The Ananda Communities Movement
Forty-five years after its founding in 1968, Ananda cooperative spiritual communities now exist in North America, Europe and India, and are being developed in other countries. Over 1000 people reside in these communities, and another 100,000 are involved in their activities and in the Ananda Virtual Community and courses online.Featured in the film Finding Happiness, is the original community, Ananda Village near Nevada City in northern California; the European community near Assisi, Italy; and the Indian community outside of Pune in Maharastra. While these communities are in rural environments, other communities have grown in urban areas as well.
Purposes and Guiding Principles
“World brotherhood communities” were envisioned by the famous Indian master, Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic and most read autobiography of our times, Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda taught that environment is stronger than will power. A person may have the best intention of living a spiritual life, but lacking the support of others, and living in a world focused on materialism, it is all too easy to be diverted from spiritual ideals.One of the primary aims of his work had been, as he put it, “to spread a spirit of brotherhood among all people, and to aid in establishing, in many countries, self-sustaining colonies for plain living and high thinking.”
These words, during a talk in Beverly Hills in 1949, inspired his disciple, Swami Kriyananda, to establish the Ananda movement:
We must go on—not only those who are here, but thousands of youths must go North, South, East and West to cover the earth with little colonies, demonstrating that simplicity of living plus high thinking lead to the greatest happiness!
The First World Brotherhood Village
Ananda Village was founded by Swami Kriyananda and a handful of young friends in 1968 on 70 acres of land in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. The fledgling community was initially faced with many tests and challenges: lack of money, the threat of foreclosure, a devastating fire that destroyed most of the existing structures, differing ideas about the community’s purpose.
But in the end, all seeming hardships served to help forge a community dedicated above all to two ideals:
That people are more important than things, meaning that in all situations and decisions, the individual’s spiritual welfare is of primary importance.
And the second ideal: Where there is dharma – truthful, righteous action – there is victory.
Celebrating its 40th year in 2009, Ananda Village has become one of the world’s most successful intentional communities. More than 200 residents live, work, raise families, serve and meditate together, supporting each another in applying spirituality to all aspects of life. Now situated on 900 acres, the Village has grown to include 85 homes, Living Wisdom schools from pre-school through high school which share the Education for Life philosophy, private and community-owned businesses, an organic farm and permaculture garden, Ananda Sangha Worldwide outreach ministry, Crystal Clarity Publishers and a world class retreat center, The Expanding Light.
Serving others to uplift the consciousness of humanity
As Nelson Mandela has said: “Our humanity is defined not in what we do for ourselves, but what we do for others.” Ananda’s activities reach far beyond the boundaries of its various communities, inspiring people to realize their highest potential in all areas of life. Of special note are the Living Wisdom Schools, developed on the “Education for Life” tenets expressed by both Yogananda and Kriyananda.
To discover more about these activities, see the Ananda links on this page.