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Swami Kriyananda — Selected Images from His Life

Swami Kriyananda
May 13, 2021

Swami Kriyananda (James Donald Walters) was born on May 19, 1926, in Romania, to American parents. He was the oldest of three boys and his father worked in the oil industry. Even as a child, Kriyananda demonstrated calmness and strength of mind. He went to private schools in Switzerland, England, and America. As a college student, he dedicated himself to the search for Truth.

In 1948 at the age of 22, Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) became a disciple of the Indian yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda. At Yogananda’s request, Swami Kriyananda devoted his life to lecturing and writing, helping others to experience the living presence of God within. He taught on four continents in seven languages over the course of 65 years. His talks, his music, and his many books have touched the lives of millions. An advocate of simple living and high thinking, his 150 books emphasize the need to live wisely by one’s own experience of life, and not by abstract theories or dogmas. A composer since 1964, Walters has written over 400 musical works that are inspiring, soothing, and uplifting. His books and teachings on spiritualizing nearly every field of human endeavor include business life, leadership, education, the arts, community, and science. He wrote extensive commentaries on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita, both based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

He is known as the “father of the intentional communities movement,” which began in the United States in the late 1960s, fulfilling Yogananda's dream. He founded the first (of what are now seven worldwide) Ananda community in 1967 near Nevada City, California. Other Ananda communities have developed over the years to include Ananda Palo Alto, Ananda Sacramento, Ananda Portland, Ananda Seattle, Ananda Los Angeles, and Ananda Assisi in Italy. Each community has a spiritual focus (a teaching center and temple) and a community (homes where members live). More than 1,000 people live in these intentional spiritual communities. Swami Kriyananda’s example of inspired leadership was the reason for Ananda’s success. He uplifted and encouraged people through personal example, spiritual counseling, writing, lecturing, music, and prayer. He trained the current Ananda leaders in much the same way: free from egoic motivation, always placing the spiritual needs of others foremost in all decisions. He was a patient and sensitive teacher, allowing people to learn by experience, and never placing institutional needs ahead of the needs of an individual. “People are more important than things” is one of the foremost guiding principles of Ananda. And “Where there is adherence to dharma [right action], there is victory,” is another.

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