In the late 1980’s, Swami Kriyananda, Ananda’s founder, spoke about Ananda Village that “someday there will be a college here!” In 1946, his guru, Yogananda, in his epic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” had expressed his desire to create a Yoga Institute: “I plan to open a Yoga Institute here. The blessed role of Kriya Yoga in the West has hardly more than just begun. May all men come to know that there is a definitive, scientific technique of self-realization for the overcoming of all human misery.” In this same chapter Yogananda also said, “World is a large term, but man must enlarge his allegiance, considering himself in the light of a world citizen. A person who truly feels: ‘The world is my homeland; it is my America, my India, my Philippines, my England, my Africa,’ will never lack in scope for a useful and happy life. His natural local pride will know limitless expansion; he will be in touch with creative universal currents.” Yogananda also stressed the need for spiritual communities. “Man is a soul, not an institution; his inner reforms alone can lend permanence to outer ones. By stress on spiritual values, self-realization, a colony exemplifying brotherhood is empowered to send inspiring vibrations far beyond its locale.”
In early 2000, Nakula and Nischala, both longtime members of Ananda Village, began researching the possibility of creating an Educational Institute located on the Mendocino Coast. Though a beautiful piece of property was located right on the Pacific Ocean, the $10 million-dollar price tag proved unsurmountable! In 2001 Nischala and Nakula met with Swami Kriyananda and Jyotish and Devi Novak in Assisi, Italy. At the time, Ananda’s Seclusion Retreat (the Ananda Meditation Retreat) was needing a revival and new leadership. Swami, Jyotish and Devi suggested Nischala and Nakula instead take over the Ananda Meditation Retreat and start their institute there. In 2002, Nischala and Nakula, together with their son Rama, moved from Ananda Village to the Ananda Meditation Retreat, 5 miles from the village. In April 2003 they began the Ananda Institute of Alternative Living at the Ananda Meditation Retreat. The institute also ran the meditation retreat and served guests. With Nakula and Nischala’s guidance the retreat created a small college and a vibrant space for students and retreat guests, with lovely botanical gardens, ponds, bungalows, classrooms and a cob temple hand-built by students and staff.