On a beautiful day in 1920, while at the school he founded in Ranchi, India, Yogananda had a profound vision telling him to prepare for the greatest mission of his life, the trip to the other side of the world, where he was to teach the art and science of Raja Yoga in the West. His master, Sri Yukteswar, confirmed the vision, adding his own support, by saying "It's now or never".
Before his departure, a second vision was given to him: Mahavatar Babaji, the deathless master of the Himalayas, appeared to Yogananda charging him to bring Kriya Yoga to truth seekers everywhere, as a way to uplift and unify all nations through the self-realization of each individual.
Yogananda then came to the Unites States and, for many years, taught the science and philosophy of yoga, and its timeless pinnacle, meditation. Most importantly, he showed the practical application of yoga and meditation in daily life.
Yogananda's vision continues: he teaches that a person's environment is stronger than will power. One may have the best intention of living a spiritual life, but lacking support and living in a world focused on materialism, it is all too easy to be distracted, by other desires, from the desire to know truth! Yogananda’s solution was for people of like mind and ideals to join together to form “World Brotherhood Colonies,” intentional spiritual communities based, in his words, on “simple living and high thinking” : “My spoken words are registered in the ether… and they shall move the West …Thousands of youths must go North, South, East and West to cover the earth with little colonies, demonstrating that simplicity of living and high thinking lead to the greatest happiness!”(Paramhansa Yogananda, Beverly Hills, July, 1949)
Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, continued Yogananda's vision of “World Brotherhood Colonies,” by creating cooperative spiritual communities where families, couples, singles and monastics could devote themselves to living a spiritual life dedicated to practicing the teachings of yoga.
The first such community was Ananda Village, founded in Northern California, in the foothills of Nevada City, in 1969. In the late 1970’s Ananda Sacramento was founded, followed by Ananda in Palo Alto. In the mid-1980’s Ananda Europa was founded in Assisi, Italy. Then came Ananda Seattle in Washington, and Ananda Portland in Oregon. In 2003 Ananda India was started in Gurgaon near Delhi, India.