“She is the one who will start the center”
Even with the initial enthusiasm, teaching yoga in 1920 was not an easy task…Yet one by one spiritual seekers found their way to subsequent lectures of the ochre-robed Swami, and slowly interest in his teachings grew. One of the very first people interested was Mrs. Alice B. Hasey. Paramahansaji first met her when he addressed the congregation of the West Summerville Unitarian Church. Afterward, she invited the Guru to her home at 9 Lester Terrace to meet some friends. When Paramahansaji first saw her in church God told him, “She is the one who will start the center.”
And soon, a small group began to meet at Mrs. Hasey’s every Friday night. This historic photo shows members of the first Yogoda meditation group. Mrs. Hasey is standing to the right of Paramahansaji. He later gave her the spiritual name of Sister Yogmata.
[In Dr. Lewis’ talk Personal Stories of Paramahansaji he says that Sister Yogmata was the first Sister created in America]
First known photo of SRF/Yogoda group in America; Mrs. Hasey/Sister Yogmata next to Paramahansaji to the right; Dr. and Mrs. Lewis on the far left
In late 1920, not long after Paramahansa Yogananda had arrived in America, the young swami was invited to speak at a Unitarian church in the Boston area, where Dr. Lewis’ longtime friend Mrs. Alice Hasey was a member of the congregation. Mrs. Hasey (to whom Paramahansaji later gave the name Sister Yogmata) knew of Dr. Lewis’ interest in spirituality, and strongly suggested to him, “You should meet Swami Yogananda.”
SRF Link~ Dr. M.W. Lewis
Sister Yogmata, Dr. and Mrs. Lewis honored at a banquet
A gala banquet was held at the Mother Center on December 26, 1944, in honor of Sister Yogmata and Dr. and Mrs. Lewis. Reminiscing about the old days, Guruji spoke of the hard times they had had and how Sister and Dr. Lewis had helped. He said, “I have happy memories about the days when Doctor and Sister and I used to talk over the future of the organization. All those ideas have materialized. I am glad that Doctor and Mildred have been with me many times since, to enjoy God’s bounties with me. I knew that some day Sister Yogmata would visit here, too. The Lord never tells me anything that does not come true.
“So I am very happy that Sister is here, and that the things we had planned and have worked for, God has given to us—and much more than we had planned. It is only because Mt. Washington Center has always striven to be an instrument of God that those plans have been realized.
“I never forgot you, Sister, and the parts you and Dr. and Mrs, Lewis have played in my life. I want you to know that. It is a great joy to me that you are here with us today.
‘So I am very much pleased that we started a center in Boston, and pleased with this gathering of souls here today. It is the culmination of so many materialized thoughts, and we are all very happy. Let us give a cheer for Sister, Doctor, and Mrs. Lewis!”
“Yogoda” i.e. “Self-Realization”
The word Yogoda is the name by which Paramahansa Yogananda’s work in India is known: Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. He also used this term in America in the early years. The literal meaning of Yogoda, a word coined by Paramahansaji, is “that which yoga imparts,” i.e., Self-Realization. Satsanga means “divine fellowship,” or “fellowship with Truth.” For the West, he translated the Indian name as “Self-Realization Fellowship.”
“The two symbols pictured above say the same thing in different languages. “Yogoda Sat-Sanga” is the Sanskrit for “Self-Realization Fellowship.” In India the Sanskrit name is preferred and more used, while in America the English designation is more acceptable.”
from March 1937 Inner Culture Magazine (former name of SRF magazine)