Ramacharaka, Yogi

Ramacharaka, Yogi
   yoga popularizer
   The American-born Yogi Ramacharaka was a popular author in the New Thought movement in the United States. He later became the first major popularizer of Hindu thought in America.
   Born in Baltimore, Maryland, to William and Emma Atkinson, William Walker Atkinson was an important and influential figure in the early days of the New Thought movement, which included a number of religious organizations devoted to the application of metaphysical principles to healing. He married Margaret Foster Black of Beverley, New Jersey, in 1889 and they had two children. He pursued a business career from 1882 onward, and in 1894 he was admitted as an attorney to the Pennsylvania Bar. The pressures of his profession caused a complete physical and mental breakdown and financial disaster. He sought healing, and in the late 1880s, he discovered New Thought, through which he attained health, mental vigor, and prosperity. By the early 1890s Chicago had become a major center for New Thought, mainly through the work of Emma Curtis Hopkins, and Atkinson decided to move there, where he became an active promoter of the movement as an editor and author.
   In 1889 Atkinson’s article “A Mental Science Catechism” appeared in Charles Fillmore’s new periodical, Modern Thought. In 1900, he became editor of Suggestion, a New Thought periodical, and he continued to write for and edit another periodical, New Thought. He founded a Psychic Club and the Atkinson School of Mental Science and became a prominent metaphysical writer, publishing ten books on psychic, occult, and New Thought topics between 1901 and 1911. His Mental Science included lessons in personal mag-netism, psychic influence, thought-force, concen-tration, will-power, and practical Mental Science.
   While performing his New Thought editorial job, Atkinson became interested in Hinduism. He met a pupil of the late Yogi Ramacharaka, Baba BHARATI, who had become acquainted with Atkinson’s writ-ings. Atkinson and Bharati shared similar ideas. They collaborated, and with Bharati providing the material and Atkinson the writing talent, they wrote a series of books, which they attributed to Yogi Ramacharaka as a measure of their respect. Begin-ning in 1903, Atkinson eventually wrote 13 books under this pseudonym. All the titles were published by the Yogi Publication Society in Chicago; they reached a wider audience than Atkinson’s New Thought works ever had. All of his books on yoga are still in print; their continued popularity is a credit to both Baba Bharati and Atkinson.
   Under the name Yogi Ramacharaka, Atkinson became the first popularizer of Hindu thought and practice in the United States. He also continued his career as an attorney, being admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1903, and he continued to write well-received books on New Thought. In 1916 he began writing articles for Elizabeth Towne’s magazine The Nautilus, and from 1916 to 1919 he edited the journal Advanced Thought. For a time he was honorary president of the International New Thought Alliance.
   William Walker Atkinson died on November 22, 1932, in California.
   Further reading: William Walker Atkinson [Yogi Ram-acharaka], Dynamic Thought (Los Angeles: Segnogram, 1906); ———, Hatha Yoga (Chicago: Yogi Publication Society, 1931); ———, The Mastery of Being (Holyoke, Mass.: Elizabeth Towne, 1911); ———, Raja Yoga (Chi-cago: Yogi Publication Society, 1905).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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