We often receive questions from students asking about the difference between Ananda and Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF); about Ananda’s authority to disseminate Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings; about Swami Kriyananda’s role at Ananda and his role in Paramhansa Yogananda’s mission; and, finally, about two lawsuits that involved Ananda: the SRF vs. Ananda religious freedom lawsuit and the Bertolucci lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by Ananda and Swami Kriyananda.

We have compiled our answers to each of these questions on this page. If you have more questions or would like greater clarification on anything that we have shared, we are happy to answer you and invite you to write us personally.

Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi, Spiritual Directors of Ananda worldwide

Ananda and Self-Realization Fellowship are two independent organizations, each dedicated to sharing the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, founded The Yoga Fellowship in 1968, which later was renamed Ananda Church of Self-Realization, to share Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings of meditation, Kriya Yoga, and spirituality in daily life, and to fulfill Paramhansa Yogananda’s often stated goal of establishing spiritual cooperative communities. Yogananda felt that these communities — “World Brotherhood Colonies” as he called them — were a vital need of the time and envisioned them to be havens where like-minded seekers, married or single, could live together, have work, school, and church in the same place, and thus support each other on the spiritual path.

Today Ananda has six such communities in the US and one in Europe, where about a thousand people live and practice these teachings. Additionally, tens of thousands of seekers receive Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings every year through Ananda’s centers, retreats, and meditation groups spread across the globe, and through Ananda’s online learning portal.

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Swami Kriyananda was authorized to give Kriya initiation directly by Paramhansa Yogananda. At Ananda, the Kriya technique is taught through initiation by one of our Kriyacharyas or Kriya Yoga teachers who were ordained by Swami Kriyananda to pass on the Kriya technique. Since Swami Kriyananda’s passing in 2013, new Kriyacharyas are periodically ordained by Nayaswami Jyotish, Swami Kriyananda’s spiritual successor and Dharmacharya of Ananda Worldwide.

At Ananda we teach Kriya Yoga just as Paramhansa Yogananda himself taught it.

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Swami Kriyananda’s role at Ananda was that of the founder and spiritual director, guiding Ananda’s attunement with Yogananda’s teachings and offering an example of dedicated service to Yogananda.

Swami Kriyananda made it clear that he was not the guru, that Paramhansa Yogananda would always be the guru for Ananda, and that Ananda would be dedicated to sharing Yogananda’s ray with the world. Ananda’s lineage, as seen on our altar, consists of the five great Masters that Yogananda said were commissioned to bring the teachings of Self-realization to the world: Jesus Christ, Babaji-Krishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda.

To this day, Ananda remains dedicated to sharing Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings, including his Kriya Yoga technique as well as many other aspects of his mission, based on Yogananda’s training of Swami Kriyananda.

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Swami Kriyananda read Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi in New York in 1948, at the young age of 22. Deeply inspired by the book, and realizing that he had found his guru, he took the next bus to California to commence a lifetime of discipleship with Yogananda. Yogananda accepted him as a disciple at their first meeting, and thereafter trained him personally for spreading the teachings of Self-realization. Between their first meeting in 1948 and Yogananda’s mahasamadhi in March 1952, Yogananda ordained Swami Kriyananda a minister, a Kriyacharya, and the head of the monks. He often told Kriyananda, “You have a great work to do.”

After Yogananda’s passing in 1952, Swami Kriyananda continued to serve SRF in several important positions of responsibility, including as SRF’s first vice-president, until he was asked to leave SRF in 1962.

Kriyananda later founded Ananda in 1968 to share Yogananda’s teachings and to fulfill Yogananda’s vision of establishing spiritual communities. You can learn more about the mission Paramhansa Yogananda gave Swami Kriyananda here and you can click on the link below to read a brief biography of Swami Kriyananda’s life.

Read About Swami Kriyananda’s Life
Between Paramhansa Yogananda’s passing in 1952 and Swami Kriyananda’s separation from Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in 1962, Swami Kriyananda served on behalf of SRF in several important roles: as a minister and kriyacharya, as the head of the monks, as the minister in-charge for the SRF Centers Department and the SRF Hollywood Church, and as a member of the SRF board of Directors and as the first vice-president of SRF.

Swami Kriyananda and Daya Mata, third president of SRF, with Anandamayi Ma, 1958

After Paramhansa Yogananda’s passing in 1952, and the passing in 1955 of Rajarshi Janakananda, Yogananda’s spiritual heir and second president of SRF, Swami Kriyananda increasingly found that his understanding of Paramhansa Yogananda’s mission differed significantly from that of Daya Mata, the third president of SRF, and Tara Mata, the second vice-president of SRF.

These differences culminated in a dramatic meeting in 1962 with Daya Mata and Tara Mata, at which Kriyananda was expelled from SRF, and instructed both to sever all connection with his brother-disciples at SRF and to refrain thenceforth from serving Paramhansa Yogananda in any capacity.

Swami Kriyananda wrote a detailed account about the reason for this separation in his book Go On Alone: A Struggle Between Personal Integrity and the Demand for Conformity. You can also read an abridged account by clicking on the button below.

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In 1990, Self-Realization Fellowship sued Ananda in federal court over Ananda’s right to represent Paramhansa Yogananda and to share his teachings. The battle, though superficially over legal technicalities involving copyrights and trademarks, was actually about religious freedom. Could a single organization claim ownership and total control over Yogananda’s teachings, his name, and even the man himself?

The twelve-year legal battle that ensued was a David vs. Goliath contest. Ananda had always run on a shoestring; we were represented by a sole practitioner without even a full-time secretary. SRF, a far wealthier organization, hired as counsel one of the largest law firms in the country.

In the end, the court rulings validated Ananda’s right, and that of its members, to act as any true disciple must: We were now free to share Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings with the world. In winning this decision, Ananda secured this same right for all other organizations and individuals as well, now and forever in future. And the court’s findings have been of help also to others facing similar challenges, for this case has proved to be an important one, frequently cited in other legal proceedings on account of the many new issues it addressed.

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We sometimes receive inquiries from students who, while searching for more information about Ananda and Swami Kriyananda, discover a handful of websites that accuse Swami Kriyananda of predatory behavior toward women, and portray Ananda as being a cult that enables a culture of sexual misconduct. Even though these websites are written in a convincing manner, they are decidedly untrue and the truth of Ananda and Swami Kriyananda is the exact opposite of what is portrayed on those websites.

We’ve created a page to share our answer to these questions. We’ve done our best to keep our answers simple, clear, truthful, and non-defensive. And so as not to overwhelm the reader we’ve also tried to be both concise and brief.

Read the account of what actually happened and what the lawsuit was really about, and if you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us – We are happy to speak with you personally and answer any questions about our own real-life experience with Swami Kriyananda.

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Click on the button below to read Swami Kriyananda’s Testament and Legacy, which he executed along with his Will in 2005 while in India. The principles he outlined serve as guidelines for Ananda’s policy now and for the future.

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Have Other Questions?

We’d love to answer any other questions you have! Feel free to ask a question or contact us directly.