Ananda’s new leader a familiar Nevada County face |

Ananda’s new leader a familiar Nevada County face

If it wasn’t apparent who would take over Ananda when Swami Kriyananda died toward the end of April, he made it pretty clear in his will:

“My spiritual successor shall be John E. Novak (generally known by his spiritual name, Jyotish).”

Kriyananda’s last will and testament provided that the nine-stone astrological bangle, which Kriyananda wore in his capacity of spiritual director of Ananda, should be “worn by my spiritual successor and his successors.”

During a simple ceremony at Ananda Village Sunday, Novak formally received the bangle reflective of his new position.

“I’m very excited,” Novak said of taking over as the spiritual leader.

After growing up in Minnesota, Novak moved to San Francisco and became Kriyananda’s student. Shortly thereafter, Novak began assisting his teacher in a variety of ways, including teaching meditation classes.

Working closely with Kriyananda (born J. Donald Walters), Novak became one of the founding members of Ananda Village, which officially started July 4, 1969, on land on the San Juan Ridge outside Nevada City.

For 10 years, Novak served as the community’s general manager. Novak has lived and taught in Ananda communities throughout the world and lectured in the United States, Europe, Russia and India.

Novak’s wife, Devi Novak, also worked closely with Kriyananda since the early years of Ananda.

“My wife and I have, for many years, served as the spiritual directors of Ananda Worldwide. In terms of the work, the big step is to try to bring pervasive spiritual energy to the whole of Ananda,” Jyotish Novak said. The pair are ministers and also Kriyacharyas, those designated by Kriyananda to initiate people into Kriya Yoga.

“Things are staying pretty similar. For the last several years, we have been releasing out responsibility at Ananda in Nevada County and increasing our travel,” Novak said.

“Kriyananda set things up in such a way that Ananda is already a very solid worldwide organization, and there are already a lot of leaders in place that have been there for a number years,” he said. “So Ananda’s future will not only be stable but very expansive.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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