The Blessed Master, Paramhansa Yogananda
by Yogacharya David Hickenbottom
"The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship." Thus begins one of the great spiritual classics of all times, the Autobiography of a Yogi.*
Years before the writing of this book, there was a meeting of the author of this book, Paramhansa Yogananda, and one who was to become one of his preeminent disciples, The Reverend Mother Yogacharya M. Hamilton, lovingly referred to by her disciples as Mother. The year was 1925, the place was Seattle Washington. At that meeting, when Master looked at Mother she experienced a shock that went through her entire being; from that moment on, she was his.
Like Lahiri Mahasaya, Mother would follow a householder’s path to God. That is, while actively engaged in the world, raising children, maintaining a home, even under trying times of the Depression, Mother carried on as a secret Yogini, ever faithful to Master, Paramhansa Yogananda. Later on Mother was to become a Center Leader; then Yogananda ordained Mother a minister, and finally gave her the title of Yogacharya**, meaning teacher or master of Yoga. Master gave Mother rare permission to initiate others into Kriya Yoga and in this way Mother became, in time, a Guru in her own right.
As disciples of Mother we have known Master as our Param-Guru. It is from this perspective we follow the Guru-Disciple lineage with all of our heart, mind and soul.
Mother lay all that she was at the feet of Master. It was he who awakened the sleeping God within her. She said many times that she felt him to be so great in God that she thought of him as the Christ come again. Babaji, so long before, had sensed the need of great souls in the West who would benefit from India’s hallowed traditions of the Guru-disciple relationship and the Soul awakening yoga techniques that are the timeless treasure of India. Mother was certainly one such soul who would take the teachings to their ultimate conclusion, Conscious Oneness with God. When traveling in India in 1998, I sensed the tremendous difference in cultures between India and America. A renewed appreciation came to me for what Master went through in coming to the West and living here for so many years; but how we have benefited from his sacrifices!
Master started many great works here in America. He spawned a large organization, and subsequently other teachers and organizations came about as well. Of course, for a realized Master, they always know their real work is in the transformation of souls from the bondage of ego-consciousness to becoming ever free in God-Consciousness. Themselves, ever free in God, no mundane limitations of being inside or outside an organization can be applied to a great Master or their disciples. Yogananda sought to bring all into the spiritual heights he enjoyed in God. This is always the true work of a Spiritual Master. A true Master makes you feel as if God is very close, very intimate, and very knowable. Master did this for Mother, and Mother did that for all who followed after her. This living link is the greatest work for any realized Master.
Like a brilliant diamond, God and His perfected ones may be seen by countless glints of light emanating from multifaceted Spirit. We hope by the sayings, stories and experiences that Mother related to us about her great Guru, you may catch glimpses of that Light yourselves and be inspired and lifted closer to that perfection known by such great spiritual luminaries as Master and Mother.
*Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi. (New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1952, 4th edition), page 3.
**Master gave Mother the title Yogacharya, one of six in his worldwide organization, and the only woman. Normally a woman would be called a Yogacharini. Mother was ever loyal to her Guru and used the title Yogacharya, as he had given it to her. Spiritual Masters often go against social convention as God directs them. Those with complete faith in their Gurus follow them full heartedly.