Interviewees in Order of Appearance

RaviShankar.jpgRAVI SHANKAR

The most celebrated sitar player in the world, Ravi Shankar was born in Varanasi into a Bengali family in 1920, the same year that Paramahansa Yogananda arrived in America. After achieving worldwide acclaim as one of the foremost composers and teachers of Hindustani music (including becoming the musical guru to Beatle George Harrison), Shankar settled in Encinitas, California, where Yogananda wrote his spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.

KrishnaDas.jpgKRISHNA DAS

Layering traditional chanting with accessible melodies and modern instrumentation, Krishna Das has been called yoga's "rock star." The form of devotional chanting which he performs, kirtan, and the harmonium that he plays were both originally brought to America by Yogananda, who was one of KD’s early influences. With a soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, Krishna Das has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling western chant artist of all time.

GeorgeHarrison.jpgGEORGE HARRISON

While George Harrison achieved international super-stardom as lead guitarist of the Beatles, he composed and recorded numerous hit songs as a solo artist, including My Sweet Lord and Give Me Love, which is featured in the end-credits of AWAKE. Drawn to India from an early age, Harrison delved into mystical texts and writings from masters like Yogananda and became a lifelong meditator. Harrison’s apprenticeship with Ravi Shankar helped to introduce sacred Indian music to the world, and his devotion and spiritual sincerity has inspired millions of seekers worldwide.

HitendraWadhwa.jpgHITENDRA WADHWA

A Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Business School, Hitendra Wadhwa's research and teaching on Personal Leadership focuses on how to maximize one’s outer impact through inner mastery. It draws upon universal laws of human nature that are validated by the latest scientific research and exemplified by the lives of great leaders. His work has been inspired by the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda..

MasVidal.jpgMAS VIDAL

The director and founder of Dancing Shiva Yoga, Mas Vidal has been heavily influenced by the teachings and writings of Yogananda. An Ayurvedic practitioner, Mas travels extensively, leading workshops and teacher-trainings around the world.

BikramChoudhury.jpgBIKRAM CHOUDHURY

Born in Calcutta in 1946, Bikram Choudhury began Hatha Yoga at the age of four with one of India’s renowned physical culturists, Bishnu Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda. He is the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India, and Bikram Yoga, with studios around the world, and was among the earliest Hatha Yoga teachers to attract a large popular following in the West.

LiMiaoTseng.jpgLI MIAO TSENG

A devotee of Yogananda from Hong Kong, Li Miao was part of the team that helped to translate Autobiography of a Yogi into Chinese.

FrancisClooney.jpgFRANCIS CLOONEY, S. J.

A Jesuit Priest, Francis Clooney sits on the faculty of Harvard Divinity School as a professor in the developing field of comparative theology. He has studied the Sanskrit and Tamil tradition of Hindu India, and has also written favorable commentaries on Yogananda’s interpretations of the Christian Gospels.

VarunSoni.jpgVARUN SONI

As the Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, Varun Soni has graduate degrees in both Divinity and Law. His writings have appeared in numerous publications from Huffington Post to Harvard Divinity Bulletin. He’s the author, most recently, of Natural Mystics: The Prophetic Lives of Bob Marley and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Figueroa Press, 2014).


A monk of Self-Realization Fellowship for more than 40 years, Brother Vishwananda began his monastic life at the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India ashram in Ranchi, site of Yogananda’s original school in India, where he served for 18 years before returning to the United States. He now sits on the Board of Directors of both organizations.

DeepakChopra.jpgDEEPAK CHOPRA

The author of more than 65 books, including numerous New York Times bestsellers, Chopra received his medical training in internal medicine and endocrinology, before turning his attention to the ancient Indian medical science known as Ayurveda. A prominent public speaker, he is one of the best-known figures in the holistic health movement.


Born and raised in Rishikesh, India – where yoga has been taught for millennia – Anand is the founder of Sattva Yoga, a holistic, ever-evolving practice that combines asana, pranayama, meditation, kriya, and wisdom. A disciple in a different branch of the Kriya Yoga lineage, Anand is nonetheless deeply devoted to Yogananda and his teachings.

SandyGray.jpgSANDY GRAY

A long-time devotee of Yogananda, Sandy is blessed to live in the Boston house of Sister Yogmata, one of Yogananda’s first disciples in America.


One of the first women in modern history to head a worldwide religious movement, Sri Daya Mata served as President of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India for more than half a century, until her passing in 2010. A true mother of compassion as her name implies, she joined Yogananda’s ashram in 1931, at the young age of 17, and was trained by him to lead his worldwide work after his passing.


A monk of Self-Realization Fellowship who speaks regularly at the SRF Lake Shrine Temple in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

PhilipGoldberg.jpgPHILIP GOLDBERG

“American Veda” author Phil Goldberg was raised in Brooklyn by atheists who disdained religion. In spite of this, he found himself drawn from an early age to the pragmatic mysticism of the East, through Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley, and the classic texts of Taoism, Buddhism and Vedanta. He has written about psychology, human potential and holistic health, and conducts lectures and workshops around the world.

MaishaMoses.jpgMAISHA MOSES

The Executive Director of The Young People’s Project, which uses Math Literacy Work to help students succeed in school and in life. She was introduced to the teachings of Yogananda by her father, civil rights activist Bob Moses.

ArielRuben.jpgARIEL RUBEN

A young devotee of Yogananda, has served as a volunteer at the SRF Youth Program for girls.

BanuDave.jpgBANU DAVE

A long-time devotee of Yogananda from India.

AnitaGoel.jpgANITA GOEL

A Harvard-MIT-trained physicist-physician, Dr. Goel is a globally recognized leader in the emerging field of nanobiophysics—a new science at the convergence of physics, nanotechnology, and biomedicine. Nanobiophysics integrates these three fields to reveal new scientific solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.


A Self-Realization Fellowship monk for more than thirty-five years,serves as senior editor, working closely with SRF’s president Sri Mrinalini Mata to oversee the publication of Yogananda’s writings. He is also a member of the SRF and YSS Board of Directors.

SisterPemamayee.jpgSISTER PREMAMAYEE

A Self-Realization Fellowship nun for nearly 30 years.


A World War II veteran and devotee from France, has been an SRF Lessons student for nearly 50 years.

RussellSimmons.jpgRUSSELL SIMMONS

Russell Simmons has been a leader in bringing the powerful influence of hip-hop culture to every facet of business, media and fashion since its inception in the late 1970s. A best-selling author, Simmons was deeply influenced by Eastern mysticism, particularly the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda.

FeliciaTomasko.jpgFELICIA TOMASKO

Felicia Tomasko, R.N., inspires people to follow the path to personal freedom and vibrant health through Yoga and Ayurveda. Her practice includes teaching Yoga in studios, teacher trainings and conferences as well as a private practice in the healing tradition of Ayurveda. She is the President of Bliss Network and serves as the editor in chief of LA YOGA magazine.

StefanieSyman.jpgSTEFANIE SYMAN

Journalist/author Stefanie Syman has practiced Ashtanga Yoga for more than fifteen years, an experience that influenced the writing of The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, where she tells the surprising story of yoga’s transformation from centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multi-million dollar American industry. As a pioneer in digital media as well as an expert on yoga, Syman has been featured as a panelist and speaker at numerous events.

AndrewNewberg.jpgANDREW NEWBERG

A neuroscientist who studies the relationship between brain function and various mental states, Dr. Andrew Newberg is a pioneer in the neurological study of religious and spiritual experience, a field known as “neurotheology.” Author of How God Changes Your Brain, his research includes taking brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, in an attempt to better understand the nature of religious and spiritual practices and attitudes.


A Self-Realization Fellowship monk for more than 30 years, Brother Jayananda’s duties have included lecturing on the teachings of Yogananda throughout the U.S. and Europe, and shepherding novice monks during their first years in the ashram.

RobertLove.jpgROBERT LOVE

Journalist/author Robert Love is the author of The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. He has worked in magazine publishing for 30 years and was the managing editor of RollingStone and executive editor of Best Life. An adjunct professor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, his articles have appeared in The New York Times, the New York Observer and the Utne Reader.

HerbJeffries.jpgHERB JEFFRIES

Jazz singer and actor Herb Jeffries, known as the “Bronze Buckaroo” by his fans for his film roles as a black singing cowboy, was a lay disciple of Yogananda.


A direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, Brother Anandamoy has lectured all over the world on Yoga and meditation. Born in Switzerland, he first came to the U.S. in 1948 to study architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. Soon after his arrival, however, he discovered Autobiography of a Yogi and traveled to Los Angeles to meet Yogananda, and shortly thereafter became a monk in the SRF monastic community. One of the teachers personally trained by the guru, Brother Anandamoy has served Yogananda’s work for more than six decades.

SisterParvati1.jpgSISTER PARVATI

A direct disciple of Yogananda, Sister Parvati entered the SRF monastic community in 1946. She has served in a range a capacities in ashrams in India and America, including counseling others in their practice of meditation, and has endeared herself to spiritual seekers worldwide through her warmth and wisdom, and many stories about her experiences with Paramahansa Yogananda.

LeoCocks.jpgLEO COCKS

A direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and former monk of Self-Realization Fellowship.

RichardWright.jpgRICHARD WRIGHT

The older brother of former Self-Realization Fellowship president Sri Daya Mata, Richard Wright served as Yogananda’s secretary during his return trip to India in 1935-36.


A close disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, Mrinalini Mata serves as president of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. She entered the SRF monastic community in 1946 and was one of those chosen by him to carry on the SRF work after his passing. Mrinalini Mata was personally trained by Yogananda to prepare his manuscripts and talks for publication after his passing, and has served for many years as editor-in-chief of SRF books, Lessons, and periodicals.


Physicist Robert Oppenheimer has been called the “Father of the Atomic Bomb” for his work as the director of the Manhattan Project.

MarcBenioff.jpgMARC BENIOFF

Chairman and CEO of, Marc Benioff is one of the pioneers of cloud computing. Fortune magazine named him “Business Person of the Year” and one of the “Smartest 50 People in Tech.” Prior to launching Salesforce, Benioff worked at Oracle and for Apple founder Steve Jobs, who was profoundly influenced by Yogananda’s Autobiography.

SwamiKriyananda.jpgSWAMI KRIYANANDA

A direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda went on to found Ananda Sangha, an intentional community with centers around the world.

py-larger2.jpg...and PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA

The Master who helps us all become AWAKE!

Showing 21 reactions

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    commented 2018-07-22 21:46:28 -0700
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  • Mere Prabhu
    commented 2018-07-12 23:00:16 -0700
    Shree Hanuman nBajrang Baan, बजरंग बाण. Stotra of Hanuman,the great devotee of Lord Rama, in Hindi and English text. Click Here:
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  • Alex Weeber
    commented 2018-06-07 11:48:05 -0700
    Wow this is a lineup of some amazing people that inspired me to make it this far in my life. Without self awareness teaching and becoming “awake” I’ m not sure if I’d still be alive let alone running a computer repair business and teaching Yoga. I absolutely adore Robert Love. If you haven’t seen the Yoganda movie yet and you’re reading this then what, may I ask, are you waiting for?

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    Alex Weeber
    Chairman and Technician of
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  • Michael Standen
    commented 2015-11-04 03:07:28 -0800
    l agree with Tom’s comment. Its too easy to slump back into being a religious organisation with lots of authority figures both lay and monastic. What PY taught is simply true, it could lose all the religious and New Age baggage its unfortunately accumulated and still be true. Its real and true verification in each human heart that tests it out not in lists of celebrity and religious authorities. Having an organisation is not intrinsically a wrong thing but those in it must also remember that many of his truest devotees have little or no contact with that organisation. So, SRF and/or Ananda, both mixed blessings, but blessings nevertheless! :)
    Thank you.
  • Tom May
    commented 2015-08-01 22:40:01 -0700
    Unfortunate inclusion of the word: “religious organization”
    Yogananda never called SRF or his work a religion

    “One of the first women in modern history to head a worldwide religious movement "
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