Swami Kriyananda was the sculptor who chiseled my heart and soul. My life has been transformed by trying to live according to his example. His birthday is May 19, and it seems fitting, as a kind of birthday present, to thank him for some of the ways he changed me and countless others.

Divine Friendship. Swamiji usually signed his letters, “In divine friendship.” For him, this wasn’t just a phrase, but a living reality. He embraced everyone in an aura of acceptance. The day I met him, Easter Sunday in 1967, I arrived uninvited at his door in San Francisco along with my brother-in-law. He and a small group of friends had plans to go to Golden Gate Park for a picnic. He could easily have told us that he was busy and sent us on our way. In fact almost everyone else I’ve ever known would have done just that. But not Swamiji. He greeted us with delightful enthusiasm (another of his characteristics) and invited us in to join the group.

If, at that critical moment, he hadn’t enfolded me in his divine friendship, my life would probably have taken a completely different course—I shudder even to think of what meandering road it might have followed. Thank you, Swamiji, for inviting me into your life, and thank you for your friendship. It has been my constant support and guide, especially in times of trial.

swami kriyananda quotes about him from jyotishLiving Wisely. Swamiji exemplified Yogananda’s teachings of “simple living and high thinking.” I read a beautiful quote from Anandamayi Ma that captured Swamiji’s life. “To a human being, the most noble, irreproachable line of conduct should alone be acceptable. It is a matter of great rejoicing if anyone strives to mold his life upon this pattern. Only actions that kindle man’s divine nature are worthy of the name of action; all the rest are non-actions—a waste of energy.” Swamiji didn’t waste much energy.

Even in times of relaxation, his life-force moved in an upward direction. We often joined him with a small group to watch his favorite movie, Bambi. He liked it, not so much for the story, but for the lovely music, the beautiful colors, and most of all for the charming, innocent friendships among the creatures of the forest. It was, for him, a depiction of divine friendship in nature. When the movie ended and we walked home, it was always with a happier, more open heart. Thank you, Swamiji, for showing me how to uplift my heart and mind.

Leadership. Swamiji was an amazing leader and accomplished a great work for Master because of it. While there were many aspects to his leadership, they might be boiled down to two principles. 1) Don’t let leadership be an ego game. 2) The job of a leader is to bring out the highest and best in others.

In our various leadership roles over the years, Devi and I would meet regularly with Swamiji. He would listen sensitively and guide us. When Ananda started the work in Italy, that first winter was very cold and very difficult. When Swamiji visited a few months later, we told him about the many difficulties we had faced. Rather than commiserate with us he said simply, “No great work is ever started without someone’s tapasya (self-sacrifice).” Swamiji always wanted us to think about others, not our own problems. That precept—not thinking about yourself—is one of the great keys to a successful and happy life. Thank you, Swamiji, for helping me to avoid the pitfall of self-focus.

Discipleship. The very core of Swamiji’s life was his discipleship to Master, and a continual love offering to his guru. He strived to let all of his words, thoughts, feelings, and actions be guided by Yogananda. Toward the end of his life he would say, “I don’t know any longer where Yogananda ends and Kriyananda begins.” I pray that I, too, will be able to say the same when I am ready to exit the stage. Thank you, Swamiji, for your discipleship, and for the purity of your life. And thank you for taking on the task of sculpting my life and those of so many others.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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  1. Dear Jotish,
    That was a beautiful story of Swami’s life. I met him on his last birthday , we connected instantly, and he gave me darsham as he stood on the dias It was a great peace and excitement to be in his presence. I’ll never forget his divine friendship.

    1. So very touching what you wrote of Swamiji, dear Jyotish.
      It brought tears of love to my eyes feeling also what you feel.
      I am grateful that even though he went to heaven, he stayed so present in my heart and in the heart of everyone who felt the love he had for us. We are a very happy family sharing this love with one another.
      Thank you Swamiji💙

    2. When I lived at Ananda in 1986, I worked at the auto body and restoration shop with Kent White. Swami’s car needed to be painted and as the shop finish man and painter, I was charged with the job. The car turned out very nice and I delivered it to the Ananda retreat center for him to pick up. Some choir ladies came down the ramp and jumped into the car, not at all noticing how shiny and beautiful it looked. As I was standing on the ramp near the retreat, here came Swami,, back from the car to shake my hand and tell me what a fine job I had done on the car. The main point here is that he did not care one way or the other about the car. He cared about me and letting me know that he appreciated my efforts and the end result of them . This is the nature of how Swami was and is. He always looked beyond the surface of things and understood what lies beneath the outward energy of a situation. He wants our highest good and loves us for our discipleship. Thanks Swami and Jyotish.

  2. Swami Kriyananda gave me.his divine friendship on his last birthday. 🙏🏻

  3. Thank you!!🙏🏻🙏🏻..I’m really worried and every word is so amazing..and the phrase said by Swami Kriyananda Ji” no great work is ever started without someone’s ta pasya”..🙏🏻🙏🏻

  4. Thank you, Jyotish, for this beautiful statement and for your ongoing example of a life lived for God and Guru.

  5. So very touching what you wrote of Swamiji, dear Jyotish.
    It brought tears of love to my eyes feeling also what you feel.
    I am grateful that even though he went to heaven, he stayed so present in my heart and in the heart of everyone who felt the love he had for us. We are a very happy family sharing this love with one another.
    Thank you Swamiji💙

  6. mm

    Wonderful. Swamiji showed us that the spiritual path is very simple (but it isn’t easy!). His friendship was God’s which flowed constantly through him to bless us all.

  7. Thank you, Jyotish. This is a keeper, worth re-reading often. 🙏

  8. Happy Birthday Swamiji. Thank you for sharing the gifts you received from Master and sharing them so freely with all of us. Thank you for helping to mold my Divine Friends, Jyotish and Devi to serve as examples of the Divine Discipleship that Master shared with you and they have passed on to all of us. Thank you for the Light of God that you have shared with all the World. Namaste

  9. mm

    So beautiful
    I don’t write often enough to say how these blogs are sculpting my life.
    This one, right before Swamiji’s BD brings right to mind and to the heart the real basics/gems of our path … from Swamiji, through you.
    Thank you, bless you

  10. Great uplifting story. I have a long ways to go and a short time to get there but glad to be connected and on the path. Mahalo!

  11. It was interesting to learn that Bambi was Swami’s favorite movie. Believe it or not, I met the man, Donnie Dunagan who, as a child, was the voice of Bambi. You can actually see him in the 1939 film Son of Frankenstein where he played the son of the son of Frankenstein…about age five. He told me that when Boris Karloff had him pinned down with one gigantic foot he would actually tickle him in the ribs with his toe and they laughed so much the filming had to stop. When he grew up he became a Marine and didn’t dare tell the other rough and tough Marines he was the voice of Bambi! Now, he saw heavy combat, was shot several times, stabbed, survived explosions, was awarded three purple hearts…but interestingly enough, having been in Bambi he could never bring himself to shoot an animal. He said “The strongest guys I’ve known in life would pick up a wounded kitten on the road.” Well, I know this is a total side-story but I thought I’d share. He is still living.

  12. Dear Jyotish,
    Thank you for sharing these very personal insights and feelings with us. What a blessing for any of us who
    had the opportunity to meet Swamiji and be influenced by the outward show of affection and friendship he shared with each of us, and the ideas, feelings, lessons and blessings he shared in so many ways, in his writing,
    music and interactions. Now we are fortunate enough to be able to feel a small part of what he shared with
    you as you guide us on this path. Thank you again for sharing these insights with us. Happy Birthday Swamiji.
    In His love and light,

    1. Dear Gloria, my goodness, you should read my comment just above yours. This is amazing. Anazing that you have the same last name as the man who, when he was a young child, was the voice of Bambi. The only difference is his name had two ‘N’s while yours has three.

  13. Thank you Jyotishiji for your profound thank you gift to Swamiji on everyone’s behalf.

    With God and Gurus Love,

  14. thank you Jyotishji for the wonderfully expressed Blog. Always a joy to read these blogs by you & Deviji

  15. thank you Jyotishji for the wonderfully expressed Blog to remember Swamiji on his Birthday
    Always a joy to read these blogs by you & Deviji

  16. I have been acquainted with this great desciple of Swami Yogananda ji by going through the different blogs of Nayaswamiji Jyotish. Actually I am not for me. Myself is the property of Almighty and whenever I will feel it, the life of mine will be justified.

    Thank you Swamiji and hope to get many more such writings from you by which we can be inspired.

    Indranath Sinha
    India, West Bengal

  17. Beautiful, thank you Jyotish.🙏🏼Happy birthday Swamiji💐🦋🎂thank you for a life well lived, a life well shared!

  18. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and inspiring blog. Sincere gratitude to Swamiji for giving us this family and guiding us in the path. Swamiji is an inspiration and role model.
    Our life has become much better and thanks to Swamiji for his guidance.
    Happy Swamiji’s Birthday!

    Aum Guru,

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