Birds of a feather

By Ranjini Banerjee

December 2008

Communities where householder seekers can lead a dedicated spiritual life is the ideal behind ananda sangha, the organisation founded by swami kriyananda, which is starting a community in pune

Swami Kriyananda, the 80-plus founder of the Ananda Sangha, responds to an email interview:
Why is there a need for world-brotherhood communities across the globe?
I have felt a need for cooperative intentional communities since I was 15. When I found that this was also one of the primary objectives of Paramhansa Yogananda, I vowed to fulfil this ideal of his. In the past, the spiritually dedicated life has been confined, basically, to ashrams and caves. The ideal of Lahiri Mahasaya, that the time has come for householders also to dedicate themselves to the spiritual life, makes spiritual communities for everyone a more obviously needed alternative. At Ananda everyone, including householders and their families, has a greater opportunity to live for God and serve Him.
When one becomes a member of such a spiritual community, does he not sever his bond with the outside world, alienating his family and friends?

It might do so if the family and friends opposed his choice of a way of life. It does not do so in most cases, because in fact all our members live in the world, though not of it, serving humanity and not cutting themselves off from it.
Given the fact that India is the birthplace of Paramhansa Yogananda, why did you concentrate on India only in 2003, more than three decades after you had established the first colony outside Nevada City, in California?
It was much easier for me to found a community in America than in India. It was very difficult to start communities in any case, but now I believe India is ready for them. And we have five communities in California and one in Italy, making it possible now to begin such a work in India with the help also of Americans and Europeans. I hope, however, to have many more Indians, now that we are moving to Pune, and the work is already well established in Gurgaon.
Kindly share your vision and plans for the Ananda village which you plan to establish in Pune, India.
I expect it to consist mostly of Indians. I would like to found a village in which householders as well as monastics can live for God, as they are doing in America and Italy. I hope to make it self-supporting, with businesses, schools, and other projects that we have already established elsewhere.
Given the different kinds of crisis situations occurring across the globe, do you anticipate a sudden surge of individuals opting for the sheltered refuge that an Ananda village offers?

I would not use the expression ‘sheltered refuge.’ The ‘sheltering’ is done by the members themselves, with supportive
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