History

History of San Diego Temple

Temple Front with Sun

Welcome to the Self-Realization Fellowship San Diego Temple. On this brief tour, you will learn some of the unique history of the temple and of Paramahansa Yogananda’s time here. We pray that you too will experience what so many visitors have felt over the years: soul-stirring vibrations of peace that pervade the grounds. For at this temple, we are blessed with the loving vibrations of our Guru and Founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, who lectured and meditated here.

Located at 3072 First Avenue in Banker’s Hill, about 1.5 miles from downtown San Diego, the San Diego Temple was purchased in 1942 and dedicated the next year as a Self-Realization Fellowship Temple. Paramahansa Yogananda conducted services here for many years.

 

Brother Chidananda, the current President of Self-Realization Fellowship and Yogoda Satsanga Society, in his letter for the 75th Anniversary of this temple’s dedication, commented:

“Ever since [its dedication], this oasis of serenity in a busy city environment has continued to radiate Master’s blessings, providing sincere seekers with a deeper realization of their infinite soul potentials and an anchor of stability and divine connectedness amidst the world’s changes and uncertainties.” *

 

* Yogananda.org., “Paramahansa Yogananda’s San Diego Temple Celebrates 75th Anniversary

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Founding of the San Diego Temple

Paramahansa Yogananda, in 1942, said to two close disciples: ‘“Go and search for a temple in San Diego. I feel God is going to work through you to accomplish it.” And when he first saw the former Bishop’s School on a spacious, elevated property overlooking distant San Diego Bay, he said: “This is it. My mind refuses to go elsewhere after seeing this building.” *

An announcement about the new temple describes the San Diego Self-Realization Church of All Religions as being “located on a horse-shoe-shaped hill overlooking the city and the sea; it is surrounded by tall eucalyptus and pine trees”. † Many adjustments were needed to transform the school into a temple. As reported in the Self-Realization Magazine, “Paramahansa Yogananda personally supervised the construction of the temple, doing much of the work with his own hands”. ‡

 

Paramahansaji described an experience at the Temple in his Autobiography of a Yogi: “Sitting one evening in this tranquil haven, I was pouring out my heart in song. Under my fingers was the sweet-toned organ of the church, on my lips the yearning plaint of an ancient Bengali devotee who had searched for eternal solace.” §

 * Yogananda.org., “Paramahansa Yogananda’s San Diego Temple Celebrates 75th Anniversary”

Inner Culture, April 1943, p. 43

Self-Realization Magazine, Winter 1983, p. 20

*Autobiography of a Yogi, First Ed., 1946, Chapter 48, p. 466

Dedication

In dedicating the new temple, Paramahansa Yogananda expressed “…his wish that within its walls many seekers would attain the true realization of the fundamental truths inherent in all great religions”. *

He formally dedicated the new temple on September 5, 1943, offering a prayer that “this church…may serve to unite all people and all religions in the worship of Thee, O God, in the one temple of our hearts and in the temples of all religions”. †

 

Ministers of the San Diego Self-Realization Temple: Dr. Kennell, Paramahansa Yogananda and Dr. Lewis

Brother Chidananda provides context for Master’s dedication which still stands true: “During that time of much strife and turmoil in the world [during World War II], the founding of this haven of peace, and Guruji’s message of hope for the future, brought to receptive hearts divine assurance of the power of light over darkness…”. ‡

In the years that followed, “countless souls have felt upliftment of spirit in the holy environs of this beautiful church. It is venerated as a place of pilgrimage by thousands of Paramahansa Yogananda’s disciples, friends, and followers from around the world”. §

 

* Self-Realization Magazine, Fall 1993, pgs. 36-37

 

† Yogananda.org., “Paramahansa Yogananda’s San Diego Temple Celebrates 75th Anniversary”

 

‡ Yogananda.org., San Diego Temple 75th Anniversary Letter

 

  • Self-Realization Magazine, Fall 1993, pgs. 42, 64

A Typical Sunday with Paramahansa Yogananda

From 1943 until 1950, Paramahansa Yogananda spoke at this temple two Sundays a month, speaking on alternate Sundays at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Hollywood.  As described in the Self-Realization Magazine, “A typical Sunday would include the morning lecture service, afternoon classes on various aspects of the how-to-live principles of Yoga, and hours of individual spiritual consultations until late evening.  In addition, nearly every Sunday after the morning service [Paramahansaji] would invite a different group of devotees from the congregation to join him for an Indian-style luncheon prepared by the ashram disciples.” *

In one of Paramahansaji’s lectures at the San Diego Temple, he said: “Your life will reflect spiritual consciousness if you meditate. Since the publication of my book, Autobiography of a Yogi, everyone is asking about Kriya Yoga. That is my purpose. I didn’t come to give theological abstractions, but a technique whereby those who are sincere can truly know God, not just theorize about Him.” †

Paramahansa Yogananda on the upper patio in front of the lunchroom door.

* Self-Realization Magazine, Fall 1993, p. 41

†Paramahansa Yogananda in a talk given at the San Diego Temple on June 15, 1947, “Probing the Core of Nervousness”, Journey to Self-Realization, p. 97

Autobiography of a Yogi

San Diego Haul

In his 75th Anniversary letter, Brother Chidananda speaks of “the second wave of deeply dedicated souls” who found Paramahansa Yogananda and his teachings during the early years of the San Diego Temple: *

“The San Diego Temple also played a key role in the lives of a number of our Master’s great disciples. Sri Daya Mata and Ananda Mata accompanied him to all his services here, which Daya Mata recorded for the immense benefit of all who would follow this path in future. Dr. Lewis was a beloved minister here, and Mrs. Lewis was an inspiration to many during the years she lived on the premises after Doctor’s passing. And it was here that our revered Sri Mrinalini Mata, and her family, met Guruji. Though she was only 14 when she entered these doors and first beheld him, a mutual recognition passed between her soul and the Guru – which grew into a flawless attunement with him that has given us many priceless volumes of his teachings in all their purity and transforming power. We honor, too, the many other beloved disciples who came to Guruji through this temple, including Meera Mata, Sahaja Mata, Uma Mata, and more. Master affectionately referred to them as his “San Diego haul,” caught in the net of his divine love.” †

Mrinalini Mata, Self-Realization Fellowship’s 4th president, reflected: “So with this new generation Master had, you might say, the joy of a father being with his young children and setting their feet correctly on the path of life.” ‡

Uma Mata remembered that when she first met Paramahansa Yogananda she felt: “This person knows God.” She felt like her heart was a sponge, absorbing knowledge from a long time back. “I had come home,” she thought. “Now there is a purpose to life, I know where I am going.” §

* Yogananda.org., San Diego Temple 75th Anniversary Letter

Self-Realization Magazine, Fall 1993, p. 41

‡ Mrinalini Mata, “If You Would Know the Guru”, Audio CD, Self-Realization Magazine, Spring 2003

§ Uma Mata, “Joy, Enthusiasm and Eternal Gratitude . . .”, Self-Realization Magazine, 2022, p. 19

The Grounds: Then and Now