The following are extracted from Swami Kriyananda’s Last Will, Testament, and Legacy which he executed in 2005 while in India.
The purpose of my testament is to state certain fundamental beliefs which, to me, are of paramount importance in the further guidance and development of Ananda. I request that my successors consider this testament binding on them in their service to the work I have founded, which I pass on to them herewith as Ananda’s future custodians.
A. 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.
B. Because my role in life has been, to the best of my ability, to interpret as I’ve understood them the will and teachings of our line of gurus, and of my own guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, and not to define them absolutely, should any dispute arise among my successors concerning the correct interpretation of that will and of those teachings I request that they be guided by the following considerations:
a) They should ask themselves, What would Kriyananda have done or decided in this circumstance? For I have tried always to act as our gurus’ representative. Let my successors, therefore, not ask first what my fellow-disciples might have done, or have decided, in like circumstance, except after giving due consideration to the fact that Ananda is, itself, a particular ray of my Guru’s mission and teachings.
b) Should any evident discrepancy appear between my own words, actions, or decisions and those of Paramhansa Yogananda, then, after deep and prayerful consideration, let my successors give primary respect to his will and example as they understand it, not to my own will. This instruction must be weighed in the light of any possible misunderstanding on my own, and on their, part of his will and example.
c) Inasmuch as new and unanticipated circumstances are likely to arise from time to time, for which tradition affords no clear guideline, I request that my successors depend as much as possible on their inner, spiritual attunement to Paramhansa Yogananda and to our line of gurus, perhaps as manifested in my own life and service to them.
C. An important part of my own life work has been to carry to its logical conclusion Paramhansa Yogananda’s endeavors to show how his spiritual teachings may be applied in more mundane avenues of life. Thus, following his example, I have written books and taught classes which show how to apply those teachings in practical matters, such as leadership, child education, marriage, and worldly success (as examples, only), apart from my books and classes on meditation and other more obviously spiritual topics. I have tried to express, in addition, the vibrations of my Guru’s mission through the media of music, photography, and other art forms. It is natural, and indeed desirable, that departments be formed and dedicated to the spreading of each of these aspects of our work. In these respects, I want it understood that:
First, what I have done was never intended to be comprehensive, but was meant to be seminal in order that others might pursue further in other lines of development the ideas I expressed.
Second, my plan has been that this further development continue what I have already set into motion, and not take off in what might be termed “end-runs,” initiated in an entirely new or in different ways from those initiated by me and by our line of gurus. Whereas the possibility of such new ways is imaginable, Ananda itself, if it is to remain strong, should endeavor always to honor the traditions from which its particular “ray” of divine truth has originated;
Third, Ananda is a spiritual work, and not a business. Any interpretation, therefore, of Ananda’s future directions should be founded on one consideration primarily: the question, “What will best further Ananda’s spiritual mission?” For example, it may sometimes be tempting to make Ananda’s primary consideration one of monetary profit, or worldly recognition, or the question of making the teachings available to the greatest possible number of people. It is important, instead, for the spiritual ideals that have been passed down to us through our line of gurus to remain the fundamental reason for Ananda’s existence. Worldly acceptance is not important to us except to the extent that it help people spiritually. God’s acceptance of our offering to Him of our lives and service is the only thing that should matter to my successors.
Fourth, regardless of anyone’s treatment of us, we must work steadfastly for universal spiritual harmony and unity. Schism, even if forced upon us, must never be initiated by Ananda itself, nor recognized as desirable. Ananda must work for the well-being of all, and never give greater importance to its own perceived well-being and prosperity in any circumstance in which these ends must be obtained at the cost of the needs and well-being of anyone else.
Fifth, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) must always be considered part of Ananda’s broader spiritual family. If at any time the occasion should arise that might permit the two organizations to work cooperatively, Ananda ought to make every reasonable effort to do so. For SRF is the organization founded by our Guru, and must be given full respect, for his sake. Although certain Ananda members have expressed a feeling (admittedly with some reason) of resentment over the treatment I myself have received from them, my earnest request is that they, too, behave always kindly and respectfully toward SRF, regardless of any provocation from them—as indeed I myself have always tried to behave. Our attitude toward them should be one of forgiveness and love. I ask this not out of ordinary human consideration, but out of love for our mutual guru, who came on earth to inspire people with divine love, and not to infuse in them a spirit of sectarian rivalry.
D. For any appointment to positions of leadership, the primary considerations should always be these: devotion, selfless service of others, impersonal dedication to truth and to justice, and attunement to the will of God as it has been expressed through the spiritual ray manifested in the founding of Ananda.
E. For the appointment of Ananda’s ministers, the primary qualifications are that they be men and women of deep and sincere devotion, of humility, of attunement to the spiritual ray expressed through Ananda, and that they manifest impersonal love for others, an intuitive feeling I define primarily as love for the divine spark that exists in everyone—that soul which aspires eternally toward unity with God.
F. For acceptance into Ananda membership, the primary requirement should be their spiritual fitness, and not their wealth, worldly sophistication, or skills or ability.
My legacy to Ananda is spiritual in nature, primarily, and consists of the teachings, ideals, and vibrations that I have received from my Guru. My wish is that Ananda always remain true to these principles, and remain faithful to the following twin ideals, based on the example and teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda:
1) that Ananda strictly honor the dictum, “People are more important than things.” For people, especially in their spiritual needs, will always be more important than any organizational exigency;
2) that Ananda remain true to our motto: “Jato dharma, tato jaya: Where there is adherence to right attitude and action, there is victory.” Indeed, Ananda should define victory itself in terms of this principle, and never seek victory, even for the sake of its own survival, at the cost of this principle. If Ananda’s institutional survival demands that this ideal be compromised, survival itself will no longer be worthwhile. For, again, Ananda is a spiritual institution primarily. It is, moreover, a spiritual ideal, for the meaning of Ananda is, “Divine bliss.”
Kindness and compassion must always and resolutely be given primary consideration. These are more important than even the best thought-out rules and “precedents.” My statement in this paragraph must, however, be construed in the light of divine truth, which, although always loving, is at the same time impersonal. Thus, even as physicians may demonstrate greater actual compassion when they inflict a temporary pain on their patients than when they spare them the pain but ensure a much greater suffering later on, the rule of divine compassion is sometimes stern, necessarily so, and may not be immediately appreciated by its recipients. Hence, the following, further request in my legacy:
3) that my successors’ first consideration be, not public opinion, nor an individual’s needs as construed by that person, but a sincere effort at attunement with the will of God, and with His love.
4) that God’s and Guru’s will, not the mere pleasure of human beings, nor any considerations of worldly popularity, be Ananda’s first consideration in all its decisions and actions.
It is my hope, finally, that Ananda will always remain faithful to the following priorities:
a) Our primary goal is to find God, and to unite our souls with Him in divine love.
b) Our secondary goal is to serve God above all, free from the influence of passing fads and opinions.
To this Will, Testament, and Legacy I herewith sign my name(s) this day, June 4, 2005 (Dwapara 305) at Gurgaon, India