Daya Mata and Swami Kriyananda were fellow disciples of Yogananda, and more than that. They worked and traveled together as ministers, and later served together as SRF president and vice-president; they felt close to each other as brother and sister: a relationship rooted in past lives, as they both knew.
Kriyananda was later thrown out of SRF. For a long time, however, Daya Mata resisted Tara Mata’s forceful efforts to dismiss Swami Kriyananda. He writes: I learned later, from Daya Mata, that Tara had spent that year trying for hours every day to convince her that I must be ousted “for the good of the work.” “In another fifteen years,” she insisted, “he’ll be strong enough to divide the work. We must get rid of him now!” Finally, in a very emotional scene, Daya Mata capitulated.
After the separation, Daya and Kriyananda still met each other privately, outside of Mt. Washington. Their connection however came to an end when Kriyananda told Tara Mata on the phone, “It isn’t everyone who thinks the way you do,” without mentioning any name. Tara suspected that he might be talking about Daya Mata (rightly so), and as a consequence she demanded that Daya give up seeing him. Daya, to keep peace, decided she had no other choice.
In 1970 she told him: “I’ve never accepted the things Tara said against you,” adding, “Even on her death bed, Tara was bitter against me for what she considered my betrayal.”
After Swami Kriyananda was dismissed from SRF in 1962, for many years he carefully avoided speaking critically about SRF. Nobody at Ananda, in fact, knew the real story behind his separation, his pain, the treatment he had received. Kriyananda wanted to protect SRF, being his Master’s organization. He encouraged Ananda members to visit the SRF centers and their convocation, and recommended to study the SRF lessons.
That protective pattern changed drastically when SRF started a lawsuit against him, maybe two. “Maybe”, because it can’t be proofed that the second one too was SRF’s workings, even though the main accusing lawyer was an SRF member, a lawyer who was working for SRF, and the accusing women were almost all connected with SRF.
Daya now openly stated that she was not against the good people at Ananda, but against Kriyananda. She now felt him to be a threat for SRF and took a harsh stand against him, in order to defend her Guru’s work. Legal actions were heavy. It must have weighed on her heart, as she told Kriyananda personally: “I can’t face Master [after death] until this legal issue has been resolved.”
During the lawsuit Swami Kriyananda defended truth as he knew it: he wrote first a booklet about My Separation from SRF (1992), then a big book, A Place Called Ananda, telling his incredible story. He now began to talk about it frequently, in public. Tara Mata was the main goal of his descriptions, but so was Daya Mata, whom he didn’t compliment anymore (while in his book “The Path” he had written glowingly about her).
SRF cares about its public image, and wasn’t pleased about Kriyananda’s new writings. Nor was it pleased that important parts of the lawsuit, such as the rights to the Autobiography of a Yogi, were being lost. Tension rose. Swami Kriyananda often said he felt aggressive and angry vibrations coming to him, affecting him physically.
The lawsuits ended in 2002. The tensions didn’t, however, as Kriyananda hadn’t been stopped: he was more active than ever, reaching millions through TV shows, articles, YouTube, and other activities.
Some years later, in 2010, Swami Kriyananda once again put hand to the sword, writing a detailed book, “Rescuing Yogananda,” in which he described how deeply SRF had lost Yogananda’s spirit. His goal was to create such public outrage that SRF would be forced to change direction.
He worked hard on that new book. A first edition was soon printed, put in the internet, and made available through Amazon. He soon expanded and improved it, and a second edition was about to be printed. But suddenly he withdrew it, requesting that all printed copies be destroyed.
What had happened? Ananda published the following account on the internet:
A Letter of Explanation from Swami Kriyananda
I had a dream recently in which a saint, not from our line of gurus, said to me in reference to this book, “It is not your place to judge.” He didn’t need to tell me to what he was referring. I knew it was to this book.
I replied, “But it says important things, things that need to be brought out.”
He replied, “All right, I agree. But now, drop it. Your job is not to judge anyone, but to see God everywhere, and in everyone. Let this book be a one-time-only statement. You be a child of God. Judgement is of the ego; divine acceptance is of the soul. So forget the book now, and think only of Him.”
He was severe, but also very sweet. I was deeply grateful to him. And I agree with him completely. My feeling from this dream was one of deep bliss. From now on I drop the subject altogether. It is no longer something about which I care to initiate any further discussion.
When I first had this dream, I thought the saint had approved of my getting out one edition of the second, improved version. But a nagging thought wouldn’t leave me: “Why even publish this edition? I’ve already presented my key thoughts. Whatever good they might do has been done. Enough said.” Finally I decided it was my conscience talking to me! So I wrote our publishing house and asked them to stop the print run. It has meant some loss of money, but better that than an offense to my conscience.
It certainly shows Kriyananda’s greatness to change his direction in a second, once he sees it needs correction. His friends recount that it was a moment of heightened love at Ananda, and of great respect. A new cycle seemed to have begun. Kriyananda was in a period of bliss. He told his friends: “Life is so blissful. The more you give your life to God, the more thrilling it becomes. Appreciation and gratitude are the main attitudes we should hold toward life.”
During that time an Italian artist-friend, Sandro da Verscio, finished a marvelous bust of Kriyananda, which expresses the deep love and gratitude Ananda feels for him.
The saint appeared to Swami Kriyananda on December 31, 2010, just before the New Year was beginning, and exactly one month after Daya Mata’s passing. Are her passing and that unexpected turn of events somehow connected? Is there now a historical opening for unity and harmony between SRF and Ananda? Are maybe saints or angels also appearing to SRF leaders, changing their hearts as well? Is there a ray of hope for a more respectful future, for “Yogananda-Harmony?”
One can only hope so.