By ELLEN B. MERCK [SISTER KARUNA]
I write this story because I am the only one now living who can testify to its truth. My husband, Bror Merck, an eyewitness, died in 1941.
The incident concerns a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, Mrs. Jean Chamberlin, to whom Master gave the name of SEVA DEVI. They met in Salt Lake City in 1931, when Mrs. Chamberlin attended his classes. At that time his students called him “Swamiji,” for he had not yet received the title of “Paramhansa” (which his guru Sri Yukteswarji gave to him in India in 1935).
Mrs. Chamberlin’s late husband had been a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. She came to Los Angeles in 1932 to help in the SRF work. She was a spiritually advanced disciple, highly regarded by Yoganandaji. When he left this country in 1935 to visit India, he appointed Seva Devi to be the speaker at the Thursday and Sunday SRF meetings in Los Angeles.
Seva Devi died in Los Angeles in November, 1938. My husband and I took care of her in her final illness. She was suffering intensely during her last night on earth, and had lost her power of speech. About four o’clock in the morning I left her to go to my nearby home. When I departed there was no one with her except Bror. He told me, a few hours later, about a beautiful incident that took place after my departure.
Seva Devi, he said, became calm and free from suffering at five o’clock. Suddenly she said:
“Yes, Swamiji; yes Swamiji!” She repeated these words several times in a cheerful way. Thus Bror saw that she had regained her power of speech and that she apparently was replying to something that had been said to her by her guru Yoganandaji, who was invisible to Bror’s eyes.
Mr. Merck asked, “Is Swamiji here?”
“Yes,” she answered in a happy voice. “Swamiji is here.”
My husband wondered if her mind were clear. He said: “Seva, do you know who I am?”
“Yes, Bror,” she replied quickly, as though she understood why he had asked the question.
Her youngest son came into the room. My husband, who wanted to assure himself still further concerning her mental clarity, asked: “Do you know who it is chat stands by your bed?”
“0 yes! Lew, my boy,” she replied tenderly. In a short while she peacefully left her body.
Master referred to this incident several times in his lectures, stating that he had visited Seva Devi in his astral body during the very hour when she told my husband: “Yes, Swamiji is here.”
“I wanted to guide her in the transition to her new home;’ the master said.
[Sister Karuna added the below to this story in later years…from SRF mag, Spring 1994]
*”Many times when some disciple living far away has been ill or dying, he has drawn my astral body there through his devotion,” Paramahansaji said. “Seva Devi was a very devoted student. She became extremely ill, but she never complained about it to anyone. She knew her time had come to leave this earth. One day when I visited her in Los Angeles she said to me, ‘Please don’t hold me here.’ Later on, I was staying in the Self-Realization Fellowship Hermitage in Encinitas for a time. I had been given a radio and was waking up early in the mornings to listen to broadcasts from India. One morning I suddenly felt intuitively the subtle astral vibration of Seva Devi; she drew my astral body to her through her devotion. My physical body was as dead. I was told later that Seva Devi exclaimed, just before her passing, `Swamiji is here!’ She was aware of being consciously ushered by me into the other world.”
JULY, 1956 Self-Realization magazine
See also ~ SISTER KARUNA ~ “YOU are BLESSED!!”