1992: The Federal Judge Rules in Ananda’s Favor on the Two Most Important Issues in the SRF Lawsuit

Swami Kriyananda with Ananda colony leaders in Assisi during the lawsuit years. L-R (1st Row) Kirtani, Shivani, Devi; (2nd Row) Arjuna, Padma, Swamiji, Maria, Parvati, Jyotish, Asha; (Back Row) Anand, Hriman, Vidura, Durga, Ananta, Pranaba, David Praver

In January, Daya Mata responded, “While we feel no ill will, but only love toward you, that love is not blind to the flaws that have put us in opposite positions.” She describes her position, and that of the other Board members, as “following devoutly the many years of counsel and guidance which Gurudev gave us throughout the time we were with him.” Although she doesn’t articulate the “opposite position” she attributes to Swamiji, it would have to be that he doesn’t follow the Guru’s guidance.

“It is sad,” she says, “that we are engaged in a lawsuit; yet it is our duty to uphold the name Gurudev gave to the Society he founded and to follow his instructions with regard to the teachings that he left in our care.”

 To support the idea that Swamiji resigned from SRF, rather than being dismissed, she ends by saying, “We recognize, Kriyananda, that you need to have your own organization…”

Swamiji commented wryly, “Recognize is perhaps the kindest word one can use to express disapproval without giving undue offense. It certainly doesn’t indicate the slightest openness to anything I’ve done. Stern disapproval is evident by their refusal, in all these years, even to set foot on Ananda property!”


Money for the lawsuit was now a huge problem. Already we had spent $150,000, piecing it together from various accounts, plus a few loans. The immediate need was for $100,000 more; then, that was raised to $350,000. We did a lot of the research and secretarial work ourselves, either as volunteers or for Ananda wages, which are far lower than market rates. Naidhruva had left the practice of law when she moved to the Village a few years earlier; now she took it up again full-time to help Jon. High as our expenses were, we knew SRF’s must be many times higher. They employed multiple lawyers from one of the largest, most prestigious firms in the world. Jon’s rates were modest; theirs, no doubt, were not.

So far, only our closest members knew about the lawsuit, which greatly limited our fundraising potential. But the fact of disciples fighting each other in court could be so detrimental to Master’s reputation, we hoped it would all be over before the public found out; or worse, the media picked up the story.

In a lawsuit, confidentiality is a complex matter. It was Swamiji’s nature, and by extension the culture of Ananda, to be completely open. Now, much had to be withheld, even from our closest people. Private discussions between an attorney and his client are privileged, and therefore not subject to the discovery process. If the content of those discussions, however, is revealed to a third party, the privilege is lost. SRF would then have a right to know what was said in meetings with our own lawyers. From our point of view, all of Ananda was the client, but we weren’t sure that would hold up in court, and it was too risky to test it.

Furthermore, SRF had many channels into the community, not all of them known to us. It would be disastrous if they learned our strategy in advance. All of this made communication difficult. The unusual aura of secrecy around the lawsuit was one of the reasons many felt uneasy about it. It was not the time, though, to honor private doubts. Our survival was at stake.

Every Ananda department, every business, whether community owned or private, and nearly every one of the 250 members of the Monastic Order, made a monthly pledge to the campaign, which we called Master for the World. When the call came to double that pledge, then raise it again, almost everyone complied—even though it meant, in some cases, fifty percent or more of a person’s discretionary income now went to the lawsuit.

Non-essential projects were cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The Temple of Divine Inspiration, already stalled because of construction issues and Rosanna’s long absence, was now abandoned. Forcing us to diminish our service to Master was the third way SRF might win—the first being to prevail in court, the second to drive us into bankruptcy. We were determined that none of those things would happen.

Members with private means donated what they could; then loaned even more—either interest free, with payback postponed until the lawsuit was over; or interest only, which the pledges could cover. It was ironic that in the same meeting we decided to change our name to Church of Self-Realization, Swamiji also spoke against the American tendency to go into debt. We had to assume Divine Mother had a plan.

The culture of SRF is secretive; information is strictly controlled. They had no need to fundraise, so the fact of the lawsuit was buried so deep that virtually none of the members knew about it. Even the monks and nuns didn’t know, except for the handful who were directly involved.


Swamiji had not yet recovered from his near-fatal collapse in Florence. His heartbeat was erratic, sometimes racing, often skipping beats. The medication he was taking to stabilize his heartbeat caused intense pain in his hips, a side-effect that went undiagnosed for months. The doctor thought the problem was the prosthesis, and that Swamiji would have to face another operation. Then Swamiji pulled a muscle in his groin, and had to hobble around on crutches.

Late one night, in the rush to answer an important phone call, he aggravated the groin injury; and then couldn’t move because of the pain. Fortunately, a few of us, including Dr. Peter, were with him at the time.

Ananda’s attorneys, Jon Parson and Naidhruva Rush

Earlier, seeing the precarious state of Swamiji’s health, I had asked him, “Are you working out on your own body the karma of the SRF lawsuit?” In Autobiography of a Yogi, Master said that great souls sometimes use their bodies to work out karma that isn’t their own, either to help their disciples, or to further the cause they were born to serve.

“Yes, of course,” Swamiji said. “Everything new in this world has to be paid for with someone’s tapasya. I might as well put this body and mind to good use.”

Usually Swamiji refuses pain medication, but this time he agreed. It was an hour, though, before it took effect. To distract himself, he starting telling us the plot of two movies he particularly enjoyed: Magnificent Obsession and Random Harvest. Swamiji had no patience with the selfishness that masquerades as love in most modern fiction. Both of these were old movies, romantic tales of noble, self-sacrificing love; the kind of love that is “God-reminding, and therefore uplifting.”

When he finished telling the two stories, he said, “Thank you, Divine Mother. I am so grateful for what you are sending me. Think of all the karma I’m working out!” Then with a smile, he corrected himself. “Rather you think about the karma. I am busy thinking about the pain!” His groin muscle was injured, but his humor was intact. “My physical karma is like job seekers lining up outside the employment office pushing each other aside to get in!”

He started telling us playful things that Master had done. Sometimes when the monks were outside, he would call to them from his second-story window, then toss candy down to them. But sometimes, instead of candy, he would dump a pitcher of water on them! When their chatter disturbed his concentration, this was his way of getting them to stop. It was all in good fun.

 “It sounds odd to say it, so I don’t usually put it this way,” Swamiji said, “but Master was so adorable! He had a marvelous sense of humor.” Suddenly he turned grave, “SRF has made him so stiff and lifeless. It isn’t Master!”

Referring to an SRF monk who was outspokenly against him, Swamiji said, “He used the argument, ‘All of Master’s disciples are on one side. Kriyananda is on the other. How could he alone be right?’ There is a lot of power in that thought; I had a hard time standing up to it. The only thing to do was wait and see if the course I’d taken proved itself. Even ten years ago I couldn’t have said for certain, but now we can.”

Finally the medicine took effect, Swamiji got sleepy, and Dr. Peter tucked him into bed like a child. We were glad the pain had finally abated, but reluctant for the evening to end. We knew that we had been witness to a holy sacrifice. As we took our leave, Swamiji murmured sleepily, “I am so grateful for your friendship, your care, and your kindness to me.”

A few weeks later, Swamiji woke up in the middle of the night with the unsettling realization, “Tara, Daya, and the others have always judged me harshly, but in trying to get them to see the error of their position, I have also subjected them to my judgment. It has been like waves feeding on each other.” He said he stayed up meditating for two and a half hours, until he was finally able to rise above the downward pulling energy of that thought.

“In these last few years, there have been many hard tests. One must be grateful; how else can we become free? When we wake up in God, we will realize that it has all been a dream. In the hospital in Florence, I felt so free. Reaching a certain state of freedom though, also allows deeper levels of bondage to reveal themselves. People say, ‘Just rise above it,’ but it is not that easy. No other disciple has had to face what I’ve gone through—the loss of everything I believed in.”

Swamiji was always willing to review his own actions, trying to see it from SRF’s point of view. “On a personal level, how can one be sure? You can’t see yourself from the outside as others do.” In India, it is understood that every disciple has a duty to serve his Guru in his own way. SRF says that Master’s mission stands apart from the tradition of India, that he corrected that tradition, putting all responsibility on SRF.

“They are putting me in the position of having to oppose them, bringing everything out into the open. It is not what I want, but I have to accept that it is the job God is giving me to do.”

Swamiji was reluctant to take such a step until he was certain Master approved. He also needed more clarity about his own inner direction. The Visions of the Future conferences had been a huge success, both in terms of the reception Swamiji received and the books sold. “There were some devotees in the audience,” he said, “but mostly it was a new age crowd.

New age is kind of a peculiar term, but it is the best anyone has come up with to describe generally what we are all doing. The main similarity among us is the dream of a better world. Where I diverge from most of them is that I don’t believe this world is perfectible. It is only a school where we learn to perfect ourselves. So the question of new age vs old age isn’t nearly as important as the age-old one of spiritual awareness vs material attachment.

“Too many people think they are responsible for making the new age happen, a thought which easily leads to pride and ego; and then just as easily can lead to evil, rather than good. Something is happening, but we are not creating it; we are merely attuning ourselves to it—attuning ourselves to God, and serving as His instruments.

“I gave what I could, but I didn’t feel drawn to serve in that way.” That was the reason, in addition to health, that he dropped out of the last two conferences. Usually nothing can make him break his word, once it is given.

In April, when he had recovered enough to be on his own, he rented a house in Carmel for a month of deep seclusion.


In the middle of April, there was a court hearing on our counter-claim for defamation, and our motion to declare Self-realization generic. We supported the motion with more than two thousand pages of evidence of generic use, including many examples from Master, Daya Mata, and SRF. One that we highlighted for the judge was a welcome pamphlet from an SRF church, that they had included with their trademark application to show Self-Realization as their name; but in the text, Self-realization was also used generically!

We explained that SRF was not the only group in the Hindu-Yoga tradition to register trademarks on words of ancient origin used generically in the East, but unknown in the West. It was a disturbing trend.

When the judge ruled in our favor, declaring Self-realization generic, he called it “an important case for religious freedom.” On our counter-claim for defamation, though, he ruled against us. SRF’s condemnation of Swamiji was, for them, a religious belief, and therefore protected as both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Swamiji wrote to Daya Mata. “Now that you’ve lost the main issue, won’t you again consider my plea to give up the lawsuit? My concern is for the damage that will result from raising certain issues that are inherent in this case. If you continue to attack us, not only are we obliged to defend ourselves, but also, the very logic of the case is what determines our replies. The issues exist. We have no choice but to state them simply and clearly as a matter of fact. Yet it remains true that we would prefer with all our hearts to avoid them entirely.

“This letter is not meant as a warning. Nor is it intended as a threat. Rather, once more, it is a plea, made with folded hands.” Their response was to ask Judge Garcia to reconsider his ruling on Self-realization as their first step to filing an appeal in a higher court. Even if they had no chance of winning, every motion SRF filed required an answer from us—hours of work costing thousands, eventually tens of thousands of dollars. SRF had unlimited funds; they knew we did not.

Included in our evidence were a dozen declarations from other spiritual groups, confirming the widespread use of Self-realization unrelated to SRF. They, too, were alarmed that one group could get exclusive rights to generic terms. SRF now contacted these declarants, and tried to persuade them to change sides. Their letter and reports of their phone calls were immediately passed on to us.

SRF claimed the lawsuit was only about the name, and that they met with us to try and resolve the issue without litigation. “Only when Ananda refused to give up the name” their letter stated, did SRF have no choice but to file a lawsuit. In fact, the meeting was held at our insistence, two months after the lawsuit was filed. We offered to give up the name, but it wasn’t enough to stop the litigation.

In their letter, SRF said they would never try to “bar Mr. Walter’s group—or any other group—from using the term ‘Self-realization’ in book titles.” In fact, because of the title, SRF had asked Judge Garcia to stop publication of The Essence of Self-Realization, but he refused.

We were still trying to keep quiet about the lawsuit and had involved other groups only because it was important for the judge to know that ours weren’t the only rights threatened. Now SRF had given third parties a completely distorted picture of what was going on. We couldn’t keep silent any longer.

Ananda legal office support crew, 1997: Keshava (office manager); Latika (Ananda worldwide legal team organizer and communicator extraordinaire, visiting the Mountain View Ananda Community on legal business; Rambhakta (office aide and gofer)

In May, a long letter from Swamiji went to our whole mailing list. “Two years ago, SRF moved into active confrontation with Ananda. They initiated a lawsuit to bar us from using Paramhansa Yogananda’s name, from using any of his writings without their permission, and from using his image or likeness except in conjunction with our religious services.

“No one disputes that Paramhansa Yogananda founded Self-Realization Fellowship. The question, then, centers on whether he founded it as an organization for disseminating his teachings, or for controlling their dissemination. In our view, he offered SRF as a gift of loving blessing to the world, and not as an instrument of control. Historically, these two roles have proved incompatible. Always, the emphasis on control has diminished the focus on inspiration, at the same time increasing the emphasis on power.

“It is traditional in India for the disciples of a great Guru to serve him, each in his own way, after his passing, guided from within and in accordance with the Guru’s personal instructions. The test of the validity of any guidance is in the results.

“The fact that Ananda has succeeded, contrary to SRF’s expectations, is a reality they still have to come to grips with. If people are helped by what they receive from Ananda, well and good. If they are not helped, they will go elsewhere. The truth will win in any case. Where, then, is the problem?”


Between the demands of the lawsuit, and the limitations imposed by his health, Swamiji did very little creative work. One song, Mist, came to him in a dream. “I saw a woman standing on a cliff, looking at the ocean. She was singing, not to me, just to herself.” In the middle of May, as a birthday gift to Uma, he put to music words of Saint Teresa of Avila. “Let nothing disturb you, nothing affright you, all things will pass, but God changes not. Patient endurance brings you to victory. Once you have God, you’ll want nothing more. God alone! God alone! God alone is all we ever need.”

For Swamiji’s birthday on May 19, two professional actors in the community directed a dramatic reading of The Peace Treaty. It was held outdoors in the amphitheater by the lake, the actors arranged in a semi-circle in front of the altar. Swamiji was thrilled to hear the characters come to life. For all of us, a few hours on Crystal Isle was a welcome respite from the “real” world. Perhaps our little story, too, would prove to be a “comedy in the classical sense”—not a farce, but a story with a happy ending.


In June, the court ruled in our favor on the motion challenging the validity of SRF’s copyrights. The judge gave them exclusive rights to their edited versions, but most of Master’s original writing did not belong to SRF; it belonged to the world. Swamiji was jubilant. “This means they won’t be able to prevent us from sharing Master’s teachings. Everything else is less important.”

Of course, SRF immediately filed a motion for reconsideration, with the intention to appeal; but piece by piece, we were dismantling their case.

A few days later, Swamiji shared the good news with the whole mailing list. “It was a dilemma for us, at first, whether to write you on the subject of the lawsuit, to involve you in what can only be described as a spiritual test. A letter going to so many people is bound to reach some who are less ready than others to face these issues.

“What decided us was the fact that people can’t grow spiritually so long as they hide from reality. For those of us who have been involved from the start, this test has made us stronger in our attunement with Master and in our dedication to this path. We have taken it inside ourselves in meditation and have come to understand our own teachings, and Ananda’s special role in spreading these teachings, more deeply.

“We are grateful, not only to God and Guru, but to SRF also, for the real blessings that have come to us through this lawsuit.”

He then described how this same karmic period had been a time of extraordinary development for Ananda, despite the enormous financial burden of the lawsuit. He explained it by quoting what he had written to Daya Mata four years earlier. “Every time you tell an untruth about Ananda it gives us shakti [spiritual power], because the truth has to come out somewhere.”

Every Saturday throughout the summer, there were concerts in the garden at Crystal Hermitage. Sitting on the green lawn, looking at the flowers, listening to the gush of the small waterfall at the edge of the swimming pool, watching the sunset behind the singers performing on the terrace at the edge of the hill, it was easy to forget everything except the joy of God, the beauty of Swamiji’s music, and the miracle of Ananda.

In August, Jon and Naidhruva held a meeting for all Ananda members. Now that two major motions had been decided in our favor, they were feeling more confident, and had figured out ways to share about the lawsuit without jeopardizing our position. Naidhruva was well known in the community, but most people were meeting Jon for the first time. They had already heard about his skill as a lawyer, but now another side was revealed: He was quite the standup comic!

Naidhruva and Jon at work on a motion.

Once when Swamiji asked me a simple question and I responded with a witticism that sent us both into gales of laughter, I asked him, “What is humor?”

“To a certain extent,” he said, “kindly humor is a spiritual quality, because it implies having enough detachment to see the absurd in any situation.”

Even the most serious discussions about the lawsuit frequently included heartfelt laughter, to the point where someone remarked, “I’m going to miss this lawsuit when it’s over!” Jon called it the “camaraderie of the trenches.”

Jon and Naidhurva brilliantly conveyed the integrity of our cause and the honorable way we were defending it. The video of that meeting became the cornerstone of our fundraising efforts.


Self-Realization Fellowship was unrelenting in their pursuit of the lawsuit, doing everything possible to prolong the process and drive up the costs. They continued to misrepresent the nature of the litigation, claiming, even now, that it was only about the name. In response to one of SRF’s motions, Judge Garcia said, “If I grant your motion I effectively put that religion [Ananda] out of business, and that bothers me.”

In 1962, only Swamiji was involved. Now all those who had put their faith in his vision of Master’s work were being smeared. He could no longer keep silent. “We can’t continue to do the mission Master has assigned us,” he said, “with the thought always in our mind of not disturbing SRF.” Much as he regretted it, he was being forced to oppose SRF itself.

In September, for the third time, Swamiji wrote the story of My Separation from SRF. That long-ago decision to expel him was the key to the present dilemma, he explained, for it took SRF off the path of inspiration and support and onto the path of power and control, which soon separated them from Master’s true intentions for his work.

The first two versions of My Separation had very limited distribution, almost a need to know basis. This one he sent to the whole Ananda mailing list, since they were already fully informed about the lawsuit. In the 1980 version, Swamiji focused on principles of discipleship as they applied to himself. In 1990, what mattered were the simple facts. SRF had called him an interloper; that charge had to be refuted. In this third version, which he called An Open Letter to the Board of Directors, Self-Realization Fellowship, he again focused on principles—this time, how they applied to SRF, Ananda, and the whole of Master’s mission.

As he wrote, edited, and rewrote the letter, he sent each draft to the legal team and a few others, asking us to read it carefully, meditate, and then give him our frank opinion. “I am not just speaking for myself,” he said, “but for all of Ananda.”

In the Open Letter, Swamiji was fair, but far from neutral. He wrote passionately about issues that were, for him, his very reason for being. “In matters concerning oneself, there is always room for doubt,” he said. “But when it comes to these theological questions, I am absolutely confident in what I say.” Some were thrilled that finally Swamiji was “telling it like it is.” Others pleaded with him to tone it down. Swamiji made the final decision, but was attentive to all suggestions, and included many in the finished document.

To explain why, after thirty years, he was writing this way, Swamiji said to the SRF Board, “Your lawsuit has changed the relationship between us. It has subordinated the issue of harmony to deeper issues of truth. It has made it mandatory for me to address certain issues publicly that I was hoping would eventually clarify themselves on their own.

“This letter is being written not so much to you, personally, as to all the students and disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, future as well as present, who belong to this work as much as you and I do. I’ve addressed you in this letter because of your position as guides of the work, but otherwise this letter is not personal. It is being written to address fundamental issues in the work, in the sincere belief that the very future of Master’s mission is concerned.”

He described the specifics of his separation, his differences with Tara Mata, her influence on Daya Mata, and through her, on the whole direction of SRF. He explained the events in India that culminated in his expulsion. It was information that needed to be shared, but it was not the main thrust of the letter.

“You have been trying to make a shrine out of Master’s organization. And now you have decided even to make it a punitive body, like the Catholic Church during medieval times, arrogating to yourselves the duty of preventing anyone outside your organization from ever speaking Yogananda’s name. Apart from the fact that I never heard him say it, reason itself militates forcefully against any possibility of such an interpretation.”

Speaking of SRF’s losses in court, Swamiji pointed out that neither divine nor secular law supported their claim to exclusive rights to Master’s teachings. “Master told us clearly and repeatedly the kind of religion needed in the present age. It must be free of dogmatism, free of rigid institutionalism, and strong in its emphasis on individual Self-realization.

“The future development of Master’s work depends to a great extent on how the question of control gets resolved. To what extent should control be enforced? To what extent exercised as an influence? And to what extent should people be won to an idea not by exercising control over them, but by inspiring them? I have no personal desire in this matter except to further Master’s vision for the work.

“I do, however, have very deep convictions concerning that vision, and it would take a great deal more than your merely telling me what he wanted, against my own strong beliefs and even direct knowledge, to the contrary, for me to change my mind. Show me good reason why I am mistaken and I will change my mind in an instant. Please, however, don’t go on ignoring my arguments, while at the same time quoting Master out of context to others or offering them words carefully edited in your favor.”

Swamiji discusses in thoughtful detail every important philosophical and theological principle that guides Master’s work now and will guide it for generations to come. He puts special emphasis on those points where Ananda and SRF diverge. In presenting his conclusions, he doesn’t rely on his authority as a direct disciple, as the SRF leaders do, but explains step-by- step how he arrived at these conclusions. Then he does his best to explain SRF’s logic, laying their conclusions next to his, to show different ways the same question might be resolved.

He deals with many subjects, including contractive vs expansive energy, missionary vs the cloistered life, the pros and cons of obedience, true humility vs mere suppression, the meaning of renunciation, the commission he received from Master, and how that relates to the “blueprint Master left in the ether” for the future of his work.

It was self-evident to Swamiji that Master would want his disciples to work together. He quoted a letter he received from a long-time Ananda resident. “‘Your supportive energy, Swamiji, has succeeded in keeping this conflict essentially one-sided. That is, SRF policy—substantiated in their legal papers and by countless other examples—is that you are despicable. Ananda members, on the other hand, have continued all these years to hold SRF in high regard, and in fact, have only slowly been able to absorb the reality of this lawsuit—primarily because the picture we have always received from you has been so much more supportive than the facts warrant!’” Swamiji comments, “I’m very proud of the people in our communities. It would be so easy to be angry toward SRF, but instead they have shown nothing but charity.”

In summary, Swamiji wrote, “Today we are living in the spring days of Master’s work. It is the hour in its history—with its new, vital, and vitally needed message—to emphasize expansion, and to support those who would help it toward this end. This is not the time to stamp into the ground the green shoots of new enthusiasm with excessive zeal for self-protection and control. The joy of new discovery needs to be accepted as one of the greatest assets Yogananda’s mission can have.”

After the Open Letter was sent, Swamiji said, “I feel such joy. I think Master is very pleased that I’ve written it.”


In October, Ananda Palo Alto scheduled a performance of the Oratorio. We didn’t yet have an appropriate venue of our own, so we rented the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, a three hundred-seat theater in the adjacent town. With a huge stage and professional sound and lighting, we were able to bring together live musicians and a choir of seventy voices, drawn from all the communities—which we now called colonies, as Master had done. It was the first time the Oratorio would be performed on such a grand scale.

We invited Swamiji to attend, but he was already committed to another event for the same weekend. At the last minute, though, when that event canceled, he decided to come—not to sit in the audience, but to sing in the bass section and do some of the solos. Other singers happily ceded their songs to him, especially those expressing the voice of Christ.

He arrived exhausted, both from his work on the Open Letter and, at the same time, writing eight more books for the ever-popular Secrets series. His fatigue was made worse by a long rehearsal on the day of the performance—the first time all the singers and musicians were together on the unfamiliar stage. When he finally returned home, Swamiji said, “That rehearsal was like a competitor in an eating contest who, lacking confidence for the big event, eats everything in the morning just to be sure he can do it again in the afternoon!”

After a few hours rest, though, Swamiji was completely rejuvenated. He went early to meditate with the choir. At the end of the meditation, he said “Let us pray for the audience, that they may be filled with divine joy, and through this music, come to know the living Christ within.”

Later he said, “It is natural for singers, especially our group, who are not professionals, to feel nervous before such a big performance. I wanted to turn their attention away from themselves and toward the thought of serving those who come.”

Countless times in my life with Swamiji, I thought, “My soul will remember this forever.” That Oratorio was one such moment. We had endured many long, unpleasant days in court, and there were many more to come. When the Oratorio began, everything else was forgotten. It was a choir of angels, singing music that could only have come from God. At the point in the story when Jesus is on his way to be crucified, Swamiji sang,

Thy will, Thy will, Thy will be done!

All that I am is Thine, all that I am.

Nothing of man endures, wonder or scorn.

Birth, life and death are one: veils of Thy love.

Thy will, Thy will, Thy will alone!

All that I’ve done is Thine, all that I’ve done!

What a strange contrast between the bouquets of flowers and the prolonged standing ovation Swamiji received after the performance, and the vilification heaped upon him in the lawsuit. “This world is entirely God’s,” Swamiji said, “just a dream that goes from tragic to happy, then happy to tragic again. No matter what you accomplish, or fail to do, when you die it is all left behind. God is the only reality. Nothing else matters.”

At another performance of the Oratorio, when Swamiji listened from the audience, I was sitting next to him. The quartet finished The Temptation of Christ, in which Jesus sings,

Get thee behind me,” Jesus declared.

“Satan, know you not our Father offers love in your stead?

“His gift of love to all is my only food;

He is all I own. What does man need, but Him?”

In the pause between songs, Swamiji whispered to me, “Rajarshi told me that Master would give me the power I needed to do this work. What he meant, among other things, was the music. I don’t know where it comes from; it is just there.” Later he said, “Ananda would not be what it is today without the influence of the music. Books and lectures are the outer form of the teachings; music is its coursing blood. It is not my music or even our music. It is a new ray of consciousness that is coming into this world as music. Every note is the way I heard it. I didn’t create it, I just wrote it down.”


Master’s most advanced male disciple after Rajarshi was Oliver Black. He lived in Michigan and founded an ashram there called Song of the Morning Ranch. When Mr. Black died, the leadership fell to Bob Raymer, also a direct disciple. Bob was married and had never lived at Mount Washington, but often came to see Master there; so Swamiji knew him from those years. Bob invited Swamiji to Song of the Morning to give a satsang. Right after the Oratorio, Swamiji and Jyotish flew to Michigan.

Among the many consequences of being separated from SRF and then vilified ever-after, was that Swamiji rarely had the company of anyone else who knew Master. It was impossible for us to appreciate how lonely this was for him. The satsang went on for three hours, as Swamiji reminisced with Bob, and told story after story of Master. Fortunately, this unique event was filmed for generations of disciples to come.

Disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda at a Tribute to Yogananda at the Temple of Leaves at Ananda Village in 1993. L-R: Bob Raymer, Roy Eugene Davis, Peggy Deitz, Swami Kriyananda, Anjali Ghosh, Debi Mukherjee, Hassi Mukherjee, Harekrishna Ghosh (Yogananda’s nephew)

Then Swamiji and Jyotish went to Florida for a few days of vacation at Epcot Center. Epcot is a sort of World Brotherhood Colony, with many sections, each devoted to a different country, featuring their language, art, culture, and food. Swamiji greatly enjoyed his “trip around the world,” speaking different languages as appropriate.

He was most moved, however, by the section devoted to the United States, which “thrillingly expressed the high principles and ideals upon which the country is based. In many ways, Ananda is an American community, not merely because we started here, but because America, more than any other country, epitomizes the values of Dwapara Yuga. People in this country tend to see us as something foreign, because Master was from India; but in our values, and the way we express them, we are uniquely American. We need to create more ways to tie the spirit of America to the spirit of Ananda. It would help the community and it would help the country.”


In December, Swamiji wrote a letter to the community: his marriage with Rosanna was over. “I am deeply grateful to all of you for your sensitivity and kindness these past years in not pressing me for news of Rosanna’s future at Ananda, and with me. I would have volunteered this information willingly, had I been clearer myself concerning it. As things are, however, I have been praying all this time for guidance and understanding. I know Rosanna has been doing the same.

“Much as she loves everyone here, it proved no easy job for her to adjust to the intensity of our way of life at Ananda, or, for that matter, America itself, with all its rush and bustle. A new language, a new culture, a totally new way of life.

“On the positive side were the many deep friendships she formed; the wonderful contributions she made to our way of life; our own relationship, which in so many ways was, for both of us, a divine gift; and countless people she helped and inspired. Everyone at Ananda was, I think, deeply moved by her example of joy, devotion, and caring. Everyone’s life was enriched by her presence among us. I know mine was.

“Two and a half years ago, she began expressing a deep nostalgia for Italy and for her family there. At first I thought, no problem. She had gone back there a number of times, sometimes with me, sometimes by herself. We could easily, I thought, return any time she wanted.

“Two and a half years ago, however, I found myself held virtually a prisoner of the SRF lawsuit. In fact, most of my time and energy has had to go toward the lawsuit. I am the only one who knows the story in all its ramifications; my help has proved essential.

“As I came to understand how deep Rosanna’s need was to return to Italy, I realized that she was being motivated by a basic longing to define how she wanted to live her life. She wasn’t asking merely for a chance to spend a little time with her family. Finally, there seemed no alternative but to encourage her to go, even without me, and discover for herself if that was where she truly belonged.

“From the start, the lawsuit has been a double burden for me, in that it prevented me from giving the kind of energy to our marriage that the marriage required at that time. I wanted to do the right thing—by Master, by Rosanna, by our marriage, by Ananda and all of you, and by my own soul-needs. Unfortunately, I found myself further handicapped by increasingly bad health.

“It was as if Master were saying to me, ‘How much are you willing to sacrifice in your service to me?’ My unhesitating answer was, as it shall ever be, ‘Everything!’

“Ever since I completed the book of Master’s sayings, The Essence of Self-Realization, I’ve felt Master calling me within to deepen my service to him. I’ve needed silence, outwardly, in order to listen as sensitively as possible for, and also to, his inner guidance.

“My own life, more than most people’s, is not even my own. It was taken out of my hands altogether when I gave it to Master, forty-four years ago. Nor have I ever had the slightest desire for my life to be otherwise. I live for him alone, and for his mission.

“I am eternally grateful to Rosanna for all she has brought to me, as well as to all of us. Ananda is a very different place—and a much better one—because of her: because of the inspiration she has given to so many; because of our marriage. I commented many times, prior to our marriage, on the good that I believed would come from it. Far greater good has come than I ever anticipated.”


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