A woman wrote to Swami Kriyananda, challenging his right to call himself a swami. Here is his answer.
Sept. 10, 2011
I have received both your emails, but was on vacation until this evening, couldn’t send emails out, and still can’t do so. But I will contrive to get this letter to you somehow.
I don’t know what possible interest you could have in these things. In fact, I think you must be someone in SRF trying to prove something against me. Well, never mind. I am willing enough to answer you as best I can. It may be good for me, too, to take stock of my own life.
I took my brotherhood vows from Daya Mata in 1955. They were formal vows, but were not clearly linked to any of the Shankaracharya branches.
In l958, the Shankaracharya of Gowardhan Math affirmed that the sannyas Daya had given was acceptable in the swami order, and that he was empowered to make swamis in the Giri Order, to which our Guru belonged. I was myself present at that ceremony, and was included in it. It took place in Sri Yukteswar’s samadhi mandir (where he is buried), in Puri.
In 1985, for reasons that others may question but that I felt were right, I married Rosanna Golia in order to break down the barrier that continued to exist at Ananda between renunciates and householders. At that time I asked Daya Mata to dispense me of my brotherhood vows. When she did so, I said to her, “I am still a sannyasi at heart.” Some years later I simply couldn’t stick the married life; it just wasn’t for me. Rosanna wanted me to live for her, and I had to tell her my life was completely dedicated to serving Master.
When I returned to India, I went to Rishikesh and sought some means of becoming reinstated as a swami. A saint there told me, “Once a swami, always a swami. You can’t be reinstated, because you are still a swami.”
It was true, and after one more effort I simply accepted that verdict.
But am I a swami of the Giri order? I think so. I’m not wholly sure. Here are the points that I see as important in my mind:
1. I have never been attached to money.
2. I have absolutely no desire for alcohol or drugs.
3. Sex means nothing to me.
4. Fame means nothing to me.
5. Name means nothing to me.
6. Possessions mean nothing to me.
7. Pain and pleasure mean nothing to me. I can endure great physical pain and simply divert my mind from it.
8. I am alike indifferent to both suffering and fulfillment. I live by Master’s philosophy: “What comes of itself, let it come.”
9. Public disgrace, which I have had to endure, I endured calmly, telling Divine Mother, “If You want to demolish my entire life’s work, I will accept Your will without flinching. It is not my work, but Yours.”
10. This body means nothing to me. I had a dream recently in which my enemies tried to burn me at the stake. I told myself in the dream, “The pain will be only temporary. I accept it calmly.” My enemies (as can happen only in dreams) were banqueting at a table nearby, while the flames crept up around me. Friends of mine then rescued me, but I experienced no feeling of relief. Whatever God wanted, I simply accepted.
11. I can think of nothing on earth that I desire.
12. Much of the time, these days, I feel as though Master were looking at and enjoying the world through my eyes.
13. Everywhere I look, I see God trying to break out of little human egos, and I feel overwhelming love for all of them.
14. I am conscious, almost unceasingly, of a delicious upward flow of bliss in my heart and consciousness.
I really feel no need to affirm my swamihood, but I have in recent years founded a new swami order, to which some 600 people now belong, in various stages of the order. Its main purpose is contained in literature put out by Ananda, but I can encapsulate it with the simple statement that its primary purpose is to rise above ego consciousness. I have known very many arrogant swamis in India. I hope our nayaswamis (new swamis) will never be guilty of this paramount sin.
With love and blessings,