Kriyananda greatly exagerates his time with Yogananda and his importance to Yogananda and his work when Yogananda was alive. Here are some essential facts to know,
1. Yogananda was in the US for about 32 years. Kriyananda only showed up in the last 3 years of Yogananda’s life. This is a tiny fraction of Yogananda’s life.
Kriyananda claims that proof of his importance is that soon after arriving, he was put in charge of the monks by Yogananda. This is the main proof that Kriyananda offers of his closeness and importance to Yogananda. This is another exageration.
* Kriyananda was not put in charge of the worldwide monks. He was in charge of one small group of them in one location of SRF/YSS in Los Angeles which had dozens of locations throughout the world. Nor was Kriyananda in charge of the larger monastery in general which included many, many more nuns than monks and who had their own leadership. He had nothing to do with the nuns, except using them for sex of course, who were the far larger group.
* At that time, there were only a handful of monks anyway most of whom were even newer than Kriyananda. Photographic evidence suggests that there appear to have been as few as six of them! Certainly no more than a dozen. The monks at the Mt. Washington location where Kriyananda resided were a teeny, tiny part of the overall SRF-YSS work. Most of the monastics at Mt. Washington were women by about 10:1 over the men. And there were other groups of monks elsewhere.
Furthermore, most of the important male disciples in SRF/YSS were married anyway including the number 2 and 3 men at SRF, Rajarsi Janakananda and Dr. Lewis. None of them nor about 20-30 other senior, key male disciples were part of the monastery at Mt. Washington. So “being in charge” of the monks at Mt. Washington in those years is hardly the big deal that Kriyananda pretends it is.
2. There is no evidence anywhere that Kriyananda and Yogananda had a close relationship or even that Yogananda really knew who Kriyananda was. Here’s the reality,
* Kriyananda, or “Walter” as he was known then, does not appear in a single book, public document, lecture, or anything that Paramahansa Yogananda ever produced by Yogananda himself. Not one, not once. Yogananda literally never mentions him anywhere at any time for any reason!
* Kriyananda is not in any solo photos with Yogananda who took photos constantly and who documented nearly everything he did. There are only a few large group shots of Kriyananda with Yogananda and in ALL of them Kriyananda is in the background or a minor figure in a huge crowd. There is not one single portrait of just Kriyananda and Yogananda together! Not one. Nor are their even any small group photos of say Yogananda, Kriyananda, and him and just two or three others. Only 3-4 large group photographs exist that include both Yogananda and Kriyananda in the same photo, ALL of which took place at public events, most of which had hundreds even thousands in attendance. In two of the photos, Kriyananda is clearly just a guy in the audience or on the periphery. There is only one photo again a large group shot at a public party that even shows Kriyananda and Yogananda within five feet of one another! And even that photo merely shows Kriyananda giving Yogananda something or serving him and a visiting dignitary something like a waiter-restaurant server might while amongst a crowd and while Kriyananda was clearly not sitting/invited at Yogananda’s banquet table. Yogananda doesn’t even look at him. In all the others Kriyananda is even farther away from Yogananda in the scene.
This is not a trivial point. Every major disciple of Yogananda can and has shown multiple photos of just themselves alone with Yogananda, who took a lot of photos. He is literally the only self-proclaimed “major” disciple of Yogananda who never took a single photo with his guru! Given Kriyananda’s claims about his place in Yogananda’s work and heart, this is a pretty big hole in his story.
* There are NO significant private correspondences / letters between Yogananda and Kriyananda either. None! Even Kriyananda in the numerous books he writes about himself and his supposed time with Yogananda has only produced one or two brief letters that Yogananda sent him and these are incredibly impersonal. They read more like a task list or set of instructions more akin to what a boss would leave for a distant worker when they are not scheduled to be in the same place at the same time. There is no personal warmth or familiarity let alone love and affection in them. They are merely written lists of instructions. Yogananda sure went out of his way to hide how Kriyananda’s importance to him or his work!
*There is no evidence anywhere that Kriyananda was ever alone with Yogananda either. Not written, not photographic and no third parties or eyewitnesses.
* Yogananda’s own accounts plus those of other direct disciples and even briefly admitted by Kriyananda make it clear that Yogananda was not mostly in residence at Mt. Washington where Kriyananda lived during that time period. Yogananda spent the bulk of his last few years in Encinitas, 29 Palms desert or other SRF outposts. And most of his final years was spent in either seclusion or at large public events. Kriyananda couldn’t been and wasn’t around him much for the simple reason that Yogananda mostly wasn’t anywhere near where Kriyananda lived in those years. Those fairly few times when they were both in residence at Mt. Washington at the same time, which is a huge compound/estate with many buildings and had hundreds of residents, Yogananda and Kriyananda lived in two separate buildings on different parts of the estate. Actually, Yogananda lived in a section of Mt. Washington that was off limits to Kriyananda and the other monks. Its quite possible that in the 3 years that Kriyananda was at SRF during Yogananda’s life that they spent just a few hours directly in each others company and seldom if ever alone.
* Kriyananda repeatedly claims that Yogananda told him he was very special, had a “great work to do” and all sorts of other important compliments and vital instructions. None of this is written, recorded, or witnessed by anyone. Not one single person can confirm that Yogananda ever said any of this. Kriyananda admits there were no witnesses, claiming this is because Yogananda didn’t want others to know how special Kriyananda was, make them jealous, or let them in on the secret.
Why oh why would anyone believe this without evidence? Does it really make sense that Yogananda would never breathe, write, or speak one word of the great Kriyananda to anyone ever if in fact Yogananda truly thought he was so important to the future of his work? This is the same Yogananda who was incredibly prolific, writing countless books, personal letters, articles, notes, and taking photos, audio recordings and even videos of almost everything he did.
3. Its been said elsewhere but should be repeated that Yogananda did not make Kriyananda a “swami” or an ordained minister at any point during his lifetime. Yogananda was dead set against Walter as he was called ever becoming a Swami and expressly forbid it! Kriyananda disobeyed the will of his own guru when years after Yogananda died he went and had himself made a swami.
* Yogananda also did not put Kriyananda in charge of the SRF Hollywood Temple which is another position that Kriyananda uses to claim his importance. But this is more deception by Kriyananda. That happened after Yogananda died and there is no evidence that Yogananda wanted that too happen or in any way thought of or recommended Kriyananda for the position.