Sects: West Meets East

History is sprinkled with the relics of religious sects that flamed and flickered out — brief candles of faith that were lighted by a charismatic leader and died within a short time after he died. Where are the Novatianists, the Rappites, the Robinsonian Psychiana devotees of yesteryear?

The Self-Realization Fellowship, too, seemed likely to sputter out after the death of Founder Paramhansa Yogananda in 1952, but instead it has thrived. Membership has doubled over the past ten years, to about 125,000 (one-third of them in California). The Fellowship is now in the...

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