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Date Posted: 17:07
Author: Hendrik - 12 Jun 2001
Subject: SRF machinations
I think some of the arguments on Yogananda's passing which Mike D. presented in another thread further below are really good and valid.
I have to open a new thread though because I prophesy that I can't help leaving this topic in the course of my reasoning or aimless talk.
I remember that once a friend of mine who is interested in yoga and who for many years had worked in the medical field read one of the accounts of Yogananda's passing which prompted her to simply remark that Yogananda's death appears to have been a common case of heart attack.
I think the fact that Yogananda looked upward just before he fell to the floor is not necessarily a sign for a mystic rapture; people who suddenly die of a heart failure are also prone to look upward.
I haven't read any SRF literature for years, but I remember that there are not only these reports about Yogananda announcing his death beforehand (about which we are talking now), but that some close disciples were quite shocked at his sudden and unexpected death, and that no one really knew how to move on as Yogananda had left no instructions except an alleged one-liner, "only love can take my place".
For instance, it is still not clear to me whether he destined a successor. Names like Rajarsi, Durga Mata, Premananda, and Daya Mata come to my mind. If the book by Durga Mata is reliable, then Daya herself asked Durga to become successor to Rajarsi, and only after Durga for some reason declined the offer, Daya became president herself. Satyeswarananda in one his books claims that she styled herself a "Mata" inappropriately. -- I do not have the impression that Yogananda chose her to become his successor, I find it more probable that a kind of coup may have taken place back then, and the more church-oriented people got to power while the really advanced disciples kept quiet and either remained in the background or got ousted and persecuted. I don't find this idea absurd. Demonstrably SRF has thoroughly re-written its history, altered signatures, retouched photographs, suppressed evidence, silenced people who were essential to its history, and files lawsuits under the pretext of copyright infringement against the man who had been vice-president at that time, if I correctly remember. These are facts which throw a strange light on the present leadership of Daya, Anandamoy & Co.
Brother Anandamoy came to Yogananda only shortly before the latter one's passing, I think around 1948, and after one year of Kriya practice still complained to his Guru of no results as he relates on a tape. I am not sure about his credentials. Was he a close disciple at all way back then? Or got he installed as second- or third-in-command because he got along well with Daya? When did this Anandamoy emerge at all? Who is this guy? I know nothing about his history in the years after Yogananda's death, no information is made public, there are hardly any photographs of that period showing Anandamoy either. Why did these young people (not only Daya, also her sister, under the name Ananda Mata) take over after Yogananda's death and not some older disciples, there were a lot of them.
During his last years Yogananda reportedly withdrew from organizational matters and dedicated his time mostly to writing, so the seeds of the later development and the present situation now, fifty years after, may have been sown already in the late 1940s.
Rajarsi was a transitional president, almost an anti-leader, just what would have been healthy to the organization, and I am unable to find fault with him or suspect him of anything whatsoever. He died in 1955. Dr. Lewis also remained in the background and died in 1960. It was about this time that the persecution of Durga Mata began.
It looks as if with the death of 'Doctor', as he was lovingly called, the last obstacle to the instalment of the present leadership was fallen. In the course of the 1950's, prominent disciples left SRF by themselves or were ousted - J.Oliver Black, Kriyananda, Premananda, and several others whose names I have forgotten. In India there seems to have occured also some trouble and a prominent acharya like Hariharananda left YSS. Durga Mata, maybe the most outspoken dissenter - Yogananda called her his greatest woman disciple next to Gyanamata (not Daya btw) - was suppressed and sent into retirement, although she lived as long as 1993.
Prof. Nerode claims owning "more than a thousand" documents about early SRF history. Though his attacks are directed against Yogananda himself in the first place, maybe some other things will see the light of day also. A year ago the respective part of his web site went offline and remains so since; a rumours went that SRF legally threatened him, I do not know whether it is true. But why then did he delete this web page while the other parts of his autobiography are still there?
Nerode has ruled all his documents to be transferred to Cornell University after his death; he is in his seventies now. He suggests that unbiased historians analyze this material.
I have to admit that the couple of documents he produced already two years ago were quite surprising to me, though they generally did not prove his accusations against Yogananda. They were really interesting though.
To return to the issue proper: Up to shortly before his death Yogananda planned to undertake another trip to India which was always postponed.
Obviously he couldn't foresee the time of his own passing, but the question whether he knew of it at least some days before it happened remains unanswered yet.
Another point which I want to bring in here is Daya Mata's later statement that during this last talk "the entire audience was lifted to a higher plane of consciousness", if I correctly remember.
I tell you a story. I happened to be guest on an initiation ceremony with Shibendu Lahiri in London last year. It was a really nice event, the weather was fine and Shibendu was talking almost the whole day. His talk was splendid and it was a rewarding day.
But later a long-time disciple of his who had also attended the event, admiringly uttered something like, "The whole audience was BLASTED by his message," but in a tone expressing that the blast must have been of a much more radical nature than the intellectual sastisfaction received by a profound philosophical talk.
I wasn't "blasted" at all and therefore was quite astonished to hear this, as I had been present during the whole ceremony, too. I also remember two girls giggling frequently during the event, I doubt that they were "blasted". But there were only hardly a dozen people present.
For this reason Daya Mata's statement taken by itself does not convince me. It may even well be possible that no one except Daya Mata and some of the other Yogananda disciples present on that day was moved at all or could do anything with Yogananda's talk.
I have met a lot of easy believers, especially so-called Christians who weep and cry just when someone intones a religious song which leaves me utterly cold. I also was once present on a small SRF meeting (about a dozen people there) with group singing, and all the women present, six or eight, were crying and overjoyous after singing some children's songs whereas I felt nothing special except being in a sort of depressive mood because I felt like being in the wrong movie - sort of reality crack where you suddenly have lost all understanding what is going on with people around you.
I just think that this sort of emotional statements are very subjective and perhaps the person sitting on the chair next to Daya Mata was bored and fell asleep.
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