“My reply to people who pleaded with me to return to India was always, ‘If my Guru shows me that he wants me to work there, I will gladly return. Indeed India is, spiritually, my own country too….’ I now feel clearly the guidance of my Guru to return to India, and once more to put my hand to the plow.” — Swami Kriyananda
Ananda’s work in India is well underway! In less than a month from when Swami Kriyananda first proposed this new direction, Ananda found a large, recently built mansion in Gurgaon, a New Delhi suburb, to serve as a possible ashram. Approving the choice, Kriyananda quoted Sri Yukteswar’s words to Yogananda on the eve of his departure to America: “All doors are open for you. It is now or never.”
The Ananda Sangha staff, assisted by leaders from various Ananda colonies, set about furnishing the new ashram, getting out publicity, printing brochures and arranging for satsangs. Though an enormous undertaking, there was a surprising ease about it.
Jyotish Novak from Ananda Village observed: “We couldn’t have accomplished anything without the grace of Yogananda and the other gurus. I could feel it more palpably than I have ever felt it in the entire history of Ananda.”
The ashram opens
On Friday, November 28, 2003, the new Ananda ashram was officially opened with a Vedic ceremony led by Swami Kriyananda. Other doors have been opening. Indian publisher Aswani Goyal who, ?fteen years ago, was the ?rst to publish Kriyananda’s books in India, offered helpful advice on starting a publishing company in India.
But then Yogananda appeared to him in a dream and said, “You’re not doing enough to help these people.” Two days later, Aswani offered to provide office space, training, secretarial support, and whatever else was needed for Ananda to start its own publishing house. Aswani and his wife, Vini, hope to become the ?rst members of Ananda Sangha in India
An overflow crowd
The weekend of January 9-11, 2004 saw the official launching of Ananda’s work in India to a very positive response. Saturday evening, January 10th, Kriyananda spoke to an over?ow crowd of 700 people in an auditorium in downtown New Delhi. His talk wove together the two themes of everyone’s need to seek God, and his experiences with Yogananda.
Predicting that India’s powerful spiritual heritage would change the world, he said: “India is now copying the West and its values, but this will not last for long. India needs to reclaim its right as guru to the world. This is your destiny.”
The talk received key publicity the previous day when Kriyananda answered callers’ questions during a thirty-minute television interview on “The Sadhna Channel,” which reaches millions in India and South Asia.
Conversations with Yogananda
Conversations with Yogananda, Kriyananda’s newest book, (published in India in record time) was available for this special weekend. These in-depth conversations, recorded by Kriyananda at Yogananda’s request, offer Yogananda’s first hand thoughts on a wide range of subjects. The newly published Indian edition of God Is for Everyone was also available for the event.
The following morning there was a Sunday Service attended by 100 people at a smaller hall in downtown New Delhi, led by Kriyananda. Since January, Kriyananda has been giving Saturday satsangs at the ashram, and leading Sunday Service in New Delhi, alternating at times with other Ananda ministers.
Televised talks and a regular column
Starting in January, Kriyananda recorded numerous programs, entitled, “The Way of Awakening,” for The Sadhana Channel. These twenty-minute talks, which began airing on January 28, were shown every weekday night for two months through the end of March, followed by one show each week until the end of 2004. Kriyananda is also writing a regular column on meditation and yoga for the Hindustan Times, India’s largest newspaper.
A staff of thirteen
The Ananda staff, though still in ?ux, presently numbers thirteen people, mainly devotees from Ananda Village and other colonies, and includes one Canadian-born Indian of Bengali parentage. Peter (Dharmadas) Schuppe, most recently from Ananda Village, has been appointed Yogacharya (spiritual director) of Ananda Sangha India. He has also been made a Kriya minister.
Since January, Ananda staff members have been offering an ongoing four-week meditation class series in central New Delhi. Others on staff have been looking for land to start a community. There are also plans to start a traditional, Indian-style monastic order for men and women.