Swami Kriyananda and Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF)

Question

Hello, I am a member of Self-Realization Fellowship. I saw on YouTube where Swami Kriyananda was talking about being kicked out of SRF. It is a little concerning to me that Swami Kriyananda was a direct student of Master, was at SRF for many years, yet was kicked out of SRF. I was wondering what is the difference between SRF and Ananda? Thank you.

—Frank, USA

Answer

Dear Frank,

The response to your question already fills the pages of several books. It comprises something just short of a Greek or Shakespearean play.  Comedy or tragedy depends on one’s point of view!

In his own words, Swami Kriyananda describes it perhaps most fully in the book, A Place Called Ananda. Also, to some degree, in Asha Nayaswami’s book, Swami Kriyananda: Lightbearer and in Nayaswami Devi’s book, Faith is My Armor. The website  www.swamikriyananda.org gives an overview of his life. So also his own autobiography, The New Path. There’s a book, A Fight for Religious Freedom, by Jon Parsons, describes the legal drama Ananda faced in defending itself over a twelve-year period from SRF’s intense and costly legal and publicity attacks. We overwhelming won the right to practice our faith as disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda.

SRF itself has it’s own explanations. The makings of a great drama include the simple fact, for which he was and thousands of others continue to be grateful, that his ouster made it possible for the later existence of Ananda worldwide, communities, centers, and meditation groups — all based on living and sharing Yogananda’s teachings. Thousands would never have heard of Yogananda or been attracted to SRF.  Thousands of lives have been changed and uplifted in countless ways.

Yes, Swamiji was on the SRF Board; yes, he was vice-president; yes, he was leader of the centers and in charge of the monks during those years. Yes, he was trained and empowered directly by Yogananda to give kriya, to lecture, to write, and to edit. His falling into disfavor with Tara Mata (especially) was the makings of a great play of destiny: the greatest test of his spiritual life. To the end, despite trials and denunciations, he affirmed his love for Daya Mata and the others who summarily and suddenly dismissed him so long ago. Yet he was forthright (after many years of silence and only after many years of persecution, direct and indirect) about the circumstances and behavior of Daya Mata and Tara Mata (especially) who were his self-selected nemeses.

Nonetheless, Swami Kriyananda’s last will, testament and legacy directs the Ananda leadership to be open to working with SRF as fellow disciples. But until some future generation, it is clear for now that their current leadership is, to quote Daya Mata, “frankly, (I’m) not interested.” How ironic when one considers that Yogananda’s own teachings and persona were so open, so universal, and so non-sectarian. He put his will power and grace into the “ether” that the time was coming that “youths” should go north, south, east and west to establish colonies where a lifestyle of high ideals and simple living could demonstrate how people could live in fellowship regardless of race, caste, or religion. Swami Kriyananda vowed to do his part to establish such communities and, indeed, of all the direct disciples including those highly advanced spiritually, he was the only one to do so. Worldwide there are now at least six, and more depending on what is included, “world brotherhood colonies” in the work of Ananda: from the US to Europe to India.

Returning to your direct question, those who have had experience with both SRF and Ananda often remark that SRF is more visibly monastic, following traditional lines of hierarchy in respect to monks and nuns, whereas Ananda is communitarian, with communities that include married couples, children, and singles along with monks and nuns.

Ananda has no overriding central authority beyond our voluntary commitment to Yogananda’s teachings and to the form and customs of the Ananda Communities founded by Swami Kriyananda. Our communities are independent though we are linked spiritually and historically in divine friendship. SRF members who are not monastics are more akin to church members in a Catholic or other mainline church. By contrast, Ananda members play key roles in the ministry or in affiliated non-profits, schools for children, or community or private businesses with other Ananda members according to what is right for them. Both organizations publish books, offer classes and retreats, and give kriya initiation to qualified students.

I think, however, for the purposes of this service I will stop here having given a broad spectrum overview. Please consider consulting the references offered above or writing back if you have specifics. I hope what I have shared you will find helpful.

In Divine Friendship,

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA
www.Hrimananda.org