In Spring 2005, after the Paramhansa Yogananda Mahasamadhi celebration in India, Kent and Sraddha Williams, longtime residents of Ananda, journeyed to Rishikesh, India. There they visited the Kriya Yoga Ashram of Swami Shankarananda. Sraddha had been there the previous Fall on a spiritual pilgrimage and discovered these incredible life-size marble statues of the Self-realization line of gurus.
Later that spring, Sraddha, Durga and Vidura Smallen (who now run the Ananda Meditation Retreat) traveled South with Swami Shankarananda, from Delhi to Jaipur, where they met with the artist who had carved the original statues. As a result, the artist was commissioned to carve a set of statues for Ananda Village. We wanted two sizes: life-size and about 24 inches tall.
Since Ananda Village already had life-size statues here of Babaji and Lahiri from other sources, they agreed to carve life-size statues of Sri Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda as well as 4 to 24-inch statues of Babaji, Lahiri, Sri Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda.
The large statues were carved from pure white marble and now reside in Ananda Village in Hansa Mandir. We already have a beautiful mandir devoted to Lahiri Mahasaya and a garden mandir with a statue of Babaji at the Crystal Hermitage.
In June 2007 Vidura and Kent went to Oakland to pick up the statues of the Masters. The two life-size statues of Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar each weigh somewhere around 600 pounds and are made out of beautiful white marble. The team needed a backhoe to help offload the crates.
The smaller marble statues of the masters were uncrated and placed on the dais in front of the altar at Hansa Temple for a few weeks. The enhanced vibrations and joy during weekday morning community meditations were felt by many of those who attended. Over the next two weeks, the two large statues uncrated and platforms built on which they now reside. The community of Ananda Village held a blessing and dedication ceremony on July 12, 2007, while the artists from India were visiting in person.
Swami Kriyananda conducted the dedication ceremony. He spoke simply and devotionally about how Divine Grace can be drawn from the objects of worship by the power of our love and how our devotion will further activate this energy within these objects. The sculptors, during their visit to Ananda, shared about the ceremonies performed to bless and energize these statues prior to shipping them to the community.
While the smaller 24-inch statues each weighed close to 200 pounds and were easy to move, the larger 42-inch statues required some heavy lifting. Fortunately, our crew was creative and used a half-ton engine hoist which allowed them to be lifted easily.
Swami Shankarananda Visits Ananda Village
Swami Shankarananda Giri, who directs a large Kriya Yoga work in Northern India (Rishikesh and Bubaneshwar ashrams) visited Ananda Village in February 2007. His guru was a disciple of Sri Yukteswar Giri, so you could roughly say he is a spiritual cousin of Swami Kriyananda. In fact, he stated, during a community gathering at Hansa Mandir, that he and Swami Kriyananda have spent many lifetimes together in the past. The Swami’s energy and light served as a great example of the result of Kriya Yoga practice.
Swami Shankrananda toured the Village, visited our schools, meditation retreat, and ministry offices, and gave an evening Satsang to a full house.