The Self-Realization Fellowship, a Los Angeles-based organization that follows a spiritual path rooted in both Hinduism and Christianity, has elected a new leader, the fourth since it was established in 1920.
The fellowship announced Tuesday that Sri Mrinalini Mata, who became a Self-Realization nun at the age of 15, was elected president last week by its eight-member board of directors, the Los Angeles Times reports. She succeeds Sri Daya Mata, the group’s longtime leader, who died in November.
The selection of Mrinalini Mata, 79, means that the fellowship will continue to be led by a woman, and by a direct disciple of its founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi who is credited with helping to popularize yoga and meditation in the West. Mrinalini Mata has been vice president of the organization since 1966.
“It shows that they’re very traditional — that they’re holding on to a tradition,” said Lola Williamson, a professor of religion at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and the author of “Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion,” which examines the Self-Realization Fellowship and two other movements.