The Bettelu Letters
Introduction Bettelu Letter #1 Bettelu Letter #2 Bettelu Letter #3 Srimati Nerode's Comments Interview Notes


“Something has gone wrong in this organization. I came, searching for God but my disillusionment was so great that my spiritual ideals are disturbed.”

The Bettelu Letters were written by an 18 year old girl who was temporarily living at Mt. Washington Estates (hereafter called MW) along with her mother. She and her mother (Evabrook Miller) had been invited to MW by Swami Yogananda late in 1937. They had come to the Los Angeles area to pursue a possible movie career by Bettelu. Bettelu implies that she and her mother had been left destitute because another girl, Peggy, (ostensibly a family member) “sneaked out and left us flat” and says that Yogananda had invited them to stay at MW. Yogananda’s motive is not clear for offering free residence at MW, although Bettelu acknowledges “ I came, searching for God.” Perhaps it was in fulfillment of Bettelu’s spiritual longing that Yogananda made his generous offer. Nowhere is there documentation as to when Bettelu had added this desire to her original movie-career motives.

Bettelu’s letters start with the sentences quoted above and she goes on to describe in reticent detail Yogananda’s behavior with her.

The two letters are addressed to the nominal head of MW, Sri Nerode, who had accompanied and transported the Millers to MW along with his wife Srimati (Agnes) Nerode. Sri Nerode, to my knowledge, has never written anything about these letters. I have published the majority of Sri Nerode’s writings, and there is no reference in any of them to this incident. Bettelu’s mother nonetheless thanks the Nerodes in a handwritten letter in 1966 (some 27 years later) for transporting them off MW. (Her letter is Bettelu Letter #3 Transcribed.) Neither, to my knowledge, have there been written statements regarding the option of writing Bettelu’s father (in Indiana) asking him to rescue her and her mother (his wife).

These letters are placed here without much comment or interpretation. Please note that Evabrook’s letter has been edited to remove unrelated family history. These two people, if not deceased already, would be octogenarians or nonagenarian by now. They have no role in, awareness of, and therefore no motive in the publishing of these papers.

The writings of Srimati (Agnes) Nerode are presented here because they give a context to Bettelu’s concerns and the Nerodes’ response.

Some of these issues I discussed in my book The Seventh Life available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The entire Appendix for that book is online at The handwritten letters of Bettelu are there for viewing online as are the writings of Srimati Nerode.

Only the transcribed letters are presented here, including the truncated #3 letter written by the mother.


March 8 – Guru-Disciple Relationship

Swami Sri Yukteswar to his disciple Paramahansa Yogananda:

"I will be your friend from now to Eternity, no matter whether you are on the lowest mental plane or on the highest plane of wisdom. I will be your friend even if you should err, for then you will need my friendship more than at any other time."