Sri Daya Mata said: “One of the greatest responsibilites that Gurudeva placed upon the shoulders of Daya Ma and his other disciples was this: ‘As I have brought this teaching to you and kept it pure as it was given to me by God and my Guru, so I give you this responsibility: keep it pure, undiluted by anything’…and that is why you see that neither Daya Ma nor any of these other disciples have attempted or presumed in any way to change or to dilute with personal innovations what he taught.”
Distinguishing between Paramahansa Yogananda’s SRF and J. Donald Walters’ Ananda
Naturally there are differences between SRF and Ananda, as both societies have developed along different lines. But while their purposes, practices and activities may be dissimilar–SRF implementing Paramahansaji’s wishes for his work and Ananda following J. Donald Walters’ ideas for the development of his own organization–we feel this fact in itself should not be a cause of discord between the two societies. SRF’s only concern is that the two organizations be clearly distinguishable in the public eye.
For many years we have received inquiries as to whether Ananda is affiliated with Self-Realization Fellowship. Some individuals have actually mistaken it for a branch of SRF, though they later find that there are differences in practice and approach between the two organizations. Why are those differences not recognized at first? We have heard various reasons–for example, the use of Gurudeva’s name, photographs and words in certain contexts. Also, some of Ananda’s advertisements and other materials at times closely resembled those of SRF.
Because of the confusion already present, our concern increased when we learned that Ananda had taken the new name, “Church of Self-Realization”–a name very similar to Self-Realization Fellowship and our legal name, “Self-Realization Fellowship Church.” We felt that the use of this name–by a group that had already been mistaken for SRF, would blur the distinctions between the two groups still further, causing increasing confusion, not only for our established worldwide membership and friends, but also for new seekers and business contacts. (compare inset example) [samples of ads in the media from the two churches]
[The potential for…significant mistake has been reinforced by the fact that Ananda has recently published their own printing of Autobiography of a Yogi, and we understand they will release their own version of Guruji’s commentaries on the Rubaiyat of Omar Kahyyam. They have opposed Gurudeva’s intention that his writings and other works should belong to and be disseminated by Self-Realization Fellowship. It appears to be their wish to publish and disseminate them under their own aegis….]
Early attempts to exchange views with Ananda were unproductive. We then had to consider that if we were to defend SRF’s right to distinguish itself as a separate organzation, our only recourse was to apply for protection under trademark law. Because of Ananda’s increasing commercial use of SRF publications, photos and recordings without permission, we also considered seeking the additional remedies provided by copyright law. Never before had we been faced with such a troubling decision, and we prayed deeply for guidance. Out of our profound desire to honor and uphold Gurudeva’s intentions, our course was charted.
[Regarding Ananda’s use of the term “Self-realization,” we want to explain that our concerns extends only to its use in the Ananda name and in any other manner which would likely confuse members of the public about the source of goods and services. It has nothing to do with the use of the term in a purely religious context. Nor do we wish to deny anyone the use of Paramahansaji’s name or photograph in religious services. Our legal action has rather to do with trademark and copyright protection–not the religious practices of others.]
Regardless of the differences between SRF and Ananda we respect all Ananda devotees who are sincerely striving to live by the teachings of our Guru. Our responsibility is simply to uphold the distinctive place that Paramahansaji gave to his own society, so that truth-seekers will always be able to single out what he taught from the many variations available from others.
Also related to Ananda~~