Upon my arrival back, in 1958, Atmanandaji informed me that in mid-October Daya Mata, the president of Self-Realization Fellowship, would be coming with a group of monastics from the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters in Los Angeles, California. This would be SRF’s first official visit to YSS.
We monks worked very hard from then on to get everything ready for their arrival. Soon, everything was “spic and span.”
Daya Mata and her sister Mataji (who later took the name Ananda Mata, and was also a board member), Swami Kriyananda, and Sister Revati, arrived at Calcutta’s Dum Dum airport at noon on the appointed day, in a driving monsoon rain. A large contingent-some fifty of us-were on hand to greet them with garlands to symbolize our love. Their luggage was collected, and we drove to the Baranagore ashram.
At this time I was living in the Dakshineswar math, or monastery. Atmanandaji, however, asked me to come every day to Baranagore and look after our visitors. Dayama was most kind to me. She exclaimed, “You come all the way from Dakshineswar every day on foot?” Quietly she gave me money to buy a bicycle so as to make the journey easier.
Many evenings she would come to the math in Dakshineswar also, for meditation. Some evenings, while gliding along the Ganges in a large rented rowboat, she told me stories about Master and of how he had affected the lives of all those around him.
In the early years, she said on one of those evenings, Master was faced with great financial difficulties. No money was available to pay the bills or the mortgage, or even to give the devotees enough to live on. He was deeply concerned. Was Divine Mother pleased with the work he was doing for Her? “Mother,” he prayed, “I never wanted all this! I’ve done it only to please You. If You are not satisfied, I will gladly return to India.” For many months he received no answer to this prayer.
Finally She appeared to him! In a glorious vision She said, “I am your stocks and bonds. What more dost thou need than that thou hast Me? Dance of life and dance of death: Know that these come from Me, and as such, rejoice!” Very soon after that, Master’s financial problems were ended by a wealthy and very dear disciple.
Dayama also shared with me how he had wanted to return to India for the last years of his life, to look after the work in India. In the end, however, he never got the “go ahead” from Divine Mother, who withheld Her blessings from this cherished project.
Daya Mata was very happy to know that, through my supervision, all the work had been completed on the guest house and the retaining wall at Dakshineswar. She also thanked Tulsi Bose for his part in purchasing the land. Master had written to Prakash Das, by then a director of YSS, to name the Calcutta ashram, “Tulsi-Yogoda Ashram.” In fact, he wanted Yogoda Math and the other ashrams also to have this name. Because the name of the Society was Yogoda Sat-Sanga Society, however, and because Yogoda Math was the main headquarters of YSS at that time, the name elsewhere, with Master’s approval, remained unchanged.
Yogoda was a name created by Paramhansa Yogananda. It was intended as a contraction of two words: yoga, and da, “da” in this case meaning “that which gives.” A society, in other words, that teaches, or “gives,” yoga. Binay Dubey, a late visitor to the work (it was only considerably later that he became a member),1 objected to this name.
“Yoga,” he said, “is spelled with an a. It is not ‘yogo.’” Then he was reminded that he himself, when speaking Bengali, pronounced yoga with the Bengali accent, “jogaw.”Finally Dubey agreed that “yogoda” might be considered a legitimate coinage. It would have been highly inconvenient, certainly, to change the name after all these years!
I mention this incident to say that from this time onward a new spirit began entering YSS. Binayendra Nath Dubey was not at this time even a member. Yet he never hesitated to tell Daya Ma things that, he insisted, the people in America, and all of us in India, and even a great Indian master (Yogananda) ought (according to him) to have known. His presumption of our ignorance was extraordinary.
Quelled on his objection to the name, “Yogoda,” he then proceeded to point out that the organization, which at that time bore the name, “Yogoda Sat-Sanga Society” with “Sat-Sanga” hyphenated, ought not to be abbreviated “YSS,” but rather to have a third “s”: in other words, “YSSS.” This seemed a trivial point to us, a mere technicality hardly worth even considering. Dubey, however, made an issue of it, and despite everyone’s lack of interest kept on insisting. The obvious was pointed out to him: that “YSSS” was awkward to pronounce. No matter. We learned in time that Dubey’s nature was to persist, even in minor matters, until he’d got his way. At last, a compromise was agreed upon: Sat-Sanga was combined into one word. Thus, the official name became Yogoda Satsanga Society, and the abbreviation, as before, YSS.
One could not but wonder at this fuss over such a small issue. In time, however, it became clear that by this little opening he had gained entry into the “inner sanctum” of organizational power, and areas that normally would be open only to inside, long-term members.
Dubey’s intrusion was not so much noticed by Dayama, who was herself new to the Indian scene, as it was by us Indians, who had been serving Master’s work in this country for many years. His presumption-for so we could only consider it-though relatively minor at first, continued unabated. Though he was still not a member, and not even a devotee of this path, he made increasingly bold recommendations even to the point of declaring forcefully (as one who, being himself Indian, was “in the know” on such things) who ought to give Kriya initiation; how Kriya should be given; what a teacher’s role needed to be in the organization, and other quite fundamental matters. He urged that all power be centralized in the person of the SRF/YSS president, even to her having the sole right to give Kriya initiation. (Others, he said, should be permitted to give Kriya only as her representatives). He urged the supreme spiritual importance of the president, even as the “living guru” of all who took Kriya initiation. Other matters also he stressed on subjects quite central to the organization, and not at all in keeping with the pattern Master himself had established. Dubey insisted that his ideas must have been Master’s wish also, as this was how these things were done in India. He even insisted that Master, when he wore Western clothes in the streets of Los Angeles, must at least have kept an orange handkerchief in his pocket-“Otherwise,” he declared, waving a finger affirmatively, “he was no swami!”
Dubey managed ultimately so far to influence the direction of YSS’s, and ultimately SRF’s, growth that some of the customs most clearly established by Master were drastically changed. How, we all wondered, could one man have gained so much influence in a spiritual organization to which he was a veritable newcomer? It was not as though he had committed himself to the organization, or even to the yogic life. He was, in fact, what one might call a spiritual drifter.
Well, more of this important issue later.
To resume my story: One day we drove into Calcutta to visit Master’s family home at 4 Garpar Road. It was from here that Master had left for America to begin his world-wide mission. And it was here also, in his small “attic room,” where, as he put it, “I found God.” His younger brother Sananda Lal lived there now, with his wife Parul, and their son and daughter Hare Krishna and Shefali. We meditated in the attic room, and heard from them many stories of our guru’s life.
From there we continued on to Tulsi Bose’s home, where Master stayed after his return to India in 1935. Here, in the family meditation room, Master had meditated countless times. Sri Yukteswar, Master’s gurudeva, had also blessed this spot; also Anandamoyee Ma and other great souls. At Tulsi-da’s home we met others of Master’s disciples. The SRF representatives were filled with love for this “grand family.”
Tulsi was reserved by nature, speaking little. His ways were simple: a strictly vegetarian diet, and no cigarettes or alcohol. Out of deep respect for Master, born of an understanding of who Master was, Tulsi-da always did whatever Master asked him to do. The two of them were deeply devoted to one another throughout their lives.
Tulsi told Daya Mata and the others many incidents of Master’s early life, and spoke glowingly of what Master had always meant to him. He invited the Americans to stay for dinner, which Martan Ma and Dakha (their cook) had prepared for them. Dakha had joined the family even before their daughter, Hassi, was born. She had also cooked for Sri Yukteswar, for Richard Wright (Dayama’s brother, who accompanied Master to India in 1935), and for many other devotees.
“One touching event occurred one morning during the winter months,” Tulsi-da told them, “Yogananda came downstairs and saw Martan Ma shivering a little from the cold. He took the shawl from around his shoulders and placed it lovingly around hers, saying, ‘Now, Mother, you won’t be cold any longer.’ Oh, how great was his affection for her!” That shawl now resides, beautifully displayed, in the Shrine of the Masters museum at Ananda Village in California.