Chapter Seventeen: How Much Respect Did Master’s Chief Editor Have for His Judgment?

I know that Tara Mata, who had been Master’s editor-in-chief, had deep faith in him, as well as devotion to his position as her guru. Nevertheless, there were a number of occasions when she could not resist making statements to me on the phone that ridiculed him. (We always spoke by phone, for she lived away from Mt. Washington, and was by nature a recluse.)

a)  Laughingly she once said to me, “Even when Master was William the Conqueror, he never mastered the English language!”

English, of course, didn’t even exist as a language during William’s time! In fact, it was William who helped to create it in its modern form. Master also told us that he had been, in a former lifetime, a (presumably great and famous) poet.

b) Laughingly again—this time to ridicule his lack of practicality—Tara once told me, “Master had a whole team of us stay up night after night, typing up a proposal to Henry Ford [the industrial tycoon] to get him to sponsor the first world brotherhood colony.” The obvious motive for her amusement (indeed, she stated it frankly) was to tell me that the entire concept of communities was “totally impractical.”

c)  Tara—in order to emphasize what she considered his impractical idealism—also stated to me, “I know Master said, ‘We are not a sect.’ Well, we are a sect!” She saw no reason even to justify this point of disagreement with him.

d) Tara was highly competent, certainly, as an editor. Nevertheless, the fact deserves to be underlined that it was also she who, for years, blocked the publication of some of his most important writings. Would she ever have allowed any serious book written by me to appear in print? Hardly! (Who was I, after all?) Master had told me to write books, but the only book of mine that she ever published was a collection of childhood accounts, Stories of Mukunda, which I had written as a Christmas present for my fellow monks.

In speaking to me once about complaints she had been receiving about her delays in getting out Master’s words, Tara once exclaimed to me, “What do people want with more books?! They already have everything they need, to find God.” Her excuse for not completing the work Master himself had given her—projects which included his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, on the New Testament, and on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam—was that she had too little time to spare from her other “duties”—duties which involved, in fact, interfering with everybody else’s business.

Daya on one occasion remarked to me, “Master once told me in all earnestness, ‘Keep Laurie [Tara] away from people.’” He did so out of an awareness of Tara’s tendency to meddle in other people’s affairs. Indeed, she seemed to feel that, without her input on everything, the consequence would be ruin and chaos.

e)  One time, a committee of fifteen persons, of which (as I said earlier) I was a member, reached a certain decision. The decision, as nearly as I can remember, did not relate to anything very important. Tara, however, when told of our decision by phone, disagreed with it peremptorily. (She always spoke in exclamation marks.)

The nun reporting to her said, “But there are fifteen of us who agree on this matter.”

“My dear,” Tara answered pleasantly, “that makes you just fifteen times as wrong!”

f)  In May 1950, Master told me that he expected his Bhagavad Gita commentaries, on which he was then working, to be published by the end of that year. It had been my task to take letters back and forth between him and Laurie (Tara). The day he made that statement to me, I smiled with eager anticipation as I repeated those words to her. In reply, she laughed merrily at the absurdity of his very suggestion that the book could come out so soon. (Master’s comment when I related her remark to him was, “Delays! Delays! Always delays!”) She’d had no intention of bringing the book out that year. In fact, it was forty-five long years later that this book finally saw the light of day.

g)  When SRF’s version of Master’s Gita commentaries finally did come out, I, who had helped with their editing, was deeply disappointed. Their edition lacked the clarity of Master’s version, on which I had worked. It was not always accurate in its presentation of the truths Master had explained. And it came out so greatly over-edited that it was actually difficult to read. Master’s own version had, by contrast, been a pleasure to read!

Years later, I was informed by an ex-nun that she had been commissioned to research some of the things Master had written. I simply cannot imagine what purpose was served by that commission. The book needed no supportive statements, and was in fact only weakened by extra commentaries. Of these, however, the book held a plethora.

h) The following change, which indicated a major policy of diluting Master’s true meanings, was made in an audio recording of Yogananda’s voice. The change was almost certainly introduced under the influence of Tara Mata herself; she tried constantly to diminish any statement of Master’s that might offend orthodox Christian sensibilities. Master, in one of his recorded talks, had stated, “My Master [Swami Sri Yukteswar] was no less than Jesus Christ. Remember that.” These sentences were deleted.

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