He was born in Gorakhpur, India.
Ghosh met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri in 1910, at the age of 17. After graduating from Calcutta University in 1915, he took formal vows into the monastic Swami Order. Twenty years later his guru conferred upon him the title paramahansa which means "supreme swan". (In his lifetime, he used the spelling Paramhansa, but the traditional Sanskrit spelling has been preferred by SRF since shortly after his death. Their modifying his signature as signed to interpolate the extra A has drawn some criticism).
Harry T. Rowe, Los Angeles Mortuary Director, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, stated in a notarized letter, "Autobiography of Yogi":
In 1946, he published his life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, which was instrumental in introducing vedic philosophy to the West. It has since been translated into 18 languages and remains a perennial best seller. Yogananda and his guru have attempted to explain some verses and events of the Bible, including the Garden of Eden story. Some of these are featured in this autobiography.
Yogananda has met many spiritual masters, including the Therese Neumann and the Hindu saint Sri Anandamoyi Ma. In his autobiography he describes his encounters with these and other notable persons such as Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize winning physicist Sir C. V. Raman and others.