One of the most serious charges against Swami Kriyananda is that he has changed his guru’s teachings. This charge has been made by Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF).
Kriyananda is a close, direct disciple of Yogananda’s. For many years, he served as SRF’s principal lecturer, senior minister, and head of the monks. In 1960, he was made Vice President of the SRF Board. He was an insider, privy to conversations about the Master’s wishes for the work, both during Yogananda’s life, and for many years thereafter in close association with Daya Mata and the SRF Board.
He answers SRF’s charges directly, with first-hand accounts of Yogananda’s words and actions, as well as the words and decisions of SRF Board members after Yogananda’s death.
Changes made by SRF
The reader may be surprised to discover how much Yogananda’s teachings have been changed—not by Swami Kriyananda, but by SRF itself.
In fact, in the past fifty years since Yogananda’s passing, SRF has made significant changes to Yogananda’s books, teachings, ideals, and to his image—including the removal and suppression of key portions of Autobiography of a Yogi, changes to Yogananda’s own signature, and drastic editing of the Master’s words in other well-loved books. A partial list of these changes:
Signature forged: Yogananda’s signature as it now appears in SRF publications is not how Yogananda signed and spelled his name while he was alive. In 1958, on the advice of pundits who said Paramhansa Yogananda did not spell his title correctly, SRF created a new signature for Yogananda which included an extra “a” in his last name. It wasn’t until 1981, in a publishers note in Whispers from Eternity, that SRF explained that a change had been made.
Communities suppressed: Yogananda spoke often about the urgent need for spiritual communities, from his early years in America to until his passing in 1952. He wrote at length about communities in Autobiography of a Yogi. But all reference to colonies was removed by SRF after his passing. SRF also removed colonies from Yogananda’s Aims and Ideals.
Photos altered: Paramhansa Yogananda often wore a Christian cross. Rajarsi also wore a cross Yogananda had given him. Photos of Rajarsi wearing that cross have been removed from recent editions of the SRF book about Rajarsi. In fact, it appears the cross itself has been removed from photos of Rajarsi. At the Lake Shrine dedication, Yogananda wore a small gold cross. Recent prints of the color portrait of him taken that day have been altered, and no longer include that gold cross.
Discipleship changed: During Paramhansa Yogananda’s lifetime, discipleship was offered as a separate initiation from Kriya and people could take Kriya initiation as often as they wished. Now SRF no longer offers discipleship, except combined with Kriya, and Kriya initiation itself can only be taken one time.
Harsh treatment: Many loyal members of Self-Realization Fellowship, including relatives of Yogananda, have received unusually harsh treatment from SRF in the years since Yogananda’s passing. One of Yogananda’s close relatives, and a widow with children, was evicted from her home by SRF. Another was abandoned in her elder years after many years of service as an SRF minister.
Whispers edited: From the original 1949 edition, to the 1986 edition, almost all the poems in Whispers were changed so radically by SRF editing that they are literally unrecognizable. For example, look at the two versions of Yogananda’s beautiful poem, Prayer at Noon. Out of the 110 words in the original, only 12 words remain unchanged after SRF’s editing.
Unpublished writings: Hundreds of movies, recordings, photographs, and writings of Yogananda remain unpublished by SRF after 50 years. Yogananda wrote prolifically, with extraordinary power and beauty. Will they be edited beyond recognition, released years from now, after no one is left alive who will know the difference?
Cosmic Chants edited: The introduction to Cosmic Chants, which includes instructions on how to chant and the specific effect of many of the chants, was removed and has never been restored.
Altar photos changed: Paramhansa Yogananda put his own picture on the altar as an impersonal recognition of his role in the line of gurus. He is the “last in the line” so he placed himself at the end. Years after he died, SRF switched Yogananda and Yukteswar.
Krishna added: Paramhansa Yogananda did not put a picture of Krishna on the altar, nor did he mention Krishna separately when he prayed to the line of gurus. Instead he would say “Babaji-Krishna,” since Krishna is a former incarnation of Babaji. Years after Yogananda died, SRF put Krishna on the altar and began to name him separately in their prayer.
Autobiography of a Yogi changed
Changes to Autobiography: SRF has made a vast number of changes to Autobiography of a Yogi since Paramhansa Yogananda died that alter such essential elements of his teachings as Kriya Yoga, the monastic vs. the householder life, and communities as an ideal lifestyle for householder devotees.
Many of these changes are more fully addressed in Who Has Made Changes to Paramhansa Yogananda’s Teachings?