As I write this blog, it’s a few days before the anniversary of Swami Kriyananda’s birth—May 19, 1926. To honor his life, I felt to write him a personal letter of appreciation (that I’m sharing with you as well).
It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since you left your body, because your presence in our lives has only increased over time. My appreciation of who you are and the spiritual gifts you gave us has also grown.
Right from the very beginning, when I arrived at Ananda in 1969 and had the privilege of meeting you, I saw how you treated everyone with respect, be he young or old, wise or foolish. You saw the highest potential within each person, a potential that often eluded our own limited awareness at the time. More importantly, you guided and inspired us to realize that potential.
I remember the time in 1979 when you gave a weekend program to nearly a thousand people at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. You were scheduled to give a concluding talk on Sunday morning; on Saturday evening, you asked Jyotish and me if we would speak as well. Jyotish had already been teaching for several years, but I was new to it, and the thought of speaking before a huge crowd terrified me. Yet I trusted that you wouldn’t ask anything of us that we didn’t have it in us to do.
Sunday morning, I sat nervously in the front row waiting for you to call us up on the stage to speak. Despite my attempts to organize my thoughts, my mind was reeling. The only words that kept repeating themselves were, “You can’t do this. You can’t do this.”
Finally the moment of truth arrived, and as you asked us to come up, a miraculous thing happened that shaped the course of my life. I literally felt your hand reaching out to me mentally, assuring me that you would be with me and guide me through the talk. And so it proved. That was the launch of my teaching career, and now, nearly forty years later, I still feel your guiding presence with me whenever I share with others.
You also helped us find the inner strength and courage to deal with the tests life brought us. The examples of your calmness and unwavering faith—during Ananda’s huge financial challenges, strong opposition from local authorities, and a devastating forest fire, to mention only a few—served as beacons of courage, enabling us to deal positively with whatever came our way.
Do you remember your first words to me when you saw me after the forest fire which had left us homeless with an eleven-day-old baby? Without giving me a moment to waver, you said strongly, “How are you, Devi? Well? That’s good.” You then walked briskly away, but left me with an inner fortress of strength that helped me to handle the difficult days ahead.
Weeks later you wrote us a note which I still have in my little box of treasures. Do you remember it? You wrote, “I was so touched by everyone’s spirit. . . . It is admirable, and certainly pleasing to God. I believe many blessings will flow from it, and from this trying experience. I was particularly sad for you, Devi, to be given such a test so soon after having your baby. But then, what God gives, we take. He has His own program for our spiritual growth. If we place ourselves unreservedly in His hands, He proves to us abundantly how unfailing His love is for us.”
Finally, I want to thank you for the dual goals that you embraced in 1948 upon reading Master’s Autobiography of a Yogi for the first time. From that moment onward, you dedicated your life to seeking God and to sharing Him with others. Had it not been for your resolute commitment, I know for certain that I never would have embarked on the spiritual path in this lifetime. Nor, I believe, would have the countless thousands of others who drew and continue to draw inspiration from you.
So, my dear Swamiji, in whatever heavenly realm you are now residing, please accept my eternal love and appreciation. You gave us a life in God, and made it fun and entertaining as well. Till we meet again, I remain forever your grateful follower, your devoted student, your loving daughter in God.
P.S. Please join us online for a celebration of Swami Kriyananda, which will appear live on YouTube here on May 20th.
Listen to Devi as she reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (9:15):