“One of the keys to Yogananda’s popularity in America was his love and affection for Jesus,” says author Philip Goldberg in his interview for AWAKE. Yogananda placed pictures of Christ and Krishna next to one another on his altar, saying that they both represented the same universal Divine Consciousness – the Christ or Krishna Consciousness – that all of us can access in deep meditation.
“Jesus is revered in India,” continues Goldberg. “People don’t realize that. But he is held to be either an incarnation of God, or at the very least a supreme Yogi.”
In fact, many Hindus believe that Jesus visited India during the so-called “Lost Years,” between his boyhood and when he began his ministry in his 30s – a period that goes unmentioned in the Bible. They even have a name for him: Saint Issa.
When Yogananda arrived in America in 1920, it was a predominantly Christian nation, so it was quite provocative for Yogananda to declare in public lectures that: “True Christianity has been lost and forgotten.” But Yogananda also readily admitted that his own countrymen had lost touch with the roots of their religious teachings, too. He called upon seekers of East and West to resurrect the path of original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna and the path of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ as “one highway to the Infinite.”
Among Yogananda’s writings is The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You, a detailed two-volume commentary on the Christian Gospels, which he interpreted verse by verse (just as he had done for the Hindu Bhagavad Gita), revealing the deeper meaning of Jesus’ teachings: the science of God-realization, or Yoga. This formidable analysis of Christian scripture by Yogananda garnered favorable responses from Christian scholars such as Francis Clooney, SJ, a Jesuit priest and professor at the Harvard Divinity School, who is featured in AWAKE. The Yoga of Jesus is a shorter book of selections from the 1,700 page The Second Coming of Christ that serves as an introduction.
Author Quincy Howe has also written a compelling article on the Yogic View of Jesus Christ.