Saturday, October 18, 2008

Swami's Point At Sunset

When the Santa Ana winds blow this time of the year, they help create some incredible sunsets and night before last was no exception. My daughter captured this dream-like, unphotoshopped shot of Swami's Point, looking north from Cardiff. Swami's is a world famous surf spot, and above the ocean at the top of the cliff is the Self Realization Fellowship, founded in the 1930s by Paramahansa Yogananda, who was known locally as the Swami.

SRF was completed in 1937, at the height of the Great Depression, when my dad was ten. My dad grew up just down the street from the Fellowship, and the Swami was no stranger in the neighborhood. The Fellowship had extensive, lavish gardens, a pingpong table in one of the golden lotus towers and a massive pool stocked with fish and water lilies. The pool was large enough that the Swami could launch his small boat in it. He always welcomed the local kids, knew all of their names and gave them the run of the grounds. Yogananda was seem in town on a regular basis, driven by chauffeur/disciple in a shiny Rolls Royce, which he frequently took onto the beach at low tide.

When my dad came back from World War II, after serving in the Marshall and Solomon Islands, he worked for Santa Fe Railroad as the town's telegrapher. Telephones were a rarity back then, so he hand delivered telegrams to the Fellowship. Yogananda remembered my dad as one of the neighborhood kids and always asked after everyone's families and well being.

Paramahansa Yogananda has long since passed, and the largest tower and pool slid into the ocean many years back. But his gardens remain and the grounds are as beautiful as ever and open to the public. If you ever find yourself in Encinitas, it's one of the nicest places in town.

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