Swami Yogananda Paramhansa and Swami Premananda Giri

Swami Yogananda Paramhansa and Swami Premananda Giri

The Self-Revelation Church of Absolute Monism in the United States of America had its beginning in 1920. In that year Swami Yogananda Paramhansa came to Boston, Massachusetts, to represent India at the Congress of Religions. While in this country he formed numerous groups of followers. At Swami Yogananda’s suggestion, some of his followers in Washington, D.C., later invited one of the students at his school in Ranchi, India, to be their leader.

The young man, known then as Brahmachari Jotin, came in 1928 to organize the church. He was in complete charge of its spiritual and administrative activities for fifty years.

As the membership grew, rented quarters became inadequate. On October 23, 1938 the group met for the first time in the chapel that Brahmachari Jotin had built for them at 4748 Western Avenue, N.W., in Washington. The chapel had been built without any appeal for funds from the members. When the Golden Lotus Temple was completed in 1952, the chapel became the Church of the Children.

As Brahmachari Jotin became better known, he received an increasing number of invitations to speak in synagogues, seminaries, and Christian churches of practically all denominations. He was also in great demand as a speaker for business and civic organizations such as the Lions and Rotary Clubs. In 1941, Brahmachari Jotin was consecrated as a Swami by his Guru, Swami Yogananda Paramhansa, the Guru-Preceptor of the Church. He took the name of Swami Premananda, which means Love of Supreme Wisdom.

On November 23, 1952, the Golden Lotus Temple, which was designed and built by Swami Premananda, was consecrated. The cornerstone of the temple had been laid on May 17, 1952, by Renah Camalier, Grand Master of Masons of the District of Columbia, assisted by the officers of the Grand Lodge and witnessed by many members of the Masonic Fraternity and members of the congregation. It was the first time that a Grand Master of Masons had officiated at such a rite for a church of which a Swami of India was the minister.

Swami Premananda was a Thirty-Third Degree Mason; Knight Commander of the Court of Honor; Shriner of the Almas Temple, Wise Master of the Evangelist Chapter of Knights Rose-Croix, (1948-49) and a proficient ritualist in higher Masonic degrees, a Knight Templar, member of the Royal Order of Scotland, and Chaplain of the Benjamin B. French Lodge No. 15 of Washington, D.C. He is the only Swami ever to receive such distinction from any Masonic body.