“I want to be your disciple.” Seventy-five years ago, on September 12, 1948, a young man knelt before Paramhansa Yogananda, and with intense yearning spoke these words. It was the beginning of a journey that changed his life, and by extension our life, and the lives of millions of others throughout the world.

For the young aspirant was Swami Kriyananda (then James Donald Walters), and the Master accepted him as a disciple at that first meeting. Swamiji went on to serve Yoganandaji’s mission—sharing his teachings, spirit, love, and joy—for the remainder of his life until his passing in 2013.

One of Swamiji’s most inspiring and powerful means of sharing with others was through his book, The New Path. Though autobiographical in form, the book’s main purpose is to show Yogananda’s spiritual greatness, and how he guided his disciples towards union with God.

Here are the opening words of the first chapter:

There are times when a human being, though perhaps not remarkable in himself, encounters some extraordinary person or event that infuses his life with great meaning. My own life was blessed with such an encounter more than sixty years ago, in 1948.

Had anyone suggested to me prior to that meeting that so much radiance, dynamic joy, unaffected humility, and love might be found in a single human being, I would have replied—though perhaps with a sigh of regret—that such perfection is not attainable by man. And had anyone suggested to me, further, that divine miracles have occurred in this scientific age, I would have laughed outright. For in those days, proud as I was in my intellectual, twentieth-century “wisdom,” I mocked even the miracles of the Bible.

No longer. I have seen things that made a mockery of mockery itself. I know now from personal experience that divine wonders do occur on earth. And I believe that the time is approaching when countless men and women will no more think of doubting God than they doubt the air they breathe.

At Ananda Assisi, we recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Italian edition, Il Nuovo Sentiero. That evening Jyotish and I spoke about the book’s creation and its lasting spiritual impact. When Swamiji was writing it, he would often invite Ananda Village residents over to hear him read each new chapter, fresh from the typewriter. If, however, we were expecting just to listen to him passively, we soon learned that Swamiji had another idea in mind.

After he’d finished reading, he would ask us, “What do you think? Do you have any comments or suggestions?”

At first, new devotees that we were, no one had the audacity to venture a reply. But Swamiji wanted our input, so he pressed on until someone raised their hand and a discussion began. In part, I believe, it was to see if what he had written was clear to the reader.

There was something more, however. Swamiji knew that it wasn’t enough for us just to hear spiritual teachings passively: we needed to think and talk about them, question them, and make them our own.

What Master brought to the world at this time is a new and dynamic expression of religion. To grow spiritually, more is needed of us than merely going to church and listening to a minister deliver a sermon. We must embark upon the journey ourselves, and do our utmost to understand the teachings and to live them.

Il Nuovo Sentiero, the Italian edition of The New Path.

Jyotish shared an interesting insight the evening of the celebration in Assisi. Swamiji’s first two major literary works were The Art and Science of Raja Yoga and The New Path. The first is a handbook on the philosophy and techniques of yoga and meditation; the second is a handbook on discipleship.

These two themes are an expression of the opening sentence of Yoganandaji’s Autobiography of a Yogi: “The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.”

This is the legacy of Swamiji’s life: the search for truth and attunement with the guru. He showed us how to walk “the new path” ourselves and inspired us to share its blessings with all.

With deep gratitude for the Great Ones who show us the way,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to Devi as she 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 (9:51):


  1. mm

    Thank you 🙏 These words are especially powerful, “Swamiji knew that it wasn’t enough for us just to hear spiritual teachings passively: we needed to think and talk about them, question them, and make them our own.” Both you and Jyotish are such living examples of this. In gratitude always, Devalila

  2. Thank you for sharing this experience.

    We are blessed to have the opportunity to explore and internalize the spiritual teachings of Ananda.

  3. Thank you Devi for this encouraging piece. 12 years ago while at Expanding light for a yiga course I wanted to walk “the path” , but life and loss needed attention. Now my desire for a spiritual life is stronger than ever, and the words of Yogananda sing in my heart. I just finished the meditation course and am moving into the Raja Yoga. Thank you for the reminder that even great ones such as Swami Kriyananda had humble beginnings.
    Namaste, Mariana

  4. Just beautiful and just in time, thank you from my heart for this precious testimony!

  5. With deep gratitude to you Devi, and to Jyotish, who continue joyfully, to expand Swami’s mission as your own, to live discipleship in every breath and action.
    Jai Guru, Jai Swami!

  6. As my wife and I are reading about the life of St. Francis-“The Perfect Joy of St. Francis”, -we read tonight of his acceptance of God rather than the world he had been living in. Such joy and resolve to find Him, deeply remind me of Swamiji’s words to his Guru. Francis finds God as Swamiji did also. Both shared their wonderment in the Divine Inspiration that God brings to us all. It is through singing Swamiji’s music that I truly feel some of that love, desire and inspiration and am blessed to share it with many others. In deep gratitude and joy to God and Guru who relentlessly continue to offer us the choice to seek Him or be satisfied with this life that ‘seems’ so temptingly real. Namaste

  7. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog.
    Grateful to Swamiji and all our Ananda members for helping us walk this path and guiding us home.
    It was amazing to read the connection between first 2 book by Swamiji and the First lines in AY. Wow!

    In deep Gratitude,


  8. mm

    “ With deep gratitude for the Great Ones who show us the way,”

    I include you and Jyotish and many other Ananda gurubhais in the personal gratitude felt for showing us the way. You all keep Swsmiji and Master alive today for those who never met them in person. Thank you all for taking the same vow!

    Thank you Swami Kriyananda for driving cross-country to ignite this journey for so many. I pray for the Light to flow through my words and actions too.

    Love, shankari💖🌸🕉️

  9. Very inspiring , indeed.. Thank you for this wonderful share

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