(January 31, 1914 – November 30, 2010)
Following Sri Daya Mataji’s passing, thousands of messages—emails, letters, and phone calls—poured into the Mother Centre from well-wishers and friends around the world. Some devotees reminisced about inspiration from meetings with Ma over the years, but there were also many from those who had never met her in person yet still felt a close connection to her through inner communion.
The excerpts presented here provide a glimpse of the great scope of people’s personal experiences with this beloved spiritual leader, yet all reflect a unified theme of the unconditional love and compassion that were the essence of Sri Sri Daya Mata.
“Your sincere joyous intelligent service to SRF and to God has been extremely pleasing to me. May you be born in the Cosmic Mother, and inspire all with your spiritual motherliness only — only to bring others to God by the example of your life. Blessings eternal.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda
His Excellency Vice-President of India, Sri M. Hamid Ansari:“Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing away of Sri Daya Mata, President and Sanghamata of Yogoda Satsanga Society/Self-Realization Fellowship.
“As the spiritual successor of the founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Daya Mata carried forward his aims and ideals for 55 years. She was instrumental in promoting the essential unity and harmony of the world’s religions, spreading the spirit of brotherhood among all peoples, and serving humankind as one’s larger self.
“In the strife-torn world of today, these ideals remain relevant. I am confident that Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship will continue to strive for translating these ideals into reality and inspire humankind to be good and do good.”
His Excellency Governor of Jharkhand, Sri M.O.H. Farook: “ I mourn the sad demise of Sri Daya Mata, the foremost disciple of Paramahansa Yoganandaji….Sri Daya Mata personified love and compassion and the other timeless values of Indian culture….I send my heartfelt condolences and pray to God to give the members of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India the strength to bear this irreparable loss.”
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Sri Arjun Munda: “It is a matter of heartfelt grief that Sri Sri Daya Mata is not in our midst anymore. This is an irreparable loss to the Indian spiritual community. It is said that saints do not die but merely discard their mortal forms of their own free will to merge in the Supreme. Such souls expand into the whole cosmos, crossing beyond the limited boundaries of the human body.
“Fully imbibing and manifesting ancient Indian spiritual ideals, Sri Sri Daya Mata’s life presents a superbly harmonious union of Eastern and Western thought-currents on the world stage. Her life shows that the whole universe is the creation of but One God and that the entire human race is the offspring of that One.
“I offer my sincere tribute to that soul who has ascended to the heavenly realms and pray that her other-worldly love and blessings remain with us always.”
Swami Satyasangananda, Rikhiapeeth: “Please accept my humble condolences; Sri Daya Mataji was an inspiring and dedicated disciple to her Gurudeva’s mission. I am sure that her unconditional love will continue to bless the lives of many, now she is free from the shackles of the gross body, as her divine presence will pervade all creation and continue to live in our hearts. Om-Tat-Sat.”
Swami Vimalananda, President, The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh: “Our petty mind would only register sorrow upon learning of the passing away of our beloved and revered Daya Mata. But in actuality, she has merged with the Supreme. Great ones do not die. They live eternally in our midst guiding us from within. By shedding her mortal body, Mother has only overcome the limitations of the body to become all-pervasive….
“Mother’s presence was a great source of inspiration for numerous seekers. Her love and compassion was solace for many who came with grief. Her grace brought hope for those who came with utter hopelessness. Mother has left her body and how is she going to guide and inspire the devotees? Not to worry! Now that Mother has overcome her physical limitations, her presence can be felt all over the world and all the time. She [will] continue to inspire, bring solace and hope to all those who seek sincerely.
“May Mother’s choicest blessings be ever upon all of us to guide us in our endeavour to attain the Ultimate Realization.”
Swami Venkatesananda (a monk of the Divine Life Society): “Before [Paramahansa Yogananda] left this earth plane, he had mentioned, ‘After my passing, only love can take my place.’ After his passing, embodied love has taken his place, in the person of Daya Mata….The devoted disciple faithfully carries on the Master’s mission, not just by saying what he said but by being what he was.”
Sri K. Krishnan Nair, direct disciple of Mahatma Gandhi: “The joy of that meeting [with Sri Daya Mata] is still fresh in my heart. She radiates wonderful love: that is her message.”
Remarks by the Shankarcharya of Puri, His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha, following a visit with Sri Daya Mata at SRF headquarters in 1958 “I found in Self-Realization Fellowship the highest spirituality, service, and love. Not only do their representatives preach these principles but they live according to them.”
Dr. Binay R. Sen, former Ambassador of India to the United States and Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Nowhere does [Paramahansa Yogananda’s] legacy shine with more radiance than in his saintly disciple Sri Daya Mata, whom he prepared to carry on in his footsteps after he would be gone….Those who, like myself, were privileged to have met Paramahansaji find reflected in Daya Mataji that same spirit of divine love and compassion that so impressed me on my first visit to the Self-Realization Center almost forty years ago.”
Sri Nani A. Palkhivala, former Ambassador of India to the United States: “Sri Daya Mata personifies love and compassion and the other timeless values of Indian culture….Her speeches are not dry academic dissertations on abstract theological principles, but intensely personal hymns testifying to her ecstatic vision of the Creator.”
C. V. Narasimhan, Under-Secretary-General,United Nations: “I have had the privilege of meeting several times with Sri Daya Mata….Anyone who has been in her presence cannot fail to be affected by the aura of spiritual peace and serenity that she radiates….The message of Sri Daya Mata is one of great importance and relevance in this age of doubt and skepticism….They are a proclamation, not only of the oneness of the human race, but also of the oneness of man with God.”
Swami Shyamananda Giri, a member of the Board of Directors of SRF/YSS until his passing in 1971: “When I met the Reverend Mother Daya Mata for the first time, in 1958, I was astonished. How could a Westerner be just like one of the great saints of India? Then I understood the power of the Self-Realization teachings. Her God-realization didn’t come by accident. By her efforts at applying the Guru’s teachings, she had attuned herself to God, and so His wisdom flowed into her.”
Remarks made to Sri Daya Mata by Anandamoyi Ma,one of modern India’s greatest saints, during a visit to Anandamoyi Ma’s ashram in India: “That same spirit (bhava) that I saw in your Master, I see in you.”
Smt. Muktamala Mitra and family, Kolkata, grandniece of Gurudeva:“My family and I were very sad to hear about the passing away of our beloved Sri Sri Daya Mata. We were privileged to enjoy her divine love and blessings, to receive her guidance, and read her divine writings about selfless love, which helped us to cope with the many trials and ups and downs of our material lives in these turbulent times….With her passing away, we feel that a big banyan tree, under whose comforting shadow we were living all this while, has been suddenly taken away. I still recall the divinely beautiful and loving letter that she had sent to us on the occasion of my wedding. However, we know that the soul is immortal, divine love is immortal, and so we know that she has merely changed her clothes and her divine presence and love will be always with us.”
Time Magazine: “History is sprinkled with the relics of religious sects that flamed and flickered out — brief candles of faith that were lighted by a charismatic leader and died within a short time after he died….The Self-Realization Fellowship, too, seemed likely to sputter out after the death of Founder Paramahansa Yogananda in 1952, but instead it has thrived….Since 1955, the sect has been governed by Miss Faye Wright, known in the Fellowship as Daya Mata.”
Dan Thrapp, former religion editor of the Los Angeles Times: “I interviewed [Sri Daya Mata] and was very much impressed with her for many reasons: her intelligence, her sincerity, her truthfulness — I always gauge people by their truthfulness — and her broadminded view of the religion field….The tip of a mountain for me has always produced its own glow, its own radiance. And, for me, the tip of Mt. Washington has always embodied that special glow in the person of Daya Mata.…May I convey my lasting respect, admiration, and love, and an acknowledgment that her mission is unique, even as she is uniquely able to fulfill it.”
A Catholic Sister of Charity: “For me, as a member of a religious order, Daya Mata is a shining example of what a life committed to the service of God and neighbour ought to be….In her presence there are no Catholics, Protestants, or Hindus, but only children of the one Father, God. And each one of them she receives graciously and has a place for them in her heart. I, a Catholic nun, have experienced so much her kindness and her interest and encouragement. I always felt that she treated me as one of her own. For me she will always be an ideal of what my life as a religious ought to be….She radiates God.”
Priscilla Presley: “[Sri Daya Mata] was soft-spoken and natural, a person obviously at peace with herself. Elvis took to her immediately. Thus began an ongoing dialogue between Elvis and Sri Daya Mata that profoundly influenced his life….He had great respect for this woman.”
Musician George Harrison: “What is the essence of an angel? It’s somebody who’s angelic, somebody who has that purity within themselves. Just the presence within a person like Daya Mata is what I would call the angelic quality.”
Dr. S. D. Joshi, author, technologist, and former chief executive, Walchand Industries, Ltd. “In 1967, Sanghamata Dayamataji visited India — an event which I was looking for….In my exposure to her presence I saw in her a Universal Mother — an embodiment of divine energy, motherly love and compassion….Dayamataji, with her aura, benevolence and compassion commanded my reverence to her.”
Reverend Prem Anjali, Ph.D., Executive Director, Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, Virginia: “We were just informed of the departure from the physical body of beloved and revered Sri Daya Mataji. On behalf of the Trustees of Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, the entire Integral Yoga organization and sangha, we offer our heartfelt prayers to you and all the Self-Realization Fellowship members. We are holding a special prayer service here at Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville in remembrance and honour of Sri Daya Mataji.
“We will continue to pay homage to one of the great souls who exemplified seva to God, Guru, and the spiritual upliftment of souls in the name of the Divine. Sri Daya Mata’s service to humanity was vast as she lovingly shepherded the followers of her revered Master, Paramahansa Yoganandaji, and his organization.
“Please know that our prayers and heartfelt thoughts are with you at this time, and always. May you all continue, as torchbearers of his great message, to fulfil your holy Master’s deepest wishes and vision for Self-Realization. May you continue to devote your lives to your Holy Master and continue to be inspired by Sri Daya Mataji’s lifelong example of devotion and dedication.”
Vila Mariana Meditation Group, Brazil: “We love Daya Mataji here in our little group as our link with the Divine Mother….It was very hard for us to receive the news. We had a meditation service for her. We had tears and feelings of loss, but all of us had the same experience. It was as if Daya Mataji did not let us be sad. A sense of peace and joy started invading our hearts (all present—no exceptions). And we all also felt a sense of responsibility. She lived the life of a perfect disciple. Now it is our responsibility to aim to do the same. I felt sad, but she did not let me stay sad. She is more present than ever.”
D. Z., California: “I have found, as I suspect many devotees have, that in our beloved Daya Mataji’s passing we have been profoundly blessed with deepened meditations and loving intuitions whispered in Ma’s gentle voice direct to our hearts. I have never felt such an immense love as during these past days of joyful memorial. Our beloved Ma continues to bless us even in her ascendance and we will never be the same, of this I am sure.”
Anonymous, Finland: “Her passing has brought with it a greater understanding of the tremendously demanding and significant service she provided — not just for all of us, but for the world at large for so many years.”
F. B., Brazil: “It is a great loss not just for us devotees but for the whole world because a great saint and lover of God is not walking this earth anymore. Her life, her message and her example of perfect discipleship inspired us all for decades. As for myself, I can say that I read her books and listened to her tapes so many times that her voice is permanently recorded in my mind and her words are imprinted forever in my heart. She is and will ever be a deep source of inspiration in my sadhana. I thank Divine Mother for having asked her to stay with us for so long. Though saddened for the loss, I am happy for Daya Mataji because she is now free in the infinite ocean of bliss of our Mother Divine. I am sure she will continue to guide us and pray for us from where she is now, at Master’s side.”
A. R., Italy: “I wrote her several times and I was surprised by her personal interest in each one of us, always answering with thoughts of love and wisdom, practical suggestions to follow the sadhana with patience and love, as she did.
“She was a tangible expression of Divine Mother’s love—an embodiment of Prem, the Prem of our Guru, and the Prem of the Divine!”
S. B., Georgia: “Paramahansa Yoganandaji said that after he had left his body, ‘Only love can take my place.’ We learn from The Holy Science that Love is the mightiest universal force of attraction, forever pulling creation back toward the Creator. In this world no one can ‘give love’; we can only purify ourselves so that divine love can flow and radiate through us. This is what Sri Daya Mata did beautifully and totally. Wherever she would go, divine love would radiate from her. When she spoke to the annual SRF Convocation, the vibration of her love would fill the entire California Ballroom at the Bonaventure Hotel, and it would be perceived by everyone, even if they were not YSS/SRF devotees. Moreover, her love was ornamented and perfumed by her genuine, innocent humility. I do not know of one other example in the whole history of humankind of a leader of a major organization for sixty years that has not tried, at least once, to take credit for the success of the organization. Sri Daya Mata never did; in her writings and talks she always gave credit where credit really belongs — to our Guru and to God. Future generations of YSS/SRF monastics and lay disciples alike will be inspired by the exemplary life of Sri Daya Mata to live their own lives in gracious and loving humility.”
J. C., Portugal: “There are the great masters: they are like beams of light that guide mankind in darkness and despair during the chaos of our world; and then there are the disciples with an even more important task: Their work is to maintain and to feed that beam of light, so that it never dies or fades away, so that it can keep guiding us in troubled times. Such was the mission of our revered Sri Daya Mata. She was like a light keeper of the teachings and mission of our Master.”
E. R., New York: “It’s difficult to express with words the torrent of feelings associated with the transitioning of a soul such as our most beloved Sri Daya Mataji. The intensity with which she so very closely guarded the purity and the mandates of Gurudeva are without match in the current Dwapara Age.
“Her flawless selflessness, her unwavering dedication, her astounding loyalty, her most dynamic spirituality, and her baffling simplicity are qualities deeply lacking and sorely missing in today’s world; yet she carried on with utter love and devotion for the One we should all aspire to sometime, someday, come face-to-face with—not only setting a perfect and unmatched example, but leaving a legacy not likely to be replicated any time soon.
“The scope of Daya Mataji’s life simply escapes the human mentality. Words can be said, books can be written, but her exemplary attunement to God and Gurudeva’s work will live forever as one that we all, without exception, should look to emulate and implement in our lives.
“She was a true standard-bearer, carrying the flame of the love of God and Guru with the valiancy of a true warrior, willing to give it all for the cause and her King.”
O. and D. B., Bulgaria: “Express consideration to Mataji, whose love and compassion touched our hearts and filled them with divine enthusiasm.”
L. M., Connecticut: “I did not have the privilege of meeting Daya Mataji in person, but over the years in my sadhana there were several times she came to me in dreams. One time was during a period of ardent prayer for a dear friend in the weeks before he died. Ma came and pressed her forehead to mine in blessing, intuitively showing me a powerful way to visualize doing the same for my friend during prayer. So you see, Ma’s presence in my life has been there in a very real and tangible way, despite never having met her in the flesh.”
Anonymous, Germany: “I don’t want to tell a story; I just want to say that she is in my heart. She is my idol. I want to be like her.”
Anonymous, California: “In 2003, my mother and my husband were diagnosed six months apart with metastatic cancer, both given a short time to live. They became critically ill at about the same time. I was able to make the final trip to the East Coast and was given the gift of having my mother pass peacefully in my arms. Two days after her passing, I received a call to return home, as my husband’s condition was deteriorating. A few days after I came home, he was in intensive care at the hospital and not expected to live. That night I prayed deeply to Divine Mother, that while I knew she was ever with me, to please give me a human sign to affirm it. I was struggling to maintain my centre and the grief was overwhelming at times.
“The very next day I received a call from Mother Centre. I was very surprised, as I had not called or written to Mother Centre. The beautiful voice said, ‘I would like to schedule an appointment for you to speak to a nun, as we have a message for you from Daya Mataji, but before I do that, she has asked me to tell you directly that Divine Mother is with you.’ Hearing those words I dropped to my knees, sobbing in gratitude beyond measure or words. A few moments later a nun came to the phone, read the message of Beloved Mataji and consoled my soul. This was a profound example of beloved Mataji’s perfect attunement with God and Guruji and her great compassion and love for all. I never had the privilege of meeting beloved Mataji in her physical form, but I have her love and compassion etched upon my heart and soul.”
W. C., Australia: “I feel so blessed that I was able to see Ma and hear her speak at Convocation in 1993. I will always treasure that evening as one of my life’s most precious experiences. The moment she walked into the room the entire place filled up with what I can only describe as pure love. I just wanted to hold on to that feeling forever.”
Anonymous, Canada: “Being in her presence was an experience I will never forget. We were bathed in waves of her love, which reduced us to tears of joy.”
S. W., Oregon: “For those of us who have literally ‘grown up’ with our beloved Daya Mataji and the SRF teachings, it is amazing to have her with us, and feel her love more tangibly than ever. I feel that I have been learning to ride a bicycle all these years, and she was running alongside of me—prepared to steady me if I wavered too much. Somehow I know I will be OK; she taught me through her example what I am supposed to learn—unwavering dedication and appreciation for the guru-disciple relationship and the teachings Paramahansa Yogananda has brought us—and that we are Ever Loved. Now to allow that Love to pass through to all.”
M. S., Germany: “As I heard of the passing of our beloved Sri Daya Mata it struck me with pain. My whole spiritual life on the path for more than thirty years has been accompanied by the presidency and spiritual leadership of our dear Ma. I took Ma’s book Finding the Joy Within You and read about her near-death experience in 1948. This comforted me and it filled me with gratitude that she undertook this task beyond human imagination to be the bedrock of our spiritual family and the organization of SRF for more than sixty-two years! I believe that she is now completely absorbed in that wonderful love she experienced back then.”
L. W., Oregon: “Whenever I wrote to her, she always answered me; even when I said she didn’t have to, she did anyway. How many people worldwide did she painstakingly take under her wing and write to, counsel, and pray for every day of her life! Daya Ma is a true saint. The most beautiful soul I ever met. My life has been changed greatly because of her example and her unconditional love.”
N. S., India: “I started my own company in 2001. I wrote to Daya Ma seeking her blessings, but really not expecting a reply, knowing her enormous responsibilities and the many demands on her time. To my great surprise, a reply arrived in no time, encouraging the initiative and providing detailed counsel. The tone was warm and intimate, as if she had known me for ages, whereas we had actually never met.
“This has really, really been my good luck charm so far—I have framed Ma’s letter and kept it in my office room all these years. I saw her letter as a good omen when it arrived, perhaps because it was unexpected. Ma’s impeccable character and serviceful nature are beacons of light for those like me in the corporate ‘jungle.’ Her motto of ‘Love, serve, and for the rest, leave it to God,’ has been very inspiring in my business journey. So proud of her for upholding Guru’s ideals in such a blemish-free manner, for eight uninterrupted decades!”
H. S., California: “I never met Daya Mataji in person, but I feel her leaving the body as if I have known her always. To me she represented a mountain of strength and security—just knowing she is there gave me comfort…. She is the epitome of wisdom, grace, and love—all in the form of a human being.”
E. B., California: “I cannot fully describe the effect she has had on my life: she has become for me a model of feminine divine beauty and love.”
R. K., Germany: “Dear beloved Sri Daya Ma….I am so thankful for your letters through the years. Guruji and you have changed my life. Your advice, unconditional love, and unceasing blessings have helped me always. Oh Ma, I love you always. I will still open my heart, mind, and soul for your blessings. Your holy book Enter the Quiet Heart (Die Stimme des Herzens) is my daily Bible!”
G. T., California: “In the late 1970s I was privileged to attend a satsanga that Sri Daya Mata gave for devotees after the Convocation. After her talk she greeted each devotee as they left the chapel. As I pranamed to her, I looked into her eyes. It was like looking into infinity, into God’s eyes. They were endless depths. Never have I experienced this. She smiled and welcomed me to Mother Centre, and I left the chapel in a daze. I have never forgotten this experience….
“For those of us who did not know Master, she was the living example of all he taught.”
G. H., California: “Many years ago, I was invited to accompany a group of devotees to meet Sri Daya Mata at Mother Centre. As we sat in the library, she gave us an informal satsanga. I was absolutely transfixed by Daya Mata’s eyes. I had heard the phrase ‘oceanic gaze,’ but never before had I looked into someone’s eyes and seen such tremendous depth, strength, and beauty. I feel honoured to have walked on this earth at the same time as our beloved Ma.”
M. P., Nevada: “I cannot even begin to describe how much Daya Ma has affected my life. For nearly fifteen years, listening to her talks or reading her words have been part of my daily routine, and they have really moulded my life. Without fail she has kept me on fire with enthusiasm and spiritual determination and yearning for God. But above all she has helped me develop such an intimate, sweet, loving, trusting, and intoxicating friendship with the Divine Beloved.
“Daya Ma helped me turn my meditations into real times of communion. And she helped me turn my duties into acts of love done within the presence of my God. Ma showed me what it means to be a disciple, what it means to be a friend, what it means to be a humble servant, what it means to be a leader — but most of all she showed me what it means to be a Lover. A Lover drunk with the wine of devotion to God.”
Anonymous, Maryland: “Her presence, accomplishments, example, will shine like a star for many generations. The very best of India lived in Los Angeles in the form of Sri Sri Daya Mata.”
S. L., Texas: “Her life story spoke volumes to me. Her devotion to Master was unfailing and her leadership of SRF was amazing. She gave me continuous inspiration as to how to live a spiritual life by practising deep communion with God. Words cannot describe how much of an influence she had and will continue to have on me for my entire life.”
Anonymous, Spain: “Just by seeing her you knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that Sri Daya Mata was a being of light, all love and goodness. For our family, Sri Daya Mata has been, is, and will be an inexhaustible source of inspiration as well as an example of how a true disciple of Paramahansa Yoganandaji should be.”
P. D., California: “I always felt love when I thought of Ma.” H. W., Australia: “The vast Pacific Ocean no longer separates me from the magnetic presence of Sri Daya Mataji. Our beloved president, leader, teacher, friend has gone to her Guru, into the world of light. Waves of bliss wash our hearts with her sweet joy. Though we are left on the shore, we are not forlorn nor need we grieve that she is there at Master’s side. Guru and Disciple—their love-beams reach worldwide. Mother of Compassion, thank you for your life of grace.”
N. R., Canada: “Whether on earth or in heaven, Sri Sri Daya Mata lights the path before me.”