Preserving a Society’s Unique Identity
There are many teachers and paths available to spiritual seekers today–many avenues from which to choose in one’s journey toward God-realization. Even among those societies that draw inspiration mainly from our Guru’s teachings, there is a wide range of interpretations and applications of his principles and methods. Self-Realization Fellowship, however, as the organization founded by Paramahansaji himself, has a unique identity and mission.
Years earlier, his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, had impressed on him the importance of this work:
“Could you or anyone else achieve God-communion through yoga if a line of generous-hearted masters had not been willing to convey their knowledge to others?” He added, “God is the Honey, organizations are the hives; both are necessary. Any form is useless, of course, without the spirit, but why should you not start busy hives full of the spiritual nectar?”
His counsel moved me deeply. Although I made no outward reply, an adamant resolution arose in my breast: I would share with my fellows, so far as lay in my power, the unshackling truths I had learned at my guru’s feet. “Lord,” I prayed, “may Thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts.”
Paramahansa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi
It was to his own organization, and to none other, that Paramahansaji personally entrusted the responsibility of preserving and spreading his teachings according to his express wishes. One of the distinctive features of Self-Realization Fellowship is that from its founding in 1920 until Paramahansaji’s mahasamadhi in 1952, all of SRF’s activities and organizational matters were personally directed by our Guru himself. Thereafter the leadership of the work passed to Rajarsi Janakananda, a close disciple of Paramahansaji’s chosen by him to serve as president of SRF. Sri Daya Mata, the current president (until 2010), joined the SRF Monastic Order in 1931 and underwent more than 20 years of spiritual training under our Guru’s loving guidance before becoming president after Rajarsi’s passing in 1955. She is assisted by a Board of Directors composed of several other direct disciples of Paramahansaji, who were similarly trained by him. [The president of SRF since 2011 is Mrinalini Mata, also a direct disciple of Paramahansaji and personally trained by him.]
Monastic Processional Honoring Paramahansa Yogananda
Another essential characteristic of SRF is that, in conformance with its founder’s wishes, its work is guided by the monastic order established by Paramahansaji along the lines of the ancient monastic tradition of India. The monks and nuns of SRF..take formal vows of renunciation and are responsible for serving SRF members and friends worldwide and for the guiding of the activities of the society.