See also Brother’s amazing life story
Brother Premamoy was born in Slovenia. Because of his family connections with royalty and others of influence, after the Communist takeover of his native land at the end of World War II he was forced to flee. In 1950, the U.S. Department of State invited him to immigrate to America.
Just before sailing to New York in the fall of 1950, Brother Premamoy was given a farewell gift by an old friend of the family, EVELINA GLANZMANN. The present’s shape led him to assume it was a box of candy, and on board the ship he opened it to share with fellow passengers. To his surprise, the package was not candy, but a book — Autobiography of a Yogi.
Even though touched by the gift, Brother did not immediately feel inclined to read it. Though he had been a voracious reader when younger, those days were over (he later said that he had read more books before the age of fifteen than he read for the entire rest of his life). Also, he was very familiar with Eastern philosophy, having fallen in love with the Bhagavad Gita when a teenager, and memorizing most of it. Now, seeing the subject matter of this gift book, his first reaction was, “I’m not going to read this — I don’t want to get hooked!”
In America, he became involved in various business undertakings, and was eventually offered a position as personal assistant to Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the United Nations. (He declined the position before coming to California.) Months went by — and the Autobiography remained on the shelf, unread, at Brother’s home in New York. In the meantime, Mrs. Glanzmann (who was the translator of the Italian edition of the Autobiography) had been asking her friend’s opinion of the book. Still Brother Premamoy did not venture into its pages. Finally Mrs. Glanzmann wrote words to the effect: “Say you like it or say you don’t; but say something!” In a pensive mood — it happened to be his birthday, March 6, and he was pondering what to do with his life — he picked up the book and started to read.
Spellbound, he finished the entire book in one sitting. Recognizing that the author had spiritual insight beyond that of anyone he had ever encountered, Brother decided to write to Paramahansa Yogananda.
Little did Brother Premamoy know that as he mailed the letter, the Guru was living the last day of his earthly life.
Brother Premamoy learned of the Guru’s passing some time later, when Sri Daya Mata replied to his letter. Several months passed; Brother was unable to get the thought of the book and its author out of his mind, and that summer he decided to drive to Los Angeles to learn more about Paramahansaji’s teachings. As he walked onto the grounds of Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters for the first time, he was immediately approached by a smiling stranger. With a radiant smile, the man affectionately embraced him as if he were an old friend — long expected and most welcome. No words were exchanged, and it was only later that Brother was formally introduced to his new “old friend” — Rajarsi Janakananda, president of the society!
Thus, the book that Paramahansaji spoke of as his “ambassador” performed its magic on one more soul — for from that day on, the course of Brother Premamoy’s life was set.
FROM First Encounters — How Disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda Found Autobiography of a Yogi, SRF link