Can We Talk? A Challenge to SRF Ministers to Debate With Ananda Ministers

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Recently at the book fair in Chicago (June, 2001), two lifelong devotees of Yogananda met. Under normal circumstances, they were so close in their beliefs and understanding of the spiritual life, that they might have been brothers. But in the current environment of hostility and litigation by SRF, they were like different species altogether.

Brother Paramananda (SRF) and Ram Smith (Ananda) happened to meet outside the men’s rest room. Ram asked, “Why are you people trying to bankrupt us in the courts? You won’t succeed, but why do you continue? Is this a way of fulfilling Master’s statement to Daya Mata, ‘When I am gone, only love can take my place’?”

Paramananda replied angrily, “This thing’s bigger than we are. Ananda has changed Master’s teachings! There’s too much at stake here, Ram.”

We were pleased to get Paramananda’s reply. Finally, we realized, someone from SRF has said something concrete—something far more helpful than the many veiled threats and vague accusations against Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, over the past 40 years.

Brother Paramananda has at last come out with what amounts to a direct challenge. We applaud him for doing so. It is right that our differences be aired openly. For years we’ve attempted to engage SRF in open debate; always we’ve been rebuffed or ignored. That, however, which is deemed worth attacking in court cannot, surely, be outside the legitimate arena of thoughtful discussion.

We, the ministers and members of Ananda, challenge you, the ministers and any representatives you select from SRF, to debate the issue raised by Brother Paramananda: the putative changes by Ananda or Kriyananda in the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

We will gladly debate this issue in any or all of the following arenas: in public, on the internet, in private, at an Ananda or SRF location of your choosing. We have mailed a longer version of this letter to you directly, with no reply. In order to encourage you to respond, we place this challenge also on the internet, so that the public may become engaged. We expect thousands of people who love Yogananda’s teachings and his work to be interested. In short, we want to hear from you.

Despite the long years of condemnation of Swami Kriyananda, who is our greatest friend and spiritual guide, most of us feel no animosity toward any of you, not even toward those among you who have been most active in attacking us. Ironically, we can feel this way toward people who have so grievously attacked Kriyananda because he, himself, has trained us to do so. He said nothing but kind words about SRF and the SRF board for most of the early years of Ananda. Until the lawsuit was brought against Ananda by SRF, most of us knew virtually nothing about the ills he suffered at the hands of SRF. We knew still less about the unkind or even harsh treatment that other loyal disciples have received.

Yet, to this day, Kriyananda continues to urge us to think of SRF as our brothers and sisters, with love, and never with anger.

We earnestly hope that you will respond, and that we may talk, freely. Ultimately, we hope that we may serve and live according to our own understanding of Yogananda’s teachings, free from persecution or litigation by SRF. Perhaps someday, Yogananda’s teachings will flourish in America, as teachings in India have for millennia—with the support of organizations where needed, but with primary emphasis on the inspiration of individual disciples, expressed from deep inner attunement with their guru.

In divine friendship,

Jyotish and Devi Novak
Ananta and Maria McSweeney
David and Asha Praver
Bent and Parvati Hansen
Terry and Padma McGilloway
Larry and Karen Rider
Mark and Kirtani Stickney

P.S. Perhaps one of the open discussions may occur at Ananda Village? It is a great sadness to many of us that, since Ananda began in 1968, no SRF leader or representative has ever visited any Ananda community. SRF representatives and leaders freely condemn Ananda publicly, yet none have made a point to investigate the place and the people whom they’ve chosen to attack. Ananda and Swami Kriyananda are loved and appreciated throughout the world. Millions of copies of his books and music have been purchased. We have received testimonials from countless readers, deep thanks from thousands of visitors to Ananda’s churches and retreat facilities, and gratitude from far-flung devotees whose only lifeline to Yogananda is through Ananda’s worldwide meditation groups and internet sites. The only people on earth who have nothing good to say about Ananda are those connected with SRF. Perhaps there is something you don’t know, and would benefit by seeing for yourself.


Dear reader, whether or not you are involved with SRF, you may be interested in the issues that we have raised. Below is a list of Ananda colonies and churches. You may contact any of them about Ananda, Yogananda’s teachings, or the SRF lawsuit. Or write to info@YoganandaRediscovered.com.

Jyotish and Devi Novak
Ananda Church of Self-Realization
14618 Tyler-Foote Road
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 478-7560
ananda@ananda.org

Ananta and Maria McSweeney
Ananda Church of Self-Realization
10390 Coloma Road, Suite E
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
(916) 361-0891
anandasac@jps.net

David and Asha Praver
Ananda Church of Self-Realization
2171 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 323-3363
info@anandapaloalto.org

Bent and Parvati Hansen
Ananda Church of Self-Realization
4855 SW Watson
Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 626-3403
anandap@europa.com

Terry and Padma McGilloway
Ananda Church of Self-Realization
6509 Roosevelt Way, NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 523-4343
anandsea@nwlink.com

Larry and Karen Rider
Ananda East Coast
312 Tomaquag Road, P,O. Box 197
Hopkinton, RI 02833
401-377-8007
AnandaEast@Riconnect.com

Mark and Kirtani Stickney
Ananda Assisi
Cassella Postale #48
I-06088 Santa Maria degli Angeli
Italy
011-390-742-813-620
info@ananda.it

 

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