With these words, Swami Kriyananda would greet the young devotees who traveled with him on his lecture and music tours. As Devi Novak (and others) would remark, "What ME? Great Soul?" "Yes," he was saying: "YOU!"
Swamiji also is quoted saying "If you want to know me, listen to my music." And while he insisted the music of Ananda wasn't 'his' but was given to him by our guru's grace, he was nonetheless the channel: a channel prepared by the self-effort of many incarnations attuned to the "music channel" but also willing to BE a CHANNEL for divine attunement.
Today, May 19, 2018, Swami Kriyananda would have been 92 years old and his spiritual child, Ananda worldwide, is reaching towards its 50 year mark. Today, then, let us reflect with gratitude that we would not be here together devotees were it not for the life and attunement of Swami Kriyananda.
I am not alone in speculating that had Ananda not existed I would probably not have found a means of service, attunement and discipleship through any other outward means. I do not want to imagine where I would be: not where on the planet but where in my heart and mind. And what about my countless friends here in Seattle and far, far abroad? Would we have found one another? Not likely.
If you say to yourself, "Gee, others knew Swamiji so well, but I never did." To you, I (and others like me) say to you: "As you have experienced Ananda and have gotten to know us, you have met Swami Kriyananda." A poor substitute, I agree, but a reality nonetheless for the simple reason that on Sundays many of you hear his music, listen to his readings and affirmation, and are blessed by the inspiration of the Festival of Light.
Others see him on internet TV or are blessed by the acharyas throughout India. In Europe, at the Ananda Center near Assisi, Italy we have a dynamic community and center of leaders, residents and members whose lives are infused by Swamiji's vibration.
In America, the members of Ananda are legion yet while the heart and birth of this work is centered at Ananda Village. There a temple is being built for generations to come to honor and share Yogananda's teachings and living presence, and the legacy of Swami Kriyananda's discipleship.
Swamiji insisted that his personality was not him just as it is not you nor I. And for those many of you who have been blessed to know, see and hear Swamiji's successors, Nayaswami Jyotish and Nayaswami Devi, you know that attunement and vibration far exceed the attributes of personality for in them one feels Swamiji's blessings and presence.
A few days ago some thirty to forty leaders (and future leaders in training) from Ananda centers and communities around the world gathered at Ananda Village to have satsang, meditation, and share current events and future plans. This work of Ananda--part of the work of Paramhansa Yogananda and the line of masters who sent him--WILL go on through those of you who now and in the future are inspired to serve, study, and support the work and one another in meditation and devotion.
I doubt we can fully appreciate the impact of Paramhansa Yogananda on world history. It's far too early. Yogananda left this world only 66 years ago. What was the work of Jesus Christ like a mere 66 years after his resurrection?
Am I making one of those messianic claims one hears too often in religion or politics? I don't think so because our guru enjoys a reputation throughout the world unparalleled by any modern spiritual teacher. From India, yes. But Hindu? No. Not only did be make friends all over the world long before that was the norm it is today, but his teachings apply to all aspects of daily life and not just to monastics.
Many years ago, in 1960-61, Swami Kriyananda enthusiastically and energetically elicited the support of Jawalahar Nehru and his daughter Indira (Gandhi) to build a temple and ashram in Delhi based on the inclusivity principles for which India is well known. At the moment of the project's final acceptance, Swamiji's dreams were dashed by his expulsion from Yogananda's organization.
Now, like a phoenix rising, Ananda has been asked to play a key role in establishing an Institute in how-to-live principles based on the universal ideals and practical yoga techniques which are India's gift to the world.
As if a dream, the proposed location of this institute lies upon a hill overlooking Delhi upon which will reside an iconic temple and the grounds of the future institute.
Another, smaller but sweeter dream has also materialized: this one at Swamij's home at Ananda Village in California. Long ago, when Ananda Village was still scraping and scrapping to even exist in the forests and meadows of rural Nevada County (CA), Swamiji visioned his home at the Crystal Hermitage at Ananda Village as one alive with beauty. Last month, some 12,000 visitors came to see the tulips, flowers, scenery, and gardens of the Crystal Hermitage. Who among us could have ever foreseen this simple, sweet dream come true?
Thank you, Swamiji: we are your spiritual children and our hearts open in blessing and gratitude for the gift to us and to all of your service and attunement to our guru.
Happy Birthday, Swamiji!
Hriman & Padma