Swami Kriyananda Receives the First Inspiration for the Oratorio “Christ Lives”

An early public performance of the Oratorio.

(Part 15 in our ongoing series, Swami Kriyananda on Art & the Artist.)

In October, Swamiji went back to Europe for two months. He had done a lecture tour in the spring, so this trip was mostly unscheduled, except for seeing friends in Italy, giving Kriya in London, and taking photographs of a few churches in Paris.

Swamiji had kept in touch with Rosanna and other members of the Pastorale—the leaders of PEKI—about how they might work together. It wasn’t always easy at a distance to have a meeting of the minds, so several members of the Pastorale came to Rome to meet with him.

When the others went back to Sorrento, Rosanna went with Swamiji to Greece. He had an idea for a show about Greek myths, and wanted to take some photos there. They also visited Patmos, where Saint John lived and wrote the Book of Revelations. Then they went to Israel. Jesus was the heart of Rosanna’s spiritual life; for her, visiting the Holy Land was a dream come true. Later Swamiji said that the deep inspiration he felt there was amplified by her devotion. “Every devotee of Christ,” he said, “should visit Jerusalem.”

Swamiji took many photographs, and when they returned to Sorrento in November, he began to organize them into a show. One morning he woke up with several melodies in his mind, each expressing the inspiration he felt at specific points in the pilgrimage. Since they had come so easily, he deliberately concentrated on other places they had visited, and found melodies flowing effortlessly into his consciousness. In one day he received twenty songs, which he sang into a recorder.

By the time he left Sorrento for London, he had a show of some three hundred slides, with thirty-four songs to go with them, half of them with lyrics. (Swami Kriyananda: Lightbearer, 1983, p. 191)