The naya swami
Donald Walters took diksha from Paramhansa Yogananda in person and became Swami Kriyananda. Sixty-one years later, he created the Naya Swami order.
Members wear blue and reaffirm their commitment to the Ananda Sangha or community of bliss. He spoke with Sonal Srivastava in Gurgaon on gurus, politics, celibacy and slip-ups
Ego by itself cannot get out of delusion; it’s already infected by the disease it wants to cure. To overcome ego, get rid of separateness. It is our delusion to think that we are separate from the rest of the world. There are little flames in me and you; we may be different individuals but we are all expressions of higher consciousness. Attunement with a guru does not mean slavish obedience; it means to try to understand everything from his point of view. When you do that, you get liberated from the sense of self-importance. We are not important, except in the great scheme of things. The purpose of the spiritual path is to find freedom from self-consciousness.
Would your guru Yogananda have done more for public welfare if he’d entered politics?
Usually, saints would abhor politics. I don’t think that Jesus Christ or Krishna could have changed much through politics. But I won’t say that it could not happen because God does different things in different ways. For instance, Krishna was a king. A guru who enters politics cannot be a true guru as he would have to deal with people who are not interested in liberation and a true guru will not force his will on anybody. If you want to move away from the spiritual path, the guru cannot stop you because you have free will. It is your sacred right to make mistakes so that you learn.
How would you recognise a true guru?
Yoganada said to you, “Don’t disappoint me.” Is it a big burden for you to live up to his expectations?
It has always been on my mind. But I don’t think it is a burden; to me it’s a blessing. I have real desire to help other people. If it were a burden, then I wouldn’t be able to go deep in meditation as I would be thinking of others. I have come to understand that service itself is my realisation. It’s a joy to be able to help other people and if I were in samadhi, I wouldn’t feel like doing it. A true seeker has to go deep in samadhi, but my path has been different.
Is celibacy necessary for one to reach the state of samadhi?
Absolutely yes! But take your time doing it. To reach perfection, you will also have to attain perfection. One has to see women as friends not as objects of desire.
I decided to create the Naya Swami order and we now wear blue. Orange draws attention. A seeker should not draw attention to himself. Blue is an expansive colour. The purpose of being a Naya Swami is positive; it’s seeking a spiritual path instead of rejecting the world around you. In rejection, the emphasis is on ‘have I given in,’ ‘have I given up,’ instead of ‘I’m trying to reach joy’; ‘I’m trying to reach samadhi.’ Before a person becomes a Naya Swami, he should give up sex, because it pulls the energy downwards. The seeker should take the energy upwards. With sex come all other desires.
You tried to be celibate; but you left the order and then returned after a decade. Why?
Mainly it was to help people in our communities to realise that you don’t have to be single to find gyan. There is dichotomy between those who are married and those who are not married. I thought we must change that but that way of life didn’t suit me at all, so I came back.
How should a swami respond to allegations of sexual abuse?
First of all, he has to be honest with himself. He will have to change inwardly and change takes time. There are physical delusions to overcome. My heart goes out to those swamis as a slip is not a fall. They have to learn and it’s true that many did fall. I would say it is wrong, but sometimes you have to commit an error. You know what the goal is and you have to keep trying.