I knew him from 1976 to his death and was at his funeral in 1990. He was a great man who inspired others to seek God. Some blogged stories from Yogananda.net below:
Dear Divine Friends: I guess my earliest recollection of Bro. Turiyananda is lecturing at the Lake Shrine - and I have no idea what he was talking about, but I can recall the spiritual power. I was a hippie kid with no hope of ever getting to know him or working with him. A couple of Convocations later when I wanted to stay in California and not go back to the bad environment of college, Bro. Dharmananda gave me the job of working with Bro. Turiyananda. I took Bro. Nakulananda’s place as garden assistant and Bro. Nakulananda went into Postulant Training in Encinitas.
I recall once Brother Nakulananda was working on the west side of the Windmill Chapel when he fell backwards into the Lake. T (short for Turiyanandaji) and I ran to him. He said he was fine, and I looked to where he had fallen eight feet into water that was about 5 inches deep with sharp rocks. I said "how is it you’re fine - look!" And Bro. Nakulananda said “I felt like a huge hand had gently placed me into the water.”
I thought that Brother Nakulananda was overstating the facts until one day T and I were chopping down a tree with a chain saw. I was pushing the tree a direction and T had the Stihl chainsaw. The tree snapped and the chainsaw ended up on my right thigh - grinding to a halt. T completely flipped out and grabbed my leg as I assured him I was fine; my jeans were in shreds. T ripped open my pants even more and couldn’t believe his eyes - I wasn’t even scratched.
I guess I’m way ahead of myself because I wanted to tell this story. Because when I first started working at the Lake I lived in my van for a couple of weeks, it took some time to get it together in the morning for work. I recall one of the first days I was about ten minutes late. Well you should have heard Brother Turiyananda - you would’ve thought I killed someone. He Lectured me for about half an hour on the importance of being on time - that it was a reflection of my attitude and my approach to life. That it was rude and inconsiderate. I wasn’t used to such discipline, but now I see how priceless it was - not only am I not sensitive about introspection, but also from that day forward I’ve never been late for work. In fact, throughout my life I have always begun my work at least ten minutes early, and meditations early. Turiyanandaji himself would awake at 5:00 a.m. every morning or earlier to meditate and always started work early with full-blown enthusiasm - for work and for life!! Enough for now. in divine friendship, bc
The story of Brother Turiyananda and the Hindu Pundit with the entourage. Brother and I were weeding the hillside just to the left of Krishna - somewhere along there. A Hindu gentleman asked of me if the Minister-in-Charge was around. I told him no, but pointed out that Brother Turiyananda was the Assistant Minister. Brother Turiyananda introduced himself as "Swami Turiyananda" and asked how he could help the Hindu gentleman. The man said, "I have a question. I read in your Guru's "Autobiography of a Yogi" that Babaji materialized a golden palace in the Himalayas. Well, I DO NOT BELIEVE IT!!!"
Brother T meekly shrugged his shoulders and said, "You don't have to believe it." Brother then turned his back on the man and his entourage and started weeding the hillside again. I was wondering what the man would do or say, but there was little he could say with Bro. T bending over, back to him, and so the man & his group were left with no one to debate except Brotherji's rear end.
Brother Turiyananda had a problem with cars parking in a "No Parking" area in the Lake Shrine parking lot. It was a little triangular area lined with a "No Parking" painted on it right by the "Divine Mother" arbor roof; the arbor itself is in the Sunken Garden. The problem was that cars parking there partway blocked the lot. Well, once Rich Sennett was at the Lake with his big boulder truck, "Bedrock Boulder Company." Rich would go up the canyon across the street, bring back these huge rocks and we would sled them down the hillside to where the Krishna statue is now. The boulders were used to build Krishna Falls. Brother T. had this great idea: He had Rich drop this huge boulder in the parking lot right where those cars illegally parked. He thought "No way anyone parks there anymore. End of problem." Well, not an hour after Rich had put the boulder there, Brotherji walks out into the parking lot and someone had parked a motorcycle right behind the rock. Brotherji said, "Divine Mother never ceases to play with me." We laughed and laughed about that. They dug up the parking lot around the rock and made it a planter. I think Brother Ramananda had ivy grown up the sides of it, as it looked like a skull. When Ma and Ananda Mata saw it, they said, "Well, it looks like a nice rock, but we don't know if it goes there." Well, it was too big to move without Rich, and so it's still there. (Since this posting, the parking lot was repaved and the rock was moved.)
"He is greatest of yogis who feels for others."
I read some of this email on another site (negating the Guru). It reminded me of Brother Turiyananda for some reason - telling a story of St. Anthony of the Desert. Anyway, there was a dispute whether Christ was solely divine or was human who had divine realizations. There was a conference called of all the religious leaders and they sent for St. Anthony to come in from the desert to testify. After hearing the arguments from each side, St. Anthony stood up and with full power of his realization said:
"I HAVE SEEN HIM!"
The entire assembly got down on their knees and prayed with the Saint at that. St. Anthony got up and walked out.
Dear Friends: At Lake Shrine in the 70’s we worked out a lot of physical karma - digging irrigation ditches, building rock walls, chopping out jungle on the hillsides, etc. We used to say that instead of Hironyloka, we had landed on Hernia-loka. I was amazed when I first arrived the huge amount of physical work accomplished by both Bro. Dharmananda and
Turiyananda. I have probably told this story before, but it bears repeating.
Once when Daya Mata was at the Lake looking over the progress of various projects, she noted the large number of reeds between the Gandhi Shrine and the houseboat. She told Bro. Turiyananda that because they blocked the view of devotees walking along, they should be removed. Brother told me, “Because Daya Mata asked, I will remove them myself - and believe me this is the worst job!” I wondered why until Brother and I got in the water and started digging the reeds out with maddaxes (pickaxes). With every swing as the maddax would hit the water, the most grotesque, smelly, gaseous mud would splash into our faces. We would swing a few times, and then throw the reeds onto the path. We stank, the path stank, and in fact the whole Lake Shrine smelled like a sewer. The strange thing is that we felt so much joy, so much so that with every swing and splash we would break up laughing.
Right in the middle of this project a fine English lady showed up and asked, “Aren’t you Brother Turiyananda? I desperately need to talk with you.” At that point Brotherji was up to knees in slime. He had on black rubber boots, blue gym shorts, a white T-shirt that was brown with mud, his Swartznagger wrap-around sunglasses, and his blue baseball cap. I’ll never forget the scene of it: Brother T with mud all over his face sitting on a bench across from a perfectly dressed British lady. Steve Wilkinson (of Hidden Valley) took a photo of it. And Brother smelled soooooooo bad - it’s hard to describe. After a while, Brother came back into the water and said that the lady had been confused by someone and had quit doing her Kriyas. He had renewed her faith in her Guru and Kriya; I could see it on the lady’s face as she left - she was soooooo happy and relieved. idf, bc
PS: in gallery are some divine friends of Bro. T.
Dear Friends: Tonight I’m pretty exhausted, so I feel like just typing random thoughts about Brother Turiyananda. What an honorable, loyal, and true friend - so full of God’s wisdom; so dedicated to service to God and Guru. I’ve told this little story here before, but it also bears repeating in this series: Once we obtained some chicken for a Lake Shrine cat, and Brother Turiyananda found the wishbone. He immediately challenged Brother Anandamoy to a pull - the winner, Brother Turiyananda declared, would be Master’s servant next life. They recruited me to judge the winner of this immortal contest. They pulled and the wishbone broke. I placed the two halves side by side on the dinning room table and they were exactly equal - so I said, "you will both serve our Guru in your next life."
Brother Turiyananda used to joke that he was writing his own autobiography, He called it “Autobiography of a Swiss Yogi, or How I Obtained Humility.” He said it was about 560 pages long - and especially long was the first chapter, “My Parents and Early Life or Who Cares?” He later changed the title to “How I Obtained Humility, Lost It, and Found Humility Again.” I must say that Brother Turiyananda was one of the most interesting and funniest persons I’ve ever known. He would say to Brother Anandamoy, “I am proud to say I am humbler than you - and very proud that I’m the humblest man in SRF!” Speaking of his parents and early life, he was from Geneva, Switzerland, and knew Brother Santoshananda in his pre-monastic life. He used to say Brother Premamoy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he was born with a wooden spoon in his mouth as his family was very poor. As a young man he bought a BMW motorcycle and drove to the Mediterranean on it. Brother Santoshananda said that once he went to see Turiyanandaji in his restaurant and he was sitting at a table reading the Autobiography of a Yogi. He told Bro. Santoshananda, “this book will change your life.” He told Brother Santoshananda he had found his Guru. Later, when Swami Ram Dass came to Switzerland, Brother T felt the spiritual vibrations of that soul and immediately went into a deep spiritual state - that’s when T asked the Swami to take him to India. The swami said, "but you have a Guru." T said: "my Guru's dead." The swami said firmly: "YOUR GURU IS ALIVE. YOU ARE DEAD. He later applied and was accepted to become a monk of the SRF order in 1954. Bro. Premamoy, Bro. Abhedananda, and Bro. T all entered the ashram within a fortnight. They were called the 3 musketeers.
I also recall a small boy on the Court of Religions pulling on Brother Turiyananda’s pants leg and asking, “are you Kojack? At convocations he would routinely be surrounded by 30 to 50 people in any hallway, and Brotherji would be talking about anything from our Guru to Madonna. He was very conservative and very opinionated - and if you were serving with him he did NOT spare your feelings in his training.
WISDOM OF BROTHER TURIYANANDA
At the beginning of every service, “Greetings and love to all of you....”
BANAT, BANAT, BANZAI!!!
When this “I” shall die, then who the heck am I?
When your wife is right, apologize; when you’re right, keep you mouth shut!
Regarding death to his friends: “First one to the other side helps the rest.”
In the gallery: Brother T's espresso pot:
One Saturday morning as we began work around 9:00 a.m., Brother Turiyananda was standing on the Court of Religions looking at the Gandhi Shrine with his hands on his hips. I was walking across the Court of Religions at the time and he said to himself, “who is that?” He turned to me, and said “Jonny, get that guy out of here!”
I didn’t understand as Brotherji had never said anything like this before. I went over the Gandhi lawn and found a man sitting on the lawn in lotus posture; he had matted hair and a beard. He looked like some kind of yogi. I politely explained to him that we had a wedding beginning at 10:00 a.m. and other weddings would follow, and thus he had to leave the lawn area. Despite my entreaty, the man immediately engaged me in a spiritual discussion. In the vaguest terms, he wanted to know what is religion, why my religion was asking him to leave the Gandhi lawn.
I was still trying to peacefully get him off the lawn when Brother Turiyananda BURST onto the Gandhi lawn and despite it being a world peace shrine, told the man to get up and leave the lawn area. Whenever the man tried to use his “philosophical” tongue on Brotherji, he cut him off. Then I was very surprised when (1) the man started cursing out Brother Turiyananda; and (2) Brotherji started pushing the man up the hill toward the gate. I was shocked by the things the man was saying, and wondering how Brotherji knew (from across the lake on the Court of Religions) that this man was crazy. But this wasn’t the only surprise: Brotherji physically pushed the man out the gate, and even though a wedding was about to start in less than an hour, Brotherji closed and locked the gate in the man’s face. Brotherji stood there until the man walked away.
Brotherji first told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to be tougher with people (hey I was about 22-years old); and secondly to stay there for a while, then open the gate and stay there to make sure the man did not come back. Needless to say, in my four years of serving at the Lake Shrine, this was the only time anything like that occurred. We did routinely throw people out at night - mainly lovers, skinny-dippers, and fishermen - but everyone was pretty cool. In retrospect, even though the younger man's look and initial demeanor was "holy," Brother T in his jeans and firey attitude was by far the holier of the two - but then again looks (in this world of maya) are deceiving.
In divine friendship, bc
It was interesting at the Lake Shrine when the Directors of SRF would arrive - it was like the whole place would be instantly transported to an astral world where joy and intuitive-like harmony existed. To set up this story let me set the scene: The area where Krishna Falls exists now was called Krishna Falls even before the falls and before Krishna were there. What was there was basically a valve to let a small amount of City water into the Lake from time to time. This was because when Sunset had been widened to 5 lanes, the City had cut off most of the underground streams feeding the Lake. The streams come out of the canyon under Palisades Highlands Drive across the street. There is actually a huge cavern under Sunset Blvd. carrying the water straight down the street to the ocean. Well, I don’t know how it all started, but I recall Janet Mayall, who arranged the flowers in those days, wrote in one of the last concrete block-steps before the bridge, “Krishna + Radha" (she wrote it while the cement was wet). Also, it may have been because above the falls (a trickle), there was a tumal tree (like in the chant, “My Krishna’s Blue”). Well anyway, back to the Directors (Daya Mata, Mrinalini Mata, Ananda Mata and Uma Mata). Someone had donated the Krishna statue to the Lake, and the Directors were to come out to help find a spot for it. We poured a concrete stand in the middle of the hillside to the right of where “Fort Bliss” now stands (the meditation bench with logs) and when the Directors came Steve Wilkinson played Krishna and got on this stand. The Directors stood on the Shrine lawn and kept telling Wilk to move to the right, and move to the right, until he was standing on top of the tamal tree stump (it had died and was cut down). Ma said, “yes, that’s the spot and build a bigger waterfall there also."
To bring Brother Turiyananda into this story, Brotherji said when he first joined SRF he felt no attraction for Lord Krishna. Then at a Jamastami Service at the altar he looked into the eyes of the Lord Krishna and heard the words, “don’t you know who I am.” From that time on, he became a lover of Lord Krishna.
Another short story: Brother Turiyananda said that he had had a dream where he was in a large hall with the Gurus standing around with him kneeling on the floor in the middle. Our Guru came forward and knighted Brother Turiyananda and blessed him. He said that Master had given him some weapons and armor. He said that Master had put some light armor on him and he never knew what it was until he was in a castle or church in France and saw the same thing mounted on a wall. He learned that at the turn of the last millennium soldiers used that light armor, which was made of leather, to ward off arrows (to prevent one from getting an “arrow shirt”). idf, bc
Brotherji was full on enthusiasm about work, spiritual routine, and about fun too. Brotherji would swim in the Lake, regularly shoot bow and arrow, and jogged and walked - all this with his regular hard work!! He also loved a good meal - loved to laugh, and even loved samurai movies and the like - he loved anything that would inspire him or make him laugh. Now and then for fun Brotherji would cook a good meal and watch a video. Some of Brotherji’s favorites: Somewhere in Time; 1941, The Seven Samurai; Dr. Strangelove; Paint Your Wagon; Patton; The Longest Day; The Battle of the Bulge; Lawrence of Arabia; A Man for All Seasons.
He also loved martial arts and practiced them. Br. Jay was once a guest speaker at the Lake when he was in the room above the Windmill Chapel on a back swing (upside down) when the door flew open and in flew Brother Turiyananda practicing various martial arts moves. When he saw Br. Jay, he stopped and said, “so sorry,” bowed low, Japanese style, and exited the room.
Okay time for a story: A lady once came to the Lake Shrine to commit suicide by jumping in the Lake. Brother Turiyananda said to her, “come let’s talk; I’ll make you a cup of coffee.” As any here who ever had it can attest, Bro. Turiyananda’s coffee could “wake the dead.” He had this beautiful Italian espresso maker (I scanned it above) which would spout this rich, jet black, strong coffee. Well, Brotherji took the lady into his kitchen and made her a cup of his coffee and talked to her for about an hour. I was outside working and after a while I could hear them laugh - I thought, “Now this is a miracle.” Brother Anandamoy said later, “Turiyananda, you have to teach me to make coffee.”
Ah dear Brotherji - just to hear your booming voice once more, just to have a meal with you, just to attend one more meditation lead by you! Oh Lord, I'll never take anything for granted again. I recall his booming voice in a two-hour meditation, "THERE ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING IN THIS TEMPLE. Awake, awake in God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Circa 1977 Bro. Dharmananda was transferred to Encinitas and we got Brother Anandamoy in return as our minister at Lake Shrine. I guess he spent some time training Brother Turiyananda at Mt. Washington, and Brother T said to Brother Anandamoy when he arrived, "I guess your karma training me has not finished," and Brotherji answered, "consider it finished." So, Brother Anandamoy and Brother Turiyananda were like divine brothers. Brother Anandamoy, however, trained me and others who were around freely - even with a look! and if he believed you had done something amiss - LOOK OUT! I recall a couple of times he was training me - I thought the world would open up and swallow me whole. Well Bro. Turiyananda rarely demonstrated humility because that was not his role - he could though and I knew he was truly humble. Well one time before a work party, we were out in the Court of Religions breaking up platforms with sledgehammers. I was concerned because I knew Brother Anandamoy was leading the pre-work party meditation, but I always followed Bro. Turiyananda's orders 100%. Well, in the midst of us banging boards I beheld Brother Anandamoy come flying out of the windmill chapel and head towards Bro. T - with pure fire Brother Anandamoy said to Bro. Turiyananda, "Turiyananda, do you know we're trying to meditate?!!" Immediately, Brother Turiyananda hung his head, and said, "I'm sorry, it will never happen again." Brother Anandamoy immediately changed and smiled, wheeled around and went back to the chapel. Brother T looked at me and immediately resumed his normal composure. We resumed quieter, pre-work party, prepatory service.
The months before Brother Turiyananda’s passing he was in generally good health. He did have a gall bladder operation and would show anyone his scar in the Lake Shrine parking lot. He did go through a lot of pain with that. The day before his passing I saw him and he seemed very happy and the picture of good and robust health. He had said a various times before his death, “if I get to the other side (in meditation), I will beg Master to stay,” and to his friends: “first one across helps the rest.”
On Sunday morning of his passing Brother Ramananda did not hear Brother stirring above (Brother Ramananda lived in the room directly above the Windmill Chapel and Bro. T lived in the top of the windmill). Brother Turiyananda was supposed to give the service that morning. Brother Ramananda went up to investigate and found Brother T lying on his futon with a book and glasses on the floor by his side, a sweet smile on his face. He lay below his special altar - Divine Mother in the middle and the Gurus on the sides.
A friend of Brother and Head Usher at the Lake at that time, was allowed to go up and see Brotherji’s body. He later described a room full of joy - and the look of perfect peace on Brotherji’s face. He immediately marched out to the parking lot and called me in Encinitas. I, in turn, called some friends/Swamis at the Encinitas Ashram - so in a matter of minutes the friends of Bro. T knew the news and were meditating to tune in with him and say goodbye. Bro. Ramananda led a prayer and meditation service for Bro. T that morning at the Lake also.
Brother Devananda was given the task of organizing the memorial service of Brother Turiyananda and he had to move its location three times to try to accommodate the expected throngs. In all over 1200 people attended (standing room only) and Brother Bhaktananda and Brother Santoshananda spoke. It's hard to personally describe the emotions of that day, being a yogi and knowing about reincarnation and the like, but the emotions were high in that hall. I have never felt such love and fellowship. It’s funny but sometimes you don’t realize how much someone means to your life until they’re gone. My world seemed to be crumbling in that service - like my spiritual father had died. It was an open casket service, and I filed by with everyone else. I couldn’t even look down at T’s body because I knew that was not really him, but I stood at attention and saluted, as I did so my legs buckled and like magic my friends were there to put their arms around me and carry me outside - tears streaming down my face. Even now thinking about it - I feel the same ... What would I be without you Brotherji? Where would I be? Banat Banat Banzai!!!!
I so admired Brother for the spiritual warrior he was - the battles he had won. Brother Turiyananda was manically depressed at Mt. Washington in the late 60's; he was a minister. He was sent to the Lake Shrine and resigned as a minister. He built those rock walls around the Lake with Bro. Dharmananda. He chanted in his mind: "GOD, CHRIST, GURUS," over and over. He climbed out of the pit of depression and became a minister again - he inspired thousands with his love, his joy. To this day, hundreds remember him as one who inspired them to seek God, to live life.
I dreamt of him a few months ago. He was chanting in an astral temple not unlike the windmill chapel - he was chanting to the Mother Divine. I was sitting behind him - both of us facing an altar. Brother was wearing an orange robe and I thought, "he's still a monk; he's renounced all else but his love of the Mother." He had long brown hair combed back. Divine Mother had given his hair back!