An early influence on Paramhansa Yogananda was Mahendranth Gupta, who Yogananda referred to as “Master Mahasaya.” An entire chapter in Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi was dedicated to “The Blissful Devotee and His Cosmic Romance.”
This saintly guide to the young Yogananda was a great disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, writing, as “M.”, the most well known book about Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
Yogananda described him in Autobiography of a Yogi:
Who was this simple saint, whose least request to the Universal Spirit met with sweet acquiescence? His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew. In this Amherst Street house, Master Mahasaya conducted a small high school for boys. No words of chastisement passed his lips; no rule and ferule maintained his discipline. Higher mathematics indeed were taught in these modest classrooms, and a chemistry of love absent from the textbooks. He spread his wisdom by spiritual contagion rather than impermeable precept. Consumed by an unsophisticated passion for the Divine Mother, the saint no more demanded the outward forms of respect than a child.
He had such deep reverence for Master Mahasaya that he once remarked, “I would roll on the ground where he’d walked, so great was my love for him. I felt that even that ground had been sanctified.”
Master Mahasaya played a prominent role in Yogananda’s search for God as Divine Mother. Shortly after losing his earthly mother, Yogananda was distraught and pleaded with Master Mahasaya, “Holy sir, thy intercession! Ask Divine Mother if I find any favor in Her sight!”
Through the saint’s intercession, Yogananda shortly had a vision of the Divine Mother:
Haloed in splendor, the Divine Mother stood before me. Her face, tenderly smiling, was beauty itself.
“Always have I loved thee! Ever shall I love thee!”
The celestial tones still ringing in the air, She disappeared.
Yogananda spent many days with his friend and guide, describing his divine guidance thus:
From him I learned the sweetness of God in the aspect of Mother, or Divine Mercy. The childlike saint found little appeal in the Father aspect, or Divine Justice. Stern, exacting, mathematical judgment was alien to his gentle nature.”