Ananda movement


Ananda movement
(est. 1968)
   Ananda is a worldwide movement based on the teachings of Paramahansa YOGANANDA (1893–1952) and founded by Swami Kriyananda (b. 1926). The Ananda World Brotherhood includes the Ananda Church of Self-Realization, several Ananda com-munities around the world, educational institu-tions, and several publishing ventures.
   When he was 22 years of age, Kriyananda became a disciple of Yogananda, and he lived with him until his death, receiving the vow of SANNYAS (renunciation) from him in 1948. Until 1961 Kriyananda served in a variety of capacities—as minister, director, lecturer, and vice president—at the SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP (SRF) at Mount Washington, California, the primary organization founded by Yogananda. As a monk in Yogananda’s order, he initiated students into KRIYA YOGA, trav-eled, and taught.
   Along the way, Kriyananda received what he perceived as a summons from God, calling him to serve in another way. His intentions were per-ceived as divisive by officials of SRF and he was asked to resign from the organization in 1962. He left SRF to expand upon the meaning of Yogananda’s teachings of kriya yoga. He initially offered himself as teacher and leader to lay people and students who wished to know his viewpoints. In 1968, observing Yogananda’s vision of a world brotherhood community, he constructed a retreat center and house in Nevada City, California, on 750 acres of woodland and natural forest in the Sierra foothills. At present Ananda Village has almost 300 members, making it one of the larg-est religious communities in the United States. The village and adjoining areas support about 600 people drawn from some 25 nationalities. All residents of the village are also members of the local congregation of the Ananda Church of Self-Realization.
   Kriyananda saw himself as responding to Yogananda’s plea to “cover the Earth with world-brotherhood colonies, demonstrating that sim-plicity of living plus high thinking lead to the greatest happiness.” Kriyananda took this mission seriously and laid out the rationale for Ananda in his booklet Cooperative Communities: How to Start Them and Why (1968).
   Members of Ananda Village work in a number of capacities. Some own their own businesses; oth-ers work for Ananda. Residents operate the Ananda Education-For-Life, a school for children through the junior high school level. Youth then attend Nevada City High School to complete their educa-tion. A governing village council is elected every year. The Expanding Light, a guest facility, offers retreats, a variety of special events, workshops, and seminars. Residents engage in kriya yoga as taught by Yogananda. They also sponsor a worldwide outreach program for those interested in becoming practitioners. The village includes a farm, a natural food store, and a vegetarian restaurant.
   Founded in 1990, Ananda Church of Self-Realization, similar in many ways to SRF, has 2,000 members who worship in the congrega-tional way, quite different from temple worship, where individuals go alone to commune with God. The goal of the Ananda Church is to provide fellowship and teaching to inspire others to find spiritual nourishment in serving humanity. The purpose is to engage in the practice introduced to the West by Yogananda. The church has over 150 trained and ordained ministers who serve at home or in missions abroad. There are five branches: in Sacramento and Palo Alto, California; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Assisi, Italy. Ananda’s Crystal Clarity Publishers issues books on yoga, including Kriyananda’s own writings, and the periodical Clarity Newsletter. East-West Bookstore in Palo Alto is a thriving business begun by members of the Ananda Community.
   In the 1990s, Ananda went through a sig-nificant court struggle with SRF concerning copyrights and trademarks related to Yogananda’s writings and images and the name of the Ananda Church of Self-Realization. The church prevailed in most of the issues and is now free to use pictures of Yogananda and reproduce his early writings. On the other hand, the movement suf-fered from a lawsuit brought by a former member claiming sexual abuse at the hands of an Ananda minister. A court judgment in 2001 against the minister and the church sent the Nevada City community into bankruptcy, from which it is only slowly recovering.
   Further reading: John Ball, Ananda: Where Yoga Lives (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popu-lar Press, 1982); Swami Kriyananda [Donald Walters], Cooperative Communities: How to Start Them and Why (Nevada City, Calif.: Ananda, 1968); ———, Cri-ses in Modern Thought (Nevada City Calif.: Ananda, 1972); ———, The Path (Nevada City, Calif.: Ananda, 1977); Ted A. Nordquist, Ananda Cooperative Village (Uppsala: Borgstroms Tryckeri, Ab, 1978); J. Donald Walters, Awaken to Superconsciousness (Nevada City, Calif.: Crystal Clarity, 2000); Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi (Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.


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