Cousins Meet Yogananda

[Listen to Asha read this story]

Two of Swamiji’s cousins met Master and saw Swamiji interacting with him. The encounters were brief; neither became a disciple. But these cousins are notable because there are few reliable eyewitness accounts of that relationship. When his gurubhais [fellow disciples] ostracized him years after Master’s passing, the memories held of Swamiji by others became tainted by their prejudice.

Marjorie Brunhoff Lutz told me she had visited her cousin Don [Swamiji] at Mt. Washington in 1948, just before she started college.

“I went with my father (my mother was no longer alive) to see him. This was not long after Don had moved there. No one in the family understood what he was doing. We all thought he must have joined some weird cult and wanted to make sure he was all right.

“I remember there was a beautiful building set on a hill in the middle of a lovely garden. I saw this man in long robes. I knew immediately he was from India. I don’t know how I knew, no one told me, I just knew. Of course, it was Yogananda. Everything there was so serene, especially Yogananda himself. He had lovely, soft eyes. I remember those eyes.

“Don was very pleased to be able to introduce us to him. We didn’t really talk with him, just exchanged a few words, like ‘How do you do?’ and ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

“What I remember is how warm and loving Yogananda was toward Don. It made a big impression on me. It was a father-son relationship. I can’t explain it in any other way.”

Bet Brunhoff Hover, Marjorie’s older sister, met Yogananda around the end of 1950. In The Path, Swamiji describes the meeting.

“I introduced Bet to Master as he was leaving one afternoon for a drive. From his remarks later on it was clear that she had made an excellent impression on him.

“‘Would she make a good yogi, Master?’

“‘Oh yes.’”

About Yogananda, Bet told me, “I was thrilled to meet him. He really impressed me. He had a good presence and a wonderful aura. You could really feel it. He seemed to be such a loving person.

“And it was obvious he thought the world of Don. Don was the ‘apple of his eye.’”

I asked Bet if there was anything specific that Master did that showed his high regard for Swamiji.

“No, nothing specific,” Bet said. “He did praise Don, but that was only part of it. It was the overall impression I remember.” Then she said again, “It was obvious that Don was the ‘apple of his eye.’”

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