In Memorium: Swami Kriyananda

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Kriyananda_SwamiSwami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) 1926-2013

Global spiritual leader Swami Kriyananda, 86, passed away on April 21, 2013 in Italy of natural causes. The charismatic founder of the Ananda Worldwide movement, Kriyananda inspired thousands of people with his vision of a “conscious lifestyle” emphasizing peace, harmony, compassion and love.

One of Kriyananda’s earliest visions resulted in his establishing the first Ananda World Brotherhood Village 45 years ago, in the foothills near Nevada City, California, that integrates diverse businesses, schools for children, agricultural endeavors, a publishing company, a yoga and meditation retreat center and the Ananda College in Laurelwood, Oregon.

Under his guidance, the Ananda concept has grown to reflect his vision of a spiritual, non-denominational environment supported by a sustainable economic infrastructure. Today there are nine locations on three continents.

Born J. Donald Walters in 1926, Kriyananda was a direct disciple of the famed Indian guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, helping to bring Yogananda’s teachings to the world. Kriyananda met Yogananda in 1948, and lived with him as his disciple until his passing in 1952. Yogananda’s references to “world brotherhood colonies” further inspired Kriyananda to create these communities known today as Ananda.

Kriyananda’s pursuit of his guru’s long-cherished dream of establishing spiritual communities led to his purchase in 1968 of land that became Ananda Village where, in his words “people could live in conscious harmony.” Today that 1,000-acre site in the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California is home to about 300 people living a spiritual and completely integrated life. The global network of other Ananda satellite communities throughout the world includes India (New Delhi), Italy (Assisi), Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Sacramento, Seattle and Portland.

Kriyananda became known as the “father of the intentional communities movement” that began in the 1960s, with the publication of one of his earliest books, Cooperative Communities: How to Start Them and Why. The Ananda living concept is the focus of a soon-to-be-released feature-length film, Finding Happiness (Hansa Productions), which represents the last opportunity to see interviews with Kriyananda before his passing. The film shows Kriyananda expressing his fundamental principles, namely that “people are more important than things, and that fulfillment can be found adhering to truth and dharma (right action).”

Kriyananda was a prolific author, having written 150 books published in 30 languages in more than 100 countries, demonstrating how Self-realization can be effectively applied to every area of life. He also published plays, poetry and articles, and composed more than 400 songs.

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