all religions and all life’ and his singular contribution in furthering the cause of greater harmony and understanding between East and West’ were given formal recognition by the government of India on March 7, 1977, the twenty-fifth of his passing. On that day India issued a commemorative stamp in his honour, paying tribute to the Guru in these words: “The ideal of live for God and service to humanity found full expression in the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. Though the major part of his life was spent outside India, still he takes his place among our great saints. His work continues to grow and shin ever more brightly, drawing people everywhere on the path of the pilgrimage of the Spirit.”
To these who were personally associated with Paramahansaji, it was apparent that his greatness lay not only in the profound wisdom of his teachings, but also in the deep love and compassionate understanding that emanated with every word, glance, and gesture, and one knew beyond doubt that in his eyes one’s weaknesses and failings did not matter, that he saw in every soul only the pure reflection of God.
Although we are now prevented by time and space from being personally present at one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s talks, we can receive the blessing of reading and absorbing his words, and for this opportunity we can thank Sri Daya Mata, president , of self-Realization Fellowship. In the earliest years of this ministry, Paramanhansaji’s talks were recorded only spasmodically. But when Daya Mataji became a disciple of his in 1931, she undertook the sacred task of faithfully recording for the generations to come all of her Guru’s talks and classes. “As I felt the transfiguring power of his words on my own life during those early days with Paramahansaji,” she wrote, “there arose within me a feeling of the urgent need to preserve his words for all the world, for all time.” It is thus owing to her foresight and dedicated efforts that this volume of talks, the Divine Romance, could be published, as a sequel to the first volume, Man’s Eternal Quest.
The selections that make up this book are primarily lectures and classes given to audiences at Self-Realization temples and the international headquarters in Los Angeles. A few of the talks were given at informal gatherings or satsangas with small groups of disciples; or at meditation services in which the Guru experienced ecstatic communion with God, affording all present a glimpse of the blissful divine romance. Some inspirational writings are also included in this volume. Paramahansaji was a prolific writer who often used his spare moments to compose a new canticle of love for God or a short article that he felt might help others to better understand a certain facet of truth.
As most of the talks set forth in this book were presented before audiences familiar with Yogoda Satsanga/Self-Realization teachings, some clarification of terminology and philosophical concepts may be helpful to the general reader. To this end, footnotes have been included; also a glossary explaining certain Sanskrit words, and other philosophical terms, and giving information about events, persons, and places associated with the life and work of Paramahansa Yogananda. It may be noted here that unless otherwise indicated the quotations from the Bhagavad Gita in this volume are from Paramahansa Yoganada’s own translations, which he rendered from the Sanskrit sometimes literally and sometime in paraphrase, depending on the context of his talk. For most Gita quotations in this edition of The Divine Romance, we have used the definitive version given by Paramahansaji for his comprehensive translation and commentary: God talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita-Royal Science of God-Realization (published by Yogoda Satsanga Society of India in 2001). In talks where he was rendering a Gita passage more freely in order to emphasize a specific point, the paraphrase has been retained and noted as such in the footnote citation.
The Divine Romance is the second volume in a series of collections of talks and lectures by Paramahansa Yogananda. May it be, as the first volume has been for countless readers, a ray of divine light on the spiritual path, bringing inspiration, guidance, and new meaning to life. “The greatest romance is with the Infinite,” said Paramahansaji. “You have no idea how beautiful life can be. When you suddenly find God everywhere, when He comes and talks to you and guides you and guides you, the romance of divine love has begun.”
How to Cultivate Divine Love
A New Look at the Origin and Nature of Cosmic Creation
Practising Religion Scientifically
Finding the Joy in Life
What Is Fate?
The End of the World
The Why and How of Religion
The Spectrum of Spiritual Consciousness
The Mind: Repository of Infinite Power
Why Evil Is a Part of God's Creation
The Mystery of Mahatma Gandhi
Magnetism: The Inherent Power of the Soul
The Unknown Potential of Memory
Harmonizing Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Methods of Healing
Mind Power Can Help You Lose or Gain Weight
How to Work Without Fatigue
Ridding the Consciousness of Worry
If God Is Free From Karma, Why Aren't We?
The Yoga Art of Overcoming Mortal Consciousness and Death
How Feelings Mask the Soul
The Yoga Idea of Renunciation Is For All
With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding
Where Is Jesus Now, and What Is He Doing?
Do Souls Reincarnate?
Where Are Our Departed Loved Ones?
Reflections on Love
The Known and the Unknown
Controlling Your Destiny
Guests-Good and Bad
How to Free Yourself From Bad Habits
The Garden of Flowering Qualities
Oriental and Occidental Christianity
A World Without Boundaries
To Know God Is to Love All
How You Can Approach God
The Cosmic Lover
Personal and Impersonal God
God Is Both Personal and Impersonal
How to Find a Way to Victory
l Am Blessed to Behold Him
Take God With You Through Life
The Aurora of Bliss
Answer the Call of Christ!
Divine Communion With God and Christ
The Eternal Romance
A Scripture of Love
Children’s Books (51)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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