After the passing away of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the perennial bestseller Autobiography of a Yogi and teacher of kriya yoga, his disciples seek self-realization, meditating in complete privacy, under the supervision of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS)
Faye Wright in 1914 at Utah in America, her interest in spirituality was apparent since childhood. It reached a point of craving when she first met Paramahansa Yogananda in 1931. Braving reluctance from her family, she joined Yogananda's ashram a few weeks later. After the passing away of Yogananda and his successor Rajarsi Janakananda, Daya Mata became the third president of YSS/SRF. In a cross-continental interview with Saurabh Bhattacharya, the 84-year-old sanghamata throws light on various aspects of YSS/SRF activities, Yogananda's philosophy, and her own role in spreading his teachings.
How deeply is the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) connected to the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS)?
Paramahansa Yogananda founded the SRF/YSS to help people of all races discover that they can know God by the scientific, devotional methods of kriya yoga meditation. During the early years of his mission, Paramahansaji used the name Yogoda Satsanga Society in America as well as in India. Later, for the West, he translated the name to Self-Realization Fellowship. People who visit our centers often tell me: "Whether I go to Guruji's ashrams in the East or West, I feel at home."This spirit is characteristic of Gurudev's society. His followers in India and surrounding territories are served from YSS and those in the rest of the world from SRF. Ashrams and retreats are maintained in India, USA and Europe and meditation centers are active in nearly 500 locales worldwide.
What was Paramahansa Yogananda's vision?
Paramahansaji was absorbed in an unending romance with the Divine. He envisioned the highest way of life as meditation combined with right activity. In the more than 20 years that I spent at the feet of Paramahansaji, never did I see his gaze turn away from the sacred task he had been given. He lived for God, and for God in all.
There is a feeling that the Yogoda movement in India has reached a state of stasis. Is it a result of your increasing involvement in SRF?
Paramahansaji's work in India is flourishing and expanding, as it is throughout the world. In the years since I have been in India, we have seen the membership there increase several times over. There are now close to 100 centers and meditation groups under YSS in addition to its several ashrams and schools.
Do you visit the India chapter often enough?
My heart always yearns to return to Guruji's beloved India and the devotees there. And when it is Divine Mother's will, I shall do so. My active participation and interest in YSS remains undiminished.
Has the one-to-one guru-shishya tradition of kriya yoga stopped after Paramahansa Yogananda?
It is important to clarify the real meaning of 'guru'. A true guru is one who has attained union with god. Before his passing on, Paramahansaji stated that it was god's wish that he be the last in the YSS/SRF line of gurus. The one-to-one guru-shishya tradition, however, did not stop with the passing of Gurudev's physical form. Not only I, but thousands of disciples all over the world can testify that his presence and spiritual guidance are as vibrantly real today as ever.
Some people claiming their ancestry to Sri Yukteswar and Lahiri Mahasaya are teaching kriya yoga in the West. Comment.
Receiving kriya is more than obtaining a set of instructions; it means forming a sacred bond between your soul and the guru sent by god. We tell people that if they seek guru-disciple relationship with Paramahansa Yogananda, then the YSS/SRF teaching is the way to do so.
Has the Yogananda tradition been diluted to suit the situation in the West?
Yoga is a science. The effectiveness of science does not vary from East to West, nor does it need to be 'diluted'. Paramahansaji taught this holy science without dilution. And one of the greatest responsibilities he gave to me and his other disciples was this: "As I have brought this teaching to you and kept it pure as it was given to me by God and my guru, so I give you this responsibility: keep it pure, undiluted by anything."
Has the immortal saint Mahavatar Babaji been sighted recently?
Gurudev told us that the Mahavatar dwells with a group of advanced disciples and that his work is to assist exalted prophets in carrying out their work. His blessings can be received by any devotee who inwardly attunes himself through meditation and devotion.
How do you, in your capacity as the head of the YSS/SRF movement, see the future of Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings?
The teachings are ideal for the changing times. This is why they are attracting so many devotees. Trends come and go. But principles remain. The meditation techniques and path of balanced living that Gurudev taught were true when given by rishis millennia ago. They will be equally potent 10,000 years from now.
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