FAQ: Swami Kriyananda: Who Is the Real Kriyananda – SRF’s Version or Ananda’s?

Swami Kriyananda wrote Yogananda for the World in mid-2011. Ananda created this website in October as a place to offer the book as a free download, and to serve as a rallying point for those who believe that Yogananda’s legacy and teachings should be restored to the directions he himself intended.

Many visitors have submitted comments, either through the website contact form, or on Facebook. While most of the comments have been favorable, a few, predictably, have not.

The critics tend to make the same points, their arguments reflecting the official SRF “party line” about Ananda and Swami Kriyananda – the views that SRF expects its members to hold.

The real Swami Kriyananda is unknown to the members of SRF. The SRF leaders, and the great majority of members, never judge him on his actual merits. How could they? SRF forbids them from knowing anything about him.

The goal of SRF’s campaign against Swami Kriyananda is simple: it wants to set itself up as the sole “authorized” source of Yogananda’s teachings, now and forever. It wants to confine the Master to a single organization, with absolute control of what its members are allowed to read and think.

This attitude was exemplified by a woman, an SRF member, who visited a bookstore with a friend. (It was the friend who told us the story.)

When her friend reached out to pick up a book by Swami Kriyananda, the woman exclaimed, “If you touch that book, I will never speak to you again!”

By preventing its members from learning anything about Swami Kriyananda, SRF effectively encourages their imaginations to run wild, inventing the worst possible fantasies about him, none of which have the slightest relation to the truth.

The following are some views that are expounded by SRF and repeated by its members.

1. “Swami Kriyananda was found guilty of sexual and financial misconduct. How can he presume to correct SRF regarding how it carries out Yogananda’s work and legacy?”

For Ananda’s response, see the website Ananda Answers, which presents overwhelming evidence that the claims are false.

2. “Swami Kriyananda is embittered because he was dismissed from SRF. Yogananda for the World is his attempt to exact revenge by trying to destroy his Master’s work.”

Those who advance this argument are carrying a highly fictionalized portrait of Swami Kriyananda – an image that SRF has steadfastly promoted for more than 50 years.

Those, on the other hand, who know Swami Kriyananda are aware that there is not a shred of vengefulness in his nature.

Simple integrity would seem to demand that people get to know a person before they presume to judge him. Those who wish to do so will find an inspiring account in Swami Kriyananda – As We Have Known Him, by Nayaswami Asha Praver, a close associate since 1969. (The link is to a free online version of the book.)

In that book, members and friends of Ananda tell hundreds of stories of Swami Kriyananda’s unfailing kindness and compassion, and his selfless dedication to his Guru’s work.

Those who know Swami Kriyananda are aware that the farthest thing from his mind is any wish to harm SRF. Despite relentless persecution by SRF for more than 20 years, Swami Kriyananda refrained from responding, out of respect for the organization that his Guru founded.

But when SRF filed a massive lawsuit against Ananda in 1990, Ananda had no choice but to reply. The lawsuit was filled with lies about Swami Kriyananda, Ananda, and even Yogananda’s teachings and legacy.

Swami Kriyananda felt that Ananda had to respond, not merely for self-preservation but, far more important, to stand up for what he knew to be the Master’s true teachings, and his wishes for his work.

At a hearing early in the lawsuit, the federal judge remarked to the SRF lawyers, “It looks like you (SRF) are trying to put them (Ananda) out of business.”

Swami Kriyananda has no wish to harm SRF or to interfere with its service to its members. What concerns him is SRF’s organizational behavior, which has greatly departed from the spirit that Yogananda himself manifested. It is this organizational behavior that SRF carefully hides from its members.

Toward the end of his life, Paramhansa Yogananda remarked to Daya Mata: “How you all will change the work after I am gone! If I were to come back in a hundred years, I doubt I would even recognize it.”

Swami Kriyananda wrote Yogananda for the World, not from a wish to harm SRF, but to encourage its members to demand that the SRF leaders honor the directions the Master wanted his work to follow after his passing.

Yogananda spoke many times to his beloved disciple about those directions, knowing that he alone among his followers would have the courage and unswerving dedication to keep them alive after his passing, despite tremendous opposition from those who wish to change the work to conform to their own narrow vision.

3. “Yogananda gave the SRF leaders a blueprint for how his work would unfold. He empowered the SRF leaders to carry out that plan. They were with him much longer than Kriyananda was. Kriyananda is an interloper, a rebellious disciple who is trying to prevent that blueprint from unfolding.”

This charge is answered elsewhere on this site; for convenience, the response is copied here:

“Isn’t it true that Master gave the board of directors the ‘blueprint’ for the future of the work?”

Swami Kriyananda answers:

He gave a few hints and suggestions, true. A carefully drawn blueprint, however? No. What Master said many times was, “The blueprint is in the ether.” His way in training us was to indicate directions, but then to leave it to us to discover the way. Only thus would we deepen our attunement with him.

For example, when he put me in charge of the monks he forced me to tune into his guidance inwardly, rather than go to him constantly for advice. He approved of what I was doing, but in the way he answered whatever questions I put to him he showed that he wanted me to deepen my own understanding by inner attunement with him. The disciple’s job is to bring the “blueprint” of his guru’s mission down from “the ether” into outward manifestation.

And from Chapter 30 of A Place Called Ananda, by Swami Kriyananda:

A word that is frequently used by SRF is “the blueprint” – as if Yogananda had sat the directors down and dictated to them his exact wishes for the work. He did nothing of the kind! “The blueprint,” he used to say, “is in the ether.” The pattern “ordained by God” (as he expressed it to Dr. Lewis) remained for his disciples to work out. Even in the responsibilities he gave me personally, which were considerable, he left it mostly to me to tune in to his will and apply it according to my own ability to perceive. If I needed help, he supplied it, but his way with his disciples was to help them develop their own intuition. The so-called “blueprint,” then, is simply an organizational ploy for exercising control.

4. “Swami Kriyananda and the members of Ananda are not true disciples. They are following a separate path.”

The obvious response is that Paramhansa Yogananda knows who his true disciples are. To imagine otherwise, and to claim to speak for him, is absurd.

Would Yogananda reject anyone who faithfully follows his teachings, with devotion? When Christ’s disciples urged him to denounce those who were teaching in his name, but who were not among his immediate followers, Jesus responded expansively, in the spirit of a Master for the world:

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.”

But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is on our side. For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.” (Mark 9:38-41)

SRF’s attempts to destroy Ananda and Swami Kriyananda have failed. In its lawsuit against Ananda, Ananda won 95% of the rulings. Would this have been possible, without Paramhansa Yogananda’s grace and blessings? Yogananda deliberately did not copyright his writings – not from absent-mindedness (of which an avatar such as he would be incapable), but because he wished to give those works to the world.

A Master is above narrow sectarianism and harsh judgments. He guides all those who lovingly ask for his help, regardless of their formal religious affiliation. No institution can confine him. Yogananda is truly a master for the world.

The Master once urged a respected senior disciple, who lived outside of the SRF monastery, to give initiation in Kriya Yoga in his name.

She said, “But what will the organization think?”

Yogananda replied, “Are you following me, or the organization?”

5. “Many of the SRF leaders have nirbikalpa samadhi. How could they err?”

Many of the SRF monastics are saintly people whom the Guru empowers to serve as his instruments to guide and uplift others.

Are they perfected beings? This, certainly, is what SRF would like its members to believe, since it bolsters their claim of organizational infallibility.

What few members realize is that the directions of the SRF organization were set many years ago by one disciple in particular, Tara Mata. Although highly advanced, and deeply devoted to Yogananda, Tara’s attunement with him was, in certain respects, far from perfect.

“In an institution,” she declared, “Only the board of directors has any right to think.” It is an outrageous statement, one that completely contradicts Yogananda’s own views. He had complete respect for the individual’s right to follow his own conscience.

Tara Mata’s faults included a tendency to meddle in the affairs of others. Yogananda urged Daya Mata, “Keep her (Tara) away from people!”

Again, “I know that he (Yogananda) said SRF isn’t a sect,” Tara declared heatedly on one occasion. “But it is a sect.”

In Yogananda for the World, Swami Kriyananda relates how Tara’s attitudes became the official attitudes of SRF after the Guru’s passing. In a chapter of his book, A Place Called Ananda, he describes Tara’s ruthless behavior on the occasion of her dismissing him from SRF.

Swami Kriyananda writes:

In 1968…Tara Mata suffered a massive stroke. Barely able to function, she lingered for two more years, and then left her body. An SRF monk, Brother Turiyananda, who was in charge at the SRF Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, told me that she had said, “I know this happened to me to teach me compassion.”

SRF is fiercely committed to attitudes of narrow sectarianism, and punishes any who dare question its exclusive control of Yogananda’s mission and teachings.

The idea that the SRF leaders could have faults comes nearly always as a great shock to the members. Swami Kriyananda explains that God’s light shines more powerfully through the saints than ordinary people, and in consequence it makes their faults stand out in stark relief. As an example, he tells of a saint he met in India who had the fault of anger. “I didn’t doubt for a moment that he was a true saint, or that he was actually losing his temper.”

Under Daya Mata’s leadership, SRF has evolved as a monastery. Like a walled castle on a hill, its workings are hidden to the lay members. All they know of the “inner SRF” is what they learn from its official pronouncements –not all of which are truthful.

For example, in 1995 SRF sent a letter to its members in which it claimed that it was not financially supporting a lawsuit that a disgruntled former Ananda member had filed against Ananda and Swami Kriyananda.

(What follows is an overview; for further details, see The Bertolucci Lawsuit: The Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) Connection.)

In court, SRF advanced the argument that the charges of sexual and financial misconduct against Ananda would “tarnish” SRF, because people would associate SRF with Ananda; and that SRF should therefore be granted exclusive rights to Yogananda’s “writings, image, and likeness.”

SRF even enlisted its members in a campaign to phone the Ananda businesses and innocently ask, “Are SRF and Ananda the same organization?” The intent was to “prove” that Ananda was passing itself off as SRF. These calls became a joke with the Ananda members. As one Ananda member laughingly put it, “Why would we want to pretend to be them?” The Ananda members are continually aware of the Master’s blessings on this vital aspect of his work.

SRF’s strategy failed. Ananda was able to present persuasive evidence of SRF’s financial involvement in the case, and the judge denied the motion, ruling that SRF could not benefit from a scandal that it had helped create.

What were the grounds for the judge’s ruling?

From public records, Ananda showed that SRF had given Paul Friedman, a wealthy SRF member, a valuable piece of land near its Encinitas property. Ananda believes the “gift” was made in exchange for Friedman paying the lawyers in the Bertolucci lawsuit.

SRF illegally brought Friedman to Swami Kriyananda’s sealed deposition, at which only the lawyers of both parties were permitted to be present. The SRF lawyers introduced Friedman as a “paralegal.”

The moment Swami Kriyananda saw Friedman, he turned to the members of Ananda’s legal team and said, “What’s that man doing here? He’s an SRF member; he isn’t a paralegal.” Ananda believes SRF brought Friedman to the deposition so that he could see what his money was paying for.

When Ananda subpoenaed Daya Mata in order to question her about SRF’s financial involvement in the Bertolucci case, she took extreme measures to avoid the deposition. At first, she simply hid from the process servers. When it appeared that she could no longer avoid being deposed, she invited Swami Kriyananda and the Ananda leaders to a meeting.

At one point in the meeting, Daya Mata told Swami Kriyananda that Yogananda had appeared to her in a vision, and that he had told her very emphatically, in regard to SRF’s lawsuit, that she should, “Settle!”

At the meeting, Daya and the other SRF monastics behaved in a cordial and conciliatory manner, with smiles and laughter. Toward the end of the gathering, Daya Mata exclaimed, “No more lawsuits!”

Naively believing that SRF had finally come to its senses, Ananda agreed not to take Daya Mata’s deposition.

A member of the SRF party later revealed that as Daya left the meeting, she remarked to the other monastics, “Well – that’s the last time we’ll ever have to see him (Kriyananda)!”

Once the “danger” of the deposition was averted, SRF returned to the attack, more fiercely than ever, even demanding that Ananda concede all of the rulings it had won thus far.

In the end, SRF lost at least 95% of the issues in the case, despite spending tens of millions of dollars of its members’ money in legal fees, and submitting an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. (The appeal was rejected – SRF lied about this as well, claiming in a letter to its members that it had achieved a great victory in the case.)

SRF’s tactic of using Paul Friedman to bankroll the Bertolucci lawsuit gave it a way to tell its members the “little white lie” that it wasn’t involved.

It was yet another example of how the SRF board hides its “official” actions and is less than truthful to its members.


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