The Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) San Diego Temple celebrated its 75th anniversary during a special event on September 16. Over 500 SRF members and friends gathered for the occasion, which included talks by senior SRF monastics, video presentations, an Indian meal, and a musical performance.
A Part of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Expanding Mission
San Diego Temple’s history began in the early 1940s when Paramahansa Yogananda—seeking to expand his spiritual mission in the large city near the SRF ashram in Encinitas, California—told his two devoted disciples Olive and Lloyd Kennell: “Go and search for a temple in San Diego. I feel God is going to work through you to accomplish it.” The couple later took Paramahansaji to view several potential locations, and when he first saw the former Bishop’s School on a spacious, elevated property overlooking distant San Diego Bay, he said: “This is it. My mind refuses to go elsewhere after seeing this building.” In the months that followed, he personally oversaw repair and remodeling work on the thirty year-old building. He formally dedicated the new temple on September 5, 1943, offering a prayer that “this church...may serve to unite all people and all religions in the worship of Thee, O God, in the one temple of our hearts and in the temples of all religions.” Paramahansaji would continue to conduct regular services at the temple throughout most of the 1940s.
Celebrating a Divine Legacy
The 75th anniversary celebration not only recalled the temple’s past but also highlighted its continuing role in Paramahansaji’s mission. The event began with a presentation by several senior SRF monastics—including current and past ministers—who recalled the temple’s history and shared personal reminiscences.
Sister Preeti, a member of SRF’s Board of Directors, shared a message from SRF President Brother Chidananda in honor of the occasion in which he stated: “Guruji said that places where God-knowing saints have lived or taught will be lastingly permeated with their holy vibrations; and his words certainly apply to this temple, so pervaded with his living presence and ever-flowing blessings.” (See full text of message below)
Also, SRF minister Brother Prafullananda read a proclamation issued by the City of San Diego that declared September 5, 2018, to be “Self-Realization Fellowship San Diego Temple Day” and called the site “a spiritual oasis for those living and working in the very heart of San Diego and beyond.” (See full text of proclamation below)
Attendees were treated to a video presentation about the history of San Diego Temple, and another video focusing on the temple’s Sunday School program. An Indian meal was served on the temple grounds, where attendees could also view a display of vintage photos of the temple’s past.
The day concluded with a musical program which included inspirational songs, a sitar and tabla duet, and a selection of Paramahansaji’s poems and devotional chants. The title of the program was “East Meets West,” fittingly evoking a theme that Paramahansaji had spoken about during his keynote address at the temple’s dedication in 1943:
“We cannot live in the world simply as individuals. We have to depend upon our brother human beings in order to live fully. This is true both spiritually and materially. We cannot maintain a high standard of living without the exchange of commodities. Mentally and spiritually we can progress faster through the mutual exchange of experiences and discoveries. It is only in the union of the ideas of East and West, North and South, that we can develop to our greatest capacity. The ideals of America and India combined will bring about a greater civilization than ever before. For a man is only half living when he develops his material life and forgets his spiritual nature. He must express them both....”