As a young woman Joan became intensely inspired to dedicate her life to God. The divine ardor of her heart magnetically drew her to become a nun at a young age in Self-Realization Fellowship. She was probably even more divinely attracted to Sri Durga Mata, or Ma Durga, one of Paramhansa Yogananda’s direct disciples who radiated truth, fearlessness, and joy.

During our service at Ananda Los Angeles, Dharmadevi and I had the good fortune to get to know Joan. Over the last ten years we would have lunch with her quite frequently in Pasadena. She loved sharing stories of her time with Ma Durga. 

Sri Durga Mata, close disciple of Yogananda

Ma Durga so loved Joan that she entrusted her with many prized personal possessions including relics of Master’s hair, robes, and thousands of letters of Master, Ma Durga, and Rajarshi. When we would meet over lunch, she would bring a new letter and regale us with her memories of Ma Durga.

One story I recall Joan sharing was when Ma Durga met one of her friends on the path. 

Ma Durga asked the young man, “How are you?” 

He responded, “Pretty good.” 

Ma Durga with a flash of her intuition and sense of humor said:

“I know you’re pretty, but have you been good?”

Joan’s spirit was cut from the same cloth of no nonsense straightforward spirituality. She called a spade a spade and didn’t sugarcoat the truth. In her presence you felt that direct divine connection that expressed itself as “softer than the flower where kindness is concerned, and stronger than the thunder where principles are at stake.”

Not only did she steward and uphold Ma’s spirit, she shared timeless treasures with others through her book Paramhansa Yogananda: A Trilogy of Divine Love. Her fiery spirit and eyes burning with Divine love and joy are a treasured memory. 

She is free now with her beloved Ma Durga and Master. 

Dear Joan, May we be one in that Light someday!

Nayaswamis Narayan & Dharmadevi