The purpose of the Ananda Awareness Network is to provide information about Ananda and J. Donald Walters, aka Swami Kriyananda. Much of the material distributed by Ananda is distorted, or revisionary and less than truthful. We therefore feel compelled to provide an alternative source of information.
Recently, a newspaper called Los Angeles New Times ran a 12 page article containing many falsehoods about Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). The article suggested that SRF's founder, a celibate Indian Swami, had fathered a son. Prior DNA testing, however, had conclusively demonstrated that this was not the case. (DNA test results and rebuttal letters can be found by following these links)
Despite a tepid letter by Mr. Walters distancing himself from the New Times piece, there is much evidence indicating that he was a driving force behind their allegations. Mr. Walters and Ananda would be strongly motivated to discredit SRF at this time due to the ongoing litigation between the two organizations.
The author of the New Times article quotes Mr. Walters as a source in each of a series of three unfavorable pieces about SRF. In the same issue that defames SRF and its founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, there is a large Ananda advertisement. The ad presents Ananda as an "alternative source for the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda". Clearly, Ananda had prior knowledge that the New Times article would show SRF in an unfavorable light and hoped to take advantage of this opportunity.
Kriyananda founded Ananda after he was asked to leave Self-Realization Fellowship for, among other things, failing to keep his vow of celibacy. Responding to the New Times piece, Mr. Walters makes it clear he still has issues with SRF president, Daya Mata, ending his letter with, "She (Daya Mata) deserves this [humiliating] article."
When pressed on his own sexual misconduct, Walters has hinted that Paramahansa Yogananda had sexual encounters. In the 1990s, when Walters heard Ben Erskine was claiming to be Yogananda's son, he eagerly sent one of his ministers to investigate. This Ananda member traveled to Oregon to meet with Erskine and brought the story of Yogananda's "son" back to the community.
Mr. Walters accepted Mr. Erskine's story at face value with apparently no further investigation. He then used it during Ananda's trial in an attempt to justify his own sexual and fraudulent activities. By placing his own guru among the ranks of fallen teachers, Walters seemingly hoped to make his own sexual behavior more acceptable. (Ananda and Mr. Walters were found guilty and the plaintiff was awarded $1.8 million in damages.)
Mr. Walters has succeeded in convincing at least a few of his followers of the validity of Mr. Erskine's claim. During the trial, a senior Ananda minister tried to influence a witness who was about to testify against Walters by saying to her, "Why are you doing this? Don't you know, Swami (Walters) told us Yogananda also had an affair?"
Witnesses were present at an Ananda community meeting where Walters was asked by one of the young nuns he was sleeping with, "Swami, you have been saying great saints of the past have had female consorts or shaktis. Did Yogananda have a shakti? Walters, after a theatrical pause, replied,"Yes, he did, but I don't want to talk about that now."
Mr. Walters often works from behind the scene by using underlings to carry out his objectives. He can be interpersonally exploitive, taking advantage of others to achieve his own ends. Many of Walters' followers have internalized his abiding anger and bitterness toward SRF and, after years of hearing only Walters' side of the issues, are ready to serve Kriyananda's causes.
Ananda members picketed the August SRF Convocation and also showed up at public hearings in Los Angeles to protest SRF's expansion proposals. Included in the proposals were plans to relocate Paramahansa Yogananda's remains from Forest Lawn Cemetery to SRF grounds on Mount Washington. On this issue Walters began talks with the New Times, eventually leading to Erskine and, ultimately, the defamatory article about Yogananda. Whether through evil intent or simply ineptitude, Mr. Walters was willing to destroy Yoganananda's reputation in a misguided attempt to buoy his own.