Ananda Members Talk About Swami Kriyananda, Life at Ananda, and the Charges of Abuse and Misconduct

The story of Ananda is best told by the people who have lived it. Here, members and friends share their perspective on Swami Kriyananda and life in the Ananda communities.

Be forewarned: Ananda people have a lot to say! A very false picture has been presented of our community and our spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda, and we are going to set the record straight.

I Know This Man
Vijay Girard
“The truth is that I have never met a person more able and willing to hear truth no matter where it comes from. I have heard newcomers lecture Kriyananda on what he should or shouldn’t do and watch him listen attentively like an earnest student.”

My Life Has Become Worthwhile Because of Swami Kriyananda
By Durga Smallen
“Swami Kriyananda was not at all as I had envisioned a Swami to look like, or behave. He was totally himself. He wasn’t indifferent to what others thought; he simply did what he felt his guru wanted of him, and was content to let others figure out what that meant for them. He was funny, wise, extremely caring and always impersonal in his love.”

The Best Friend I’ve Ever Had
Sheila Rush
“I arrived at Ananda Village in 1980 with my 8-year old son Joseph. I had moved from New York City, where I had been working as a law professor. I had planned a total break with the field of law, but when SRF sued Ananda, in 1990 I was asked to serve on Ananda’s legal team, a group of ten people, including Kriyananda, who make legal decisions for Ananda. From 1991 on, I was in regular, and sometimes daily, contact with Kriyananda.”

It Would be Laughable If It Weren’t So Cruelly Directed
Ananta McSweeney
“What I find especially irksome is the rewriting of history that has been perpetrated by Parameshwari in her declaration and by two other ladies who had romantic relationships with Kriyananda at that time. Having lived at Ananda Village at that time, I remember how open Kriyananda was about what he was doing in renouncing his vow of celibacy, and why he was doing it. Parameshwari’s telling of the story implies a clandestine affair that has her as an innocent victim. She goes so far to say she didn’t even think they were married.”

A Meaningful Life, Helpful to Others
Seva Wiberg
“Kamala, especially, was totally presumptuous. Swami is very considerate. They were aggressive and rude to him, but he didn’t want to be aggressive and rude in return. This may sound funny to people who don’t know Swami, given all that happened since, but it was a real problem for him.”.

My Years with SRF, My Years with Ananda
Rambhakta Beinhorn
“I’m 59 years old now. I’ve been on the path for 35 years. If there’s one thing I’ve realized about God in all these years, it’s that He is fathomlessly tolerant and forgiving.” This article is an extraordinary inside look at SRF and Ananda by a life-long disciple of Yogananda and a keen observer of life.

How 2,000 Devotees Paid Off $6 Million in Legal Fees (and Still Counting) and How We Think About Money at Ananda
Catherine Van Houten
“Perhaps some people suspect Ananda and Swami Kriyananda of having secret resources, unnumbered bank accounts, etc., because they themselves cannot imagine an individual—much less an organization—existing happily and fearlessly on whatever resources come, nearly moment to moment. But that is the simple truth of the matter.”

Why I Have Stayed At Ananda
Nalini Graeber
“During those long difficult years, I was largely sustained by my friendship with Kriyananda, as well as other Ananda friends. In retrospect, Kriyananda’s patience with me—my tears and letters and struggles—was no less than heroic. Since he was more available in the early days, I often went to him for counseling. He must have seen me dozens of times for substantially the same reasons. Over and over he offered me the same advice, couched in different words, according to the particular context at the time: ‘God loves you—have faith in that. Don’t give up. Keep offering your devotion to God. Try to think less about your problems and more about serving God in others. You can do it, Nalini; I know you can do it!’”

Saved by Kriya
Eric Munro
“For the next 3 years my happiness slowly treaded downhill, until finally I realized I must continue spiritual seeking.”

The Triumph
By Devi Novak
“Kriyananda likes to tell the story of when he was a young boy growing up in Romania and had received a new bicycle from his parents. He taught all his friends how to ride his bicycle by holding the back of the seat and running along beside them. Then he’d drop his grip on the seat, but continue running along. Finally, as they got their confidence going, he’d stop running and let them ride alone. This is the kind of leadership he exemplifies: giving others confidence in themselves by his presence, then gradually withdrawing so that they realize they can do it on their own.”

A Channel for Yogananda’s Vibration
John Lenti
“Characteristic of Swami is that he sees the highest in all of us. He may recognize our faults, but at the same time he always encourages our potential for growth. He never focuses on our mistakes. Ultimately, his leadership style is grounded in the principle of free will and respect for each of us. It’s a reciprocal thing, like being invited to a fine banquet. If you’re not hungry, no one is going to force you to eat.”

I Prayed, and the Answer Came
By Mary Kretzmann
“Kamala, in an enthusiastic voice (like a young teen retelling some devious adventure) boasted that she had tried to seduce Swami Kriyananda, but that he had soundly rebuffed her. She seemed disappointed, but not discouraged, and certainly not in the least bit remorseful or contrite about her actions. I was too stunned to reply. My jaw must have been hanging to my chest. Never had I known a woman who wanted to seduce anyone, let alone take down a spiritual teacher. I couldn’t imagine her purpose in this.”

Judge the Tree by the Fruit
Jayadev Jaerschky
“I wish people would find out for themselves. Especially those who have never seen or heard Kriyananda. Please do, especially if you are tempted to believe negative things someone else says. If something like the ‘Golden Book of Life’ exists, Kriyananda’s life would be a glowing page, written in big, beautiful, shining letters.”

A Little Cunning, A Reputation Destroyed
Marilyn Holm
“My friends were horrified at my decision. ‘But they’re a sex-crazed cult! Please don’t go there.’ I knew that the only way to know the truth of these horrible allegations was to step into the middle of it and find out for myself.”

Only Later Did I Figure It Out
Joe Begley
“When I left, I briefly encountered the person Swami was meeting with next. It was a young lady I’d known for about a year—Anne-Marie Bertolucci, who looked extremely nervous and agitated that day.”

Held in the Light
Lila Devi
“‘What is wrong with this picture’ is the first thought that comes to mind while writing this article refuting the charges against Swami Kriyananda. The claims leveled against him in no way resemble the person I have known during my twenty-five years at Ananda. I have seen no overlap of the two profiles—the steadfast disciple of a great avatar, versus the unconscionable monster portrayed by his detractors. No resemblance whatsoever. The truth remains that Kriyananda has been seriously miscast in the roles assigned to him by his accusers. Egomaniacal? Womanizing? Arrogant? Avaricious? I think not, and here’s why.”

Accept What Is
Wayne Palmer
“Some years before the testimony he gave under oath in court, I vividly remember Swami Kriyananda standing before our entire community of 250 adults at Ananda Village and stating without shame ‘90% of the accusations leveled against me are false, but that still leaves 10% that are true.’ He didn’t deny his sexuality. He has always taught us, and showed through his own example, to fearlessly accept what is, most especially about oneself.”

The Credit Goes to Yogananda
Maitri Jones
“Hearing Kriyananda weave stories of Yogananda’s life and his own experiences as a disciple into the fabric of yogic teachings left me in awe. Yet I found Kriyananda approachable and humble, always giving credit to his guru, Yogananda.”

My Spiritual Family
Leslie Ghirla
“I made what I later learned was a ‘prayer demand’. One morning I asked Master to give me a spiritual family because I didn’t feel life worth living without one. That same morning I found Ananda. I visited The East West Bookstore and found a program guide for the Ananda Palo Alto church. Upon opening the first page I saw a picture of Master’s face looking back at me. I was overcome with his speedy reply and wept for joy.”