Sample Chapter

Swami Kriyananda As We Have Known Him

by Asha Praver


I meant well, but I was too immature to handle the assignment. Eventually I had to admit defeat and go back to Ananda Village. I felt like a complete failure.

Soon after I returned, Swamiji had a party at his home, Crystal Hermitage. I was in such turmoil I didn’t feel like being with people, so I stayed just long enough to greet Swamiji. Then I slipped out the door unnoticed and went up the hill to meditate in the chapel. Everyone else was at the party so I had it all to myself.

My mind was churning. “Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently?” After about an hour, I felt a presence beside me. When I opened my eyes, Swamiji was sitting there. I don’t know how he even found me.

Part of my turmoil was the thought that I had let Swamiji down. He had trusted me to make the situation better; instead I had made it worse. He reached over and touched me consolingly on the hand. Then he looked deeply into my eyes and offered a few simple words of advice. “Don’t take it inside, just let it go. These things happen.”

I felt a ray of hope penetrating the grim interior of my mind where I had been wrestling for days with my failure. In his eyes, there was neither judgment nor disappointment, just compassion for my suffering and the promise of his unconditional friendship.

~ From Sudarshan ~

A devotee prayed to Master, “How can I thank Swamiji for all he has done to help me?” The thought came, “It will soon be Valentine’s Day. You could make him some cookies.”

“It was just a small thing, a plateful of cookies,” she said. “But I felt the inspiration came from Master and it was important to me that I do this for Swamiji.” In her little cabin, she had only a hotplate, so she arranged to use the oven at the community market. Early in the morning, on Valentine’s Day, she gathered up her supplies and went to do her baking.

But there had been a misunderstanding, and the oven was in use. A few hours later, she returned there, but the oven still wasn’t available. When the same thing happened a third time, she decided sadly, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be. The whole day has passed, and I have nothing to give Swamiji. Master, you’ll have to find a way to thank him for me.”

Two days later, she received a note from Swamiji, which began, “Thank you for the Valentine cookies . . .”

I had suffered a severe disappointment and was living under a cloud of sadness I couldn’t seem to shake. I found comfort in the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Let nothing disturb you, nothing afright you. All things will pass, but God changes not.”

Teresa is a popular saint at Ananda, and several people had set those words of hers to music. But the melodies expressed the sadness of life, not the underlying joy.

I was talking to Swamiji about my disappointment and my love for Teresa’s prayer. “I want to chant it as well as say it,” I said. “But the melodies we have are depressing.”

“Would you write down the words?” he said. I was touched by his concern for my little desire.

We were sitting in his living room and his coffee table was covered with papers and correspondence awaiting his attention. I wrote down the words, but as I added my piece of paper to that heap I thought, “It will be a long time before he gets to this.”

Imagine my surprise and gratitude the next morning when Swamiji called at 8am. It was my birthday, and he said, “I have something for you.” Then, over the phone, he sang St. Teresa’s prayer with the lilting, joyful, perfect new melody he had written.

Singing that prayer, and feeling Swamiji’s love behind it, helped turn the tide. The cloud of sadness soon melted away.

~ From an Ananda devotee ~

No one was home at Swamiji’s house, so Tim placed the bowl of pudding in the refrigerator. It was a gift to Swamiji from a spiritual teacher known as Shree Ma. Rather than write a note, Tim decided he would explain it to Swamiji later.

But before Tim could tell him about it, Swamiji found the pudding himself. He took a big spoonful.

“This pudding was made by a saint,” Swamiji exclaimed. “It is delicious. Who made it?” A few friends were in the kitchen with him, but no one knew.

The next day, of course, the story came out. But with one bite, Swamiji had already grasped the essentials.

~ From an Ananda devotee ~

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