Today is the fourth anniversary of Swami Kriyananda’s leaving his body. Ananda Worldwide celebrates this occasion with what we call “Moksha Day,” a day dedicated to Self-realization, or spiritual freedom. We start the day with a six-hour meditation at the Moksha Mandir, where Swami Kriyananda’s body is enshrined. This is an especially beautiful time of year at Ananda Village, with Swami’s beloved gardens filled by more than fifteen thousand tulips and thousands of visitors. It’s almost as if he thought, “If people are going to gather to honor this day, let them be surrounded by beauty.”

Nayaswami Jyotish, Swami Kriyananda, and Paramhansa Yogananda in blessing.

This past Sunday, Easter, was also an important time for me personally. My first meeting with Swamiji, an event that set the course of my life, took place on Easter Sunday fifty years ago, March 26, 1967. I was 23 years old. I had read Autobiography of a Yogi a few months earlier, and a friend had recently learned Swami Kriyananda’s address in San Francisco. We shyly knocked on his apartment door a little after noon. After he had greeted us, he said, “I am working on a project, would you like to help?” As I eagerly agreed, I had no idea that the project he was working on would be me and my salvation and that of countless others.

Later we went to Golden Gate Park for a picnic lunch. He sang a few songs and told stories about his time with Paramhansa Yogananda. He wove in a few simple teachings; I remember him telling us about the qualities of the fruit we were eating—cherries were for joy, bananas for humility. I was utterly charmed.

I signed up for his next series of six classes on hatha yoga and meditation, and soon I was attending every event I could. Within a year I became his assistant, and we moved together to Ananda Community two years later. A year became a decade and then a lifetime, serving together.

Woven, like a golden thread, through the years was a precious friendship, love, and soul connection. We both knew that this was not the first life to find us together. I had been his son, physically or spiritually, in other lives, and our meeting on that long-ago Easter was not by chance, as it first seemed. Over the course of our time together, my life was shaped by him and by the incredible grace and blessing of Paramhansa Yogananda, whose light flowed through him so powerfully.

Here are a few of the ways our relationship has molded me:

I found out, once again, that the only true purpose of life is to find God.

The most important self-definition, the only one that counts, is to be a disciple.

I learned not only the techniques of meditation, but more importantly the attitudes that lead to success, among which are deep devotion, regularity, persistence, self-offering, and many others.

A life of service and caring about others leads to joyful freedom from petty concerns.

And finally, most importantly, I learned that gratitude opens the heart and soul so that God’s light can enter and drive away the shadows that hide in the dark nooks and crannies of ego.

Words can never express the depth of my appreciation for a life with this great soul. Fifty years, even fifty lives, is too short of a time to share together.

In deep gratitude,

Nayaswami Jyotish

Download or listen to this week’s podcast episode of the blog here.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing these personal memoirs. The lessons that you describe are reminders why we are all here on earth. You express them so well, and from your heart. I hope some day to be able to live in that same light of surrender and joy that you live in.

    In Master and Swamiji’s Joy, Mary

  2. As always, dear Jyotish and Devi, you have touched my heart with your love and devotion, and with reminders of Swamiji’s total devotion to Devine Mother and to Swamiji Yogananda. Thank you for including me in these inspiring letters.
    I look forward to seeing you again, hoping sooner rather than later.
    With love and light, Marjorie

  3. Thanks for sharing the memories of these important life-changing moments in your lives, Devi and Jyotish.
    Reading them is so inspirational.
    Thank you for being the leaders of our Ananda Family!
    Ute Tellini
    Exeter NH

  4. Thank you for sharing this lovely and momentous day in your life and what you have learned from your life with Swami. Wonderful to read and deeply appreciated.
    In divine friendship and gratitude,
    Parvati

  5. Dear Jyotishji,

    Very Beautifully expressed by you and nicely analyzed by Ankur. I really enjoyed it very much!! Thank you for sharing!!

    Aum,
    Neela

  6. Respected Jyotishji and Deviji,
    When thinking of Swamiji I all ways feel why I didn’t come to know about Ananda few years early, at least I would get to speak to Swamiji in person anyway swamiji’s presence and guidance is always with me.

  7. Thank you, Jyotish, for sharing the inspiring story of your first meeting with Swamiji. Easter is a significant day, for you and for us all: it was Swamiji’s last public talk, his farewell.
    Here at Ananda Europa we are appreciating in these days his Last Will and Testamento, reminiscent of the legando that Jesus left his disciples at the Last Supper.

  8. What a beautiful and godly memory of your relationship with Swamiji.
    Thank you Jyotish.
    God bless you,
    Celeste

  9. Dear, beloved friend and gurubai, beyond words of gratitude for your openness in sharing the Divine Channa that you have received with all the lives you have touched, I am hallowed to share this life with you, through God, Guru and Swamiji. In Divine Friendship, always, navi.

  10. Jyotishji, So beautifully expressed. Swamiji has reached so many of us through Ananda…. i am so deeply grateful to Swamiji who took upon himself the mission of bringing back Master’s vibrations to India. I am ever in gratitude for the Ananda Yoga which has changed my life. Last but not the least, his heart touching & soul stirring music which continues to captivate me – it was only his music that drew me to learn chanting.
    My heartfelt gratitude to all those Acharyas,teachers, mentors who have been nurtured by Swamiji & who continue to spread that love by nurturing us all.
    Jai Guru

  11. Thank you Jyotishji, through your continuous inspiration and example, leading us to live our lives for God and Guru. Om Babaji, Om Christ, Om Guru.

  12. Thank you for this inspirational post!! I loved the story about your visit. Bless you with love.

  13. Thank you SO much for this post!! I felt like I was ‘going along with you’ when you wrote about visiting Kriyananda! How wonderful that was. Bless you and thank you again for the inspiration this gave to me.

  14. Dear Jyotish, So many thanks to you for this very awesome article. It is so inspiring, not only in reading it but actually ‘feeling’ your deep love, respect and gratitude for all the wonderful experiences shared with Swamiji and sharing with us your tribute to him, and continuing the Master’s teachings with such unfaltering yet humble dedication. I so agree that the most important thing is to find our way to God and to be a worthy disciple. I so often feel I fall short of this but keep striving – remembering the last part of the Pledge “In pain I endure and accept all things with calm faith in omnipresent GOODNESS. I too would so love and appreciate (and need) your prayers at this long lasting tumultuous time in my life in various areas that I may be empowered to follow your great example and be a worthy instrument. God Bless you and Devi for being such long standing, immeasurable, soul inspiring teachers. Thank you, Thank you

  15. Dear Jyotish,

    Thank you for this intimate account of your connection to Swamiji.
    I could feel the personal love, respect, and honor you hold for him.
    On this special Moksha day, blessings to you.

    ~~~Peace, Josette

  16. Thank you. We are all greatly blessed by the love and the teachings that flow through Swamiji and you.

  17. Beautiful and so touching, Jyotish. Thank you for saying “Yes!”, and inspiring us to every day. In God’s love and friendship, Dambara

  18. Dearest Joytish: I am eternally grateful you met Swami that day and have inspired so many of us with these teachings and your life’s example. Ananda is a precious gem.

  19. Thanks Jotish for your sharing. I strongly ask you to help me with your prayers to be a good disciple and to continue the work of Swamiji and Guruji. Very old karma has hindered my great desire and I hope that this will soon be achieved by finding my highest potential

    Joy Rashmi

  20. Dear Jyotish,

    Thank you for sharing this – it brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. Once in Assisi 17 years ago, Swamiji said something that touched me to the core, “You have pleased me very much.” I hold that as the most precious thought and gift and pray that I can continue to do so for the rest of this life. My puny efforts pleased him? That is the only victory in my life that counts.

    Thank you again Jyotish 50 years to share and still more to share – what a great thing to read!

    peace and joy,

    aumkara

  21. Beautiful. I’ve heard you tell this story countless times, yet it always deeply moves me. Thank you for everything, Jyotish.

  22. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish,

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    I first met Swami Kriyananda in Seattle in 1991, when he was giving a talk at Unity. Church. I was so drawn to his magnetism / energy as he spoke of meeting his guru and of Divine Love. I read the Autobiography of a Yogi and joined Ananda Seattle that year. (I am part of Ananda Tucson now.)

    To be on a path that intuitively I know to be authentic is a tremendous blessing. I learned to meditate at age 21, and ‘researched’ maybe four other meditation techniques / spiritual paths before finding Ananda at age 40.

    I remember the day I heard the news. I know he is here in Spirit, but Swami Kriyananda is missed!

    Divine Mother’s blessings to you!

    Jai Guru

  23. Thank you, Jyotish, for sharing what you have learned from Swamiji…simple and profound teachings…

  24. Dear Jyotishji, Your memories and your loving direction are a beautiful way to start this day of reflection on Swamiji’s life….devotion and service. Thank you from this soul, Mary Jo

  25. Thank you, enjoyed very much your thoughts from your experiences. I feel much the same as Ankur and what they shared in their comments. I’ve found, as I prepare for an upcoming course on Finding my Mission in Life, that the main purpose is to find God as you say. The way I am expressing it is that my desire is to attain to the resurrection, and to regain the place I lost as a “son of God”. Like Ankur, I could use more gratitude in my life to help with the darkness. This is something I too need to make place for in my life.
    Sincerely, Les.

  26. YES!!! This is all i have ever wanted…simple…nothing more. Makes my heart weep when ever anyone expresses my wish!

  27. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for this beautiful letter 🙂
    We too are blessed to share the path. Sincere gratitude to Swamiji for his blessings and guidance. Showing us the path to Master’s teaching and supporting us with this beautiful community.
    It’s always uplifting to read Swamiji’s book or listen to his music.

    Joy,
    Prem

  28. Thankyou Jyotish Ji,
    For sharing such an inspiring story on such an im[ortant occasion.

    Om,
    In Master

    Kamini

  29. Respected Nayaswami Jyotish,

    I read your letter of April 20, 2017 with interest. I especially appreciate the following reminders culled from your letter:

    I found out, once again, that the only true purpose of life is to find God.

    The most important self-definition, the only one that counts, is to be a disciple.

    A life of service and caring about others leads to joyful freedom from petty concerns.

    And finally, most importantly, I learned that gratitude opens the heart and soul so that God’s light can enter and drive away the shadows that hide in the dark nooks and crannies of ego.

    The first two points above I appreciate and believe in though I haven’t been able to work in that direction. The third point above is something I would very much love to practice but do not know when or how it will come about. The last point about gratitude I personally need to practise very much. Whenever I have approached God or my Master, I have always been so busy asking, that I have very rarely only stopped to appreciate Him and to thank Him for all the Grace He has already showered on me. I have been so busy resenting what all has happened to me that I have never stopped to wonder at the beauty and magic of His love which has kept me alive and preserved my sanity in spite of everything.

    Thank you once again,

    With respects,

    Ankur

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