The documentary AWAKE—The Life of Yogananda (Awake) reveals the miraculous story of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). Yogananda, an enlightened Indian swami, was sent to the U.S. from Ranchi, India in 1920 by his line of gurus. His mission was to teach Kriya yoga to the West—thereby uniting two seemingly disparate cultures of the East and West.

Awake tracks Yogananda’s life from his early years in India through his death, creating a realistic picture of this guru, who endured many difficult challenges trying to coax Westerners to experience and understand their spiritual existence in a human world.

His influence is still alive today, as his teachings are carried out by the monks and nuns of Self-Realization Fellowship, headquartered in Los Angeles and Yogoda Satsanga Society in India.

The film provides interviews with Ravi Shankar, Krishna Das, the late George Harrison, Deepak Chopra, Bikram Choudhury (founder of Bikram yoga), monks and nuns of Self-Realization Fellowship, and many others, who offer their perspectives about yoga and their experiences with Yogananda and his teachings.

The Science of Religion

Yogananda consistently referred to his yoga teachings as the science of religion. He successfully combined Eastern and Western spirituality, teaching the public through packed houses in prominent U.S. cities from coast to coast, as well as his close disciples, that yoga and Christianity share profound similarities. He served to unite the world during his incarnation on earth.

Yogananda’s highly praised writings include two-volume translations of both the Christian Bible and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, as well as Autobiography of a Yogi, among many other widely-valued books. Quite a few of his volumes are compiled translations of his talks, known in Sanskrit as satsangs (teachings of truth). He delivered these satsangs during the decades he spent presiding over his centers in Los Angeles, Encinitas, and San Diego, California.

Yogananda had his Mahasamadhi in 1952 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, but his teachings and his spirit live on. Mahasamadhi is the act of a realized yogi consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body upon death—the final merging into the Absolute.

Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) centers in the West and Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) centers in the East continue to thrive and offer his complete teachings. Devotees throughout the world continue to regard him as their guru.