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Date Posted: 07:16
Author: ketch - 10 Aug 2002
Subject: Yogi Hamid Bey

Hamid Bey is one of the interesting characters associated with Swami Yogananda during the early years of his mission in America. Although little is heard of Hamid Bey now, he was made an Honorary Vice President of SRF/YSS in the early days.

Born in Cairo, Egypt at the end of the nineteenth century, Hamid’s family belonged to the Coptic Christian Church. This had come about after a miraculous conversion of Hamid’s Muslim grandfather who was cured of severe arthritis on a pilgrimage to a semi-secret Coptic Temple close to his home.

The Coptic Church had a number of secret mystic practices and temples in Egypt at that time.

When he was just five years old, Hamid was playing outside his home, when a stranger smiled at him. Hamid felt an immediate attraction for the stranger, who turned out to be a Master from a secret Coptic Temple. After discussions between the Master and Hamid’s parents, it was eventually agreed that Hamid would enter into the mystical training of the Coptics.

Hamid followed the training as he grew up, and learned many strange skills. One of these was the ability to produce the state of trance, which later allowed him to be buried alive. The particular practice may be based around something similar to Kechari Mudra. He was able to utilise this ability as a soldier in World War 1, playing possum by inducing the trance state, and thus being ignored by the enemy troops.

After WW1 Hamid Bey travelled across Europe demonstrating some of his abilities.

In 1927 the famous magician and escapologist Harry Houdini, who had a reputation for exposing the fraudulent spiritualists and occultists of the day, stated that he could reproduce any supernatural phenomenon by natural means. Hamid was sent (it is not clear who by) to challenge Houdini to duplicate his ability to be buried alive. Unfortunately Houdini died within a few weeks of Hamid Bey arriving in the USA.

Due to a misunderstanding Hamid Bey signed a contract to perform his feats as part of a stage act for two years. After this period he became a close acquaintance of Swami Yogananda, and the two of them travelled and taught together.

Interestingly, a poster for one of their lectures has just come up for auction at E-Bay.

Here is the link to the auction item.

Hamid Bey Poster

We can see from the poster that Hamid Bey was in fact the main attraction of this lecture. He was to be buried alive as Yogananda gave a lecture on “The Mystery of Death and After”.

Hamid Bey was also to give demonstrations of Mental Telepathy, Heart and Pulse Control, and Painlessness of the Flesh!

At this auction we also find an extract from an issue of East-West magazine showing Hamid Bey’s appointment as Honorary Vice President of SRF/YSS. It is interesting to note that both Hamid Bey and Bramachari Nerode, also appointed as Honorary Vice President, were accomplished mystics, but not in the path of Kriya Yoga, at least not until their meeting Yogananda.

In 1936 Hamid Bey returned to Egypt for further training and tests in the Coptic tradition. He came back to the USA the following year and founded The Coptic Fellowship in Los Angeles, California.

The rest of his life seems to have been devoted to the organisation he founded. He wrote a number of publications, some of which are available from The Coptic Fellowship. These included “My Life Proceeding 5,000 Burials” an autobiographical account of his training in Egypt, “The Power of Your Mind Versus Fear”, “The Art of Meditation”, and “The Art of Successful Living”. He also wrote a home study correspondence course, possibly borrowing the idea from Swami Yogananda. This course “Egypt's Master Voice” is also available from the Coptic Fellowship, as are a number of his other works.

See this link for details.


Hamid Bey passed away on July 16th 1976, but his organisation continues to flourish, though how true it is to his teachings is uncertain. The Fellowship has three Orders, the Light Ministry (teachers who disseminate the order's teachings), the World Service Order, and the Devotional Order (an inner Esoteric Order).

As mentioned, they have a correspondence course available to interested persons.

The Coptic Fellowship

Yogi Hamid Bey - Brief Biography

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