Birthplace of Yoga
The museum building originally housed the West Somerville Unitarian Church. It was here in 1920 that Paramahansa Yogananda first introduced the philosophy of Yoga to the United States.
It is in this same place that one can experience the living manifest of Self Realization: the Museum of Modern Renaissance.
Nicholas Shaplyko and Ekaterina Sorokin now preserve this place of historic importance and express their Self Realization through art. They created the “Museum of Modern Renaissance” and dedicated it 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.
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952), widely revered as one of the preeminent spiritual figures of our time, is credited with bringing the ancient spiritual teachings of India to Western world. His Autobiography of a Yogi is regarded worldwide as a classic of religious literature and has been named one of the one hundred most influential spiritual books of the twentieth century. The book has been translated into eighteen languages and still appears on bestseller lists today, after more than fifty consecutive years in print.
On October 6, 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda first came to the United States. 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. He recalled,
“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 at the church that he gave his 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”.
Sister Yogmata, his first disciple in the United States, helped to finance the first Yoga Center.
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 five hundred Self Realization centers throughout the world.
For more information on the society, please see their website: http://www.yogananda-srf.org/
Healing Through Art
The artists connected with the healing power of yoga through the process of bringing their art to life. In fact, Ekaterina began practicing yoga because she spent so many days bent backwards, painting the ceiling like Michelangelo. For both Ekaterina and Nicholas, the connection between yoga and the renaissance spirit is natural.
Their aim is to share the same uplifting spirit with all those who enter the museum.