In Memoriam: Sister Shanti (1919-1998)
On the morning after Christmas, December 26, 1998, SISTER SHANTI, a dearly loved sannyasini of the Self-Realization Fellowship Order, passed away peacefully. She came to this path shortly after Paramahansa Yogananda’s mahasamadhi in 1952, and served his spiritual family and work lovingly and faithfully for over forty-five years.* All who knew Sister Shanti remember her graciousness and kindness, her ability to make each person feel cared for. She uplifted those who sought spiritual counsel with loving encouragement and insightful guidance for deepening their practice of the SRF teachings, and she radiated the warmth of our Guru’s spirit of divine love and friendship to all.
Sister Shanti was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 22, 1919. In April 1953 she entered Paramahansa Yogananda’s ashrams to dedicate her life to serving his divine cause, and in 1963 she took the final vow of sannyas and the monastic name “Shanti” (Sanskrit for “divine peace”). Over the years, Sister Shanti’s varied responsibilities included giving spiritual counsel on Paramahansaji’s teachings to countless Self-Realization members, serving as manager of the Encinitas Retreat, and being responsible for the guidance of Self-Realization Fellowship nuns in the initial stage of their monastic training.
An inspiring memorial service for Sister Shanti was given by Mukti Mata at the Mother Center for Sister Shanti’s relatives and the monastic community. Mukti Mata spoke warmly of her beautiful spirit, her positive and loving approach to all people and all circumstances, and the joyous enthusiasm that permeated her life.
Sister Priya conducted a public memorial service for Sister Shanti at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas on January 6. The temple was filled to overflowing, as members and friends joined together in loving remembrance and appreciation for the example of Sister Shanti’s life, so completely dedicated to God and Gurus.
Among many heartfelt tributes to Sister Shanti was a loving message sent by Sri Daya Mata to be read at the service, from which the following is excerpted:
“Sister Shanti will be deeply missed by our ashram family and by all whose lives she touched with her caring, compassionate heart and her enthusiasm for this blessed path. But while it is a loss for us, we know that for her soul it is a great gain to be released from the limitations of this mortal form and to enjoy the blissful freedom of the realm beyond this world….She took our Guru’s teachings to heart, and inspired many others in their efforts to follow the spiritual path….Always positive and loving, she knew how to bring out the best in people, to make them feel accepted and help them to live up to their full potential. Those who spoke with her would go away encouraged, with greater faith in themselves and their ability to succeed in life. She freely shared her love and understanding, and her own enthusiasm for Master’s teachings was contagious because she lived and practiced them.
“Though we will miss her sweet personality in our midst, we know that she went with joy to her home in God, and in His joy we will one day meet again. We are meant to take into our own hearts the shining qualities of each soul who uplifts us on this path of life, and there is no greater way we can express to her our love and gratitude than to be givers of God’s love and understanding to those around us. May He bless her soul, and unite us all in the eternal friendship we share in Him.”
[*The remarkable story of how Sister Shanti first encountered Paramahansa Yogananda and his teachings was recounted by her in the Winter 1996 issue of this magazine, page 29.]
Self-Realization magazine, Spring 1999