The teachings of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (Self-Realization Fellowship) are founded upon the original Yoga of Bhagavan Krishna and the original Christianity of Jesus Christ. The spiritual lineage of YSS/SRF consists of these two great avatars and a line of exalted masters of contemporary times: Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasayaji, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, and Paramahansa Yoganandaji (last in the line of YSS/SRF Gurus).
Each of these Great Ones played a role in Yogoda Satsanga Society of India’s mission of bringing to the modern world the spiritual science of Kriya Yoga. (Click on the photos to read more.)
All members of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (monastics as well as lay members) who have taken the sacred initiation in Kriya Yoga are disciples of Paramahansa Yoganandaji. He is given respect and devotion as their personal guru, and his lineage of Gurus is likewise venerated by YSS disciples. Read more about the guru-disciple relationship.
Guru-parampara — the passing of a guru’s spiritual mantle
The passing of a guru’s spiritual mantle to a disciple designated to carry on the lineage to which that guru belongs is termed guru-parampara. Thus, Paramahansa Yogananda’s direct lineage of gurus is Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar.
Before his passing, Paramahansa Yogananda stated that it was God’s wish that he be the last in the YSS line of Gurus. No succeeding disciple or leader in his society will ever assume the title of guru. (This divine ordinance is not unique in religious history. After the passing of Guru Nanak, the great saint who founded the Sikh religion, there was the usual succession of gurus. The tenth guru in the line announced he was to be the last of that line of gurus, and henceforth the teachings were to be considered the guru.)
Paramahansaji gave the assurance that, after his passing, he would continue to work through the society he founded, Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship. He stated, “When I am gone the teachings will be the guru….Through the teachings you will be in tune with me and the great Gurus who sent me.”
When questioned about the succession of YSS/SRF leadership, he answered, “There will always be at the head of this organization men and women of realization. They are already known to God and the Gurus. They shall serve as my spiritual successor and representative in all spiritual and organizational matters.”
The Guru's Successors
Sri Sri Rajarsi Janakananda
Rajarsi Janakananda succeeded Paramahansa Yogananda to the presidency of YSS/SRF in 1952. He was born James J. Lynn on May 5, 1892, in Archibald, Louisiana; and met Paramahansa Yogananda during the guru’s lecture series in Kansas City in 1932.
Because of his rapid advancement in Kriya Yoga, Paramahansaji lovingly referred to him as “Saint Lynn.” In 1951 Yogananda bestowed on him the monastic title of Rajarsi Janakananda (after the spiritually illustrious King Janaka of ancient India) and turned over to him the responsibility of guiding the YSS/SRF work.
The exemplary life of Rajarsi Janakananda, a great Western yogi, came to an end on February 20, 1955.
Sri Sri Daya Mata
Sri Sri Daya Mata succeeded Rajarsi Janakananda to the YSS/SRF presidency in 1955.
Born in Salt Lake City on January 31, 1914 as Faye Wright, she met Paramahansa Yoganandaji when he came to give lectures and classes there in 1931. Shortly thereafter, she entered his ashram as a nun.
For more than twenty years, Sri Daya Mata was part of the small circle of his closest disciples, who were with him almost constantly. As the years passed, he assigned more and more responsibility to her, personally appointing her as an officer on the YSS/SRF Board of Directors in the 1930s when she was still a young woman. In the closing period of his life, Yogananda placed her in charge of the SRF International Headquarters and began to speak openly to the disciples of the worldwide role she was destined to play. Shortly before his passing, he told her: “Now my work is finished; your work begins.”
Paramahansaji’s choice of Sri Daya Mata as the future leader of his worldwide society was confirmed by Mahavatar Babaji in an encounter Daya Mata had with the Mahavatar during a pilgrimage in India in 1962.
Sri Daya Mata passed on November 30, 2010, after more than 55 years as YSS/SRF president.
Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata
On August 3, 2017, our beloved sanghamata and president, Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata, peacefully left this world for the eternal realm of bliss and freedom in Spirit. A guiding light of wisdom, love, and understanding for the hundreds of thousands of truth seekers whose lives have been transformed by the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Mrinalini Mata dedicated herself to serving the Guru’s spiritual and humanitarian work for more than seventy years.
Swami Chidananda Giri
The Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship Board of Directors is happy to share with you the news that Swami Chidananda Giri has been elected president and spiritual head of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship (YSS/SRF), succeeding Sri Mrinalini Mata, who served in this position from January 2011 until her passing last month. His appointment was made by a unanimous vote by the SRF Board of Directors on Wednesday, August 30, 2017.