Daya Mataji’s Last Act ~ Bro. Sevananda

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Sri Daya Mata, January 31, 1914 – November 30, 2010

This year [2014] marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of our beloved former president Sri Daya Mata [January 31, 1914].  No one taught us these truths by the example of her life more than Daya Ma herself, whom we honor especially this convocation.  We might recall some of Sri Mrinalini Ma’s intimate words about those last days of Daya Ma’s life, and how she kept her attunement, her love for God, her love for all of us still fully present, still the absolute focus of her life.

And perhaps to relate one last story along these same lines, in those days following Ma’s passing I had the responsibility with a number of others to help coordinate with Forest Lawn as to the details of the public viewing that many of you probably came to.  And as it related also, first to the memorial service at Pasedena for the public, and then a separate service held at the Mother Center for the monastics.

And as is customary, often a member of the family, so to speak, will ride up front in the hearse, on the passenger side. And circumstances were such that, at the last minute it ended up being me.  We planned as much as we could, but we didn’t think of everything.  So at the end of the final service held for the monastics, as the car slowly made its way down the main drive of the Mother Center, monks and nuns were on either side of the car throwing rose petals as the car slowly went its way in the darkness toward the main gate and then out.  And it was truly like a scene out of time.

And so as we slowly made our way to Forest Lawn, it was about fifteen minutes or so from the Mother Center, the gentleman who was driving and who had helped us through all these several days, was commenting how marvelous Self-Realization Fellowship was, how wonderful our founder must have been to have attracted so many wonderful souls like Daya Ma, and then all the members that he had met through those few days.  And as we got a little closer to Forest Lawn I told him how special Forest Lawn had been to us through the years, and of course with our Master’s crypt being there which he said he also was familiar with.

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Paramahansa Yogananda’s crypt at Forest Lawn

And then as we drove across the threshold of the entrance there, at the entrance gate, he slowed the car down and he turned to me and he said, ‘Would you like it if we drove past Yogananda’s crypt before we park?’ And I said, ‘Oh that idea hadn’t occurred to me, that would be wonderful!’ So he continued up the hill there slowly, and then he went around to the left side of the great mausoleum which houses our Master’s form. And then as we passed adjacent to the entrance on the right side of the building where you would go in to visit Master’s crypt I was filled with such feeling, and I grabbed his arm, and I said, ‘You have no idea how much this would mean to Daya Ma to honor her teacher like this.’ And then he replied, ‘Well, she probably dropped the thought in my mind and I picked it up.’ (lots of laughter from the audience)  And I thought, thank goodness somebody picked it up (more laughter), because I hadn’t.  Maybe she was trying to pound it into me for about fifteen minutes and finally said ‘Ayayaya!’ and then bang, you know, the guy said, hmmm, what if we drive by the crypt, what do you think of that? (more laughter)

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Daya Mataji leads the monastics in procession honoring Paramahansa Yogananda

And then he slowly drove around the other side, and then I and the monks that were in the other car following, we were immediately struck with the thought that as Ma’s LAST ACT she was circumambulating the Guru in that clockwise fashion according to the route that the driver had taken.  And this is that act common in virtually all religions of going around a sacred object, and in this case one’s Guru.  And it was if Ma was still showing us even in so-called death the way to live, how to respect and reverence the path, the Guru, life itself.

And then slowly the driver started to return back down the hill to the private area behind the main entrance where he was to park.  And then we all got out, and again as if what had just happened wasn’t enough, we all happened to go around the back of the hearse, and we saw that the rear bumper was just layered, still full of the rose petals that had been thrown back at Mother Center.  Somehow in all that driving they hadn’t blown off.  It looked like a divine carriage, like where you see ‘just married’ except, in this case, to the Divine.

Bro. Sevananda, excerpt from ‘Sustaining a Joyful Heart in Times of Adversity’ CD in SRF magazine, Spring 2015

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