TARA MATA (Laurie Pratt) was among those disciples who were drawn to Paramahansaji from his very first years in this country, and she was a pillar of strength in helping him to carry out his mission.*
(* Paramahansaji said of her “Laurie is like a child without guile, innocent, trusting, loving. But once she begins to see deviousness in anyone toward Self-Realization Fellowship, watch out! she is like a lion, roaring.” An account of Tara Mata’s life as one of Paramahansaji’s principal disciples can be found in the summer 1971 issue of Self-Realization magazine. Tara Mata ~ A Loving Tribute ~ Memorial Article In addition, a remarkable description of the exalted state of expanded spiritual consciousness she enjoyed is recorded in the booklet, “Forerunner of a New Race.”)
We are saddened by Mr. Walters’ repeated attempts through the years to tarnish the memory of this disciple whom Paramahansa Yogananda held in such esteem that he entrusted to her the responsibility of compiling and editing his talks and writings for publication. The Guru often expressed publicly his recognition and appreciation of Tara Ma’s attunement with the spirit of his message and her unique ability to edit his works. “Nobody but Laurie could do the editing to my highest satisfaction,” wrote Paramahansaji to Rajarsi Janakananda about Tara Mata’s work on his Autobiography. “The Lord will bless her with redemption for the immortal service she has given.”
Tara Mata’s editing of the Guru’s writing is now being impugned by Mr. Walters, and he has at the same time claimed that it was Paramahansaji’s wish that he serve as an editor of the Guru’s writings. None of the close disciples who were in daily contact with Paramahansaji and who served as his assistants for years, recording his directions for every aspect of the work of his society, recall the Guru ever expressing the intention that Mr. Walters should edit his works. By contrast, several disciples vividly remember the Guru’s lavish praise of Tara Mata’s editing, and his express wish to have Mrinalini Mata succeed her as editor of his teachings.**
(** Mrinalini Mata, first on left in above photo, now vice president of SRF (President since 2011), is also Editor-in-Chief of Self-Realization Fellowship publications.
To Rajarsi Janakananda in March 1950, Paramahansaji wrote of Mrinalini Mata (who was still a teenager at the time) and of the editorial work he had assigned to her “[She] was destined for this work. God showed this to me when I first saw her spirit. Many wondered at me for putting her in the job. But now they don’t, seeing her wonderful work, as I wanted.”
Of Mrinalini Mata’s responsibility as editor, Sri Daya Mata has written: “Gurudeva made clear to all of us the role for which he was preparing her, giving her personal instruction in every aspect of his teachings and in his wishes for the preparation and presentation of his writings and talks.
“One day toward the end of his life on earth, he confided: ‘I am very worried about Laurie. Her health will not permit her to finish the work on my writings.’
“Knowing the Guru’s great reliance on Tara Mata, Mrinalini Mata expressed concern: ‘But Master, who then can do that work?’
“The Guru replied with quiet finality: ‘You will do it.”’)
[the following (first) paragraph has been added by Yogananda Site]
from The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi, Swami Kriyananda (Donald Walters) First Printing, 1977, p. 532
During his last months, especially, he found his greatest earthly joy in those disciples who had lived up to his divine expectations of them. Often he praised St. Lynn, Sister Gyanamata, Daya Mata, Mrs. Brown [Meera Mata] and others. Of Merna Brown (Mrinalini Mata) he said, “She has wonderful karma! You will see what she will do for the work.” She had been a saint, he told us, in more than one of her past lives…
In his autobiography, Mr. Walters himself refers to Tara Mata as “the older disciple to whom Master had given the real responsibility for editing,” and describes the miscellaneous tasks, such as cutting and pasting copy, proofreading, etc., that Paramahansaji had assigned to him for a brief period. He also recalls the Guru’s stern admonition to him, “Edit, but don’t change a word!”
After Paramahansaji’s passing in 1952, Mr. Walters wrote: “In the time Master was here, since I first arrived I spent more than half of my time on momentarily profitless work. While there were important projects pending–the building of India House, for one–he would put me off in a corner studying the Praecepta [SRF Lessons], or working on the Gita, or rewriting the Highest Achievements [free pamphlet], when he had no intention of using my labors. He showed not even the slightest interest when I told him I was through.”
Under the supervision of Tara Mata and Mrinalini Mata, a wide variety of new books by or about Paramahansa Yogananda and his teachings has been brought out by SRF and this work goes on continuously. 1994, for example, saw the publication of Paramahansaji’s acclaimed Wine of the Mystic; and in 1995 his massive translation and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita was completed.*
(*We would like to clarify that in 1994, Donald Walters brought out a book called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained. Library Journal reviewed this book in their 1994 issue, saying in part, “Walters has eloquently rendered a Rubaiyat commentary expanding his Guru’s metaphysical approach. This is a complete rewriting and restructuring of Yogananda’s much briefer serialized version that originally appeared in the 1937-1944 issues of Inner Culture magazine. Due to Walters’ constant paraphrasing, even in the glossaries, the reader may prefer Yogananda’s final edition, Wine of the Mystic (July, 1994) published by Self-Realization Fellowship. The latter’s historical notes upon Rubaiyat translations are superior…Walters’ rendition may be acceptable to those not familiar with Yogananda’s own edition.“)
Ananda also claims that a letter by the Guru praising Tara Mata’s efforts in helping him revise Whispers from Eternity was forged by her. This is untrue. The “letter” in question was actually an Author’s Note written in 1951 by Paramahansaji:
“It has given me great satisfaction to revise ‘Whispers from Eternity.’ When first published the book contained unedited writings and a number of verbatim transcripts of prayers composed by me in my yoga classes in various cities.
“For many years I have wished to edit these invocations but was prevented by the pressure of other duties. During the last three years I have taken time now and then to revise the book.
I am immensely grateful to a Self-Realization Fellowship student who gave me invaluable aid in the work of editing, revision, and rearrangement.
November 30, 1951, Twenty-Nine Palms, California
Those who knew and worked with Tara Mata, remember her as utterly disinterested in receiving public praise or recognition. In fact, she tried very hard to dissuade Paramahansaji from even mentioning her name in his acknowledgments at the front of Autobiography of a Yogi; but he insisted that her invaluable assistance should not go unrecognized.