All those who came to Paramahansaji felt his loving concern for their all round spiritual, mental, and material welfare; among the aims and ideals of SRF is “to serve mankind as one’s larger Self.” While our primary effort is toward spiritual service (including the work of our Prayer Council), SRF through its Voluntary League regularly contributes to various relief organizations specifically chartered to provide charitable aid to individuals.
In their most recent letter, Ananda charges SRF with a lack of charity, and with unresponsiveness to those in need. In attempting to support this claim, they disclose very personal circumstances regarding the lives of a number of people, including relatives of Paramahansaji. It has been our way to respect the privacy of anyone with whom we have contact, and we regret that Ananda has discussed—in a publicly distributed letter—matters that are so private to these individuals. For those who may have been concerned by Ananda’s alarming description of these matters, we wish to state briefly the simple facts here**:
Ananda claims that SRF has been callously indifferent to the needs of Meera Ghosh and other relatives of Paramahansa Yogananda. In fact, for many years Meera Ghosh and her family have been living rent-free in a house owned by Yogoda Satsanga Society. YSS has made it possible for them to continue to do so for the remainder of her life, and has helped her with needed medical assistance. Financial aid is also given to other members of our Guru’s family
Ananda’s letter inaccurately states that when Sananda Lal Ghosh (who was one of Paramahansaji’s younger brothers) became ill, SRF having freely benefited from his authorship of Mejda refused to provide any assistance unless Sananda deeded to YSS the family home on Garpar Road in Calcutta. The truth is that SRF has for over 40 years regularly sent funds to help support the family of Sananda Ghosh and assist them in maintaining the home on Garpar Road, in which our guru lived as a boy. SRF paid Sananda a sum of $20,000 for the publication rights to Mejda, the book he authored containing stories of Paramahansaji’s early life.
On learning of Sananda’s illness, SRF immediately wrote to him of our desire to help and began looking for ways to provide for his treatment. We cabled Sananda about arrangements for medical care. Unfortunately, we received no reply to the cable or to several letters, and we learned later that Sananda passed away several weeks after this correspondence. Deeding the Garpar Road home to YSS was not a condition of our providing him help. Sananda had twice on his own initiative expressed his intention to give the home to YSS. To this day the home is with the family, and it is our hope that it remains so.
Another claim is that after the publication of the book by Kamala Silva, formerly a householder minister of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF stopped communicating with her; and that when she became ill in her later years, SRF refused to help. In actuality, through the years we have had a warm relationship with Kamala. She continued to join us for our annual Christmas festivities, for example, until age would not permit her to travel. When SRF learned of Kamala’s medical condition, we sent funds each month to help with her needs, during her temporary stay at Ananda. SRF supported her in this way until Ananda advised us that this support was no longer necessary.
*Ananda accuses SRF of “ruthlessly dismissing” Helen Erba-Tissot over a disagreement in policy, without acknowledgment for her years of service. In reality, Mrs. Erba-Tissot’s resignation was her own decision. After first accepting it in a necessarily brief cable, Sri Daya Mata warmly acknowledged her service to SRF in a letter:
“I want to express our fondest hopes that you will be happy and successful in whatever work you undertake. We cannot adequately express our thanks for all you have done over the years to spread the SRF message in Europe, and we know that God and the Masters will ever bless you for it. “
SRF also expressed its deep gratitude to Mrs. Erba-Tissot for her loving service in public announcements made in all European centers where she had been active. Friendly communication with Mrs. Erba-Tissot continued. Following a stay as a guest in our ashram ten years after her resignation, she wrote, “I have been so happy with you all, and I want to thank you very, very heartily for the great kindness with which you have received and surrounded me….”
Ananda claims that SRF refuses spiritual help to prisoners. In fact, however, SRF corresponds regularly with a number of prisoners, offering prayer support and spiritual counseling. We send large numbers of complimentary SRF books, tapes, etc. to prisoners and prison libraries.
** In conformance with SRF’s Articles of Incorporation as a nonprofit religious organization, any distribution of funds to individuals is governed by certain legal constraints under tax laws. SRF has always done whatever it can under the law to offer material support to those in special need.}