A few times each year, Ananda Village members volunteer to help with special all-community projects. Before beginning a meeting or a project, people gather together for prayers. Ananda Village, founded in 1968, is home to 240 people, a meditation retreat, a school for children, the publishing house for Swami Kriyananda’s books and music (Crystal Clarity, Publishers) as well as many businesses owned by individual members.
Palo Alto was Ananda’s first urban community. 100 residents live in 72 apartments, with a temple for group meditations, shared evening meals, organic garden, pool, and a large central courtyard (shown) for community events. A third of residents are employed by Ananda Sangha, Living Wisdom School, or East West Bookshop in Mountain View, one of three stores founded by Ananda, and among the largest spiritual bookstores in the world today. (Other East West Bookshops: Seattle and Sacramento)
Worship is one aspect of Ananda. Yogananda also taught a practical balance between outward and inward activity. “One must be actively calm and calmly active,” he said. “When along with meditation you offer your work to God, then meditation helps your work and work helps your meditation.” To strengthen the devotee in his efforts to realize God, Yogananda encouraged people of like mind to join together in what he called “world-brotherhood colonies,” demonstrating by their example “that simplicity of living plus high thinking lead to the greatest happiness.” He said these colonies would be the “social pattern of the future.” (Paramhansa Yogananda, The Path)
The first community, Ananda Village, was begun near Nevada City, California in 1968. This rural community of some 240 people is the heart of Ananda’s work today, from which all the other communities have sprung.
Urban communities are the model for Ananda communities in Sacramento, Palo Alto, Portland, and Seattle. Ananda has established master leases on apartment complexes, and manages them as householder ashrams. The urban communities allow devotees from all walks of life the opportunity to live and meditate together in an environment supportive of their spiritual practices.
Ananda Europa, located near Assisi, Italy, is developing more along the lines of Ananda Village in a similar rural environment with 60 resident members. Ananda’s newest community and retreat is in rural Rhode Island.
| Located in Beaverton, just outside of Portland, Oregon, this community was founded in 1988. 60 residents and 20 children share a 49-unit apartment complex. The Ananda Mandir and Living Wisdom School are located together on a property just a few miles from the community.
|| Ananda’s work in Seattle began in 1983. Members lived cooperatively for a time in shared homes, and soon established a community of 45 members just north of the city on this beautiful 5.5 acres. Members of the community are beginning the process of building a new temple, much like the one in Assisi.
|Ananda communities offer a combination of private and shared activities, all voluntary. If residents wish, they may take part in evening community meals. Meditation is the heart of community life, and there are numerous opportunities for group meditations in community temples.
||Ananda Sacramento is located in Rancho Cordova, to the south of Sacramento. Gardens abound in this quiet area of the suburbs; members walk one short block to the nearby Ananda temple for classes and worship.