Washington: Sri Daya Mata, successor to Indian spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda, has passed away after heading the worldwide religious movement founded in 1920 for over half a century. She was 96.
One of the first women in modern history to head an international religious movement, Daya Mata who died Monday in Los Angeles served as president and sanghamata (spiritual leader) of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (SRF/YSS), founded by Yogananda, author of 'Autobiography of a Yogi'.
Born Faye Wright in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan 31, 1914, Sri Daya Mata grew up in a Mormon family. Her grandfather, Abraham Reister Wright, was an architect of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and constructed a Tabernacle replica that now resides in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
In October 1931, at the age of 17, Daya Mata moved to Los Angeles and joined the Self-Realization Fellowship Monastic Order, according to a press release from the organisation.
For more than 20 years, Sri Daya Mata was part of the small circle of his closest disciples, who were with him almost constantly. As his secretary, she was responsible for recording all of his talks, lectures and classes in shorthand.
In 1955, three years after Paramahansa Yogananda's passing, Sri Daya Mata succeeded the late Rajarsi Janakananda as president of the society.
As spiritual successor to Sri Yogananda, she saw to the guidance of SRF/YSS members, the training of monastic disciples who reside in the SRF/YSS ashrams in the US, Germany and India, and to the administration of the many worldwide spiritual and humanitarian services of the organization.
Under Sri Daya Mata's leadership, the society continued to grow significantly. Today there are more than 600 SRF/YSS temples, meditation centres and retreats in over 60 countries, the release said.