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

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.

Abusive Guru

If this is you, please take your fishing gear somewhere else:

The Abusive Guru is an all too common phenomenon in the “spiritual supermarket”.

Abusive gurus are almost always highly charismatic, emotionally immature and parasitic sociopaths suffering from Narcissistic personality disorder, and having a tendency to sadomasochistic co-dependency with their disciples and devotees. They justify their abusive treatment in terms of pseudo-spiritual psychobabble like “crazy wisdom” and “breaking down the ego”.

All abusive gurus are False Gurus, although the inverse is not necessarily the case (e.g. you can still have a false guru who is not abusive to their devotees). In other words, no truly enlightened or transenlightened or liberated being, no SadGuru, is ever abusive, ever. There is no exception to this rule, because abusiveness is a result of narcissism and ego, nothing else, and the primary definition of a true guru is they no longer possess ego. Thus any (and I mean any!) abusive behavior of the sort described here immediately and absolutely defines that so-called teacher or so-called master as being of at most partial or limited realisation.

It is the policy of this blog to ban, shun, cast-out and otherwise blot from its existence all personages who match the above description. It has happened once and it can happen again.

We’re here to find common ground, to work toward inner solutions to an outer world gone mad. We’re not here to hurl insults, bask in passive-agressiveness or promote salvation in the guise of insanity.

Just so you know.

Is This So Much To Ask?


Insan Kamil (Arabic) Perfect man, God-realized being. One who has realized Allah as his only wealth, cutting away all the wealth of the world.

Also from my current favorite (though, unfortunately, having passed away before I could meet him), Bawa Muhaiyaddeen:

But, children, all those who have a body made of the five elements must undergo suffering. Even though you might be one who has cut away the attachments to the world and the connection to the five elements, nevertheless all those who have a body of these elements will experience difficulty. Only God who has no form does not experience this suffering. I too feel tired just as you do. Why? Because even when you are in a place of truth, there are difficulties. Even for one on the path of God, difficulties can arise through the connection to one’s children. When troubles come to the children, then one of truth asks, “O God, why are You giving these difficulties to the children? Protect them.” The poverty, illnesses, sorrows, and hunger of a child affect the wise man also. These sorrows do affect a man of truth. Because of his physical body, he is shaken a little. Because he has firm faith in God, however, it affects him for only a second or two and then passes. But it does affect him for that moment.

Even though he has given up attachment to the world, the attachment to his children on this path affects him. Once he gives up that attachment, then he is God. But as long as he has this attachment to take God’s children back to God, he is man. Although he is an insan kamil, a representative of God, he still has this attachment to take the children of God back to God and the truth. Because of this, he also has a connection to all the accidents and difficulties that befall his children on this path.

When disease, disturbances from the world, sorrow, the five elements, mind, and desire come to attack one of his children, and the wise man realizes that the child has fallen, he has to lift that child up, care for him, and carry that child with him. That work is a little difficult, and at such times he undergoes suffering. Until he opens that path and hands you over to God’s responsibility, difficulties will come. Until that time, he has to take you carefully, with strong faith. He does not have the world within him, but he is attached to taking you to God and giving you the freedom of your soul. Because of attachment he has to share your suffering.

All those born in this world with the form of the five elements undergo disturbances and sorrow. God alone is the exception. Like all of you, I too have a physical body. God does not have such a body, so for Him it is easy. You must understand this. With every thought you have, sorrows can come to you. They come and they go, but we must have firm faith and certitude in God. When you are affected by the pull of your connections to caste, lust, anger, bloodties, colors, and religion, you feel tired. This weariness does not come from God. It comes because your taproot is not strong enough. If we do not have this strength, we cannot find peace either for ourselves or for others.

False gurus need not apply….