By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Svami Yogananda, SvAmi YogAnanda, Svaami Yogaananda
Svāmi Yogānanda lived in A. D. 1861-1899. Though counted among the disciples of Rāmakṛṣṇa and guided by him, Svāmi Yogānanda was the first initiated disciple of Sāradā Devī. She was popularly known as the ‘Holy Mother’. Like the Mother whom he served meticulously with matchless devotion, his life was very unobtrusive for all the outward appearances. He was very deep in inner mystic experiences of which he sometimes gave a hint or two.
He was born in 1861 in an orthodox brāhmaṇa family which was in indigent circumstances but had once been aristocratic and rich. Yogīndra was the pre-monastic name of the Svāmi. He was by nature in-drawn, gentle and shy. The desire to pluck a nice flower in the Dakṣiṇeśvar garden brought him face to face with Rāmakṛṣṇa whom Yogin mistook for a gardener working there.
He got the flower all right, but in the process, himself became a ‘flower plant’ to be tended by a great gardener of lives. Though married, the world could never drag his mind down to worldliness. Just as pure gold cannot be shaped into ornaments but has got to be alloyed with a small quantity of other metals, Rāmakṛṣṇa had to ‘alloy’ him with a bit of harshness to counter his too gentle personality that could not last in this mundane world. But the disciple was not a goody goody simpleton.
He could exercise his highly critical discernment even against his own guru or leader, Svāmi Vivekānanda, when he thought it necessary. He was a good organizer. He had successfully attracted and inspired many young men to the monastic life. He was extraordinarily devoted to the Holy Mother whom he served till the last day of his life. His congenitally frail constitution could not stand the rigors he chose to impose upon himself resulting in a rather premature death on March 28, 1899.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore