It is not easy these days to find models of righteous leadership. We see plenty of negative examples but few that truly inspire us. I thought it would be helpful to write about Swami Kriyananda, the most uplifting example of leadership that I’ve ever encountered. Not only did he teach principles of good leadership but, more importantly, he modeled them in his own life. Here are some of the key points he shared:

Focus on principles: Swamiji was very clear about the ultimate purpose of life: to achieve Self-realization personally, and to help others do the same. When working with people, he always guided them toward the appropriate next step in expanding their consciousness, but he also recognized that every person was different. One time after a Kriya Initiation, during which he had blessed each person individually, he told us, “I had an amazing experience. As I blessed each person, I could see his unique pathway to God, and every one was different.”

Work with each individual as they need: For me, and I think it was true for many of the men, he mainly guided me by working on projects. We would often talk over community decisions, and he would offer advice on how to accomplish something. At first I thought he was talking about the project, but later I realized the advice was usually his way of helping me change my attitudes. One time he corrected me strongly because I was blocking a project that I was sure would fail. He said, “Let him try, even if he doesn’t succeed. That’s the way he will learn and grow.” But he was also saying, “Each person has to play out his own karma. Don’t be too eager to interfere.”

Be patient: He rarely gave personal advice until he thought a person was ready to accept it. There was a woman at Ananda Village who drove everyone crazy by being bossy and critical. One time our son, about seven years old at the time, came home crying and asked us, “Who made her the boss of the world?”

After many complaints, Swamiji finally said, “I’ll talk to her.” We all waited expectantly for the details of how he had told her off. We found out, though, that he had simply invited her to dinner and praised her for her high energy. He knew she was too fragile to hear criticism.

On the other hand, for those who were ready, he could be very direct. If we were dedicated to finding God and serving the mission of the Masters, he didn’t hold back. Often he gave us advice or assignments that were quite untimely. He sent Devi and me along with our young son, first to San Francisco and later to Italy, even though it was very disruptive to our family life. When we asked him about the effect on our son, he said, “He chose you as parents. When you serve selflessly, he also reaps the benefit.”

how swami kriyananda worked with people art of supportive leadership

Help everyone, including strangers.

Help everyone: Swamiji not only helped his friends, but often went out of his way to comfort strangers. One time he bought an expensive massage table for a young man he’d met for the first time. The man burst into tears. “I grew up on the streets as an orphan,” he said, “having always to fend for myself. The one thing I have always yearned for was the love of a father. Today I felt it for the first time in my life.”

How we work with others is an indication of how we work with ourselves. We can apply the principles above to our own lives as well.

  • Always make major decisions in attunement with your highest principles.
  • Work with different parts of yourself as if they were individuals. Be firm with those habits and attitudes where you’re ready and willing to grow. Be patient with yourself in areas where you still have heavy resistance to changing. If you keep making a spiritual effort, the resistance will eventually fall away.
  • Help everyone, including strangers. Every great religion has some version of this advice: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Jyotish

P.S. Here is a link to a recent satsang we gave on this topic. 

Listen to Jyotish as he first reads the blog, then expands on its meaning and messages for readers with behind-the-blog commentary. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (10:39):


  1. That is so inspiring to emulate. Indeed, Swamiji’s ways are so compassionate and compelling to cooperate on the path. Thank you for a lovely share.🙏🌷💖

  2. Thank you so much for such sound advice and also sharing about your son. It cleared some dilemmas in my mind. Aum

  3. mm

    Thank you 🙏 So simple, practical, deep, and beneficial for how to live.

  4. mm

    Thank you so much, Jyotish, this was an extremely helpful and insightful post. I always love reading new stories about Swamiji and had never heard what he shared about your son. It makes perfect sense, in the context of Master’s teachings and the Indian scriptures, about reincarnation and your son who, on a soul level, choose you as parents to help him with his life lessons.

    And I remember well, being at the Kriya initiation led by Swamiji that you talked about.

    His divine wisdom never ceases to amaze.

    Lila Devi

  5. Everything you wrote is right and I work with that
    Thank you for sharing this and a very blessed Easter. Gyandevi.

  6. Nice reminder that each person needs help in their own unique way. Blessings to anyone who is sensitive enough to give that help.

  7. Swamiji was utterly detached from personal attachments. Even in the tiniest, seemingly insignificant matters you could feel that there was no Swamiji standing in the way of God’s pure guidance and love. His love was a vast as God’s. It extended into all regions of our lives. When my mother fell into a serious mental delusion that people were wanting to harm and persecute her, I prayed deeply to God to help her. It was doubly troubling because my father was elderly, blind, and very dependent on her. The next time I visited them, there was only harmony and lightness, and no sign of the paranoia. When I returned to Ananda I went to a satsang with Swamiji at Crystal Hermitage. When I joined the line to greet him afterward, he smiled very widely and happily and said, “How are your parents doing, Rambhakta?” I told him that they were fine and that we had enjoyed a good visit together. From then on my mother never again suffered from the thoughts of persecution. I know beyond all question that it was Swamiji who had healed her. His consciousness was beyond human imagining. Master told him that he was free, and he proved it over and over to my satisfaction.

  8. Good, but not always easy to do so.We live in a world that is upside down.

  9. I’m glad you recognize his great kindness that you expect him to invite you for dinner after reading your point :)

  10. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this blog. Insightful and helpful.
    Wonderful guidelines to be put in to practice.


  11. Thank you dearest Jyotish for writing this beautiful inspiring blog and the link to the Satsang on this topic. Both of you shared so much on discipleship – so deep and expansive that after that 1.5 hr I was soaring – my heart and mind so uplifted and filled with eternal gratitude to Beloved Swamiji for being such a perfect role model and to you all Jis for bringing Ananda into our lives. Thank you dearest Both.

  12. 🙏 Thanks Jyotish for sharing this inspirational story 🙏 Many blessing to Devi and you

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