On the afternoon of June 6, 2009, Swami Kriyananda founded a new renunciate order.
I well remember the date, because he was so weak and ill that we feared he was dying. Yet he was miraculously healed. I wrote about this experience in the introduction to a book he later wrote, A Renunciate Order for the New Age. (You can also visit the website of the new order: www.nayaswami.org.)
Swamiji was lying motionless on a couch. As I said, I thought he might even be dead. But to my great relief, he began to speak, and the subject was the founding of this order.
Within the first fifteen minutes he was talking about what we would wear. You might think this was a superficial consideration. But I can tell you that it is not. Declaring to one’s self and others, “This is who I am. This is what I am doing with my life,” is an act of renunciation. The soul rejoices to affirm its true nature, symbolized by the lovely blue color we wear. (It is also the electric blue color one sees during meditation in the spiritual eye, in the center of the forehead.)
(Photo: Swami Kriyananda with American nuns of the Nayaswami Order. Yellow is the color for brahmacharis and brahmacharinis.)
Several days after Swamiji’s healing, a small group of friends, all of whom later became Nayaswamis, were talking with Swamiji about wearing blue. We weren’t only talking about the color, we were talking about wearing a specific robe – we speculated that it would something long, loose-fitting, perhaps even with a hood!
It would be fine within our rural Ananda communities, we said to Swamiji, but what about those of us who live in large American cities? Were we expected to walk around San Francisco or Los Angeles dressed in blue robes?
“We’ve spent years,” my husband Nayaswami David said, “trying to fit in.”
Swamiji responded very seriously, “Perhaps now is the time for us to stand out.”
He went on to explain, as he does in his book, that Paramhansa Yogananda predicted hard times ahead for the world. When it will come, we don’t know. If you read the news, you don’t need much spiritual vision to believe that something will happen.
The reason the hard times are coming, Yogananda said, is that the world has fallen out of tune with God, nature, and our true Self.
The purpose of the hard times, Yogananda explained, is to bring people back to God. Not the God of a particular religion. Not the wrathful fundamentalist God, but the God within – Self-realization as a universal reality.
Swamiji felt that the visible example of people who have given their lives to God would inspire others and offer them a meaningful direction, especially as times become challenging.
Most of us wear blue most of the time – monastic robes for spiritual events, Western-style clothing for everyday. Still, when two or more of us are out together, it tends to elicit comments.
Sometimes the comments are amusing. “What’s with the blue?”
When four Nayaswamis were having breakfast together in a restaurant, the waitress assumed we were fans of a professional baseball team whose color is blue, the Los Angeles Dodgers. She was a fan and was wearing blue. We saw no reason to correct her, as she chatted happily about a recent game.
When we visited an Apple Computer store, all of the employees were wearing “Nayaswami blue” t-shirts. Our group included Swamiji and about a dozen friends, most in blue street clothes, although there were robe-like garments here and there.
When we walked out of the store, an employee followed us. Apparently he felt Swamiji’s aura. Pointing at him, he said, “Who is that man? Is he the Angel of Apple?”
I wear blue all the time, usually a slightly oriental tunic and trousers. People often stop me in the street to tell me how much they love the color. When I am with a friend who also wears a blue garment people realize that our clothes have greater significance. When they ask, I usually say, “We have taken an initiation.” If they show interest, I tell them more.
Some children once asked me, “Why do you always wear blue?” I said, “It is a promise I made to God.” We were interrupted before I could continue.
The Nayaswami Order was founded to express a new spirit of renunciation: expansive, joyful. Gradually, people will become familiar with it, and the color blue will be a reminder of God’s love, and the joy of living for Him.