In November of 1994, a lawsuit was brought against Swami Kriyananda and the Ananda Church, accusing Kriyananda of fraud and using his position of spiritual authority to sexually exploit women.
Eight women came forward to testify to the abuse, harassment, fraud, and violation of trust perpetrated against them by Kriyananda and other church leaders.
Three of these women were young nuns in the monastic order Kriyananda founded.
One woman accused Kriyananda of trying to force her into marriage, and of raping her.
At least thirty other women that we know of refused to go public with their stories of abuse, representing a pattern of behavior over a period of almost 30 years, from the 60's through the mid 90's.
In February 1998, after a 3 month trial, a jury awarded the plaintiff 1.6 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.
The jury found Kriyananda guilty of despicable and reprehensible conduct and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The jury found Kriyananda guilty of fraudulently representing himself as a swami, a celibate monk, to gain women's trust in order to seduce and sexually use them.
The jury found other church leaders complicit not only in allowing this behavior to continue, but in orchestrating an elaborate cover up.
In the summer of 1999, after another year and a half of legal maneuvering, including the filing of bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid paying damages, Ananda finally agree to pay the full amount of the original jury award plus an additional $200,000 to settle two other related lawsuits.
The final settlement is $1.8 million to be paid over four years, with interest.
After the trial, Kriyananda fled to Italy leaving the rank-and-file Ananda members stuck with paying the judgment against him as well as the millions of dollars in Ananda's legal defense bills and other bankruptcy claims.
Despite overwhelming evidence against them, Kriyananda and the Ananda Church still refuse to accept responsibility for their actions or offer any apology. Even though Kriyananda was forced to admit that he had indeed had sex with his nuns, he still claims he did nothing wrong, that he was only acting out of divine love and friendship, and that no one was hurt. Kriyananda claims that he is merely the victim of a conspiracy by embittered former Ananda members intent on his destruction. According to jurors that we interviewed, the jury was outraged at Kriyananda's arrogant, self-righteous and unrepentant attitude during the trial.
Kriyananda served as the vice-president of Self-Realization Fellowship for two years. He was removed from that office and expelled from the SRF monastic order in 1962 by a unanimous vote of the SRF board of Directors, all long time disciples appointed by Yogananda himself.
Although Self-Realization Fellowship will not comment officially on the reasons for Kriyananda's expulsion, we feel that this information is vital to understanding who Kriyananda is, and have therefore conducted our own investigation. This is what has been learned through various independent and confidential sources:
While serving in India in the late 50s and early 60s, it is reported that Kriyananda repeatedly violated his monastic vows of celibacy and obedience.
Kriyananda traveled around India with two young nuns, ostensibly for the purpose of founding an SRF convent. SRF received a letter from the outraged parents of these women, who also complained to government authorities.
Kriyananda attempted to bring SRF into a bribery scheme with Indian officials involving millions of dollars in order to acquire hard-to-get greenbelt land in New Delhi for an SRF ashram.
Kriyananda secretly controlled SRF funds through unauthorized personal bank account.
It is reported that Kriyananda had secret intentions of selling the Ranchi school and ashram grounds.
Kriyananda was deported by the Indian government in 1962, and was thereafter denied an entrance visa for the next ten years.
SRF's relationship with the India government was severely compromised by Kriyananda's unethical and immoral behavior.
Kriyananda has written extensively about his expulsion from SRF, denying any moral or ethical misconduct. Rather, he complains bitterly about how unfairly he was mistreated, claiming he was unjustly railroaded out of SRF because of an internal power struggle based on pettiness and jealousy. He claims that he was, then and now, the victim of a conspiracy.
At the same time, Kriyananda also says that, in retrospect, he sees his expulsion from SRF as divinely ordained, because he now feels he was destined to found Ananda as a way to protect Yogananda's work and teachings from SRF, which he believes has become corrupted. Kriyananda claims to be a divine channel for Yogananda, and that he is playing an indispensable role as part of God's plan for the salvation of the world.
Judging form the evidence, including Kriyananda's own writings, Kriyananda probably has a serious sexual addiction, seems to also suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder with accompanying manifestations of persecution and grandeur complexes. And yet, to be seen as an authentic representative of his guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, Kriyananda has cultivated an exalted image of himself which he and his church have vigorously promoted over the last 30 years. Here is a man presuming to teach us about spiritual truths, but is himself living a lie. Here is a man who sets himself up as an example for us of inner freedom, who is himself a slave to his senses.