Yogananda's bodily incorruptibility
#1
This argument is apparently rather popular in some academic circles for the evidence of dualism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogananda#B...uptibility

I would say that the evidence is not reliable, but I would like the community's help in gathering arguments and evidence that this is indeed nonsense. If we gather enough evidence we could edit the wikipedia page and nullify the argument.
Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
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#2
The evidence is not scientific. If we go by the Times article, only one guy's testimony was taken. There appear to be no photographs or videos of the body not decaying. And no effort was made to determine the veracity of the report.

Also, I wonder how the clause "stated in a notarized letter:" got added in the wiki. The Times article mentions no such thing.
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#3
I had read his book during my college days, and was truly amazed at his claims of miracles.. stuff I definetely wanted to check up on if I ever could.. for example (from memory)
1) The incorruptibility of the body:
This is the first thing I wanted to research once I got out of my "passive uninformed atheism". I found this on the internet.
http://www.skepdic.com/incorrupt.html
(search for Yogananda within that)
Quote: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.

Its an embalmed body!! They dont mention that in the book, but at least the TIME article does.

2) his brother-in-law complained to him that his sister is too thin, and Yogananda just prayed for her to gain some weight, and lo-and-behold pretty soon it was all taken care of., and the brother-in-law couldnt be happier.

3) his guru (Yukteswar Giri IIRC) when he falls sick, just ignores his sickness, and pretty soon, the sickness would just go way. Its akin to an "unwelcome gues". Just keep ignoring the unwelcome guest, and pretty soon they will go away

4) Astral travel.. Yukteswar tells him that his Guru Lahiri Mahashay travels through the air, like light, to come and meet him occasionally.

As usual, they just want you to believe all these claims on faith.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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#4
(27-Sep-2010, 08:08 PM)Lije Wrote: The evidence is not scientific. If we go by the Times article, only one guy's testimony was taken. There appear to be no photographs or videos of the body not decaying. And no effort was made to determine the veracity of the report.

Also, I wonder how the clause "stated in a notarized letter:" got added in the wiki. The Times article mentions no such thing.

Thanks Lije. I went ahead and edited the wiki article to reflect that it is only a claim and also corrected the quote from the time article. I expect edit wars soon though. Laugh
Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
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#5
As the body was embalmed, preservation for 20 days is not a big deal:

(from http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/PaIncorruptibility.htm)

Quote:"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.

However, I guess this article does not meet Wikipedia's reliable sources standard, and can't be included on the wikipedia article. Mad
Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
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