Yogananda’s Tribute to Sister Gyanamata ~ SRF Magazine, 1952


SISTER GYANAMATA “The dewdrop has slipped into the shining sea.”


Sister Gyanamata, “Mother of Wisdom,” [who left her body on November 17, 1951]… a disciple for 27 years, became a sister of the Order of Self-Realization in 1932.  The words of Paramhansa Yogananda…convey the true greatness of this devotee of God, and express the sadness of parting felt by all whose lives touched hers and therein found new inspiration.

PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA: “It was in 1927 that I met Sister Gyanamata as Mrs. Bissett in Seattle.  She invited me to a dinner, and while I was there 1 noticed a little round salt shaker that was weighted on the bottom with lead so that it couldn’t be made to lie down.   I tried to do it twenty times, and then I heard the voice of God, “For the benefit of Sister, lay it down. Speak and it shall be so.”   I slapped the salt shaker down, and by the grace of God it lay there.   I remember well that occasion, for I knew then that God would draw her to this path.   I left Seattle, but wherever I was lecturing, all over the country, Sister’s letter was always there for me.


“In 1932 her husband, who was a university professor, brought her to Mt. Washington, calling her “Sister.”  I was very much astonished, and asked, “Why did you bring her?”  He said, “Would you keep her now? Sister wants to come very much.”  I said, “What about you?” and he replied, “I am going to go in three months.”  “Have you any disease, any trouble?”  “Not at all,” he said, “but you will see me go.”  He was a great man of God.  Few people knew that.  So he went away and kept his promise.  There was no sign of disease, but in three months he was dead.

“Some time after, when I went one day to see Sister in Mt. Washington I could hear her heart pumping just like a bellows, even from the door.  I was very frightened, and I called on God.

“But she was calm.  Though she was lying down, gasping for breath, she said, “Don’t pray for me.  Don’t trouble yourself.  Just bless me.”  Tears rolled down my cheeks.  “Sister,” I said. “Heaven is with you, and I beg your life from God.” She immediately became well, and was breathing normally.  And I knew that having begged her life from God, she could not go from this earth without my prayer.  All of you students who know me, know that I am speaking the truth.

“I found myself in a peculiar position.  I took delight in the fact that Sister could not die without my release, and yet I was extremely grieved that I had asked the Father to spare a life which I later found was to be constantly tested by physical suffering.  I would not have asked the Father to spare her life had I known then she was to be tested so strongly, for I always have suffered with the suffering of those who are close to me, and I always have felt that that suffering was a sort of compulsion toward being good.

“I remember Sister worked so hard. She went up and down the three stories at Mt. Washington till her body dropped out of sheer inability to carry on its work.  Once some people said to her, “Why do you enslave your will in service to God?”  But she replied, “…I think I have made a very good choice.  My will is guided by wisdom, not by whims.”


“Everybody followed her example.   Whoever came near her was changed.  When Madame Ganna Walska met her she said, “She is a great saint.” Of all the women disciples, she has been one of the greatest.  Never did I see in that face, in those eyes, anger, or anguish, or pain, only the sweetness of God. And I said to her once, “Sister, your seat is reserved in Heaven when you go,” and it is so.

“Many times her life seemed to be going, but it didn’t go… So the Divine Spirit kept the promise with me.  I am not taking any credit; I am telling you exactly as it happened.  How great the Spirit is, that His promise is ever true to the devotee!…I tell you these things that you may desire to get to Him faster.  As much as you can work with the thought of Him, work only for Him, don’t work for yourself…

“She had been suffering because of the sins of many others who became saintly through her life.  There was not a sin of her own I could find.  I want you to know that.  But such is the mystery of God.  Though she suffered all these years, what is that compared to eternity with God?

“She has finished her work.   As a great saint said, “Insult not my dust with your pity, ye who are left on this desolate shore still to mourn and deplore.  It is I who pity you!” She is actually pitying a great many here, though of course she can’t pity those who are on their way to freedom!

“One of the Encinitas disciples called up and told us, “Sister is suffering awfully.” I was in another room, but I began to feel it right away.  My heart throbbed and I became very restless.  I knew it was Sister.  So I took the call, and when they told me how Sister had bed sores, what they described just went through me.  I began to cry; I began to pray.  And I wrote this little note:

Mother Divine
Break the troth of mine
With Thee ’bout good Sister.
Release if you will, Mother dear!
Her test is greater
Than she can bear.
From this nightmare of suffering
Take her to the wakefulness
Of ever-new Bliss.

‘That was when I gave up the covenant that I had with God.  Then I couldn’t sleep.  I sat up and I prayed, “Mother, will you listen to me?”  And a great light appeared, and I saw Sister in the arms of the Divine.Mother.  I cried out, “Sister, do not go. Wait!”  And even that desire was fulfilled.

10710561_971384972888578_3499327998362644231_sm_fotor“When I reached Encinitas the following evening she was fully conscious.  She asked me for nirbikalpa samadhi, but I said, “You don’t need that. I saw you in God. When you reach the palace, why do you want to go in the garden any more? Divine Mother has taken care of you.” And she was contented.

“The next day, although I wanted to with my whole soul, God wouldn’t let me see her, because He knew I would again pray that she say here.  She was all right, and one of the disciples was carrying word back and forth.  But the following day I wanted to get out, because death doesn’t often happen when I am there, and I knew there would be a big battle between my Father and me.  I went to Sister’s room; the others didn’t know that it was my last visit.  I commended her to God and I asked her, “If you have any desire, I will fulfill it right now.  You tell me.” Three times she said, “No.”  “Is it true?”  “Yes, Sir,” she replied, very firmly.

“She was just falling asleep, and I went away.  Several were with me later in the car, and I even asked to have the radio on, but my soul was only one place, with Sister.  They were delaying me, eating ice cream in our cafe.  “Hurry,” I said.  “Don’t delay me.”  But when I came, they told me, “She is gone.”  And then I felt a tremendous vibration in this place, and I knew that she was not gone; that everyone who comes here will feel her sweetness ineffable.  That sweetness in her eyes I never saw dimmed. …

“…I had never seen, never heard her criticize anybody; never heard a cross word from her lips.  All the disciples whose good fortune it was to know her found a new inspiration, and they all said, “She is indeed a saint.”

And indeed a great saint has gone away from this hermitage.  Yet at the same time, she has left spiritual footprints in that room forever, for all souls that are in despair, that they might trace her footsteps again and go from the desolate shore of this earth to my Father’s home.  Those spiritual footprints will always be there.

“So I cannot say I rejoice, because of the terrible loss, but yet I am contented, that she is free from going through that terrible karma of others.


“I saw Sister very little, but spiritually I was always with her.  Whenever any special thought was in my mind I would immediately receive a little letter from her, so much was she in tune.  All those letters are coming out in Self-Realization Magazine.  How many people have told me, ‘There is life and spirit in those letters!’

“We shall miss her, but in her room you will feel that presence which she has left.  God consoled me that way, and I felt better afterward.  Otherwise I could not have been here.

“She went through Gyatra Yoga, or union with God through wisdom. That was her way.  Her eyes were distant, but still they were gleaming in God.

‘Sister’s life has been like that of St. Francis, who suffered even while he was helping others.  So she gave great inspiration.  In all those years she suffered she showed that her love for God was greater, and I never saw one mark of suffering in her eyes. That is why she is a great saint—a great spirit, and that is why she is with God.

“You who go through just a little suffering, much less than she has gone through these twenty years, should be glad to use the health of your bodies to seek God.  Once you are near Him, you will never lose Him again.  This is the miracle of God.

“How great is His love, just think!  He doesn’t talk, lest you start an argument with Him.  That’s why that great Being remains silent; but He can be made to talk if your love is deep enough.  Do your Kriya Yoga deeply and talk to Him as I am talking to you.  Love Him more. He is invisible, but you have to make Him talk.  And if your meditation becomes “chronic” enough, and your love becomes “chronic” enough, He will be with you always. …

“Sister has not to wait years after her death to be canonized. She is already a saint, and a great saint. masterandsisterstanding

“When I saw her for the last time in her casket, I felt Sister’s soul commingled with the omnipresent ether in the big hall at Encinitas, and I heard the voice of the Father speaking to me from within: ‘Twenty years of suffering never took away her love from Me, and that is what I prize in her life.’   I could not say anything more: I realized the Heavenly Father has a right to test our love for Him with pain, for even twenty years or more, in order that we may claim in exchange our lost eternal, ever-new happiness as His image.

“Then again I choked with the thrill of God’s presence, and I said to myself, ‘To regain the eternity of ever-new joy through twenty years of being unruffled by pain is the greater achievement, through the grace of the Father.’ I also realized in her life a new phase, as she had worked out her own karma completely in her last life and in this life, and she was drawn by the grace of the Heavenly Father to eternal freedom in this life without the highest ecstasy.  This does not mean that Sister Gyanamata did not have the highest ecstasy (nirbikalpa samadhi).  She had it, but in this life God’s grace alone lifted her pain unruffled, successful soul to omnipresent liberation.

‘When the prophet Krishna told Drapudi to practice yoga for salvation, Drapudi replied, “Krishna, you have asked me something impossible, for I can’t take my mind away from you to practice yoga.”  Thus, while Sister did practice yoga in this life, her yoga-accomplished soul went beyond yoga, and became so engrossed with God that I had to remind her she was already with Him, that I saw her in God, when she questioned about nirbikalpa samadhi.  All devotees should remember that only constant practice of yoga brings the grace of God in the highest way, for Krishna told Arjuna, “0 Arjuna, greater than the path of wisdom, or action, or any other, is the path of yoga.  Therefore, be thou a yogi, Arjuna!”  Sister, being already an accomplished yogi, was liberated by the grace of God alone.

“Now I wipe my tears, and though I shall always miss her on earth for what she meant to others and to me, still I shall be contented to feel her presence with the Heavenly Father and Mother omnipresent in Cosmic Wisdom, Gyana.  Gyanamata, mother of wisdom, has commingled her being with the Cosmic Mother of Wisdom.

“In every flower, every leaf, every gust of wind in the room where she lived; in every particle of earth, and the twinkling stars and milky ways, wherever Cosmic Wisdom is, I shall feel the spirit of Sister.”

God Alone: The Life and Letters of a Saint, SRF Bookstore


See also~ SISTER GYANAMATA ~ “Nothing left undone that I could have done…”

See original article below~