The Real Yogananda

Yogananda with close disciple Swami Kriyananda

Many of us have read the “authorized” version of An Autobiography of a Yogi, by the great Indian spiritual teacher Paramhansa Yogananda.

Few of us, however, realize that the “authorized” version has been posthumously altered — some would say sanitized — and that the organization founded by Yogananda to carry on his legacy has systematically sanitized the founder’s teaching over the years.

Thankfully, one of his closest followers, Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) has maintained a “parallel” organization called Ananda, which has sought to offer Yogananda’s undiluted teachings, in letter and in spirit.

From a website, Yogananda Rediscovered, dedicated to this task:

We offer this website to you as fellow truthseekers and devotees of Paramhansa Yogananda. It contains many facts not commonly known about Yogananda, his teachings, and the organization he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship.

For a long time we have hesitated to speak out. But difficult circumstances and a sense of responsibility require that we come forward now. Many people do not know that in 1990 SRF filed a massive lawsuit against Ananda. Their goal is to gain a monopoly on Yogananda’s teachings.

Ananda is an autonomous network of spiritual communities and churches, founded by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda. Ananda has specialized in building world brotherhood colonies, the ideal lifestyle Yogananda recommended for householder devotees. Though Ananda has won nearly every issue in court, SRF continues its litigation unabated. Millions of dollars that could have been spent serving Yogananda’s work is being spent instead on this courtroom battle.

But we would not be writing if the issues affected only us, personally. What is happening now will affect Yogananda’s mission for centuries to come. Certain attitudes and actions by SRF are causing that mission, we believe, to drift from what Yogananda himself intended. (The attack on Ananda has also taken a very personal turn, with charges that Swami Kriyananda is a spiritual charlatan, and Ananda is an abusive cult. For the other side of that story, see www.AnandaAnswers.com)

Changes to Yogananda’s teachings after his passing

In the past fifty years, significant changes have been made to Yogananda’s books, teachings, ideals, and to his image—changes which emphasize SRF as an institution and limit how Yogananda is presented to the world. Kriya initiation, discipleship, Autobiography of a Yogi, and even Yogananda’s own signature have been altered. Edited versions of many of his writings have been greatly changed. All references to colonies have been removed from Autobiography of a Yogi. Even a cross Yogananda wore around his neck at the dedication of the Lake Shrine has been airbrushed out of that photo. Devotees have no access to the movies, recordings, photos, and writings of Yogananda still stored in SRF archives.

Lifelong disciples have shared heart-breaking stories of unkindness by SRF. Of grave concern is SRF’s increasing assertion of itself as a required intermediary between the disciples and their own master. This is what the Catholic Church did to the teachings of Christ centuries ago.

We hope, after reading this website, that you will share our concern about the issues raised here. Only a handful of direct disciples still remain alive. The mantle of responsibility is about to pass to the next generation. The guidance and legacy of “those who were with him” will long endure, but we will also be called upon to use our own judgment. Let it be an informed judgment. All of us as Yogananda’s devotees hold the future of his work in our hands.

As a confirmed iconoclast, spiritual rebel and anti-authoritarian (contrary to what those feisty rascals who’ve been banned from commenting on this site may say), I’ve had a warm spot in my heart for Swami Kriyananda for years now. Through his organization, Ananda, he’s been working ceaselessly toward a better life for all, building intentional communities around the world that are based on spiritual practice and attainment. He understands the Divine nature of this particular reality, and has harnessed the laws of creation in order to build his vision into a unique global movement that will gain in importance as the structure of society continues its race to oblivion.

In short, he is an essential model for me during this lifetime, and I offer his example to you, no matter what tradition you do or don’t follow, no matter how jaded you may have become toward the tradition through which you may or may not have been raised. He’s all about possitivity, all about the power of prayer, all about meditation, all about loving one’s fellow humans and the world we’ve been given.

Swami Kriyananda represents a particularly beautiful solution to the world’s problems, and we absolutely should give his ideas the attention they deserve.

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10 thoughts on “The Real Yogananda

  1. Manish says:

    If you really believe whatever you are saying is correct then leave it for the Gurus to decide.There is no point for to be involved in this point.
    JAI GURU

  2. adreampuppet says:

    Not sure what you’re saying here, Manish. But thanks for dropping by… 😉

  3. Phani Bhaskar Sharma says:

    Autobiography of Yogi is a spiritual treasurehouse no doubt in it….

  4. nothing in this world can remain as it is…….nothing can be remain pure, non-changing is not a law of this plane. And the biggest joke, is when people say they want to learn or are teaching authentic kriya yoga…

    Aum babaji,mataji, lahiriji
    arjun

  5. marykretzmann says:

    Hello Micheal,
    I just found this page. Very nicely done. I am new here, and I am just discovering some of the Yogananda connections here on wordpress.Here is my website:
    http://findinggodinyourfamily.wordpress.com/
    Joy!
    Mary K

  6. narendra pandya says:

    JAY GURU,
    MAY GOD AND ALL GURUS BLESS YOU TO MAINTAIN AND EXPAND THE TRUTH YOU ARE PUTTING BEFORE THE WORLD.THE DEVOTEES WHO
    ARE NOT BLIND IN FAITH BUT ARE FULL WITH DESCREMINATIVE POWER,
    MUST BE WARRIORS FOR SAVING GURU’S ORIGINAL TEACHINGS,OTHERWISE
    AS HAPPENED BEFORE,ONCE MORE BABAJI AND HIS TEAM WILL HAVE TO
    COME FOR GIVING ORIGINAL KRIYA YOGA.
    THOUGH I AM A MEMBER OF YSS SINCE 1974 AND KRIYABAN ALSO,BUT READY TO RECEIVE TRUTH FROM 360 DEGREE SPHERE.
    NARENDRA

  7. tima says:

    It’s really ironic that people call themselves god-men or even avatars can’t refrain from something as basic as sex!
    It’s really sad that it happens a lot that whenever I see a proclaimed spiritual teacher and search a little bit on him, I see that he’s been alleged for sexual insult…
    I’m not a SRF member, but I love Yogananda and his autobiography changed my life and put me on a spiritual path. I did a little bit of search on Kryiananda, and again the sexual assaults came up! I can’t trust such a person. Even if he didn’t assault any women and they did it willingly, my guru can’t have had sex with 8 women. My friend can do that, I wouldn’t mind, but not for sure my guru. It shows that he has certain and serious problems that can’t manage his own life, let it be spiritual light…
    I am not planning to defame anyone, but I will be very happy if someone could give an explanation…
    I was so sad when I read about Sai Baba, he declares himself an avatar, and at the same time he does cheap magic tricks! That’s disgusting..These people are the biggest hypocrites of the universe

  8. PYislove says:

    Donald J Walters AKA Kriyananda is the problem.
    The latest editions of Autobiography of a Yoga as published
    by Yoganandna’s only church and official publisher are
    now the state that Yogananda wished. This can be clearly determined
    by researching His life and works. PY left instructions to keep revising His autobiography to what we now have today. This is why so many tell us of the presence of love they still feel from SRF editions.
    Kriyananda was fired for many valid reasons, and is the least
    reliable source to learn what the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda really are.
    DJW’s main inspiration in life is to sooth his guilt complex for betraying his vows and trustworthiness once sworn before the master.
    He is still under the illusion that failing to be elected he can
    pretend to be some leader in Yogananda’s great dispensation.
    He is not the right material, his voluminous writings and lectures
    do not carry any depth of the spirit.
    DJW won’t be the leader in PY’s work in this life.

    Peace and love to all those who honor Paramahansa Yogananda.

  9. JC Stevens says:

    Lahiri said often “Only Kriya is Truth, all else is false.” What part of “all else” did anyone not understand? He did not say “Except for what Yoganada said.” The Guru is para-Atman and none else! We need nothing that Kriya cannot provide. If Kriya is scientific then why do we need such lack of logic in our spiritual path?

  10. jhananda says:

    Understanding the “Real Yoganada” is also to know that his father owned the Indian Railroad, which means Yoganada’s gurus, being employees of the Indian Railroad, were employees of Yoganada’s father.

    Also, the highest expression of wealth in India is for a wealthy Indian family to send their children west to found one or more ashrams, and what better place to establish a western ashram, but Hollywood, so that the child of a wealthy Indian family can be the “guru to the stars.”

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