1976: The Forest Fire — and Ananda’s Inspiring Response

The fire gains strength and speed, carried inexorably forward by strong afternoon winds.

In the early years of Ananda, Swamiji’s role was anything but clear cut. To begin with, there was confusion about Ananda itself. Were we a community where all had an equal voice? That’s how most Farm residents saw it. Or were we an ashram, bound to obedience, or at least cooperation, with the spiritual leader? Even those dedicated to the ashram concept—monks and nuns at Ayodhya, and most residents at the Retreat—wondered, “Is Swamiji in charge, or is it Master?”

Master told Swamiji that he would be more than a teacher; he would have spiritual responsibility for people. Still, he had a profound inner reluctance to assert his authority unless invited to do so. Those of us who did invite him found him unconditionally loving and never ending in his efforts to help us.

But the role of Guru, Swamiji steadfastly reserved for Master. He initiated people, but as Master’s disciples, not his own. Devotees in India, though, thought of Swamiji as the Guru. Even Anandamayi Ma referred to him that way.

“At the present time,” Swamiji said, “the idea of ‘guru’ is not well understood, even in India. Because Daya Mata initiated me as a swami, for example, some people there tried to persuade me that she was my guru. I never had that relationship with her. In India, they relate only to the one who is in the body. Our understanding is deeper.”

After he was expelled from SRF, and deprived of all contact with his gurubhais, Swamiji had to depend entirely on inner attunement. Delusion is subtle. He was determined that whatever following he gathered had to come from Master, not from any effort on his part to draw them. For this reason, too, he hesitated to assert his position.

In the 1970s in the United States, the alternative youth culture was divided. On the one hand, rebellion against all authority by a generation determined to chart its own course; on the other hand, ashrams and gurus springing up all over. Autobiography of a Yogi was a major influence, sending scores of young people to India in search of a guru to take charge of their lives.

“In his Autobiography, Master made it seem as if saints could be found on every street corner,” Swamiji said, “waiting to tap you on the chest and put you into samadhi. Master presented himself so humbly, one could easily overlook the role his deep devotion played in drawing those saints to him. First you must develop the attitude of a disciple, the humble recognition that someone may be wiser than yourself. Only then will a guru come to you.”

Everyone living at the Farm had come to Ananda with spiritual intentions. Most were eclectic, dabbling in many paths; home and family was their first priority. Even among those who called themselves disciples of Master, almost none were interested in Swamiji. SRF’s well-known disapproval was all the justification they needed to disregard, even to oppose his leadership.

Swamiji said, “I was invited to a potluck dinner at the Farm. As soon as I walked in, I felt this challenging vibration, as if there was a chip on their collective shoulder, and they were waiting to see if I would dare to knock it off. God knows, I don’t want disciples, or even followers, but I am the founder of this community, and would appreciate cooperation and support.”

When Swamiji started his weekly satsangs, reading chapters from The Path, only half of the community attended. Those who always came mostly lived at Ayodhya and the Retreat. Those who never came, mostly lived at the Farm. Some even dismissed his reading of the chapters as nothing but an ego-trip.

“I would have said more years ago about the simple need to be loyal and supportive of the leader as an abstract principle,” Swamiji said, “but since it concerned me personally, I didn’t feel free to speak up. Now I feel guided by Master to take a strong stand.

“Quite apart from any special qualifications I may have as a leader, the mere fact that I knew Master should make any sincere person interested in learning from me. I would certainly be eager to learn from one who knew Master if I hadn’t known him.

“It speaks of such an essential lack of humility to disregard my greater experience and think that they don’t have to work with me because they have their own link to Master. If people who live here aren’t interested enough in what we are doing to come to my satsangs, then this isn’t their place. They drag the whole community down.”

Once the master plan was approved, we would face county-imposed population limits. “We need to be more selective,” Swamiji said. “But don’t tell people what they need to do to become members. If they know they are being watched, they will act to please you. Rather, observe them; see what they are naturally inclined to do.”

Even the core group, though, had questions. We, too, were children of the seventies. We wanted to support Swamiji, unhesitatingly, but not unquestioningly. In a long afternoon discussion, we put our doubts before him.

Perhaps authoritarian leadership isn’t suitable for this age.

At that time, one of the most successful communities in the United States was Stephen Gaskin’s Farm in Tennessee. “That group is the epitome of rebellious youth,” Swamiji said. Stephen was the recognized “Hippie Guru of San Francisco” before he set out across the country in a caravan of school buses to set up his rural community.  “Every one of Stephen’s followers,” Swamiji said, “is unequivocally committed personally to him as their teacher. He is far more authoritarian than I would ever be!

“Most people want someone to help them. If they don’t get help from the leader, they think the leader doesn’t care about them.”

What about the communities movement as a whole? Do we tell people, “Go find a saint and follow him?”

“No group can succeed without strong leadership,” Swamiji said. “As far as I can see no community can even get off the ground if it is purely democratic or social. Those who have started that way still don’t have a strong core group because they’ve never had strong leadership.”

Only those who are spiritually evolved can accept that kind of leadership. If we insist that strong leadership is necessary, we won’t be able to help very many people.

Swamiji reiterated, “Everyone wants to find someone they can trust to guide them.” Then added, “In any case, the only kind of community we can start is a spiritual one. That is the life we have chosen. If we fall out of the mainstream of the communities movement, then we have to take that as God’s will. We’ll just add what we can from the sidelines.

“Those who are always thinking in terms of their democratic rights have no idea what they would do with those rights once they had them! Those who want to accomplish something just go ahead and do it without arguing about their right to do so. All those who have helped Ananda to grow have shown a willingness to accept authority. Those who don’t just impede our progress.

“Once people accept the idea of leadership, there is much more freedom, if the leader is enlightened enough to want people to do as much as possible for themselves. That’s certainly my way. About how things are done, I don’t have an opinion. The only time I intervene is when it is a matter of dharma, or when an essential direction is threatened.

“I am not asking people fully to embrace my leadership—only to respect, rather than reject it. It is not honest to live at Ananda with the intention of undermining my position. I have asserted my leadership as a service, not an imposition. It is up to the individual how far he takes it. When a person asks for help, it must come from the heart.

“One woman asked me to help her by pointing out ways in which she needed to grow. But I never did. She made the request, but her heart wasn’t in it.”

Swamiji rarely spoke of his own state of consciousness, but then he added, “I can see right through a person, from just the flick of an eye. I know all about them instantly.”

It was obvious that many of those living at Ananda didn’t fit anymore. Most were good people, just on a different wavelength. Some had been there for years, though, and had put everything they had into the community. It wouldn’t be honorable to cast them out. So the issue festered without a clear resolution. It turned out that Divine Mother had Her own plan.


Eventually, the incompetent Planning Director was fired; but at that time, we didn’t know if or when that would happen. So we had to keep working on our master plan according to her guidelines. The Retreat was the first priority. Plans for the kitchen, dining room, and a large classroom had been reviewed by Swamiji, then submitted to the county. “I saw the plans,” he said later, “but I was writing The Path, and didn’t really put my mind to it.”

In January, the planning group invited Swamiji to walk the Retreat site with them. While others were gathering at the bottom of the hill, Swamiji was already at the top, standing in the meadow, holding a clipboard, making a pencil sketch of how the Retreat should look. The existing plan had all the buildings tucked into the trees at the edge of the meadow; guest cottages would be individual, and isolated. Swamiji put the whole Retreat in the center of the meadow.

“It could be like a Spanish mission,” he said, pointing to his sketch, “with a garden and fountain in the center, and all the guest rooms opening onto it. The old Retreat is a place of seclusion. Those who want deep meditation can go there. This Retreat is for satsang and instruction. People will come here to learn together. Building in this way gives our guests a small community of their own within the greater community of Ananda.”

No one else had even considered changing the basic concept. We were designing the new Retreat to be pretty much like the old one.

With great enthusiasm, Swamiji guided us around the site, describing the function of each building, where it would be placed, what the view would be out the windows. Overlooking the lake, he suggested building a villa of twelve rooms, each decorated with handicrafts from a different country.

A lot of time and money had gone into the existing plans. If we adopted Swamiji’s design, it would all have to be redone, and would give the county one more way to block our progress. When Swamiji saw how reluctant some people were to embrace his design, his energy shifted completely. He put the pencil in his pocket, tucked the clipboard under his arm, and said quietly, “It is just an idea. I don’t want to impose it, if there is a better way.”

Later, Swamiji said, “A leader has to sense what people are feeling and then lead them from there—if possible. If they don’t share his vision, it could be apathy or unwillingness. Or there is a gap either in consciousness or communication. The real measure of a leader is his ability to change people’s consciousness.

“People think a leader has far more freedom than he does. Many times I’ve wanted to do something that others were not ready to do. So I didn’t do it. Their reality must also be respected. If you ask more of people than they are ready to give, they just get discouraged.”

After much discussion of the pros and cons of different designs, those working on the master plan decided it was too expensive, and too risky, to change the plans now.


Swamiji spent the first half of the year mostly in seclusion, working on The Path. On May 19, his fiftieth birthday, he finished the first draft. He had been sending out chapters as he completed them to raise money for the Retreat, and so people wouldn’t have to wait so long to read the book.

Swamiji never hid his activities from SRF; we sent our mailings to all the SRF leaders. Mrinalini Mata, now vice-president, saw some chapters of The Path. She wrote to Swamiji, condemning the book as inaccurate and badly written, and him for being so presumptuous as to write about Master at all.

Soon after, Sister Bhavani, the SRF nun in charge of legal matters, called Pubble about Stories of Mukunda. Swamiji returned her call at a pre-arranged time on June 18. After the briefest of greetings, Bhavani said, “It has come to our attention that you have published Stories of Mukunda. I don’t know how you have been able to do that since you don’t own the copyright.”

“I simply ignored it and decided to wait and see what would happen.”

“What has happened is that we have turned it over to our lawyers.”

“It is my book. I never gave you the right to publish it. It was my gift to the monks.”

“We copyrighted it in 1953 and again in 1958. It isn’t your book. It belongs to SRF.” She then started talking about “other materials you are using taken from Master’s lectures.” The real purpose of her call was The Path. That was also Swamiji’s concern: Stories of Mukunda was a trial balloon he had sent up to see how SRF would respond.

“We watch you do these things,” Sister Bhavani said. “We have for a long time. Daya Mata met with you, hoping you would see the light, but you just continue to do these wrong things. We are tired of it and are going to take action. You will be hearing from our lawyer.”

“Fine,” Swamiji said.  And the conversation ended.


Friends offered Swamiji the use of their condominium on the Kona Coast of Hawaii. It was the ideal place to do the final editing on The Path. A few days after Sister Bhavani’s call, he left for Hawaii.

On June 28, a fire started a few miles from the Farm. With the wind behind it, the fire raced up the hill toward Ananda through vegetation that was bone-dry from seven years of drought. Over the next few hours, the fire followed an eccentric course through the Farm, sparing the public buildings, but burning to the ground almost every dwelling. Fifty people were left homeless; 450 acres of land were destroyed. Five neighbors also lost their homes. The fire went right to the edge of Ayodhya, but didn’t cross the road. The Retreat was too far away to be affected.

Jyotish and Devi’s first-born child was eleven days old when the fire struck. Lakshmi Selbie had taken mother and child to town for a well-baby check-up. Driving home, they saw billowing smoke; then, three miles from Ananda, a roadblock. Lakshmi told the policeman, “My family, my home, and all my friends are there. I am going through.” Wisely, he stepped aside and let her pass. They didn’t know it, but both their homes were already gone.

When Devi arrived at the Farm, Jyotish was there to greet her. She was holding the baby and he lovingly embraced both of them. Then said, “You know the terrible problem we were having with leaks in the roof? Well, we don’t have that problem anymore!”

Repeated over and over in the following days, Jyotish’s remark perfectly expressed the spirit of the whole community.

“All that afternoon,” Swamiji said later, “I had a heaviness in my heart. I knew something was wrong.” About 5:00 p.m., Hawaii time, when someone called and told him about the fire, “I was relieved. I knew it was something we could handle.”

He flew back the next day. Driving through the burned-out community, he was greeted everywhere by smiling, enthusiastic, optimistic people, already at work cleaning up after the fire. Seeing their wonderful spirit, he knew we would be fine.

At the community meeting, he was affirmative, but also realistic. “It is a trauma. Everything you have, gone in a moment. When you meditate, you see it as a divine play. You can take it with a smile. But it is still a trauma. This is a test, not just for those who lost their homes, but for all of Ananda. Replacing the houses is a responsibility we all share.” He encouraged us to clean up the debris as quickly as possible, “before the image of destruction is imprinted too strongly on your memory.”

He stayed just long enough to attend the meeting, have a few planning sessions, and sing at a fund-raiser hastily arranged in town for Ananda and its neighbors. “If I am needed, I’ll return immediately.” Otherwise, he felt his best contribution would be to finish The Path.

The fire had been caused by a faulty spark arrester on a county vehicle. Our neighbors were jubilant—we could all sue and collect millions of dollars. Our loss was so great, we could easily have gone bankrupt—but we decided not to sue.

“Our policy has always been to treat Nevada County as our home,” Swamiji wrote to the Board of Supervisors, informing them of our decision, “to help in every way possible, and never to use it for our own selfish advantage. This is our policy in the present case; we want to impose no hardships on our fellow taxpayers. Our losses are our hard luck, not theirs. We are willing to bear the burden of that hard luck.”

Most people in the county couldn’t understand our decision; many assumed we traded a lawsuit for concessions on our master plan, but that wasn’t true. For us, it was simple: Where there is dharma, there is victory.

Those for whom Ananda was a beautiful place to live, now had nothing. By the end of the summer, thirty people had left. When the first donations came in to help us rebuild, we gave the money to those who were leaving. “We have each other,” we reasoned. “They are all on their own.”

Some of Ananda’s most dedicated members also lost their homes. To them, Ananda was an ideal, and only secondarily, a place to live. Their homes had burned, but their commitment was untouched.

“It happened to them,” Swamiji said, “because they could take it the best. They set an example that will live through Ananda history.”


Swamiji’s goal for the summer was to do the final editing on Part I—his life up to meeting Master and being initiated as a disciple. Alone in seclusion, he did nothing but work. He barely ate, and left the apartment only when necessary. He was right on the beach, but hadn’t set foot on the sand. The intensity was wearing him out. He needed help—other minds to consider the writing; friends to take him out occasionally for a walk or a swim; help with cooking, shopping, and retyping the manuscript. At the end of July, he asked Kalyani to come to Hawaii; soon after, he invited me to join them.

Swamiji thought I had a future as a writer, and set out to train me, showing me, above all, how much concentrated energy it takes to write well. He described the process of writing as four stages.

First, get the ideas down. “When I edit, my writing gets longer. I tend to be terse at the beginning, then expand when I edit so the reader can understand the meaning. When I first started writing, it took great will power to make logical connections across subtle chasms of thought. It still takes energy, but the flow now is more intuitive.”

Second, make the ideas clear. “I’ve tried to write like Master—not the way he wrote, but the way he was: clear, simple, not making a mystery of anything. You have to take into account all the ways a person can misunderstand—although it is better to take a risk than spend pages hammering down every nuance! I prefer to write in a seminal way, giving the reader the opportunity also to meditate and go deeper into what I’ve said.”

Third, make your writing interesting and enjoyable to read. “To express these teachings takes more than being a good writer. You have to write from the heart—but without being gushy. It is more than just making every word count. A good lawyer can do that. You have to put your whole self into every word. Make every phrase alive with discovery. I want the writing to wear well. When you read something repeatedly, that is when you notice if it’s a real pleasure to read.”

Fourth, put your vibrations into your writing. “Vibration in writing is conveyed through melody and rhythm, the color of the words, the way the vowels and consonants fit together, whether you end a sentence with a strong word or a soft one. If you replace a single word, sometimes it changes the whole rhythm and you have to change other words as well.”

Another reason Swamiji invited us to come at that time was that he wanted to hear the book read aloud. “You notice things—especially rhythm and melody—that you may miss when it is only mental. It is more easily understood, too, if it reads easily, like speech.”

He would alternate between sitting in a comfortable chair or stretching out on the couch, eyes closed, listening intently while Kalyani and I took turns reading. Sometimes a whole page would go by without a pause, but more often he interrupted several times. Silently he would contemplate a word or a phrase, before suggesting an alternative, or letting it stand. Occasionally he went to the typewriter and reworked a whole section.

Sometimes we made suggestions. He listened attentively, but never allowed himself to be swayed by our opinions unless they also resonated with his intuition.

Kalyani had been an English teacher and was a talented writer. She felt a certain section could be improved. When she showed her revisions to Swamiji, he said, “There are probably a thousand ways an idea could be presented. What you have written is perfectly valid, but it has your vibration. This book needs to be my vibration, so I’ll leave it as it is.”

Every word received his complete attention. Swamiji told us, “Master said, ‘Divine Mother disciplined me in writing the Autobiography of a Yogi.’ That is how it is for me with this book. She won’t let me rest until it is the way She wants it to be.”

Once, after questioning but then leaving a particular phrase as it was, he smiled and said, “This isn’t the libretto for an opera! I don’t have to sing it!” Later, though he amended that. “It may never be sung, but it should read as if it could be.”

He often had trouble sleeping. “There is so much energy in my brain, I can’t get into subconsciousness.”

It was a small apartment; Swamiji had the only bedroom. I typed at the kitchen table, which was open to the living room. Kalyani slept on the couch, so at night Swamiji took the typewriter into his bedroom. He often spent much of the night writing. I slept on the balcony, reveling in the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks.

The beauty of the surroundings, though, paled into insignificance compared to the power and presence of Swamiji. Sometimes, after retiring to his room to meditate at night, a new idea would occur to him, and he would come back into the living room to talk with us about it. He wore white silk pajamas—a gift from someone in India. His eyes were pale blue, his skin was fair, his beard and hair streaked with white. He seemed more vibration than substance, an astral being rather than a physical person.

One evening, after a particularly intense, and very fruitful day of editing, we decided to go for a swim. But the sunset was so glorious, we just sat on the beach and watched Divine Mother’s show. We all wore glasses, but had left them upstairs, anticipating a swim. Our myopia added to the astral quality of the light, blurring the details into broad sweeps of color. We felt Divine Mother was celebrating with Swamiji the great work he was doing—and Kalyani and I were privileged to witness.

 Most nights, after dinner, we strolled around the garden, talking of the book, Ananda, life in the astral world, and the joy of living for God. In Part II, Swamiji describes being with Master at his desert Retreat when he was writing his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. In the evenings, Swamiji would walk with Master, just as we were doing now with him.

At one point, seismic activity on the other side of the ocean meant we might be hit by a tsunami. Our apartment could be washed away. This was before computers and before inexpensive copy machines. One paper manuscript was all we had. Whenever we left the apartment, we carried it with us. Of course, if we were caught in the tsunami there would be no way to save the manuscript, but at least we could die trying.

One evening, I was retyping the last chapters of Part I. Swamiji reads Autobiography of a Yogi, goes immediately to Master, is accepted as a disciple, and receives from his Guru a declaration of unconditional love. “I don’t think Master said that to very many, even of his disciples, and especially not at their first meeting,” Swamiji said.

I worked at the Retreat, and had heard many stories of how people came onto the path. “Almost no one has such instantaneous recognition,” I said to Swamiji. “It takes time for intuition to awaken, or to work through doubts and fears. Your story is meant to help others, but in a way it is misleading. People may feel that if they don’t have the kind of experience you had, then this isn’t their path.”

Swamiji was thoughtful, then said, “I know, but that is the way it happened. It is a remarkable story of a remarkable search. The only way to make it less so is not to tell it.”

When he returned from Hawaii, Swamiji continued in seclusion, working on The Path. One evening, when only Seva and I were present, he said, “I’ve always felt Ananda would be built around this book. It will make Master known and will link our work to him. I think it could launch a spiritual revolution. It isn’t that I want it to happen that way. I’ve done what I felt Divine Mother asked of me. If nothing comes of it, I’ll be quite happy living quietly here.”

It was thrilling to think Divine Mother would bring many souls to God through Swamiji. If it happened as he said, though, everything would change. The life we had was precious beyond words.

“Perhaps I could burn the manuscript?” I suggested. Swamiji looked shocked, then amused, then serious.

“I understand,” he said gently, “but it is out of our hands. The book belongs to Divine Mother now. It is Hers to do with as She wishes.”

Most of the time he was working on The Path, Swamiji said, “I felt Master’s blessing. But after I finished the first draft, that feeling went away, and didn’t return for several months. During that time, I was eaten up with doubts. Sometimes God tests us in this way. He takes away the feeling, and throws us back on our own discrimination to know what is right. He was testing me also with SRF’s threats and Mrinalini’s disapproval.

“When you accept a test in the right way it becomes a blessing. Far from weakening my resolve, in the end I felt a profound blessing from Master.”


On December 6, Sister Bhavani called again. Seva took the call. It had taken us most of the year to gather the funds to publish Stories of Mukunda. Apparently SRF had been keeping track. Bhavani said, “I told Kriyananda last June that we are planning to republish that book ourselves. We thought you were not going ahead with it. What stage is it in now?”

It was due back from the printer that very day, but Seva said only, “It is in the works.”

“We want to bring this matter to a reasonable conclusion,” Bhavani said, which she defined as our withdrawing publication. Otherwise, SRF would seek legal recourse.

Swamiji responded with a letter. He had detailed notes of her call in June, he said, and there was no mention of SRF’s plans to print the book. All recent inquires received the same answer: permanently out of print. As for a lawsuit, he said, “I doubt you have a case, but if you want to try, by all means do.”

He ended by saying, “Why are you so anxious to suppress these dozen or so stories about Master, when my new book will have over four hundred stories about him?”

This time the response came quickly: a “cease and desist” letter from their lawyers. Stop publication of Stories of Mukunda and destroy all existing copies.

Swamiji now consulted a lawyer about SRF’s claim to own the contents of Master’s lectures, a far more serious concern. In The Path, Swamiji quotes extensively from Master—private conversations and public talks.

“I am his disciple,” Swamiji said. “I write and speak from direct experience.”

The lawyer considered for a moment, then replied, “The leader of a religious work trained you to spread his message. Naturally you have to quote him. A public person speaks words for public consumption. How could one organization copyright his spoken words? Self-Realization Fellowship has a lot to prove.”

Then they discussed Stories of Mukunda. “If you have proof,” the lawyer said, “that they abandoned it, and didn’t warn you of their plans to republish, the door was opened for you to do it.”

Then Swamiji asked about photographs of Master he wanted to use in The Path. “For a public person,” the lawyer said, “only unusual photographs can be copyrighted. I wouldn’t be concerned.”

 Swamiji knew he was spiritually correct; it was reassuring to hear that the law was also on his side. He wrote to Daya Mata saying he preferred “an amicable resolution in a spirit of love,” but if that proved impossible, he was not dismayed at the thought of a lawsuit.

SRF again responded quickly. When Sister Janaki, Daya Mata’s secretary called, it was routed to me. Swamiji expected a call, and had sent me a memo:

If anyone phones me from SRF, tell them:

“1. Swamiji asks you to put everything in writing.

“(Use your discrimination as to how much of the following you say.)

“2. As regards their hopes of settling out of court, he says, Don’t be ridiculous. Do you take him for a coward?

“3. The harsh tone of your lawyer’s letter to Swamiji has only steeled him for battle. He plans to subpoena half the organization.”

I looked forward to discussing points two and three, but I never got past “put it in writing.”

A few days later, on December 29, Janaki sent a letter inviting Swamiji to meet Daya Mata at Mount Washington. There were several possible dates listed, all within the next ten days. Since being expelled, Swamiji had not set foot on any SRF property. His rare meetings with Daya Mata had been on neutral ground.

“Daya has no wish to discuss the matter,” Swamiji said to me. “She intends to use her spiritual authority to force me to go along with her. That’s why she wants to meet at Mount Washington. I see no reason to subject myself to that.”

One of the reasons Swamiji waited so long to write The Path, was that he didn’t know how to present his separation from SRF in a way that was both truthful, and loyal to the organization Master had founded. On the day he planned to write that part of the story, when I arrived at his house in the late afternoon, instead of the usual stack of pages to be retyped, there was nothing.

“I spent the whole day staring at the wall,” he said, “thinking through, from the beginning, everything I did that led to my dismissal. If I was wrong, I would go to Daya Mata, beg her forgiveness and give up all that I have done. But no matter how I look at it, I can’t see that I could have acted differently.”

In the past, Swamiji had been willing to drop everything when Daya Mata summoned. Now he instructed me to answer on his behalf, “As it happens it is not possible for Swami Kriyananda to come to Los Angeles this week.” It was still the holiday season—New Year’s Eve, Master’s birthday. He was willing to meet, though, at some mutually convenient time but wanted to know beforehand what the points under discussion would be so he could decide if the meeting would be of mutual benefit.

Furthermore, a meeting would be more fruitful if Daya Mata first visited Ananda. No official representative—no monk, nun, or member of the Board—had ever come to Ananda. All their information was second-hand. “It would be an inspiration for all the devotees here to meet you,” I wrote, repeating the words Swamiji gave me to say.

Daya Mata never answered. There was no meeting, no visit, and no lawsuit—over Stories of Mukunda.