Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) was one of the foremost spiritual teachers of Yoga principles in the world today. In 1948 at the age of twenty-two, he became a disciple of the Indian yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda. He was one of a few remaining direct disciples of Yogananda teaching in recent years.
At Yogananda’s request, Swami Kriyananda devoted his life to lecturing and writing, helping others to experience the joy and living presence of God within. He taught on four continents in seven languages over the course of nearly 60 years. His television program, audio and video recordings of his talks and music, and his many books in 28 languages have touched the lives of millions of people.
Swami Kriyananda took the ancient teachings of Raja Yoga and made them intensely practical and immediately useful for people in every walk of life, on a daily basis. His books and teachings cover nearly every field of human endeavor, including spiritualizing business life, leadership, education, the arts, community life, and science. He wrote extensive commentaries on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita.
Swami Kriyananda has also been known as the “father of the intentional communities movement” which began in the United States in the late 1960s. Inspired by his guru’s dream of establishing spiritual communities, in 1968 he founded the first of what are now eight Ananda communities worldwide. They provide a supportive environment of “simple living and high thinking” where 1,000 full-time residents live, work, and worship together.
The time has come for people to live lives of even higher dedication than that which inspired monks and nuns of the past…The time has come for people to direct their spiritual awareness also downward into matter…to everything they do: their work, to education, to family life, to friendship, to their communications with strangers, to the way they build their homes—to all the most mundane, practical aspects of daily, human life. Men need now to become God-centered from within, and from that center to see God everywhere, in everything.
—Swami Kriyananda, Cities of Light
Swami Kriyananda’s leadership style is at the heart of Ananda’s success. He endeavored to uplift people however possible, through writing, lecturing, music, and acts of kindness. He trained a large number of his students to teach and to assume leadership responsibility in the same way, as free as possible from personal concern, placing the spiritual needs of others primary in any decision. He also offered spiritual counseling personally and in correspondence.
He was a patient and sensitive teacher, allowing people to learn by experience, and putting the needs of individuals above the organization. “People are more important than things” is one of the guiding principles of Ananda life; leaving things undone is preferable when there is spiritual benefit to someone in the middle of learning a hard life lesson.
“Where there is adherence to dharma [right action], there is victory” is another of Ananda’s guiding principles. Kriyananda encouraged his students to live in harmony with others, but also to speak out with courage when true principles are at stake.
“There is a peace and quietness surrounding him that give a hint of his spiritual stature. Many times have I listened to him speak, and always have come away feeling refreshed and energized. It is not only the lectures, the teachings, and the books of J. Donald Walters that shed light on areas of darkness or confusion in people’s lives. Above all, perhaps, it is the example of the man himself, the peace and calm that surround him, the spiritual power that emanates from him, that point the way to each person’s own inner enlightenment.”
—John Harricharan, Body, Mind, & Spirit magazine
In his 80s, Kriyananda continued to write, record, and lecture at a pace that left his students and friends fairly breathless. He divided his time visiting Ananda’s main centers in India, Europe, and U.S. His books continue to be published by Crystal Clarity, and his lectures are available on the web in video and MP3 formats from Ananda.org and other Ananda websites.
Learn more about Swami Kriyananda at: www.swamikriyananda.org