There was a significant difference between the respect given our Guru by his early disciples, and that which we gave who came to him closer to the end of his life.
During his early years, he had done his best to make people understand that whatever he had accomplished, they too could accomplish. He played down his own spiritual greatness in order to help them accept their own high potential. In his last years, he spoke more frankly—as Jesus Christ often did—of his own state of oneness with God. His early disciples saw him as a great man, but for all that still a man, and fallible. We who came later—those of us, anyway, who tuned in deeply to what he was saying—saw him as a window onto Infinity.
To me, Daya’s closeness to him appeared to be centered above all in the thought of him as a human being. It was also centered in organizational matters, and in personal exchanges with him. Where his actual teachings were concerned, and certainly in their more abstract aspects, she was astonishingly deficient. Once she explained to me the meaning of Christ Consciousness, for example, as being “when you see everyone in the world as your own brother and sister.” How completely different, her explanation, from the cosmic explanation our Master gave!
Master, quoting the words of Jesus, often said to us, “The last shall be the first.” The number of years Daya was with him must be balanced against what she herself was capable of absorbing, with her human understanding. Physical proximity is not enough. Seniority is not enough.
The Master often referred quite casually to a former incarnation of his own: as William the Conqueror. For me, this news came as something of a shock. My early education had been in the English system, which had conditioned me to view William I as one of history’s great villains! This revelation of Master’s made me ponder, and study, the Conqueror’s life more deeply.
Many years later, I gave to Catherine Kairavi, a member of Ananda, the job of researching William’s life, as well as that of his fourth son, Henry I, whom history depicts as William’s spiritual heir. Catherine’s book, published in 2010 under the title, Two Souls: Four Lives, shows William to have been a deeply spiritual man, blessed with a difficult but distinctly spiritual mission. Among many other things, she points out that William’s body was found incorrupt—as happens only in the case of great saints—430 years after his death.
Her book also makes a very strong case for something no doubt surprising: for my having actually been his son Henry. The similarities are compelling.
But much more importantly, Catherine’s book shows that the reason Master shared with us the memory of that incarnation was to help us understand that his role in the present lifetime, too, is destined to have a great impact on the world. Indeed, I believe it will be instrumental in changing the course of civilization itself—as in fact William’s life did. Such, indeed, is the final message of Catherine Kairavi’s excellent book.
Daya told me, in substantially the following words: “I was William’s daughter Agatha. William sent me to Spain to be the wife of the heir to the king of that country (Castile-Leon). But I had a deep desire to dedicate my life to God, and prayed to be spared the destiny my father wanted for me. When the ship arrived in port, I was found kneeling by my bed in an attitude of prayer, dead.”
Daya related this story to me as evidence of her own deep devotion to God (a quality she certainly did possess). To me, however, it has always seemed that Agatha’s posture in death may also have been less praiseworthy, indicating as it did a rejection of her own guru’s will for her, and a failure to recognize the true greatness of her father/guru in either life. Had she become the queen of Spain, she might have gained an understanding of leadership qualities which, in this life, have been lacking. Maybe her Guru was even then aware of today’s realities. Had she been a queen in that life, that experience might have made her a better SRF president in this one.
She also said to me, “In this life, I have had trouble with my knees.” Had she died on her knees in accordance with God’s will, would not her knees have been, if anything, blessed in this lifetime, instead of giving her trouble?
Yogananda himself, in a letter to Rajarshi Janakananda (the Master’s most advanced disciple), once lamented “Poor Faye’s” deficiency in leadership qualities. As he wrote: “Faye through my incapacity does not know to do things any way as I did, money or no money she has none to guide her. As a result the work has started going back.” He concluded, “Everyone in the work is terrified about the work’s future.”
In her present lifetime also, Daya has repeatedly equated Yogananda’s will with her own wishes. A case in point is her declaration that his primary reason for coming to the West was to create a monastery. Obviously, her indifference to his fervor for starting “world brotherhood colonies” is another case in point.
Agatha is not listed in many English-language histories of William’s life, perhaps because she died at a young age. There are records, however, especially in Spain, that Agatha was one of William’s daughters, affianced, as Daya told me, to the heir to the throne.