SW. SHYAMANANDA’s Householder Life with Remarkable Wife, Shantana

DM and SS kriya ceremony 1964
Sw. Shyamananda with Daya Mata, kriya yoga service, India 1964

Swami Shyamananda Giri was a member of the Board of Directors of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga of India and  General Secretary/Treasurer of YSS.  It was Swamiji who built YSS back up after it had deteriorated during the years Paramahansa Yogananda was in America.

Continued from ~ SW. SHYAMANANDA ~ Remarkable Early Life of the Great Saint and Head of YSS


In time [BINAYENDRA/SW. SHYAMANANDA] married the young daughter of [his adoptive] family, Shantana, whose nature was a remarkable blend of discriminative strength and softness.   She was his mental and spiritual equal; and the reverence and devotion with which he regarded her was perhaps one of his most admirable qualities—a rare quality, at least, in the husband-wife relationship.  He was often to say of his wife: “She was unique.  I was no match for her!” Their marriage was blessed with two daughters, Dipti Moyee Debi and Priti Moyee Debi, whom he affectionately called Mira and Minu.

Binayendra had everything most men only long for in life.  Yet he was to say of those days, “I was always a misfit; I never really belonged anywhere. Something else was always pulling me.”  So feels each soul that has been touched by God for a higher duty in life.  But he never allowed regret or moroseness even a momentary place in his life.  These and any form of negation were rejected in his philosophy.  “I believe in being always cheerful and positive, and whatever one must do, he should do well!”  Such was his lifetime avowal.

Shantana must often have felt that in her husband she had a “bull by the horns.”  He was a non-conformist in social amenities; an extremely orthodox Brahmin who would not (indeed, could not) take even a drop of water or crumb of food except under prescribed scriptural conditions; and whatever he did, he applied such will and enthusiasm that, more often than not, he went to extremes. 

Shyamanada lai - Copy
Swami Shyamananda with Daya Mata and monks of SRF, Mother Center

Once he almost died proving to himself that he could fast as Mahatma Gandhi was wont to do.  Gandhi used to drink adequate water during his fasts, and remained relatively inactive.  Binayendra not only forsook food, but all liquids as well, and in addition, kept up his normal, active pace of studies and of outdoor sports in the blistering Indian sun–all this without letting anyone in the family know what he was doing.  After nine days, the servant who had been cooperating with him in the endeavor noticed that he had started to swoon.  In alarm, the servant summoned Shantana.  She prevailed upon her husband to take food.  Whereupon he broke his extreme fast with an extreme meal of several quarts of milk and a huge stack of chapatis (fried Indian bread).  He later said it was the only time in his life he ever had felt a little indigestion!

But we are told that Shantana was never dismayed; she was equal to his every challenge.  She silently smiled at his refusal to be a part of the “social set”; she snipped off his orthodox Brahmin tuft of hair one night as he slept (he never let on to her that he knew it was missing, but neither did he grow it back); and when she felt the strong-willed husband had gone too far in anything, she “put her foot down” and he capitulated.  Some of their happiest moments together were spent in discussing philosophy, a subject in which, in those days in India, women were not considered to be very knowledgeable.  “In addition to her deep understanding, my wife also had a photographic memory.  She could just glance at any page in a book or scripture and then recite it word for word.  Even in that she could outshine me,” Shyamananda said in reverent remembrance of her.

Sw. Shyamananda and Mrinalini Mata with Daya Mataji in samadhi, India

When Shantana was only twenty she died after a long illness.  “I could not feel any sorrow,” Shyamanandaji said, “because my heart was too full.”  His wife had told him, “I know this is not to be your way of life.  I will not be an obstruction nor hold you long.  We had to play this drama; but now it has to end, and I must release you.”

That was in 1936.  Shyamanandaji’s search for God and truth then became the whole of his life.  An understanding sister-in-law took up the care of his daughters, thus freeing him from that concern.  He left his family and spent the greater part of the next twenty-three years in India’s ashrams and on pilgrimages to her holy places.

extracts from Picking Up the Guru’s Banner: The Indomitable Life of Swami Shyamananda Giri, SRF link


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A Great Spiritual Experience with DAYA MATAJI ~ Swami Shyamananda

SWAMI SHYAMANANDA GIRI, Rajarsi’s Indian counterpart ~ Daya Mataji