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.
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.
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.
Swami Kriyananda is the founder of Ananda Worldwide and served as its spiritual director until his passing in 2013. He continues to be a guiding light for Ananda devotees and Ananda’s development as a whole, and an inspiration to truthseekers throughout the world.
Ananda is dedicated to serving Paramhansa Yogananda’s mission
From its inception, Swami Kriyananda dedicated Ananda, as he did his own life, to serving Paramhansa Yogananda. In his Last Will, Testament, and Legacy, Swami Kriyananda expresses this as a guiding principle for Ananda’s work:
Ananda is not, and never has been, my own work, personally. I founded it in the name of, and did my earnest best to carry it on in the spirit of, my Guru Paramhansa Yogananda, and of his line of gurus: Jesus Christ, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar. The last in this line of gurus is Paramhansa Yogananda. Should anyone look upon me as his spiritual teacher, I ask that he do so as a representative of our line of gurus, and not as a guru in my own separate right.
Swami Kriyananda’s role at Ananda
Ananda consciously draws on Swami Kriyananda’s writings, his lectures, his music, and his own life-example of discipleship to guide its expression of Yogananda’s mission. Ananda members study these often to inspire their personal practice of Yogananda’s teachings and to clarify how to share these teachings through our worldwide work.
Swami Kriyananda explained his role in guiding seekers in their practice of Yogananda’s teachings as follows:
I am only my Guru’s instrument. His power is much greater than mine, though I am aware that through me people have come closer to him.
My desire in teaching is simply to please God and Guru, and to help others. Yogananda told me that this is my path to salvation. What is comfortable for me, personally, is the thought that I am your friend in God. When I teach, it is in a spirit of friendship, of sharing with you, and of serving God through you all. But I’m certainly an active link to Yogananda — for those of you who live and work here at Ananda, and who try to follow the things I teach you in his name.
Yogananda himself, while living, urged the newer disciples to look to his close disciples, and not to him alone, for guidance and inspiration. I recall also how he told Vance Milligan, a young disciple, “You should mix more with Walter [which is how he referred to Kriyananda]. You don’t know what you have in him.”
The truth is, those who think to go straight to God and Guru, without help from others, have not yet learned the humility necessary to advance much on the path. The wise devotee, rather, knowing how difficult it is at all times to get out of delusion, is eager for any guidance he can get on his journey.
Kriyananda was trained for his role in sharing the teachings of Self-realization by Yogananda himself. During their time together, Yogananda often told him, “You have a great work to do,” and “Your work in this life is writing, editing, and lecturing.” And once, to a small group of monks, Yogananda said, “If Walter [Kriyananda] had come earlier, we would have reached millions!”
Today, Kriyananda continues to reach the “millions” of seekers that Yogananda foresaw—through his writings, his music, his own life-example of discipleship, and the many students he personally trained in how to practice and how to share Yogananda’s teachings. These constitute Swami Kriyananda’s living legacy that you, too, can draw upon to bring these teachings into a clear focus and to make your journey to Self-realization both deeply fulfilling and deeply enjoyable.
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.
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.
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.
(Photo: Swami Kriyananda and Daya Mata, third president of SRF, with Anandamayi Ma, 1958)
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 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.
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.
Click 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.