This is the story of a young man who, in the midst of a spiritual quest, had the good fortune to encounter a great man of God.

Swami Kriyananda (1926–2013) was a close and dedicated disciple of the great spiritual master and world teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda (1893–1952; author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi). Throughout a lifetime that encompassed a whirlwind of activity, Swamiji accomplished prodigies and left a vast legacy for students of Yogananda’s teachings and the world . . . .

In humility and with a desire to remove his ego from the picture, Swami always understated himself and what he did. I knew him for almost forty years and I never saw him try to draw people to himself. He said, “Others want to set themselves up as gurus, or to be seen as such. I want to be a good disciple. The best disciple I can be. The world needs more good disciples.”

And this is what we saw in him, all of us who knew him. By perfecting his discipleship to his great guru, by acting with exquisite attunement as a disciple, he taught us everything we needed to know about the guru-disciple relationship. By sharing so much of his own path to the Divine, he illuminated our paths. For all who seriously sought to learn from him, he nurtured and challenged us, and took us forward, step by step. . . .

Seldom in this world does one encounter such a great soul. If this book brings inspiration, that is a drop in the bucket compared to all that Swamiji imparted during his life. It is difficult to convey the depth and breadth of his magnanimity and nobility.

Richard Salva

Richard Salva is a 35-year expert on reincarnation and yoga philosophy, and has lectured in the United States and in Europe. He has appeared on television and NPR, Clear Channel, and CBS radio. He recently addressed the annual conference of the International Association for Past-Life Regression Research and Therapies. He is a longtime member and minister of Ananda Sangha.

Richard's books, published by Crystal Clarity Publishers, include The Reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln (an in-depth historical study of reincarnation, based on a statement by Paramhansa Yogananda—that Abraham Lincoln had been an advanced Himalayan yogi in a past life, and that he was reborn as the great aviator, Charles Lindbergh) and Walking with William of Normandy (a pilgrimage guide to the Normandy sites of William the Conqueror, who was Yogananda in a past life).

Contents

Introduction
A Time for Remembering
Early Connections with Swamiji
Christmas and Easter
Ocean Song
An Interesting Dream
The Look
A Longtime Correspondence
The Christ Lives Oratorio
Lago di Como, Italy
Return to Ananda Village
Sacramento
P.G. Wodehouse and the Christmas Gift
Star Trek and Other Creative Endeavors
Palo Alto
The Lincoln Book
The Peace Treaty
Working on Swami’s Books
Swamiji and My Son
The Spiritual Name (A Minor Saga)
Anticipation . . .
Laughing with Swami
Stirring Swamiji to Action
An Unexpected Connection
A Few Musical Notes
Moments with Swamiji
Coda
Appendix: Two Stories of Master

 

Introduction

This is the story of a young man who, in the midst of a spiritual quest, had the good fortune to encounter a great man of God. 

Swami Kriyananda (1926–2013) was a close and dedicated disciple of the great spiritual master and world teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda (1893–1952; author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi). Throughout a lifetime that encompassed a whirlwind of activity, Swamiji accomplished prodigies and left a vast legacy for students of Yogananda’s teachings and the world—including authoring 150 books; composing plays and more than four hundred pieces of music; taking thousands of inspiring photographs; founding an international spiritual work (Ananda Worldwide) and nine intentional communities in the United States, Italy, and India; training dozens of spiritual teachers to carry on the work he started; initiating thousands into Yogananda’s advanced meditation technique of Kriya Yoga; giving thousands of classes and lectures on spiritual living; writing many thousands of letters and emails while counseling spiritual seekers around the globe; expanding on Yogananda’s teachings and showing their practicality for modern man; and much, much more.

In humility and with a desire to remove his ego from the picture, Swamiji always understated himself and what he did. I knew him for almost forty years and I never saw him try to draw people to himself. He said, “Others want to set themselves up as gurus, or to be seen as such. I want to be a good disciple. The best disciple I can be. The world needs more good disciples.” And this is what we saw in him, all of us who knew him. By perfecting his discipleship to his great guru, by acting with exquisite attunement as a disciple, he taught us everything we needed to know about the guru-disciple relationship. By sharing so much of his own path to the Divine, he illuminated our paths. For all who seriously sought to learn from him, he nurtured and challenged us, and took us forward, step by step. 

 Swami seldom scolded or corrected me verbally. But he corrected me over and over vibrationally and energetically. He was tireless in his efforts to help me understand how I needed to change, and to help me do so. 

I believe part of the reason he seldom spoke his corrections was that I was listening as closely as I could to whatever he might tell me—and when one is paying such close attention, a little instruction goes a long way, and too much specific verbal instruction may bring about spiritual indigestion or despair over how much remains to be done. But I also think part of the reason he withheld verbal corrections was that, from my earliest years on the path, I have been my own sternest critic and he knew it. 

In the beginning he spoke to a few others about me in praise of the good, of the potential he saw in me. When those people told me of his kind words, I gratefully received them, then banished them from my mind. I was cautious of egoism and how it might lead me astray. Swamiji seemed to understand my concern, for after these early reports it was a long time before I heard either directly from him or through others any praise of me or my actions.

I am not attempting through this book to offer a comprehensive view of Swami Kriyananda. In fact, during the thirty-eight years I was his student on the spiritual path I actually spent little time in his physical company, especially compared to some. Rather, what I am offering here is a glimpse into the consciousness, teachings, and activities of a great soul. A diamond has many facets, each reflecting the light. This book was written to display a few of Swami’s brilliant facets, of which there were many.

Learning from Swamiji was akin to walking a razor’s edge. The edge was not an amorphous one outside myself: it lay deep in the heart of my being. In a very real sense, the edge was deep in my spine: not the physical backbone, but the energy spine that formed it. Once one is deeply centered there and, more particularly. in the heart and at the spiritual eye at the point between the eyebrows, one can clearly sense the right course to take in every situation. Swamiji’s purpose was to bring me to that centeredness, to help me perfect it and make it a permanent state of being. It requires great sensitivity, awareness, energy, and attunement to remain on that razor’s edge. And the farther one walks along that edge, the more refined the edge becomes, and the easier it is to slip off.

 Earlier in this introduction, I wrote that Swami scarcely ever criticized me. But after looking over my correspondence with him and reflecting on our interactions, I see that he did critique me quite a number of times.

What I wrote earlier felt true because it isn’t his critiques I remember (except as lessons to be heeded and absorbed). Even in his criticisms, I felt his love. Swamiji changed me, and sought to change me, primarily through love. And toward the end, he didn’t critique me verbally anymore.

I remember a conversation I had, toward the end of Swamiji’s life, with a brother disciple of this path. He told me that Swamiji, knowing he wasn’t long for this world, had reached a point where he was openly sharing his criticisms with those who had been with him a long time. While doing so, he explained that he usually waited years to share the things he was saying, until the time was just right; but now, he couldn’t wait any longer. He needed to say these things verbally while he still could do so, before his physical voice was silenced, and his spiritual voice heard only in meditation and inwardness—a voice whose lucidity would depend on the clarity of our inner senses, and the degree of our receptivity.

When my brother disciple told me this, I reflected for a moment and was surprised, as Swamiji hadn’t been critiquing me as he had the others. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for it. Yet, looking back, I see that over the years Swami had furnished me with major lessons to work on through his various critiques. Deep lessons. Lifelong lessons. Some of those critiques had been hard to hear, but all of them were extremely helpful.

I have written this book in part for those members of my spiritual family who knew Swami, that this offering might bring him more freshly to mind. Oftentimes it has happened that a member of my spiritual family has told a story of Swami that reminded me of a similar experience I’d had with him. Maybe it will be so for you, because of one story or another in this book.

And, of course, I wrote also for those of you who did not know Swami, that you might gain a sense of what he was like, what a great soul he was. He was a dedicated and devoted disciple of his great guru, and a man of God in his own right.

Often when I think of Swami I am reminded of Einstein’s observation concerning Mahatma Gandhi: “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this . . . ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.”

Seldom in this world does one encounter such a great soul. If this book brings inspiration, that is a drop in the bucket compared to all that Swamiji imparted during his life. It is difficult to convey the depth and breadth of his magnanimity and nobility.

I also write these stories for a personal reason: I don’t want to forget them or permit them to fade away. There is so much to be gained from remembering. Let time deepen these lessons, rather than removing the memory of them.

 (For readers new to Ananda’s spiritual path, we follow the teachings of the great master of yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda. Throughout this book, Yogananda is referred to as “Master.” Swami Kriyananda is referred to as “Swami” or “Swamiji.”)

“I dipped into your book for a few minutes, and I haven’t been able to stop reading.”
Anandi Cornell, editor of the Wisdom of Yogananda series

“A riveting, first-hand account of one of the most important spiritual figures of our times.”
Naidhruva Rush, author of Change Your Magnetism, Change Your Life

“I just finished reading your book and enjoyed it completely. It was delightful to relive through you all these wonderful moments. What great good karma we have, and what a blessing to have shared this life with Swamiji.”
Asha Nayaswami, author of Swami Kriyananda As We Have Known Him

“Thank you for your wonderful insights into the life of someone who moved us both so deeply. I have always admired your ability to see into the deeper meaning of what Swamiji taught us. Your book brought tears to my eyes.”
Mark Monson, Vienna, Austria

“Swami Kriyananda was a great and direct disciple of the well-known yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda. In his book Stories of Swamiji, Richard Salva offers a glimpse into what it can mean to be a dedicated student of such a disciple. Although not personally close to Kriyananda, Richard was able to draw some of the deepest lessons from his thirty-eight years with him. A wonderful and delightful book with something instructive for everyone.”
Nayaswami Parvati Hansen, minister and Director of the Janaka Foundation

“A beautiful book, full of heart and good humor, that will appeal especially to students of Swami Kriyananda, and to many other sincere truth seekers as well. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote famously about the ‘search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.’ Richard Salva shares an up-close view of his life of discipleship to Yogananda through one of Yogananda’s greatest, direct disciples. He brings alive for the reader what it was like to spend many precious moments in the company of a true saint. His efforts to intuit, behind their outward interactions, their true, inner significance for him, and the ever-present challenge and joy of raising his consciousness to new levels in order to receive the great blessings being offered him: These will strike a chord in all readers who are searching for higher meaning in their own lives.”
Nayaswami Lakshman, former secretary to Swami Kriyananda