Yogananda’s Vision for World Brotherhood Colonies

Paramhansa Yogananda, on whom Ananda’s teachings are based, taught that environment is stronger than will power. A person may have the best intention of living a spiritual life, but lacking the support of others, and living in a world focused on materialism, it is all too easy to be diverted from the desire to know God!

Yogananda’s solution was for people of like mind and ideals to join together to form “world brotherhood colonies,” intentional spiritual communities based, in his words, on “simple living and high thinking.” In these colonies, truth seekers from all walks of life (singles and families as well as monastics) could live, work and seek God together, creating a harmonious, uplifting environment that encourages the development of spiritual qualities, and the awareness, as he stated, “of the true kinship of all men as sons and daughters of the same, one God.”

During his lifetime, Yogananda began to establish such a colony in Encinitas, California in the early 1940’s, but found that people were not yet ready to embrace his idea. Yogananda, however, knew the time would come when the world would be ready to receive his vision, and “… this colony idea will spread through the world like wildfire.”

Ananda — Fulfilling Yogananda’s Dream

As a boy of 15, even before he met Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda (then J. Donald Walters) felt an inner longing to start a community based on high ideals. While in college, he even tried, unsuccessfully, to convince his friends to join him.

Later, as a disciple of Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda was present at Yogananda’s compelling lecture in Beverly Hills, during which the great master shared his powerful vision of world brotherhood colonies (see quote at the top of the page) becoming the way of the future. Swami Kriyananda vowed his utmost to make Yogananda’s dream a reality.

Founded by Swami Kriyananda, Nayaswami Jyotish, and a handful of other young friends in 1968 on 67 acres of land in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, Ananda Village was initially faced with many tests and challenges. Scarce money, the threat of foreclosure, a devastating fire that destroyed most of the existing structures, different ideas about the community’s purpose — all served to help forge a community dedicated to living Yogananda’s ideal of putting God first, in all circumstances.

Celebrating its 45th year in 2014, Ananda Village has become one of the world’s most successful intentional communities. More than 200 residents (families, singles and monastics), all dedicated to the ideals set by Yogananda, live, work, raise families and meditate together, supporting each another in applying his teachings to all aspects of life. Now situated on 1,000 acres, the Village has grown to include 85 homes, a school that educates through high-school, private and community-owned businesses, Ananda Sangha Worldwide outreach ministry, Crystal Clarity Publishers, and a world class retreat center, The Expanding Light.

To meet the need of increasing numbers of people inspired by Yogananda’s vision, Ananda’s world brotherhood colonies have expanded to include other communities:

Most of these communities also have farms and sustainability projects which welcome assistance from non-community residents. Currently, about 1,000 devotees live together in these communities, making Yogananda’s vision of “high thinking and simple living” a reality.

For further information about Ananda’s communities and about the intentional communities movement, you can watch Finding Happiness, a movie recently made about Ananda, or visit our Ananda Institute of Cooperative Living website.