Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi

Last updated date: June 21, 2019

DWYM Score
9.6

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We looked at the top 1 Autobiography and dug through the reviews from 7 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Spirituality and Practice, Writing Cave, Biography Online, The Freelance History Writer Notes and Reviews, Huff Post, The Spiritual Psychic and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Autobiography you should buy.

Overall Take

Originally released in 1947, this version of Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” keeps the original text intact while also providing supplemental material. It includes a final chapter written in 1951 by Yogananda himself, in addition to the original inspiring stories from Yogananda's life. Yoga practitioners will love to read about the first yoga master of India. In our analysis of 61 expert reviews, the Paramhansa Yogananda Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi placed 3rd when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note July 2, 2019:
Checkout The Best Autobiography Book for a detailed review of all the top autobiography.

Expert Summarized Score
9.7
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
2,371 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Autobiography of a Yogi is at once a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation.
- Good Reads
This excellent memoir gives a rounded portrait of the man known as the Father of Yoga, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship. After only a few chapters, you'll understand why he was so effective in spreading the riches of the Eastern spiritual tradition in the West.
- Spirituality and Practice
The most fantastic aspect of the book is the chapter where Paramhansa Yogananda writes about the coming back of his own guru, Sri Yukteswar, after death. Sri Yukteswar tells Yogananda that after leaving Earth, he went to another planet called Hiranyaloka as saviour of more advanced beings (compared to the beings on Earth).
- Writing Cave
A notable feature of the book is the universal approach that Yogananda takes to religion and spirituality. He expresses the deepest admiration and gratitude to the saints and sages of different religious traditions.
- Biography Online
The rest of the book divulges more adventures with Yogananda traveling to various cities to visit fascinating characters such as yogis and yoginis who never eat, never sleep and fight with tigers.
- The Freelance History Writer Notes and Reviews
January 15, 2015 | Full review
This long tenure in this country, his personal charisma, his results-driven package of offerings, and his appeal to both secular and religious students. Everyone who meditates, goes to yoga classes or has, in any way, benefitted from India’s great spiritual heritage, owes a debt of gratitude to Yogananda
- Huff Post
December 6, 2017 | Full review
An extraordinary book on spirituality that will provide any reader with inspiration and new insights they can incorporate into their own spiritual path.
- The Spiritual Psychic
What experts didn't like
Personally the only nagging point in the book is that although the book has been written in and around 1945 and it describes a period between somewhere around 1915-1940, not even once he talks about India’s freedom struggle. He goes meets great scientists Bose, he also interacts in detail with Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, but he never talks about the various events unfolding at that time in British India.
- Writing Cave

From The Manufacturer

One of the Top 100 Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century. New Bonus Materials added to this edition include: the last chapter that Yogananda wrote covering the years 1946-1951 that was not available in the original edition, the eulogy that Yogananda wrote for Gandhi, a new afterword by Swami Kriyananda, one of Yogananda's closest disciples.This is a new edition, featuring previously unavailable material, of true spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi one of the best-selling eastern philosophy titles of all-time, with millions of copies sold, named one of the best and most influential books of the 20th century.This highly prized verbatim reprinting of the original 1946 edition is the ONLY one available free from textual changes made after Yogananda's death.This updated edition contains bonus materials, including a last chapter that Yogananda himself wrote in 1951, five years after the publication of the first edition. It is the only version of this chapter available without posthumous changes.Yogananda was the first yoga master of India whose mission it was to live and teach in the West. His first-hand account of his life experiences includes childhood revelations, stories of his visits to saints and masters in India, and long-secret teachings of Self-realization that he made available to the Western reader.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Trevor Noah Born a Crime
Overall Score: 9.9
Expert Reviews: 7
2. Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
Overall Score: 9.8
Expert Reviews: 5
3. Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 7
4. Ashlee Vance Elon Musk
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 6
5. Malcolm X / Alex Haley The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Overall Score: 9.5
Expert Reviews: 7
7. Eric Clapton Clapton: The Autobiography
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 3
8. Sally Field In Pieces
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 4
9. Willie Nelson / David Ritz It’s a Long Story: My Life
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 7
10. Andre Agassi Open: An Autobiography
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 6

An Overview On Autobiography

  • Your choice of autobiography starts with the subject itself. If you’re interested in learning more about the person, you’ll be more likely to pick up that book. Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” is written by the biracial host of “The Daily Show,” who spent his childhood hidden away in South Africa due to apartheid. Noah is at heart a comedian, and his wit adds levity to what would otherwise be a somber tale.
  • Also providing a personal look at life in South Africa is Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom,” which was used as the basis for the 2013 movie starring Idris Elba. Mandela spent 27 years imprisoned due to apartheid and became an internationally-renowned political leader upon his release. In his book, he continues to inspire by presenting his story positively, never showing signs of self-pity or bitterness.
  • Passionate yoga practitioners will be familiar with Paramhansa Yogananda, the first yoga master of India. Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” is a reprint of the 1946 autobiography, complete with bonus material, including a final chapter written by Yogananda in 1951. If you want all the material from the 1946 edition, this is the only currently published version that has it.
  • You’re probably drawn to Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” for the same reasons many people are. Considered one of the greatest minds of our time, Musk consistently fascinates experts in his field, as well as the public. This biography is written by Vance, an award-winning feature writer for “Bloomberg Businessweek,” based on interviews with Musk himself. While writing the book, Vance was granted exclusive access to Musk, as well as his family and friends. You’ll find this book doesn’t follow the typical structure of a biography, jumping around more than usual.
  • If you’re reading an autobiography to go beyond learning more about the subject, you’ll have plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” which provides an up close and personal look at African history and culture. While you’re reading Noah’s story, you also get a deep exploration into a variety of social issues, including racism, religion, gender roles and abusive relationships.  Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” will also offer a view of apartheid-era South Africa from an insider’s perspective. But the book actually provides a look at how Mandela was shaped into the leader he later became. Yoga practitioners aren’t the only ones who will be intrigued by Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Its underlying messages on religion and spirituality can inspire anyone who is looking for deeper meaning. Although Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” truly is an in-depth profile of the subject himself, Vance offers a view of Musk that brings comparisons to legends like Thomas Edison and Howard Hughes.
  • For those who want an autobiography that revolves entirely around the subject itself, Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” won’t disappoint. Unlike other biographies, this one focuses solely on the person it’s about, complete with 16 full pages of color photos. If you want to know what makes the man tick, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for in this book. Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” is another one that puts its subject front and center, with an in-depth look at Mandela’s youth, as well as his life after prison. If you’re reading to learn more about his 27 years in captivity, though, you’ll be disappointed, as very little of the book details that part of his life.
  • Today’s readers consume content in a variety of ways. Although all four books are available in print, only Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” “Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” and Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” can be downloaded in audiobook form. You can get Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” for Kindle, though, as well as the other three books.

DYWM Fun Fact

Autobiographies often profile public personas, but very few of those famous people are professional writers. For that reason, many celebrities bring in ghostwriters to help turn their words into page-turners. Ghostwriters usually spend hours interviewing these people, but they go deeper than simply regurgitating what their subjects say. They observe speech patterns, humor styles and the overall “voice” of the person they’re profiling in order to make the book sound as though that person was personally behind every word. Famous people who have acknowledged using ghostwriters for their autobiographies include Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Trump, John F. Kennedy, Leah Remini and Laura Bush.

The Autobiography Buying Guide

Autobiographies and biographies are both different from other types of books. The subject matter itself is typically the top draw, with some non-readers choosing to read one simply because they’re interested in the person it covers. If you’re looking at a list of the latest autobiographies, though, you’ll probably narrow your choices to familiar names, then choose the person that interests you most.

But before you buy, it’s important to look a little deeper. Even the most interesting subject can make for a dull autobiography, particularly if the subject isn’t willing to open up. A rambling narrative that never quite ventures beneath the surface makes for a dull read. In addition to an interesting subject, you also want a book that compels you to turn the page.

Sometimes a good autobiography isn’t as much about the subject as the experiences that person has had. You may find you learn about a place or a time in history by reading about a certain person, for instance. Seeing events through the eyes of someone experiencing them can be much more powerful than reading about those same events in history books.

Even more common, though, is the inspiration a person can get from these personal stories. The person profiled doesn’t even have to be on the same type of path as you. You can apply their stories of overcoming obstacles and reaching their goals to your own journey. If you’re looking for an autobiography to inspire you, there’s no shortage. It’s just a matter of choosing which journey is most likely to draw you in.

With all of that in mind, though, it still comes down to the writing. Whether an autobiography is written by the author or a ghostwriter, the spirit of the subject shines through. A well-written autobiography will make you feel as though you’re seated across the table from the subject, hearing that person’s story over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.