Meaning of SRF/YSS and ‘Church of All Religions’


Yogoda Satsanga Society/Self-Realization Fellowship ~ One organization, One meaning

Paramahansa Yogananda chose for the name of his organization in the West (his international society) a distinctive translation of the name he had given to the society in India—Yogoda Satsanga.  “Yogoda” (a word he himself had coined) means “that which the science of yoga imparts,” and “Satsanga” means “association with God, with Truth, with good people.”  He translated this name as “Self-Realization Fellowship,” and explained:  “Through Self-realization we have fellowship with God, and in that fellowship, we give divine friendship to truth-seekers in all religions.”

~ SRF Mother Center


“Yogoda” i.e. “Self-Realization

from March 1937 Inner Culture Magazine (former name of SRF magazine)

The word Yogoda is the name by which Paramahansa Yogananda’s work in India is known: Yogoda Satsanga Society of India.  He also used this term in America in the early years.  The literal meaning of Yogoda, a word coined by Paramahansaji, is “that which yoga imparts,” i.e., Self-Realization.  Satsanga means “divine fellowship,” or “fellowship with Truth.”  For the West, he translated the Indian name as “Self-Realization Fellowship.”

1937 March Inner Culture, SRF YSS same names_Fotor

“The two symbols pictured above say the same thing in different languages.  “Yogoda Sat-Sanga” is the Sanskrit for “Self-Realization Fellowship.”  In India the Sanskrit name is preferred and more used, while in America the English designation is more acceptable.”


from Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 40 (footnote)

7]  “Yogoda” is derived from yoga, union, harmony, equilibrium; and da, that which imparts.  “Satsanga” is composed of sat, truth, and sanga, fellowship.

“Yogoda” is a word coined by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1916, when he discovered the principles of recharging the human body with energy from the cosmic source.

Sri Yukteswar called his hermitage organization Satsanga (Fellowship with Truth); his disciple Paramahansaji naturally wished to retain that name.

Yogoda Satsanga Society of India is a nonprofit institution, designed to exist perpetually. Under that name Yoganandaji incorporated his work and foundations in India, which are now being ably administered by a Board of Directors at Yogoda Math in Dakshineswar, W. Bengal.  Many YSS meditation centers are now flourishing in various parts of India.

In the West, Yoganandaji rendered the name of his society in English, incorporating his work there as Self-Realization Fellowship.  Sri Mrinalini Mata [now Bro. Chidananda as of August 2017] is the current president of both Yogoda Satsanga Society of India and Self-Realization Fellowship.  (Publisher’s Note)



SRF CHURCHES OF ALL RELIGIONS~~World Unity and Brotherhood

It was in the dark years preceding and during World War II that the Guru turned his mind to the creation of Self-Realization Fellowship “Churches of All Religions”*–speaking with greater urgency than before about the need to “establish unity and brotherhood among religionists of all races.”

“The true basis of religion,” Paramahansaji said, “should be a science.  The practice of a ‘science of religion’ is imperative.  Different dogmatic ‘isms’ have kept mankind divided…

“We should begin to build world unity with the idea that has been initiated by Self-Realization Fellowship: a ‘Church of All Religions’; not eclecticism, but respect for all religions as constituting various paths to God…Attaining Self-realization through Yoga, men will come to know that they are all children of the one Father.”

…In dedicating the new [San Diego] temple [Paramahansaji] expressed his wish that within its walls many seekers would attain the true realization of the fundamental truths inherent in all great religions:

“I welcome you today to this new Self-Realization Fellowship Church of All Religions,” he said.  May you realize the spirit of unity and oneness which we represent, in the realization of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

“I dedicate this church in the name of our one Father God, our common parents Adam and Eve, and the great ones of God—Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswarji, Guru-Preceptor, and saints of all religions.  May we all realize the unity of man in the foundation of our existence in God.  May this church, which represents this unity, help to dispel the clouds of war and suffering and bring happiness unto all…

“…“We should go to church for one purpose only: God-communion.  This is why you come here.  If you will grow used to quiet, deep meditation at home and in church, you will someday realize what it has done for your life.  You need quiet places for communion with God.  This is the real purpose of churches and temples.”

excerpts from Toward World Unity Through Communion With God
Self-Realization magazine, Fall 1993


The lack of individual prayer and communion with God has divorced modern Christians and Christian sects from Jesus’ teaching of the real perception of God, as is true also of all religious paths inaugurated by God-sent prophets whose followers drift into byways of dogma and ritual rather than actual God-communion. Those paths that have no esoteric soul-lifting training busy themselves with dogma and building walls to exclude people with different ideas. Divine persons who really perceive God include everybody within the path of their love, not in the concept of an eclectic congregation but in respectful divine friendship toward all true lovers of God and the saints of all religions.

Paramahansa Yogananda, ‘Rediscovering the Heart of Jesus’ Message’


Paramahansa Yogananda envisioned Self-Realization Fellowship temples as sanctuaries for the perpetuation of the ideals of actual God-communion and a common spiritual brotherhood.  These ideals were reflected in the very name he gave to the work he had been sent to the West to establish.  “Self-Realization Fellowship,” the Guru explained, “signifies fellowship with God through Self-realization, and friendship with all Truth-seeking souls.”  Expressing spiritual goodwill to all, Paramahansaji included in his prayer invocations not only God and the Gurus of the SRF path, but also “saints of all religions.”  In this same spirit, when he founded his Self-Realization temples in Hollywood and San Diego in the early 1940’s, he referred to each of them as a “Church of All Religions.”

…[Parmahansaji] was not advocating…the merging of various beliefs and practices from different religions…He explained that in view of the vast cultural and psychological diversity of the human race this would be a highly illogical goal and an unnecessary one.  Indeed, each expression has its place, even as he defined his work of Self-Realization Fellowship as a ‘special dispensation.’ He declared that what humanity needs is an understanding of the ‘science’ of religion; and in his book by that name he explained what he meant in referring to “the unity of all religions”:

“If by religion we understand only practices, particular tenets, dogmas, customs and conventions, then there may be grounds for the existence of so many religions.  But if religion means primarily God-consciousness, or the realization of God both within and without, and secondarily a body of beliefs, tenets and dogmas, then, strictly speaking, there is but one religion in the world, for there is but one God.  The different customs, forms of worship, tenets, and conventions may be held to form the grounds for the origins of different denominations and sects included under that one religion.  If religion is understood in this way, then and then only may its universality be maintained; because we cannot possibly universalize different customs and conventions.  Only the element common to all religions may be universalized; we may ask everyone to follow and obey it.”

Paramahansa Yogananda, The Science of Religion

excerpts from Toward World Unity Through Communion With God
Self-Realization magazine, Fall 1993

See also~ Love and Loyalty to Gurus, the Teachings and SRF/YSS, Handwritten Letters


“Your letter’s assuring words of devotion and loyalty to this Cause and the Masters deeply touched me. While we must pay homage and give all due respect to all religions and all religious followers, still, we must remember our supreme loyalty and devotion must be one-pointed — given to one path only. You have given that already to Self-Realization Fellowship and to guru. One should become firmly grounded in the teachings of his choice before studying the merits of other teachings, else he will become confused and lose sight of his goal, which is not theological knowledge, but actual God-union.

“I always enjoy your letters – so sincere and sweet.

“With deepest blessings to you and your good wife, I am very sincerely yours…”

See also~