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Secret Wind
Registered User
(3/28/06 3:07 am)
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In an article which appeared in the Rational Enquirer, The Skeptics’ Newsletter for Western Canada, Leonard Angel, a professor of philosophy at the University of Columbia, recounts how he investigated the miracle which is reported in almost every Yogananda publication put out by the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF), the society founded and organised by Yogananda to propagate his teachings:

“After Death the Body of Paramahansa Yogananda Manifested a Phenomenal State of Immutability.” The story in Self-Realization Magazine (Los Angeles) May 1952 issue; and in the national news weekly Time, August 4, 1952 reported that:

“The great world teacher demonstrated the value of yoga (scientific techniques for God-realization) not only in life but in death. Weeks after his departure his unchanged face shone with the divine light luster of incorruptibility. Mr. Harry Rowe, Los Angeles Mortuary Director, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park (in which the great master is temporarily placed) sent Self-Realization Fellowship a notarized letter from which the following extracts are taken:
The absence of any visual signs of decay in the dead body of Paramahansa Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience...No physical disintegration was visible even twenty days after death...No indication of mould was visible on his skin, and no visible desiccation (drying up) took place in the bodily tissues. This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one...At the time of receiving Yogananda‘s body, the mortuary personnel expected to observe, through the glass lid of the casket, the usual progressive signs of bodily decay. Our astonishment increased day after day without bringing any visible change in the body under observation. Yogananda's body was apparently in a phenomenal state of immutability...No odour of decay emanated from his body at any time...The physical appearance of Yogananda on March 27th, just before the bronze cover of the casket was put into position, was the same as it had been on March 7th.”

Professor Angel was impressed, but not convinced. He obtained a copy of Yogananda’s death certificate from the Los Angeles Department of Vital Statistics which confirmed that Yogananda had died on March 7th, the certificate of death being received by the registrar on March 11 1952. However, the certificate also bore the signature “Kenneth I. Johnson”, and the number 2641. It was contained in box #21, above which were the words “Signature of embalmer.”

Confirmation that Yogananda had in fact been embalmed was found in the full text of Harry Rowe’s letter in a little booklet entitled Paramahansa Yogananda, In Memoriam, put out by the Self-Realization Fellowship. It reads,

“Paramahansa Yogananda’s body was embalmed an the night of March 8th, with that quantity of fluid which is customarily used in any body of similar size.”

So what was the miracle?

According to the full text of Harry Rowe’s letter the astonishment was only due to the fact that the funeral home staff had not used any creams in addition to the embalming fluid - a creamy pore-sealing emulsion that temporarily prevents the outward appearance of mould.

A check with two independent licensed embalmers elicited the following comments,

“I’m sure we’ve had bodies for two or three months with good preservation. This is not unusual. Creams are not necessary”, and “...that preservation for 20 days through embalming is not unusual. We can keep a body a month or two without interral…an embalming fluid with a lanolin base will have humecant which prevents dehydration, which is the major concern...a heavy glass lid as is described by Mr Rowe as being present on the casket, would prevent a great amount of air circulation, and that in itself would prevent most desiccation, so that would account for it.”

Far from being “a demonstration of yogic powers”, “a phenomenal state of immutability” or “a miracle through the grace of the Heavenly Father”, it seems that any perception that a miracle had occurred was simply the result of misleading selections taken from a misleading letter.

-- excerpt from "Incorruptibility: Miracle or Myth?", Harry Edwards, November 1995

www.adam.com.au/bstett/Pa...bility.htm

Secret Wind
Registered User
(3/28/06 3:09 am)
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Re: Yogananda's Incorruptibility After Death SRF Myth
The statement of the director of Forest Lawn, Harry T. Rowe, is accurate, but incomplete. Mr. Rowe also mentioned that he observed a brown spot on Yogananda's nose after 20 days, as sign that the body was not "perfectly" preserved. In any case, the SRF's claim that lack of physical disintegration is "an extraordinary phenomenon" is misleading. (One wonders how much digging into the mortuary annals they did. Very little, I imagine.) The state of the yogi's body is not unparalleled, but common. A typical embalmed body will show no notable desiccation for one to five months after burial without the use of refrigeration or creams to mask odors. According to Jesus Preciado, who has been in the mortuary business for thirty years, "in general, the less pronounced the pathology [at the time of death], the less notable are the symptoms of necrosis." Some bodies are well-preserved for years after burial (personal correspondence, Mike Drake). Some, under extraordinary conditions, are well-preserved for hundreds, even thousands, of years.

-- excerpt from "Incorruptible Bodies", Robert Todd Carroll

skepdic.com/incorrupt.html

Secret Wind
Registered User
(3/29/06 7:18 am)
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Re: Yogananda's Incorruptibility After Death SRF Myth
Yogananda (1893-1952) died at age 59 of a heart attack (which was the official cause of death) after giving a speech at the Biltmore Hotel to welcome India's visiting ambassador. Yogananda's health was deteriorating rapidly at the time, and he was in a particularly weakened state, so it's not much of a surprise that he would collapse after straining himself in such a way. Nevertheless, the faithful view his "collapsing on the ground as his heart gave out from more strain than it could handle" as Mahasamadhi -- a magical, conscious floating away to some sort of heaven.

An interesting note here is that the average male life expectancy for someone living in the United States circa 1950 was 66 years. Evidently Yogananda's ideas on diet and health weren't exactly sound, since he couldn't even manage to live as long as the average beer drinking, cigar smoking, red meat eating American male during the 50's. A little more solid protein in his diet probably would have helped.

More importantly, his meditations claimed to rejuvenate the cells of the body with magical pranic energy channeled in from the medulla oblongata. His 'Hong Sau' meditation in particular, ironically claimed to have the ability to rest the heart. Well, I think it's clear that his heart didn't actually benefit in such ways.

Nevertheless, people continue to do the robot dance (aka Energization Exercises), Hong Sau, Aum, and the hissing throat ritual called Kriya. No one ever benefits, no one ever gains health benefits, no one finds Enlightenment (which is the Eastern version of Heaven or Disneyland). And no one connects the dots and actually stops and thinks.

The show must go on I suppose.

"Mundus vult decipi." (The world wants to be deceived.)

"Homo vult decipi; decipiatur." (Man wishes to be deceived; deceive him.)

Paramadas
Registered User
(3/29/06 8:27 am)
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Re: Yogananda's Incorruptibility After Death SRF Myth
"...This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one."

Pretty much says it all.

maggie mcclintock
Registered User
(3/29/06 11:22 am)
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Re: Yogananda's Incorruptibility After Death SRF Myth
My great sources say that there was mold on his nose, but that was deleted in later editions of the Auto. You must always remember, SRF wants to claim that Yogananda was God, and in order to do so they have to make claims about him that are untrue. Does it really matter whether he was God or not? Of course, I don't believe in the theory of avatars, just people who have become enlightened due to their good karma.