Crystal Hermitage was the Northern California home of Swami Kriyananda, spiritual teacher and direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the beloved classic Autobiography of a Yogi). The scenic beauty and peaceful atmosphere of Crystal Hermitage Gardens are reflected in the photographs and quotations contained in this book. Whether you are a nature lover or a spiritual seeker, these images will speak to you, whispering tranquility and inspiration to your soul through lush foliage, sun-kissed flowers, and stately statues.

Barbara Bingham

Barbara Bingham is the exceptional photographer and editor of the Crystal Hermitage Gardens, and also contributed an extensive number of photographs to Space, Light & Harmony: The Story of Crystal Hermitage. She has also worked for Ananda for many years as a graphic designer. Barbara is a certified yoga instructor, a long-time staff member of the Expanding Light Retreat, and leads several Ananda Yoga & Energization videos. She is the mother of two grown daughters, one of whom is also a yoga instructor. She and her husband Dave reside at Ananda Village.

[Editor's note: Nearly all of the photography on our website is Barbara's beautiful work. Thank you, Barb!]

Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters, 1926–2013) was a direct disciple of the great spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi), a bestselling author, and an internationally known lecturer and composer. Widely recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on meditation and yoga, he taught these principles and techniques to hundreds of thousands of students around the world.

In 1968 Kriyananda founded Ananda Village in Nevada City, California, dedicated to spreading the spirit of friendship, service, and community around the globe. Ananda is recognized as one of the most successful intentional communities in the world, and more than 1,000 people reside in Ananda communities in the US, India, and Italy. The European retreat and community located in Assisi, Italy, also serves Ananda meditation groups in Europe and Russia.

Ananda Village is home to The Expanding Light, a world-renowned guest retreat facility where thousands visit annually for renewal or instruction in many aspects of meditation, yoga, and the spiritual life. The nearby Ananda Meditation Retreat, located on Ananda's first property, functions both as a retreat and as the site for Ananda's Institute of Alternative Living.

An advocate of simple living and high thinking, Swami Kriyananda's more than 140 books cover a wide range of subjects emphasizing the need to live wisely by one's own experience of life, and not by abstract theories or dogmas.

A composer since 1964, Kriyananda wrote over 400 musical works. His music is inspiring, soothing, and uplifting. Many of his later albums are instrumental works with brief affirmations or visualizations. Chuck Dilberto of Awareness Magazine wrote, “[His] words and music are full of his life and light. His sole intention is to heal, something we could all use during these chaotic times.”

Through Crystal Clarity Publishers, his works have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 25 languages.

To learn more, visit the Swami Kriyananda website.


Upper Gardens


Lower Gardens

About Ananda


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.

“When I first saw the gardens at Crystal Hermitage, I felt God’s presence in my heart and I understood what Ananda was all about.”

A first-time visitor to Ananda Village

Crystal Hermitage Gardens is a glorious book, filled with beauty and wisdom. It is also an open invitation to the reader to visit Ananda Village and Crystal Hermitage, which are a perfect atmospheric and vibrational match for the delicate and refined loveliness depicted in this book. I congratulate Barbara on publishing this labor of love. I perused this work with my four-year-old. Normally restless, he stood for a long time, enthralled with the splash of color and light. I felt, while reading it, that I had been transported to a high astral plane. This book has an unexpected power to change the reader. Crystal Hermitage Gardens is ideal to place on your coffee table, to lift the spirit and consciousness of anyone who opens it.”

Richard Salva, author of The Reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln and Walking with William of Normandy