Yogananda’s Youngest Brother
By Atom Bergstrom
Bishnu Charan Ghosh (1903-1970) was an Indian strongman and yogi.
He was the youngest brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), author of Autobiography of a Yogi (1946).
Bishnu Ghosh studied bodybuilding, adding muscle size and strength to the muscle control and mental concentration he had learned at his brother’s Yogoda Satsang Society of India.
He reminisced about his college days in the Bengal Engineering College at Sibpur …
“In all the college functions at Sibpur I used to entertain the gentlemen present with muscle control and many feats of strength, such as taking a roller (weighing about two tons) on my chest, lying under a bullock cart, allowing a motor car to run over me or a normal man to jump on my abdomen from a height of no less than 12 feet.”
Joseph S. Alter (Moral Materialism: Sex and Masculinity in Modern India, 2011) wrote …
“Even though it was Yogananda who set up shop very close to what became the Mecca of body-building in Venice Beach, the path taken by Bishnu Ghosh led to a point of direct intersection with the cult of the ‘body beautiful’ that emerged in counterpoint to the philosophy of self-discipline, masculinity and embodied spirituality in the articulation of sportive muscular Christianity.”
Jerome Armstrong (Calcutta Yoga: How Modern Yoga Travelled to the World from the Streets of Calcutta, 2020) wrote …
“Bishnu Ghosh was among India’s vanguard in bringing classical hatha yoga out of the ashrams and hermitages, where it was taught only to sannyasis, and into India’s crowded twentieth-century cities with the goal of providing a ‘yoga cure’ for ailments and diseases. Bishnu laid the groundwork for the emergence of the gymnasium and bodybuilding practice that integrated strength building with yoga in the forties, He developed the technique of alternating effort and rest — asana and savasana — that informs Bikram yoga, and many ‘hot yoga’ styles that set Calcutta yoga apart from other Indian yoga traditions. As a bayamacharya (teacher of exercise), he was known for his circus, which mixed performances of feats of strength with physical culture.”
Yogananda was also physically fit.
An onlooker thought he was fat. He thought it, but didn’t say it.
Yogananda walked up to him, and said, “Squeeze my arm.”
It was hard as a rock.
J. Donald Walters (Conversations with Yogananda, 2004) wrote …
“‘I once went with Master,’ she [Kamala Silva] said, ‘to the island of Santa Catalina off the coast of southern California. Master was a very fast runner when he was young. For our visit there, a young man accompanied us who was a good athlete. When he heard that Master was a fast runner, he challenged him to a race. The young man himself ran in college competitions. Well, they started out even, but by the time the youth had finished the first block, Master had almost finished the second one!’
“Sananda Ghosh, one of Yogananda’s younger brothers, told me, ‘Paramhansaji had a very unusual style of running, as if slightly angled. But his legs moved like pistons, and he won every race!'”