Temple dedication at Ananda Village in Nevada County to liberate spirit of Kriyananda
May 17, 2015
Up to 600 devotees of the late Swami Kriyananda will travel untold miles this weekend to his home base at Ananda Village in Nevada County to dedicate a new temple and crypt in his honor, and to celebrate the release of his spirit to the world.
"This signifies that his energy is not done," said Peter "Atman" Goering, Ananda Village manager. "His spirit was not only confined to the body, and that energy is now being released."
Goering said the landmark weekend events will not only dedicate a 450-square-foot cupola-topped "Temple of Liberation" — or "Moksha Mandir" in Sanskrit — but will launch a new era of Kriyananda's presence and impact in the world. Organizers expect it will "carry the torch" of Kriyananda's energy to a new generation.
"It's the next step," said Goering of the spiritual path now followed by thousands worldwide. "So often, communities don't outlive their founders, but Kriyananda was very conscious of the need to step back, train other people — and to expand his teachings."
Ananda Village itself is entering a new era of expansion with its 2015 master plan update now under review by Nevada County Planning Department.
If approved, the 700-acre intentional spiritual community that began in teepees and a circa-1800s farmhouse in 1969 could add up to 100 new home sites over the next couple of decades.
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The village is now home to 220 adults, about 40 children, 87 home sites, a lodge and retreat center, yoga and meditation classes and teacher trainings, a health care clinic, a K-12 school and preschool, a dairy, tulip gardens (visited by more than 5,000 in recent weeks) and much more.
"There's a growing interest in cooperative spiritual living," Goering said, adding that having a common spiritual commitment and inner focus goes a long way toward harmony within the community. "We'd like to be able to give people the opportunity to experience it."
The body of Kriyananda, who died April 21, 2013, at the age of 86, has been transferred to a enclosed crypt below the temple. Above the crypt, the striking new temple sits on a hillside within the community's Crystal Hermitage area, overlooking miles of tree-filled canyon at the middle fork of the Yuba River.
"This building is the culmination of my life's work," said J.T. Heater, architect of the Temple of Liberation and a 20-year Ananda Village resident. "It's the peak."
Heater, who broke ground for the temple in May 2014 in cooperation with N. Paul Cryer, Ananda Village construction manager, said it took six people working alongside a Sacramento glass blower to create the colored glass flame that graces the temple's main window overlooking the Yuba River canyon. The flame epitomizes the spirit of Kriyananda that lives on even though his body is no longer alive.
"We think that the temple was successful in creating an expansive and visionary mode that (Kriyananda) wanted to instill in all of us," Cryer said.
Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, first purchased land to establish the Nevada County Ananda Village in 1969.
Since then, centers have been created in Sacramento, Palo Alto, Seattle, Portland, Assisi, Italy and two in India.
Kriyananda, whose birth name was J. Donald Walters, was the author of 150 books and gave hundreds of lectures and trainings during his lifetime.
A new movie about his time with Yogananda, "The Answer," is scheduled for release in Los Angeles on his birthday, May 19. (A film about Yogananda, "Awake," was released about a year ago; a film on Ananda Village, "Finding Happiness," was also released within the last two years.)
Like the residents of Ananda Village, followers of Kriyananda are trained in Kriya Yoga, a meditative breathing practice, as well as other types of yoga and meditation that are incorporated throughout daily life.
Ananda Village requires that people must commit to the devotional lifestyle and practice, and shun distractions such as drugs.
"It's just a blessing to live in spirit," said Heater. "It's limitless as to what you can become when you're supported in being yourself and in realizing your true potential."
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.