Though universal in his consciousness, Paramhansa Yogananda especially worshipped the feminine aspect of God, or Divine Mother, as he called Her. Newcomers to Yogananda’s teachings often ask us, “Who is this Divine Mother?” To answer this question, I’d like to share with you some experiences from my own journey that have clarified my understanding.
The first incident occurred when I was quite young, perhaps three or four years old. I awoke late one summer morning to find that I was alone in a quiet house. My older brother, with whom I shared a room, must have gone out to play, my father probably had gone to work, and my mother was nowhere to be seen. Wondering where everyone was, I wandered out into our backyard.
And there was my mother hanging out laundry on a clothesline—clean white sheets brilliant in the sunshine and billowing in the breeze. As I stood quietly watching her, I experienced a moment of seeing past the forms of my mother, the sheets, the backyard, and felt a sense of goodness, simplicity, and peace that seemed to permeate everything. I knew that the universe was made of these qualities, and I never forgot it.
Some twenty years later I found Ananda and became Master’s disciple. During my first summer I met a wonderful woman, Haripriya, who was a follower of the great woman saint, Anandamayi Ma. When Haripriya gave me a book about her, and I looked at her photos, I felt the same qualities I had experienced in my backyard as a little girl: the goodness, simplicity, and serenity. The concept of Divine Mother began to coalesce for me. These qualities could be both formless and embodied in a human form.
At about that time Haripriya was leaving to visit Anandamayi Ma in India, and a desire arose in my heart to give a gift to Ma. “But what,” I wondered, “can I give that is fitting for such a great saint?” I had no money for lavish gifts, so I asked Haripriya what would be appropriate.
She paused for a while, and then replied, “A bottle of good cooking oil. This is hard to get in India.” Her answer touched my heart so deeply: to think of the simple aspects of life like cooking combined with the consciousness of one revered by thousands as a manifestation of Divine Mother.
I sent that cooking oil to Ma, and over the years have felt a flow of Divine Mother’s blessings present in the little acts of daily service that we all perform.
So, who is Divine Mother? For me, She is the goodness, simplicity, and peace that permeate all aspects of life and everything that exists. She accepts us our imperfections notwithstanding, and forgives us when we err. Though at times the world seems to be held in the grip of darkness, Divine Mother always keeps Her lamp lit in the window of our soul, showing us the way back to our eternal home in Her.