Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda, had a vision of this symbol and said it took some time and multiple attempts to get it in the right form on paper.
The mountain peak at the bottom symbolizes the soul’s aspiration toward God; the graceful upward curve of the slopes suggests joyous rather than merely arduous ascension.
The sweep upward and outward from the mountaintop, ending in the figure of a bird, symbolizes the Bird of Paradise—the human soul soaring upward and outward in joyous circles to embrace all beings in its quest for enlightenment.
The bird itself, finally, is also like an arrow, its shape the complement of that of the mountain below. Thus, every upward aspiration of the soul is met by a corresponding descent of divine grace. The devotee should make a conscious effort to bring down into his daily life the peace and joy he attains in meditation.
The descending bird symbolizes, finally, the avatar who, after finding God, descends again to help other aspiring souls. As Paramhansa Yogananda once said: “Lord, give Thyself that I may give Thee to all. That is the highest prayer.”
Ananda worldwide uses the Joy is Within You symbol combined with the gold ring and blue field of the spiritual eye.