Swami Kriyananda’s birthday was May 19—he would have been 90 this year. Often on his birthday a rainbow would appear, sometimes in a nearly clear sky, as if the heavens themselves wanted to celebrate his birth.
Although he had many gifts and talents, he always thought of himself as simply a disciple of his great guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. Swamiji did more than just follow his guru. He modeled his life after him, trying to attune himself completely with the Guru’s divine example. I, in turn, have tried to model my life after Swamiji, and, through him, to attune myself more deeply to Yoganandaji.
Swamiji often emphasized the impersonal nature of attunement. He taught us to imitate the divine qualities expressed rather than the personality that was expressing them. Swamiji’s form and personality, that we so loved, were only one expression of soul qualities that manifested in many other ways throughout the countless roles that his soul had played. Here are some of these divine qualities as Swamiji expressed them in this life.
Discipleship: This was Swamiji’s main self-definition. He sought constantly to manifest the will of his guru. Once he said, “I have long tried to attune my thoughts and actions with Master. But I came to realize that this is not enough. Now I try to attune every feeling also, every breath, with him.” His thoughts were often about Master. One time, while we were walking, he stopped and said, “Oh, that’s what he meant.” He was remembering a moment more than fifty years earlier, and had just understood, from the way Master had raised an eyebrow, that the advice he was apparently giving to another disciple was, in fact, meant for Swamiji. I try to emulate Swamiji by attuning, to the best of my ability, every facet of my life with Master and with him.
Creating New Realities: Most people, resigned to this world as a reality they cannot change, merely grumble about those things they find displeasing. Swamiji was not content with such passivity. Like a king of old, if he saw something that was wrong, he was prepared if necessary to create something entirely new to rectify it. The environment in which most people live is not spiritually helpful, so he created the Ananda communities as a whole new way of life. Since he saw traditional schooling as unbalanced, even unhealthy, he created a whole new educational system, Education for Life. Popular music, he felt, was too often downward pulling, so he wrote more than 450 of his own soul-inspired compositions. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Endless Kindness and Support: He was the kindest, most supportive person I’ve ever met. He loved and cherished not only his friends, but also strangers, who then quickly became his friends. His acceptance of us didn’t mean that he ignored our flaws. But he saw past our personalities to our soul qualities, and would go to great lengths to help us grow.
Supremely Non-attached: He was not attached to anything except God and Guru. He didn’t care a hoot about money, except as a vehicle to help others. Nor did he identify with his body and its many problems. In serving his guru he had an amazing ability to rise above illness or pain.
There are many other qualities that he modeled for us, too many even to list. If you want to know him better, read his autobiography, The New Path. And listen to his music. You will find a divine friend, and a model for your life.
Here is a short video about Swamiji that was made for his birthday celebration this year.