Recommended Resources

Meditation and spirituality are lifelong quests.  It helps to keep good company.  In the absence of realized yogis, we can always turn to their published works.

To the extent possible, always reference works by well recognised and accomplished yogis.  One feature of such authors is that they almost always refer to the original Sanskrit text, usually from the Bhagavad Gita, the Patanjali Sutras or the Upanishads.  Thus, in effect, the older the works, the more authentic!  At this point in time, almost all such authors are of Indian origin.

In recent times, I have seen some of Yogananda’s books co-opted by American authors.  So an American author will write a book and name Yogananda as co-author, often also replicating much of Yogananda’s works.  I don’t think that one will learn anything of value from someone who has no integrity nor respect.

Below I list some of my recommendations.

On Kriya Yoga/Meditation

Kriya Yoga Darshan by Swami Shankarananda Giri & myself

Goes into quite a bit of detail about Kriya Yoga and spirituality. Hard to get hold of as it is available only through limited channels.  I have a few copies left which I reserve for my students.

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

A good introduction into Kriya Yoga and spirituality in general.  The original 1946 edition is considered by many to be the most authentic and is available for free download as an ebook or as a pdf.  Note that the ebook download will need to be unzipped before you can read it in your e-reader.

Light on Kriya Yoga by Swami Premananda

Excellent description of spirituality. Can be hard to find.

Patanjali’s Sutras

In composing his sutras, Sage Patanjali, describes the entirety of spirituality.  The book can be read in an afternoon and gives the best empirical overview of spirituality.  It is an essential companion in the quest for self-realisation.

Bringing the Inner God to Life by Swami Shankarananda Giri

In my opinion, one of the very few, correct translations of Patanjali’s Sutras. Hard to get hold of as it is available only through limited channels, but I understand a new edition will be out by mid-2023.

More easily available are the recordings by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and these are excellent.

Bhagavad Gita

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote
“I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.”
Indians consider the Gita to be a key Vedic spiritual text.  It is a discourse between Lord Krishna, the charioteer and Prince Arjuna, the warrior, as they stand in the middle of the battlefield on the threshold of war and mutual annihilation.   The discourse is about life, death, right and wrong action.

The Bhagavad Gita by P. Lal

A very simple introduction to the Gita. Very small volume. As a Kriya Yogi, this book should be treated as a quick introduction.  Thereafter, there are other translations.  Great introduction for youngsters.

The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda

I do NOT recommend this two volume set.  It is a well known fact that Paramahansa Yogananda never finished the Gita.  This means that much of the text was authored by monks in the Self Realization Fellowship.  Furthermore, there is just way too much text and this gets in the way of understanding with depth.

The Bhagavad Gita #455 by The Gita Press, Gorakhpur

A small book.  This is the one I recommend for all Kriya Yogis.

Other Options

All of these translations are excellent.

  • Spiritual Gita (Vols. 1 – III) by Bhupendranath Sanyal.  This is a translation of Lahiri Baba’s interpretations (one of his key disciples).
  • The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Sivananda, The Divine Life Society
  • The Bhagavad Gita by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (video series, not all chapters completed at time of this writeup)
  • Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Baba Hari Dass (6 slim volumes, some may have been finished or heavily edited by his students so I cannot vouch for the precision)

Katha Upanishad

The Katha Upanishad details the dialog between Prince Nachiketas and Lord Yama, the Lord of Death.  It is short and a brilliant text on the nature of birth, life, death and re-incarnation.

The lectures by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the Katha Upanishad are recommended.

General Spirituality

The Logic of Spirituality by H. H. Chinmayananda

Two volume set of videos describing the logic behind spirituality. Swami Chinmayananda uses logic to define spirituality. An excellent CD, that should definitely be seen by any scientists, engineers or people who do not believe in God but at the same time would like to explore spirituality without religious ‘baggage’.

Avoid all other talks by Chinmayananda as the recordings and discourses are either not clear or they are too long.

Books by Paramahansa Yogananda

Beware of some books that either have been heavily edited by his students at SRF or re-published and heavily edited by unknown people who also state Yogananda as co-author.

These are the books I recommend by Swami Sri Paramahansa Yoganandaji

  • Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Awake in the Cosmic Dream – talks and lectures
  • The Divine Romance – talks and lectures
  • Where there is Light – a bok of quotations

In addition, some talks are available as audio and are worth listening to.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Beautiful to read and very short.

Books by Baba Hari Das

It was truly a blessing to meet Baba Hari Das in 2000 whilst I was living in California.  We shared a beautiful meditation and very few words, but in that short space of time, a universe of compassion, understanding and peace.  Many of his books are simply excellent.

  • Everyday Peace: Letters for Life
  • Silence Speaks

Any talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Krishnamurti and Osho.

Regarding Osho, one needs to be careful.  Osho studied and lectured in psychology.  He abhorred his own Vedic cultural roots and so avoided established meditation practices as well as spiritual texts.  He based most of his lectures around one or two Buddhists texts, which together with an incredibly insightful mind, resulted in penetrating spiritual insights.

However without any credible meditation practice, it all fell apart.  I have attended Osho meditation workshops and they are a mix of new-age psychology and emotion outpouring techniques that he and his followers developed, whilst completely ignoring thousands of years of established techniques.  Indeed, Margot Anand, one of his key students was instrumental in taking spiritual Tantric teachings and reshaping them as Sexual Neo Tantra, which has nothing to do with spirituality.

Osho wanted people to let go of their inhibitions.  To enjoy whatever they did in a 100% uninhibited manner. This is fine, however without proper meditation practice, two things happen.  First, the person strengthens his or her need for sense desires in an uninhibited manner.  Secondly, depth, intimacy, sensuality etc are lost and the person eventually feels ungrounded.  Furthermore, his psychological techniques for so called meditation, resulted in a cathartic outpouring of emotions, but not the resolution of the underlying causes.  Finally, the law of karma applies, such that there are always unintended consequences.

When we look at what he and his followers achieved, it was mostly criminal…!  Definitely, not spiritual.

And yet, his talks are worth listening to …!

Hatha Yoga

When reading books on Hatha Yoga, I have always found their treatment of Kriya and Pranayama to be physical. True Kriya and Pranayama is an internal practice that can only be learnt directly from someone who understands and has practiced meditation.

Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar

The reference work on Hatha; should be on every shelf

The Tree of Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar

An essential work that goes into the guiding principles of Hatha Yoga and how to practice without getting injured

Ashtanga Yoga by David Swenson

Bible for Ashtanga Vinyasa Hatha Yoga practitioners. Ashtanga Vinyasa Hatha Yoga, is really not for beginners so BEWARE. Always practice Hatha Yoga with a good teacher (there are many out there) who does not push you beyond your capability – you go as far as your body and mind feel comfortable. Ashtanga, can be attempted after at least a year of regular Hatha Yoga practice.