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Introduction

Crystal Hermitage Gardens

A Photographic Pilgrimage to the Spiritual Heart of Ananda Village
by Barbara Bingham, inspired by Swami Kriyananda



Foreword by Devi Novak

The great American botanist, George Washington Carver, once said, "Everything in nature will speak to you if you love it enough." Crystal Hermitage Gardens is a living testimony to the beauty that can be created in the natural world when we approach it with higher consciousness and with love.

The photographs in this book capture the luminous quality of this garden where each flower and tree is cared for with loving appreciation for the life present within it. In return, each blossom and leaf speaks to us, as one would to a friend, in its language of radiance and light. And the setting lets the visitor expand from a focus on a single blossom to a vista that reaches out to infinity.

Visitors to Crystal Hermitage are often moved to tears as they behold nature revealing her hidden realms of divine beauty. One guest recently commented, "I feel like I've come home."

This garden is the creation of Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda World Brotherhood Village, where Crystal Hermitage is located. Kriyananda is a world traveler and a gifted writer, lecturer, composer, and a photographer in his own right.

When he first conceptualized and designed Crystal Hermitage Gardens, he tried to capture the beauty he'd experienced in his travels: the statuary and expansive views of Villa San Michele in Capri; the inspiration of Porziuncula Chapel in Assisi, Italy; the manicured beauty of the gardens along Lake Lugano in Switzerland; and the brilliant colors of the Keukenhof Garden tulips in Amsterdam, Holland.

We invite you now to enjoy Crystal Hermitage Gardens through the photographs and words of the book. May each page open for you a window through which you can hear nature speaking to you in her own special language. In closing, we'll share the lyrics that Swami Kriyananda has written to a song dedicated to the devas, or nature spirits:

You devas of woodland, of mountain and field:
Come show'r on us blessings and light.
The wonders that Nature, befriended, can yield
Reveal to our hearing and sight.
Your melodies, whispering joy on the air,
Affirm that God's ev'rywhere.
O devas of woodland, of mountain and field.
Be with us in blessing this night.



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