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Updated on March 15, 2011

Sri Daya Mata & Sri Mrinalini Mata

March is Women's History Month.  In celebration of the accomplishments of great women, I'd like to honor two great women who became Sanghamatas (Mothers of the Society) of the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF):  Sri Daya Mata and Sri Mrinalini Mata.

Sri Daya Mata was President of the SRF from 1955 until November 30, 2010 when she left the Earth Plane and journed to her next life.  She was one of the first women of the Fellowship to become a minister in 1933.  She entered the ashram in 1931 with her parents' permission.  She became one of their first nuns at the age of 17.  She was born on January 31, 1914 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Her birth name was Rachel Faye Wright and she grew up as a Mormon.  In 1931 Paramahansa Yogananda gave a series of classes at Salt Lake City, which she attended with her mother and sister.  At the age of 8 she told her mother she would visit India some day and never marry.  Both of which came truth.  She had a blood disorder which was cured when Yogananda touched her between the eyebrows.  He said, "From this day forward you are healed.  In one week the bandages will no longer be necessary.  Your scars will be gone."  Every thing he predicted came true and she was completely healed.  She recorded his correspondence and recordings in shorthand for many years for the Society. 

In 1990 she celebrated her 35th anniversary as President of the Society.  One L.A. newspaper article described her great contributions to spirituality:  "As one of the first women in recent times to be appointed spiritual head of a worldwide relgious movement, she has been a forerunner to today's increasing trend toward accepting women in positions of authority that have traditionally been reserved fro men in most denominations.  In the thirty-five years she has held that position, many have became acquainted with her through her global speaking tours, her writings and the films and recordings of her talks on the universal ideals espoused by the great religions of both East and West."

Her name means Mother of Compassion.  She said her goal was to be and live compassion.  Right before Yogananda left the Earth Plane, he said that only love would take his place.  How true were those words.  She was a great compassionate leader, speaker, writer and Mother of the Society in the greatest sense of the word.  Yogananda saw her great capabilities and dedication.  More men should take him as a model of how to be in the world.  He did not see one's race, color, sex or religion as a barrier to being all one could be in any role in the Fellowship.  He was a true leader in every sense of the word and a visionary. Racism, sexism or categorizing people was not in his vocabulary.  He truly lived those principles.  It is ironic that a female who came from a very patriarchial religion, Mormonism, came to be the embodiment of great female leadership and aspects of the Divine Mother.  The Goddess loves these contradictions.

Before she transitioned to the next world, she told the Board of Directors it was the will of God and Gurus that he Vice President, Sri Mrinalini Mata succeed her as the President.  She had worked along side Sri Daya Mata since 1966 as the society's Vice President.  With 44 years of experience, she was the most qualified person to carry on in the role of President.  On January 7, 2011 she became the second female President and second Mother of the Society when the Board of Director voted to appoint her as their President.  She has been involved in the Fellowship for more than 60 years.  As Vice President she was editor-in-chief of SRF books, lessons and periodicals besides disseminating Yogananda's teachings word-wide and  establishing of centers, retreats and temples.  She trained and mentored monastics.  She will continue as editor-in-chief of publications.

She was born in 1931 in Wichita, Kansas and grew up in California.  She met Yogananda in 1945 at the age of 14 at the SRF Temple in San Diego.  A few months later she entered the ashram as a nun with her parents' permission.  Her own mother entered the ashram two years later and was called Meera Mata.

She was heavily involved with the publication of The Second Coming of Christ,Yogananda's commentary on the four gospels besides a commentary on the Bhagvad Gita (God Talks to Arjuna).  Both of which are very highly regarded in spiritual circles.

Her name means Lotus Flower, a symbol of spiritual unfoldment.  She has visited India with Sri Daya Mata a number of times and lectured there on a number of spiritual topics.  The video of her life with Yogananda, In His Presence:  Remembrances of Life with Paramahansa Yogananda, was an inspiration to many.  In the video she talks about his life, teachings and her connection with him.

Both of these great women leaders are an inspiration to us all.  These women are great spiritual leaders and administers.  It is an unusual to combine the two roles together.  They are both great mothers and examples of compassion and having to make the tough choices of leadership in a world which does not always value women leaders.  Having been a female supervisor, I know how much you are always having to prove yourself in ways that men do not have to do.  Glad to see more female teachers, priests, administers and spiritual leaders.  We are progressing on the planet because of these wonderful women. 








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