Ananda Mata, one of the earliest and closest disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda, and sister of our late president, Sri Daya Mata, left her physical form on February 5, 2005. Though she served Paramahansaji and his work for many decades, her role was by choice one “behind the scenes” rather than as a public speaker or teacher. …
Ananda Mata was among the select devotees whom Paramahansaji personally trained to help build the foundation for his worldwide mission and to carry out the blueprint that he set for its future unfoldment. She was born as Lucy Virginia Wright on October 7, 1915. From the time she met the Guru in 1931 and entered his ashram in 1933, she wholly dedicated herself to the love and service of God by absorbing and living Paramahansaji’s teachings and unreservedly serving his sacred cause. She was among the few early disciples to have received sannyas initiation from him into the ancient monastic Swami Order, taking her final vows of lifelong renunciation in 1935. He also appointed her as a member of the Board of Directors of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India.
“I want you to follow them” –Paramahansaji
I remember one time I was walking with Master from the elevator in the basement out to his car. Ananda Ma was waiting for him; she was usually the one who drove him. As we were walking, Master held my arm, and he stood still and said: “Always remember: Faye and Virginia [Daya Mata and Ananda Mata] have always been living the life with a hundred percent devotion, a hundred percent obedience, a hundred percent loyalty. I want you to follow them.” And as he said that, he squeezed my arm to really impress on me what he was saying. This was when I was fairly new in the ashram.
A couple of years later, he repeated almost exactly the same words. And by that time I had a little more understanding of Master and his work and the spiritual life. I thought: “Master is an avatar, an incarnation of God; and these words, as simple as they are, are the ultimate praise for a disciple. There is no praise higher than what Master said.”
“the most incredibly beautiful divine being”
Another little story about Ananda Ma: This took place around 1951. I had been assigned to replaster the walls in Master’s bathroom… Once as I was carrying those buckets through the hallway…I set them down for a few moments to rest my hands. Just at that time the phone rang nearby, and Ananda Ma came out of her office to answer it.
Now, I am not a person who is inclined to visions or phenomenal experiences. I have never been interested in that kind of thing. But as I saw Ananda Ma taking the telephone, to my utter amazement I saw light all around her—a whole sphere of light. It became brighter and brighter, and I thought: “What is going on?” And then I saw Ananda Ma’s form change. She became the most incredibly beautiful divine being. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And this was not just a flash; it lasted several minutes. Then gradually the light faded and that divine being once again became Ananda Mata, and she hung up the phone and went back into the office.
Years afterwards, I read a book of legends about Lord Krishna which said that when God incarnates on earth as an avatar, there are always some divine beings who volunteer to come with that incarnation. And it is said that great rishis and sages of the past incarnated to be Krishna’s companions… And I am sure that several of Master’s great disciples like Daya Mata, Ananda Mata and others came, not because they had to work out their own karma, but to serve God during the divine incarnation of our Master.
“total dedication—and love—to God, to Guru”
Ananda Ma served faithfully all those many years, working tirelessly—often day and night. And most of us know how she could sometimes be very strict! But in the last period of her life, when she became ill and was not able to work anymore—when her mind was no longer occupied with the cares and worries and problems of the organization—a new aspect of her personality manifested: very sweet, very loving. Whenever I saw her, she came to me and took both of my hands—didn’t say a word—and radiated just love, only love.
Later on, when I heard that she was getting worse, physically, I was invited to come up to her room to say good-bye. She couldn’t talk anymore. But she talked with her eyes and with her hands. She took both of my hands in hers, and looked at me with utter, utter love. It was an incredible experience. And then, knowing how much she loved Master, I said to her: “Master is waiting for you.” And in response to that I felt a tremendous wave of love and joy—as if she were expressing: “I’m going to be with MASTER again!” I cannot begin to express what I felt, just overwhelming love and joy. I thought, “What a wonderful example, after a lifetime of service, of dedicating herself to God and Guru, now it is finished; and she can say, ‘I am going home.'” And I thought: “I wish I could go too!”
So that is my memory of Ananda Mata: such a great disciple, a divine soul who came to earth to be with her Guru and to serve him. That is the picture which I have, that I will carry in my heart as long as I live. As Master said, total dedication—and love—to God, to Guru. That is the example she has left.