Self Realization

Birth place of Yoga on American soil

The building at 115 College Avenue in Somerville once housed the West Somerville Unitarian Church and is now home to the
“Museum of Modern Renaissance”.

Here in 1920 Yoga had been introduced first time on American soil.

We believe, that this unique cultural site is an appropriate candidate for a National Historic Landmark designation.

The building is historically significant as the site of Paramahansa Yogananda’s first talk introducing the philosophy of Yoga in America.

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952) is credited with bringing the ancient spiritual teachings of India to Western world and is widely revered as one of the preeminent spiritual figures of our time.  His “Autobiography of a Yogi” is regarded worldwide as a classic of religious literature and has been named one of the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th Century. The book has been translated into 18 languages and still appears on bestseller lists today, after more than 50 consecutive years in print. 

Paramahansa Yogananda first came to the United States in 1920 to speak at an interfaith congress of religious leaders.  On October 6, 1920 he delivered a speech before the International Congress of Religious Liberals, an account of which was published by the American Unitarian Association in a book titled “New Pilgrimages of the Spirit.” 

Shortly after the congress, Yogananda was invited to the West Somerville Unitarian Church located at 115 College Ave. He recalls: “After the Congress was over, I began to formulate plans for starting a center. Then one day Mr. Foster said, “Come to my church next Sunday and I will talk to you there.”

I felt that it was a true sign, that at last the long-awaited word from God had come.”

It was here that he gave this first public educational talk. It was also here that he met Alice Hasey who later became known as Sister Yogmata. He wrote: “I heard an inner voice say: “She is one who will start the center”. 

Indeed, Sister Yogmata, his first disciple in the US, helped to finance the first Yoga Center, which they built in Waltham. In 1925, Yogananda established his headquarters in Los Angeles.

During the 1920s, Yogananda traveled extensively throughout the United States and gave lectures. Following the enthusiastic response of the American public, Yogananda founded the Self Realization Fellowship, an international society. Today, there are nearly 500 Self Realization centers throughout the world. 

But his spiritual quest had begun here at 115 College Ave in Somerville, MA.

Now you can see here the living manifest of Self Realization – the “Museum of Modern Renaissance”.

We are two artists, Nicholas Shaplyko and Ekaterina Sorokina, who now preserve this place of historic importance and who express our Self Realization through art, having created the “Museum of Modern Renaissance” which is dedicated to helping people of all races and creeds to realize and express more fully in their lives the beauty, nobility, and divinity of the human spirit.