“God Alone” was the motto and lifelong ideal of Sri Gyanamata, one of the most spiritually advanced disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda. After her passing, he said,” A great saint has gone away… But she has left spiritual footprints here forever.” Her letters (over a hundred of which appear in this book) reflect the luminous wisdom and pure insight of one who has truly lived for God alone. Whether writing on the ways of realizing God’s presence or the right attitude toward spiritual discipline, the tests of faith or the tests of physical suffering, her words reveal the essential truth or lesson in each circumstance. To read her letters is to experience something of that clarity of vision, that unity of heart and intellect, which is known to all those who posses true wisdom but which few have put into words so compellingly.
In addition to Gyanamata’s letters, God Alone contains a detailed account of her life; letters written to her from Paramahansa Yogananda and others who knew her; excerpts from her personal diary; and numerous photographs. An inspiring portrait of an illumined saint of modern times, it is also a legacy of her invaluable counsel- “spiritual footprints” left by her for all who seek to know the meaning of life and the reality of God’s love.
Sri Gyanamata, one of the most advanced disciples of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, was a modern – day saint in whom the light of wisdom shone with special clarity. Her life was marked by a quiet heroism, an inner strength that never wavered in the face of suffering. In her letters she has left a lasting memorial of that life, a testimony that illumines with deeply penetrating insight both the transitory pains and the eternal beauty of the way to perfection she followed.
Born Edith Anne Ruth D’Evelyn on July 4, 869, in Canada, she grew up in a small town in Minnesota. Difficult childhood circumstances nourished an already strong desire to discover the deeper truths of life. She began to read widely in the world’s great religious and philosophical writings. But the more she read, the more she became convinced that for the highest realization it would be necessary to have a guide- one who had already reached the spiritual heights she herself wished to attain. When she met Paramahansa Yogananda in Seattle in 1925, this understanding and her innate spiritual receptivity enabled her to instantly recognize him as the God- illumined teacher she had been seeking.
In 1932, after the passing of her husband, Gyanamata entered Paramahansaji’s Self-Realization Fellowship ashram in Los Angeles, and took the vows of renunciation. It was then that he conferred upon her the monastic name and title, “Gyanamata” - Mother of Wisdom. Because of her deep understanding and spirituality, Paramahansaji assigned her much responsibility in training the other disciples and counseling the many Self- Realization members who requested spiritual guidance. She did this in part through instructive letters, many of which appear in this book.
The advice Gyanamata gave came not from theoretical musings or intellectual observations, but from the victories of her own lifelong battle to overcome every weakness of body, mind, and spirit. Throughout her adult life she had to contend with great physical suffering, yet unfailingly she manifested courage, serenity, and unswerving dedication to God and her Guru.
Paramahansa Yogananda said of Gyanamata: “Everybody looked to her as an example. Whoever was sincere and came near her was changed. Never did I see in that face, in those eyes, anger or anguish or pain; only the sweetness of God. I said to her once, ‘Your seat is reserved in Heaven when you leave this earth,’ and it is so… She is a great saint, a great soul.”
Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, “The ideal of love for God and service to humanity found full expression in the life of Paramahansa Yogananda… Though the major part of his life was spent outside India, still (he) takes his place among our great saints. His work continues to grow and shine ever more brightly, drawing people everywhere on the path of the pilgrimage of the Spirit.”
In these words, the Government of India paid tribute to the founder of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/ Self- Realization fellowship upon issuing a commemorative stamp in his honour on March 7, 1977, the twenty- fifth anniversary of his passing.
Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, revered guru of Sri Gyanamata, founded Yogoda Satsanga Society of India’s delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals, and in 1925 established Self- Realization Fellowship international headquarters in Los Angeles. Through the international headquarters, and from Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, a series of printed lessons on the science of Kriya Yoga meditation and the art of spiritual living is made available to students worldwide. The emphasis of these teachings is on balanced development of body, mind, and soul; their goal is direct personal experience of God.
The life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda are described in his Autobiography of a Yogi, which has become a classic in its field since it was first published over fifty years ago.
This presentation of the life and letters of Sri Gyanamata, exalted disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, fulfills our long-felt desire to share with others the inspiration of her example and wisdom. A soul of rare divine insight, she mastered the science of supreme spirituality by reducing the complex principles of “do’s and don’ts” to the simple formula, “God Alone.” Centered in that nucleus, she had a clear perspective of the right direction in which to turn her thoughts and actions at each decisive moment. Through this centeredness of heart and mind she found the perfect love of God.
My strongest personal memories of “Sister”- as we called her – are of her quiet humility, her incisive wisdom in matters both spiritual and practical, her stoic imperturbability, her motherly concern for everyone who came into contact with her. Illumining all these qualities was her complete dedication to God alone: seeking only Him, doing His will always, serving Him unconditionally. She was delicate, almost fragile, in physical health and appearance, but she emanated the limitless spiritual strength of those who reflect the soul’s oneness with God.
Gyanamata, though a many- faceted spiritual diamond, will perhaps be most remembered for her perfection of attitude in all circumstances; and, as an extension of that wisdom, her understanding of the role of the Guru. Because of the clarity of her own spiritual perception, she saw in Paramahansaji the manifested love and wisdom of God. She emptied the chalice of her life of all else that it might be filled with the blessings of God that flowed through the channel of her Guru. So pure and unbroken was her attunement that Paramahansaji said he guided her spiritual life mainly through her intuition.
Gyanamata was not a young woman when she enter3ed the ashram, but she accepted neither age nor physical infirmity as obstacles to spiritual endeavor. Thus Paramahansaji could say of her at the end of life that she was free, a liberated soul, reunited with God; and that further incarnations would not be imposed on her.
Gyanamata’s influence had a profound effect on those of us who knew her personally. It is our prayer that as you share with us the unique insights into her saintliness to be found in these pages, you too shall receive inspiration and guidance from the “spiritual handbook” of her life.
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