Ananda provides a supportive environment for disciples of Yogananda to live in community with like-minded people. Ananda has specialized in creating world brotherhood colonies, the ideal lifestyle Yogananda recommended for householder devotees. Members practice Kriya Yoga as taught by Yogananda, and devote themselves to service to others. People work and live very much like people everywhere, but with God at the center of their daily activities—whether it be work, play, raising families, or worship.
Ananda was founded by Swami Kriyananda in 1968. Today some 1000 people live in Ananda communities and many more attend Ananda places of worship in: Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; Palo Alto, CA; Nevada City, CA; Rhode Island; Assisi, Italy; and New Delhi, India. Directory of Ananda Worldwide
Ananda offers the teachings of Yogananda, including many original teachings and books for free. Ananda activities include two publishing companies, three yoga and meditation retreats, three metaphysical bookstores, and several Education for Life schools for children based on Yogananda’s teachings.
No. One of the central tenets of Yogananda’s teachings is respect for individual freedom. Spiritual growth takes great inner strength; it cannot be imposed from outside. People who choose to affiliate with Ananda do so of their own choice, and the affiliation is primarily an inner one. If anything, Ananda is rather less organized than people expect; independent minded people appreciate the freedom it offers.
Finances are private, not communal. People are free to attend worship services or group meditations as they wish, or to never attend. Members of the community have telephones, internet, televisions, cars, and complete freedom to come and go as they please, and to live as they choose. Read what people not affiliated with Ananda say about Ananda in Ananda though the Years.
Individuals take personal responsibility for their needs, finding suitable work and housing, and paying their bills. Individual finances are private, not communal. Donations are voluntary. Employment is sometimes available through an Ananda-owned business, though many members work in their own businesses or in businesses near an Ananda community. Salaries at Ananda businesses are modest, but enough to meet basic needs. Individuals can earn as much as they wish through their private enterprise; personal finances are confidential.
People closest to the situation at hand usually make decisions. Good leadership is recognized as supportive leadership, with managers focused on serving the needs of their staff. Decisions are made by consensus when possible. If someone feels strongly not to go forward with a suggestion, the group will generally defer. Meetings are generally harmonious. When there is a strong disagreement and the parties are unable to work it out, difficulties can be brought to a manager or to a minister who will help to resolve the issue.
Women occupy management and leadership positions at Ananda in proportions higher than most American workplaces. More than half of the principal lecturers and ministers are women. Married couples direct each of the Ananda communities and jointly share the responsibilities for teaching, counseling, finances, and overall decision-making. Women earn as much as men in every position. Coercion or sexual harassment of any kind is not tolerated in any Ananda community or job.
Swami Kriyananda is a close, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. He has devoted his life to carrying out Yogananda’s instructions to him, “to edit, write and lecture.” He is the author of over 80 books, including many hundreds of sayings and teachings of Yogananda not available through SRF. (See especially The Path, Conversations with Yogananda, and The Essence of Self-Realization.) For over 56 years, since 1948, Swami Kriyananda has lectured to thousands of people throughout the world on Yogananda’s teachings.
Swami Kriyananda is regarded as the father of the intentional communities movement. He founded Ananda Village near Nevada City, CA in 1968, and inspired the creation of urban Ananda communities in the 1980s in Seattle, Sacramento, Portland, and Palo Alto. He was invited to live near the Ananda Assisi community in the mid-1990s and spent the next few years writing numerous books, touring Europe, and giving talks at the Ananda Assisi retreat.
Despite frail health, at the age of 77, Kriyananda received inner guidance to take Yogananda’s teachings back to his homeland of India. (Yogananda spent nearly all his adult life teaching in America.) Today, with a group of Ananda members from around the world, Kriyananda is establishing an Ananda community and teaching center near New Delhi. More about Swami Kriyananda.
Swami Kriyananda has never been involved in the daily management of Ananda communities. He sometimes offers suggestions on directions or policy, but his style of management is to suggest, and then allow others closer to the situation to decide what is best. In the early years of Ananda, he encouraged many Ananda members to take on leadership and management roles to guide the community on a day-to-day basis. Many of these same people serve in that capacity today.
Kriyananda served as the spiritual director of Ananda from 1967 to 1998, when he retired from that position. In that role, he provided inspiration and vision for the spiritual life. He steadfastly refused to allow anyone to call him a “guru,” pointing always to Yogananda as the guru. His activities today are very much like those of the last 56 years, limited only by his health. He continues to write and to lecture when health allows. He hopes by his presence in India to inspire Indians to a new understanding and appreciation of their native son, Yogananda, and a renewal of interest in Yogananda’s teachings there.
Swami Kriyananda receives no income except what individuals offer in donations. He has dedicated his life to the service of God. In the tradition of his Indian guru, he has deliberately chosen to live with few possessions and depend upon the grace of God for his support. Many of his books are now available for free on the Ananda website.
For further exploration:
Letters from Ananda members and friends about their personal experience of Swami Kriyananda
Talks by Swami Kriyananda in streaming video.
Changes by SRF to Yogananda’s teachings since his passing.
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