Ananda Ashrama and Vedanta Centre
(est. 1923)
   Ananda Ashrama of La Crescenta, California, was founded in 1923 by Swami PARAMANANDA (1884–1940) to facilitate a better understanding between Eastern and Western spiritualities and to disseminate VEDANTA philosophy. The 120-acre retreat features Viswamandir, a temple established in 1928 and dedicated to the world’s great reli-gions. The ashram upholds a model of tolerance and nonsectarianism. By upholding the teachings of Sri RAMAKRISHNA and Swami Paramananda, the ashram assists individuals in discovering prin-ciples for spiritual practice. It teaches the basic tenets of the Vedanta tradition: God is one, human nature is divine, all paths lead to the same goal, and the purpose of life is the realization of God in one’s soul.
   In line with Paramananda’s belief in equality of the sexes, he ordained women to teach Vedanta, entrusting them to undertake major responsibili-ties in his work in India and the United States. In both countries, he founded schools and orphan-ages to assist women and children in need. In fact, he designated a woman, Sri Mata Gayatri Devi (1906–95), to succeed him as director of the ashram. As a result, the parent order in India, the RAMAKRISHNA MAT H AND MISSION, excommunicated his centers. Nevertheless, for 55 years Gayatri Devi continued teaching Vedanta in the tradition Ananda Ashrama and Vedanta Centre 29 J
   of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Paramananda. At her death in 1995, Dr. Susan Schrager (1942– ), known as the Reverend Mother Sudha Puri, accepted the spiritual leadership of the ashram.
   Residents of Ananda Ashrama are primarily women monastics. MEDITATION classes, weekly worship services, a lending library, and retreats are offered to the public. Membership is offered to anyone who attends regular services. Through its company, Vedanta Centre Publishers, the ashram publishes and sells books, compact disks, and cas-sette tapes by and about Swami Paramananda.
   In addition to two ashrams in Calcutta, India, and Ananda Ashrama, Swami Paramananda founded the Vedanta Centre in Cohasset, Mas-sachusetts, in 1929.
   Further reading: Sister Devamata, Swami Paramananda and His Work, 2 vols. (Crescenta, Calif.: Ananda Ash-rama, 1926 and 1941); Sara Ann Levinsky, A Bridge of Dreams: The Story of Paramananda, a Modern Mystic, and His Ideal of All-Conquering Love (West Stockbridge, Mass.: Lindisfarne Press, 1984); ———, Christ and Oriental Ideals (Cohasset, Mass.: Vedanta Centre, 1912); ———, Creative Power of Silence (La Crescenta, Calif.: Vedanta Centre; 1923); ———, Emerson and Vedanta (Boston: Vedanta Centre, 1918); Swami Paramananda, The Path of Devotion (New York: Vedanta Society, 1907).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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