Sri Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982) was one of the most influential
spiritual luminaries of the Twentieth Century. Her devotees
ranged from Prime Ministers and great Saints down to
the simplest villagers, and people came from all over
the world to simply see Her and sit in Her presence.
Though virtually uneducated, She spoke with the authority
of direct experience and captivated all with Her sweetness
and power. To this day, Her presence and guidance is
felt by those who turn to Her in prayer, and Her life
is an inspiration to all who feel drawn to the spiritual
Many times in the history of the world, Divinity has
manifested to bring light, guidance and inspiration
to the human race. Anandamayi Ma was an embodiment of
Divinity and spiritual power in our own times, and Her
message and guidance is eternally relevant and uplifting.
She often stressed that Her appearance and birth was
not the result of karma or compulsion, but that She
was the visible manifestation of the pure aspiration
of the spiritual longing of mankind. During Her eighty-six
years on this earth, in Her own unassuming and spontaneous
way, She exerted a profound influence on an entire generation.
Ma was born in April 30th, 1896 in Kheora, East Bengal
(now Bangladesh). Preceded by many miraculous signs
and visions, She exhibited perfect awareness and consciousness
from birth. She never uttered a cry, but was peaceful
and radiant, and later surprised people by remembering
by name people who were present in the immediate time
following Her birth.
She was given the name Nirmala Sundari Devi, meaning
“Goddess of flawless beauty”. At each stage of Her
life, She spontaneously manifested an example of perfection
in fulfilling the different stages of human existence.
As a child, She was the embodiment of sweetness and
beauty, and manifesting no desire of Her own, lived
to serve others, seeing only the One in all, and the
One AS all. The traits of absolute obedience, complete
guilelessness and perfect purity manifested in all Her
behavior, together with a marked mystical quality of
occasional self-absorption in inner yogic states and
As She grew into a young schoolgirl, all the dharma
of this stage was beautifully reflected in Her life.
Complete honesty and obedience joined themselves to
Her naturally free and joyous nature to manifest a personality
that lit up Her village surroundings with its radiance.
In addition to learning the lessons of school, She mastered
all the household crafts and skills necessary to a girl
of Her age. On occasion, while playing with Her friends,
She would become immobile, and with Her face shining
with inner effulgence, divine mantras (holy sound formulas)
would issue from her lips in flawless accents. When
hearing kirtan, She would enter into a deep inner bhav
with tears streaming down Her face.
According to custom, Ma’s marriage was arranged at
an early age, and the ceremony took place when She was
only thirteen years old. When She was eighteen, Her
husband called Her to join him in the town of Ashtagram.
Her husband, Sri Ramani Chakravarty had assumed he had
married a simple village girl, but when She entered
into his life, he found Her wrapped in such an aura
of holiness and sanctity, that any thoughts of a normal
marital relationship were driven from his mind. Considerably
older than Her, he came to look on Her as a divine Child,
and himself as Her guardian. He later turned to Her
for spiritual counsel as a Guru, and She molded his
life and led him to the heights of spiritual attainment.
Here in Ashtagram, for six full years we see in Ma’s
life the play of sadhana (spiritual discipline and striving).
It is called Lila (Divine Sport or Play), because having
perfect, integral knowledge of Reality from birth, there
was nothing for Her personally to attain. For the sake
of all who would later come to Her for guidance, it
was necessary that all the kriyas and sadhanas in every
religious Tradition spontaneously be manifested in Her
person and come to the perfect fruition of enlightenment.
And so it happened. Practices that take sadhaks lifetimes
to perfect played through Her body in a matter of minutes.
Because of this She became an abode of sadhana shakti
(spiritual power), and in later days, She was immediately
familiar with the problems and practices of anyone who
came to Her for advice, regardless of what culture or
religion they came from.
Although having no external Guru, in 1922 She spontaneously
went through the ritual of Initiation exactly according
to the Shastras, the Guru emerging from within, and
after imparting the instruction and empowerment, being
absorbed back into Her own Self. She later gave Her
husband diksha, changing his name to Bholanath, and
beginning his transformation from a simple, yet virtuous
man of the world, into a great sadhak and saint.
In 1924, when Bholanath was working as the manager
of a large garden estate in Dacca, the story spread
by word of mouth that there was an unusual Mataji living
in the gardens who was immersed in a deeply spiritual
state. Devotees began to be attracted as bees to the
flower, and soon a large following had gathered around
Ma, many of whom were devoted to Her for the remainder
of their lives. The garden estate became the center
of daily kirtan and religious festival. Ma never gave
formal speeches, but answered everyone’s questions
and guided all according to their inner needs. Although
having little formal education, She spoke with the authority
of direct perception, and Her spontaneous replies even
won the admiration of scholars and pandits.
In the year 1932, Ma left Bengal and for the next fifty
years of Her life, wandered the length and breadth of
India, never staying in any one place for long. Led
only by the needs of the many devotees that surrounded
Her and the inner call of mankind to manifest spirituality,
She gave comfort and guidance to all that came to Her.
The divine attraction that drew people to Her cannot
be explained in words. People found a joy and inner
awakening in Her presence, and felt that She was someone
who had known them from eternity. There is a wealth
of stories of Ma’s guidance and blessing, many accompanied
by supernatural manifestations. Many ashrams sprang
up in Her Name and became centers of spiritual activities.
Even political leaders came to Her, and She was loved
and respected by Mahatma Gandhi, and Prime Ministers
Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Many famous Saints and Mahatmas
realized Her divinity and even openly proclaimed it.
Ma left Her mortal body in the year 1982 in Her ashram
in Dehradun UA. It was enshrined in a beautiful marble
Samadhi in Kankhal, south of the pilgrimage center of
Haridwar, and to this day the Jyoti Peeth (Center of
Light) radiates blessing and light to the entire world.
Ma still makes Her divine presence felt to those who
turn to Her in prayer.
May all be inspired to learn more about Ma, and turn
to Her for guidance, blessing and inspiration. Jai Ma!