Asha Praver to Brother Brahmananda

Asha Praver to Brahmananda

Dear Brahmananda:

When Swami Kriyananda was expelled from SRF, everything was taken away from him—everything except his discipleship to Master. And that, too, his own gurubhais tried to take away, by trying to destroy his faith in himself. Despite this, and many other obstacles, Swamiji not only persevered in his determination to serve his guru, he triumphed.

All on his own he has launched Master’s ideal of world brotherhood colonies. In fact, he has started a world-wide movement of Self-realization. His has been a remarkably creative and productive life. Yet he takes no credit for his accomplishments, but gives all credit to God and Guru. Instead of defining himself as someone unique and apart from the rest of us, Swamiji describes his accomplishments in terms of the divine principles Master himself used and taught in his own extraordinarily creative life. Swamiji has made it very clear: these are principles any one can, at least to some extent, learn and use. Divine creativity through attunement with the guru, in service to the divine cause—this is the cornerstone of Ananda.

With these principles, Swamiji has not only created a worldwide movement, but has trained a generation of leaders who can carry it on in a creative spirit even after Kriyananda himself is gone. Already Ananda operates in a decentralized way, relying more on individual attunement than on institutional directives. Quite remarkable, when you consider that the founder is still alive and is so highly regarded by all of us. It is a great testimony to the effectiveness of the spiritual training Swami Kriyananda has given us.

What you and SRF think about Swami Kriyananda is entirely irrelevant, except within the small sphere of people you influence. Swami Kriyananda’s work speaks for itself. It speaks to the hearts of devotees all over the world, and it will speak to the ages.

People don’t need an organization to tell them what is true. Truth speaks for itself. Thanks to your lawsuit, people now have easy access to Master’s original writings. They can read what Master himself wrote, then compare it to what SRF publishes, and what Swami Kriyananda has written, and make up their own minds. For us it has never been about Ananda or SRF. It is about Master for the World.

At no point in this lawsuit have we ever tried to take away from SRF its own right to serve Master in its own way. We have never tried to steal your copyrights. We don’t want exclusive rights. No one can own these teachings. All we have sought—and won—is our right as disciples to use and disseminate our own guru’s teachings. It was adharmic of you from the beginning to try to take that away from us.

The irony of the whole thing is that if you hadn’t tried to enforce your “exclusive rights” you would never have lost them! Indeed, what has been demonstrated is that you’ve never had them to lose. Perhaps you were inspired by Master to file this lawsuit against Ananda in order to liberate his teachings from SRF’s determination to control them.

As for Michael Flynn, you describe him as honorable because he espouses the SRF cause. You imply we think him dishonorable merely because he opposes us. As usual, you don’t understand who we are or how we think.

It is not the side Flynn aligns himself with that makes him dishonorable, it is the way he fights that defines him.

Devi Novak was deposed by Flynn for an entire day. He used every trick in the book to disconcert and upset her and force her to admit things that were simply untrue. Even his choice of language was lurid and crude. He seems to delight in the process of trying to break someone down. Devi, of course, held up beautifully against his worst assaults. And at the end of the day, she wished him farewell with a conciliatory smile.

Her last view of him that day was him shouting out as the elevator shut in front of his angry face, “You can tell your Mr. Walters I’m going to destroy him!”

And Flynn has certainly done his best to be true to his intent. In the Bertolucci lawsuit, Flynn made no effort to investigate or find out what was true, he merely manipulated the situation to create whatever impression he desired. Because he knew it would prejudice the jury against us, he made a mockery of Master’s teachings—meditation, chanting, discipleship, Kriya, reverence and devotion to Master himself: all came under scathing attack from Flynn. You call this honorable?

When I was on the witness stand, he asked me trick questions to which there was no true answer. Whatever I said gave the jury a false picture. But because of the situation I was forced to answer. Flynn knew perfectly well what he was doing to me. He is cunning, I’ll grant you that. But cunning is not the same as honorable.

When Flynn was taking Swamiji’s deposition in the Bertolucci case—which he conducted more like an interrogation than a deposition—at one point he was laughing and joking with his fellow lawyers, passing around cartoons that depicted Swamiji in pornographic positions. You call this honorable? What devotee would behave like that?

And when, because of all these lawsuits, Ananda found itself in bankruptcy court, Flynn tried his best to get possession of the copyrights to Swami Kriyananda’s books. His clear intention was to destroy Kriyananda’s life work, just as he’d promised Devi he would do. It was the threat to the copyrights that forced us into paying an enormous settlement to Flynn just to escape from the trap he had laid. Do you call this honorable?

There are objective standards of dharma. Calling Master an employee of SRF, saying he is not the sole author of his own writings—by any definition this is dishonorable. You yourself defended to me this absurd assertion by SRF that Master was an employee. I am embarrassed for you even though you seem not at all embarrassed for yourself. You seem to define as honorable anything that advances your idea of the SRF cause. And you accuse us of rationalization and self-deception!

By contrast, in all the years I have known Swami Kriyananda—more than 30 now—I have always known him to be willing to re-examine even his first principles. Every aspect of Ananda’s relationship with SRF and Swamiji’s relationship with his gurubhais has been talked about—again and again and again and again. Far from trying to justify himself, Swamiji has worn us out with his willingness to see himself as wrong and SRF as right.

But even with the greatest humility—which he has always expressed—SRF’s point of view is not persuasive. Every disciple—especially a direct disciple—has both a right and a duty to serve his guru in the way he feels inspired. Thousands and thousands of people all over the world have been brought to Master by the work Swamiji has done.

Because of Ananda, so many of us have been able to live a life of dedication and service to God and Guru. SRF’s position is that it would be better that people die without receiving these teachings, rather than have them disseminated by non-SRF sources. What a travesty of Master’s ideals! You seem to be developing SRF as some new version of the Catholic Church. Yet it is that very concept of institutional religion that Master came to change.

We are very sensitive to the principles involved here. And for that reason, no matter how much we may desire a certain result in the lawsuits or in any other matter, we have never—and would never—use dishonorable means. Where there is dharma there is victory. The joy of it for us is that the truth has always been our best defense.

SRF, obviously, feels differently, not only about Flynn, but about the whole legal process. Years ago, Devi protested to Sister Savitri about the dishonest way Clark was presenting your case. Savitri made no effort to deny his dishonesty, but merely shrugged it off, saying, well, that’s just what you have to do in legal matters.

No, Brahmananda, that isn’t what you have to do in a legal battle. This is what SRF has chosen to do. And, of course, it hasn’t worked. How could Master give you victory through adharmic means? You know SRF hasn’t won a single significant issue in this lawsuit. From our point of view, the “fruit” of your legal “tree” has been sweet. From your point of view, it must be bitter indeed—free publication of the original Autobiography, Kriyananda’s edited version of the Rubaiyat, free use of most of Master’s original writings, an Ananda Church of Self-Realization, publicly declaring itself to be based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, to name just a few of the “fruits” we now enjoy.

Even if Flynn were 100% with Ananda—admittedly an impossibility—we would never allow him, given his way of working, even to assist in our legal effort.

You continue to astonish us with your posturing and your attempt to bluff your way to victory. You and I were both present at Swami Kriyananda’s deposition. For hours, your lawyer tried to trick him into saying something he didn’t mean. You think that is going to be persuasive to a jury? Alll I can say, is let the trial begin! We will soldier on until the last issue is decided.

Then we sincerely hope that this whole chapter of gurubhais battling one another in court, which you have imposed upon us, will be closed forever. SRF and Ananda may never agree as to Master’s will, but once this is done, let us resort no more to secular judges, but leave the final judgement to God.

Sincerely,

Asha Praver, Minister
Ananda Palo Alto

 

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