Self-Realization Fellowship


Name of Group: Self-Realization Fellowship

Other Names of Group: SRF

Related Organizations: Kriya Yoga

Estimated Membership: SRF does not disclose membership numbers, but estimates range from hundreds of thousands to a few million.

Symbols: The outline of a lotus, or a gold colored lotus containing a blue circle with a white star inside of it (sometimes mounted on a cross).

Website: (American site) and (Indian site)

Headquarters: The Self-Realization Fellowship “Mother Center” is on Mount Washington in Los Angeles, California.

Meeting Places: Members meet at local temples and meditation centers to participate in meditation services, energization exercises, and to chant and pray. SRF also owns retreats (in the United States, Germany, and in Brazil), and ashram centers (monasteries where SRF monks live and serve). Annual World Convocations are held in downtown Los Angeles.

Year Began: 1920

Founder: Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), regarded by members as a great Guru, Yogi, and Master. Born as Mukunda Lal Ghosh, but changed his name in 1915 (ananda meaning “bliss” through yoga or “divine union”).

Current Leadership: Sri Mrinalini Mata (Sri being a term of spiritual veneration, and Mata meaning “Mother”) is the president and sanghamata (“mother of the society”) of Self-Realization Fellowship.

Sacred Scriptures: The writings and speeches of Paramahansa Yogananda.

Other Sources of Authority: There are 180 home-study Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons that are to be studied each week and which take about 3 ½ years to complete, that explain the teachings and techniques to students. Since Yogananda’s writings are considered so important, many of his books are available in audio format. The writings and teachings of late SRF president Sri Daya Mata (meaning “mother of compassion”, but born Rachel Faye Wright) and current leader Sri Mrinalini Mata (a name referring to the lotus flower, but born Merna Brown) are also highly regarded.

Periodicals & Publications: Self-Realization Magazine.

Publishing Houses: Self-Realization Fellowship Publishers

Radio & Television Programs: Some local assemblies have produced podcasts presenting the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.

Means of attracting new members: Yogananda’s best known book and the one that usually introduces people to the movement is his Autobiography of a Yogi (published in 1946, revised in 1951), considered by many of those interested in Eastern philosophy to be a modern spiritual classic.

Mindset towards Christianity: All religions are One, therefore SRF reveres Christ along with Krishna and several other swamis and gurus. The Second Coming of Christ is seen as the resurrection of the Christ Consciousness within us. Christians misinterpret the Bible missing its true esoteric meaning, and need to acknowledge Yogananda as a yogi and practice Kriya yoga to gain enlightenment.

Famous Members: Famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank; The 1973 album Tales From Topographic Oceans by progressive rock band Yes was lyrically inspired by words from Autobiography of a Yogi.