(born James Donald Walters; May 19, 1926 - April 21, 2013)
Born James Donald Walters
Swami Kriyananda (James Donald Walters) was born of American parents
in Rumania on May 19, 1926. Since his father worked for
Esso Oil in Europe, he lived his
childhood abroad, attending boarding schools in Switzerland and
England. With the coming of World War II, his family moved back to
the United States where he completed high school in Connecticut and
New York. He then spent the next three and a half years at Haverford
College and at Brown University, where his interests in the
spiritual became the primary focus in his life.
Playwright Dock Street Theater
After leaving college, Kriyananda began working as a playwright at
the Dock Street Theater in Charleston. It was during this time that
Kriyananda became interested in Eastern philosophy, and was inspired
by reading first the Hindu classic Bhagavad-Gita Gita and then the
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. After reading
Yogananda's work, Kriyananda felt compelled to come to California in
1948 and meet Yogananda.
Kriyananda was accepted as a "Brother" at the Self-Realization
Fellowship (SRF) ashram at Mt. Washington in Los Angeles. He had
been with Yogananda only a year when he was put in charge of the
men's monastery. A difficult task for a young man of 21, but
gradually he won the respect of his seniors and colleagues in the
organization. While working with the Master at
their desert retreat at Twenty-nine Palms, California.
Yogananda asked him to edit his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita Gita
and write articles for their newsletter. He was also asked by the
Master to lecture on his behalf, and to give Kriya initiations.
Yogananda's Talk on World Colonies
It was at a garden party on July 31, 1949 that Yogananda gave a talk
that changed the course of Kriyananda's
life. "This day marks the birth of a new era. My spoken words are
registered in the ether, in the Spirit of God... the word has been
said, and we must go on not only those who are here, but thousand of
youths must go North, South, East, and West to cover the earth with
little colonies demonstrating that simplicity of living plus high
thinking lead to the greatest happiness and strengthen character.
Example talks louder than words. Reform yourself, and you have
reformed thousands. So must your lives be ideal examples, and may
the Spirit of God bless each of you, that through your example you
may free some suffering children of God, your brother and sisters of
the world, and bring them back to Him.
Kriyananda wrote afterwards, "I was moved to my core. It would not
have surprised me had the heavens opened up and host of angels come
streaming out, eyes ablaze, to do his bidding. Deeply, I vowed that
day to do my utmost to make his words a reality."
Initiated in Giri Swami Order
On March 7,1952, Paramhansa Yogananda
entered mahasamadhi (a yogi's final
conscious exit from the body). Kriyananda spent the next few years
reorganizing the monks, SRF center department, the churches, and the
lay-disciple order. In 1955 James Donald Walters was initiated into
the Giri Swami Order and was given the
spiritual name Kriyananda. From 1955 to 1958, Kriyananda was the
main minister of the Hollywood Church. He was elected to the board
of the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1960 and served as
Vice-President of Self-Realization Fellowship.
Construction of Ananda
In 1962 Kriyananda separated from SRF
and began writing and lecturing on his own in San Francisco. In
1967, the opportunity came. Kriyananda purchased a small piece of
land in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Nevada City, California,
and by 1968 began construction of Ananda Village. It was during this
period that he wrote his first book Crises in Modern Thought:
Solutions to the Problem of Meaninglessness.
Kriyananda, founded Ananda World
Brotherhood Village, located near Nevada City, California. Ananda
presently has thriving branch communities in Sacramento and in Palo
Alto, California; in Portland, Oregon; in Seattle, Washington; and
near Assisi, Italy.
Successful Intentional World Communities
Ananda is recognized as perhaps the most successful intentional
community in the world. Today, over 800 people reside in six Ananda
communities throughout the world (Nevada City, Seattle, Palo Alto,
Portland, Sacramento and Assisi, Italy). The European retreat and
community located in Assisi, Italy, also serves Ananda meditation
groups in Europe, Croatia, and Russia. Both the Nevada City and
Assisi communities have world-renowned guest retreat facilities
where thousands of visitors annually visit for Spiritual renewal or
instruction in many aspects of meditation, yoga, and the spiritual
life. Kriyananda also established "Living Wisdom" schools for grades
K-8 in Nevada City, Sacramento, Portland, and Palo Alto.
Books and Music over 3 Million Sold
books and music have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and been
translated into 24 languages. He is the author of more than 100
books on a variety of topics including leadership, education,
creativity, and moral values. A composer since 1964, Kriyananda has
written over 300 musical works.
The Path, A Spirtual
His best-selling titles include Meditation for Starters, The Path: A
Spiritual Autobiography (which can be read online at http://www.crystalclarity.com/kriyananda),
Money Magnetism, The Essence of Self-Realization, Affirmations for
Self-Healing, Education for Life, and his best-selling Secrets gift
books. (For more information on Kriyananda's
books, visit the website of Crystal Clarity,
Ananda's publishing arm.
As a composer, Kriyananda is best known for the top-selling albums
Mystic Harp and Mystic Harp 2, featuring the legendary harpist Derek
Bell, of the 5-time Grammy Award-winning group The Chieftains.
His over eighty published works seminally explore the application of
the teachings of Self-Realization to daily life. Topics include
leadership, education, creativity, and moral values.
On April 21, 2013 he died in his home in Assisi. His remains were
brought back to Ananda Village in May 2013.
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