Category Archives: Statue History

Chapter 1 – The Beginning

In Spring 2005, after the Paramhansa Yogananda Mahasamadhi celebration in India, Kent and Sraddha Williams, longtime Ananda residents, journeyed to Rishikesh where they visited the Kriya Yoga Ashram of Swami Shankarananda. Sraddha had been there the previous Fall on spiritual pilgrimage and discovered these incredible life size marble statues of the Ananda line of Gurus.

The Original Kriya Yoga Masters in Rishikesh

Later that spring, Sraddha along with 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.

Swami Shankarananda in Jaipur visiting with Vidura Smallen and Sraddha Williams

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 – 24 inch statues of Babaji, Lahiri, Sri Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda.

Already had a large statue of Lahiri in the Lahiri Mandir near Expanding Light guest retreat.

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.

Marble statue of Babaji in carving mode

Chapter 2 – Statues of the Masters arrive at Ananda Village

In June 2007 Vidura and Kent went to Oakland to pick up the statues of the Masters. As you may recall, this has been a 2 year project. (please refer to previous post). The 2 life size statues of Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar each weigh somewhere around 600 pounds and are made out of beautiful white marble. We 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. We can already feel the enhanced vibrations and joy during weekday morning community meditations.Over the next 2 weeks we got the 2 large statues uncrated and platforms built on which they now reside. We held a blessing and dedication ceremony on July 12, 2007 when the artists were here from India.

The plan is to eventually place the smaller statues of the masters along with the life-size statue of Yogananda in our new Mandir when it is built in next few years. We also plan to build a special Mandir dedicated to Sri Yukteswar similar to the Lahiri Mandir already here at the village.

Chapter 3 – Dedicating the statues of the Kriya Masters

On Thursday, July 12, 2007, the statues of the Kriya Masters were blessed with a wonderful ceremony at Hansa Mandir where we  hold daily morning meditations.kriya masters statue dedication

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 here, told us about the ceremonies performed to bless and energize these statues prior to shipping them to us. Which was why many of us could immediately experience deeper meditations from the first day they appeared in the Hansa Mandir.

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 us to lift them up very easily.

Stop by next time you visit Ananda Village to spend some time in meditation with these beautiful works of art. They will bless us all for centuries to come.

The larger statues remain at Hansa Mandir which is open early mornings for meditation and can be opened by request to the Village office.  The smaller 24 inch statues reside at the Ananda Meditation Retreat in the Temple of Silence.

Swami Shankarananda Visits Ananda Village

Left to right – Devi, Sraddha, Kent, Asha, Swami Shankarananda, Jyotish

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 our community satsang at Hansa Mandir, that he and Swami Kriyananda have spent many lifetimes together in the past.What a joy and blessing it was to be with this Swami. His energy, and light are a great example to all of us of the result of Kriya yoga practice.

Swamiji toured the village, visiting our schools, retreat and Sangha ministry offices, dined with village managers at Crystal Hermitage, had tea at our home) then Satsang in the evening with a packed house.

Original Kriya Yoga Masters Statues in Rishikesh, India

One note as to why Sraddha and I were involved. Swamiji has been instrumental in assisting us with the statue project inspired by seeing the statues of our line of Master’s at his beautiful temple in Rishikesh. With his guidance, we contracted with an artist in Jaipur, India, to carve marble statues of Yogananda, Babaji, Lahiri, and Sri Yukteswar. See the image to the left of the statues as displayed in his Kriya Yoga Mandir in Rishikesh.

Marble statue of Jesus arrives!

“I wasn’t sent to the West by Christ and the great masters of India to dogmatize you with a new theology. Jesus himself asked Babaji to send someone here to teach you the science of Kriya Yoga, that people might learn how to commune with God directly. I want to help you to attain actual experience of Him, through your daily practice of Kriya Yoga.”

– Paramhansa Yogananda

The final marble statue which is of Jesus arrived in April, 2008 from India. Our line of masters or gurus is 5 deep (Jesus, Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda) and Jesus holds “pole position” as you can see from Yogananda’s comment above. Jesus is viewed by Yogananda devotees worldwide as a great Master of yoga.

Which is the reason we returned to India to commission the same artist in Jaipur, India to hand-carve this statue of Jesus sitting in meditation. He is sitting in lotus posture with hands upturned. The facial features were drawn from a photograph of the Hoffman painting similar to the one on many of your meditation altars.

This statue, along with the 4 other Kriya Yoga Masters Statues reside at the Ananda Meditation Retreat in the Temple of Silence.  Visitors are always welcome.