Daya Mata (Sanskrit for Mother of Compassion), born Rachel Faye Wright, (January 31, 1914 – November 30, 2010) was the president of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Los Angeles, California.
SRF was created to disseminate the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Daya Mata first met Paramahansa Yogananda in 1931 at the age of 17 years old, while seeking one thing: perfect, unconditional love. She found it in Yogananda, Premavatar (divine incarnation of love), and joined Yogananda’s ashram that year. In time she took her monastic vows with Yogananda and was given the name Daya.
She became one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s first monastic disciples after entering his Self-Realization Fellowship ashram atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, California, on November 19, 1931–75 years ago. Paramahansa Yogananda wrote to Daya Mata on her birthday in 1946:
May you be born in the Cosmic Mother, and inspire all with your spiritual motherliness only—only to bring others to God by the example of your life.
As president and sanghamata (spiritual head) since 1955 of SRF/YSS, the only worldwide organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, she has devoted herself with single minded devotion to fulfilling these words of her Guru.
Daya Mata was one of the first women to lead a worldwide religious organization and monastic order. At the time of her death, she had been president of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga of India since 1955. Before her death, she had been living in seclusion “at one of the fellowship’s nuns’ retreats in Los Angeles.” She died of natural causes on the evening of November 30, 2010, in Los Angeles.