Another charge of Ananda’s is that SRF has significantly revised the text of our guru’s Autobiography of a Yogi, and made certain additions purportedly after Paramahansaji’s mahasamadhi and without his express permission.
Again, the accusations are not supported by the actual facts. Two questions must be addressed regarding these allegations: whether the revisions or additions were made at Paramahansaji’s behest; and if not, whether they were really “significant” or merely involved what a publisher would normally do in the way of editorial adjustments (e.g., the addition of footnotes, photos, captions, front and back matter, etc.) in subsequent editions of a book that has remained continually in print for many decades.
Autobiography of a Yogi
Foreseeing the vital role that Autobiography of a Yogi would play as his messenger to future generations of spiritual seekers, Paramahansaji spoke of it as a book that was destined to change the lives of millions. It was in response to requests from readers that the guru himself endeavored to clarify and rephrase, in editions after the first, certain passages that he felt had not been fully understood.
Three editions of Paramahansaji’s autobiography appeared during his lifetime. In the third edition, published in 1951, he made significant changes revising the text thoroughly, deleting material, amplifying various points, and adding a new final chapter, “The Years 1940-1951” (one of the longest in the book). Some further revisions made by him after the third edition could not be incorporated until the publication of the seventh edition, which was released in 1956. As explained in a Publisher’s Note to that edition, these changes had not been made earlier because for some years the typesetting and printing of the book had been done by a New York publishing house, which did not wish to go to the expense of re-typesetting the pertinent pages. After SRF was able to take over all aspects of publication, it was then possible to incorporate the remainder of Paramahansaji’s revisions.
All of the changes, deletions, and additions between 1946 and 1956 were made at Paramahansaji’s request. Other minor editorial revisions were made some time later, according to guidance given by him before his passing to his longtime editor, Tara Mata, who had worked closely with him for over 25 years.
Because he was aware that this work would become a living scripture, he instructed his editors to add in the way of footnotes, pictures, captions, etc. whatever might be necessary in order to keep the book up to date
Ananda has alluded to over 100 new “mentions” of SRF since the first edition. Comparing the current (twelfth) edition released in 1981 to the first edition, published in 1946, one will find approximately 50 not 100 additional references to SRF, and virtually all of these were added by Paramahansaji himself; 43 in the new final chapter alone. The few references added by SRF appear in photo captions, the list of illustrations, Publisher’s Notes, the Forest Lawn testimonial (which obviously could not have been included in the first edition), etc.
As for Ananda’s objection to SRF’s removing 14 lines from the “Samadhi” poem in Autobiography of a Yogi, the guru himself approved Tara Mata’s editing this poem for the Autobiography to make room in the book for the additional material he wanted added in editions after the first. He confirmed this authorization while reviewing his manuscripts in 1949. (Note: Readers who prefer the longer version may still enjoy it in the Lessons and other SRF publications currently in print, such as Songs of the Soul and Whispers from Eternity [First Version]).
Ananda has raised questions about changes in the Autobiography relating to three other subjects: the rights to Paramahansaji’s writings, World Brotherhood Colonies, and the giving of Kriya Yoga. In each case, the changes were made to reflect our Guru’s stated intentions. (Refer to the INDEX: Answering Allegations and Historical Background for answers to these allegations)