Meera Ghosh’s Story
During his return trip to India in 1935-36, Yogananda arranged for the marriage of his nephew Ramakrishna to Meera, the daughter of Hari Charan Biswas. Ramakrishna was the only son of Yogananda’s deceased eldest brother Ananta. Srimati Meera Ghosh is a direct disciple and now an elderly widow living in Serampore, India. She has been devoted to Yogananda all of her life.
Perhaps Yogananda had a premonition that Meera would live long years as a widow. He arranged for her to have a house to live in, and a monthly stipend of seventy rupees for the rest of her life.
Evicted by SRF
Some time after Yogananda died, however, Meera was told by SRF that she had to move out of her house because the monks needed it. She was given permission to move herself and her children into the garage.
After a time, the monks moved out, and the house was converted into a rental property. But Meera was never allowed back. She had to stay in the garage.
That’s where she was living when Ananda members first met her: five people in two small, dark rooms, less than 2 feet off the main road. Sewage from her street was carried in an open trench that ran directly beneath her only window. In the summer, the odor and flies made using the window impossible.
Despite the harsh conditions of her life, she was an extraordinary spiritual light to everyone she met. She was like a lotus flower growing out of the mud. Tiny, frail-looking, but full of spunk. She smiled all the time, giggled like a young girl and was so full of love it was, and is, a joy to be near here. Many consider her a saint and visit her for darshan.
Two Dollars a Month
After the death of her husband, Meera Ghosh found it no longer possible to live on the seventy rupees she was receiving. (The rupee had declined so drastically that what had once been a handsome stipend was worth almost nothing. Seventy rupees, in today’s market, are worth two U.S. dollars.)
Meera wrote to Daya Mata explaining that, because of the devaluation of the rupee, she could not carry on without an increase in the assistance she was receiving. Meera had medical needs that could not be met from her son’s small income. It broke Meera’s heart to see her son torn between her needs and the needs of her grandson.
She was informed, in reply, that Paramhansa Yogananda’s stipulation had been honored, and that no more money would be forthcoming. In other words, if two or three dollars a month was what the stipulated sum was now worth, that was Meera’s problem. The letter of Yogananda’s generous offer was being respected. The spirit of it, evidently, was ignored.
Many successive letters to Daya Mata, pleading the desperation of her circumstance—Meera was by now an old woman, and in pressing need of medical assistance—were similarly either not answered or simply denied with the same explanation.
It was more than a year after we met Meera that her friends and relatives began to hint at what was going on. Gradually, it all came out. Finally, Meera herself confirmed it.
When Ananda learned of Meera Ghosh’s predicament, we felt that it was unthinkable for a relative of our guru to suffer when we could be of assistance to her. We offered to send her $100 a month. This monthly sum, which represents many times that amount in the Indian economy—indeed, a very respectable sum—has relieved her plight, and has made it possible for her to get the medical attention also that she required. We continue to this day to pay that support.
In addition, $12,000 was raised by individual members of Ananda to buy Meera a spacious, sunny flat in the same neighborhood she has lived in since she was a young bride.
$12,000 and $100 a month. That’s all it took to transform Meera’s life.
Note: Ramakrishna Ghosh was the son of Ananta Ghosh, Yogananda’s eldest brother. Ananta had passed away before a bride could be chosen for his son, and Yogananda assumed that duty. Yogananda personally selected Meera to be Ramakrishna’s wife. At the time of the wedding, Yogananda, acting on behalf of the family, gave them the use of a home formerly belonging to one of his uncles. At that time he also stipulated that they were to receive seventy rupees a month from Yogoda Satsanga Society (the Indian branch of Self-Realization Fellowship) for their sustenance.