Nayaswami Asha’s spiritual lineage
Virtually all spiritual teachers receive their knowledge from a teacher, who himself has a teacher. In the east, the teacher is often called “guru”, or dispeller of darkness. In the west, Jesus was called Master by his disciples. The series of teachers is known as a lineage, and for those who appreciate understanding the spiritual roots of a tradition, the lineage says much about the approach and expression of the teachings.
Asha has studied personally with Swami Kriyananda for more than 40 years. Swami Kriyananda is one of the most well-known exponents of Yoga in the West, and a close, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. Yogananda is recognized to be an avatar—a Self-realized Master, a soul fully awakened in God.
About Swami Kriyananda
Swami Kriyananda is an American (J. Donald Walters) who discovered Yogananda, like countless others, through his Autobiography of a Yogi. Upon reading it as a young man of 22, he felt he had at last found someone who knew truth. He took the next bus from New York to Los Angeles, and was accepted by Yogananda as a disciple on Setember 12, 1948.
Within a year, Yogananda placed him in charge of the male monastics in Yogananda’s organization, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). “You have a great work to do,” Yogananda told him. Swami became one of SRF’s principal teachers and was Vice President on the Board of SRF. He lectured on behalf of SRF throughout the world, and spent several years in India serving the many students and disciples there.
In 1962, Kriyananda was removed from SRF. At the time, it was an intensely painful experience. But soon, he came to understood that he could not have carried out the great work his Master had commissioned him to do within SRF. In accordance with his Guru’s guidance, he has devoted his life to teaching, writing, and editing the works of Yogananda.
Inspired by Yogananda’s dream of establishing spiritual communities, in 1968 Swami Kriyananda founded the first of what are now eight Ananda communities worldwide. They provide a supportive environment where 1,000 householders and monastics live, work, and practice the ideals of Self-realization. His many books are available in 100 counties and thirty languages. He is a gifted composer; his spiritually uplifting music is a joyful part of Ananda events.
Swami Kriyananda devoted his life to sharing Yogananda’s teachings with the public, dividing his time between Ananda communities in America, Europe, and India. A remarkable treasury of talks may be heard at www.ananda.org.
In 2009, Swami created a new renunciate order which he calls the Nayaswami Order. “Naya” means “new” in Sanskrit. Nayaswami Asha took her vows from him in December of that year. You will often recognize a nayaswami by the rich blue color they wear. This new renunciate order is very much like the ancient swami order in spirit, but is a new expression for our age of higher consciousness. Its emphasis is on “positive” renunciation—a joyful expansion to Infinity. Learn more about the new renunciate order.
Swamiji passed away in April, 2013. He has had an extraordinary influence on many people, and left a tremendous body of teaching. He has also personally trained many remarkable people who are carrying on the work he began, Asha being one of many. Though he spoke often of his coming death (with what seemed like relish to his listeners), his students are bereft at the loss of someone who was the dearest of friends, and someone whose greatness we will not see again in our lifetimes. It is said that a great saint continues his work — that death is no end. May you feel his guidance and presence in your life, whenever you call on him.
Yogananda was the first great Master from India to make his home in the West. He came to America (at his guru’s request) in 1926.
He was tireless in his efforts, and reached millions of Americans with the underlying truths of Yoga and Christianity. In his “spiritual campaigns,” he criss-crossed the country, lecturing at Carnegie Hall and the largest halls in all the major American cities. He met with Presidents. In 1946, he published the now-classic spiritual book, Autobiography of a Yogi. Since then, it has been translated into 19 languages, and has inspired and continues to guide a global spiritual awakening.
The basis of Yogananda's teachings are universal, inspired by the timeless truths that underly and unify religions East and West. He brought a new understanding of the mystic, original teachings of Christ and of Hinduism’s scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. He brought to the West the sacred technique of Kriya Yoga meditation.
Yogananda is a Swami in the Giri, or Mountain, branch. “Every swami belongs to the ancient monastic order which was organized in its present form by Shankara (also known as Shankaracharya). Because it is a formal order, with an unbroken line of saintly representatives serving as active leaders, no man can give himself the title of swami. He rightfully receives it only from another swami; all monks thus trace their spiritual lineage to one common guru, Lord Shankara. By vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the spiritual teacher, many Catholic Christian monastic orders resemble the Order of Swamis.” (from Autobiography of a Yogi)
Yogananda’s spiritual lineage includes Jesus Christ. According to the writings of Yogananda, Jesus and Babaji together are guiding the spiritual development of the world, even today.
Yogananda was sent to the West by Babaji and Jesus, with the commission to restore the original, mystical teachings of Christianity, and to show their unity with the traditional teachings of the East. He was sent to teach the importance of inner, spiritual communion with God, which in modern Christianity, has been given less importance than outward service to others. A Master appears periodically through history, whenever a spiritual corrective is needed.
Below is a picture of the altar in the Ananda Palo Alto Temple showing this lineage.
Learn more about the gurus in this lineage.
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda
The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda
The Essence of Self-Realization: The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda, compiled by Swami Kriyananda
The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, by Paramhansa Yogananda, as remembered by his disciple, Swami Kriyananda
Revelations of Christ, by Swami Kriyananda
Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences, by Swami Kriyananda
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