In Sweet Company

In Sweet Company

Sri Daya Mata, In Memorium

I saw her first almost 35 years ago. I had just started to meditate, to explore my spiritual self, when I was invited to the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, to a talk given by Sri Daya Mata, the President of Self-Realization Fellowship. I had no inkling I would one day interview her for a book I’d write on women’s spirituality; no inkling that women’s spirituality would even become my passion. I was young, spiritually green, hardly a twig of a girl just beginning to become aware of the Divine Feminine, to recognize Her as the face of Goodness in the world. Listening to Sri Daya Mata speak that crisp winter afternoon I put a form to the idea of the Divine Mother and established a benchmark for my spiritual practice. When I returned home, I told my daughters I’d spent the afternoon with an angel. It was the only word I could think of to describe her.


In the years since that first meeting, I stayed in touch. I heard her speak on other occasions and brought my daughters with me to see “the angel.” I read her books. I thought about her often. I even wrote her a few letters asking for spiritual counsel. When it came time to write IN SWEET COMPANY, I knew I wanted to include her in the book. Though I waited a year to get the interview, I was always sure it would happen. When SRF called me the day before I was to talk with her to postpone our meeting, I wasn’t deterred. The next day, when the Northbound train I was scheduled to take to Los Angeles barely avoided colliding with its Southbound sister that had derailed, I knew an angel had protected me. When I met with her two weeks later, my heart was taken prisoner. Her spiritual stature was palpable; her love for God, her humanity and kindness, her practical common sense, her playfulness and joy, it all said to me, “This is what I want to be like when I grow up.”


Sri Daya Mata passed away Tuesday evening, November 30th. I was startled when I heard the news. Though I knew she was mortal, I never imagined being without her. Though I never saw her again after the day I interviewed her, her very presence in the world comforted me.  

I have spent the day thinking about her, about the few but crystalline interactions I had with her. What will make her live forever in my heart is that, on the first day I “met” her at the Biltmore, she answered a secret prayer no one but God knew I’d made. That this happened transformed me from a tentative spiritual initiate into a full-fledged believer. Her response to my prayer proved to me that God listened to me, that God cared about the smallest trifling of my heart.

As my love for God deepens, as I strive to follow the example of her life, she lives still.

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Kimmy Squiers

posted December 2, 2010 at 4:40 am

Thank you for sharing your experiences with Ma. I never met her- my brother did and his life was forever changed by his experience with her. I am so saddened. I keep chanting Oh God Beautiful in her honor. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Jai Ma. Blessings to you.

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Donna Vanneman

posted December 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Margaret, Thanks so much for writing this. I too thought that ‘she would always be there, that her presense in the world was comforting’. I met you a long time ago at the convocation–and I always remembered you way back when. You put it so sweet your private thoughts about Daya Mata. My sincerest blessings to you. Always….Jai Ma.

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Stephen Brinkley

posted December 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Ma, we miss you so very much! Jai Guru Jai Ma!

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posted December 3, 2010 at 2:29 am

Thanks Margaret for sharing your thoughts. It seems so odd not to have her with us still though I know that she must watch over all of us even now. Daya Ma helped me so very much when I wrote to her years ago. Her wisdom, validation of my efforts in a sad difficult situation along with her practical advice were invaluable and a real source of strength to me. I still read those letters from time to time. Her sweet way of encouraging all of us devotees to forge on always touched me too. Though I never did meet her personally, I thought that she knew me. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

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Carole Mayne

posted December 3, 2010 at 10:55 am

Beautiful…I have also reviewed my meetings with Ma over 42 years, and simply marvel at my great good fortune. Thank you for sharing your highlights that touch our hearts. Peace and goodwill to all.

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Margaret Guthrie

posted December 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I never had the opportunity to meet Daya Ma, only seeing her from a distance at SRF Convocations. But the last few weeks she has been very present when I sit to meditate.I recently sent her my novel The Quest, about the quest to find God through meditation, but also developing right behavior. When I made the main character a yoga meditation teacher, traveling through Colorado with her three women helpers, the satsangs I described were influenced by some of the SRF ministers and teachers. At the same time I recognized that no character in a novel could ever do justice to the Daya Ma whom I listened to on tapes, CDs, viewed on DVDs, and read in her writings. I have all of her books, and recently re-viewed A Journey of Love, in which she so earnestly shows she wants all of us to love God, and enjoy the love she has received and lived. She is such an inspiration. Even so she is not really gone – she is still very much present. Margaret Guthrie, SRF devotee, kriyaban for 35 years.

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Lumiel Kim-Hammerich

posted December 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I was blessed to come on the path in 1973, when Ma would finish her talk and then come down to the aisles and grasp our hands lovingly, look into our eyes, and wish us a Merry Christmas. You could even receive a letter from her if you wrote with a question or plea for help. My most favorite experience I want to share with you, mostly to show how she cared for us all individually, no matter how many other duties she performed.
It was at Convocation, 1981, when I was serving at Mother Center for the pilgrimages. A dear friend who was also serving at the time came up to me during the day when I was on the lawn at Mother Center. He had exciting news!
To show her appreciation for the volunteers, Ma had scheduled a Sunday satsanga for just the volunteers. (In those days the number of volunteers was much smaller than we have now!) All we needed to do was to stay one more day, in order to attend. What blessings! My great joy was suddenly deflated when I remembered that I was to teach Sunday School in Encinitas Sunday morning. I couldn’t stay until Sunday, I told my friend. That was no problem, he said; just find another teacher to substitute for me. But all the teachers that I knew were here at the Convocation. How could I ask them to do this for me and not give them the opportunity to see Ma in person? I tried and tried to talk myself into believing that I could find a substitute teacher.
That afternoon, in the 3:00 lecture, I sat dejectedly, hardly hearing a word that Brother Achalananda spoke, my mind was so engrossed with the great opportunity I had been offered, and the great loss I was about to experience. Finally I realized that I could not attend the satsanga. My mind sent silent cries to Ma, telling her how badly I felt, to miss this opportunity to be with her, and that I knew my prayers could not change the situation. Strangely, toward the end of the hour, I found myself tell Dear Mataji that I wouldn’t mind so terribly much, if only I could feel that she loved me. “If only I would know that you love me,” I silently prayed.
After the lecture, exiting the California Ballroom with the crowd, I heard my name being called. Turning around to look for a familiar face, I saw my best friend from Austria, at her first Convocation, waving at me and calling my name.
When she came close to me, she reached into her large tote bag and pulling something out, said, “I must give this to you!” (Today she says that she cannot remember why she did this, only remembering that she wanted to give this to me.)
In my hand she had placed a tiny (4 cm. x 3.5 cm.) gold-colored frame with a tiny snapshot of Ma’s face and her hands in pronam. Stunned, I brought the picture closer to my eyes and saw one grey hair curled up against the photo. Only one thought surfaced in my consciousness at that moment: She loves me!

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Joy Marion

posted February 5, 2011 at 2:42 am

I am fairly new (about 2 years-lucky me!) to the SRF fellowship as a member and was fortunate to have attend dear Sri Daya Mata’s funeral with my fellow members at the Richmond, Ca. temple. I had only heard about her and that she was the world-wide leader of the fellowship. I had never met her or able to see any of her talks or even read one of her books yet I was compelled to pay my respects.
I’m so happy I did..I was surrounded by thousands who, like me cherish her many years of keeping Master’s work alive in the world which will continue to help so many for generations to come. I was in awe of the magnitude and breath of her spiritual family. The service closed with a recording of her reminding us to all love God with all that we have. I broke down…she was so convicted about what she was saying that it will remain with me forever….the love and longing in her heart for God and Master was palatable- I have been forever changed.
Joy, Oakland, Ca.
Jai Guru Jai Ma!

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posted February 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, beautifully expressed, about Sri Daya Mata. Although she has shed her mortal form, I feel her presence now even more strongly than before. She was and is an inspiration.

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