We started this site as a tribute to Kamala and made it fully interactive with the hope that others — like you — would participate.
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Sharing tea parties and pumpkin pie is one of my favorite memories of the days I spent with Kamala at St. Joseph's. We had learned from Edward and from several of Kamala's friends that she LOVED sweets, and even had been known to have dessert as her main course in years past.
So I asked her one day shortly before Thanksgiving if she liked pumpkin pie. Her eyes lit up and she nodded, "Oh, yes!"
The Friday after that Thanksgiving and the day after every holiday our family served pumpkin pie, I would pack up my tea party picnic and toodle off to Castro Valley. I always had a special herb tea of peppermint, spearmint, linden flowers and rose petals that I'd prepare right before I left. I took especially pretty tea cups and plates, a sturdy but pretty teapot, a bouquet of antique roses, a lap tray with a pretty placemat, and the piéce-de-resistance --- the pie --- whipped cream and all.
When I'd walk in the door, Kamala would already know what I was up to (more stories about that later). She would be positively beaming! She'd pat the bed beside her, inviting me to climb up and join her. From her hospital bed, I'd pour our tea, but the real treat was watching her with that pie. From the first bite, she'd be in bliss.
When all the goodies were gone, we'd sit there just holding hands, enjoying the pleasure of being together, mostly silent, staring at the large photo of ... READ MORE
June 21, 1997 was Kamala's last birthday. About ten of us gathered to celebrate with Kamala. Because there were so many of us, the staff suggested we use the facility's social room, a pretty space with lots of windows and comfy seating.
We brought her funny little gifts that she enjoyed, like the silly blue ribbon she wears in the photo, with #1 imprinted in gold on its face. She really seemed tickled when we pinned that ribbon onto her sweater.
The Dunlop's brought a harmonium, and Jan played several of Master's chants. Kamala did not chant with us, but she smiled broadly and nodded her head to the music. She especially enjoyed O, Thou King of the Infinite, which Edward later told us was her favorite chant.
Kamala was in her element. She even asked to go to the piano and "tickle the keys," which astounded the St. Joseph's staff, who had not even been aware that Kamala could play the piano.
It is a happy memory. We feel so blessed to have been able to make Kamala so happy on her special day, her final birthday on this earth.
After her years of seclusion, while at St. Joseph's Convalescent Hospital in Castro Valley Kamala loved to have visitors. When we first found out about her residence at St. Joseph's, she had not had visitors for quite some time. Carol (Catalina) had some experience with nursing homes from her youth, and she insisted that we maintain a steady presence at St. Joseph's because when elderly have no visitors, their care is sometimes neglected.
Carol also suggested that we get Kamala several little cotton housecoats, the kind with the zipper front or button front, several pairs of slippers, and some sweaters, and that everything be marked with indelible ink to identify Kamala's items in the various communal closets the staff would often use. Because Kamala dearly loved being outdoors on the patio, we also purchased as many lap blankets as possible and marked them all accordingly.
Whenever the weather permitted, we would take Kamala to the patio for her lunchtime. It seems in retrospect that the weather was most often good when we were there, because I remember very rare occasions when we were not able to go to the patio.
Kamala was a strict vegetarian, and it seemed St. Joseph's was not accustomed to feeding vegetarian patients, because Kamala's lunches always seemed to be the same thing, a glass of milk, a glass of juice, and a cheese sandwich, which Kamala found quite ... READ MORE
Bonnie Reed and Kamala on porch of Cabin in Colorado.
Kamala's mother and dearest friend for most of her life was a loving, wonderful mom. She was, on the one hand, extremely open-minded and brave, and had no qualms about taking her impressionable daughter to see an exotic Indian Swami lecture or even welcoming him as their guest of honor into their homes. On the other hand, she was fiercely protective of her lovely child.
During their stays at the Mt. Washington headquarters, Dr. Buchanan would not take even the briefest trips to Santa Barbara without appointing a surrogate mother to fill her own shoes, going so far as insisting that her appointed chaperone had a bed to use at night in Kamala's room while she was away. An avid photographer, we have Dr. Buchanan to thank for many captivating photos of Kamala from her childhood through young adulthood. We'll be adding many of these to the site in the coming months.
This photo was taken in their newly built home, into which they settled shortly after meeting Swami Yogananda and entertaining him at their cottage in Manhattan Beach.
Kamala's closest friend and confidant from the 1950s through the very end of her life was Bonnie Reed. Bonnie was her beloved secretary and also helped with editing and polishing both of Kamala's books, The Flawless Mirror and Priceless Precepts. Bonnie married Haig Koobatian in the early 1960s.
Haig Koobatian had been a high school teacher before becoming a B17 bomber navigator during WWII. When he returned home from the war, he returned to college and earned an MBA. His father was an early member of SRF, and in 1952 Master called Haig home to SRF as well. Haig became a devoted student of Master's revered disciple, Dr. Lewis, and studied with him for many years. Haig later found his true calling as a healer. At the age of 57, he graduated from chiropractic school and went into practice. Haig still sees patients today, at age 87, ever ready to help anyone destiny brings his way.
Haig and Bonnie Koobatian were mainstays of the Sacramento Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Group. They helped to establish the Center there, and both of them served selflessly for decades to support Master's work in Northern California. Bonnie Reed Koobatian passed away in October 2005 and is still sorely missed by many of us. Such a dear sweet soul.
It was around 1976 when I was first attending the Self-Realization Services in Encinitas that I had the great happiness of reading Kamala Silva's wonderful book, The Flawless Mirror. I had been following other spiritual teachings and meditation methods, and her book was as inestimable help to me personally in coming to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.
Her book made the Master seem so "present", Divine yet also near and dear. I am so deeply grateful that it fell into my hands at just the right time.
It did not occur to me that I would ever meet the author or correspond with her. But in 1981 during an extremely traumatic and difficult time in my life, I felt drawn toward writing to the Piedmont Station address in her book, which I still had. She wrote back almost immediately, and for the next four years I was blessed to correspond with her about many spiritual topics, and especially about Paramhansa Yogananda.
But I was only one of many devotees to whom she gave so much time and truly divine Friendship. After retiring from her many years as an SRF minister in the San Francisco Bay area, she continued serving by counseling countless devotees through years of personal correspondence. She poured out all of this wisdom and insight and loving kindness freely.
It is a special joy now to be able to submit some of these letters, excerpts of various letters for the kamalasilva.org ... READ MORE
This was one of the last letters I received from Kamala, and I have given the original letter to KamalaSilva.org to share with devotees. I hope it will clarify and even comfort devotees of Paramhansa Yogananda as to her continued and warm relationship with Self-Realization Fellowship and Daya Mata.
Over the years that I had the privilege to correspond with Kamala, I never really asked any questions of a personal nature. The ongoing questions and discussions were about the Master, meditation, his teachings, and so forth. Part of this letter is a discussion about a young devotee in the Bay Area who had written to Kamala after reading her book, The Flawless Mirror. She had mentioned his interest to me of living in a situation or environment that had a strong focus upon the Master and his teachings. At that time, I rented several rooms in my home to individuals interested in yoga and meditation.
She also responded, however, to another question of mine. Since I knew nothing of her current relationship with SRF, I offered to purchase books and tapes for her. I knew she was retired and lived in seclusion, and she answered my question in this letter explaining that relations with SRF and Daya Mata were friendly and ongoing. She also adds comments about her own book, and also about the new recordings of Yogananda being released at that time by SRF.
I was very happy to learn that she and Daya ... READ MORE