Elvis Presley Wanted His Soul to Do This After His Death

During his marriage to Priscilla Presley, Elvis Presley had plans for his death that went well beyond unusual funeral arrangements. He had supernatural plans for the afterlife and what would happen to his body. Here’s a look at how a major celebrity inspired the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll to think big.

Elvis Presley with a guitar
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How Eastern spirituality affected Elvis Presley

In her book, Elvis and Me, Priscilla discusses her husband’s fascination with spirituality. She mentions the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll reading many spiritual texts. He sought spirituality as a way of understanding why he was so successful and why he was still dissatisfied with his life.

“As Elvis’ fascination with occult and metaphysical phenomena intensified, [his friend] Larry introduced him to the Self-Realization Fellowship Center on Mount Washington, where he met Daya Mata, the head of the center,” Priscilla wrote. “She epitomized everything he was striving to be.” According to Priscilla, Mata resembled Elvis’ mother, Gladys Presley.

Elvis Presley wanted to mimic the death of this spiritual leader

“He made several trips to Mount Washington, high in the Hollywood Hills, for sessions with Daya Mata in the hope of attaining kriya, which is the highest form of meditation in the self-realization fellowship,” Priscilla wrote. “He was especially intrigued by Paramahansa Yogananda, the center’s deceased founder and author of The Autobiography of a Yogi [sic].” For a book on Eastern spirituality, Autobiography of a Yogi is fairly famous in the West.

Elvis and Priscilla Presley in front of curtains
Elvis and Priscilla Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“He read that Yogananda had reached such a high state of consciousness that his spirit could control his body even after death,” Priscilla added. “Yogananda’s body lay in an open casket at Forest Lawn Cemetery for over twenty days without showing any signs of decomposition. It was this kind of higher state of consciousness that Elvis was hoping to achieve.”

According to the book, Elvis by the Presleys, Elvis and Priscilla both read Autobiography of a Yogi. Elvis came to see the fact that Yogananda’s body took some time to decompose as a sign of his evolved state. In addition, he viewed the guru as a holy man.

Elvis Presley wasn’t the only rock star inspired by Paramahansa Yogananda

Interestingly, Elvis’ supernatural aspirations weren’t the only impact that Yogananda had on popular musicians. George Harrison was one of the most famous Hindu musicians from the Western world. According to the book Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru, George was profoundly affected by Autobiography of a Yogi. He would give copies of the book to others.

“Dear One”

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The book, The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Off the Record, says George believed Yogananda didn’t die — rather, he decided to leave his body. George even wrote a song called “Dear One” as a tribute to Yogananda. Yogananda wasn’t a musician but he had an impact on two major rock stars.

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