SWAMI SHYAMANANDA GIRI, HEAD OF YSS until 1971
Sw. Shyamananda between Daya Mata (left) and Ananda Mata, SRF banquet
DAYA MATA ~~ “I would say that in his own way he was Rajarsi’s Indian counterpart.”
In 1946 Shyamanandaji was on a pilgrimage to Rajgir and Bodh Gaya, hallowed by Gautama Buddha’s fervent search for truth and his ultimate illumination there under a spreading Bo tree. Shyamanandaji had spent the greater part of the day meditating under that tree in Bodh Gaya and in walking among the ruins of the temples and monasteries of nearby Rajgir. He retired in the late evening to his room at a government rest-house in Rajgir. Around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. he was suddenly awakened, and leapt out of his bed as he beheld a beautiful blue light in his room. He recounted the experience:
“It emanated from one corner of the room, a deep blue light; then the whole room became filled with light. The blue light in the corner started revolving. A face appeared, then the whole bust, and finally the entire form. The face was so serene, so sweet—oh, so sweet! I thought, ‘Who could it be? Buddha? Shiva?’ No, this divine personage did not have the long pierced ears of Buddha, nor his short curly hair. Neither did he have the necklace of snakes and the long matted hair of Shiva. The face was beautiful and serene like theirs, but the hair was pulled straight back. He spoke to me and gave me a mantra. It was a most wonderful experience. For the next twelve years I was always searching to find that face.
“In 1958, I decided I would try to find a quiet ashram near Calcutta where I could retire from responsibilities and meditate. I had heard of Yogoda Math, which was a short distance from Kali temple at Dakshineshwar. I went there and found that it was indeed secluded; not many visitors came, and it was beautifully situated on the banks of the Ganges. I talked with one of the monks about possible accommodations. He told me about the founder and showed me his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. I bought the book and went away.
“I was skeptical about a yogi who would write his autobiography, and especially one who had spent many years in the West. But as I casually leafed through the pages, I saw this was no ordinary text–whatever passage I chanced to read rang with spiritual vitality and truth.
“But imagine my astonishment when I turned to the page on which Mahavatar Babaji’s picture appears. ‘It is he!’ I exclaimed, ‘the one in the vision, for whom I have been searching these many years! Can it be? or am I only imagining?'”
Then he remembered that the monk at Yogoda Math had told him they were making preparations for the visit from America of the president of Paramahansa Yogananda’s society. He also remembered his sceptical reaction: “An American Spiritual leader? And a woman at that? Absurd!” Such were his thoughts. Yet he felt somehow drawn, and within a few days he found himself talking to Sri Daya Mata. “When I came away from that meeting, I knew she had supplied the ingredient that had been missing in my sadhana. I had been following the path of Jnana Yoga, inspired by the illustrious example of Swami Vivekananda; but my own sadhana remained dry and empty.
“Ma told me I must cultivate more devotion, more love and longing for God. My heart began to fill and I knew she was right. Strange, that first meeting with Ma was on the very day, twelve years after, of my vision of Babaji in Rajgir; I felt my search had ended.“
Yet doubt waged a battle in his mind. The whole of his life and search would be wasted of he were misled by delusion now. He kept at a distance, coming to the ashram to meditate quietly, and then slipping away. He even tried staying away for long periods of time. But when he came again, the same peaceful assurance crept over him. Sri Daya Mata had already singled him out of the crowds as the one outstanding soul she had thus far met in India who was deeply seeking God.
He traveled to Ranchi when Daya Mata went there on her visit to the place in India where Paramahansaji’s work had started with a flourishing boy’s school. There they had many heart-to-heart talks about the work. Daya Mata poured out to him her heartache at finding her Guru’s work in India badly neglected and deteriorated–it was a dying institution. She felt his keen response and understanding.
Swami Shyamananda Giri also accompanied Sri Daya Mata’s party to the Yogoda Satsanga ashram of Swami Yukteswar in Puri. If any doubts remained in Shyamananda’s mind, on this trip they were to be dispelled forever…