excerpt from “My Spirit Shall Live On” by Daya Mata, CD/mp3 download
This recording was made on March 7, 1965, during a special service commemorating the anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda’s mahasamadhi. (The occasion was also the tenth anniversary of Sri Daya Mata’s having been appointed as president of his society.) The service took place at the Self-Realization Fellowship Hermitage in Encinitas, California.
I have often had the deep yearning desire, as I vowed many years ago that on the day of his mahasamadhi in years to come when my duties are less, that that day for me will be a day of complete seclusion. A day when I will see no one, but spend that time in silent communion with Master. I think that is the fitting and proper way to observe this day, as well as meeting here as we do to remember him in mahasamadhi.
That evening the vibration, the strength and the inspiration of his life and of his devotion for God reached into the hearts of everyone who was present. And I remember as I recorded his words that night, thinking this thought, that I had never felt such inspiration, such love flowing from Master’s heart, from Master’s being. I could feel that he was pouring out to God and to all of mankind the love that was the very essence of his being. And it felt, I was so inspired as I was taking down his words, that it was as if my consciousness were transported to a higher and loftier plane.
And as I recorded, too, I remember thinking, any moment now my Master will leave us. I knew without doubt, there was never any doubt in my mind, I knew that night he would leave his body. It wasn’t said in words except the night before when he said it was only a matter of hours. He didn’t say where, he didn’t say when. But my own soul knew that he would withdraw that night. And so I was prepared at any moment to rise from my seat. We were seated way back in the auditorium. In fact, we were put in a little anteroom. Master wanted us to sit directly in front of him that night, but other devotees had been given those seats, so we sat in an anteroom. And I remember thinking, I must be ready.
And then, as the momentum of Master’s devotion and of, to me, complete surrender to God came to its very greatest height, and then he began to recite just a few words from his poem, and he ended with those words, “Where Ganges woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God, I am hallowed. My body touched that sod.” And in that instant, I remember looking up from my notebook, and seeing Master put his head up like this, and then slump to the floor.
I don’t know how, I don’t remember my feet touching the ground, I only know that there seemed to be no space between him and me. And in an instant it seemed I was already by his side… I knew that whoever was present in that room that night and felt even the least bit receptive to Master, from that moment on, his life would be changed.
And indeed it is true that that night he added a double portion to my own blessings. As I knelt over the divine form of our Guru, and watched him slowly withdraw from that form, I was chanting in his ear, hoping that he might have just gone into samadhi. And Mataji was with me, we were on either side of him, chanting OM, OM, OM. As I was chanting it, my mind was becoming just completely absorbed in the Om. I wasn’t so conscious of outward things, I wasn’t aware of anyone around me only God, Master and me and my own chanting of the OM.
And as I began to chant it deeper and deeper and deeper, so that my mind was withdrawn from all external things, then a most amazing thing happened. It was as if a tremendous force—I’ve told some of you this before—but it was as if a tremendous force entered my body that night. And as it happened I thought, what is happening to me, what is this? what is this? A sense of deep expansion of my consciousness, a sense of such strength, such power, such aliveness, as if my whole consciousness became completely submerged in that instant with that alone which is real. I saw that night what Reality was, that God alone existed and naught else.
And then opening my eyes a few seconds later and looking at Master’s form, it was as if he was saying, ‘This time my child, I shall not return.’ On other occasions when the devotees had chanted OM in his ear, he gradually came out of his samadhi. But this evening, it was as if he was saying, this time it is for real. I shall not return to this body again.
As I arose from Master’s side the ambassador began to speak. And strangely, how alert one becomes in that consciousness. Ordinarily, if my heart had been overcome with sadness, I could not have fulfilled Master’s wish. But you know, I only remembered one thing, that my last act should be an act of obedience to Master. Before we went down to the hotel that night, Master had said to me, I want you to remember this, record my talk, and record also Ambassador Sen’s talk…So in the midst of all of this divine experience I sat and recorded Ambassador Sen’s talk.
As I did it, I could feel the blessing of Master on me. You see, sometimes in these higher states of consciousness, it’s as if a whole–how shall I say it—perception after perception floods the consciousness. So perhaps in one instant you perceive what might take you years and years and years to perceive in an ordinary state of consciousness, with just truth after truth running through my consciousness that night. And through it all one thought, ‘Now you must be strong, now your work begins.’ And I thought, why are these thoughts going through my consciousness?
And I know beyond any doubt, that on this anniversary of my own assuming the leadership–and I want to only dwell on that briefly–any good that I have ever done to his work, any good that I might ever do to his work, only he is responsible for it. To him all the credit and all the praise and all the blessing and all the thank you and all the appreciation go. On this day always I remember one thing only, and I take my consciousness back to it, I am only his disciple. He is the Guru, he is the leader, he is the teacher and to him all the credit. The only good thing that ever happened in my life, I should say, which makes me humbly thankful, was that that great guru crossed my path. For that I am eternally thankful. But all credit for any good that I might ever do, or have done, for his society or for anyone, I lay that credit and that blessing at his sacred feet. To him it belongs. And I have no doubt that whoever succeeds in the future to the leadership of this society will also assume that mantle which I felt Master give me that night. Of myself I could do nothing. All the credit goes to that divine guru.
“Whoever thinks me near,” said he, “to him I will always be near.” And “Only love can take my place.” Each one of us has a special duty as disciples of this blessed Master. And that is to strive to so live our own lives, and become so transparent that his light alone, his love alone, might shine through this bulb of flesh. That can be done by striving always to walk in his footsteps, by striving inwardly to live by those principles which he taught us. By remembering always, Lord, Lord, not my will be done, but only Thy will be done. Thou art the doer, never I, never I. To strive always to lay a foundation of humility upon which the Divine Guru can build the ladder of Self-realization, that we might walk that ladder and attain the highest goal which is God Alone. That is our duty. That is our sacred privilege in this life.
LISTEN TO DAYA MATA reading Paramahanaji’s poem, “When I am only a Dream” on this page:
“My Spirit Shall Live On” by Daya Mata, CD/mp3 download
“My body shall pass but my work shall go on. And my spirit shall live on. Even when I am taken away, I shall work with you all for the deliverance of the world with the message of God.”
In this vivid first hand account, Sri Daya Mata — one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s foremost disciples and the third president of Self-Realization Fellowship — memorably recalls the great Master’s final days and hours, including his prediction of his earthly departure, the dramatic moment of its fulfillment, and the passing of his spiritual mantle.