The Universal Mother
Shree Shree Anandamayee Sangha is extremely thankful to Shri Omkarnath Goenka whose port has made possible to get this publication - out on the occasion of Shree Shree Ma Anandamayee Centenary Celebrations (1995-96)
The Universal Mother
(A Divine Presence on the Earth, 1896 -1982)
Dr. Buddhadev Bhattacharya
(Original Text in Bengali)
Translated by: Shri Asim Chatterjee
Artist: (illustrations) Sri Ratan Acharya
Front Cover designer:
Sri C. R. Pakrashi
Published by: Swami Swarupananda
Shree Shree Anandamayee Sangha
Kankhal, Hardwar U.P. India
SANJIB ROY, Managing Director
Lalchand Roy & Co. (P) Ltd.
7 & 7/1, Grant Lane, Calcutta-700012.
Some years back, an ardent devotee of Ma, Sri Onkarnath Goenka, an Industrialist, presented me a beautiful profusely illustrated book —Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’. The paintings were done by a reputed Indonesian Artist. A spark ignited in my mind, the wish to put together a similar work on the life of our Holy Mother. I expressed my feelings to Goenkaji. He readily agreed and offered all help.
In the meantime a famous artist, Mrinal Das was entrusted with the work of painting the murals on Mother‘s life, to be put up on the inside walls of the Anand Jyoti Peetham in Kankhal. He could have been the right artist for this work. But unfortunately, he was no more when this collection was planned. Late Das’s able assistant Sri Ratan Acharya, who was also associated with the former job was contacted. It was decided that the entire life of the Mother will be covered by about fifty five paintings.
Dr. Buddhadev Bhattacharya, a noted writer and a disciple of Ma was chosen to write a complete biography of the Mother. He did an admirable job, the manuscripts being written in Bengali. Dr. Bhattacharya, had to take a lot of pains in collecting the innumerable data of each day in the life of the Mother spanning eighty six years. This tremendous labour of both mind and body has culminated into the status of Puja. Every word is ‘Anjali’. Let Mothers blessings enrich his realisation more and more.
Shri Aditya Sen, Journalist, did the first editing of the Bengali manuscripts. He did a good job. Sri Amal Kumar Roy, a noted disciple of Sri Sitaramdas Onkarnath and Srimat Narendra Nath Brahmachary and an ardent devotee of Ma did the final editing. He critically went through the manuscripts and made certain valuable additions. For the excellent work, he did so painstakingly he deserves our heartfelt thanks. I pray for the Mother’s constant blessings on him.
Sri Asim Chatterjee, a veteran journalist, undertook the onerous task of translating the Bengali text into English. He completed this difficult task creditably in short time. We are thankful to him. May Ma’s blessings be showered on him.
Shri Swapan Mullick another veteran journalist critically went through the English proofs and did an excellent job meticulously. He also deserves our heartfelt thanks. -
Sri Anil Guha deserves thanks for his selfless devotion and untiring efforts. Besides his tremendous responsibility for the birth centenary celebrations of the Mother and day-to-day administrative function of Delhi Ashram, being the Secretary, he has overburdened himself for publishing this book in time. I pray for the Mothers constant blessings on him.
Sri Ratan Acharya has indeed done a marvellous job in expressing the various memorable moments and events in Ma’s life through his fine paintings numbering 60. I feel happy to see that the spark I had some years back, has become a reality through his beautiful paintings.
The total exercise Sri Acharya had to undergo in so short a time is simply incredible and can be termed as ‘sacrifice’ in the real sense of the term. This has elevated him to the status of a Yogi, which I personally witness. This is possibly the best reward he got. I’ll fail in my duty if I don’t mention the name of his wife Smt. Rekha Acharya, and Smt. Chhaya Das (Late Mrinal Das’s sister-in-law)—both artists without whose unstinted cooperation, he could not have completed his mission. I acknowledge with thanks the services they have rendered. Let the Mothers blessings be showered on them.
The transparency of all the paintings was done by Sri Sarad Kr. Mirani in a very short time and with proficiency. I acknowledge his service with thanks with prayer to the Mother for her blessings on him.
The paintings were preserved with care in the house of Sri Sailen Ghosh, an ardent devotee and disciple of the Mother. Meetings, discussions etc. were all held in his house. Smt. Ranu Ghosh, the disciple of the Mother, extended all co-operation so much so that the house has developed the flavour of Mandir. Let Mother’s blessings constantly shower on the couple.
I acknowledge with thanks the contributions made by Prof. N. K. Panigrahi, D.Litt., P. R. S. Smt. Sushmita Roy and Sri Lokenath Chakrabarti in various ways in the production of this book. Let Shree Ma’s blessings be constantly showered on them.
The book has been printed in the Press - Lalchand Roy & Company Private Limited, Calcutta. Sri Sanjib Kumar Roy, Managing Director of the Company took a personal interest in printing and doing the job in time. His executives and other staff extended all co-operation for timely publication of the book. I acknowledge their services with thanks. They have done an excellent job.
I am grateful to Shri B. K. Shah, President and Shri Govind Narainji, Vice-President of the Sangha for giving me all the necessary encouragement and guidance from time to time in the preparation and production of this magnificent publication on Shree Ma. May Ma’s blessings be always with them.
I am equally grateful to Maharaja Manabendra Shah, Vice-President of the Sangha and Chairman of the Centenary Celebrations Committee and to Dr. D.Mukhopadhyay and Shri S.K. Dutta (Patun) for helping me in various ways to bring out this publication on the occasion of the Centenary Celebrations of Shree Ma’s Maha-Abirbhav. Ma’s blessings be showered on them.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, President of India for favoring us with the Foreword. It has indeed enhanced the value of this publication. Ma’s Blessings be always with him.
Lastly, I should fail in my duty if I do not mention that it is the inspiration and encouragement of Shri O. N. Goenka and his family — all blessed by Ma — that has made it possible to publish this profusely illustrated book on Ma in such a short time for release at the inaugural function of Shree Shree Ma’s Maha-Abirbhav Centenary celebrations.
I am very glad to learn that a pictorial biography of Shree Shree Ma Anandamayee is being brought out on the occasion of her Centenary Celebrations.
Ma Anandamayee was a truly remarkable phenomenon of our times who preached the message of compassion, truth and love. This biography chronicles Shree Ma’s journey through our world, beginning with her early years, the first manifestations of her divine being, her acceptance as the Universal Mother and culminating in her spiritual goals and the message. It brings’ out Shree Ma’s ceaseless quest for the welfare of fellow beings, which was in evidence during her extensive travels through the country. The biography also gives the reader a sense of her saintly personality, which evoked such admiration and esteem.
Ma Anandamayee was noted for her commitment to universal religion and the common tenets of all faiths. She believed that different religions were but diverse paths leading to the ultimate goal. An incident is related in the biography of how she reached the Mazar of a Faqir at Shahbag and spontaneously offered Namaz, even though she had never received any teaching of Islam. Shree Ma did not establish a religious philosophy of her own but instead encouraged belief in all the religious disciplines. By doing so, she contributed immensely to the enrichment of our composite culture.
Ignorance was, to Shree Ma, the greatest obstacle to the progress of mankind. She said “Illusion created by ignorance invites undue agony by not allowing to seek the truth. Such is the way of the world.” She, therefore, endeavoured to spread the light and trod the path of self-knowledge, seeking to make ours a society based on moral and ethical values.
This biography seeks to reflect Shree Ma’s spirituality through words and pictures. It is a very commendable endeavour and I am personally pleased that it is being published on this auspicious occasion. It will help the reader receive and understand the divine message of Shree Ma and appreciate the great soul about whom it was said: “She is not a seeker of truth — she is naturally endowed with it, complete in herself. Such souls come to earth to serve specific purposes and on the completion of which, leave the world.”
(SHANKER DAYAL SHARMA)
New Delhi,April 21, 1995.
A baby was born to Mokshdasundari in 1896. She passed her childhood and youth, grew into ripe old age and she left this world in 1982. The 86 years that elapsed between her coming and going have been recorded with immense labour almost everyday of it. The reader will come across brief journeys from one place to another like innumerable small waves. This is not poetry or literature; yet reading these pages, the heart of the reader is tossed by every wave as it were, as if contemplating this long persistent spectacle without his being aware of it, is tossed away from multiplicity towards the One in deep meditation. One wonders how this is possible. Is it the power of the waves, or that of the ocean, which lies behind? Or is it the vast expanse of the sea; or the consciousness of the infinite - the Brahman?
The main stream, so to speak, that appeared in 1896 and dissolved in 1982—that is the human body behind which lies the vast ocean of consciousness where time stands still, where there is neither coming nor going, where there are no waves. There is only the eternal present. It is through her power that the reader will he tossed by along with the waves—this can be affirmed with confidence.
In this connection the great Sanskrit scholar and philosopher, Mahamahopadhyay Yogendranath Tarka-Sankhya-Vedantatirtha provides a Shastric confirmation of my contention. He has said in a philosophical discourse which can be summed up as follows: ‘This unmistakable sign of the full manifestation of divinity in a human body is that from his (or her) birth till death chronicle of every day must be recorded in some way or other by somebody. Adding the events in a chronological order one may get a full picture. In this book we get this full portrait made up of a long chronicle of everyday—of our Mother.
Seen from this point of view an unusual dimension has been added to this chronicle. It may be said that the labor of the author Sri Buddhadev Bhattacharya has attained the status of pure Sadhana. But the essential nature of the target of this Sadhana can be perceived only through the exalted power of the Supreme. This is, as it were the Vimarsa Sakti (the power of self-contemplation) of the Pratyabhijna philosophy, which is reflected in every sentence; every word of a small letter—written by the exponent of Omkaravada Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath. The letter is addressed to our Sri Sri Ma Anandamayee. This wonderful letter constitutes the beginning of the book. It is almost like the birth-throes of the One becoming the Many, like a stupendous effort to spread oneself out in the Cosmos.
At the end of the book we find again three quotations. Both the Prologue and the Epilogue are constituted by the quotations. In between, the author has presented the innumerable waves of the divinely vibrant play of life, just as it happened. Going through the entire book new insight into reality opens up. One gets a powerful sense of novelty noticing a marvelous significance in the chronological sequence of events.
The meticulously collected account of activities and deeds of the Mother testifies too the truth of the illuminating remarks of the revered scholar M. M. Yogendranath Sankhya-Vedantatirtha— the remarks which receive full corroboration from an outstanding spiritual personality Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath. We have heard this striking corroboration in the remarkable small letter with which this book begins.
In the first of these quotations appended at the end of the book an amazing man of genius of this century Mahamahopadhyay Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj has made us recognise our mother as the sustainer of the cosmos (Jagaddhatri). He has prayed to her to manifest herself in her full divinity, breaking all barriers of ignorance. But even prakasa (Self-revelation) cannot manifest itself without the help of Vimarsa (Self-contemplation). That prayer has been fully embodied in the aforesaid letter of the gracious compassionate Thakur Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath.
Besides, an inscrutable mystery has been unraveled in the second quotation. This, again, is from Thakur Sri Omkamath. Now we come to that point. Sri Sri Ma was herself her own Guru. But the shastras and the teachings of great spiritual masters unanimously declare that for every Sadhaka (Spiritual aspirant) in quest of liberation (Mukti) must receive initiation from a Guru. In this context one gathers from the spiritual discourses of M. M. Gopinath Kaviraj that an external Guru becomes unnecessary for one in whose soul right spiritual intuition arises spontaneously. It is a rare exception. We witness this exception in the case of Sri Sri Ma. The question then will arise Can any exception which violates the natural causal relation (between Guru and Sisya) enjoined by the Shastras be admitted? How is one to reconcile this contradiction?
A solution, however, is most desirable whether in the case of Sri Sri Ma or in that of the observance of Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj. It seems therefore, somewhere there lays a mystery, a profound spiritual mystery, which eludes our intellect. We are thus bewildered. It is the second quotation from Thakur Sri Sri Omkamath, which can rid us of this delusion. In the light of this observation, we find no difficulty in admitting that what appears to be an exception to or a transgression of the Shastric injunctions is in reality an unfathomable mystery. So far from being an exception or violation, it is not even a transgression of the principle of causality; rather, it is a terminal point of a long-connected causal sequence taking us back to the previous incarnation and culminating in the moment of birth of Sri Sri Ma.
In this last quotation of the addenda Sri Sri Thakur has revealed this profound truth reminding us of the divine utterance of the blessed Lord in the Bhagavad-Gita, to the effect that he will descend over and over again whenever there will be corruption and spiritual degradation in this world. We are consoled and reassured and wistfully look forward to the future when He will come down to us. But shall we be able to recognise him, if he does not reveal Himself as He did in the bliss-giving mortal embodiment of Sri Anandamayee. The future will give us the reply.
Salutation to the Preceptor
(Sri Sri Guruve Namah)
Sri Sri Rishikesh Ashram
21. 6. 88 (Bengali era)
Oh! Kind Mother,
Beloved Mother, assuming all forms Thou art playing with Thyself. Before creation Thou alone existed. The desire arose in Thee. Let me be born, let me multiply. It is Thou who became Mahat, Ahamkara, Pancatanmatra and Pancabhuta. It is Thou who became the thousands of millions of Universes (Brahmanda). Hundreds of millions of Salutations to Thee and Thy Lila (divine play). I bow down today to Thy triumphant cosmic play.
On the occasion of Bijoya Dashami in 1388 (1981) this letter was written by Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath from his Rishikesh Ashram to Sri Sri Anandamayee Ma then staying at the Kankhal Ashram.
MA Anandamayee was in this world for a little over 86 years. The divine life, spreading bliss and joy among everyone, a symbol of the highest in spirituality, a presence revered by the holiest of the holy, by people of learning, wealth, authority and intellect. Yet, hers was not a distant presence holding one in awe and wonder. She was essentially a dear one, a mother to all, permeating every soul with warmth and affection.
The narrative which follows does not try to explain what MA really was, because MA herself said that she was what the person seeking to know thought her to be. Here then is a somewhat graphic description of the years of MA’s presence in this world, the understanding of her divinity left to the individual reader.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Extremely rare are the occasions when the Maha Maya chooses to assume physical features or the Lord of the Universe Shiva a human form. It is then for a cause to serve humanity for its welfare and education. From time eternal, India has been fortunate to have these God-like beings from time to time. They descend to the earth with a divine illumination from a thousand suns.
She also descends one day - MA Anandamayee bringing glory and bliss to mother Mokhshada Sundari and father Bipin Behari Bhattacharya.
Kheora is a sleepy and peaceful village in Tnpura, now in Bangladesh. MA was born there around 3.45 a.m. on April 30, 1896. Bipin Behari was originally from village Vidyakoot, Kheora being his maternal uncle’s place. He happened to be living in Kheora with his wife at the time. A daughter earlier born to Mokhshadasundari died prematurely. With that tragedy in mind Mokhshada [Grandma (Didima) to the devotees] took the newborn MA before a Tulsi sapling installed in the house in the morning and rolled the infant over and over on the ground. The ritual was repeated every day for eighteen months. When MA grew up, she did it all by herself’- an infant god frolicking in front of her other self, symbolised by the Tulsi.
Endless were her Lila’s and actions suggesting her divinity. Even before her manifestation, Mokhshada had started having visions of gods and goddesses in dream. She continued to have such visions after MA’s abirbhav.
Father Bipin Behari led an unusual life prior to her birth. He suddenly left home for about 10 months, took to saffron robes and got absorbed in the constant chanting of the name of Hari. In MA’s words “My arrival coincided with the period of his mood of renunciation.”
Equally fascinating was the moment of MA’s arrival. There was no one in the room. Her mother experiencing no labour pain. That was how MA revealed herself. The newborn did not cry out as usual. Asked about this later, MA said, “Why should I cry. Well, I could see a mango tree through the fencing.” Her own statement is a key to understanding MA’s real self - a being possessed with the Truth at her birth.
It is pertinent to ask whether this possessor of the ultimate truth had planned her own arrival on earth. If it was not so, how could Bipin Behari’s mother, while praying at the Kasba Kali temple, feel the compulsion to plead for a girl child to be born to Bipin Behani while she had actually gone there to pray for a male child?
Even in her infancy, the girl was endowed with absolute perception. When she was just thirteen days old, Bipin Behari’s maternal uncle, Nandan Chakravarty, came to see the new born. Mokshada Sundari (Grandma) had completely forgotten the incident. She was struck dumb when MA reminded her of the visit years later. How could a thirteen-day old baby know of the visit?
There were many such incidents. She was about 10 months old then and staying at Vidyakoot. There appeared a glowing figure of a male, clad in near-saffron standing near MA and then bending down. MA crawled to him as if he was a dear one, known for ages. The figure watched her in a gaze, touched her and fondled her with infinite care and then made a gesture in the manner of worship. Grandma was close by watching. Addressing her, the man said, “This is the Mother - beyond all bonds. No one can confine her to a home”. Suddenly the man was gone.
Some people realised the true significance, others did not. She was a child of 2 years and 10 months when Grandma took her to a neighbour’s (Chandranath Bhattacharya’s) place to listen to Kirtans. The child seemed to be dozing off from time to time and Grandma, prodded her to listen to the singing. In fact, the child was in a state of trance as the spirit of singing pervaded her. Later, MA told her mother the effect the singing had on her and described the events. Commenting on this later, MA said she always moved into a trance on such occasions, even as a child. But then the time was not ripe to give full expression to the mood. Once, in a proper mood, MA uttered the message “Singing in praise of Hari is the final utterance - the rest is wasteful agony”.
On another occasion, at the age of three, MA burst into tears after attending a session of rural poet-singers and sat crying silently under a cluster of banana trees. How could the child perceive the anguish of Radha in separation as she appeared in the court of Sri Krishna?
Well, the child remained an enigma. Once in her early childhood, MA went to a neighbour (a great grandmother) to fetch some buttermilk. This was a daily routine and she carried a pot close to her belly. Something happened and the old lady refused to give buttermilk. As the words of refusal were being uttered, the old lady saw to her amazement that the collected curd was oozing out of a hole in the pot. She hastened to retrieve a portion from the pot and offered it to MA. Since then, the old lady made it a point to reserve some butter milk for MA even when she was late.
Another incident at Vidyakoot.
An aunt of Mokhshada asked MA to clean the hearth and floor; the child readily completed the job. The aunt was amazed to see the work of the child and wondered how there could be marks of big palm movements in a job done by a child?
Many were these early indications which few around her realised. MA’s pleasing disposition was attributed to her parents. Bipin Behani was of Kuhn stock, a truthful Kashyap Brahmin, devoted to higher spiritual attainments, a renowned singer of devotional songs. Nirmala Sundari (MA) learnt kirtans from her father. Mokhshada was a worthy wife - a religious lady, kind to guests, and managed the house efficiently within the limited means. In short, it was a virtuous family - whose watchwords were sacrifice, service and devotion. Our MA, Nirmala Sundari of those days, grew up in such a setting.
The childhood years of MA Anandamayee were full of beauty, grace and wonder. The period was marked by the manifestation of her supernatural powers or her breaking away from traditional norms and customs and at times by the display of purity and sublime serenity.
MA frequently went into a trance as a child. Somewhere at a distance, a Kirtan session is on and Nirmala Sundari, listening from her bed, is transformed. The room is dark, her state unknown to family members.
Of course, there were indications. She is usually absent-minded - remains lost in thought even while eating. She probably has visions as she looks up. Grandma gets annoyed but it fails to get a response from the child. Explaining later MA said - used to see a procession of Gods and Goddesses floating by”.
Strange was the incident of visiting the Mad Shiva at Chalna, where she had gone as a child, accompanying a great grandmother. She left MA at the temple premises and went on a round with her companions. Returning after some time she found MA sitting at the same spot in the same posture without a movement. Nirmala is said to have seen Lord Shiva on that occasion. She saw the Mad Shiva of the temple walking out on to a pond and frolicking in the water. Well, is this the way that an embodiment of the Brahman visualises its own self - a mirror image in the early years? Who knows?
Perhaps it is a divine sport - to see one’s own self without revealing it to others. It was Durga Puja at her maternal uncle’s place in Sultanpur. She was six or seven. As she watched the ritual in progress, she underwent a change. She starts chanting - unclear words, incomprehensible mantras. An uncle standing near is a witness but he fails to realise the significance.
Once at Kheora, a distantly related grandfather splashed water on her in jest. The grand-daughter joined the fun and ran away to fetch some water. The little girl splashed a fistful of water from a considerable distance on a bewildered grandpa. From where did she get the strength to throw from such a distance!
MA’s childhood did not follow the usual pattern. She would not allow her mother to cry even when she felt like crying in her bereavement. MA would cry out loudly herself to force her mother to forget her grief.
She was full of whims. Once, under a blazing sun she started digging sand to build a circular mound, getting drenched in sweat. What is she doing, Mokhshada wonders, and gets a baffling reply: her daughter is watching the Gods and Goddesses, all those who are installed in people’s homes. Krishna, Radha, Ram, Narayan, you name it and you find it in the sand. The mother becomes speechless - is she getting glimpses of the eternal truth from the utterances of a mere child?
The daughter, however, gets little schooling. The first school was at the maternal uncle’s village. To the amazement of the teacher, the little girl learnt the Bengali alphabets in a day - both vowels and consonants. There was some irregular schooling at Kheora too. But she proved herself during tests - the questions somehow always came from the limited number of lessons studied by her. Once she memorised a poem in preparation for a School Inspector’s visit. He came, asked her to recite the same very piece and was highly pleased with the performance. In fact, she could learn the lessons without much effort, even if she had to catch up with regular classes. The teacher naturally was all praise and promoted the child from alphabet learning class to the lower primary class.
But routine education failed to attract MA. There was no proper atmosphere for studies. Her mind remained enthralled with the communion with the Absolute. Once, two European ladies came to Sultanpur to preach Christianity and a delightful MA would not leave their company. She took money from mother to buy a booklet on Christianity. In the evening, she would run out of the village to be with these ladies resting in their tent.
When she was around eight years old, MA accompanied her father to an aunt’s house at village Tantar. A cousin sister brought a piece from the bark of an unknown tree and a piece of cinnamon, both of which looked alike, to fool her. She wanted to offer the fake stuff to MA but was fooled herself when she discovered that somehow the real one had gone to MA, and it was she who was chewing the bark.
Another incident of the same period.
Her grandmother was silently chanting her secret mantras (lshtamantra) after completing the evening obeisance. No words were being uttered but MA following it perfectly and told grandmother what she had been chanting. The old lady was left speechless.
She was about ten then and was at Kheora. A sort of a grandmother had taken formal initiation to a religious life but forgot the correct hand movements (Anganyas) to go with the prescribed procedure. The little girl showed her the correct movements, even though she had not been taught the way by anyone. At another time, the same grandmother had difficulty putting on her oyster bangles. When everyone failed, the little girl did if effortlessly.
Many around her were amazed to see MA’s unusual relationship with plants and animals. They noticed her talking with these mute beings, the movements of body and head suggesting an animated conversation. The playmates got frightened as they felt as if the plants were also responding to her movements. MA could hear the call from an old withering mango tree, the fallen fruits of which she collected. Commenting on this later MA said, “Innumerable are the forms taken by the Lord, who may decide to fulfil a term as a tree”. Her other comment on the life force in plants and animals was that the spirit was the same in every living being.
Nirmala Sundari had a close relationship with birds and animals. Animals looked up to her in a peculiar way and moved their heads sideways, as they seemed to understand the messages from a friend. Similar was the way with Nirmala Sundari, who understood the language of all creatures - ants, dogs or cows. Dogs fight on the road frightening the pedestrians away. MA came and pretended to pick up something from the road with a closed fist. Like magic, the dogs forgot their quarrel and looked at MA in bewilderment. The cows longed for her company and became restless. Nirmala spent time with these mute friends sending out peals of joyous laughter.
From childhood, MA remains a symbol of divine purity and simplicity. She would obey the seniors. Once she was instructed not to give a pause while reading unless there was a comma or a full stop. She started in one breath and whenever she defaulted, went back to the beginning to start afresh. She did not give up until she could synchronise her breathing with the pause marks.
Her simplicity was noticed by all but was interpreted by some as indicative of dullness. In her playfulness, Nirmala one day carries a pitcher full of water on her side in curved posture of a village belle and confronts her mother. “You describe me as straight and simple but can’t you see my frame curved from head to foot”.
Nirmala was usually cheerful and loved by all. Occasionally, she was chided for her over simplicity. Her mother asked her one day to wash a stone vessel with a warning “You are so useless, it is almost like asking you to break it into pieces.” Nirmala took the vessel to the adjoining pond but forgot her errand and started conversing with the plants and trees. She was so lost that she dropped the vessel which went to pieces. Nirmala remembered mother’s words, returned with the broken pieces and says ‘Mother, here it is’.
“Where is what?” the mother asks.
‘Well, the broken vessel. Didn’t you ask me to bring back the pieces?”.
Thus, she spent her childhood in a simple village setting, pleasing everybody with her natural qualities of heart, enjoying herself despite small discomforts and slowly blooming to reveal ‘herself’ during her earthly sojourn.
Gradually she turns twelve. The parents get anxious to marry her off. There are proposals from several families, but none is acceptable in terms of matching pedigree. At last, father Bipin Behari went to Bikrampur Dokachhi area in search of a match of pure stock. MA seemed to know the future. One day she exclaimed, “I see in this house Officers (Daroga) and policemen”. And a policeman it was he who became her husband.
The groom, Ramani Mohan Chakravarty (Bholanath) worked in the Police Department. His brother-in-law, Sitanath Kushari, was thoroughly pleased after meeting and talking to the bride. On an auspicious day, he came to their house to ceremonially bless the bride. MA was married at the age of 12 years 10 months. The marriage procession came from Kasba to Kheora, the groom riding an elephant and preceded by a band party. Everything went without a hitch but MA broke down when the time for departure came. It was an unusual scene, MA crying uncontrollably. Was she preventing others from breaking down?
On way to her husband’s place, another incident took place at Kasba railway station. MA was inside a compartment surrounded by a mountain load of luggage and the train was about to start when there came a frantic call to shift to another compartment. Before others could react, the young bride went into action. Moving like a flash, she helped move the luggage and got down herself with extraordinary smartness. The incident was observed by Sitanath Kushari who could not help marvelling at her poise and alertness.
Bholanath left for his place of work after the marriage ceremony. MA went to Sripur to live with Bholanath’s elder brother, Rebati, who was the Station Master of Sripur railway station. Rebati’s wife was a sick woman and the burden of the family fell on MA. She did the cooking, dishwashing, house cleaning and attending to the children, all by herself. She neglected her own needs but grudged no one. Instead, she insisted on doing additional work to give relief to the seniors. Her principle was “The duty of a junior is to do the work for the seniors, persuading them to leave the burden to the juniors. If the elders still insist on doing the job, the juniors should obey as a mark of respect but should still be around to render a helping hand.”
Paying respect to seniors came naturally to MA. She would speak softly, get up in the presence of seniors, and cover her body with grace teaching a lesson in propriety to others.
But everything was done without aspiring for returns. She demonstrated this while working in the home of her brother-in-law, serving everybody without expecting any appreciation. Frequently, guests used to visit the house and she would serve them cheerfully. Her message was “The guest is God and you should serve him cheerfully. Service without cheerfulness is no service at all. Never do anything to earn praise or position. Special care should be taken to see that. Your words and manners do not hurt the sentiments of anybody.”
Her work was appreciated by all but it had little effect on MA. There were times when the appreciation due to her was given to somebody else but she never tried to correct the impression. She abhorred self-praise. She said, “Service itself is an achievement. Good work only increases your strength.”
On the other hand, she had to bear the blame for wrongs others did. She would not try to defend herself. If a wrong had been done it was immaterial whether it had been committed by one or the other.
While in Sripur, MA was exemplary in serving the sick lady, her sister-in-law, the mother of Ashu. The lady suffered from itching and would request MA to scratch her body. She would do this cheerfully and would not wash her hands afterwards lest the act had a psychological effect on the sick lady. She also would not see any mischief in anybody’s action. Once a person, known to her, stole one of her ornaments. She knew the culprit but would never divulge the identity.
However, she was really passing through a difficult time those days. She had to spend hours in the small kitchen with a tin roof radiating heat. Hours of work in water would cause skin irritations in hand and feet and then there was the infection from the itches got from her sister-in-law. Nothing could dampen her spirits.
Within a year of her marriage, Bholanath lost his job. There were Court cases and mental agony with the prospect of even imprisonment, but MA kept her composure. In fact, her mental balance seemed quite unusual.
To add to the misery, Rebati fell seriously ill with diabetes. He went with the whole family to Dacca for treatment. From there, he went to Calcutta for better treatment but had to return without much improvement. The entire family again moved from Dacca to Aatpara. When MA arrived there, all neighbours got a shock seeing MA’s physical condition. A Vaid of Aatpara gave some relief to Rebati and MA along with the family, again returned to Sripur. After a while, Bipin Behari took her to Kheora and Rebati was transferred to Narundi Railway Station. Bipin Behari finally shifted along with the family to Vidyakoot and MA joined the In-laws’ family at Narundi to pick up her old role of serving everybody with a smile on her lips. She did not have a proper dress, just a coarse sari without a blouse. Nevertheless, MA was used to all kinds of discomfort and had no complaint.
At Narundi, there was a Muslim neighbour whose daughter became very friendly with MA. The two talked about the finer points of each other’s religions and enjoyed each other’s company. MA never made any distinction between one religion and the other, so long as each sought salvation. At times, certain actions of MA appeared strange to others. Once she would wash her hands with milk. At times, she would sit still like a stone-image. Once, while putting the child Ashu to sleep, she moved into a trance.
The everyday routine was an endless series of domestic chores from early morning till late in the night. But the stay at Narundi was not for long as Rebati’s condition gradually worsened as a result of diabetes. He developed ulcers on his body. Bholanath came to Narundi to look after his brother. Despite their best efforts, Rebati passed away. The family moved to Aatpara where the last religious rites were performed. MA was 16 then and took up the entire responsibility of the cooking to serve the guests on the occasion.
After a few months at Aatpara, MA came to Vidyakoot for about six months. One of her maternal uncles and a renowned scholar, Sharda Charan Vidyasagar, came to see her as he had a special affection, bordering on admiration, for the niece. His coming to Vidyakoot was prompted by a desire to spend his last days in the company of MA. Two days after the death of the uncle, Bholanath came to Vidyakoot and took his wife and others to Sultanpur to perform the last rites of Sharda Charan Vidyasagar.
From Vidyakoot, Bholanath went to Astagram where he worked in the Settlement Department of the Estate of Nawab of Dacca. MA joined him after a few months and remained there for more than a year.
From the very beginning of their married life, Bholanath was convinced that his wife was an extraordinary person, and never tried to impose a husband’s rights on the wife. MA described the relationship as one between a father and a daughter. Bholanath realised that his conjugal life was going to be different and accepted the situation cheerfully. He had of course his normal desires in the early period but then quietly restrained himself. However, the wife never failed to look after her husband’s comforts and managed the household with her usual deftness.
She developed a friendship with a number of ladies at Astagram. One of them, the wife of Joyshankar Sen called her KHUSIR MA (Mother of the cheerful). Joyshankar’s brother-in-law, Harakumar Roy was all reverence and was devoted to MA and it was he who addressed her first as MA. He would go out of his way to be of some service to MA and longed to talk to her. MA initially did not respond to his humble entreaties, but obeyed her husband Bholanath when he bade her talk to Harakumar.
It was Harakumar who first arranged regular sessions of Kirtan at the courtyard of her house where the sacred Tulsi plant was installed. MA one day developed the physical symptoms of one possessed with godliness while listening to the Kirtan sung by one Gagan Roy. This was repeated a couple of times and was noticed by some. At times, she would chant the mantras. As the incidents were not frequent, nobody attached any special significance to them. MA continued in her role of a traditional rural wife, shy and modest before men, but Harakumar would defy customs to visit her house everyday to seek her blessings. MA would not respond and would stay at a distance. Harakumar prayed to Bholanath to plead for him so earnestly that he agreed. MA would not think of disobeying Bholanath and condescended to give her blessings. Harakumar, with his perseverance and longing rewarded at last, declared: “It is only I who call you mother (MA) today but the day is not far when the whole world would address you as MA”.
Bholanath and his wife used to stay in one of the many rooms in Joyshankar’s house. Joyshankar was especially fond of MA’s cooking and would describe even the simplest of dishes as the finest in the world. Bholanath knew of the weakness and tried to make fun of him with practical jokes, but Joyshankar would not find any defect in the cooking and would rather blame Bholanath for being unjust to the wife.
Everything done by MA was perfect. This applied to the minutest details. She kept her own room clean and sacred like a temple of God.
She kept indifferent health during her stay in Astagram and at one time became so ill that she had to take the help of others to move around. She came to Vidyakoot to stay with her parents and regained her health within a short time. She stayed there for nearly three years.
Coming back to her own home was a great relief to MA as she did not have to observe restrictions of a married woman in a far off place, and could move around freely in her own setting among friends and relatives. She was dear to everybody and her company was sought after. Speaking of that period of her life MA said “It was like floating around, spending the time with dear and near ones. In the evening I moved around all by myself like a tramp and I felt a glow surrounding this body. As the body moved the glow moved along with it.”
She would not practise the chanting of names of God. The moment she tried, her figure was transformed. Even the distant chant of Kirtans would create the same reaction in her body. As she did not like others to understand the state of her mind or body, she would either sit still in a lonely corner or would wander around away from public gaze. As she realised the unusual effect of the devotional songs on her body, she became careful not to reveal this transformation. She avoided others’ company for a long time.
She was rather freer with small girls who became her playmates. There were children’s games with shells and she would always win. Nevertheless, seeing that others’ feelings were hurt, she would wilfully loose to make the opponents cheerful. Once Bholanath objected and MA immediately left playing the game.
There were quite a few persons of religious eminence at Vidyakut who were revered by all and MA particularly enjoyed their company. She would experience unusual sensations in her body and mind whenever she was near them. Those holy persons also recognised the extraordinary qualities of Anandamayee.
Persons much older than her showed great interest in discussing intricate matters of religions and rituals to seek oneness with God. They included neighbours and relatives and did not take the young lady lightly.
Her keen interest in spiritual matters was evident on many occasions. She could recite one hundred and eight different names given to Krishna and actually taught one of her aunts to memorise these names. Once she heard an old man, a distant relation of Bipin Behari, chanting the Mahamantra. For some days, she would practise the chanting the same Mahamantra for some time every day. An elderly neighbour and uncle by relation, Ambika Charan would take the little girl to his house on many occasions to discuss spiritual matters, and other serious subjects. People wondered what these two so unequal in age and experience, could discuss with such seriousness. Another elderly scholar of religious books, Bihari Bhattacharya, also loved to have the company of the girl who was sort of a niece to him.
It was pleasant to hear her talking and she had but one subject to talk about: “The glory of God and the devoted religious life one should lead to receive God’s grace”. She spoke so attractively that even children were drawn to her to listen to these subjects. However, she herself always remained careful lest the physical changes in her body caused by these spiritual discussions were discovered by others.
Talking about her early attraction to spiritual discussions, she said “Where there is Ram (Lord) there is Aram’ (peace); absence of Ram would mean ‘Byaram’ (discomfort).
After her stay at Vidyakoot, she went to Aatpara, her husband’s home while Bholanath moved on to his, new place of work at Bajitpur. The parting was painful to everybody, as during her stay a very special bond of affection had grown between MA, all the relations, and the village folk.
1918 to July 1922
A new phase begins at Aatpara, but hardly changes her routine or her role as a quiet village housewife, obscured from public gaze. She would obey the seniors without question and ungrudgingly tend to the needs of each member of the family. So busy was she with the household duties that she ignored her own health. The inevitable happened when she fell ill with fever and tonsillitis. As her condition became worse, husband Bholanath rushed back from Bajitpur. Even while down with fever, she experienced an unusual transformation in her body and senses, listening to a Kirtan recital in a neighbour’s house. To others, it appeared to be an aggravation of the symptoms of the disease.
She recovers slowly but is unable to resume her arduous routine. Some girls in a menial’s family secretly lend her a helping hand so that she does not punish her weak limbs beyond a limit.
Meanwhile, a theft took place and the family decided to shift to Bajitpur where Bholanath worked as a Law Clerk under Bhudeb Chandra Basu, Assistant Superintendent of the Nawab Estate. MA earned the affection of Bhudeb’s wife and a close friendship with their daughter, Usha.
At Bajitpur, indications of her progress in the path of spirituality gradually became evident. The first indications were her strange reactions to Kirtan singing and religious discourses, when she would move into a trance all by herself. Within days of her arrival at Bajitpur, a Kirtan was arranged at their house, when MA went into a trance and fell down from a cot. There was adverse criticism of the incident, some even tried to suggest out of malice that she had started dancing, to the beat of a drum carried by her.
In the month of Aswin, a seasonal storm devastates the area, flattening many houses. Her sister- in-law, Ashu’s mother decides to return to Aatpara, leaving Ashu to the care of MA.
One day, a Kirtan was arranged at Bhudeb’s place and MA attended the function on the insistence of Bhudeb who had just been promoted as Superintendent. MA and other ladies were inside the house, while the singing was going on in the outhouse. Suddenly MA entered in a state of ecstasy, and she lost control over her limbs as tears stream down her cheeks. She lay in that state on a cot, and was taken back to her home with difficulty when she regained some control. A Vaishnav devotee, Rebati, then advised Bholanath that MA should wear a Tulsi necklace. MA asked “Should one wear a necklace instead of adorning one’s soul?” Rebati, a Munsiff, immediately corrected himself and admitted that MA did not have to follow his advice.
The trend continued. She starts her daily chanting of God’s names, and suddenly finds herself in the religious lotus posture of sitting. There are some symptoms of communion, but those are transitory. It was for the first time the holy postural sitting positions were witnessed at Bajitpur. There was a novel experience of her divine powers on the night of annual worship of Goddess Kali. As usual, it was pitch dark on a black moon night but suddenly the whole area was flooded with an ethereal glow like the radiance of a full moon. Bholanath and his friends walked around in that light but nor expressed any surprise. She had another vision that night. A tall, fair and luminous male figure with a reddish glow appeared from her right side and entered the room where food offerings were kept for the Goddess. The figure sat there and symbolically partook of a little food from each plate thrice and disappeared shortly.
She could do a job perfectly without much help from others. Once she wished to stitch some dress for Ashu and younger brother, Makhan. She sought some guidance from others about tailoring, but, unsatisfied, decided to try her own hand. She designed and stitched the dresses and they looked wonderful on the wearers.
An elderly lady once asked her whether she had decided to have some new ornaments utilising the extra payment sanctioned by the Estate for its employees. MA was not aware of this additional income and expressed her surprise. The lady felt that MA was deliberately putting her off and decided to avoid her company. MA later commented, “Illusion created by ignorance invites undue agony and does not allow one to seek the truth. Such is the way of the world.”
The symptoms of a saint-worshipper of God were evident in the way MA conducted herself at Bajitpur. She had her moments of ecstasy in the midst of work, may be in the kitchen, and Bholanath would find her in that abnormal condition after returning from office. The cooking often got spoiled. Bholanath’s efforts to bring his wife back to normal would not succeed; she would do it by herself. Bholanath could not really understand or assess the situation but he respected his wife and allowed her to have her way.
Gradually, regular Sadhana (structural pattern of devotion to seek Communion) started showing but she did not have the training in the ways prescribed in the scriptures. She would only chant the name of HARI, the way she learnt from father, Bipin Behari. Whenever she had the time, she would do the chanting. Bholanath was a little dismayed and asked MA why she had taken to chanting the name of HARI, the divine form accepted by the Vaishnavas, when Bholanath’s own clan was Shakta, devotees of the eternal power Shakti. MA asked, should she change the chanting in the name of Shiva? Bholanath said “yes” and MA obeyed, as it was all the same to her in the matter of communion.
She was busy the whole day with household work, at the end of which she retired to her room, which was kept meticulously clean and tidy. Bholanath would rest and watch his wife engaged in various actions of Yoga, complete with sitting postures (asanas) and hand movements (mudras). He half understood but remained bewildered for most of the time as MA would continue spontaneous movements. MA later said, “While practising Asanas (postural positions) it would have been harmful if my body tried to control and direct the limb movements. I would not get the desired results.”
While the Sadhana phase of lila was going on, MA would lose senses of the outside world. Nothing could distract her, not even physical pain as when she would get a burn in the kitchen or would lose a tuft of her long tresses entangled during intricate body movements. She would look a distant person, away from these happenings. The time for Sadhana was usually at night, but on occasions, she would feel the urge during the day. Her unusual behaviour and mysterious actions frightened others; some were suspicious, some others bewildered. They avoided her and lamented that such a fine girl had been possessed by an evil spirit. They advised Bholanath to seek the help of an Ozha possessed with the powers to drive the evil spirit away. Bholanath had to yield to the pressure but all the Ozhas failed. In fact, one of them advised Bholanath that the lady had extraordinary powers and did not require treatment. A physician by the name of Mahendra Nandy told Bholanath that his wife had moved into a high spiritual plane and she should not be subjected to examination by all and sundry. Bholanath was relieved and happily accepted the suggestions.
The way to uninterrupted and unfettered Sadhana was thus cleared for MA. Her first sensations began through nasal nerves, moving upwards to converge on a point between the brows. From there it moved towards the palms creating a strange feeling. MA would not then be able to do any household work, the body remaining under a strain. In her words, “the inner dynamics and intensity of feelings gradually shut out the work habits of the outer existence. The doors to the inner world would not open completely unless all the outer attributes get totally relaxed and tend to become non-functional”.
Once the doors are opened, one has to be totally calm and composed and wait for the revelation, whenever the time comes. One never knows which automatic actions are manifestations of the divine mood. Even sitting still, with no particular changes in the breathing pattern, could indicate of one such mood.
When one finds the inner doors opened, the outer doors remained locked. Such was the case with MA who would keep herself confined in a locked room with her own way of Sadhana. She said later, “When you are in that mood, you do not care to know whether you carry a body or not. The body loses all movements, and when exhaustion forces the body to slump down, it remains in that position for a long time.” She frequently went through these stages, but when she came out of the trance, her mind remained flooded with heavenly bliss. Her body will be full of joy. Joy will be everywhere permeating the whole creation.
Bholanath did not really understand the moods of MA when she was under a spell. He asked Mother, “You never got a formal initiation into Sadhana. Yet how did you develop this mood”?
Commenting on this, MA said much later ‘When initiation becomes necessary it comes at the proper time. One should always be immersed in God. Have faith that he will do whatever is necessary.”
Still she felt like going through the process of an initiation ceremony and the day arrived soon. There was no formal arrangement. She was the teacher herself as well as the disciple and the ultimate goal. The ceremony was designed to arouse her true self. Two days before Jhulan Purnima [Full Moon Day], there were some indications of the Kriyas. With one day to go these became manifest in the facial movements. The vision was strange, the breathing calm and controlled, the face assuming peculiar expressions together with a rapid movement of the tongue. The whole day she repeatedly paid tribute to the Sun God and remained in meditation. At times she sat still as if there was no life in the body. The same night while in deep meditation, she had the feeling of entering an unknown world where her whole body turned into an instrument-she herself being the player. The next day, on Jhulan Purnima night, she uttered the mantras.
The whole day she remained in meditation and indifferent to the happenings around her. The body was calm and motionless and at times she lay like a dead body in Sabashan. The turmoil going on inside was known only to her. Some food was prepared in the evening. Bholanath ate his dinner but MA just touched it. After attending to Bholanath, she changed into a clean dress and sat on the floor, a little away from her husband. She told him that the body was becoming still and she had to sit in meditation. Bholanath gave permission. She sat on a special posture facing the northeast.
By that time, she realised that all arrangements for a formal worship were ready. These came from a world unknown to earthly beings, situated beyond time and space - the world that was in her perception. This is the world where there is no want and no conflict. She went into the process of initiation all by herself—completing every single ritual in a perfect manner as if everything was pre-determined. After this came the time for a formal Yagna. Again, all the ingredients needed to perform the Yagna were found handy, neatly arranged around her. She turned her face to the east. It was about 10.30 at night and there were multicoloured lights dazzling on her forehead. The Yagna started and there was a perceptible change in her breathing. There was a sensation deep down the navel from where emerged the sacred root mantras (Beej). After sometime her body became still and deep sounds mingled with her breathing. She had the feeling of a clear and pleasant resonance of the sound down to her navel. The vibrations sent waves along her body, which responded and out came the secret combination of sounds, clear and loud.
She enters into a kingdom of bliss. There is an urge to know the real significance of the sounds. A realisation of their meaning, form and qualities gradually pervade her senses. She notices a continuity of the moods and sounds originating within herself, coming out in the open and again flashing back to get lost in herself. As she sits enthralled, she notices that her thumb is moving in the correct way of meditating on the original mantras.
She picked up her daily routine the next day but found time to perform the daily rituals, which were part of her Sadhana.
For the first time she started her rounds of worship during the daytime as she chanted the mantras and from the scriptures. Certain root mantras were uttered spontaneously by her. At once, there arose in her mind the quest to understand the true significance of these and again she found the answers through meditation. That day these processes stretched into the afternoon and she had no time for lunch. Towards the evening there came in her vision a temple inside ‘which there was the Goddess “Singhabahini”, live and smiling, sitting relaxed on her mount - a Lion.
She picked up her evening chores and cooking and after attending to the needs of family members, again sat in worship. She could separate her self with the greatest ease to perform the two different functions of a housewife and a person on the high road to spiritualism.
That night also she performed the worship in a special way when she felt that all arrangements necessary for the rituals had already been kept ready. As she sat down in a special posture, her hands moved along the body touching all limbs in turn and touched the earth below. Her head went down to touch the earth in the form of an obeisance and then lifting her head she started chanting the mantras spontaneously. The rituals of worship and Kriyas followed in perfect symphony and the different parts of her body almost became symbolic of a root Mantra each, the body as a whole becoming a vessel of the fundamentals of the mysteries of the universe. On the third day, the new pattern continued and by the time she completed her worship it was afternoon. She looked at the Sun and as she entered her room,’ it seemed that she was carrying the glow of the Sun in her body.
These three days starting with the initiation was a period in which MA went through the prescribed patterns of worship and the Kriyas and movements as directed in the Yogas all the time exploring the fundamentals through the root mantras.
She was still under the spell of these experiences on the fourth day and had sat down to complete the yogic kriyas in the afternoon when Bholanath and Nishi, cousin-brother of MA, arrived. Nishi was slightly disturbed to see MA performing the rituals and asked Bholanath whether he thought MA was doing the right thing before a formal initiation. When he goaded Bholanath further, MA turned and confronted him. Nishi was frightened by MA’s attitude and hastily withdrew. Mustering courage but with great humility he asked: “Would you kindly reveal who you are?”
MA smiled and reassuringly asked, “Are you frightened?” She lifted her hand in assurance and said, “Don’t be afraid. There is no reason to be frightened”. As she said this, her body in the same sitting posture turned to face the east. This time both Nishi and Bholanath asked again “Would you kindly reveal who you are?
Slowly and clearly MA uttered, “I am the ultimate - Poorna Brahma Narayan.”
At this Bholanath came forward and asked, ”If you are the Poorna Brahma Narayan, then who am I?” MA answered, “You are Shiva Mahadev”. Bholanath asked again ‘If I am Mahadev then who are you?’ And the answer came: “It is all the same, call it Mahadev or Mahadevi, all in one form”.
Bholanath persisted, “If you are Pooma Brahma Narayan and all else in one form then how is it that you are talking in an abnormal fashion?” MA replied, “I appear now in a human form and you tend to view everything with your earthly experience in your own way. The distinction between normal and abnormal is your creation”.
On being asked by Bholanath, MA told him that she was then performing the evening worship, and she did not require the sanction of a formal initiation as the inner sanction had already been received on the night of Jhulan Purnima.
Bholanath then asked MA when the occasion for his own initiation would come. MA mentioned the day and the date, which tallied with the almanac. To be doubly sure Bholanath asked Mother the position of star constellations of the mentioned date, and MA mentioned the guiding star which again proved to be correct. The date was the 15th of the month of Agrahayana and the star was Rohini.
Janakibabu, who confirmed the star position, and others who were still doubtful asked MA to give some evidence of her claim to be one with Poorna Brahma Narayan. She smiled and asked Bholanath to come near. She got up and put her palm on Bholanath’s head. It is reported that the vibration from a mantra was then rumbling through her inner body and as Bholanath uttered the words ‘OM’, his body became still like a lifeless doll. Unknowingly and mechanically, he sat down in a special posture of meditation, his eyes half closed and looking upwards, the body motionless like a statue and devoid of all outward senses. He remained in that position for hours, calm and submerged in an ocean of bliss. Ashu, who came back from school by that time was totally perplexed seeing his condition and started crying in fear. Janaki prayed to MA to bring Bholanath back to the normal. MA touched Bholanath and as she placed her palm on his head again, Bholanath slowly came back to senses. Later Bholanath said, “It is impossible to describe my experience immersed in heavenly bliss. It was not as an inanimate object nor was it without senses, it was something beyond our known phenomena”.
From the day MA revealed a glimpse of her true self, there followed some changes in her pattern of daily worship. She discontinued the practice of hand-aided Mantra recitals and took up the recitals silently in the throat and heart. She would complete one set of actions and discard it. Continuously chanting mantras and hymns, she would assume a series of sitting postures (Asanas), paying homage to herself before changing from one Asana to the next. In her vision - the worshiped and the worshiper, the follower of the Mantras and the one seeking to follow, as well as the dispassionate watcher were all one and the same as all identities merged in her. She would at times display the typicality of a Vaishnav or a Shakta devotee, at times; the worshipping would bring out the distinctiveness of the attributes of various god forms. At times, she would experience a brilliance coming into her view in whichever direction she might look - a fiery red halo surrounding all objects. The brilliance between the brows would change hues - different colours and their shades. At times, she would find her body casting no shadow as the whole body glowed in illumination enabling her to walk even in darkness. At times, she would find the whole universe illuminated with a reddish glow.
For the next five months or so, MA had all hours of the day completely full of work, alternating between the household demands and uninterrupted Sadhana. From around the Jhoolan Purnima day, the lila of MA had crossed the barriers of reality and myth as perceived by ordinary people. There would come a handsome boy, neither fair nor dark in complexion, appearing from somewhere to her right, moving playfully, as MA would remain absorbed in her own mood. The boy would disappear after some time. She would experience the coming and going of innumerable gods and goddesses and at times be in the company of divine couples—Radha-Krishna, Hara-Gouri or Sita Ram. They would be perceptible, alive and real. There would be divine-forms seen in temples or mansions and the whole atmosphere will be radiant. Here worshipping would be turned to special attributes of a particular divine form, the Asanas, the mantras and the pattern synchronising to bring out the true significance of the worshipped and the mantras. She would remain surcharged with these feelings throughout the day, but she had such a power of self-control that none could take her to be any different from a normal mortal when she was engaged in mundane duties.
She would be different at the time of worship. She would turn her own body as an installed divine form in a temple and do the worshipping in the ritual way. Her figure would glow and would symbolise the various components in the intricate procedure of Sadhana - jyoti, yantra, mantra, beej, akhsar and prana. The body would generate light-forms like sparks, which would get merged again into the body. She would perform and she would watch. She would practise vision control, breath control, limb control flowing from the shoulder to the fingertips and various body postures of asanas, pranayams and mudras. The Sadhana lila was to turn into a perfect Yogi - of getting to the origin of all the root mantras, of moving beyond space and time in search of the ultimate realisation to become one with God.
Towards the end of this period, she started uttering the primordial sounds signifying self and the Brahma when her whole body would be resonant like a lyre.
The month of Agrahayana draws near but Bholanath decides that he would not go in for the initiation as suggested by his wife on the preordained day of the 15th of the month. On the 13th, he had a dream that his parents and the Goddess to whom he is devoted were blessing him. He told MA about the dream. On the 15th, he woke up very early in the morning and without leaving word went for his official work. As usual, MA sat for her morning prayer—but after some time she sent a word to Bholanath through a servant to come back home. The message was sent twice but Bholanath did not respond. MA then sent word that she herself would go to the office and this time Bholanath hurried back home. MA asked him to take a bath after which she gave him a mantra, which came to her spontaneously. She also taught him the ways of practising the mantras and procedure for Sadhana.
A few days after Bholanath’s initiation MA was sitting on asana on a winter evening. She uttered a few words questioning and disputing the identity of two different selves and had the realisation that all the phenomena in the universe, from the known to the unknown, everything was the manifestation of a single identity. She announced, ”From today there will be no talking, generally with everybody. On special occasions and only in the interest of completing the daily work, the talking will only be with Bholanath. There will be no resting tonight and there will be fasting for the next three days. This body has none to bow to”. That was her utterance. She followed what she uttered. She had reached the end of the road of Sadhana lila and had become complete in herself. She looked serious, calm and in no need of speaking to anybody. She was no longer in need of performing her daily rituals. She would only mutter a few words before Bholanath when needed or otherwise communicate with signals. Describing the state, she later said: “I was going through a process and the stage marked the completion of the process.”
In this period, she remained lost in herself. At times, indications of future events would spontaneously come out of her mouth. She would not mix with anybody and go nowhere. A simple touch would send a sensation like an electric shock through her body and would numb her. She would be indifferent to pain and would always remain in a state of bliss.
Though silent, she would recite God’s name incessantly. However, if she looked at religious books or scriptures, she felt a lot of confusion and her reciting and reading both would falter. She said later: “If you can master the recitation as a natural process of existence then you would not need to utter or hear anything else”. MA’s attitude at that time was indifferent to earthly disorder, like sorrow, fear or bereavement. She had, as it were, a protective belt around her allowing her to remain absolutely calm and happy. She had no difficulty in performing her daily household duty either. The rigours of household duties would not affect her health.
During this period of silence, MA went through several experiences. She was sitting one day when she suddenly felt her body lifting up, floating aimlessly. She would be lost in thought yet the body would mechanically perform the household duties with perfection. While observing silence, it would suddenly trouble her to know what actually was the mind. The answer came “A separation from God and following a path - this is the mind”. And she would experience boundless joy - joy incarnate.
She would remain involved yet totally detached, while the world outside moved on as usual with its moments of pleasure and sorrow. She did not have to motivate herself or apply her judgment. She would be part of the proceedings with the innocence of a child absorbed in her own feelings. Others could hardly realise her state; they thought she was reacting to the demands of everyday life.
About this time, Bholanath lost his job towards the end of the Bengali era 1330. He was naturally perturbed and after much thought decided to take MA along with him to Dacca in search of another job. They arrived there on the 28th of Chaitra 1330 and found a room taken on rent by his brother in the house of Chintaharan Kushari. Bholanath tried hard to find employment in Dacca without success and decided to send his wife to stay in the house of his brother-in-law Sitanath Kushari at Dogachhi. MA asked him to wait for three more days and strangely within this period Bholanath met Bhudev, who had been the Superintendent of the office of Nawab Estate at Bajitpur. Through his efforts, Bholanath got a job at Shahbag in the Nawab Estate. Bholanath took MA to Shahbag on the third of Baisakh of 1331 to work as Supervisor of Nawab’s garden.
It was a huge, sprawling garden, at a corner of which was Bholanath’s residence consisting of a room, a temple courtyard flanked by two small rooms and a small gallery (dalan) - the place known as Khanaghar. MA was still observing silence and continued in that state for another 18 months. She had drastically cut on food, meager though it was. A few morsels of food or a little fruit was all that she would take. When on fruit, the supply had to come naturally without any effort to collect it especially for her.
Some time later, MA’s younger brother Makhan and Bholanath’s nephew, Ashu, joined him at Shahbag and were admitted to school. MA would attend to everybody’s needs after completing all the household work. She would also arrange for the offerings to the deity but would remain absorbed in herself. She would usually keep her head covered with part of her dress.
Frequently, in the evening she would visit the Kali temple at Ramna and at times would remain there till late in the evening, either sitting or lying prostrate. Once the temple authorities decided that the gate would be closed at 10 every night. A whimsical MA one day decided to visit the temple in the company of some others well beyond 10.00 P.M.—through a strange coincidence, the temple gate was still open that night.
About this time, MA paid a visit to Siddheshwari for the first time in the month of Shravana 1331. It is worth mentioning that while MA was in Bajitpur, She had a vision of a tree and some inner voice identified it as the Siddheshwari tree. Once Baulchandra Basak took MA to Siddheshwari, where she touched and felt a special Ashwaththa tree and recognised that to be the one seen in her vision. Earlier, there used to be three trees in that spot earning the name ‘Tintiree’, only one of which had survived. Legend had it that once a flash of light emanated from this tree and merged into the image of Goddess Kali in the nearby temple. MA and her party made a round carrying lamps circling the temple and returned that day. She paid another visit to the temple along with Baulchandra when they found the temple door locked. MA pulled the lock and it opened. That night they stayed at the temple, as they could not leave it unprotected. After a few days, MA requested Bholanath to arrange for a formal offering to the temple at Siddheshwari. After the formal worshipping, she announced that she would henceforth stay at the temple. It was decided that father Bipin Behari would keep her company during the day and Bholanath during the night. MA moved into a small room adjacent to the temple and kept herself confined there for the greater part of the day. In the evening, Baulchandra would come singing and carrying some fruits, which she would take after offering to the deity.
At Siddheshwari, the rituals of daily worship gradually seemed unnatural to her. One day, she asked Bholanath to take over and he agreed. Bholanath stayed in one corner of the temple while MA spent the night inside the temple and moved into the small room in the morning after ablution.
Seven days passed by. It started raining heavily on the eighth morning when MA asked Bholanath to follow her. Going northwards, she reached a place, which she circled thrice before sitting down, all the time chanting hymns. She pressed her hand on the spot, which opened up layer by layer. When almost the whole arm had gone in, Bholanath rushed to pull it out to see a trickle of hot reddish water coming out of the hole. MA had something in her hand, which Bholanath threw into the pond nearby. MA then asked Bholanath to put his hand into the hole, which he did with great reluctance and found an open warm space. As he withdrew his hand, hot reddish water trickled out. They covered the place with loose earth and returned to the temple.
They came to Shahbag to arrange for worship and food offering only to return to the temple in the evening. The food was cooked by MA herself. Grandma (Mokhsadasundari) and Baulchandra’s wife were also present during the ceremony. The worship was repeated for a few days.
They had all returned to Shahbag when one day MA called for Bhaiji at noon from his office. When he arrived, MA said, “Let us go to Siddheshwari”. MA sat inside the small hollow ground and her face was beaming with smile, breathing radiant joy. Bhaiji exclaimed to Pitaji (Bholanath): “From today we shall call MA by the name of Anandamayee”. He at once said: “Yes, be it so!” MA glanced at Bhaiji with a fixed gaze without saying a word. Since then MA came to be known to her devotees and the world as “Shree Shree Anandamayee MA” - the Bliss Permeated Universal Mother.
On another day, MA asked Baulchandra to collect certain things and cover up the hole. A few flower trees and a Tulsi sapling were planted there. Prangopat gave ten rupees to Baul to protect the place with fencing and to construct a flat brick platform inside the area. MA at times would go there when Kirtan singing would be arranged.
An old desire of Bholanath was also fulfilled. While at Bajitpur, he once expressed a desire to have a house of his own with a pond and to perform Basanti Puja. MA had told him “Well, you have a house, the one belonging to Gokul Thakur at Dacca belongs to you.” It was discovered later that the place chosen by MA at Ramna actually belonged to Gokul Thakur. The Basanti Puja was also performed at Siddheshwari. MA said later that Bholanath had performed his Sadhana at Siddheshwari, ages ago. Her visit to Ramna and Siddheshwari was actually to recall that phase.
Gradually, MA’s name spread far and wide swelling the rank of devotees. To fulfil their desire, MA performed the worship of Kali on the auspicious day in the month of Kartik the 1332. A sacrificial goat was brought. MA herself was the main worshipper. She took the goat in her arms and cried for a long time before offering it as sacrifice. The poor animal was in a daze and moved by itself towards the altar. MA went prostrate, held the chopping blade on her own neck and produced agonised bleating sounds thrice which struck the crowd with fear. The beheading of the animal was carried out eventually but there was no gushing out of blood needed for the completion of the worship. With difficulty, a drop was collected by Bholanath to complete the ritual.
She would start a job, say, the offering of the cooked food to the deity and would stop midway becoming as still as a stone. This might happen during the household work or cooking, regardless of the heat from the blazing oven scorching her body. She would lie prostrate for hours unmindful of the rows of ants biting into her flesh. She would walk around at night through bushes and boughs unafraid of snakes or reptiles. Yet, her face would glow with a smile, her body with radiance. She would look deep into the minds and hearts of people - serious, calm yet benevolent in her seeing. People would be attracted to her, charmed by her words and manners. Her presence filled the atmosphere with joy and happiness. How did it happen? One may find the answer in MA’s later sayings:
“Though the earthly being is ignorant of its true identity, when it accepts another being as totally free from all earthly bondages, it gets a sensation of that superior state, however, transient it may be.”
People flocked to see her in search of this bliss. They come to know of her during her occasional visits to Ramna and Siddheshwari. She answered their queries through signals. However, the growing number of visitors was not approved of by some of the authorities in charge of the garden. One day Bholanath was cautioned about this by Bhudev and, frightened, he reported the developments to MA. It stunned her as she was coming out of the kitchen with a lamp in hand. She seemed petrified, eyes not blinking and no signs of breathing. A repentant and terrified Bholanath pleaded with MA to become normal assuring her that he would never mention the complaint in future.
Next day a carriage was sent by Rai Bahadur Jogesh Ghosh (Father-in-law of Bhudeb and who helped Bholanath to get the job) to take MA and Bholanath to his house. MA is being talked about so he wants to talk to her himself. The moment he saw her, he developed genuine respect. He entreated them to continue to stay at Shahbag and said he would consider it his good fortune. The devotees were free to come and see her; there would be no restriction.
It was a great relief to know that the authorities were happy. The devotees thronged the place in increasing numbers. A Kirtan was arranged at Shahbag to mark the solar eclipse on 30th Paus, 1332 (January, 1926). As the singing progressed, there was a perceptible change in MA. Slowly her eyes closed and her body swayed to the music and rhythm of Kirtan. She stood up slowly, her body vibrating. All her movements were spontaneous; she was indifferent to the setting, her expression devoid of any emotion. She was normally very particular about her dress which gracefully covered her whole body leaving only the face, hands and feet bare. That day she was unmindful even about her dress. Sister Gurupriya and a few close associates saw her condition and rushed to take care. Gurupriya wrote: “Suddenly her body started swaying and the head cover came off. The eyes were closed but the body responded to the rhythm and mood of the singing. She stood up as if possessed by an unknown power, the limb movements not willed by her but commanded by some other force. She appeared to be riding on air, now falling, now regaining balance, moving all around the room, steeped in an ecstasy. Her unblinking eyes were fixed upwards, a strange illumination radiating from her face, a red glow on her body, she fell to the ground like a log but did not seem to hurt herself. The body turned and turned in rapid horizontal movements like a paper or a twig before a tornado. We tried to control her but it was impossible to cope with the turmoil and rapidity of her movement.”
This was the first time that her state of spiritual ecstasy came into public view. Those who saw her during that period, said myriad were her moods. The wise and the expert found the symbolic manifestations of the ecstatic moods agreeing with their descriptions in the scriptures. Many felt that barring such luminaries as Sri Gouranga or Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, no one else had displayed such manifestations of divine moods.
Streams of visitors started flowing in to have a glimpse of MA. Days passed with worshipping, ceremonial offerings to God, Kirtan singing and chanting of God’s name in intimate groups. MA would usually be under a spell during the Kirtan and would utter hymns to God.
Gurupriya Devi was a relatively new devotee of MA having come to her only in the month of Paus 1332. She came to see MA with her father, Dr. Sashanka Mohan Mukhopadhyay, a retired Civil Surgeon, and immediately became an ardent follower. She wanted MA to attend a Kirtan at her place to mark the death anniversary of her mother when she would also arrange a feast for the poor. A few days earlier, students of Dacca Medical School wanted to take MA to the School to have a similar function but the idea was dropped when opposed by Dr. Sashanka Mohan. Nevertheless, it so happened that the functions organised by Gurupriya had to be held at the same Medical School and in the presence of MA, much to the delight of the students, and to the satisfaction of MA and Gurupriya.
MA actively participated in the feeding of the poor. At the Kirtan she again moved into a trance and assumed different expressions. Once she looked angry and aggressive, looking upwards, tongue protruding, as if engaged in a battle. The tongue went in and she became an image of kindness. She sat on an asana and looked like worshipping herself. Again, she became restless, rolling on the ground and finally lying on her back. Once she looked still and lifeless, the finger nails blackening, face pale and with no sign of breathing.
One day in the month of Falguna 1332, she was in a trance during a Kirtan when suddenly she reminded Bholanath the task of building a structure at a chosen place at Siddheshwari. Next day, she- gave the specifications of the structure to Dr. Sashanka Mohan and said she would like to stay in a clay hut. The structure would be around the altar earlier constructed at the chosen place inside a hole, which should also be left unaltered. As directed by her, the structure was completed within seven days, and MA, Bholanath and some devotees had a Kirtan session there. She used to visit the place, often sitting on the altar, at times squeezing her whole frame to lie down in that narrow confined space. She also spent some nights there. It was here that the Basanti Puja, long cherished by Bholanath, was performed.
At MA’s bidding, the Basanti image was built conforming to her own size. On Ashtami Day, her husband’s sister and wife of Kali Prasanna Kushani worshipped MA with 108 hibiscus and another 108 lotus blooms. MA was inside the cavity in the floor. A few days later, MA’s younger brother, Makhan (Jadunath Bhattacharya) received his sacred thread at a formal ceremony at the same place.
By that time, Shahbag was agog with the glory of MA. Devotees surrounded her; many took her to their houses to arrange Kirtan singing. In the summer of 1333, MA and her followers made a trip to Deoghar (Vaidyanath Dham). A devotee, Pran Gopal Mukhopadhya, who was a former Deputy Post Master General lived there after retirement. His Guru Balananda Swamiji was a well-known saint and renowned as a great spiritual soul. Both of them had specially invited MA to Deoghar. On the way, MA set foot in Calcutta for the first time and spent a couple of days with Pramatha Babu in the city before being a guest of Pran Gopal at Deoghar.
The two great souls, MA and Balananda Swami, met for the first time at the latter’s hermitage, Dhyan Mandir. Swamiji was flooded with delight and exclaimed, “Mother, once you had allowed me a glimpse in your ethereal form and today you have blessed me with your physical presence.”
The two talked. There was an apparent difference over the ultimate Truth. MA said it is One and Unique. Swamiji said that many are His maya. MA stuck to her point and the discussion continued till Swamiji gracefully accepted her view, treats her like a child and feeds her with some fruit. Next day, she was invited again when Swamiji gave her a bead necklace (Rudraksha) and a red dress. A Kirtan was on and MA came under a spell. She stood on her toes and started dancing as Swamiji watched in admiration. MA placed her hand on Swamiji’s head and took him aside to Dhyan Mandir where the two talked for a long while in utter seclusion.
Talking about MA, the great soul Balananda Swamiji once remarked, “She is not a seeker of truth - she is naturally endowed with it, complete in herself. Such souls come to earth to serve specific purposes and on the completion of which leave the world. She does not require to go through the usual Sadhana.”
She spent about a week at Deoghar. One day in Pran Gopal’s house, she went into a trance while just sitting. The pulse rate went slower and almost faded away. The whole body darkened. As everyone around her started praying, she returned slowly to normal.
While returning from Deoghar, she spent some days in Calcutta again, staying with Surendra Mohan Mukhopadhya, Pran Gopal’s sister and Pramatha Nath Babu.
She came to Shahbag to return to her usual life there visiting Siddheshwari and meeting devotees. The crowd became unmanageable and the Garden authorities restricted the entry so that the Garden was not spoilt. She, therefore, ordered that the Kirtan be held in different houses everyday with Monday and Thursday reserved for the event at Siddheshwari. The restriction on the inflow of devotees to her house was shortly lifted and Kirtan was resumed at her place. One day, while under a spell, MA moved around to touch the feet of all assembled. At her own will, she would treat patients on certain occasions. She was on her own, spending her time in her own way, yet welcoming everybody who wanted to have a glimpse of her. It was the desire of the devotees that on the three days of Durga Puja they would worship her at Shahbag but on the Saptami Day MA locked herself in her room since early morning. The worship was performed in front of the closed door. She opened it only after darkness fell. The whole night she remained surrounded by devotees but as the first lights came; she covered her eyes and asked the devotees to clear the room. The next two days - Asthami and Navami - were spent in similar fashion with worship being performed by Bholanath inside the room. On the Dashami Day, MA startled everybody by jumping into the adjacent pond and refused to come out of the water. It was after great persuasion that she agreed to come out of the pond. The devotees wondered whether she had transformed herself into the Goddess.
A few days before the KaIi worship day, while MA was on her way to the house of Gurupriya, she had a vision of the live Kali wearing a garland of red hibiscus, speeding through space and merging into hers. While partaking of the prasad from the food offering to the Goddess that day, she became totally absent-minded. She had the same vision again. Bholanath got the impression that she wanted to perform the worship of Kali and was indicating the size of the image with her hands. They could find an image of the exact size and hue, which received the approval of MA. On the worship day, all arrangements were complete and MA sat down to begin the worship. Within minutes, she stood up and told Bholanath ‘There I am going to sit and you complete the worship”. She burst into a wild laughter and in a flash sat close to the image. She looked like the Kali-incarnate. The offerings were made. She asked all the assembled devotees to close their eyes. When they were allowed to see again, they found to their amazement, MA sitting by the image, all grace and beauty, smiling happily, her body covered with flowers. The worship was completed and later a Yagna was performed. MA directed that the fire at the Yagna place should be kept burning. The image was also preserved with MA’s approval. The image was offered a red hibiscus garland daily by the ashram brahmachari Kamala Kanta, an orphaned devotee.
MA was changing fast. She found herself no longer fit to perform household duties. She ate very little; for some time her meals consisted of only 9 grains of rice, even that was reduced to three grains for many days.
There were demands from far and near to take MA on special occasions. She went to a Rai Bahadur’s house at Paruldia for Kali Puja. From there she went to Dr. Shashanka Mohan’s house at Rajdia. After visiting some in-laws, she went to Out-shahi. She paid another visit to Paruldia in Agrahayan 1337 on the occasion of the last rites of Rai Bahadur’s mother. She had a strange spell there. She made the cooks chant God’s name and also went to Muslim villagers chanting the praise of Allah, and the Muslims joining her.
The devotees saw the images of many Goddesses in her. A devotee, Nirmal Chandra Chattopadhyay, who came from Varanasi distinctly saw MA as Goddess Saraswati one day and vouched that he had never seen a more luminous figure in his life.
She desired to have a permanent place for Yagna and lit the sacred fire close to the pond adjoining their house. The preservation of the place and the arrangements for Yagna were left to the care of Kulada Kanta Bandopadhya.
In Falgun 1333 MA along with some devotees went to Hardwar to take part in Puma Kumbha celebrations. On the way, she spent a few days in Calcutta staying in a house of the Kundus of Bhagyakul, and attended a few Kirtans arranged in the homes of some devotees. A prominent occasion was the Kirtan arranged in the house of Pyaribano, Nawabzadi of Dacca and owner of Shahbag garden. MA was in a state of ecstasy and continued to chant the name of Hari along with the children of Pyaribano. She also broke journey at Varanasi for a while staying in the house of Kunja Mohan Mukhopadhya. Two days before her arrival, Kunja Mohan had a vision of MA, dressed in red, standing before him on the terrace. Kunja Mohan had not seen MA earlier, and he was astounded to see the same form alive before him when she arrived there. He worshipped MA as God-incarnate.
MA and her party arrived at Hardwar on a chilly morning and took shelter in a Dharmashala. After watching rows of saints in procession, she and her companions went to Brahmakunda to have a holy dip. After a week at Hardwar, the next stop was Hrishikesh for two days, then to Lachhman Jhoola and some other places of Pilgrimage. The party returned to Hardwar and found shelter at the cottage of a Punjabi Saint at Bhimgora. Two successive telegraphic messages were received the same day - one announcing the death of Sitanath Kushari, brother-in-law of Bholanath, and the other carrying the news of the grave illness of Jyotish (Bhaiji). MA immediately returned to Shahbag. Bhaiji slowly recovered by the blessings of MA, who came to see him and sent to him bits of ‘prasad’ (food offerings to God) every day.
In Baisakh 1334, her birth anniversary was celebrated for the first time. On the 19th of Baisakh, there was Kirtan and a full-meal offering to God. During this period, Dr. Sashanka Moharl took MA to his house at Tikatuli and formally worshipped her feet. While under a spell MA told Dr. Sashanka Mohan (later took Sanyas and was known as Akhandananda) that he did not require anything more to perform formal worship. In her words “One is asked to do work according to one’s level. Everybody is not of the same disposition.” She also taught his disciple a special method of controlling breathing by practising which the ailing doctor found relief from his heart disease. MA’s presence was increasingly being sought by devotees in their homes. One of them, the widow of late Dinesh Babu, landlord of Dhanjora, took her on several occasions to arrange Kirtan at her place.
At times MA’s actions seemed strange, mysterious. She could not board a boat, the slow rocking by waves sent her in a trance and she wanted to jump into the water to be one with the waves. For some days, she could not climb the stairs - the effort sent her into a trance. She would avoid the steps and try to climb through space. Lying in bed, she would go on talking - unintelligible words. At times English words would come out, at other times words of other foreign languages. She would read the minds of others, if she felt like it. She would foretell future events which would come true. But she was genuinely against the external manifestation of a saint’s divine powers. In her words, “There should be no expression of inner realisation - keep them locked in a box. If something spills out of an over-full box, do not care, proceed along your own path. If by chance some indications are revealed, do not bother but take care that you yourself do not let them out in the open”.
In 1334, probably in the pre-dawn hours of a Shravana night, MA along with Bholanath left Dacca. It was her express desire that no one should know about their departure, nor should anyone see them departing - They travelled to Narayanganj, Rajehahi, Calcutta and Deoghar before reaching Vindhyachal. Within days of her leaving Dacca, Jyotish (Bhaiji) also left for Vindhyachal for a change of climate. He later went to Chunar where MA also went. Later, everybody realised that she had reserved a special blessing for Bhaiji, who had received a new lease of life through her kindness.
After returning to Dacca, she went out again to her parents at Vidyakoot where relations and neighbours happily recalled the memories of her childhood years. From there, she went to Kheora, her maternal uncle’s place, where she was born. There, to the amazement of everybody, she pointed out the exact spot where she was born, when none, including her mother Mokshadasundari could remember it correctly. After some days she returned to Dacca via Vidyakoot.
There was another trip to Calcutta, this time to attend the marriage ceremony of the son and daughter of Pyaribano. There were celebrations on her arrival in Calcutta and she had to bless the marriages in person at two different places on the same night. While she was in Calcutta and staying with Pyaribano, Basanti Devi, wife of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das came to pay her tribute. Her first words were “I saw this very image in my dream”. Strangely enough, MA happened to see a photo of Deshbandhu and his wife, who were totally unknown to her, a little before the death of Deshbandhu. Pointing to the photo of Basanti Devi, MA had predicted that an imminent calamity was to befall the lady who would lose her husband soon.
MA, of course, was much above these divine gifts and was happy to shower her kindness on all. One day at Dacca, she herself cooked a number of dishes to entertain Pyaribano, who was thrilled with the honour. Pyanbano was an ardent devotee; she offered a gold necklace for the icon of Kali.
In Ashwin 1334, the annual worship of Durga was traditionally celebrated by Dr. Shashanka Mohan at his Tikatuli home. On MA’s bidding, the formal worship was performed by Sashanka Mohan and MA was present throughout the ceremony supervising arrangements.
The hut built at Siddheshwari needed repair. The hut was built of clay with a thatched roof. Devotees decided that this time a permanent construction was needed to set up a hermitage. Half the cost of land and construction was donated by Dr.Sashanka Mohan, the rest of the devotees donating the balance. The construction of the hut and the sacred altar was done under MA’s direction.
One day at Shahbag during a Kirtan session, while in a trance, MA went out of the house. Crossing the garden in darkness, she reached the mazar of a Fakir (Muslim saint). A group of bewildered devotees followed her carrying lamps. A Muslim caretaker opened the door to the mazar and MA went round the mazar loudly reciting from the Holy Koran. Then she offered namaz in the fashion of a devout Muslim. Everybody was stunned as MA was never known to have received any teaching of Islam. From the mazar she returned with his followers to the place of Kirtan, where they sang the glory of Han, with the Muslim companion participating and feeding MA with a piece of candy with his own hand.
When Pyaribano came to Dacca and heard of the incident, she requested MA to visit the mazar again and to recite from the Holy Koran. She fulfilled her desire. Those who came from the house of Nawab to be present on the occasion, easily recognised the portion of the Koran from where MA was quoting, though this time she was not as spontaneous as on the earlier occasion. The incident, however, amply demonstrated that all religions received equal respect from MA, and its influence was far-reaching.
In the first part of 1928 MA and her party went to Gauhati to visit Kamakshya. They decided that from Gauhati they would go to Lamding, Pirozepore and Baisari before returning to Dacca.
At Kamakshya, she had the feeling of being in company of the well known Gods and Goddesses as well as saints and hermits. One night she was standing alone on the hillock when she found the whole atmosphere charged with a divine mood. Groups of Gods and Goddesses were frolicking around, all of them, even familiar ones like Ram and Krishna in their childhood. Saints and hermits, although having long tresses of hairs and beards looked to be in their childhood. There were so many of them that the hillock was not visible. She confirmed later that all of them looked as if they had not crossed their childhood years. At Kamakshya, Bholanath made a formal worship of MA during which she went into a trance achieving a total Samadhi.
After spending a few days in the hills, she started for Pirozepore via Lumding. The year was 1335 (1928 AD). One has to travel by steamer and then a distance in country-boats. As soon as her boat reached the spot, she again went into a trance with devotees singing Kirtan all around. With half closed eyes and tresses flowing down her back, a very relaxed MA walked along with the singing party, her body swinging lightly to the rhythm of the music. She looked like a Goddess in a procession and those who were fortunate to see her on that day had an experience of their lifetime. After two days at Pirozepore, she moved to Baisari and stayed in the house of Girija Babu. She was surrounded by the devotees singing Kirtan, the glory of God, for all the three days that she was in Baisari. From there she went to Dr. Biren’s house in Sohagadal village, covering the distance partly by boat and partly on foot and followed by innumerable devotees. She was moving from village to village in this manner when she suddenly decided one day that she must move elsewhere.
She paid a quick visit to Calcutta, from there to Rajshahi, Calcutta again and then to Dacca. During this period, she set peculiar rules for her own meals. One day she decided to eat only that much that the left hand could hold; another day she decided to eat her food from the floor and not from a plate. Some other day she told Bholanath, that she did not like to ‘eat from bronze plates. Bholanath told her in jest; “Will a silver plate do?” She agreed in earnest. Strangely, without being aware of this conversation, Bhaiji sent a silver plate for her use.
There were miracles on certain occasions. One day, Pramatha Babu developed some doubt about MA’s divinity and thought within himself that the doubt could be cleared if MA could appear before him in the very image that he had in his mind. He actually thought of the headless form of the Eternal Power - the Chhinnamastya image, and was frightened when MA actually seemed to appear before him in the same image that night. She stood up and bent her head to touch her own back, with the tresses streaming down the body. Pramatha’s orderly who was present could see a few more forms of the Shakti in her that day which Pramatha missed. The orderly was more fortunate than Pramatha possibly because Pramatha wanted to test MA while the orderly had a complete devotion.
After some time MA set out again, this time to Giridih via Calcutta to visit Parasnath temple. Coming back to Calcutta, she went out again to Vindhyachal via Chunar and Mirzapur. In between, she also paid visits to Navadweep, Jaipur and Bharatpur. When she started her journey from Shahbag in Dacca, Prafulla Babu’s wife told her in jest that unless she came back early she would not be allowed to enter Shahbag again. Somehow, this proved to be true as Shahbag went under the care of a Court of Ward with the result that Bholanath, Yogesh and Bhudev all lost their jobs. MA once remarked, “One must be careful while speaking as at times even casually uttered words, good or bad, may turn out to be true”.
Anyway, MA found a new place in Dacca when she returned there in Baisakh 1335 (1928 AD). It was a rented house at Tikatuli where the Kali icon was installed. All the inmates at Shahbag moved into the new house. The construction of the larger building at Siddheshwari was completed and MA’s birth anniversary was celebrated for the second time at that place. This time it lasted several days starting from 19th of Baisakh. At the exact time of birth, Bholanath performed a formal worship of MA in full splendour. From ten in the night onwards MA was with her Mother (Didima) and the devotees, holding a flower in her hand collected from her garland. At the exact time of birth, she offered that flower at the feet of Grandma. Father Bipin Behari was with the Kirtan singers and MA put a garland on his neck and touched his feet.
After the birth celebrations MA went to Tangail. While she was away, a house was rented in Dhakeshwari in Jaistha 1335 where the Kali image was installed. With this, the image was transferred to a new location for the third time. On returning from Tangail, MA moved into the new house - Uttama Kutir - a two store structure, MA staying in the upper floor.
She paid a visit to Barisal at the invitation of Chintaharan Samaddar. After a few days, she went to Munshiganj and Vikrampur. She made boat journeys from village to village - Tantar (Aunt’s place), Bejgaon (Parents-in-law of Bholanath’s niece), Aatpara (her own village), Chhaygaon (Mathur Babu’s place) and Dokachhi (Sitanath’s place). The village people were delighted to have MA who also enjoyed her stay. She would take a stock of sweetmeat or a pot of pickles from somebody’s house and distribute among villagers, or would ask for something from a house to enjoy herself.
On reaching Dacca, she received a telegram carrying the message of the serious illness of Jogendra Kundu and Nandu. She promptly left for Calcutta and came back when the patients were on their way to recovery.
Within a short time, she journeyed to Varanasi where Kunja Mohan Mukhopadhya had arranged a worship. She had a few companions, including Bholanath, Gurupriya and Dr. Shashanka Mohan. There was a halt at Tangail where Dinesh Babu’s wife performed a formal worship of MA. To get a steamer-launch, the party had to travel by boat for a distance. MA burst into tears during the boat journey and tried to jump into the river. Several persons had to physically hold her back as MA pleaded that the journey be cancelled. The party had to return to Dinesh Babu’s house. Actually, there was some incident during the stay which offended Bholanath. The inmates were full of regret. MA was deeply hurt by the developments. She refused to go away without clearing the misunderstanding. She settled the matter to everybody’s delight on the second visit and proceeded on her way the next day.
There were celebrations, worship and Kirtans at Varanasi as MA remained in Samadhi most of the time. Once, while in a trance, she performed worship of infants, showering flowers on them. There was a meeting for the first time with the Principal of Kashi Sanskrit College, Mahamahopadhya Gopinath Kaviraj. He was simply charmed by her. Various questions used to be put to MA by the visitors everyday and she would answer them in the simplest language to the admiration of the renowned scholar. Gopinath Kaviraj would sit by MA with a hand fan to cool her body.
Many learned men, scholars, and men of position came to see her during this visit. Every evening, she would be seated in a large open place for the visitors to have a glimpse and talk to her. At about 10 in the night she moved to the terrace of the house where individuals would be allowed to talk to her privately. Until three in the morning she would be there. By four devotees would start pouring in.
Her first meetings with Swami Shankarananda and Jogendra Roy also took place at Kashi. Jogen Babu regaled MA with many of his Kirtan recitals.
Gradually, every evening there would be an assemblage of devotees to listen to MA and draw solace. She had not earlier blessed such gatherings, or agreed to answer queries. The new role marked a phase of MA making herself available to the wider world.
On a full Moon night, MA and her companions left for Calcutta to return to Dacca. From Dacca, she had to go to Comilla on the request of Prafulla Ghosh, Rai Bahadur’s son, where the rush of devotees threatening to break into her room was so great that she had to come out into an open area to meet them.
She went to Calcutta again to stay with Charu Ghosh for a few days before returning to Dacca. There were visible changes in the functioning of her body. She would breathe heavily as if she was on the point of dying. Anybody who happened to be close by -Gurupriya or Bholanath or any other - would vigorously massage her limbs and spine. She would not feel it at all and would regain her normal senses on her own.
One day, in Agrahayana or Paus of 1335 (1928 AD), MA took Bholanath to the house at Dhakeswari and asked a carriage to go to Siddheshwari. She announced that she had left Uttama Kutir never to return there. She lived there barely for 6 or 7 months.
All the inmates of Uttama Kutir thus moved to Siddheshwari where the Kali image was reinstalled for the fourth time. A pyre was lit at the foot of an Aswatha tree where “Yagnas” were performed. MA asked Bholanath to stay and work in the small room in the building and ordered everybody not to be with her in the hermitage for more than ten minutes at a time. She wanted to be left alone. The cooking was looked after by Kamalakanta Brahmachari.
Within days, Bholanath and Jogesh left Dacca according to MA’s wishes, carrying the sacred fire from the pyre. Within eight days, MA moved into the small room herself and warned everybody not to enter her room as she would come out of it when she felt like it.
While MA stayed at Siddheshwari, Bholanath went to Tarapeeth, and sent a communication to MA from Calcutta through Surendra Mukhopadhya to join him at Tarapeeth. She reached there within nine days of Bholanath leaving Dacca. Gurupriya, Dr. Shashanka Mohan, Mataree Aunt and Maranee joined them a few days later. All of them wanted to accompany MA during her tour of South India.
Tarapeeth is a huge cremation ground, with the temple of Mother Tara in the middle facing which is a Shiva Temple. The place was lonely. MA, Bholanath and Jogesh took shelter in the Shiva temple. Bholanath was then doing penance to attain Sainthood and did not care about any physical discomfort. He took shelter in the open Varandah disregarding the cold winter. MA would wander around all by herself. Bholanath had visions and one night told Surendra that he had received the full blessings of Tara and Shiva. The families of temple priests would at times send food for the party; sometimes MA would cook and feed local girls - excepting widows. Some would describe her as ‘Bhagawati’; the way devotees at Dacca called her ‘Mother Kali’ or in Calcutta ‘Human Kali’.
From Tarapeeth, she went to Bakreswar, another place of pilgrimage, and returned to Calcutta, postponing for the time being her tour of South India. She stayed with Taraprasanna Kushari at Salkia.
MA felt sad and annoyed when she found that neither Taraprasanna nor any other boy in the family wore the sacred thread as a mark of Brahminhood. Earlier, the same day she had playfully gone through the thread ceremony in her own fashion. Kushari’s wife was Bipin Behari’s sister. MA took out her necklace and asked the aunt to put it back on her in the manner the sacred thread is worn and begged for a dole as per the ritual. Towards the evening, she and the family members went to the bank of the Ganga to listen to chanting of mantras. She explained: “I am now a Brahmachari, a humble servant of God devoid of all desires and emotions, and I live on dole, so my movements are unplanned, spontaneous.”
She paid a visit to Prankumar, a Dacca Sub-Judge; at his house at Bhawanipur the same day and returned to Salkia after meeting Jogesh and Bholanath who were guarding the sacred Yagna fire in a dilapidated house. They brought the fire to Salkia and the whole party, Kushari and his four sons went to the bank of Ganga. After a dip in the Ganga, the Kushans were presented a sacred thread each by MA to wear, some fruits and then were made to recite the Gayatri mantra. The torn and discarded threads were worn by MA herself.
MA then made a journey to Agra. Returning to Calcutta, she again moved to Puri. After Puri, she was back in Salkia, then to Vindhyachal and, after a few days, back in Siddheshwari.
By this time, a hermitage had sprung up at Ramna with a hut for MA to stay. It was located in one corner of Ramna field, as desired by her. An Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Niranjan Babu, had taken the initiative to collect funds for the Ashram. All initial efforts of Niranjan and Jyotish to collect funds having been unsuccessful, Jyotish sought the blessings of MA then staying at Salkia through Benoy, an employee in the Government Agriculture Department. MA sent her blessings and asked them to make another effort. Within days, the plot was made available for the Ashram. In deference to MA’s wishes, only a modest hut with a thatched roof was built for her stay.
In Baishakh 1336, MA’s birth anniversary was celebrated at Siddheshwari. On the last day of the celebrations full of happiness and gaiety, MA went to the new ashram at Ramna along with a number of devotees. The Kirtan singing, which was already going on, rose to a great pitch.
The entire stock in the sweet shop put up by Baul Baba for the occasion was brought and distributed among the devotees. MA was adorned by Baul Baba with flower ornaments and a crown. She wore a white sari with a wide red border, and the dazzling vermilion mark on her forehead. She looked a figure descended from heaven, smiling benignly. She chanted hymns and joined the Kirtan singing with great delight.
Nevertheless, there was no end to her strange bouts of whims. Within 24 hours of moving into the new Ashram, she decided to leave Dacca without any luggage accompanying her father, Bipin Behari. She went to Mymensingh where Kalipada, a nephew of Bholanath stayed, Jyotish was also in the party. From Mymensingh she went to Cox Bazar and then to Adinath Hills. The party this time included Sitanath Kushari also. She stayed back at Adinath while Jyotish returned to Dacca. Bholanath then went to Adinath along with Ashu. After a few days there, the party went to Chandranath via Chittagong and from there to Calcutta again to stay with the Kusharis.
With father and Ashu accompanying, MA left Calcutta for Hardwar. She also went to Dehradun to have a glimpse of Sahasradhara. Then she moved to Ayodhya, returning to Hardwar after a couple of days. She took shelter in the Ashram of Bholagiri where she met Gopinath Kaviraj. She moved from Hardwar to Varanasi and from there to Vindhyachal where an Anandamayee Ashram had come up by then through the efforts of Dr. Shashanka Mohan and Kunja Mohan. On returning to Varanasi, she got the message of Bholanath’s illness then staying at Chandpur and sent Ashu there, herself moving to Calcutta to stay with Dr. Girin. Again, she left for Navadweep where she revealed the existence of a Sadhu observing strict silence. She came back to Calcutta to move to Akhna, the country home of the Doctor to live in seclusion for some days. She came back to Calcutta again receiving the news of Bholanath’s illness. During this period MA was observing almost total silence. She was not taking anything made of milk but obliged the mother and wife of Surendra by accepting the curd offered by them to fulfil the desire of her devotees.
When Bholanath recovered, MA took him and Kamalakanta to Dacca spending a few days in Chandpur on the way. At Siddheshwari, she stayed only with Bholanath as wished by him. One night Bholanath fell seriously ill and MA nursed him throughout the night. She had to move Bholanath to Ashwini Babu’s house for proper medical attention and nursing. When Bholanath felt better, she resumed her journeys to the hermitage at Siddheshwari. One day while in a trance she tried to open the door and fell down with a bleeding injury in the head. Within days she was running a high temperature but she would insist on staying at Sideward. Bholanath came, as also Gurupriya, to nurse her but MA’s condition worsened with the entire body almost losing senses. She would ask others to help her sit up and then again to roll her body into a ball or to stretch her limbs on the floor. Her attendants followed the instructions but were at a loss to understand whether these were whims or wilful actions. Her entire body was like that of a baby, soft and pliant but she was talking normally as if enjoying herself. This continued for four or five days. Then the temperature rose to 105 degrees, even up to 107 degrees. There was blood in her stool and urine and she remained sick. When asked as to when she would get well, she answered, “Do I drive away my guests? Well the diseases are playing in my body. Why should I drive them away? They will go away at the end of their play.” However, when Bholanath and Gurupriya could not bear it any more, MA recovered from the illness on her own.
One more room was added to the Ashram at Ramna. The Kali image still remained installed at Siddheshwari where it was being attended to by Atul Brahmachari.
Arrangements were being made to build a temple of Kali at Ramna under the supervision of Jyotish Babu. MA instructed that the temple was to be built exactly at the place in the Ashram, which housed a broken temple of Shiva, and a Kali icon should be installed exactly where the broken image of Shiva was located. The temple was built accordingly by Nagen Roy in the shape of an Almirah. A pyre was built for the sacred fire of the Yagna. MA and Bholanath came to the Ashram for the first time on the auspicious Mahalaya Day in Ashwin 1336. The Kali image was installed in the new temple and MA moved into a small hut erected for her in the Ashram. During the three-day Durga Puja, the image of Kali in the Ashram was worshipped with full grandeur and a tradition was set from then. MA stopped eating on Saturdays taking only a little milk and fruit in the evening. She followed this restriction for a long time. Gurupriya picked up the practice at her bidding and later hundreds of devotees adopted this self-discipline. MA said one must take a vow to live and eat in a spirit of purity for at least one day in a week. The duration should be increased gradually.
MA spent her days in peace and happiness at the Ramna hermitage. She went out early in the morning to wander around. She sometimes took a little fruit afterwards and then lay down and rested. In Falgun 1336 (1930), MA asked Bholanath to stay at Siddheshwari. Occasionally she would go there herself. About this time, Bholanath started to conduct formal initiation of others into the path of religion. He was himself on the high road to spiritualism.
On Baisakh 1, 1337 Bholanath returned to Ramna. He performed the worship of Kali and planted the five great trees Bat, Aswatha, Ashok, Bilwa and Amlaki - in the compound. It was a sight, Bholanath rolling on the ground, seeking MA’s approval, and, on receiving the signal, planting one sapling after another to complete the sequence of PANCHABATI. The space bordered by these five saplings was later cemented for MA to sit.
MA’s birth anniversary was celebrated at Ramna with great enthusiasm. A non-stop Kirtan was arranged, and donations of food-grains helped serve the assemblage. On the birthday, MA sat on the cemented altar when Bholanath performed the worship.
The Assistant Manager of Bhowal Raj Estate, Prafulla, came to escort MA to Joydevpur where she visited the temple of the Estate. Within days of returning from there, MA set out for South India - along with Bholanath, Akhandanand, Jogesh, Ashu, Gurupriya and an aunt.
The party reached Calcutta. She made a day’s trip to Rajshahi. Bholanath had earlier received a command from Goddess Tara to spend at least one day every year at Tarapeeth. In obedience, the entire party made a pilgrimage to the place for a day.
The first stop on the journey to South India was Waltair. From there, they went to Madras for 7 days. There were visits to Pakshiteertha, Kanchipuram, Chidambaram, Madura and Srirangam. They halted at Rameshwaram for about a week and at Kanyakumari for a fortnight. Little maidens from the priests’ families would come to go around her, singing. She treated them and the priests to feasts.
The next stop was at Trivandrum for four days when they visited the Padmanabh temple. The temple management was delighted with her visit and showed her around with great respect. The journey continued to Bombay via Mangalore and then to Dwarka by boat across the sea. She bathed the Srikrishna image in Dwáraka temple with water from the pot in her hand and later dried the image with an end of her sari.
From Dwaraka, the party went to Vindhyachal Ashram where Durga puja was celebrated. The puja over, they moved to Varanasi and then to Gaya. They had a dip in the Falgu River. She visited Bodhgaya also where the management of the Buddhist temple acceded to MA’s request to spend a night at the temple.
Why did she wander around so much? Once asked about this by Mahatma Gandhi, MA replied, “But Pitaji, I am really at the same place. There is just one garden, and I move around within its premises”.
From Gaya, they went to Jamshedpur where Krishna, younger brother of Jogesh lived, and visited the steel factory. The industrial township had a new awakening from its machine-oriented life and the residents were charged with her presence and flocked to have a glimpse of MA.
She came back to Calcutta and stayed with Jatish Guha, an Advocate of Calcutta High Court and son-in-law of Pran Kumar. A big party of some 30-40 devotees accompanied MA to Jatish’s place in Pabna where streams of people came to see her. One day, she paid a visit to the Ashram of Anukul Thakur, where the two souls met. She spent some delightful days in Pabna.
From Calcutta, she moved to Cox Bazar and stayed about 20 days in the house of a local pleader Dinabandhu Chakravarty. She behaved strangely one black moon night when she twisted one hand with the other, tears of pain in her eyes yet the face smiling, and declared “I am going to break it”. A letter written by Jyotish from Dacca and received a few days later carried the news that a thief had broken into the temple of Ramna. The thief had stolen a gold ornament after breaking the hand of the image of Kali, on the very black moon night that MA behaved in a strange manner twisting her hand exactly at the same point where the hand of the Kali image was broken.
From Cox Bazar to Adinath to Chittagong at Sashinath’s place, and then with Sashinath she visited Chandranath, Barabanal and Sahasradhara. She returned to Dacca via Chandpur and Kasba, after being away for about six months.
A letter came from Calcutta that a long lost brother of Bholanath, whose whereabouts were not known for 22 years, had been traced in Calcutta. MA, Bholanath and Ashu went to Calcutta to find the brother as a Christian priest, with a new name, Rev. K.K.Chakraborty. Actually, coming to know of MA’s glory, he himself revealed his identity to the Kusharis in Calcutta and felt honored that MA herself had come all the way to Calcutta to bless him.
At Dacca, the work of constructing a bigger temple at Ramna was progressing fast. While digging for the plinth, workers discovered a number of graves, some even with bones. They also discovered ash filled pitchers and earthen lamps. There were three graves within the area marked for the bigger temple. MA said there would be many graves underneath the Ashram premises, even underneath her hut, as the place had been the abode of many holy men.
She stayed for some time at the ashram at Ramna, wandering around in her own mood or spending time with the devotees.
Several men with high spiritual attainments came to see her at Ramna in those days. One day came Ram Thakur. He lay down on the ground to offer his tributes, as MA paid her respects with folded hands. Ram Thakur used to tell others: “Go and have a glimpse of MA at Ramna - she is Bhagavati in person”. Another day, Atul Thakur from Sadhan Samar Ashram came to see her, and immediately became a disciple. He used to make flower offering to MA every day in the morning. Another visit was from Madhabima and MA paid a return visit to her ashram at Tejgaon.
A group of learned men of philosophy who had come to Dacca at that time visited Ramna to pay their respects to MA. The party included Mahendra Sarkar from Calcutta and some renowned Professors of Dacca. They sought answers to various questions and were immensely happy with the replies given by MA. She made certain revealing statements about her identity. The scholars and philosophers were charmed by her personality radiating divinity and the profoundness of her uttering.
The work of the new temple picked up-tempo to make it ready for the installation of the deity before MA’s birth anniversary. The design had been under MA’s direction. The new temple was to envelop the existing Kali temple, the lower half of which would go underground. There would be a door adjacent to the upper half. The deity was to be installed on the roof of the Kali temple where a throne was to be built. Inside the new temple would be a cave, the stairs to which would be from behind the throne. There would be five small rooms, one on either side of the portico, and three others in the outer area, where devotees would pray and meditate.
The birth anniversary celebrations began on 19th of Baisakh 1338. The deity of Annapurna was installed in the temple to coincide with the celebrations. On one side of Annapurna was Shiva with his begging bowl, on the other a flying Kali image - the way MA had earlier visualised it. An image of Vishnu was placed above Annapurna. The ornaments for the deities came from MA’s own stock. This time, the worship for MA was done on the Annapurna image.
MA directed that Jogesh Brahmachari would perform the worship at the temple; the food offering would be prepared by him, Atul Brahmachari, Kamala Kanta Brahmachari and Kulada. They would live in purity not accepting food from others. After worshipping Kali on the birth anniversary day, the door to the Kali temple was closed with instructions to be opened only on subsequent anniversary days, for worship once a year. After the worship, everybody, irrespective of caste, class or creed would be allowed entry into the temple. Special arrangements were made to preserve the Yagna fire. A large number of people assembled from far and near. Jatish and his brothers Nabataru and Jnan, both bachelors by choice, also attended.
One night during the celebrations, MA and 30 other ladies chanted God’s name without a break. The next day, some 100 to 150 ladies assembled chanting the whole night and MA gladly joined them. Later, she once remarked, “What is the significance, why does one do the chanting? When you call by name, the called one responds. Don’t you see that if you call your mother, she at once comes near you?”
Asking the male devotees to continue the chanting uninterrupted, MA then took the entire flock of ladies for a bath at the pond at Siddheshwari. She became a child, frolicking in the water with friends and companions, shouting and regaling, splashing water on each other for a long time. She asked for refreshments for the group as one would entertain the child-gods and came back to Ramna after praying and singing at the Siddheshwari Ashram.
She repeated the performance again after some time; whole-night singing followed by bathing and refreshments and thus a tradition was set for Kirtan singing exclusively by female devotees.
After the birth, anniversary celebrations MA left for Darjeeling in Jyeshtha 1338 and reached there with halts at Bajitpur and Mymensingh. Her penchant for wandering took her to Calcutta, Chinsura, Akhna and Navadweep. There she met with another great soul of high religious attainment, Sri Sri Gauri Ma. The meeting was arranged by Jnan, a disciple of Sharda Ma, who had accompanied MA to Navadweep. Gauri Ma was well advanced in years and she was delighted to receive her.
Coming back to Calcutta she again left for Pun within a few days spending her days on the seashore, the Jagannath temple and other places till the Rath Yatra, and then she left for Vindhyachal and Varanasi. Among the companions was Shankaranand Swami. While in Vindhyachal a distinguished physician of Mirzapur, Dr. Upendranath Bandopadhya took her for two days to Mirzapur. One night while MA was resting in the portico, Gurupriya and other attendants were surprised to see strange changes in her body and physical movements. This continued for a considerable period but MA appeared to feel nothing, much less any discomfort. When the movements finally slowed down, MA with eyes still closed calmly assured the others that it was the Ashtanga Yoga.
From Vindhyachal, the party moved to Ayodhya, to Kashi, to Calcutta and then to Dacca. Around this time, she took Gurupriya aside to give a stick and a saffron robe asking her to keep the matter a secret. Similarly, she declared Jyotish (Bhaiji) as a brahmin and gave him the sacred thread. During the Durga Puja days, she visited Shyam Sidhi village for a day with Nishi. In Kartic 1338, she left for Cox Bazar via Brahman Baria and Chittagong. She spent about six weeks at the small house by the sea where she had stayed during her earlier visit. She reached Calcutta visiting several places on the way and then went to Tarapeeth along with Bholanath to pay the yearly visit. Again, she left for Varanasi and Vindhyachal.
When she reached Jamshedpur on her way back to Calcutta, the city greeted and worshipped her with great emotional fervour. There were Kirtans and sessions of religious discussions. Many houses had already installed MA’s photographs where regular worship had started. Back in Dacca, the time for Holi came. MA enthusiastically took part in the Holi celebrations along with all the ladies splashing colour on one another. In the afternoon, they enjoyed a bath in the pond, frolicking like children and later had a session of Kirtan only by women.
In Chaitra 1338, MA left Dacca and reached Calcutta on the New Year Day of 1339. Devotees came from far and near and some of the blessed ones had glimpses of MA’s extraordinary powers and her kindness. MA was beyond any set rules and moved and acted according to her own unpredictable designs. Followers tried to regulate the large number of visitors by barring their entry for a few hours from midday and from nine in the night till dawn, to allow her to take proper rest. The day the restrictions were supposed to have been put into practice, MA herself ignored them, coming out of her room into the street to mingle with the people. Even at night, when the time for rest came, she decided to remain awake by enjoying the company of dear ones. MA returned to Dacca after a few days with a day’s halt at Rajshahi to fulfil the desire of a devotee, Girija.
In Baishakh, the birth anniversary celebrations began when a number of images of gods and goddesses were installed at Ramna ashram. These images were made of Asta Dhatu, silver and pure marble. There was also a 21-day non-stop chanting of God’s name. Under her direction there was food offering one day comprising 108 dishes. That night rain came in a torrent and some in the party tried to take shelter. MA came out in the open, lost in singing and getting drenched. Soon everybody else followed singing in the rain while MA, lost in her mood, rolled in the mud and slush as the night advanced. It was hours before the Kirtan ended and she was persuaded to have a change of dress. There was a huge gathering on the exact date of birth when, following the usual practice, the worship was performed in the temple of Annapurna. On this occasion, MA blessed the betrothal of Marani with Chinu, son of Kulada. A few days later MA accompanied Gurupriya who was asked to beg from door-to-door. The collected grains were cooked to prepare the food offering and the prasad was distributed among the devotees. At Siddheshwari, a Shivalinga of black stone was installed at the altar of the ashram.
She decided again to leave Dacca and as the devotees became sad, thinking of the impending separation she consoled “Patience is the soul of Sadhana. You must have patience”. Before she left Dacca, she gave the golden thread worn by her, in the manner of a sacred thread, to Gurupriya. She started her journey on the 19th of Jyeshtha 1339 with Bholanath and Bhaiji.
For a long time, there was no news of the whereabouts of MA and her companions. Dr. Upendranath Bandopadhyay of Mirzapur set out on their trail to reach Dehradun. He located the group at a Shiva temple at Raipur, some seven miles away from the town.
Bhaiji had exhausted his leave, so Kamalakanta went to Dehradun to relieve him. On his way back, Bhaiji went to Kashi, as advised by MA, to pay homage at Vishwanath temple. He went for a dip in the Ganga when his foot slipped and he went under the water. A man at the stairs leading to the river rescued him when he was about to get drowned. Later, Bhaiji came to know that at the exact time of the mishap MA was resting in bed. But when she got up, Kamala Kanta noticed with surprise that all her clothes were wet, water dripping from them as if she had just come out of a bath. Bhaiji could relate the two incidents and realised that his life was saved by the grace of MA.
While at Dehradun MA had come to know of the place called Raipur where one could stay at the temple premises. She thus moved to Raipur and spent her days in solitude. Her long tresses had got knotted and entangled, so she cut them short. They ate for bare existence and went even without a lamp at night. Bholanath fell ill; she also suffered from fever. When Bhaiji returned to spend some days with them, he arranged for their medical treatment.
The party spent about seven months at Raipur before making the annual sojourn to Tarapeeth to obey the command received earlier. MA and Bholanath stayed there for about six weeks.
During Christmas, MA made a trip to Nalhati for a fortnight. There were streams of devotees taking part in Kirtan and religious discourses. Suddenly, one day MA declared that she would go back to Raipur.
She stayed at Raipur for about 3 months from January 1933 with Bholanath and Kamala Kanta, Bhaiji joining them midway. At Raipur, she met a noble soul in Hariram Joshi, a native of Almora who worked in Dehradun.
She moved to Mussoorie where the party split - Bholanath and Kamala Kanta going to Badrinarayan and Bhaiji accompanying MA to Uttarkashi 65 miles away from Dehradun, on foot.
It was a difficult and arduous journey along the rocky path up and down the hills, but the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. Tall cliffs and deep gorges, giant trees and multi-coloured flowers, springs and rivulets presented an enchanting beauty of Nature. MA took little rest but was not tired, covering on a single day a distance of 25 miles.
Returning to Mussoorie, she picked up her wanderlust, moving from pilgrimage to pilgrimage. People from all parts of India, speaking different languages, came to her for solace, treating her as a Goddess in person. Initially, male Sadhus and Samnyasis maintained a distance from her, as they could not accept a woman-saint. Nevertheless, slowly the barrier was broken and they were charmed by her spirituality. Many of them confided their problems in her and sought guidance to move along the path of Sadhana.
Bholanath returned to Hardwar in Aswin 1340 after travelling to Badrinarayan, Kedarnath and Yamunotri to join MA at Gangamandir. They moved to Manohar Mandir at Ananda Chowk at Dehradun, a favourite place of MA. The number of her devotees was swelling at Dehradun.
By this time, she had chosen her own attire. She would wear a very thin-bordered sari, waistcoat type piece as her blouse and no other underwear. She would not cover her head, allowing the hair to flow up to the shoulders. On the insistence of her followers, she agreed to use footwear to ease her movements in the hilly terrain. There would be a shawl in the male style. She would move with bare belongings - a water pot, a blanket and a couple of changes of dress - giving the appearance of a young Brahmachari.
She had no fixed place to stay and would decide to move even at the dead of night. Everybody wanted her company and she responded, drawing crowds of admirers and devotees wherever she went.
They would listen from her the significance of the concepts of Atma and Paramatma. They would bring food offerings, which, after a token acceptance, MA would give back as prasad. MA would not stay with any family; her place would be in temples or Dharamshala. Bhaiji was asked by MA to beg for their sustenance and to go without food if nothing could be collected. Bhaiji (Jyotish) by that time had been accepted by MA as her spiritually adopted son. At the expiry of his leave, Jyotish sought premature retirement to devote himself completely to MA.
A temple devoted to MA was coming up in Dehradun, close to Manohar Mandir. Among her devotees was Kamala Nehru, wife of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. On her insistence, MA had a Yagna performed with great pomp at the Ambika temple situated on a hill on way to Raipur.
Ladies from different parts of Northern India came to MA in hordes. They would bedeck her with flowers and invoke her blessings performing an ‘Arti’ with lamps.
MA was then forcefully spreading the message of Vedanta, “look, we are always with the One. You walk with one step at a time, eat one morsel of food at a time and you write one letter at a time.”
Bhaiji had taken the initiative at Dacca to introduce Kirtan, chanting the name of MA only. The practice was taken up at Dehradun also where devotees experienced heavenly chanting for hours.
MA had the habit of moving around without staying at a place for a long time. Similarly, she also did not allow others; howsoever intimate, to be with her for a long time. Some while ago Dr. Shashanka Mohan and Gurupriya had joined her at Dehradun. After a month MA asked them to return. She bade them and Manorama to change their dress into yellow. Gurupriya had already started following the dress pattern adopted by MA. She dyed them in yellow. MA directed to follow certain rules in their every day life and gave new names to the close followers. Dr. Shashanka Mohan became Akhanda Swaroop, Manorama-Krishnapriya and Gurupriya formally assumed her name. She asked them to go to Vindhyachal and look after the ashram there. Within days, MA left Dehradun and after touching many points arrived in Solan near Simla in Chaitra 1340. She took shelter inside a cave at Solan. She had a vision of Dr. Shashanka Mohan as a Samnyasi and recalled him from Vindhyachal to Hardwar where the disciple formally renounced the world at the Kankhal ashram of Mangalananda Giri. After initiation, he got the new name of Akhandananda Gin. He was close to 70 when he became a Samnyasi. Within days, Manorama also got her formal initiation from Mangalananda. While in Kankhal, a few devotees from Bengal came to have darshan of MA. One of them had brought a sari with a wide border. Though MA had abandoned her earlier dresses and had taken to almost a borderless cloth, she wore the new sari for the entire day to please her followers. Call it a coincidence or whatever you like there came a letter within days from her ardent devotee, Kamala Nehru, wife of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. She was complaining to Bhaiji of not hearing from them for a long period though she yearned for news of MA. She said she had visions of MA occasionally. For some days MA appeared in her vision wearing a wide-red bordered sari.
MA asked Gurupriya and Akhandananda to make a trip to Badrinarayan and herself went to Mussoorie to look after the ailing Bholanath.
For about two and half months, she stayed in a hut on the bank of the Ganga at Hrishikesh. Then she moved to Solan and later to the ashram of Taranand Swami in Punjab. She was always restless moving from place-to-place and no ashram could hold her interest for long.
She once commented: “This body of mine is a bird flying around. It flies into the place where its fancy guides it and leaves it on its own whims. When you mention an ashram, can’t you see that the whole world constitutes one single Ashram?”
From Punjab, MA returned to the Hardwar-Dehradun area while Bholanath moved from Mussoorie to Uttarkashi to supervise the construction of a temple being built there with donations from local devotees. Akhandananda, having completed the work of erecting a place for Yagna at Vindhyachal returned to Ramna Ashram at Dacca.
In Baishakh 1342, MA’s birth anniversary was celebrated at several places - Dacca, Calcutta and Dehradun. The temple at Uttarkashi was fast nearing completion. In Ashada 1342, a big party of devotees from all corners of India accompanied MA from Mussoorie to Uttarkashi for the formal inauguration. The party covered the distance over the hilly track in about 6 days.
The temple was inaugurated shortly after their arrival. Icons of Kali, Shivalinga, Lakshmi, Narayan and Ganesh were installed. The responsibility of worship was given to Jogesh Brahmachari, Bholanath travelled to Gangotri.
The return journey for the party proved somewhat difficult. The rigours of walking on unfriendly track, lack of adequate food and shelter posed problems but MA’s presence cheered up everybody. A wayside resting place was already full with people from a marriage party but MA’s name worked wonders. The groom’s party was related to the Raja of Solan, a devotee. He sought MA’s permission to meet the running expenses of the Uttarkashi temple for a few months.
MA moved between Mussoorie and Dehradun and had food at the homes of her devotees in turn, giving them immense joy. Often they would come to Manohar Mandir to worship her. Earlier, on such occasions, MA usually moved into a trance, but now she remained unaffected, silent and detached.
After a short visit to Hardwar, MA along with Jnan, Bhaiji, Bholanath and Atul Brahmachari moved towards Punjab. She went to Amritsar, Kulu, Jwalamukhi and many other places before going to Vaidyanath Dham to stay with Taranand Swami.
She returned to Hardwar in Aswin 1342. After another short stay at Dehradun, MA decided to pay a visit to Tarapeeth along with a group of devotees. Beseeched by local devotees she had to stop over at Faizabad, Etwah, Sultanpur and Allahabad before reaching Varanasi. From Faizabad, MA’s appearance had undergone some change - the face looked dry and her speech indistinct.
At Varanasi, Gopinath Kaviraj took her one day to his Guru, Vishuddhananda Paramahansa where the two had a pleasant meeting.
During her stay of a few days at Varanasi, MA conducted Nam-Kirtan with the devotees. The chanting of “Hare Krishna - Hare Krishna - Krishna-Krishna Hare Hare - Hare Rama Hare Rama - Rama Rama -Hare Hare” in her melodious voice would bring heavenly bliss to all listeners. MA had a special love for Nam-Kirtan, chanting of God’s name. She would do it herself and asked her devotees to take to Nam Kirtan. In her own words, “Nam-kirtan purifies a place and its environment, one who chants would surely become pure himself, purifying the listeners also in the process.”
Ma and a number of her close devotees reached Tarapeeth to stay at Sidhashram. Bholanath spread his tiger-skin mat to take shelter in the portico of the temple of Goddess Tara.
1936 (January to June)
At Tarapeeth, Bhaiji and Gurupriya became spiritual brother -and sister under MA’s command. The two were sent to Chittagong on a mission.
After a gap of four years, MA came back to Dacca sending the devotees there rapturous in delight. At Paruldeah, she attended the inauguration of Radha-Krishna temple at the place of Rai Bahadur Jogesh Ghosh. After two years, she paid a visit to Jatish Chandra Guha in Calcutta but stayed at the Dharamshala at Kalighat as she had stopped being a guest of anybody with worldly attachment.
From Calcutta she went to Tarapeeth again where she stayed at Sidhashram. Hindus and Muslims alike thronged to have a darshan of ‘MA of Dacca’ as wanders around in the open field. She would mix with Muslim families, choosing to become a daughter of the head of a family. She would go to a mosque. She would adorn flower ornaments to become Krishna or Ram, either sporting a flute or a bow made of flowers. At her bidding, a place for Yagna and a hut ‘were built at Tarapeeth. MA formally conducted the sacred-thread wearing ceremony for Gurupriya and Marani on Magh 19, 1342. Marani was married to Kulada’s son on Magh 24, 1342 at Tarapeeth, Marani having been adopted by Bholanath as his daughter.
The day after the marriage, MA and her devotees left Tarapeeth on a moonlit night in a procession of bullock-carts, singing Kirtan on the way to Srirampur via Rampurhat. Leaving Srirampur the next day, she went to Nabadweep, Berhampore and places adjoining Murshidabad. After a week in Berhampore, she went to Vindhyachal with halts at Jamshedpur and Bettiah.
The Yagnashala at Vindhyachal was consecrated on the Dol-Poornima Day in Falgun 1342.
From Vindhyachal to Dehradun again, then to Solan, Vrindaban, Jaipur, and Delhi, back to Dehradun at Krishna Ashram - thus she moved. Within days, she went to Raipur, a little away from Dehradun, and a place of liking. Moving in and around Dehradun in this manner, she went to Kishanpur, where a new Ashram was formally declared open in the night of Baishakh 26,1343 during a Yagna to coincide with MA’s birthday.
However, she would not stay at one place for long. She went to Solan to bless the devotee, Durga Singh, Raja of Solan, who was given a new name “Yogiraja”. MA stayed at Radha-Krishna temple where the Raja and Rani were at her service.
After a fortnight, she was at Simla, staying at the Kalibari. It was difficult to control the enthusiasm of the devotees, the residents and the hill-folks alike. They would surround her till late at night.
A devotee from Punjab asked, “How would a family man do his Sadhana?”
Asked why people get distracted while chanting God’s name, she said, “The fault lies with you, there must be something wrong in the way you conduct yourself. The distraction may be caused by something you see, somebody you meet, something you discuss, without you being ever aware of it. So, if one chooses this path, one should shun company and seek solitude to concentrate. In the beginning, one should be careful to ensure that nothing comes in the way of directing one’s mind towards God. Be with men of virtue, talk of virtuous ways. Being with men of virtue or reading their life’s story would help purify your mind and direct your thoughts towards Him”.
MA advised: “Try to keep your body still for a long time, the longer you do so the greater will be your composure”.
Once defining the state of Samadhi she said: ‘the end of the road of all moods and actions is Samadhi.’
Citing the example of a Sadhu who was steadfast in his belief in the Guru, and who simply recited ‘Gopianandan’ and ‘Ghantanandan’,
MA said, “Single-minded devotion and undiluted belief are the way to God”.
She used a pun in Bengali to say: “The world is a place which consists of two (Dui Niya comprising two). Try to get rid of the obsession with the two and adhere to one and only One”.
In a devastating remark on the definition of the mundane world (Sansar), she said one day “The phenomenon whose substance (Sar) is a joker (Song-clown in Bengali) is called the Sansar”. On the concept of Atma and ParamAtma Ma said:
“Look, it is like a tree and its shadow; if you intently look at the tree only then you will not see the shadow. When your goal is absolute then you will find that there is just one self; the shadow is that of the tree and nothing else”.
On Ashada, the 8th 1343 (22nd June, 1936), a gala kirtan was arranged at Shimla Kali Ban. The place was decorated with flowers and plants and with pictures of Krishna and Gaur-Nitai in various moods. The chanting of the name to start from the next day was to be in the style of the Vaishnavas.
The chanting started from six in the morning. She was present to receive the devotees. As the chanting continued, with the devotees beating drums and dancing in excitement, Bholanath suddenly noticed that MA was becoming restless and a change was slowly coming over her. Bholanath asked some companions to take MA away from the scene of Kirtan. By that time her body was trembling, her eyes were red, steps uneven but a glow was surrounding her body. She had tears in her eyes but she was smiling.
Towards the evening, she suddenly got up and ran into her bedroom. She rolled over her bed while visible changes were coming over her body. In a short while, she rolled almost like a wheel moving towards the place of Kirtan. Faltering, falling down, rolling and getting up again she reached the place. The body responded to the rhythm of Kirtan. The wonder-struck devotees raised the tempo of Kirtan as they witnessed the strange scene but none dared to try to help her. She moved in circular motions, crashing often to the ground with a thud but getting up again to pick up her movements. She was drifting like a feather, the body almost weightless. After some time, she sat down and started chanting hymns in clear, pleasant diction but none could follow the language. After a while, she stretched her legs, pressed a finger on her forehead at the spot between the brows and became still. Her chanting ended. The body was limp and cold, tears streaming down her cheeks. She was distant; almost oblivious of the surroundings, lost in her own mood. She lied down and did not get up till about 11 in the morning next day.
Next day, there was Kirtan from mid-day onwards exclusively by ladies. MA joined the chanting and danced around to the rhythm of the music, while scores of devotees gave her company.
Within three days, she and a big group of devotees went to Solan to attend a Kirtan arranged by the Raja at the Radha-Krishna temple. After the Kirtan was over, she advised devotees at Solan to organise an annual Kirtan.
1936 (July to December)
She said, “You must set apart some time everyday to remember the Almighty”.
She reminded: “Can you trust (biswas) your breathing (niswas); remember this and think of the Almighty. Remember that with every breath your life span is becoming shorter”.
She came back to Simla to pick-up the daily Kirtan, mainly by the ladies. She herself took part with great enthusiasm, clapping, dancing and embracing other participants.
On July 7, there was a Kirtan at the house of Pankaj in Simla. For a change, the devotees chanted the name of MA and thus a new tradition was set.
In between, devotees were blessed with her words of wisdom. She told Dr. Upendra Nath Bandopadhya of Mirzapur:
“One should engage oneself in work with great determination. The goal should not be lost sight of even at the pain of death. One should pursue regularly and relentlessly a path of spiritual uplift.”
In her solitude at Solan, MA was seen at times conversing seemingly with no one around. Asked once she said: “The other party is as real as you are to me. You cannot see them but they visibly exist before my eyes.”
A devotee from Simla asked her in a light mood: “Ma could you not give us the whereabouts of the Almighty - Well, exactly what is He”.
MA replied, “He appears in the very form that one desires Him to take”.
Another day she said, “Give as much time as you can. You must remember that you are losing time as the days are passing. You can never regain a lost day”.
She moved again on July 20 from Solan to Vindhyachal via Delhi. Within a few days, she moved to Calcutta and paid a short visit to Rajshahi. On August 3, she went to Srirampore. She suddenly decided to go in the hiding with just a couple of devotees Birajmohini and Kamal keeping her company. She took a night train one day and left for an unknown destination. Much later her movements during this period came to be known. She went to Puri and paid an unexpected visit to the hut of Shyamadas Babaji. From Puri she went to Bhubaneswar and from there to Agra via Gomoh and Adra. There was a three-day stay at Mathura where she asked one of the companions to return to Calcutta. At Mathura, she moved almost like a beggar woman. Her dress, unkempt hair and living on alms presented her almost as a lunatic. She did not mind and enjoyed the confusion.
She moved around in the region, a day in Mathura, then Vrindaban, Mathura again, then Agra, then suddenly deciding to go to Etawa, again changing her mind in the train to go to Sultanpur, from there to Ayodhya and a week there being attracted by the Ram Mandit by the Sarayu river.
MA reached Etawa via Lucknow to stay for some 25 days at a house near Dauji temple. Everywhere she was surrounded by devotees. She set out again - Namisharanya, Lucknow, Barabanki, Bareilly - travelling to different places even with high fever. During the Durga Puja days, she was in Nainital where devotees worshipped her as the living Goddess. Nevertheless, she would not stay for long anywhere. Then she moved to Amnitsar, back to Meerut and Garh Mukteshwar, Sultanpur, Ayodhya, Faizabad and Deoghar. On Agrahayan 10, 1343, MA reached Tarapeeth to end the period of her secret wanderings.
After a few days, MA along with her followers proceeded towards Assam. She visited the Ashram of Muktananda Swami at Dibrugarh. From there she went for a holy dip at Parashram Kund and then moved along Naogaon, Guwahati, Shillong, Rajshahi, Calcutta, Jamshedpur and Navadweep.
1937 (Jan. to March)
MA enjoyed her stay in Navadweep, spending her time sometimes in the role of ‘Nirmala-Ma’, or as daughter of ‘Bimla - Ma’ and at times engaged in a ‘Lila’ with ‘Lalita Sakhi’. She had a picnic during a visit to the ‘Math’ of Sevadasi Ma where during the kirtan MA revelled in dancing. All her limbs, all parts of her body responded to the rhythm of the music, the sublime joy inspiring all devotees to dance in ecstasy.
Sevadasi Ma told her – “You are Krishna in person”.
On the way to the picnic spot on a raised riverbed, MA told a devotee that she felt thrilled to cruise along the Ganga as she could hear Ganga calling her.
Her advice on Kirtan singing was: “It is good to meditate with eyes closed before starting and at the end of a Kirtan session .... There will be a special effect if the group looks upwards and moves slowly in circles.”
On ‘desire’ she told Prabudhanand Swami, “There is no peace so long as there is a personal desire. Peace is achieved only when one can merge one’s own desire with that of God.”
One day MA led a large group of devotees in procession singing Kirtans along the streets of Navadweep. As the procession moved along the banks of Ganga, the rays from the setting sun radiated the scene, leaving a divine glow on the face of MA who was singing and dancing in abandon. It was a heavenly spectacle. The whole of Navadweep seemed to come out to witness it and join in the singing.
The singing procession went to the place of Vaishnavi-Ma and then to the house of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Dancing and singing with arms raised they went to Sonar Gauranga as darkness fell and then to Snivas Angan. On her way back to the Dharamshala where she was staying, she picked up two pitchers from a wayside brassware shop and said, “We have turned into Gopis.” MA seemed transported to the world of Krishna and Shri Chaitanya.
As was her wont, she left Navadweep one day at dead of night without giving any hint to local devotees. She returned to Dacca via Calcutta only to leave again for Behrampore and Calcutta on her way to Vindhyachal. At the Ashram, there sacred fire was lit in a new Yagna Kund and the Yagna was performed. She paid a visit to Kashi to fulfil the wishes of a devotee Dr. Gopal Das Gupta who had only visualised MA in his dream. MA told him, “It was you this time who perhaps occasioned the movement of ‘this body’ to Kashi to have a darshan of the Lord.”
It was not long before she left Kashi for Chittagong and took shelter in the Raj Rajeshwar Temple. Devotees took her to their houses for worship and to present food offerings. She said: “It is Bhajan (worship) first to be followed by Bhojan (eating). Both are needed in this life”. From Chittagong she went to ‘Shankar Muth’ at Sitakund. Talking to devotees, she remarked one day: “One who has real respect for the Guru is incapable of despising anybody. The reason is that the Guru is great and his greatness can be visualised in everybody else.” Another day commenting on bookish knowledge, MA said, “It is like finding your way consulting a time-table. A time-table contains some information but there are plenty more to be learnt along the road itself.” Another day the local Station Master asked, “What is the way of salvation for family men like us?” MA’s reply was: “Take God’s name. I am sure you will get everything by chanting His name. Devote as much time to chanting His name as you can. If you cannot find enough time for that then at least, talk of God, sing His glory or read books containing spiritual thoughts.”
On 14th March, she visited the temple of Shambhunath. In the evening, the priests of the temple conducted the arati (prayer with lamps) and followed it with an arati of MA herself. She conducted a Nam Kirtan at the temple, which continued till late in the night. The party traversed their way back along the rocky path, their hearts filled with a divine bliss.
Next day she went to the Ashram of Bhola Gin Maharaj. The Brahmacharis of the Ashram performed arati of MA after offering the same to Bhola Girl. It was time to return to Chittagong. The Station Master regretted that he was finding it difficult to move along the path of spirituality. MA said, “You have to take God’s name, but to cultivate a passionate devotion to God, you must also control your way of life, your conduct and habits. For example, diet is equally important as medicine for a patient, otherwise the patient will not be cured of the disease. The trouble with you is that you want to remain a patient leaving everything to the physician.”
From Chittagong, she went to Paroikoda village, the native place of Jyotish. There a wise man and astrologer saw her and declared, “She is the ultimate knowledge personified. What for would she strive to achieve the favour of Kali? Kali herself would come to seek her favour”.
She returned to Chittagong and moved to Cox Bazar staying at a tent by the sea. She lived in her own way, guided by her changing moods, remaining always absorbed in herself, yet giving company and gladdening the hearts of the devotees. One day, she had a long boat journey to reach Ramkoot Hill to the temple of Shiva and Ram Sita. She also paid a visit to the adjacent Buddhist temple ‘Kang’. The news of her visit spread far and wide as villagers assembled at Ramkoot in their numbers. They moved along the hill tracks singing kirtan till 3 in the morning, braving heavy rain. She returned to Cox Bazar to pick up own way of life spending hours in solitude and again cheerfully taking part in Kirtan with devotees. Her presence was joy to everybody and she was joy incarnate. When some women expressed the miseries of family life, MA told them “You suffer because you want to be the owner and master. Don’t be a Malik (owner) but be a Mali (Gardener) and you will see that all your miseries will disappear”.
She again made a long boat journey to Ramkoot on Falgun 23rd. The whole day was spent in Kirtan and Namgan and as soon as she returned to Cox Bazar in the early morning next day, she was a participant in an Usha Kirtan (Morning Kirtan) leading her party up to the tent. Her major role during her stay in Cox Bazar this time was to flood the town with the spirit of Kirtan, initiating people from all class and community into singing.
She would not be left alone by the devotees who had countless problems to be solved by her. Answering a question on the definition of religion, she said: “Religion is that body of work which helps to achieve the goal for which everybody is striving. That body of work is a natural duty (swabhav) to be performed.
All other works which bring in agony and sorrow are conditioned by want (abhav) and constitute vice as opposite to religion. Money, fame and the like only increase want and multiply your agonies and, therefore, to achieve them is not part of your natural duty. What we seek is peace and happiness. While leading a family life, one may enjoy moments of joy but that does not give us complete satisfaction. What we want is unbroken joy, uninterrupted peace and we have to choose our duties which help achieve this goal”.
Back in Chittagong, MA spent a few days with the local devotees, enjoying every moment of her existence in communion with God. She was herself permeated with bliss; those around felt the magnetic charm and shared the blissful experience. She would sing or dance or move into a trance, deciding to call on her devotees whenever it occurred to her.
She moved again to Calcutta for a day via Chandpur. In Calcutta, she was in a new mood, moving incognito from house to house of devotees, jesting and joking, enjoying as it were a game of fun.
The journey continued to Kashi, then to Delhi where she attended the Holi festival on the full-moon day. Devotees paid their respect smearing coloured powder on her feet, and revelled by smearing each others face with colour. Didi was asked to hold a looking glass before everybody’s face by turn and a smiling MA explained: “I am presenting your real self before you”. Devotees took her to the nearby Kalkaji Temple and also to a Gurudwara to grace a Kirtan by womenfolk. Replying to a devotee there MA said, “The strength of Nam is that it can bring one who is being called near you. Don’t you notice that once you call out to your mother, she readily comes near you?... Chanting of God’s name is the only way to get to Him.”
Another way to reach God is the spirit of service and love. She said, ‘if one could serve one’s husband (pati) as the Supreme Lord (Parampati), serve children as the child-God-incarnate and the virgins as deities, then one was actually serving God.’
On Chaitra 16, MA joined the Kirtan arranged by the Great Assembly of Hinduism (Hindu Dharma Mahasabha). The song “Jai Hridayabasini, Suddha Sanatani, Sree Anandamayee MA” was sung by devotees for the first time on this day. The next day, on the insistence of Akhandananda, she experienced for the first time an aerial journey in a plane for 15 minutes along with Bholanath, Didi, Bhaiji and Akhandanandaji.
1937 (April to December)
She moved again and halted at Bareilly for about a week. Waves of devotees flooded the town; devotees tried to savour every moment of her stay there. She left Bareilly for Nainital on Chaitra 26 where the same scene was witnessed. She would take a cruise in the lake, wander around in the hills, mixing with the hill folk singing Kirtans with them and generally filling the atmosphere with her blissful presence. One day, addressing a group of employees, MA said, “You have a job and do your regular duties. When you retire you will be entitled to a pension. In the same way, if you do your daily service to God, you will get another kind of pension, a payment which never ends, which will be paid to you as long as you live.”
On Baishakh 4, MA paid a visit to “Bhumiya Dhara” a place four miles from Naina temple. Two days later, the priests and worshippers of Naina temple performed a Vedic Yagna with MA as the central figure.
On Baishakh 10, she went to Almora to stay at Nandadevi Temple. Every day a huge crowd came to pay homage to her. Whenever MA walked out, people lined up the streets, and showered flowers on her. They addressed her as ‘Kalika Jagadamba.’
MA said: “If one can truly concentrate on HIM only, then not only the body, even the mind can turn inanimate depending on the state of spiritual attainment.”
Another asked, “Do we imagine the existence of Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, or are they real”?
MA’s reply was: “All are real so long as you have vision, you create. The three states of Creation, Preservation and Destruction are the real forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively. The way you demarcate the land ownership of Zamindars, you can also demarcate their control areas as Brahmalok, Vishnulok and Shivalok.”
According to her, creation, preservation and destruction are manifestations of God’s will. He is impartial. People suffer as a result of their actions (Karma). But action is an essential requirement. Without striving one cannot hope to earn the blessings of great souls.
Answering a Western lady one day, MA said: “The same indivisible consciousness permeates every element in the universe, but human beings reflect the greatest manifestation of God. Creation and destruction are part of the same process”.
Baisakh 15 and MA was on the road again. She touched Bareilly, Lucknow, Faizabad and Kashi on her way to Jamshedpur. While she was waiting at Howrah station to change trains, the well-renowned author, musician and sadhak Dilip Kumar Roy came to pay his respects.
Her birth anniversary was being celebrated at Jamshedpur. MA was with the devotees for a few days before coming back to Calcutta to grace the celebrations, which were already in progress in the city. In Calcutta, the renowned patriot, Sarat Chandra Bose, paid her a visit. MA visited a Girls’ school on Baisakh 25 where she told the students, “I plead with you to devote a little time to God every day, in the way you attend to your lessons. Your happiness and peace of mind will increase if you do.”
Within three days she was at Baisari in Eastern Bengal and villagers - Hindus and Muslims alike - came in hundreds to have a glimpse of her and hear her words. She told a youth there that work done with enjoyment led to further action whereas a work done grudgingly would be unproductive from the start.
She moved again - to Banisal, Chandpur, I, Comilla, Kasba and Kheora. The whole village turned out to receive her at Kheora braving torrential rain. She went to every house, remembering every inmate by name. It was a pleasant homecoming as everybody recalled her early days at the village.
Nevertheless, nothing can bind her. She was out on the roads again within 24 hours, to go to Dacca during the birth anniversary celebrations after many years. Dacca went mad with joy.
At midnight on Jyeshtha 14, the Kali icon inside the sacred pit at Dhakeswari was worshipped, following which the temple door was opened to the public, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Within two days, she left Dacca for Calcutta.
On the benefit of keeping company with men of purity MA said “Usually, every being is unaware of its true identity; yet if it can accept another being as a liberated soul, then that acceptance would generate an excitement which may be apparently temporary but would leave a deep impression. Nothing goes waste. This is a benefit of keeping company with pure souls and you would do well to remember it.” She was back in Calcutta on Jyeshtha 18 to prepare for a journey to Kailash. Meeting devotees at several places on the way, she reached Kathgodam on the 25th and Almora on the 27th to stay at her favourite place at the temple of Nandadevi. Rabindra Nath Tagore’s daughter-in law, Pratima Tagore, paid a visit to MA at Almora, the next day. The journey to Kailash started on Jyestha 30 with a large group of followers, including some of her closest attendants. The group was helped by some 25 porters. Several horses and mules were taken to complete the journey. Gurupriya later wrote, “As MA walked along the hilly track we could realise that she was one with the surroundings, her charm radiating into the hills and vegetation all around. She was easily carrying with her a splendour of greatness marked by simplicity.” By the second day, the party covered some 18 miles. On the fifth day it reached Ankot. The pilgrims reached Khela by the river Kaliganga where a disciple of Sharada-ma, Ruma Devi, had a darshan of MA and became a devotee. The journey became more arduous as the party gradually proceeded towards Kailash negotiating unfriendly rocks and swift flowing hill streams after covering a distance of 136 miles from Almora. The party took a few days rest at Garbiang.
Then they crossed the fearsome Lipu Pass at a height of 19 thousand feet to reach Taklakot and onwards to Mansarovar on the 22nd. On the way, the pilgrims were attacked by a gang of plunderers but soon they were overwhelmed by MA’s charm. The breath-taking beauty of the Mansarovar and its surroundings with the Kailash peak towering over the area enthralled the minds of the pilgrims. MA and her followers went round the area, circling the peak for five days and visiting Gauri-kund, a frozen lake at a height of 22 thousand feet. MA perceived that a few ethereal existences were keeping her company at Kailash.
In her words: “I could see the ethereal figures of five Sadhus in saffron robes coming to me to say that we were with you while you were making the rounds.” The party crossed over to the other side of the lake at the root of Kailash - Rakshas Talab or Ravana Tal- to reach Mandhata peak from where the return journey started. The party came back to Almora on Shravan 25 but the condition of Bhaiji, who had fallen sick on the way, steadily worsened. MA looked after his comfort as a real affectionate Mother, but despite medical attention, Bhaiji breathed his last on the second of Bhadra. His last words were: “How wonderful; there is just one and nothing but one”, and said, “MA has now signalled me to sleep and I obey”. Later, MA disclosed to her close associates the inner urges of the departed soul.
She said, “After taking a bath in Mansarovar, Bhaiji discarded his clothes in the water. He begged of Bholanath to allow him to renounce the world and turn into an Avadoot Samnyasi. Bholanath persuaded him not to take that decision and to wait for MA’s return and advice. Bhaiji conceded, put on his clothes again and waited for MA. He told her in private that he wanted to go away taking leave of her. MA did not agree. Upon which Bhaiji wanted to observe complete silence. MA said that it would not be proper to observe complete silence while moving in a party. She re-named him as Maunanand Parbat. On her own she administered the Sanyas mantras and Bhaiji exclaimed in joy he had got what he wanted to achieve.”
Bhaiji’s passing away had its effect on MA, whose own health deteriorated day-by-day. She was treated by doctors at Dehradun but by that time she had been living just on water. She took food only after 18 days and started improving from the 3rd week of Ashwin. Within days, she started for Hardwar and proceeded towards Baroda via Delhi.
MA took shelter in the Visnu Temple at Chandod by the Narmada River. Along with the followers, she had a cruise in the river in the evening and started singing spontaneously: “Be the name of Hari your boat to cross the river”. The calm and quiet atmosphere of the setting, her melodious voice and the deep devotion which the song generated transported the entire party into a kingdom of Bliss.
She paid a visit to Vyas staying for a day in the Laxmi Narain temple in the islet. Here, Maharshi Vyas and his wife, Anasuya, had their hermitage. On Kartik, the 5th, she moved towards Ahmedabad and the city people were delighted to have her among them. They took the initiative to publish in Gujarati a collection of her messages and advice. She answered questions in her distinctive style. A girl asked her whether having a Guru was essential, MA told her ”When was the time since your birth that you did not have a Guru: your parents, your school teacher or anybody from whom you have received any piece of information are all your Gurus. One must have an occasion to take up an action. If you want to possess knowledge you need a Guru.”
The number of devotees swelled up at Ahmedabad and each one of them wanted to have her attention. However, she moved according to her own whims. When the devotees would like her to stay for many more days, she would choose that moment to leave them. MA left Ahmedabad for Baroda where the scene at Ahmedabad was repeated. There were problems and questions galore presented by the devotees. A gentleman wanted to know whether there was a previous birth.
She answered, “It is there but only those who believe in previous births and a rebirth will undergo the transmigration of soul. Those who do not have this in their system will not experience it.”
She replied, “Everything that you can see in this world has two expressions - explicit and implicit. In the same way Brahma is at once an expression and beyond expression, understandable and beyond understanding, both at the same time.”
She spent a few days in and around Baroda before returning to Rampurhat were she came to know of the serious illness of her father. She came just for a day to see her father in Calcutta and returned to Rampurhat to move on to Tarapeeth.
On her way to Kashi, a devotee wanted to know whether dreams contained any reality. Ma said, “The dreams are as real as the world you see around. What you see in the dreams are events of the past or events of the future, both real in your system.” On Pausa the 2nd, MA reached Kashi. The previous day her father, Bipin Behari, had passed away in Calcutta. He was fully conscious when death came as he was chanting God’s name. When the third day’s rites were being performed by her in Kashi, MA sat in her appointed place but immediately went into a Samadhi with her body absolutely still. Bholanath got the rituals performed with token movements of her hands.
After a day at Vindhyachal, she returned to Kashi to be surrounded by the devotees presenting their problems. One day Kumud Bhattacharya asked, “what will bring peace (Shanti)?“ MA answered, “When the distance ends (anta), rest (shanti) comes. So long as you feel that He is at a distance, you have this lack of peace (ashanti).” Back in Calcutta, the last rites for the departed soul, Bipin Behari, were performed. Immediately after, she moved towards Hardwar.
1938(Jan To May)
While in Dehradun during this period she was running a temperature. The fever continued and she became weak. When treatment failed to bring the temperature down, devotees pleaded with MA to do something for herself. She replied: “Why are you envious of fever entering my body. The way you come to me, the diseases come to visit my body. They are playing inside and I have no discomfort: rather I am enjoying it”. She once described this as ‘Jwaranand’ (the pleasure of the fever). Yet, the condition of her heart was not all that satisfactory. She had a palpitation if there was a loud noise, her limbs used to become cold. When two months passed without the fever, subsiding, Ma took some medicine on others’ insistence. The result was disastrous as she became completely bed-ridden. MA was moved on a stretcher from the Dharamshala to the house of Dr. Pitamber Pant.
“I saw one day that I was sitting alone at an elevated spot. The place was grassy and strewn with pebbles. There is one spot in the area named Kalyanban. And what do I see. A number of deities with their chosen mounts (birds/animals) are standing in attention with palms together in supplication. They are saluting ‘this body’. The group included seers and sages, saints and hermits, all glorious in their own moods.
As this body was stationed at an elevated spot they were gazing upwards while saluting, ‘This body’ was made of dense white brilliance. The mouth uttered ‘Akhanda Bhavaghana.’ The pieces are there but the pieces together constitute one whole. The assemblage around stretched to the horizon in all directions. It was like an ocean with no end in sight.”
She had many such visions. One of these led to her visit to the house of Pitambar Pant, then known as Anandamoyee Sevashram. She said that at dead of night one day at the Dharmashala where she was staying an ethereal image appeared and asked, “which place has been chosen?” MA developed a wish then to stay at Pitambar Pant’s Sevashram by the Ganga. Her condition had worsened but about that time, certain kriyas in her body were noticed following which the fever subsided and she gradually came round.
Kumbh Mela was drawing near. There would be a special dip on Sivaratri. Hardwar was full of holy men, followers and devotees, moving in endless processions to Brahmakund for the holy bath. MA watched it from a verandah. Only a few devotees were permitted to visit her in these days.
One of them, Neeraj, cited from the Gita and asked MA, “What exactly are Nirakar (formless) or Sakar (with form) worship mentioned here? The Gita also bids us to concentrate on Agyachakra”. MA answered: “The seat of emotions like joy, happiness or sorrow is the heart if you can install God in your heart then there will be no place for Nirananda (joylessness), If you can concentrate your mind on your heart, it moves to Agyachakra automatically. From there, it naturally moves on to Sahasrar. For instance, if you pour water on an incline, it will naturally flow downwards. For your other problem - when you install Him in your heart it is Sakar and as you move to Agyachakra He becomes Nirakar”.
A big group of Kirtan singers from Delhi went to Hardwar and had a special session with MA in the evening of Falgun 28. MA took part with great enthusiasm; singing and dancing with abandon giving no hint of her recent illness. On Chaitra 2, there was another big assembly to mark Dol Purnima. Just before the festival of splashing coloured powder and water began, devotees made MA and Bholanath sit in two chairs side by side to seek their blessing. Their feet were smeared with coloured powder: MA was garlanded; MA laughed and said, “Put a garland on this son also”, pointing at Bholanath. Then she said, “Do I have to bless him” and put her palm on Bholanath’s head uttering, “Let there be good spirit and wisdom.” After a joyful celebration, the group went to the bank of the Ganga to have MA and Bholanath photographed. MA deliberately sat on a higher spot and told Bholanath, “It is not enough to address me as MA; come near and sit like a child”. Bholanath obeyed. MA had already become the universal Mother. The devotees were thrilled to see that the camera was capturing on film the picture of not a married couple, but a Mother and her son, a heavenly document of love and affection.
A devotee raised the issue of having an ashram in Delhi. MA told him, “Look, there is no need for an ashram or anything else for you; I only want you to live in harmony and peace. Let good spirit grow in you. And since you talk of an ashram, the whole universe is an ashram, you may call it a limitless ashram.”
For days in Chaitra, devotees became crazy to collect direct colour imprints of MA’s hands and feet. MA seemed to enjoy it and gladly painted the palms to give the impressions. She took it as a sport, enjoying it herself like a spectator.
She had to answer endless questions, which bordered on riddles. One asked: “Would a deep meditation of a god-form endow the Sadhak with the attributes and qualities of that form, merging their identities”. The answer was given to Gurupriya on another occasion. MA said, “This can happen on certain occasions. A Sadhak may think only of Kali or Krishna and may assume in a trance their perceived postures of standing or walking. There is another state in which no particular divine form is being meditated upon, but the Sadhak has the indicative functions of various godforms spontaneously manifest on his body”.
A Sanyasi asked, “Why is there this sense of division or distinction?” She said, “Actions generate the sense and action again can remove distinction”.
One day a devotee asked, “Is there really a God? Can one see Him? “MA said, “God exists and can be seen the way you see me or I see you.”
Still doubtful, the devotee asked, “Then why does not He understand our sufferings, why is He so pitiless?” MA’s answer was: “He is not unkind. It is His design to draw you near Him as a fully conditioned being, through the ordeal of pleasures and sorrows. Moreover, He is engaged in playing with himself, that is His ‘lila’.”
On the day of Kumbh-Snan on Chaitra 30, MA was worshipped by devotees when a non-stop Kirtan was arranged.
With millions crowding Hardwar during the Kumbh, the facilities proved inadequate with the danger of an epidemic breaking out. MA asked everybody to leave the place and herself moved to Kishanpur ashram. It proved to be a wise decision as within days there was a devastating fire in Hardwar and clashes occurred between police and volunteers of the Seva Samity.
A devotee, Kunjamohan Mukhopadhya, was asked by MA to proceed to Kankhal (Hardwar) to renounce the world after a formal function at the ashram of Mangalanand Gin. Bholanath accompanied him ignoring MA’s wishes and MA warned Gurupriya that Bholanath was destined to be ill.
The warning proved true when Bholanath returned from Kankhal down with fever and a stomach-ache. On Baisakh 13, his nausea increased and the next day there were eruptions on his body. Within 4 days his condition became serious. Others took it to be an attack of measles, but MA had correctly detected it as smallpox. On Baisakh 21, Gurupriya, Akhandananda, Didima (Mokhshadasundari) and a few others had to leave Dehradun as desired by MA. Bholanath passed away on Baisakh 23 (May 6,1938). The body was immersed in the Ganga at Hardwar.
Throughout his illness, MA attended, when death was imminent, MA drew her palm from the top of Bholanath’s head to his forehead to perform a Kriya. She remained unmoved without any show of emotion. She was calm and composed as always.
MA did not make any changes in her appearance to denote widowhood, nor did she change her food habits. She said, “When did I have a husband and how did I become a widow?” A few days prior to his death, Bholanath started addressing her as ‘MA’ and she responded to the call. A little before the end came, he partook of the ‘prasad’ from the food eaten by MA, she herself administering it as Bholanath expressed a strong desire to have the prasad from her hand. He then took her permission to touch her. MA caressed the diseased body from head to foot with her hand to alleviate his suffering. Bholanath exclaimed: “Happiness”. MA covered the body with a saffron cloth. She later said, “He accepted his last food and cloth from these hands.”
Bholanath had received his Sanyas-mantra from MA at Mansarovar during the journey to Kailash. MA had named him - Tibbatananda Teertha.
By this time, MA’s birth anniversary was being celebrated as usual at Dacca. According to convention, the door of the inner Kali Temple was opened on Jyestha 3 to public for darshan, but it was discovered that the entire left arm of the icon had fallen off. The door to the inner temple was then permanently sealed off as directed by MA. She said, “There is no need to offer worship to this image of Kali”. Thus ended a convention, which was being followed for 13 years at the Ramna ashram.
1938 (June To December)
MA moved around Dehradun from place to place but she was not keeping well. There was swelling of a gland in right arm, as also palpitation of the heart. She did not care much and reached Solan in the latter half of Shravan 1345.
A Sikh devotee told her that he found much that was said by MA contained in GuruGranth Saheb and sought her permission to read out some portions. MA gladly agreed, as she made no distinction between one religion and the other.
Everywhere, there were Nam-gan and Kirtan with MA at the centre. At times, she would be transported to another state of existence her gaze fixed and eyes red with tears - and the mood would cast a spell on everybody.
A lady asked, “How could I find time for Namgan, burdened as I am with household work?” MA laughed and said while clapping her hands: “Let the name (Nam) of Hari be in your mind and worldly duties (Kam) in your hand - You are sure to find the Supreme Being (Ram)”
At Dehradun, lady nicknamed ‘Baby’, who had lost her husband and son, sought solace. MA said, “The happenings have made you a Yogini only to have communion (Yog) with Him. You have to strive along the path of spirituality to understand that your heart is His seat, and He is residing there. You suffer when you deny Him the seat and install somebody else”.
MA knows no sorrow; she is always happy and blissful. The mood is expressed through the hymns, which spontaneously come out of her lips. This time she uttered them for four days and her associates tried to keep a record of it as much as they could.
After Janmashtami, MA went to Mussoorie for a few days and then moved around in the Dehradun area. A Sardarji approached her in Mussoorie and said, “I am a beggar and I seek alms from you?” MA’s reply was, “Father, the way I realise it, we all belong to the same household. Who can be the donor here and who the beggar?” The Sardarji asked her: “Whom do you follow - Krishna, Ram or Devi?” MA’s smiling reply was, “A Krishna, or a Ram or a Devi is only a different name - signifying a form, an attribute or an existence - but there is nothing but One.”
MA loved her followers as dear ones. Baby’s eldest son, Sukumar, an ICS officer who died in a road accident, could visualise MA in an ethereal form by his side in his dying moments and was relieved of all pain and suffering.
Spending sometime in Mussoorie, MA returned to Dehradun on Bhadra 26. Two days later, after taking lunch, MA suddenly developed severe pain in the stomach, but insisted on proceeding to Hardwar. There, the pain increased and her condition worsened. The breathing became imperceptible; the stomach swelled up. Frightened doctors suspected an internal boil. The condition further worsened and devotees feared the worst. But on Bhadra 31, suddenly at about nine in the night, certain changes were noticed in her body movements turning the posture in Yogic Asans. It seemed as if the disease was being wrung out of the body. Strangely enough, MA became normal within a short time. There was no trace of the disease, the pain was gone and the breathing was normal.
There was an idea to set up a Kanya-Ashram at Dehradun in a small house adjacent to the Ashram. The foundation stone was laid on Aswin 8 (September 25). The purpose was to guide religious minded girls to proceed along the path of spirituality.
The days of Durga Puja arrived. Devotees came from far and near to take part in the celebration and to pay homage to MA. As usual, Kirtans and a Yagna were arranged on the Ashtami Day, towards the end of night, MA felt vibrations rocking her body. There were Kriyas and asanas performed. For about one and a half hours she was in that state.
On Ashwin 25 (October 11) MA left Hardwar for Allahabad where a huge tent was pitched by Shivaprasad Sinha to accommodate the devotees craving for her darshan. Among them who came to see her, were Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Dr. Pannalal. A devotee asked of her whether the ways of reaching God described as Karmayoga, Bhaktiyoga or Gyanayoga are all different methods or same. Her answer was, “We want to go to a temple - why do we so desire unless we have some idea of the temple? Then, we would not think of going there unless we have some devotion to the deity installed there. Then again, that we are going denotes action. So, idea (Gyan), devotion (Bhakti) and action (Karma) all stay together, they cannot be segregated.”
Visiting a Girls’ College, she appealed to the Principal and students, “You are in pursuit of so much knowledge. I beg of you to devote some time to seeking knowledge of Him.”
Towards the end of Ashwin, she reached Calcutta. For three days there were Nam-gan and Kirtan with thousands of devotees participating. On Kartik 3, MA went to Dakshineshwara temple where Shree Shree Sarada MA used to stay. There the great patriot, Subhash Chandra Bose came to see her. Amulya Kumar Dutta Gupta, who was present on the occasion, asked MA whether God helped those who sewed the cause of the motherland. She said:
“God can be reached even through the path of service provided it is rendered in true spirit.” MA then asked Subhash Chandra, “Why do you engage yourself in the service of the country?” He replied, “I am happy with it.” She asked again, “Is this happiness perpetual or you have it in bits and pieces?”
MA told him, “My son, you are endowed with power. Do not simply look outwards, look inwards too.”
She moved on to Dacca -where the Annakut festival was observed with great pomp and enthusiasm. The food offering to the deity Annapurna comprised 136 dishes. She came back to Calcutta for a recording session of her voice - both speech and song. Within a few days she was at Vindhyachal.
Talking to Gurupriya one night MA said, “Whatever care you may take after sowing seeds, you have to wait for the right moment for sprouting. You must have patience and serve, as you cannot hasten the process of growing of a plant. The tree, its flowers and fruits will grow at the proper time. The essence of Sadhana is patience.”
After a week in Vindhyachal, she moved to Kashi, spending five days in boat in the Ganga and returned to Vindhyachal. She moved again, two days in a boat at Allahabad and then to Vaidyanathdham. There she went to the temple of Kamdhenumata, whose high priest was Mohanananda Brahmachari.
In the evening, Mohanananda garlanded MA and offered his pranam mildly accusing her of remembering her son after such a long time.
For some days, the two souls had many exchanges on intricate spiritual problems. ‘He asked, “How does one control the life-force (pran-bayu)?”
Her reply: “The life-force creates waves. One should try to merge one’s mind, breathing and mantra, concentrating on those vibrations.” He put another question, “If He is limitless, then the journey towards Him also has to be endless.” MA’s reply was: “He contains everything - End and Endlessness are interchangeable in this case.”
She was on the move again, touching Allahabad, Agra and Baroda. At Vyas, she met Saraswati Prakash, known as Falahari MA (Mother living on fruits). She moved around in the region visiting various places of pilgrimage - Karnali, Sukdev, Ansuya. Cruising in the Narmada River, MA sang - “Hare Murare, Madhukaitabhare - Gopala Govinda Mukunda Shourey.”
At Vyas, MA used to stroll along the banks of the Narmada. Very often, she would be taken to the homes of devotees where they would perform her worship like a living goddess. After some days, she set out again visiting many places as was her ‘lila’, she would spend certain days in secret places, surfacing again at her own will. During this period, she traversed from West India to Nabadweep, Calcutta, Purl, Deoghar and Varanasi before arriving at the Vindhyachal ashram.
One asked about the path to be followed and got this answer, “How would you find the road if you keep your doors closed. Somehow get a door opened and you will surely find a way. If you remain steadfast on your goal, there will always be somebody to show you the way.”
Speaking on desire she said, “Desires and lust carry their seeds within, the way fruits have their seeds. When you boil the seedy fruits thoroughly, the seeds lose their quality to germinate. In the same way, Sadhana and devotion can destroy the seeds of desire and lust.”
MA reached Delhi via Kashi to visit, for the first time, the ashram in Delhi. A Brahmin devotee told her that despite religiously offering daily prayers ever since he was formally initiated, he did not experience any spiritual gain. MA said, “You only take the medicine without having a matching diet; so the medicine does not have any effect. The medicine is Nam and the matching diet is control over your desires.”
Devotees worshipped her as Basanti, Annapurna and Ram on appointed ‘tithis’. She went to Vrindavan to see “Phul Dol” at the Govindaji temple as she received an inner summon from the deity Govinda. Back in Delhi, on the occasion of a special Kirtan, MA bade her followers, “Observe strict discipline and restraint in your habits at least on one day of the month. Treat your children as child-gods on that day, treat your husband as the Lord, treat women as virgins and Shakti and serve. Nobody should feel your displeasure at least on that day.”
She had a two-hour Kirtan session with Harijans at the Valmiki temple. She did not follow the routine of an average person and made no distinction between day and night in following her own schedule.
MA had transcended all bonds since early years in her life. She never had a formal initiation (Diksha) or renunciation (Sanyas) but took interest in these rituals for her followers. On Chaitra 30, Manoranjan formally embraced brahmacharya. Next day, her own mother Mokhsadasundari got the Sanyas mantra from Mangalanand Gin Maharaj at Kankhal and assumed a new name - Muktananda Giri, as MA supervised the proceedings.
Within days, she set out for Uttarkashi on foot with a group of close associates. Her birthday fell during the journey when her followers arranged a worship. From Uttarkashi, she moved towards Gangotri, via Bhatiali, Ganganam, Shuki, Dhamli and Bhairavghati. At Gangotri, she paid a visit to Krishnashram Swami, a naga-sanyasi on Baisakh 30. She returned to the Mussoorie-Dehradun region by the middle of next month.
After about six weeks, she proceeded towards Calcutta. From there she reached Dacca via Srirampore, Naihati, Vishnupur, Ajimganj and Jiagunj. From Dacca, she paid a visit to her birth place Kheora, touching many other places on the way. There was boundless joy for the villagers everywhere as she travelled around, on foot, in boats or in processions.
She moved restlessly - now in Dacca, then to Calcutta, Jamshedpur, Varanasi and Dehradun to Solan, without staying long anywhere. After a week at Solan, she went to Suket, stopping for a while on the way to meet Taranand Swami at Baijr’ath who was constructing a Tara temple there with a room reserved for MA. The Raja of Suket treated MA as a Goddess, adorning her in the costliest of costumes and ornaments befitting an empress, and worshipped her. Suket is the place where Sukdev did his penance for many years and has a Sukdev hermitage.
She came back to Baijnath to attend the inauguration of the Tara temple. She moved on to Jwalamukhi, Pathankot and Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple and came back to Almora to be with the hill folk there. She cherished their company.
Ma moved again: Vindhyachal, Kashi, Nabadweep. She became weak, the breathing was irregular, the pulse was slow and ‘she had palpitation of heart while speaking. As the demands of devotees would not allow her to rest, some close associates took her to Calcutta for treatment and rest under strict vigil. MA would not always co-operate. One day a Kaviraj examined her and exclaimed. “Do you control your pulse at your will? I do not find any disorder in your system, but I cannot feel your pulse either”. Finally, she took shelter in a room at the temple of Radha Govinda at Agarpara belonging to Giribala Devi. She moved in a small room in the huge mandir by the Ganga, but found time to pay a visit to Panihati, which carries memories of many incidents connected with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
MA is at Agarpara. Her physical condition is not well. The body temperature goes down. The pulse is irregular and she feels tired even travelling by car. The attending physicians advise her rest. Both of them are perplexed by her pulse rate - now racing ahead and now fading- and they wonder whether MA is having fun of them. She took about a month to recover slowly and went to Purl for rest. She also spent some days at the Nimbark Ashram at Bhubaneswar. While she was away, some close devotees went to Jagannath temple in Puri for a darshan and were startled to see MA in person inside the temple. At first, they thought it was a look-alike, but later they were convinced it was MA herself. The stupefied devotees saw her changing form, first in a regal attire, then as Kali and finally merging with Jagannathdev.
After resting in Puri MA was on the road again in Falgun - Vindhyachal, Dehradun, Delhi (where she celebrated Dol Purnima), Vrindavan and on to Kishenpur ashram. At Vrindavan, a devotee complained that he found no solace, it was only continuous suffering for him. MA smiled and consoled him, “You are all princes, sons of the King. But how can you have your own kingdom unless you become mature. You have got to wait for the appropriate moment.”
At Dehradun also she kept indifferent health in late winter. She felt feverish but still would not change her habit of visiting places. She moved around in the area for the next four months.
Gurupriya meanwhile arranged a ‘Mela’ towards the end of Shravan at Kheora, MA’s birth place. The ownership of the house in which she was born had changed hands long ago. This time the house was bought over from the Muslim owner.
The annual worship of Durga and Lakshmi was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Kishenpur Ashram. For some days MA went to Raipur, where the local authorities had transferred the property consisting of the Shiva temple and adjoining land to MA’s care through a deed. The Kali Puja at Kishenpur was performed in accordance with the customs of the local hill folks, worshipping the image of Maha Laxmi.
A devout follower Naresh complained, ‘The mind remains full of trouble (golmal).” MA answered in her own way. “You hold fast the round object (gol) - or the round coin - as the only commodity of value (mal) and so you have so much trouble (golmal). Try to possess that one which is indivisible - with form or without form. There you will find no trouble.”
She moved again - Hardwar, Donga, Delhi, Meerut, Jullundhar and then was on her way to Bhimpura (Narmada) ashram in Gujarat. It was Agrahayan 20, 1347.
MA stayed at Bhimpura for more than two months, though she made short trips to Chandod, Rajpipla, Omkareshwar, Ujjain, Baroda and Ahmedabad in between. Her health remained satisfactory.
End of Falgun saw her in Delhi, from where she went to Dehradun. On Chaitra 23, MA attended a Namyagna at Raipur at the new temple.
MA referred to herself as ‘this body’ and narrated some of her own ethereal visions to Gurupriya. Talking about the late Bhaiji, she said, “I saw a form no garments - like a vapour - made of brightness and luminosity. That form merged in ‘this body’.” The same day (Baisakh 6, 1348), she spoke of her departed father: “It was a pleasant meeting - he had a turban - no garments - standing a little away. As it came closer from the right side of ‘this body’, there was a sudden change - it became a form made of illumination - dense and dazzling - and then that form also dissolved into “this body.” About a devotee of Kashmir, Nirmal who had died, she said, “He was moving upwards in a chariot like vehicle in the sky -strange illumination flushing all sides.”
On observing reticence, MA said, “Discipline of utterances leads to calmness of mind. Energy is wasted when one speaks excessively. Discipline in speech increases energy - one must always try to pray and meditate silently.
About this time, MA experienced visitations of ethereal beings - some known, some unknown. In Baishakh, her birth anniversary was celebrated at Raipur ashram. MA later said there was a similar ceremony in the ethereal world also. During this time, a Vidyapeeth was opened at Kishenpur Ashram to fulfil the wishes of the departed Bhaiji.
On nursing a patient she said one day “It is not for you to worry about the survival of a patient - your duty is to serve and nurse the patient to the best of your ability so that you can alleviate his sufferings. Put your heart into your service, the service will cease to be mechanical.”
A devotee from Gujarat prayed, “MA have pity on us.” Her reply was, “He is always kind to you; to understand that you have to direct your mind towards Him. We are happy when we stay in our own home, among our own people, and we are unhappy when we stay in another country away from home. Find out your own home - your own people. Think of Him- how long would you suffer staying in a foreign country?”
On another day said a devotee, “You are the be-all and end-all, that is certain.” MA pointed to herself and said, “You are everything - that is perfectly true; whatever you say that is right. Who is Anandamoyee MA, who is then the Anandamoy? It is One who is ever present in images, symbols, paintings and the hearts of everybody. He lives everywhere. He is indestructible. You have fulfilment if you can see Him and achieve Him. The essence is, if you know yourself, then you are beyond fear. You are confident, without any conflict, un-expendable, un-decaying.”
At Hardwar, a woman devotee from Punjab had donated a house for the proposed Kanyapeeth, which was formally opened there on the Jhoolan Purnima Day (Shravan 22) in presence of MA. Gandhiji’s emissary Jamnalal Balaj came to Raipur to visit MA for a day, but he was so charmed that he sought Gandhiji’s permission to be with her for more than a week.
MA moved to Hardwar and Jamnalal came along. He desired that he be allowed to stay at the ashram with a new name. He was named ‘Bhaiya’. He took leave of MA at Moradabad when MA proceeded to Vindhyachal on Bhadra 17 from Delhi.
From Vindhyachal she went to Kashi and spent about a fortnight secretly in a boat in the Ganga. She spent about two months in Kashi before returning to Vindhyachal. Another fortnight and she was back again at Kashi. On this occasion, the noted philosopher Dr. Mahendra Sarkar came to have her darshan. He was so deeply impressed that he started meeting her two times everyday during her stay.
A devotee asked MA, “How does one get rid of Maya?” Her answer was, “The way is to have a yearning (for Him).
After a month at Kashi and a fortnight at Vindhyachal MA went to Allahabad to attend the PumaKumbh. She was there for a few hours and did not care to take a dip even though she went to the confluence of three rivers. She went to Pundari village, 36 miles off Etawah, where the local landlord Navratan Singh had a deity of Radha-Krishna installed in her presence. There she stayed for two weeks to bless the devotees. Navratan received her special grace when MA gifted him her bed roll while departing.
She made a trip to Lucknow. While returning on Magh 28, she received, at the railway station, the news of the death of Jamnalal Bajaj. He used to be a child in MA’s presence. When Gurupriya lamented his death, MA said, ‘Who goes way- who else is that arrives? What is the distinction between life and death. One who passes away, in fact, merges into the One who is ever-existent”.
She moved to Jhansi to respond to the call of a little girl, daughter of the Manager of local Imperial Bank, Beharilal, an ardent devotee. While there, she composed a verse impromptu as an answer to a devotee’s letter:
On Falgun 3, MA moved from Jliansi to Lalitpur, 56 miles away where a tent had been pitched for her stay. The next morning she was taken ill with a weak heart and pain all over the body. But she had the power to get well all by herself. As she suddenly sat up and started chanting mantras, visible changes came over her body. She set out again the very next day to reach Nagpur via Tarsi. The following day MA left for Wardha. On the way, she stopped at Gopuri to be with the family of the late Jamnalal Bajaj to console his widow, Janaki Bai and son Kamalnain Bajaj.
She said, “Whatever happens should be accepted as good. If one can develop this attitude one would not suffer. It is the desire which is painful and causes repeated cycles of birth and death.” It was revealed that before his death Jamnalal had spun yam himself to weave a pair of dresses (Sari) for MA. She told the family members, “There is no death of the soul. Can anyone knife through water and divide it into two parts? Death is just a change of state. Everything remains as it was.” There was recitation from the Ramayana wishing peace for the departed soul. MA’s advice to the assembled ladies was that in this world where one had to split oneself into two, there would be suffering. But if one can concentrate on the Supreme Being, who is indivisible, one can achieve peace of mind.
MA was an invitee to the Sevagram Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Acharya Vinóba Bhave came to have her darshan. Vinobhaji repeatedly said that Gandhiji was very eager to meet MA.
MA and her followers, Gurupriya, Parmananda Swami,Hanram Joshi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Janaki Bai were taken to Sevagram by Kamalnain. Gandhiji greeted her and addressed her as ‘Mataji’ and MA reciprocated by addressing him as ‘Pitaji’. Mahatmaji took her in his arms like a little child and she turned into one hiding her face in his chest. Gandhiji’s first words were “Perhaps you know that it was I who sent Jamnalal to you. He came back and told me that he got the peace of mind from you which I failed to give him”
Mentioning Kamala Nehru’s devotion to MA, Gandhiji told those present that Kamala used to treat her as her Guru. MA immediately protested: “Pitaji, I cannot be a Guru to anyone. I am just a little girl.”
The two spent the, whole day like a little daughter meeting her father after a long time. Gandhiji would not leave her. Even at night the two slept in adjacent beds. At night, Kasturba came once to pay her homage to MA and said, “This is my great fortune that I have got your darshan.” Gandhiji asked her to stay back in Sevagram for at least two days. But MA in her own mood decided to leave the next day.
She went to Sagar via Nagpur and from there to a Dharamshala on the banks of the river Vyas.
After spending a fortnight, she moved to Barman Ghat, 65 miles away and then to Ramghat, another mile away. The place was inside a forest and by the Narmada river - a secluded spot marked by silence. Even there the visitors came in their numbers to have a darshan. She moved again to Kashi via Jhansi, then to Vindhyachal and from there on to Delhi and Dehradun. From Kishanpur ashram, she moved to the ashram at Raipur where she stayed for some time. Her birth anniversary was celebrated at Raipur that year.
On Baishakh 22, she set out for Bhimtal where one day she experienced travelling in an ethereal form to be with Shri Aurobindo. After some time she moved to Nainital where, one-day, during a Kirtan, she suddenly found that the congregation comprised a myriad Krishnas. There was just one image of Krishna but in her eyes all participants had turned into living Krishnas. A similar thing happened in a gathering singing the glory of Ram. In her eyes, all those present had been transformed into Ram. Speaking about high significance of Nam Kirtan, MA said one day “It is not being suggested that you leave everything behind and run away. Be with the world and its various demands, but keep a fire burning - the fire of His name. If He chooses to bless you, then this fire will burn all impurities and lead your pure soul unto Him. Live your life in this world but keep Him along.”
She moved again to Delhi, Dehradun, Donga, Meerut, Hardwar and back to Raipur near Dehradun. The Guru Pumnima and the Jhoolan Purnima were celebrated at Raipur. One of her close associates, Kanai, niece of Neeraj, passed away at Raipur Ashram. MA had another experience of travelling in an ethereal form to be with Gandhiji.
The annual Durga and Laxmi Pujas were held at Raipur that year. She had occasional spells of divine reaction, when certain Kriyas would be manifest in her body, she would chant mantras and hymns and the body will move into yogic postures. On Agrahayan 8th, she left Raipur for Solan. A week after she moved to Swaimadhopur via Delhi where she spent 10 days. She spent another 18 days at Pundari village in Mainpuri.
MA left Pundari for Vindhyachal on Paus 20, 1349. She was travelling by car through paddy fields when she suddenly decided to travel by bullock-carts. She stayed at Vindhyachal for some time on this occasion.
A lady came to her to seek solace. Her husband was in prison and she was in distress. MA said “This Swami (Husband) causes you pleasures and grief: but that Swami (Lord) never causes sorrow.” How do you move close to that Lord? MA said: “Establish a relationship and you would always feel His presence in your mind.”
On Magh 23 came the news of the death of Baulchandra. MA sent her message to the grieving son: “One should pray to God for peace to the soul of one who is respected and loved; it is not good to cry over the body left behind. Have faith in God; He is the shelter. One can hope to achieve peace by only thinking of Him”.
About physical contact between men and women who had accepted brahmacharya, MA’s advice was. “If you touch a green fruit growing in a tree, the fruit decays. Similarly, there is a fear of evil influence of physical touch on human beings. Touching may give pleasure, but the pleasure itself may prove harmful”.
She wanted this principle to apply to all persons whether family men or followers of brahmacharya. “No one should endeavour to derive additional pleasure through touching, which should be permitted only in cases of illness, dangers and accidents, or of lifesaving”.
Hariram Joshi and Pratima Devi took MA to Allahabad for a couple of days. The renowned saint and hermit Prabhu Dattaji paid a visit to Vindhyachal to see her. On Falgun 27 she set out for Calcutta. She made a trip to Berhampore and Dacca before returning to Calcutta to be present at the Doljatra (Holi) celebration marked by splashing of coloured water and powder. The same day she proceeded to Deoghar to be with Prangopal and Mohanananda Brahmachari and take part in the celebrations there. She moved again - Kashi, Vindhyachal, Kanpur, Lucknow, Sitapur and Naimisharanya. At Sitapur, a saint asked “How does one get rid of sorrow? There is no end to want.” MA said, “You are living in a foreign country and you are unhappy. Find out your homeland, find yourself, and your unhappiness will end. And the foreign country is a product of your own desires and wants. These will vanish when you find your own territory, your own self.”
At Lucknow, Turiyananda Swamiji took her to the ashram of Yogananda Swami. She moved again to Delhi, Mathura, Vrindavan and Raipur. The new year day of the Bengali era 1350 was celebrated there.
On Baisakh 10, MA reached Almora via Bareilly and Haldwani to stay at a small cottage built by the Raja of Solan for her, adjacent to the structure erected in memory of the late Bhaiji at Pataldevi. On this occasion, the world famous dancer Udayshankar received MA’s special grace, along with his family members and pupils. The dance centre run by Udayshankar was situated close by. A large group from the centre including Udayshankar’s brothers, Prabhat Ganguly and his French dancer wife Simki, Udayshankar and his wife Amalashankar, and many other inmates came to her hut to pay their homage. MA told Udayshankar “Look, every object in this world, everything, is in a state of dancing. Even our speeches, this conversation - these are also nothing but vibrations of a dance rhythm.” ‘She mentioned about the stage of Sadhana in her life when ‘this body’ underwent many movements in the mood of supplication (arati). Perhaps that was also a form of dancing, she felt. Udayshankar told her that it was their aim to move closer to God through a medium. They wanted to transform themselves; and in trying to unravel the mysteries of dancing they found that the quest was endless.
On the birthday on Baisakh 19, MA was taken to Udayshankar’s dance centre where she witnessed a ‘Ramlila’ through shadow-play. L. Jadayshankar said, “How I long to touch your feet. Since you will not permit that, I shall cherish and preserve those feet in my heart.”
On Baishakh 24, she again visited the centre to witness the methods of imparting dancing lessons to learners. That night MA experienced the vision of ethereal figures dancing around her. The next day she pointed out the places around the hut from where these holy souls emerged and faded away dancing as she sat on a platform. Explaining the essence of dancing MA said “What is a dance? It is a vibration, a wave. All the phenomena - Creation, Preservation and Destruction contain the essence of vibration”.
Rambabu, a disciple of Satyadev Thakur, and some others from Udayshankar’s school came to see her, when Rambabu asked MA about the centrifugal tendencies of human mind. Her reply “Desire is the seed of distraction. Yet one must think of Him. Desire is at the root of entry into and exit from the world. You buy a ticket for return journey, ensuring going and coming back. Try to make it unidirectional, there are no two options. We all belong to just one household.”
She left Almora on Jyestha 15 to be on the road again - Dehradun, Raipur, Donga, Nainital (where she had a meeting with the ageing and ailing Yashoda Ma) and Almora. After a month, she moved to Vindhyachal.
On Jhulan Poornima day, Shravan 30, MA was in a special mood. After a Yagna, MA blessed everybody putting her palm on the head of each devotee, at times putting her palm on her own head. to bless herself. Then she paid respect to as well as blessed her own mother (Didima) in a peculiar posture. She made Didima lie prostrate in the posture of ‘Sastanga pranam’, and did the same alongside in the reverse direction, touching the feet of Didima with her head. Didima, likewise, took MA’s feet on her head. it looked as one whole figure, supplicating and blessing at both ends.
She left for Almora on Bhadra 1, touching Allahabad, Lucknow and Ranikhet on the way. Durga Puja was celebrated every year at the dance-centre of Udayshankar but that year the celebrations were cancelled due to the death of their Guru. The Puja was arranged at MA’s ashram. This time MA presented a portrait of Durga and an incense-stick holder to Udayshankar and Amala Shankar when they came to pay their respect on Ashwin 22.
On the Raas-Poomima day on Kartik 25, a Kirtan of Ram-Nam was arranged at MA’s ashram. The saints of the local Ramakrishna Mission also participated in the function. She left Almora on Agrahayan 6, but returned there about a month later.
On a request from Prabhudattaji, MA agreed to attend a religious festival specially arranged in her honour at his place at Allahabad in Magh 1350. While she was there, the news came of a piece of land having been acquired at Kashi by Gurupriya for an ashram there. In fact, MA had an earlier vision of the same piece of land being recommended by a group of seven saints for the purpose and also of the same group rejoicing on the day the plot was registered at Kashi. She told Gurupriya about the vision when she joined her after the registration proceedings were completed.
On January 30 came Pannalal with a problem. His friend had been continuously doing sadhana for 20 years without any spiritual achievement and had now decided to leave the path in disgust, having lost faith in God. MA told him that mere practising was not enough unless one could get rid of Lust, and desire. “If you hold on to the chain while taking a bath, you can never have a proper dip.” Again, “the old practices and beliefs stand in the way of getting to the Truth.”
Pannalalji’s wife used to pray and meditate hours on end everyday and yet she died in pain of cancer after a prolonged illness. Why did she suffer like that?
MA said, “One accumulates the effects of habits, practices and beliefs over several life cycles. Don’t you think it is His mercy if all the accumulated ill effects are washed away through the suffering in just one life cycle.”
Dwelling on his friend’s doubt, Pannalaiji asked, “Can one see God?” MA’s clear reply was, “You can see Him the way I see you now or you see me here - there is no difference. You can achieve HIM more intimately if you have a yearning to achieve and feel Him.”
MA came back to Delhi towards the end of Magh to attend a huge Yagna organised by Karpatriji. More than a thousand tents were pitched and 108 Yagna pyres were lit for priests to place the offerings. Thousands of people assembled to witness and as MA reached the site she was almost crushed by the jostling crowds, but she miraculously wriggled herself out to reach the place of Yagna.
Within days, she moved to Almora where a new ashram had come up at Pataldevi through the munificence a devotee, Pandit Parashuram, and active support of Swami Parmanand. The formal inauguration was done in her presence. In the way she had a vision of holy men suggesting the location for the ashram at Kashi, here also she had a similar vision of holy men in ethereal forms springing out of the site. She came to know later that the place had in the past been a burial ground for Sadhus. MA’s birth anniversary was celebrated at the new Ashram. Several holy men including Haribaba and Prabudattaji were present.
Prabhudattaji had earlier sought the permission of Haribaba to make a pilgrimage to Badrinarayan, but Haribaba did not agree. He said the height of pilgrimage was to have MA’s company, and he himself was staying back to have that opportunity. He asked Prabhudattaji to do the same. Some devotees asked MA how did she feel about her own self. MA said, “I see ‘this body’ as made of cream, made luminous with a dense aura.”
MA was on the road again, her destinations often unknown to others. Her health was indifferent. Running a temperature and with a weak pulse she ultimately came to Calcutta towards the end of Shravana. Worried by her prolonged ill-health, a devotee persuaded MA to have a sip of water blessed by her own feet. The next day there was no trace of illness in her body. She even went out to see a stage performance on the life of Shri Chaitanya (Nader Nimai).
One day while talking to devotees she remarked, “You look towards God expecting His grace. If you keep your plate at an angle it can not hold water which will run off. So keep it in position in the hope of receiving His grace when He decides to bless you.”
Moving out again, she reached Almora ashram after visiting a few places, and got the news of serious illness of Akhandanand then staying at Kashi. She sent Gurupriya to be with her ailing father, but Akhandanand passed away on Bhadra 23.
MA was present during Durga Puja celebrations, at Allahabad that year. On the Navami Day, she went to Gopal Thakur’s place when the holy soul became surcharged with emotion and exclaimed, “MA, what a good fortune for me that you have come, to see your own worship being performed.”
Premraj, a devout follower of Haribaba , took MA to Bhirauti. From railway station Dhanari, MA was taken on an elephant in a huge procession, all singing her glory and Haribaba himself leading the Kirtan singers. Haribaba was a respected and beloved saint to the inhabitants of some 800 villages in the area. He had inspired the villagers to construct a barrage to save the villages from being inundated by the Ganga. The place named BAANDH, about 8 miles from Bhirauti, had an ashram of Haribaba. A big reception was given to MA when she visited the place.
She went to Vindhyachal to spend some days with the inmates of the Mahila Ashram. After a short trip to Kashi to attend a Yagna, she again came back to Vindhyachal. Gopal Thakur and Premanand Swamiji stayed at Vindhyachal ashram for some time along with their followers. One day Gopal Thakur performed a Yagna and conducted a session of reading from the Gita. At one point Gopal Thakur addressed the assembled devotees and said, “MA is my Gita. Look towards her, she is the living Gita”. Premanand Swamiji also performed a Yagna. He made MA sit near the Yagna site and said, “MA is present at this Yagna, so MA is the presiding deity”. At his request, Gopal Thakur performed a worship of MA.
Her stay in Vindhyachal continued till the middle of Paus 1351. In between, she made short trips to Allahabad and Kashi.
1945 (Jan. to September)
Early January in 1945, she was in Vindhyachal, then she moved to Vrindavan with her followers. She broke the silence she had been observing on Paus 27 in presence of MuKtibaba. Speaking about Brahmacharya she said that it was better to become an ideal family man than to become an aimless brahmachari. In her view; “There is nothing wrong in leading a virtuous family life. It is good for some people to strive to move close to God through marriage.”
She moved to Ahmedabad on Paus 28, and on the way again went into a spell of silence. A Gujarati devotee Kantibhai was keen to take MA to his house where he had erected a tent for her stay. MA agreed to have food in his house, be in company of religious persons and spend the nights at the temple. In the evening, her tent was opened to enable general public to have her darshan but there was great disappointment when people found her observing silence. She broke her silence on Magh 5 to speak to the devotees.
She went to Dwarka and Gopitalao, where the Gopi devotees of Krishna were said to have their bath. The ‘Gopichandan’ contains soil of this sacred place.
At Dwarka she was requested by the priests to touch the deity from head to foot. Her visit to Dwarka was actually occasioned by the passing away of the Sankaracharya of Sarda Math. MA appeared before Sankaracharya before his death, saw and touched his dead body and was present at the time of his Samadhi. She was observing silence, but on the request of the citizens of Dwarka, she uttered mantras and hymns.
Back in Ahmedabad, she received a group of law students who came for her darshan. She told them: “I beg of you to spare some time to remember God. Do not leave a noble work even if you are ridiculed by others.”
On Magh 13, she proceeded to visit several places - Utkantheswar, Dakore, Baroda, Chandod, Bhimpura Ashram, Vyas Gangonath and Kamati. Much of the journey was by boat along the Narmada.
She moved again touching Baroda, Bombay, Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, Kashi, Vindhyachal and Calcutta to reach Berhampore on Magh 30. For about 20 days, Berhampore wore a festive look as processions, Kirtans, Nam-gan, religious discourses and various other functions were held everyday. MA was present in many of these functions; some were arranged specially in her honour. Dol Poornima (Holi) was also celebrated during her stay.
In between, she attended a .function organised by Muslims. After excerpts from the holy Koran were read, several speakers discussed various aspects of religion. By her presence, MA emphasised that in essence every religion had the same message; the disputes were over the external attributes and rituals. The quest of the Indian mind was to seek a synthesis of all religions.
She felt that there was no contradiction between the family life and pursuit of spirituality. In her opinion one should act according to the situation. She took the initiative to arrange two marriages at Berhampore - Abhay with Jamuna of Kanyapeeth, and Renu with Narsingh.
She moved to Nabadweep on Falgun 10, and then to Srirampore, Vindhyachal, Kashi and Sarnath. She alternated her stay between Sarnath and Kashi till her birth anniversary in Baishakh.
During this period Mahendra Sarkar and his wife came to have her darshan. She also attended the ‘Bharat Dharma Mahamandal.’ One of her ardent devotees, Swami Turiyanand (Kunjamohan Mukhopadhyaya) passed away at the Kashi ashram.
On Baisakh 27, she left for Nabadweep where she stayed up to Jyestha 9. She attended the birth anniversary celebrations and generally spent the time with the devotees. One day, entering the Gauranga Mandir she went straight to the idol of Gauranga, fondled the face like a child and asked with great affection, “How are you my dear; hope everything is well with you.”
She reached Dacca on Jyestha 10. Speaking to Bhaiji’s widow and some others at the ashram of Bholagiri Maharaj she remarked, “The world is moving fast - a child of today turns into a youth tomorrow and then attains old age. How can one expect a state of peace and stability within such movement? One cannot hope to achieve peace while living a family life.”
On Jyestha 13, MA paid a visit to her old place at Shahbag, which had since been turned into a military camp. On the completion of celebrations at the Dacca Ashram, she moved to Puri via Calcutta to attend Kirtan to mark the death anniversary of Goswamiji. Back in Calcutta she attended Kali Puja and left the same day for Kashi. From Kashi she went to Almora.
On Asad 25, MA and a few companions including Premanandji and Prabudhanandji left for Dhabalchina and returned to Almora on Shravan 20.
There was a whole night Kirtan singing at the Almora ashram on the occasion of Jhoolan Poornima. Speaking to woman devotees at Almora MA observed one day, “It is not possible for everybody to be engaged in prayer and meditation all the time. Continue with prayer and meditation and take care to conduct yourself in a spirit of service. Action without a desire for return purifies the mind. Do not allow your body the luxury of comforts (aram). Comforts beget disorders (beram).”
Her mother (Didima-Giriji) used to look after the wishes and needs of the devotees at this time. A few girls of Kanyapeeth received their formal initiation in the path of Sadhana from Giriji on Aswin 14.
MA is at Almora. On Aswin 19, 1352, the death anniversary of Akhandanandaji was obeyed with a Kirtan from dawn-to-dusk. Holy men read from scriptures and religious books. MA also participated in the Kirtan.
The next day, she went to Raibarely to attend the Durga Puja. The Puja over, she moved again - Delhi, Mathura, Vrindavan, Baandh, Berhampore, Nabadweep, Calcutta, Dacca, Puri, finally returning to Calcutta on Baishakh 19 to be present at her birth anniversary celebrations at the new ashram. On Jyestha 6, MA along with Haribaba went out in a procession singing Kirtan along the streets of Calcutta.
During her stay in Calcutta, she called on Rashikmohan Vidyabhushan, a 108-year old scholar-saint and a devout Vaishnav. He had lost the ability to move. When MA went to his first-floor bedroom, Rasikmohan was overwhelmed with joy and emotion, as he had long desired to have her darshan. She paid a second visit to Rasikmohan who exclaimed, “I see before me in reality the form residing in consciousness (chinmoy murti).”
From Calcutta, she came back to Solan after short halts at Sitarampur, Kashi and Delhi. On Ashad 15, there was a Nam-Yagna at Simla Kalibari where MA was taken by the devotees from Simla. With her were Haribaba and a blind holy man Sharananandaji. A dawn-to-dusk Kirtan was held at Solan on the Guru Poornima Day. Speaking on ‘Samadhi’ one day at Solan, MA explained, “The final equation between mood and action is ‘samadhi. The mood here represents any state of mind which disturbs its adherence to God and forces it in an outward direction and whatever comes into vision is action (Karma).”
On Shravan 9, MA and his followers left Solan for Vrindavan to be there during the Jhulan festival. The party stayed at the palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur and regularly took part in the various celebrations at the ashram of Oriyababa. On Shravan 29, she returned from Vrindavan and after brief halts at the ashrams at Raipur and Kishenpur as also the Birla Mandir in Delhi she moved towards Kashi. She was there just for a day before moving to Almora where she spent about a fortnight and came back to Kashi.
On Aswin 9, she moved to Jhansi to meet the great soul Prabhudattaji who had been observing silence. He was extremely delighted to have MA there and lay prostrate to offer his salutation. Also, like a child with his mother, he lay with his head resting on her lap. She returned to Solan and was accompanied on the way by Haribaba and Chakrapaniji. The Durga Puja was celebrated at Solan which was attended by the Vidyapeeth boys and the Kanyapeeth girls.
She left Solan for Delhi on Aswin 20 and attended Gandhiji’s prayer meeting in Delhi on the 22nd. Haribaba, Chakrapaniji and Sharananandji accompanied her. On his way to the prayer meeting Gandhiji stopped to greet MA and tenderly pressed her head on his shoulder. Like a child she uttered “Pitaji, your little daughter is here.”
“This little daughter is a very bichi one”, to which MA said “No, she is for ever a little daughter.” As the time for prayer was nearing, Gandhiji took MA along with him in the same affectionate postáre. When prayer meeting was over, Gandhiji again came to MA and said embracing her neck “Last time I requested you so much, yet you did not stay at Sevagram for more than one night. You refused to stay for a longer period.” Ma asked him what did Gandhiji want her to do now? Gandhiji said, “I say come over to Sevagram and don’t ever leave that place.”
MA said, “Pitaji, don’t you realise I was always with you as I am with you now. I never leave your company.” Gandhiji said “But I do not find you and others would not believe your statement.” MA very emphatically said, “Believe me, Pitaji, I am telling you the truth. Your little girl never utters a lie”. The two had a long chat that day.
She moved again to Vrindavan and Mathura. She became playful during her stay, at times having a cruise in the Yamuna or having a water sport in the darkness of night or just going round the alleys of Vrindavan and, as usual, visiting the holy places linked with the memories of Krishna and Radha..
On Kartik 2, MA was at Kashi, on 4th at Vindhyachal and on 6th in Allahabad to attend the Kali Puja.
On Bhaiyaduj Day, MA desired that everybody present should be given a ceremonial ‘tika’ on the forehead, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. She herself accepted the mark on her forehead. The significance of the ritual to her was: “With this Tika or the spot (bindu) one is particularly reminded of Brahma and I describe this mark as Brahma Bindu. When applying the ‘tika’, the sister says that thorns are being put at the doorstep of Yama. It actually means blocking the way to ignorance, darkness and destruction and opening the eyes of wisdom (Gyanchakshu) to achieve immortality (Amrit).
She was on the road again moving from place-to-place for the next two months, mainly in response to the wishes of her devout followers at Allahabad, Jhusi, Kashi and Vindhyachal. While at Kashi, a large number of devotees came to have her darshan everyday. Many of them told her that they had visualised MA while they were looking at their own Gurus. MA told them, “This body is a little girl to everybody and thus is always in the company of parents.”
After spending a few days in a boat in the Ganga, MA returned to the ashram in Kashi. Arrangements were on to begin a Savitri Mahayagna at the ashram on the Paus Sankranti day. Holy men, like Narayan Tirth, Kamalakanta Brahmachari and Sadanandji started offering Ahuti to the Yagna Kunda, marking the beginning of a programme of a crore of Ahutis at the Yagna. Haribaba also joined the function. There was singing and reading from the Vedas.
On Magh 5, she was at Allahabad. She went by boat to see Prabhudatt Brahmachari and while returning had a dip at the confluence of three rivers fully dressed in her attire. Asked about her decision to take an untimely bath she said that she had the vision of three female figures, one in white dress, the other in yellow and the third in blue, taking her for the bath. Devotees wondered whether the three female figures in vision represented the spirit of the three rivers. On Magh the 10th, she moved to Vrindavan at the invitation of Haribaba. There was a special celebration at the ashram of Haribaba to mark the Saraswati Puja. The day coincided with the birth-day of Vishnupriya, wife of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As the assembled devotees started worshipping MA to the accompaniment of Kirtan by Chinmoyanand, she lay down with her head on Haribaba’s lap. Devotees showered of lowers on them and did the arati.
She moved again - Delhi, Allahabad, Jhusi, Kashi and on to Cooch-Behar via Calcutta. Her journey to Cooch Behar was at the prayer of the Police Commissioner, Jamini Chattopadhya. There was a Nam-Yagna and she had to answer queries of scores of devotees. One of them said that he always decided that he would sit for chanting God’s name after completing the day’s work but found there was always some work left.
MA’s-answer was: “If one decides that he will take a bath in the sea after the waves subside he would never be able to take a bath. Similarly, one cannot decide to remember God only after completing the work in hand.” On Falgun 7, she was on her way back from Cooch-Behar. After brief halts at Calcutta, Kashi and Delhi, she arrived at Moradabad only for a few hours. There she had somebody to write down a long piece of advice to be sent to a brahmachari. The message said at one place “One must live always by patience and discipline. The way even a drop of curd in a pail of milk would turn the entire milk into curd, similarly, a little burst of emotion can do immense damage to one’s composure.” A few days afterwards, she went to Baandh to be greeted by Haribaba and his followers. He had arranged an elephant for MA to go to the place of festivity where a pandal was erected for Kirtan singing. He himself started singing leading the procession, walking backwards to face MA on the elephant.
For some days, she moved between Kashi and Vindhyachal and came back to Kishenpur ashram at Dehradun, on Jyestha the 2nd. On the 10th, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel came to the ashram to have her darshan.
On Shravan 5, MA went to Kasauli to respond to the fervent request of the local devotees. Hundreds of men and women lined the streets to receive her with flowers and garlands, ringing bells and blowing conch-shells. She reached Kashi on Shravan 12. By that time the images of the deities of Annapurna, Kali, and Shiva had been brought to Kashi from Dacca. On Bhadra 21, Janamashthami was celebrated at Kashi. On 25th, Mohananand Maharaj with his followers visited the Kashi ashram and sang Kirtan there. Till the Durga Puja, she moved in the area visiting Allahabad, Faizabad, Kanpur and Vindhyachal. During Durga Puja MA was at Jalpaiguri. After many many years, there she met the wife of Sharda Shankar, the lady who had hailed her as ‘The Mother of Happiness’ One day, a Muslim singer, Moti Mian, sang devotional songs on Kali and Hari to regale MA. Moti Mian’s grand-father, Gui Mohammed, was known in his days as a saint in communion with God. He used to wear saffron robes. While in this area, she made trips to Shillong, Cherapunji and Darjeeling.
During Kali Puja, she was in Calcutta when Dilip Kumar Roy especially came to sing bhajans. On Agrahayan 4, she left for Bombay from where she went to Nasik. Coming back to Bombay she again left for Ahmedabad. In Bombay, she first stayed at a Dharamshala and then in tents by the sea. At Ahmedabad also, she stayed in tents. Speaking to devotees on the bonds of earthly creatures MA said “I shall explain it with a parallel. It is as if you have dropped an anchor and yet rowing the boat throughout the night only to find in the morning that the boat is where it was anchored on the previous day”.
Visiting some of the places in the area she returned to Delhi on Pausa 3 only to move next day to Mathura. From there she went to Aligarh and then for a short stay at Bhirauti. Haribaba was in attendance and again led the procession singing Kirtan as MA left Bhirauti on a bullock cart. By 13th of Pausa, she was in Calcutta.
From the 16th a Gita Jayanti festival was held in Calcutta where chapters of the Holy book were read out, the messages were explained and Kirtan singing was organised. MA also sang a song or two.
One day, speaking about the ways of God, she said, “Frequently, you lament over the unkindness of God, when you are merged in sorrow; but the point is that He dispels danger only by creating danger. No one would move towards Him unless one passes through sufferings”. At the end of the festival in Calcutta, MA moved towards Allahabad on Pausa 27. She attended several functions at Kashi, Allahabad, Vindhyachal and Jhusi. Mohananandji was also present on some of the occasions. She returned to Allahabad from Jhusi on Magh 16 when the shocking news of Mahatma Gandhi being shot dead was received in the evening.
Speaking about Gandhi, MA said “Jesus Christ absorbed the entire violence within his own body before laying it down. He did not have any animosity even towards violence. Similarly, Gandhiji also vanquished violence with his force of Ahimsa. He fell down calmly taking the name of Ram, with his palms joined together in prayer”.
On Magh 26, Ma took a holy dip at Triveni on the dark moon night. Mohananandji and Gopal Thakur accompanied her singing on the way.
After a stay at Kashi for two days, she arrived in Delhi to attend the Bhagawat Week organised by Pannalalji. On Falgun 12, she went to Baandh at the invitation of Haribaba and persuaded Oriyababa also to be at Baandh at that time. She had sent a message to the reluctant Oriyababa that despite his ill health he should keep his earlier promise to come over to Baandh. “The body will decay and perish one day and a Sadhu should not be worried about his body”. Oriyababa could not ignore the message. She moved around in the same area visiting Lucknow, Allahabad, Vindhyachal and Kashi till the early part of Baisakh 1355, She then moved to the ashrams at Kishenpur and Raipur, then to Solan and from there to Nainital and Almora. She was deeply impressed by the neat and clean maintenance of the Almora ashram and observed, “Those who want to cleanse their inner self should take care to keep their outer surroundings clean.”
In early Jyeshtha, MA was on her way to Delhi where the festivities to mark her birth anniversary had already started. The celebrations at Delhi were joined by holy men, like Haribaba, Sharnanandji and Chakrapaniji. After the celebrations were over MA spent about a fortnight at Nainital.
She then moved to Almora on her way to a long journey into the high mountains. MA had 11 companions during the journey, including Haribaba. They visited Barchina, Dhaualchina, Yogeshwar, Mirdola and several other places.
Speaking to devotees at Almora one day she observed, “The problem in directing one’s attention towards God is that the mind has acquired various outwardly attractions. But constant endeavour can turn the mind inwards. The various moods of affection, sacrifice and renunciation would follow if the endeavour continues. If you do not destroy your outer self you cannot find your inner self and you cannot destroy your outer self unless you achieve absolute dependence on some (meaning God).”
From Almora, she moved to Kashi and then to Calcutta. A special purpose of going to Calcutta was to give strength to some of the ailing devotees. Anu, son of Dwijendra Bhaumik, was suffering from cancer in the tongue and was on the point of dying. His earnest prayer was to have a darshan of MA. From the station, MA first went to see the ailing Mohananandji to his great delight. He exclaimed “You have arrived as I had been strongly remembering you in my illness.” She paid a darshan to Anu and to another patient Kanu. She returned to Kashi after a short stay at Deoghar.
After a few days she moved again to Jhusi, Kishenpur, Raipur and Solan. The Raja of Solan had organised a Bhagawat Week. Within days she moved out. During the Durga Puja days she was in Calcutta. On Kartik 6, she came back to Kashi but left within two days for a month’s stay at Jhusi to honour the wishes of Haribaba and Prabhudattaji. One day, she remarked, “It is the duty of every person to seek truth. Depend on Him and leave everything to Him. Take his name and pray to Him in whatever condition you may be. Leave the future to Him.”
A French gentleman, Petit, was at Jhusi. Petit had held a high post in Abyssinia. But his whole life was changed when he met MA in India. He would always like to be with MA. Another lady, Ms Blanca (Atmanandaji) was also at Jhusi at that time. She requested MA to give a new name to Petit. When MA suggested: “How do you like the name Satyanand?” Petit was wonder struck and said. “Only yesterday I was thinking of this name for me. But how could MA know about my desire.” She moved again as was her practice, visiting Allahabad, Vrindavan, Dehradun, Delhi, Kashi and back to Dehradun by Pausa 13.
At Dehradun, Sadhan Brahmachari was engaged in a ‘Japa Yagna’ and had requested MA to be present when he would complete one crore Japa. The day MA started for Dehradun a gentleman asked her, “How could one find a true preceptor (Sadguru).” Her answer was “Pitaji, endeavour to become a pupil (shishya) yourself, the true preceptor will come on his own. Only when you look for something you can hope to get it. Be a seeker first.” On Pausa 14, MA reached Raipur.
From Pausa 16 to Magh 25, she moved around North India visiting various places. She came to Delhi to start a tour of Punjab along with Oriyababa and Haribaba. The places covered by the party were Kurukshetra, Ambala and Khanna. As the party moved, it swelled in number with devotees joining at various points. Everywhere MA received grand reception. At Khanna, Oriyababa was suddenly taken ill.
The rest of the programme had to be cancelled and the party returned to Vrindavan. At Vrindavan, Oriyababa would not leave MA and would demand her presence by his sickbed. The two spent the days like a father and his little daughter. MA hinted to Gurupriya that Oriyababa’s sudden burst of emotion could be an indication of his impending demise.
Work had started to set up an Anandamayee Ashram at Vrindavan. The foundation-stone was laid on the Dol Purnima Day by Oriyababa. Within days MA left Vrindavan on her way to Kashi.
Oriyababa met his death on Chaitra 7, when he was murdered by an insane devotee by the name of Thakur Das. Oriyababa had started reading from religious scriptures when the assassin attacked him from behind with an axe in hand. The holy man died within minutes. The news greatly saddened MA. She visited Vrindavan on Chaitra 27 to be with the shocked followers of Oriyababa. In Baisakh, she was in Dehradun where preparations were on to celebrate anniversary.
On Baisakh 7, the renowned singer, Onkarnathji, performed in MA’s presence. There was also a renowned saint from Uttar Kashi, Devgiri Maharaj, awaiting her arrival at Kishenpur Ashram. When MA arrived, the 90-year old Mahatma greeted her with great affection like a little daughter coming home after many years. Several holy men that year attended the birth anniversary celebrations.
On Jyestha 4, the new ashram at Raipur was formally opened. The land had been donated by Jamanalal Bajaj and funds were provided by Parsuramji. Till the end of Asadh, MA stayed in the Dehradun region and then moved on to Kashi. For the past two-and-half years a Savitri Mahayagna was being performed at the Kashi Ashram. She took part in various celebrations including Jhulan Poornima and Janmashthami. She regularly took part in religious discourses. One day she gave he own definition of certain words, such as “Vanity (Ahamkar), Prakrit-Aprakrit (Real/natural and super natural) etc”. On vanity, she said, “When, as an ignorant, your ego (Aham) acts (Kriya), Ahamkar is generated. Again when the same Ahamkar turns into “So-hang” (That is Myself): one realises there is none but One.”
On the other phenomenon, her definition was “Prakrit means a process of successive actions which is in a sequence while Aprakrit does not lie in a sequence which means it is beyond time.”
During Durga Puja, she was in Dehradun and the latter half of Aswin was spent in Vrindavan at the request of Haribaba. She came back to Kashi to attend the Annakut festival on Kartik 5 and to be in time for the final phase of Savitri Yagna due to end on the Pausa Sankranti Day.
There was a rare assemblage of holy men at the Kashi ashram to attend the closing ceremony of the Savitri Yagna. These included - Haribaba, Chakrapaniji and Akhandanandaji from Vrindavan, Trivenipuriji from Khanna, Devigiriji from Uttarkashi, Krishnanand from Bombay, Avadhutji from Punjab, Prabhudatta Brahmachari from Jhusi and the sightless sadhu Sharananandji. There was non-stop reading from Gita and religious scriptures. The holy men enlightened the devotees on the various ways of reaching God; Avadhutji spoke on Gyanmarg, Sharananandji on Bhaktimarg.
There were various functions. MA tirelessly supervised all arrangements and looked after the guests, but the strain took a toll of her health. The whole night previous to the final day was spent in hectic preparations under her supervision. The Savitri Yagna reached its conclusion the following day with a ‘Purnahuti’ in the Yagna fire amidst chanting from the Vedas. As fire leapt towards the sky MA instructed that a flame should be preserved to be installed at the new Yagna Mandir on top of the Ashram.
Gurupriya had been asked by MA to increase the number of ‘Jap’ but she was not being able to manage it. She was, however, absorbed in ‘Jap’ at the time of ‘Purnahuti’ and suddenly had a vision of a fiery red form rising towards the sky from the Yagnapyre. She was startled to have a vision of MA sitting by her also rising in the same manner from the Yagnakund and disappearing into the sky.
MA led thousands of devotees on Magh 1 who took out a procession singing Kirtans, and moved along the streets of Kashi. After the ‘Saraswati Puja’ she and Haribaba moved to Vindhyachal.
Speaking on the virtues of meditation, she said one day “If all of you can decide on a fixed time to be reserved for jap or meditation on God, then all of you can achieve a transcendent mood, and the achievements will have a multiplying effect on all others.”
MA moved around the country disregarding her health, suffering mainly from serious digestive disorders. Haribaba wants to go on a fast and pray for her recovery but was refused permission by MA. Haribaba in mild protest stopped eating regular food and lived only on milk and fruits. In a playful mood MA decided to be a little naughty. She went to the kitchen and, disregarding all restrictions, ate whatever had been prepared for general consumption. She repeated the mischief next day also, and told Haribaba, “Look I have eaten the standard food, you can as well do that.” Haribaba readily agreed.
Within six days of this incident, MA reached Vindhyachal on Falgun 27. The spicy food she took at Vrindavan had strangely acted well on her digestive system. At Vindhyachal, she took a full bath after almost a year.
On Chaitra 27, she was at Hardwar for the Kumbh Snan on the 30th. She did not have a dip on the day but only splashed a little water on her head and face. She went for a dip in the Ganga on Baisakh 1,1357. While in the water, she suddenly had an idea of immersing into the river. For some time she was not visible. Later she said, “Had the mood been more intense there was a chance of (my) not coming out of the water.”
At Kashi on the 7th, a distinguished devotee, Nepal Chakrabarty, formally renounced the world, assuming a new name Narayanananda Teerth. Several others embraced sannyas at the same time. They included Brahmachari Swaroop (Swaroopananda) presently General Secretary of the Sangha), Prakash (Prakashananda), Chinmoy (Chinmoyananda) and Keshav (Keshavananda).
The birth anniversary this year was celebrated in Calcutta for three days. Before her departure for Puri on Baisakh 29, the then Governor of West Bengal, Dr. Kailashnath Katju, came to pay his respects to MA and sought her blessings for peace in the country.
After spending a month at the sea-side Anandamayee ashram at Puri, she reached Patna on Asad 9, but came back to Puri in another 11 days. This time, on Asad 25 she was almost on the point of leaving this world. The pulse rate became imperceptible; the external sensory organs became almost non-functional.
While walking, the senses of vision and hearing suddenly left her, she sat down on mud and slush, stretched her legs and lay down sideways as if the end was near. The whole night she spent in that senseless condition. Her recovery was slow and prolonged.
By Shravan 3, she was on the move again - to Kashi via Calcutta to attend the Guru Poornima festival. But she had not come back to normal after the incident at Puri. She looked weak and as if she had lost control over her limbs. While talking one day lying on a bed she went still - unblinking eyes gazing on nowhere. She took several days to get back to normal.
Towards the end of Shravan she was in Delhi. She was asked by one “How could one turn one’s mind towards God.” Her reply was, “One should try to submit all actions to God: these would include all activities - eating, moving, seeing, hearing or speaking. Submission of a particular moment’s activity is a manifestation of that moment’s expression of the indivisible whole. To submit whatever one considers as one’s own, is to realise one’s own self.”
She moved again - to Dehradun, Viswanathpuri, and Etawa. She took part in a Nam-Yagna and Kirtanaround-the-town (Nagar-Kirtan) at Etawa. She was seated on a landau which was drawn by devotees themselves instead of horses. She then went to Allahabad, Jhus, and Kashi before proceeding to Berhampore via Calcutta to attend the Durga Puja. Maharaja Shri Chandra Nandy and his consort Maharani Nilima Devi of Cossimbazar paid their homage to MA at their palace.
Back to Calcutta, and she went for a visit to Ramknishna Ashram at Baroda village in Midnapur for two days. After visiting Jamshedpur, Kharagpur, Puri and Calcutta, she arrived at Kashi to be present at the Annakut festival due on Kartik 24. On that occasion, a new temple of Annapurna was set up where the icon of the deity brought from Dacca and two Shivalingas were installed.
On Agrahayan 9, specially requested by the Vice-Chancellor of Benaras Hindu University, Dr. Parija, MA was a guest of honour at the annual convocation of the University.
She went to Narendranagar, capital of Tehri-Garhwal State of those days at the fervent request of the bereaved widow of Maharaja who had died in a car accident. After some days, she went to Dehradun and Delhi and onwards to a few places in Gujarat.
On Paus 16,1357, MA proceeded to Morvi from Ahmedabad at the request of the local Maharaja. He arranged a royal reception from the station. The aged Maharaja stayed in solitude in spiritual pursuits away from the palace. MA was taken to his place of worship.
Some days later MA was back in Delhi with brief halts on the way. At Delhi, her advice to a devotee was “Do not ever leave Him if you do not want to suffer. He should be present in all your actions; remember, time is always running out.”
She spent a few days at the ashram at Kashi and Vindhyachal. Among the foreigners, who came to seek her blessings at Vindhyachal were a researcher from Scotland, Colin Turnbull (Premanand) and an American youth, Jack Ungar.
The Saraswati Puja days were spent in Patna. During Shivratri-she was at Kashi and during Holi at Bhirauti. At Bhirauti, she met the holy Sitarambaba who was suffering from cancer and was in great pain. MA assured him by saying, “Take only His name. He dispels danger through crisis. One should shed tears only while yearning for His mercy under all situations”. Speaking about craving for God she told a devotee, “The intensity should be so great as if the house is on fire. You have to get out, you cannot stay confined.”
MA left Bhirauti for Agra on Chaitra 15. She moved around various places in North India. It was decided that her birth anniversary would be celebrated that year in Punjab. The celebrations started at Hoshiarpur on Baisakh 19. She was at Jallandhar Savitri Devi ashram on 25th, and at Doraha on 31st at the invitation of Avadhutji. After three days she was at Ambala.
On Jyestha 10, she moved out to Amritsar and Gurdaspur on her way to Mandi. The Raja of Mandi himself drove the car carrying MA in a procession of seven cars to his palace. Both on the way and at Mandi, hundreds were eagerly waiting to greet her and have her darshan.
On 23rd Jyestha, she went to the picturesque valley of Kullu where the local Raja had erected a tent for her stay in the garden of his palace. The queen and the prince received her at the foothills and led her to the tent, to be installed like a Goddess.
From Kullu she went to Manai, another place famous for its natural beauty in the Himalayas. Arrangement had been made for her stay in the Dak Bungalow, but she decided to proceed straight to Bashist Kund, four miles away, covering the journey partly on foot. Returning to Manali she came back to Kullu the same day.
The area is known for its natural beauty with tall cliffs providing a backdrop to hills covered with vegetation, a swift Bipasha (Beas) flowing through the valley, breathtaking flora and fauna and majestic coniferous trees rising into the sky as if in supplication. MA observed, “They are standing in attention like sages and hermits.” Requested by Avadhutji, MA sang aloud the name of Hari in those lofty surroundings, creating a heavenly feeling in the minds of her companions.
From Kullu, she went to Manali and then to Suket at the invitation of the Raja of the princely state. On Asad 6, she was in Dehradun and at Kashi on the 10th. There, one day she saw Krishna taking form to come out of her body and merging into her after some time. MA herself narrated the experience to Gurupriya the next day.
After celebrating Guru Poornima at Kashi on Shravan 1, she left on a tour of Bihar on the 10th, she went to Bhagalpur, Gaya, Hazanibagh and then returned to Kashi. Mohanananda was waiting there for her arrival with the news of serious illness of one of her close devotee, Prangopal, at Deoghar. She immediately left for Deoghar to see Prangopal. She also called on Swami Shaswatananda at Nirban Math. She returned to Kashi via Calcutta on Shravan 26.
Till the Durga Puja in Aswin, MA moved around to visit Vindhyachal, Allahabad, Delhi, Etawa etc. either to attend a religious function or to see an ailing devotee. Through the donation and active help of devotees several welfare programmes were undertaken at Kashi, including a craft and industry centre of Kanyapeeth, a charitable dispensary and distribution of milk to children of needy families.
She was present at Kashi during Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja. A Sankirtan Bhavan (place for kirtan singing) was inaugurated at Allahabad on Agrahayan 22, she went to Rajgir on the 25th and stayed in a room close to the hot spring before moving to a Dharamshala. There a visitor sought answers to many of his questions. One concerned the significance of ‘Jap Samarpan’. MA told him “Jap itself has a beneficial effect. But if somebody can devote that value back to God, then the effect becomes permanent. God will return the value to the devotee in good time.”
In the middle of Paus (early January) MA went to Puri from Rajgir. As usual, there were streams of visitors with their problems. Assuring one of them she said, “What do you fear, why are you worried? You are afraid because you feel that God is not near you. Actually, He is holding you - why should you be scared? If you hold on to One who is beyond fear (abhoy) then where is the question of fear (bhoy)?”
Earlier, she had taken Muktibaba from Puri for admission into a Calcutta hospital. Muktibaba had been rudely pushed by pandas (priest community) at Puri during an altercation resulting in a fracture of the leg. Returning from Puri MA went to see Muktibaba at the hospital causing a sensation among the patients there. MA went round visiting the patients and remarked: “This is another form of a temple of God. It is He who takes the form of a disease and chooses to give a darshan at each temple.” Dr. Radhakrishnan was lying unconscious in a bed after a surgical operation. MA on her own sat by his bed and touched him. Dr. Radhakrishnan was overwhelmed with emotions when he came to know of it later.
She was at Kashi during the Saraswati Pooja when a library was opened at the ashram. She later went to Kanpur and Lucknow. On her way to Lucknow she suddenly felt so greatly attracted by two wayside trees - one Neem and another a banyan that she stopped the car to walk up to them.
On Magh 22 she was at Hardwar for the installation of the Shiva icon at the Dharamshala of Yogibhai. The deity was installed on Falgun 10, when MA went forward to embrace the deity with great affection. That was Sivaratri Day; the whole night was spent in prayer and Kirtans.
During the Holi festival MA was at Vrindavan. On Chaitra 11, work started there for a new ashram. With her blessings, the foundation stone was laid. Several holy men and devotees from royal families laid the first row of bricks. She then moved to Anandkashi where the Tehri King’s mother had built a special abode for MA. Basanti Pooja was celebrated at Anandkashi. Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj was also present at Anandkashi during her stay.
One day, Queen-mother Anandpriya asked MA whether it was wrong to develop a special love exclusively for somebody. MA replied, “In that case what you call love is actually an infatuation. Whatever makes us forget God is nothing but perverse attraction (Moha).”
After a fortnight at Anandkashi, MA went to Calcutta, Puri and Kashi for a shortwhile, before beginning a tour of Punjab. Her birth anniversary was decided to be celebrated that year at Khanna under the supervision of Avadhutji. Later, she spent a month at Solan after visiting Jallandhar and Hoshiarpur.
On the Guru Poornima Day on Asad 23, MA was at Kashi. Making a short trip to Calcutta to see Muktibaba, she returned to Kashi to celebrate Jhoolan and Janmashtami. During the Jhoolan festival on Shravan 19, MA had a novel idea of celebrating the occasion.
The entire parlour hall of Kashi ashram was decorated for the Jhoolan festival under her direction. An image of Shiva was displayed in one corner of the western side of the parlour. A woollen sitting mat was placed before the image suggesting a place for penance in the woods. The other corner was turned into a flower garden with flower plants. An image of Srikrishna was on display with a woollen mat placed before it. Adjacent to that was a simple bed of rug, suggesting a resting place.
One devotee sat in the middle of the hall in the role of Jagadguru Shankaracharya. On the eastern side, an image of Sri Ramachandra was put on a swing surrounded by worshipping devotees of the Ramanuj cult. MA sat Gurupniya on the seat before the Shiva image, and Gangadidi before the Sriknishna image. Other participants were the girls from Kanyapeeth.
Ma assumed the name of “Teerthabasini” given to her by her grandmother. Her sari was of the colour of the muddy waters of the Ganga and she covered her head with an end of the sari.
Bithika called out to her, “O, Teerthabasini mayee, flowers are needed for the worship and cymbals for the Kirtan” MA hurried along to fetch these things. The theme developed along these lines and MA and the participants got absorbed in stage acting. There was a lunar eclipse on that day, at the end of which everybody went for a dip in the Ganga.
From Shravan 21, the first week of ‘discipline and restraint’ (Sanyam Saptah) was observed in Kashi. Several distinguished holy men like Yogibhai and Avadhutji attended it. Towards the end of the month, there was a distinguished visitor Sri Shankar Bharatiji, a saint and scholar. Paying respect to MA he said, “I received the command from Jagadamba, go and have a darshan of Mataji before noon tomorrow.”
During Durga Puja, she was at Allahabad. She later went to Calcutta and from there to Nabadweep for a day’s visit along with Haribaba and a group of saints. During Kali Puja and Annakut she was at Puri.
On October 20, she left Puri for a tour of South India along with Haribaba, Avadhutji, Paramanand Swami, Nirvananand, Kamalakant, Gurupriya and many others. Reaching Waltair on the 21st, she left her companions at the Dharamshala and walked out alone. She landed in the colony of the Nuliyas (fishermen and traditional life-guards at the beach) and sang “Jai Ganesh’ with them.
She moved on - to Simhachalam, Vijayawada and Guntur, and reached Madras to a rousing reception. At all these places, she visited the temples and holy spots. At Madras, she went to the house of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer for a while.
On 29th, she was at Kanchipuram to see the places bearing the memory of Sri Ramanuj. She also went to Pakshiteertha and Mahabalipuram.
At Madras, a devotee asked the way to reach God. MA said “Cry for Hari and you will get Him”. The questioner said he was incapable of crying. Her reply was, “In that case, keep company of those who can.”
On freedom from bondage, she said, “Attachment to Him brings joy and freedom. The former attachment gives you a return ticket; you have to shuttle between two points (without getting free).” On November 3, she was at Pondicherry. At eleven in the morning that day she had a meeting with “The Mother”, who stood in the sitting room of Sri Aurobindo. Mother looked at her for a long time with a fixed gaze as MA looked at her with a natural poise. Mother’s eyes blinked after a long time. She presented MA with a rose, a ‘ball’ flower (globe lily) and two pieces of chocolate. MA returned the rose and one piece of chocolate. Mother kept the chocolate but gave the rose back. This exchange of flowers was repeated twice or thrice after which Mother tore a portion off the rose and returned the rest to MA.
The same evening the two had another meeting at the same place. Mother was distributing roasted peanuts to visitors with a spoon from a wooden container. She offered some to MA who said, “This little girl is the youngest of all.” Mother said in English “Forever a little child.” The singer-saint Dilip Roy, an inmate of Pondicherry, met MA several times during her stay and sang before her.
On November 4, MA was at Chidambaram. On 6th, she laid the foundation-stone of the memorial (Samadhi Bhavan) to Maharshi’ Raman at his ashram at Arunachal. She went to Srirangam via Kumbhakonam,visiting the Samadhi of the saint-singer Tyagaraja on the way. Later she went to Tanjore.
MA reached Rameshwaram on November 11. She was at Madurai on the 14th where a special congregation of religious men was arranged at the famous Meenakshi temple. On 16th, she was at Trichuri, birthplace of Maharshi Raman. Ten thousand people came to see her. She returned to Meenakshi temple drawing thousands of admirers. The temple executive officer exclaimed, “MA is Meenakshi Devi in person.”
MA then moved to Kanya Kumanika via Tiruchandur. On 20th she reached Trivandrum where a grand reception was awaiting her arrival at the palace of Maharaja of Travancore.
At Trivandrum, she was returning from a visit to the famous ‘Vishnu in Anantasayanam’ when she met Swami Ramdasji on the way to the temple along with his disciples. MA went forward to hold his hand and addressed him as ‘Pitaji’. Swami Ramdasji took both her hands and said, “For a long time I have been cherishing the desire to meet you.” The two had another occasion to meet and talk at Trivandrum.
She went to Kaladi to visit the birth place of Shankaracharya, and then to Coimbatore where she was accorded a grand reception at the temple. Caparisoned elephants were lining the route of her arrival - Brahmins, chanting from the Vedas, handed over a full silver pitcher to her. She also went to the ashram of Sai Baba.
The next day she was at Mysore where the Maharaja and his family offered her their floral worship. On 29th at Bangalore, MA was accorded a civic reception at the Town Hall.
From Bangalore, MA moved to Pandarpur, Poona and Bombay, where she stayed for a couple of weeks. On December 22, she left for Ahmedabad and from there for Junagarh. She went to Bhalka, the place where Lord Srikrishna was shot with an arrow and from there to Prabhas where he laid down his body. She also visited the Somnath temple. On the 29th, she left for Porbandar, from where she desired to be at the Dwarakadhish temple by the Poornima and reached there just in time to fulfil her wish on the 31st of December.
The Christian New Year Day was spent in Dwarakadhish temple with a special worship and prayer arranged by MA. The next day, she made a trip to Bhet-Dwaraka. After visiting many other holy places in Gujarat, MA came back to Vindhyachal on January 26. A ‘discipline-and-restraint’ week was observed there from the 30th. Somebody asked about the benefit of keeping a count of ‘jap’. MA’s observation was, “It is good to keep a count. One can never say after how many ‘japs’ one would realise the effects of His blessings. But if there is somebody, who can reach the stage of deep meditation while mentally doing the ‘jap’ he need not keep a count.”
During Shivratri she was at Kashi and then moved to Vrindavan. This year MA specially revelled in celebrating the Holi festival on the Dol-Poornima day on February 28. Even the previous day she had joyfully celebrated the occasion with abandon, despite an indisposition. The place was the Ashram of Haribaba. She sprayed coloured water on Sunderlalji after smearing her own body and clothes with colour. Then she went to Haribaba and Akhandananda and sprayed colour on them. She said, “These Pitajis are no doubt Sanyasis with no earthly attachment. It would have been different if they stayed in caves or forests. But when one stays in Vrindavan one cannot avoid getting a splash of colour.” MA went from Ashram to Ashram in a procession of devotees thoroughly enjoying the festival and sprayed colours not only on the saints and holy men but even on animals and plants.
She reached Kashi after visiting Delhi and Kanpur and received the news of the death of Ruma Devi, who had passed away earlier that day. MA had met her on way to Mansarovar. She had become an ardent devotee and spent her life in sadhana at the Kashi Ashram.
During March and April she was at Kashi, Allahabad, Calcutta and Puri attending religious functions or responding to the call of devotees. In Calcutta, her explanation of sadhana to a devotees, ‘‘It is entreating (Sadh) God to accept oneself.”
On April 30, she was at Hardwar. Her birth anniversary was celebrated under the supervision of Yogibhai. It continued till the end of May. During this period, Mahamandaleswar Swami Maheshwarananda of Sannyas Ashram, Bombay, called on her. Elaborate arrangements had been made for various functions and receptions to holy men to mark the anniversary.
In June, she took rest at Almora for a brief period. In early July, she moved to Kashi, then to Calcutta and onwards to Puri to take part in the Ratha Yatra festival on July 13.
She was back in North-India and arrived at Vrindavan on August 18 to celebrate the Jhoolan festival. The main function on the Jhoolan Poornima Day was organised at the Ashram of Haribaba. MA was decorated with flowers. On being requested by all devotees she sat on the swing (jhoola) on which were placed icons of Radha and Krishna. She embraced the icons and immediately moved into a trance, her whole body becoming motionless. Haribaba moved forward cautiously and rocked the swing. The three images moved back and forth as Haribaba performed the ‘arati’. At the end of it, an attempt was made to bring MA out of trance. She embraced the two icons again, tenderly touched them from head to foot and then lay prostrate on the ground rolling over in front of the images. She had still not come out of the trance when she was helped to take a seat on her ‘asana.’
Janmashtami was celebrated at Kashi. On September 2 The inmates of Kanyapeeth held a Nandotsav when little girls turned into milkmaids singing around MA. She took delight in clapping and singing along with them, embracing the little girls with great affection.
In October, she moved to Dehradun to attend the Durga Puja celebrated at Kishenpur Ashram. After a fortnight she came back to Kashi via Vindhyachal to celebrate the Kali Puja followed by Annakoot.
A ‘discipline and restraint’ week was observed in November in Calcutta. She laid great stress on restraint. Her advice was, “Try to observe restraint at least once a month or a fortnight, if you find it difficult to observe it once every week. Your food, speech, movement as well as greed, fascinations, desires and anger everything would come under this restraint. If you practise it regularly then you will easily be able to observe it for several months in a year.”
Actually, her advice had earlier prompted Yogibhai to believe that restraint could be observed in an organised manner in MA’s presence. The programme of ‘restraint (self-discipline) week’ (Sanyam Saptah) originated from that idea and later became a regular feature.
In December, she visited Puri, Jamshedpur and Ranchi before returning to Calcutta.
The month of January saw her making a few trips between Kashi and Vindhyachal. On 28th, she left for Allahabad for ‘Poorna-Kumbh.’
Millions of people from all corners of India assembled in Allahabad that year on that occasion. A camp was set up also by Anandamayee Sangh to receive devotees. Mohantas (high priests) of three sects - Dasnami, Udasi and Vaishnav were honoured and had lunch one day at the camp. The Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath also paid a visit one day.
The auspicious moment for the holy dip fell in the small hours of the night of February 3. As Swami Paramananda left with a hundred devotees for the dip at three in the morning, MA looked unusually disturbed. When the second batch left the camp a few minutes afterwards, MA told them to chant God’s name all the while. At nine in the morning MA lay down and suddenly cried out, “There, they are being crushed, stampeded, there they cannot breathe.” Shortly, the sad news of hundreds of devotees having been stampeded to death was received. MA said, “It was clear before the eyes the whole incident with piles of dead bodies”. Later, while returning to Kashi, she said, “When the tragedy occurred, it was as if ‘this body’ was being crushed and it was ‘this body’ that was losing breath.”
After spending Sivaratri at Kashi, MA went to Vrindavan in March to move into a new dwelling, set up for hen in the Anandamayee Ashram. On 27th, she moved to Delhi where a new Ashram was coming up at Chanderlok near Kalkaji. From Delhi she went to Hoshiarpur for eleven days to stay at the Ashram of the Gurudev of Haribaba. In April, she went to Almora for the installation of a Shiva icon at the Samádhi of Bhaiji. As usual she was surrounded by devotees. She told them one day, “From one life springs many lives - this is the sequence of living beings. The One God splits into all living beings. Thus the saying -where there is life, there is Shiva.”
The birth anniversary was celebrated at Almora. She stayed there for two and a half months before moving to Bareilly, Moradabad, Dehradun, Lucknow, Kashi, Hardwar and back to Kishenpur Ashram. In August, she again went to Kashi for the Jhoolan festival. During her stay, a Gopal icon was installed at Kashi Ashram. The icon had a history. It belonged to some landlord in Eastern Bengal (then East Pakistan now Bangladesh) who had left it at somebody’s care in Kashi. As the caretaker did not have enough money to perform it properly, he decided to consign the icon to the Ganga. Somehow, it was prevented and the icon finally was brought to the Kashi Ashram. MA was very pleased and fondly showed the exquisite idol to many. It so happened that within days, proper dress and ornaments for the idol were easily arranged.
To fulfil an ardent desire of Dr. Pannalal, a ‘Panchabati’ (a series of five great trees) was planted on the hills at the foot of Chunar Fort. On August 21, Janmashtami was celebrated at Kashi when the whole Ashram was decorated with scenes and settings of Krishna’s birthplace.
On August 26, the new Ashram at Delhi was inaugurated. She was on the move again visiting many places in North India till September 22 when she proceeded to Calcutta on her way to Ranchi via Puri and Jamshedpur.
She moved again to Kashi, Vrindavan, Jallandhar and Hoshiarpur. On her way back she visited Khanna. On October 23, the Pakistan High Commissioner, Gaznafar Ali Khan and the Deputy High Commissioner came to pay their respects. The Deputy High Commissioner was so charmed and overwhelmed that he started crying like a child as he recited from the. Holy Koran and offered Namaz prayers. They were with MA for three long hours and the visit clearly established her sway over people of all faiths.
In November, she was in Bombay, where the fourth ‘Restraint Week’ started on the 18th at Juhu. MA said “Greater restraint will make your living beautiful, will turn your life towards Him.” Till December 21, she visited various places in Gujarat. She returned to Kashi after short halts at Bhopal and Itarsi.
In the beginning of the year, she was mainly at Kashi and Vindhyachal with a short trip to Rajgir for four days. On January 27, she was at Allahabad to attend Saraswati Puja at the house of the distinguished Advocate, Gopal Swarup Pathak, who later became the Vice President of India. Towards the end of February, she went to Vnindavan where an image of Mahaprabhu Shri Chaitanya was installed at the ashram on March 8. Next day was the Holi festival.
She took part with great enthusiasm, splashing colour on everybody in the Ashram. Then she went to the temple in a procession singing and dancing on their way. She was not keeping well this time. Her eyes were paining and full of tears. She had been advised to stay back in her room to avoid dust and strong light. But she could not refuse devotees seeking her darshan who included Queens of princely States, the wife of the Nepalese Ambassador, Mrs. Rajan Nehru and others.
On March 31, MA accidentally sprained her right foot as she was hurrying down to join Haribaba’s Kirtan session in front of the Mahaprabhu Temple. She endured the acute pain to take part in the Kirtan session. Later, a fracture was revealed in the X-ray but she did not allow it to be plaster cast and it took quite some time to heal.
Speaking about the injury, MA said, “The punishment has been inflicted by Mahaprabhu himself, reminding us of his presence here.” Actually, there had been some negligence in taking proper care of the image of Gour-Nitai installed in the temple. The image was of large size making it difficult for attendants to lay it in the resting position at night, as ordained. In such cases, an alternative symbolic rite should have been performed, which had been ignored, leading to an incomplete worship. Devotees felt that MA accepted the pain to atone for the lapse.
On April 13, she went to Delhi with her foot still injured. Streams of devotees came to have her darshan. On April 15 (the Bengali New Year Day -1362) came the Ambassador of Chile. Doctors attending on her had asked her to restrict her movements but she would not listen. She went to Vrindavan for a day and again moved to Solan. There, on April 27, the Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh came with his wife to pay their respects. Talking to them MA said, “There are two kinds of mental disturbances, one arises while completing the earthly duties and the other arises from the yearning while moving along the path to the Absolute. But the latter kind of disturbance is the only way, which leads to peace. One realises that God is the soul which is always at peace”.
Speaking to another devotee, she said “The human being enjoys its earthly possessions himself, at the same time slowly marching towards death. The
death comes through slow poisoning. Shun the poison and take to nectar. Move towards eternity where there is no death and no disease. Cleanse yourself of the poison through your own effort.” She further said “Man identifies himself in his want - he thinks of his want and gets engrossed in it. Therefore, one had to think of one’s true identity, otherwise want, inaction,immobility, distress, and death will come in that sequence.” Replying to a letter from Raja Prafulla Chandra Bhanj Deo, MP, from Orissa, MA sent her message “Remembering Him will never go waste. Call Him until you get a response. Actually you are calling yourself. You are trying to achieve yourself. You are sending out your call to the indivisible to become indivisible.”
MA’s birth anniversary was celebrated at Solan that year. On May 6, the Governor of Himachal Pradesh came to have her darshan. The birth anniversary was celebrated in royal grandeur under the supervision of Jogibhai Raja of Solan.
MA felt at ease in the calm and quiet atmosphere of Solan and devotees too could approach her easily. One’s talking to a group of young men MA said, “You can conquer fear if you think of God. He is the soul - the life force. You cannot but remember Him whether you are alone or in the company of religious persons. Unless you call Him you cannot get free from the shroud that covers you. Never try to bribe your way to God. If you try to deceive, you will be deceived yourself.” On reaching God while leading a family life, she said “Turn your house into a temple of God. Whosoever stays in my house are images of God and I shall serve them as a Manager. If you can live in this spirit there is every chance of your becoming a true servant of God in good time.” On peace, she said, “Peace does not lie in wealth or hold over men. You can never achieve peace unless you have the feeling that you have an identity which is unperturbed, is knowledge and is consciousness.”
In May, an All Faiths Conference was being held in Bangalore of which Dr. Radhakrishnan was the President. He sought a message from MA. She had the following sent when pressed by everybody. “O, Immortal soul, march along the path to indestructibility, leaving the path to death. Immortal soul, the believer in immortality, is complete in itself.”
She spent about a month in Solan. The founder of Saptarishi Ashram at Rishikesh, Goswami Ganesh Duttji, came to see her with a prayer that ‘Restraint Week’ be held in November at his Ashram. On June 27, came a group of visitors from Delhi, including the Pakistan High Commissioner, Raja Gazanfar Au Khan, Mrs. Kamala Jaiswal and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s Secretary, Mr. S.D. Upadhyaya.
In July, she was mainly in Dehradun. Towards the end of the month she went to Vrindavan via Delhi to be present during the Jhoolan festival beginning on the 30th. The arrangements at the Ashram were made by Avadhootji. On August 3, the Jhoolan Poornima Day, Avadhootji seated MA on a silver-plated throne. She had a yellow dress, a flute made of flowers in hand and, sat holding an icon of Gopalji. Meditation, Kirtan singing and aarti were organised. On the Janmashtami Day, the Mahaprabhu temple in the Ashram was specially decorated. She made a trip to Gwalior for three days, where the Maharani accorded her a royal reception. She was given another grand reception when she visited Mainpuri on September 10. Local devotees took MA in a decorated bullock-cart, which they pulled themselves over a considerable distance to take her to Mainpuri. For about a month she moved from place to place - Etawah, Kanpur, Unnao, Allahabad, Kashi and Vindhyachal before reaching Bombay on October 9.
After taking rest for a few days, she reached Calcutta on October 19 to attend the Durga Puja celebrations at Lake Road. After Lakshmi Puja, she moved to Deoghar, Rajgir and then to Ranchi to be there during the Kali Puja. A new icon of Kali made of an alloy of eight metals (asthadhatu) was installed at Ranchi Ashram.
From Ranchi MA went to Delhi via Kashi and Vindhyachal. A ‘Restraint Week’ started at New Delhi Kalibari from November 22. After a short trip to Vrindavan, she came back to Delhi staying at Anandamayee Ashram near Kalkaji. A Central Minister, Mr. Keshav Dev Malaviya and his wife came to have her darshan on December 7. She was also taken to the residence of Dr. Radhakrishnan, a devotee of many years.
She went to Kashi and Vindhyachal for a few days but returned to Delhi on 17th hearing of the serious illness of Haribaba. He had been taken to Amritsar for treatment then. MA went to Amritsar to bring Haribaba back by plane to Delhi for special treatment and surgical operation.
1956 (Jan. to May)
As Haribaba was convalescing, MA went for a few days to Allahabad, Vindhyachal and Kashi to come back to Delhi to bring Haribaba from the Nursing Home to the Ashram. He left for Amritsar on January 30.
On the day of the operation, Haribaba had a vision of MA in ethereal form. She was the mother, he was the child in her lap and there were many others surrounding them singing the glory of MA. Just before his departure from Delhi at the end of his illness, MA reminded him of the incident.
She returned to Kashi on February 10. Several admirers from foreign countries came to have her darshan at Kashi. They included: Swiss philosopher and professor Dr. Boss, Dutch singer and linguist Dr. Arnold Beck, French writer Jean Herbert, British photographer Richard Lannoy and many others. Some of the foreign devotee took new names given by MA and stayed back in the Ashram to pursue the spiritual path. These were a French physician Wentrob (Vijayanand), a youth from America Jack Ungvi (Jayanand), another youth from England, Cohn Turnbull (Premanand).
A library was opened at Kashi on February 16 coinciding with Saraswati Pooja. On the 25th, a new hall was added to the first floor of the Ashram for the study of Sanskrit by the inmates of Kanyapeeth.
MA was asked by one the way to reduce worldly attractions and to increase one’s love for God. Her reply was, “Give as much time as you can to remember Him. Keep good company, chant the name suggested by your Guru, sing Kirtans, read good books, pray and meditate. The worldly affairs push you towards evil thoughts and distress take you away from God. Thus the best and the only way is to know yourself and achieve your true identity.”
Five different icons of Shiva were ceremoniously installed at the Vrindavan Ashram on the Sivaratri Day on March 10. These were - Siddheshwar, Vaneshwar, Narmadeshwar, Gopeshwar and Brahmeshwar.
After celebrating Holi at Vrindavan, MA moved out to Delhi, Jallandhar, Hoshiarpur, Chandigarh, back to Delhi and Vrindavan and then to Kashi via Ahigarh. At Kashi, the Sanyas tithi of Muktanand Giriji (Didima - her mother) was observed on April 13. During the Basanti Pooja, which began on April 16, a charitable dispensary of ‘Anandamoyee Karuna’ was opened in an adjacent building. On the Navami Day, MA herself served each and every one of the assembled devotees the ‘prasad’ from the ‘bhog’ offered to the deity.
Preparations had already begun to celebrate in a befitting way the completion of sixty years of MA’s sojourn in this world. A Calcutta artist Nitai Pal was commissioned to make a special throne with a life-size -lion on it to serve as her mount. The throne was of brass and the mount of ashtadhatu, an alloy of eight metals. MA’s devotees wanted to see her in the form of Sinhabahini. Her seat on the lion was made of red velvet, as was the canopy. Devotees desired to worship MA on May 2 during the birth anniversary celebrations.
People from all corners of India - those of royal stock, of science and letters, of eminence in other fields, ordinary citizens, all converged in Kashi to take part in the celebrations. They embraced different religions, were of various castes, creed or communities.
Persons of spiritual eminence were the first to assemble. The celebrations continued for 26 days. There were Yagnas, reading from the scriptures, religious discourses, Kirtan, dramatic performance and ras-lila. Eminent musicians performed during the celebrations. These included vocalists- Siddheshwari Devi, Girija Devi, Dagar Brothers, Sukhendu Goswami, Chhabi Bandopadhyaya and others and instrumentalists, such as, Pandit Ravishankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Shanta Prasad, Kanthe Maharaj and Ustad
Bismillah Khan. One day Garba dance from Gujarat was presented. There was a programme of songs and dances of Rabindranath Tagore under the guidance of Shailaja Ranjan Majumdar. The twelfth session of the Ram Chant Manas conference was also held during the celebrations at the same pandal.
One attraction of the celebrations was the ‘Tuladan’ on May 24. A pandal was erected in front of Kanyapeeth. Inside, a platform was built - 18 ft. long by 18 ft. wide and 18 inches in height. On four sides were built four entry gates made of wood. The platform was covered on top. On this platform was built a smaller platform - seven and half feet long, seven and half feet wide and 18 inches high. At the four corners of the bigger platform were four Yagna Kunds each one according to the directions in the four Vedas - Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharv. MA was to be weighed, and different kinds of gifts, each of the same weight, were to be placed to be donated away.
As she was placed on one side of the big, weighing scale, MA was visibly lost in her own mood, uttering ‘Narayan’ and almost oblivious of what was happening around. She was weighed first with ‘ashtadhatu’ and then successively with different grains, ghee, fruits, cloth of raw silk and cotton and sugar. On special demand she was also weighed with ‘batasa’ (sugar drops offered in worship) and cardamom. Finally, she was weighed with silver.
The silver was donated to the Mahaprabhu Temple in Vrindavan while all the rest was donated away to poor and Brahmins.
The planned worship on May 2 began at two in the night at the Ashram. It was everybody’s desire that MA would sit on the lion throne but she was firm in her decision not to ascend the throne. She sat on the steps of the throne. The worship continued for three hours.
On 27th, another worship was arranged at the main pandal. She was carried in a palanquin and taken in a procession to the site ceremoniously. The throne had been brought there earlier.
MA at first sat on the steps but she had to respond to the entreaties of Haribaba and Avadhutji, who prayed to her to sit on the lion mount. The worship lasted two hours.
Prof. Tripurari Chakrabarty, who read and explained the episodes of Mahabharata at the congregation, spontaneously remarked : “I had read and heard much about a ‘Rajsuya Yagna’ in Mahabharata and Puranas, but today I saw it taking place before my eyes.”
At the end of the festival at Kashi, MA went to Hardwar at the invitation of Swami Sukhdevanandji, Mandaleshwar of Parmarth Niketan. He had organised an assemblage of Holy men for religious discourses.
On July 1, Raslila was started at Kishenpur Ashram. A Bhagwat week was held from July 9. One day when the question of God’s mercy was being discussed, MA said, “Mercy is being showered incessantly. It is for the receptacle to collect it properly. At times, we hold the container upside down. We cannot realise that His mercy runs down without being collected.” She came to Kashi, on the Guru Purnima Day on July 24, the fire preserved from the Savitri Yagna was brought to the newly built Yagna temple. During her stay this time, MA suddenly developed the wish to go out begging. She would go to different houses on different days to collect grains for the day’s meal. Jhulan Poornima was celebrated with great enthusiasm. There were stage-plays on descending of Ganga led by Bhagirath, life of Lord Rama, life of Nimai (Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) and Mahishasur Mardini on different days, in presence of MA. The Jhulan festival ended on August 20 on the full-moon day. Next day, Narayan Swamiji held a special worship of MA offering 1008 leaves of Tulsi at her feet. There was a Tula Dan of Gopalji on the Janmashtami Day on the occasion of Nandotsav on the following day. MA gladdened the hearts of everybody, appearing in the attire of Lord Sri Krishna.
She moved out again to visit various places to fulfil the desires of devotees.
In early October, she was in Calcutta where she stayed back till the Durga Puja. During Laxmi Puja and Kali Puja, she was at Ranchi. On her way to Puri, she met a French lady, Marian Obert at Muree. This lady was known to an Ashramite, Atmanand. Miss Blanca had come all the way from Europe and was attracted by MA’s life and teachings. She accompanied MA during her journey to Puri via Jamshedpur and Kharagpur.
On her way back from Puri, a leading tennis player of India, Dilip Basu, had the fortune of meeting her. He was overwhelmed by her presence. Within a few days she was back to Kashi. The President of Raman Ashram and Mrs. Talyar Khan came there to have her darshan. The lady was of immense help to MA during her tour of South India.
MA left for Hardwar on November 8. A ‘Restraint Week’ was observed at the ‘Hermitage of the Seven Sages’ (Saptarishi Ashram), five miles from Brahmakund at. Hardwar, famous as the place where the legendary seven sages (Vishwamitra and others) are said to have done penance. More than three hundred devotees observed the week in the presence here of several holy men. On the fourth day, the founder of Paramarth Niketan, Shukdevanandji was present. That day, the Mahamandaleshwar of Sannyas Ashram of Bombay, Swami Maheshwaranandji also joined the proceedings. At the request of Goswami Ganesh Duttji, MA laid the foundation of a Sanskrit School, on the concluding day, at the Saptarishi Ashram site.
She came back to Kashi on the 24th. During a religious discourse there, a devotee asked whether any particular name of God when recited would lead to Him more quickly. MA said, “All names given to God have the same power. You can reach your destination by taking any name you like. The more intense your sadhana, the quicker you reach Him. Take it lightly and you take more time.”
She was at Vindhyachal when she felt a discomfort in the ear, and came down to Kashi for treatment for a day. On the return journey there was a tragedy near Chunar, aè a handcart puller suddenly tried to cross the road disregarding the speeding car in which she was travelling. The poor man was fatally injured. MA came out and caressed the entire body of the poor victim before he died. She sent word to his family and arranged help from her ashram.
She was back in Vindhyachal where her ear problem started earlier, persisted, requiring regular medical attention. But the religious discourses continued. A French ashramite, Dr. Wynetrob (Vijayanand) one day brought his brother-in-law, a lawyer by profession. He asked the way to develop good habits and culture. Ma’s answer was: “Every professional -a lawyer like you, or an engineer or a professor—has to go through a period of training and learning. Similarly, one has to have training to achieve the higher spiritual qualities - in this case through Sadhana. One can even have a direct communion with God.” The lawyer asked, “Is there really a God?” MA said, “The way you exist, God also exists. If you can take off the shroud, then you find Him, who is self-expressed. The way a whole tree resides inside a seed, God also resides in His full splendour inside you.”
Another devotee at Kashi had a complaint. He said “I have been taking God’s name, calling Him but he does not come to me.” MA said, ‘The problem lies in the manner you go about it. It is impossible for God not to respond if He is called properly. You must have a craving for Him, to reach a stage when you cannot do without Him - that is the proper way.”
Her health was causing concern, the ear problem getting worse. Even a little noise created discomfort. Some of her close devotees rushed from other places and decided to bring specialists from Calcutta. At midnight on December 31, MA became seriously ill. Her breathing became irregular and she lost control over her limbs.
1957 (January to May)
MA was moved to Kashi, where specialist physicians arrived from Calcutta on January 2. After thorough examination, they gave the assurance that the ailment was nothing, serious and was mainly an effect of a touch of cold. But she needed rest more than the treatment.
As she convalesced, her close associates and devotees organised several religious functions praying for her speedy recovery. One of the distinguished visitors at that time was Mahamandaleshwar Shri Shri 1008 Swami Vidyanandaji (Gita Swami), who was famous for his initiative in establishing many Gita centres at home and abroad.
During this period, MA had the satisfaction of fulfilling a desire of her departed father, Bipinbehari, by establishing a Shiva temple on January 16 at the house of Makhan (Mamoo-her brother). She moved in a new room above the library in the compound of the Craft and Industry Centre. She had a bed of grass mat and straw with a cloth covering.
After a short trip to Calcutta, MA went to Bombay on February 1 to rest at a hut specially erected by B.K. Shah (Bhaiya). Regaining her health a little, she moved again on the 12th. Spending three days at Ahmedabad, she arrived at Jaipur. While meeting people there, one asked her what was the source of ‘maya’. MA told him, “Look, it is difficult to understand the source of ‘maya’ when one is surrounded by ‘maya’. One should strive to know God. Actually, whoever realises his true-self, knows God.” And on the secret of realising one’s true self, her comment was, “Try to follow the path suggested by your Guru. Do not waste the precious human existence thinking of useless subjects. Leave the dharamshala you are living in, try to return to your own home.”
The Raja of Kuchaman took MA on January 18 to his State according her a reception befitting a queen, nay a Goddess. His whole family attended to her.
She was in Vrindavan when two new buildings in the Ashram - Bhagwat Bhavan and Gita Bhavan -were formally inaugurated by her on February 27, the Sivaratri Day.
On March 4, she was badly down with tonsilitis, unable to eat or drink. A senior health official from Jaipur Dr. Sharma examined her and was worried with her condition. He was at his wit’s end when he found no trace of the ailment when he came to examine her just a few hours later.
The two new Bhavans drew a large number of devotees who took part in the discourses on Bhagawat and Gita. Two ladies of royal houses - Rajmata of Charkhari and Rani Sarla Devi - had donated funds for the construction of Gita Bhavan and Bhagwat Bhavan respectively. They entered the two houses along with MA to offer prayers on the Dol Purnima Day on March 11.
On March 17, MA moved to Modinagar where special arrangements had been made to receive her by the leading personality of the town, Gujarmal Modi. She came back to Kashi on April 1.
She was still not well as the problems with the tonsil, the ears and general weakness continued. Yet, she would not rest. She went to Barabanki on April 8 to attend a festival organised by Swami Krishnanandji and left for Kishenpur Ashram the next day.
She received treatment for a day in Delhi but would not stop her wanderings. She moved from Hanidwar to Vrindavan and then to Ahmedabad where Kantibhai had made elaborate arrangements to celebrate her birth anniversary. Her worship was on May 2 at a huge pandal in the house of Mukundbhai. As it was about to start, MA suddenly picked up a bunch of garlands from a plate and started putting them around the necks of distinguished holy men who had assembled for the worship. Then she broke a few garlands and showered the flowers on the assemblage. She exclaimed, “This body does not know the method of worship” and rolled on the ground to offer ‘Sastang pranam’ to everybody. Mukundbhai and his wife Lilabehn then took MA to her special seat and performed her worship in full conformity with scriptures. Later, at Kantibhai’s house at 3 in the morning, a special puja was performed to mark the moment of her arrival in this world. Her feet were washed with the waters from the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Sindhu, Gangotni, Yamunotri and Mansarovar. The worship on May 16 to mark the janma-tithi was conducted with similar splendour.
Sushila, wife of Nageshwar Prasad from Mainpun earlier had a vision of MA in the attire of Shiva, in her dream. On this occasion, she decorated MA as Shiva, complete with trident, hand-drum, Kundal, tiger skin, asana made of deer-skin, a silver sword (Kharga) and a half moon (crescent) headgear.
On 18th, she left Ahmedabad for Bombay. A few days later she was in Poona. Dilip Kuman Roy and Indira Devi came to have her darshan there.
Kantibhai asked her there, “How should one conduct oneself while leading a family life.” MA was resting. Her reply was, “Do not be a Lord (Mahik) of the family; remain as a gardener (Mali). Try to be a master and you will be surrounded by problems.”
At the end of Ramayan reading one day, Tapan Brahmachari (Nirmalananda) asked, “In what lies our welfare?” MA replied, “The only duty of a human being is to know one’s true self. To know the true self is realisation of God, and the reverse process is equally true. One will never be free from sorrow unless one reaches God. To achieve it one has to strive through meditation, chanting of His name. His worship, keeping good company. In this lies the welfare.”
On June 6, MA and her followers went to the place of Dilip Kumar Roy. He sang devotional songs before a selected invited gathering. Later, speaking to them, Dilip Roy revealed that his Guru, Sri Aurobindo considered MA as one of the rare Supermen in this world.
On June 15, the then Governor of Bombay, Sriprakashji, came to have her darshan. Visiting a few more places in Western India, MA returned to Hardwar and then to Dehradun.
Till Jhoolan, she kept indifferent health causing concern to her associates. Her condition further worsened, even though the attending physicians could not diagnose any disease. Jhoolan Purnima was celebrated and she made only a token appearance. Worried devotees came from far and near to pray for her recovery. From Kashi came Gopinath Kaviraj. Speaking to him MA said, ‘What is this body (deha) - it says give, give more (deo, dee) - seeking enjoyment. But enjoyment cannot exclude your sense of belonging. You say my house, my wife, my son, my enemy, my friend - the life force propels with this sense of belonging.’
On September 1, MA was at Kashi. By that time, her physical condition had relatively improved. Towards the end of the month, Durga Puja celebrations began and she took an active part.
Spending about two months at Kashi, MA moved to Vindhyachal. On November 14, there was a celebrity visitor in actress Jennifer Jones. The charmed actress exclaimed that her coming to India became really worthwhile after meeting MA.
At the end of November she was in Delhi where a ‘Restraint Week’ was being observed. On November 24, two distinguished persons came to have her darshan, Morarji Desai and the elder sister of President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. On 28th came Jagjivan Ram with his wife. The couple took MA to their house on December 1 where she was worshipped by them.
On a special request of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, MA paid a visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan on December. The ailing President sought her blessings.
In Delhi, Jagjivan Ram came to see her several times. Actress Jennifer Jones postponed her return to Hollywood to be with her for a longer period. Rakrishna Dalmia and Dr. Karan Singh also came to pay their respects.
The President took her again to Rashtrapati bhavan on the 7th when a special tent was erected for her at the Moghal Gardens. Others who paid respects to her in Delhi included Gopal Swarup Pathak, Governor of East Punjab, C.P.N. Singh and Ambassador of Syria.
Till the end of the year MA spent her days in Indavan, Delhi, Dehradun. On 28th, she went to
How would one describe MA - a storm, a mountain spring or a migratory bird? The last one fits her admirably, considering her restless wanderings with o fixed abode. Wherever she goes she makes the place her home - a house of bliss.
She was at Anandkashi when news reached of mess of her mother. She left for Kashi but by 23rd of January she was at Allahabad for the Saraswati Puja in the house of Gopal Swarup Pathak. The next halt was at Rajgir. She stayed in a small hut but her presence drew hundreds of people. She listened to their problems, she seemed to listen to the complaints of the mute plants as well. On her direction, the associates retrieved and nursed back to life a few plants which got buried under loose earth. She said she heard their appeal. Her close follower Gurupriya said “MA seemed to be in tune with the spirits of mute creatures, plants and insects, birds and animals and unseen holy souls.” MA herself once confirmed: “All creatures belong to the same family”.
Sivaratri in February was spent in Kashi; the Holi festival in March at Vrindavan. Then she moved to Hoshiarpur via Delhi at the call of Haribaba. She came back to Kashi via Jallandhar and Delhi.
In the middle of April, MA was in Calcutta visiting the new Ashram at Agarpara. Her birth-anniversary was also celebrated here that year. Holy men from far and near were present on the occasion.
Devotees sought her guidance whenever in doubt. There is a saying - each sage has his own opinion and interpretation. MA said, “If you thoroughly realise the interpretation of the sage that you have chosen, then the interpretation of all others will be clear to you. You start your journey from where you are positioned now. If you proceed well, you will be able to understand all the directions coming from different quarters.”
In the middle of May, she was at Ranchi. One day, a grief-stricken father who had lost two sons in his old age came to her for solace. MA consoled him, “This is the way of the world. The universe (Jagat) means one, which is ever on the move, always changing. It is there and next moment it is not there - the world is to be taken like that.” On reaching God, her advice was, “You call Him with an irresistible craving and you will get Him. Earnestly follow the path shown by your Guru and keep good company.”
From June 18, she was at Solan for a religious function organised by Raja Durga Singh (Yogibhai). In July, she was on the move - Kashi, Vindhyachal, Dehradun - and then reached Delhi in the middle of August for the Jhoolan festival.
During Durga Puja, MA was at Allahabad to attend the festival at the place of Baleswar Prasadji. On reading out from religious books and scriptures she had a word of caution, “lf you feel conscious as the speaker while reading then you cannot be indifferent to your self-interest as a performer. Your reading will get a separate dimension if you consider yourself as the instrument used by Him to speak.”
A ‘Restraint Week’ was observed in her presence in mid-November at the house of the Jaipurias at Kanpur. A huge pandal was erected to accommodate 5,000 people. MA stayed at an adjacent hut made of reeds and grass.
After a few days rest at the hill resort of Anandkashi, MA came back to Delhi towards the end of December on her way to Jhalawar.
MA was a royal guest at Jhalawar but lived in a hut in a secluded place. There was no end of visitors and spiritual discourses. One day she made a comment on women’s attitude towards dress and style. “The woman who keeps her hair unkempt displays an undisciplined mind. An image of the mind is reflected by the ‘choice of print of the dress, and the style of wearing. There is a striking balance between one’s mind and one’s style of dressing.”
During Saraswati Puja in February, MA was in Agarpara Ashram near Calcutta. Sivaratri in March was spent in Kishenpur Ashram, Dol Purnima in Vrindavan: In April, there was an elaborate arrangement to observe a ‘restraint week’ in Hrishikesh Saptarishi Ashram.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was there for the foundation ,day ceremony of a Sanskrit school at the invitation f Goswami Ganesh Dutt. On the dais were MA, Nehruji, Haribaba and Goswami Ganesh Dutta. As speakers addressed the gathering, Nehruji had a chat with MA.
Nehruji burst into laughter. MA asked about the welfare of Indira to which Jawaharlal answered that Indira had devoted herself to the service of the nation and they did not get to see each other often. Thus went their conversation.
During his speech Nehruji once referred to the majestic great (Virat) mentioned in the Gita and looked up to MA for a smile. She suggested ‘the form engulfing the cosmos’ (Vishwaroop) to which Jawaharlal readily agreed. “Yes, that is the word - Vishwaroop, Vishwaroop.” MA blessed Nehruji at the time of his departure.
At the end of the ‘Restraint Week’ at Hrishikesh, MA moved to Dehradun where her birth anniversary was celebrated that year, drawing thousands of devotees from all corners of India. Speaking to one of them, she remarked one day, “Look, a famous ancestry of high scholarship does not constitute real wealth; Wealthy are those who are in communion with the Supreme. The formal education cannot be equated with knowledge - the knowledge of the Supreme is real learning. Those who have not acquired these, are but steeped in poverty.”
On how to acquire these, Ma said, “Devote your mind and soul while thinking of Him - negligence or casualness will not pay. Take a vow that, unless I feel His response to my call, I will not leave my seat of meditation. Do not leave this work for old age. Do it now. Time is running out. It may be too late if you postpone.”
Foreigners swarmed around her with many requests. Some wanted to take photographs; some wanted to paint her portrait. There was a lady painter from Holland. Richard Lannoy from Britain wanted to take her photograph. Both found it a daunting proposition. Lannoy said her facial expression underwent frequent and rapid changes - now that of a child, of an old lady the next time, or of some other form displaying varying moods and dispositions.”
MA was in Delhi in the third week of August when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru called on her one day. The two had a private chat for about 45 minutes. Nehru looked immensely happy when MA presented him with two necklaces - one of Rudraksha and the other of Tulsi.
During Janmashtami and Nandotsav, she was in Kashi. The girl ashramites were dressed in a red skirt (ghagra) and a veil and revelled in-the festivities.
After trips to Vindhyachal, Allahabad and Hazaribagh, MA reached Calcutta on November 5 to be present at the ‘Restraint Week’ to be observed at the Agarpara Ashram from November 8.
By the middle of November, she was on the move again, her travel taking her to Jamshedpur, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Chandod, Bhimpura, Vrindavan to be at Vindhyachal at the year end.
On January 13, MA went to Allahabad for the Kumbh bathing on the full-moon day. Lakhs of devotees from all over India had assembled at Prayag for the Kumbh ceremony. MA received a joyous welcome. The Chief Organiser of the festival came for her darshan.
She gave her message to those who sought her blessings. “Take His name and stick to it. Do not be disheartened. You never know when the moment would come for you to realise His grace. Try to devote as much time to Him as you can.”
And, “Do not wait for anybody with an expectation. Where would you find real peace if you think that you will be happy to be with one particular person, or another will help you in your need, or not seeing another will cause you agony. On the other hand, you have to suffer in a natural way - agony of not achieving despite a yearning. This should be your aim. The craving should be only for Him, which actually is seeking and achieving your true self.”
After taking the ritual bath of Basant - Panchami on February 1, MA moved to Jhusi two days later on her way to Kashi. By the time she was at Hardwar on March 7, after trips to Vindhyachal, Etawah and Delhi, MA had become indisposed with breathing trouble. Ye she took part in the Dol Purnima celebrations. Among the worried devotees who called on her at Hardwar was the Lok Sabha Speaker Anantasayanam Ayyengar. Later she went to Anandkashi at the request of Rajmata of Tehri. MA assured her followers who had become anxious about her health, “The diseases are guests. They have called on me, the way you do.”
Her birth anniversary was celebrated in Bombay that year at the house of Bhaiya (B.K.Shah). Later, she went to Pune. There she told a follower of the ‘Cult of Formless God’: “There is no difference between the concepts of God with a form or without it. It is water that turns into ice, which again becomes water.”
On virtue and vice, she told one “Any work that leads you to God is of virtue and whatever takes you away from Him is vice.” One day, a Central Minister, Gulzarilal Nanda, requested Ma for a message to the country and the nation. Her message was: “It is imperative to develop a system of education that will aim at character-building from childhood — the role earlier performed by the Brahmacharya - Ashram. If the foundation is laid well, then the following stages -the family life, the retirement and renunciation (Garhasthya, banprastha and sanyas)—would be gone through with ease.”.... “The first lesson the child receives is from the parents. That institution has degenerated as the morality of the parents has also undergone alarming changes.”
Her health was indifferent and she chose to spend some days in August in seclusion at Vindhyachal.
She returned to Kashi on August 27 and, despite an indifferent health, again picked up her busy schedule - moving from place to place - answering the call of devotees. She was at Agarpara Ashram on September 22 to attend a special ceremony to open three temples there. Everybody was astonished to see that MA had overnight got over her illness and moved around with a sprightly gait.
A ‘Restraint Week’ was held at Naimisharanya from October 21 followed by a Bhagwat Week. Hundreds of devotees and noted spiritual figures assembled there. Two huge pandals had been erected to accommodate them. In the latter function, 108 scholars read from religious scriptures. Speaking to people seeking solace, MA reminded them, “God’s mercy is being showered upon us all the time, but we have to prepare ourselves to receive it. One cannot hold a container upside down to receive it. Turn your whole existence towards God, craving for His mercy. Always pray to Him in your mind, take His name, and meditate on Him.”
In November, she visited some of the places associated with legends. She went to Mishrik, where the sage Dadhichi had donated his bones, Sitakund where Sita entered the womb of the earth, Vyasgadi and Hanumantila,and returned to stay at a cottage by the Gomati river belonging to a devotee, Prayag Narayan. While she was there, Mohanananda Brahmachari called on her one day and had a long session.
In the beginning of 1961, MA was at Agarpara Ashram near Calcutta. Shortly, she was on the move, first to Kashi and then to Allahabad, Delhi and Modinagar to reach Hardwar on February 5 to observe ‘Shivaratri’ on the 13th. Several ashramites formally entered into a life of Brahmacharya with new names given by MA.
From February 16, she was in Delhi. As usual, hundreds of devotees came to have her darshan. There were a Muslim woman-saint, Rehana Mayee; the Swiss Ambassador, Dr. Kuta and Pakistan’s Ambassador, Mr. Brohi. Holi was celebrated on March 2. Two days later Indira Gandhi came to her with her Sons.
She moved again - to Hoshiarpur at the request of Haribaba, then to Jallandhar, Delhi, Vrindavan and Hardwar - at times to attend a religious function, at others to cheer up an ailing devotee.
On April 17, MA, at that time staying at Kankhal, proceeded to Gwalior at the request of the Maharani, who had organised a series of religious functions seeking speedy recovery of the ailing Maharaja. A few days later, she was in Allahabad, where a Bhagwat Week had been arranged. MA’s birth anniversary was also celebrated at Allahabad that year. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru along with Indira Gandhi came to her during the celebrations.
On May 6,she was in Bombay to see the ailing Gopinath Kaviraj who had undergone surgical operation on the 16th. The next month MA was in Poona. Among the callers there (on June 23) were President Rajendra Prasad and the Maharashtra Governor Sriprakash. The President sought her advice on how to develop interest in and adherence to a spiritual way of life. MA said “Practice and continued endeavour would pave the way.”
For about two months, a renowned tele-film Director from France, Arnaud Desjardin, had been in company of MA, moving with her from place to place. He and his wife were shooting a film on MA. The couple went back on June 29, taking leave of her. Others who came to her in Poona were the singer saint Dilip Kumar Roy, Maharaja of Gwalior and renowned singer Hirabai Barodekar.
At the request of the Chief Justice of Mysore High Court, S.R. Das Gupta, MA went to Bangalore on July 15. A palm-leaf hut was erected for her stay. One day, the Chief Minister of Mysore and his wife came to see her along with Mrs. Talyarkhan, a disciple of Raman Maharshi. Talking to them, MA observed, “You have seen a cow licking her calf to cleanse it and swallow all the dirt on its body. Similarly, God absorbs all that is wrong in His children to make them pure and sanctified. Work without expecting any returns, fixing the thoughts on Him alone”. A South Indian lady was told “Give as much time as you can to take His name, reciting His name means to be in company with Him. A friend with whom you develop a special relationship bares his mind to you without reservation. Similarly, if you move closer to that Supreme Friend, He will reveal all His secrets to you. Does the sight of rolling waves in a sea stop you from taking a bath? Remember this, and try to remember Him, take His name, while you brave the storms and disturbances in your life.”
Moving from Bangalore on July 25, MA went to Calcutta, Kashi, Vindhyachal, Allahabad and Delhi to reach Vrindavan on August 21 to attend the Jhoolan festival. The celebrations were planned and organised by Swami Swarupananda who was in charge of the Vrindavan Ashram. The Raja and Rani of Mandi had built a special house dedicated to MA. The Royal couple worshipped her there as she sat on a swing, crowned and garlanded like a living Goddess.
On September 4, she was in Delhi. Indira Gandhi came. for a darshan the next day. On 11th, MA paid a visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan at the special request of President Rajendra Prasad. Indira Gandhi came to see MA several times in September. To honour a special request of Jawaharlal Nehru, MA paid a visit to his residence in Delhi on October 2, and spent some time with him in the quiet lovely lawn in the compound.
MA attended the Durga Puja celebrations organised by Mangturam Jaipuna at Kanpur, who made elaborate arrangements on a grand scale to mark her presence. On the Saptami day, his daughter-in-law Gayatri Devi, wife of Sitaram Jaipura, formally worshipped MA.
A ‘Restraint Week’ was observed at Suktal in November. It was the twelfth in the series. Suktal is associated with the legends of Parikshit and Sukdev. Lakhs of people assembled for the fair held there on Kartik Poornima, who had the rare fortune that year to have MA among them.
Both on her way to Suktal and on the return journey, MA was accorded memorable receptions at Muzaffamagar. Speaking at a huge congregation there, she gave this message: “You are one with everybody, everything is your own. There is nothing which is alien to you. Everything in this world constitutes only the One. Take the name of Hari which is the substance. All realisation and everything else is a pointless toil.” In December she moved to Vrindavan.
January was spent in Vrindavan. There was a news from Kashi of the death of a girl inmate of Kanyapeeth and illness of several others. She directed that the inmates unaffected by the disease should be shifted to Vindhyachal and proper arrangement should be made for the treatment of the diseased ones at Kashi.
In February, she went to Kashi, particularly to see the ailing Gopinath Kaviraj and a few other close devotees who were troubled with one problem or the other. Later, she moved to Hardwar via Dehradun to be in time for the first ritual bathing for the Poorna Kumbha on the 4th of March. She made a short trip to Baandh to celebrate Dol Poornima with Haribaba. April 13 was the day for bathing for salvation during the Poorna Kumbha. The previous day, MA was dressed and adorned ceremonially to be taken in a procession on an elephant at Hardwar at the initiative of the Mahant of Niranjani Akhara. The next day, during the salvation bath MA went down to the Ganga and touched the water of the river at the request of the devotees. She blessed the gathering by sprinkling the water of the Ganga on their heads.
She went back to Dehradun. After two days, Pandit Jawahalal Nehru along with Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit came on April 27 to have her darshan. Both were presented with a bit of ashes from the Yagna, in sandalwood boxes. Nehru got a special present of a red rose from MA.
Her birth anniversary celebrations started at Kishenpur Ashram from the 2nd of May. There were the usual religious functions attended by countless devotees coming from far and near. On May the 8th, MA moved to Rajpur to the Ashram of Shraddhananda Swamiji. She was in a special mood of gaiety on the 18th and indulged in singing and dancing along with senior female inmates of the Ashram.. She would embrace one of them to chant “Har Har Bom Bom”; she would hold somebody’s hands to dance in a Ras Nritya in the style of Lord Sri Krishna; she would also dance all by herself waving her handkerchief in the air. There, speaking about sadhana, she remarked one day, “The more time you devote to the thoughts of attainment of the Supreme, the less will you be affected by other distractions. If you hold fast on to such thoughts, then God Himself would take over your responsibility.”
On worldly sufferings, her message was “Whatever is ordained by God is for the good of us. The way a surgeon makes an incision on a boil to purge the body of poisonous infection with the purpose of curing a patient, God also purifies the soul through sufferings to draw people closer to Him. He inflicts suffering on the devotees only to increase their yearning and craving. He accepts the devotees’ offerings paid through sufferings and tears.”
On July 4, MA was at Anand Chowk in Dehradun to be present during the final Ahuti of the completion of 125 thousand Maha Mrityunjaya Jap. She had put up at the same Anand Chowk when she came to Dehradun for the first time. Devotees had a great surprise on July 11 when MA revealed to them that she had seen in her ethereal form the detonation of a nuclear device in a Pacific island on that day.
At Kishenpur Ashram she took the initiative to start a spiritual gathering of women once a week or at least twice a month. She christened the assembly as ‘Parmarth Bhágwati Sangh.’ Her message for the first assembly was “Treat everybody without any distinction. Take care that you do not feel happy only in the presence of certain persons and feel repulsion seeing others.”
She spent Jhoolan Poornima at Kishenpur Ashram and then went to Hardwar and Kankhal to see some of the ailing devotees, including Gopinath Kaviraj, Mauni Ma and Mahadevanand Gin. Janmashtami was spent at Kankhal. The next day Nandotsava was celebrated re-enacting the scenes of Mathura and Vrindavan during the childhood of Lord Krishna.
For the next five weeks MA stayed in Hardwar-Dehradun region. On September 13, she was in Calcutta. The Durga Puja days-were spent at the Agarpara Ashram. On the Lakshmi Puja Day, devotees constructed a huge lotus symbol with countless lotus buds and made MA sit in the middle, resembling a living Lakshmi. On October 15, she moved out to reach Vrindavan via Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Delhi and Dehradun. At Vrindavan ‘Bhagwat Week’ was sponsored by the Maharani of Mysore. Another devotee had sponsored a Gita Jayanti. On the holding of such functions, MA remarked “One who sponsors such spiritual functions and all those who take part in it, get their spiritual power and energy enhanced.” She spent about a month in Vrindavan, excepting a short trip to Handwar to attend a function to mark the last rites of a veteran ashramite, Shankaranand Swami (Jr.) who had died a few days earlier.
For some days in early January, MA remained in seclusion at Vrindavan. On the 12th she moved to Bombay to respond to a call of B.K. Shah (Bhaiya). There was great enthusiasm among the devotees there as MA visited Bombay after a lapse of 1-1/2 years.
At the end of January, she was in Modinagar for the inauguration of a huge temple built by the Modis. There was a rare meeting between MA and Mahatma Shri Shri Knishnaashramji, a Nanga Sadhu observing complete silence usually residing in the Himalayas. When MA’s companions went up to the sage to offer Pranam he signalled that Pranam be offered at the feet of MA. The two holy souls were taken out in a procession on the 28th. Two days later, Saraswati Puja was held. Devotees persuaded
her to stand beside the image of the Goddess as a living Saraswati at the time of worship. The temple built by the Modis was formally consecrated on the 3rd of February. From Modinagar, she moved to Kanpur where she visited a huge temple built by Padampat Singhania. She again moved from place-to-place, to be back in Vrindavan in late February to attend a Bhagwat Week. The week, which began on March 1, had been sponsored by Aparna Devi, daughter of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, seeking solace for the soul of her departed husband. Haribaba’s birth day on 9th March and the Holi festival were also celebrated at Vrindavan. A few days later, came the news of the death of distinguished devotee, Biren Mukherjee. MA’s reaction was “This is inevitable. All living creatures in this world would meet their end one day. Patience is the only way to tide over the trying time. The consolation would come from within. The duty is to keep oneself engaged in good actions. The duty for every man is to remember God.”
She took up her wanderings - Vindhyachal, Kashi, Dehradun, Ranchi, Patna, Rajgir and then to Hardwar. From the midnight of July 16, her breathing became very irregular. Next day she broke the middle toe of her right foot. Her ardent devotee, Swarupanand, was then in a serious condition in Vrindavan suffering from appendicitis. It seemed that MA wanted to share his sufferings to bring him back to health. Truly, Swarupanand came back from the jaws of death after an operation. Spending Jhoolan festival days at Dehradun, MA went to Delhi after a short trip to Kashi to attend the Janmashtami festival. While in Delhi, Indira Gandhi came for a darshan on the 19th of August along with her sons, Rajiv and Sanjay. MA presented flower garlands and Rakhi to them and sent another Rakhi to Jawaharlal Nehru through them. In September, she was again in Delhi, when the President’s Secretary, Subimal Dutt, came for her darshan on several consecutive days.
In the middle of October, MA was at Kashi to attend the Durga Puja celebrations at the place of her brother, Mamoo to the devotees. Right after the celebrations, she was down with cold and cough and complained that the Durga Puja image had been installed on a wet altar. “This body has been affected by the cold”, she said. She spent hen days in Kashi but felt hurt by some of the actions of the girl ashramites. She would try to advise them and one day wept bitterly, pleading to them to conduct themselves in correct way. Her main complaint was that some of the girls were spoiling the sanctified atmosphere elsewhere. She warned them of the dangers and said, “It is but natural to develop a mental attitude in conformity with the environment one lives in.”
In the middle of November, she moved towards Bombay to be present at the Bhagwat Week organised by the Maharani of Gwalior. The week was observed seeking peace for the soul of the departed Maharaja. The 14th ‘Restraint Week’ was held at Ahmedabad in late November. On the 3rd day of the week, the weather became foul. Dark clouds gathered overhead the huge pandal where the devotees had assembled. Rain came in torrents, accompanied by stormy winds. The devotees were observing silence at that time. There was a danger of the whole pandal crashing down, causing a major disaster. But MA calmly conducted the function for one hour in that weather. After hymns were sung to mark the end of the proceedings of that day, MA asked the congregation to quickly leave the pandal and go out in the open. She was the last to come out. Within moments the entire structure collapsed under the weight of tonnes of rain water and frightened people wondered that divine power had saved them from the likely disaster. In the middle of December, MA was in Pune. One day, she made a fervent appeal to the devotees there: “This body begs you to devote just 15 minutes at any time during the day exclusively to remember God. Even if one is busy in work, one may at least observe complete silence for that span of time.”
At the end of December she was in Calcutta. From 26th to 29th, a Gita Jayanti was organised at Agarpara Ashram where renowned scholars, such as Dr. Mahanamvrat Brahmachani, Dr. Govinda Gopal Mukhopadhyaya and Prof. Tripurari Chakravarty gave memorable discourses on the teachings of the Gita.
On the second of January, MA proceeded towards Puri. The former Chief Minister of Mysore, (now Kamataka) Mr. K. Hanumanthayya, came for a darshan on the 6th and had a private session with her for some time at the Anandamoyee Ashram, Puri.Twice she went to the Jagannath Temple and once she had a feeling that the deity reached out to her to allow her a close darshan.
She came back to Calcutta from Puri. A visitor from Shantiniketan brought with him three oversized sugar candy preparations to impress her with the offering. MA chided him midly to say “Don’t you feel ashamed to bring such small-size offering?” Those present got the hint behind the jocular remark. She wanted to say that size did not matter as there could always be a larger size. It was the devotion that mattered.
After a ‘Bhagwat Week’ at Agarpara, she moved to Rajgir. She took the opportunity to visit Venuban, which was a favourite place of Gautam Buddha. A well-known engineer of Bihar came to see her when the importance of Guru and formal initiation (Diksha) was raised during the discussion. Her comment was “If you can choose a right Guru, then there is no need to seek another, you cannot leave him. But if you move from Guru to Guru, then ‘this body’ would say that you never had a Guru. You must have confidence in your mind that my Guru is but the alter ego of the Supreme Preceptor, the Jagat Guru and He is the Guru”. During her stay at Rajgir she also paid a visit to the Rudrakoot Hill, sitting on the summit of which Gautam Buddha gave his message.
On February 7, she moved to Kashi and from there to Vrindavan. While resting at the Ashram there one day, MA suddenly exclaimed “I find that ‘this body’ is not in conflict with any religious doctrine, whether it is Vaishnav, Sakta, Shaiva, Bouddha or Advaita; I find that ‘this body’ can accept all these doctrines. There is no difference between the doctrines that ‘this body’ will have to choose only one of them, thinking others to be alien.” Time and again MA demonstrated that she believed in the universality of all religions and all doctrines sought only the ultimate truth, God.
Among the callers at Vrindavan was the President’s Secretary Subimal Dutt and a German woman - writer, Melita.
At the end of February, she moved to Delhi and from there to Hardwar and Dehradun. After attending a Savitri Yagna and a Bhagwat Week, she moved to Kashi and from there to Calcutta. The Editor of Amrita Bazar Patrika, Tushar Kanti Ghosh and his son, Tarun Kanti, took her to their place for the Gauranga Mahaprabhu festival. It was attended by Onkar Nath Thakur also. At the end of the Holi festival, MA moved to Kashi and then to Dehradun. On the occasion of Ramnavami on the 20th April, a 24-hour non-stop singing of God’s name was arranged at Kishenpur Ashram by the Rajmata of Shirmour.
She took a few days’ rest at Almora. Her birthday was celebrated there by Yogesh Brahmachari. She then proceeded towards Dhawal-China. On her way back she made an unscheduled halt at the house of Navneet Lal Parikh, as she felt that she was being ordained by Mahadev to build a Shiva temple at that place. Navneet was asked to fulfil the divine wish. The birth anniversary celebrations were held at Almora. On May 27 came the news of the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. MA’s comment was “The way warriors lay down their lives in battle, Jawaharlal also breathed his last as an active worker. He did not have to lie in sick-bed waiting for the death.” The next day MA recounted to the devotees her long association with Pandit Nehru and his whole family.
MA stayed at Almora till the 30th June. From there, she moved to Nainital, Bareilly, and then to Dehradun. Two small huts were added to Kalyan Van Ashram, one for Atmanand, (Miss Blanca) and the other for a Dutch female devotee, G.Ammeral. A RamSita temple was also opened at the Ashram. This temple was built through the special initiative of Nawal Kishore who had religiously conducted reading from the Ramayana at the Ashram in Dehradun for years. A series of functions was gone through while MA was at Dehradun. These included the Guru Purnima festival, a non-stop reading from Ramayana, a Bhagwat Week, the Jhoolan festival and the Rakhi festival. For three days in the last week of August, MA lived in total seclusion at her Ashram, a little away from Kishenpur. She came back to Raipur Ashram for the Janmashtami festival and Nandotsav. As usual, streams of devotees came from different corners of India and a number of foreign devotees came to have her Darshan at Dehradun. There was a lady journalist from the USA and a group of 10 visitors from France, among the foreign visitors. The Chief of the Divine Life Society at Rishikesh, Swami Chidanandji and his fellow Sanyasis came to invite her to pay a visit to their society. MA went there on September 8 on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Founder of the Society, Swami Shivanand.
Durga Puja was celebrated in her presence at Vrindavan. Later, in November, the 15th ‘Restraint Week’ was observed at Vrindavan Ashram. She stayed back in Vrindavan till the middle of December. During this time, the great soul, Sitaram Das Onkar Nath, graced the Vrindavan Ashram with his presence. A Ram Mandir was formally opened on December 16. This was built by the Majiarani of Mysore, Satya Prem Kumari.
MA lost two of her closest devotees in October and November. One was Mrs. B.L. Jaspal, who had been given a new name ‘Maharatan’ by MA. She first met MA in 1934 and later renounced the world, after she became a widow to live with MA. She died in Delhi but her sons and daughters brought the body to Vrindavan for a parting blessing from Ma. The other, Juthika Guha, popularly known as Buni, died in Vrindavan. She had come in close touch with MA from her childhood. Buni became a constant companion of MA at the tender age of 17. MA herself was present when the end came.
TIRELESS AT SEVENTY
The foundation-stone of the Anandamayee Charitable Hospital was laid at Kashi on January 14, the Chaitra Sankranti Day. Two new halls were added to the Ashram the next day, the Bengali New Year Day. On the first of February she was at Giridanga for the opening of a new Shiva temple at the TB Sanatorium ‘Niramay’ run by Jogoda Sat Sangh. MA met the patients and regaled their hearts by singing ‘Jai Shiva Shankar’ herself.
A new two-storyed Guest House was opened at Rajgir Anandamoyee Ashram in February. Later in that month, a Shiva temple was opened at the Ashram. Three Shivalingas were installed, one each sponsored separately by three devotees seeking peace for the souls of their departed ones. In the beginning of March, she moved out to Rajgir and then to Hoshiarpur via Jallandhar. The 80th birth day of Haribaba was celebrated there. After visiting a few more places in Punjab, MA came back to Vrindavan. Several admirers from foreign countries such as Germany, France and USA met her at Vrindavan. A German, A Bosch, and his companions accompanied MA during her journey to Bhopal. At Bhopal, she visited a lovely Ashram built in picturesque natural surroundings by a high-ranking official of the Government of India, Sir Datar Singh. MA fulfilled his earnest desire that she should personally inaugurate the Ashram. Early April, she returned to the Hardwar/Dehradun region but within days she moved to Kashi and then on to Ranchi that year. She spent about two months at Ranchi on this occasion. At one of the functions a Czechoslovak Engineer, then working at Ranchi, asked her “I do not believe in re-birth or transmigration of the soul; does it really matter?” MA’s answer was “There is just one true existence for us, a life that is devoted to God. The real death also happens only once - you can call it the death of deaths. Beyond this there is nothing else that can be described as life or death.”
Holy men from all parts of India assembled for her birthday celebrations. Haribaba was very much there. There were Maheshwaranandji from Bombay, Swami Vishnu Ashramji from Suktal, Swami Sharananandaji, Krishnananda Avadhoot and many others. The ‘Janam Tithi’ worship was held on the 19th of May. The next day the Kali image at the Ashram was given a new paint during a special worship. MA sang devotional songs for an hour on the occasion.
She moved to Jamshedpur on the 21st of June where she and Haribaba were given a memorable reception by the local Municipality on the 24th. MA moved towards Purl along with a large group of followers. They spent 11 days at Purl during which they took part in the Rath Yatra festival.
MA spent a few days in July in Calcutta at the Agarpara Ashram. On 14th she went back to Kashi where a new building for Outdoor Patients and a medicine counter were added to the Charitable Hospital.
On July 18, MA moved towards Dehradun and stayed there till the middle of August. She made short trips to Vrindavan, Jodhpur and Delhi and then returned to Hardwar for the Janmashtami and Nandostav festivals. She spent a few days at Kankhal Ashram. Speaking to a veteran devotee known to be a hard working person she advised “The more you get involved in worldly affairs, the more your soul would get shrouded. For whom are you striving so much? The attachment to worldly affairs only expands like a creeper. I would advise that you turn inwards and search for your true self. But I would admit that if you are serving God by serving mankind, then that is also a form of true sadhana.”
Towards the end of September, MA moved to Calcutta to attend the Durga Puja celebrations at Agarpara Ashram. After Lakshmi Puja in the house of a devotee in Calcutta, MA moved towards Kashi via Rajgir to be present during Kali Puja and Annakoot festival.
In the first week of November, the 16th ‘Restraint Week’ was observed at a place near Hazaribagh Road in her presence. There, she laid particular emphasis on true restraint and said, “While observing restraint try to realise the spirit of restraint. If you could manifest that spirit in yourself, there will be no scope for any wayward behaviour, If you reach that stage, your speech, your deeds and your thoughts would be automatically under a discipline.”
She stayed back at Suraiya, the place on Hazanbagh Road where the ‘Restraint Week’ was observed, for another 8 days. She took time to go round the place and mixed with villagers urging them to take the name of God as a regular habit. In the middle of November she was back in Kashi. The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Bishwanath Das, came for her darshan on 24th of November. Two days later came the UP Chief Minister, Sucheta Kripalani and the Central Minister of Health Dr. Sushila Nayyar.
Towards the end of November, she went back to Dehradun, on the 29th, the foundation-stone of four new buildings were laid near the Kalyanvan Ashram.
On December 7, MA moved towards Delhi and stayed there for four days at the request of the devotees. The latter half of December was spent in the quiet solitude of Vindhyachal. In between, she spent some time at Vrindavan and Allahabad.
The Kumbh Mela was held in Allahabad at the confluence of three rivers. MA was there from January 11 to 26. The Anandamoyee Sangh had made arrangements for camping of visitors and erected a pandal for religious discourses.
On the two main days for taking holy dips at the confluence, MA went along with the devotees present. While others took bath, she only put her feet in the water and sprinkled a handful of water on her head. She was taken in a procession up to the river bank and then by boat to the confluence site.
MA was specially invited to a religious congregation of many holy men at the Bharat Sevashram Sangh. She also visited the camps set up by Mahesh Yogi and Jogesh Brahmachari, and the ashram of Prabhudatt Brahmachari at Jhusi, where she spent the next three nights in total seclusion.
From Allahabad, MA went to Kashi and then to Hoshiarpur to see Haribaba, who was down with illness. Shivratri on February 18 was observed at the Vrindavan Ashram. A ‘Bhagwat Week’ was held from February 21, at the end of which she again went to Hoshiarpur to celebrate the Holi festival at Haribaba’s Ashram. A devotee of many years from her Shahbag days, Swami Bhumanand Gin passed away at Kashi on March 1, the day MA left for Hoshiarpur.
On March 12 MA left for Dehardoon for five days. One day she was sitting under a tree at Kalyanvan with just a few of her followers around. One of them said that he felt certain directives coming from the Guru within himself. MA said that one had to deserve to be the recipient of such inner directives. There were certain indications to signify one’s claim to deserve. When asked to specify those signs, MA said, “A state has to be attained when one is free of the moods of anger, greed, illusion, vanity and self-centredness; one metes out equal treatment to everybody and feels friendly to everybody; one is indifferent to personal likes and dislikes; and one visualises God’s blessings in whatever turn the events may take. Unless one can reach that state, one is most likely to misconstrue his own wishes as directives coming from the inner Guru.”
For a week, MA spent her days at the quiet mountain resort of Anandkashi. She returned to Dehradun on March 25. Within two days, she left for Kashi on receiving the news of the death of Saroj Kumar, eldest son of a close devotee, Manmohan Ghosh. On reaching Kashi, she came to know that Marani’s husband had also passed way.
MA left Kashi for Delhi on April 5. While she was in Delhi, Indira Gandhi, by then the Prime Minister of India, came to have her darshan on the 13th, and on her special request MA visited her place on the 15th. Indira Gandhi fed MA with her hands. The Health Minister, Dr. Sushila Nayyar, came to her ashram frequently.’ One day, the Culturàl Counsellor of Columbia, Dr. Casisendo, had long discussion with MA.
Her 70th birthday celebrations were held at a plot adjacent to Kalyanvan Ashram at Dehradun from May 3 to 8. Several structures were erected for the stay of some close associates and for holding different functions. For two consecutive nights before the functions ended, noted artistes of All India Radio presented songs before the gathering.
For half an hour everyday, MA answered the questions of the devotees. ‘How to conquer anger?’, asked one of them. Her answer was “You cannot conquer anger so long as you harbour desire. Any obstacle to the fulfilment of desire will generate anger. Again, when a desire is fulfilled you develop a great attraction to what you achieve. Both stages represent the same state of mind. So long as you cherish the expressions ‘I’ and ‘Mine’, you will continue to have desires. When you learn not to equate your mind and body and realise your true self, you are in a position to conquer anger.”
On the ‘Tithi Puja’ day, two priests simultaneously worshipped MA and a ‘Narayan-Shila’. The next day, at the ashram, MA blessed everybody by touching their heads and chests with the ‘Narayan Shila’. It was decided that devotees would have this unique opportunity twice a year - once during the birth anniversary celebrations in May, and again during the observation of the ‘Restraint Week’.
Among the many distinguished visitors, this time at Dehradun were several Ministers of Cental and Uttar Pradesh Governments, and Shibala Yogi, a renowned saint from South India.
The days in Dehradun were filled with one religious function or another. Guru Poornima was on July 2. Next day, a devotee from Bombay prayed to her to sing a Kirtan based on a special ‘mantra’. MA hesitated, but when she finally started the Kirtan it had an extraordinary effect. Within twenty minutes MA moved in a state of trance and the refrain was taken up by the inmates of the ashram with renewed vigour. It went through the day and night uninterrupted and ended at one in the afternoon the next day, by which time MA had again joined the singing.
Her long-time devotee, Manmohan Ghosh, passed away at Kashi on the 5th of July.
On July 15, MA went to Kankhal Ashram for a day. On way back to Dehradun, the vehicle in which she was travelling met with an accident, colliding with a State Transport bus. All the travellers escaped unhurt, only she was injured. She had a bleeding injury in the palm of her left-hand and the left side of her body dashed heavily against the vehicle. All of her associates felt that she saved them from disaster taking the whole impact on her body.
On August 14, she moved from Dehradun to Vrindavan and stayed there till the, end of September. As usual, a series of religious functions were held during her stay, including ‘Bhagwat Week’, the Jhoolan Festival, Janmashtami and the formal opening of the newly built Radha-Govinda Temple.
The opening of the temple was a special occasion, as MA had taken particular interest in the ceremony. She had requested all her followers to be present on the occasion. Naturally, there was a large congregation of devotees, which even outnumbered the gathering at Kashi during her 60th birthday celebrations.
Four pairs of Radha-Krishna images had been installed in the temple. The one named ‘Chhalia’ (the naughty one) had been presented by the Maharani of Gwalior Vijaya Raje Scindia. The idol, done by a noted sculptor, Nitai Pal, had been originally planned by the Maharani to be installed in a new temple at Gwalior once she was blessed with a son. Somehow, the idol was not to Maharani’s liking and she presented it for the Radha-Govinda temple at Vrindavan. The Maharani, however, did not know that the sculptor had made the idol resembling the image which had earlier come into MA’s vision at Vrindavan, though he was not aware of it himself. The Radha Govinda temple at Vrindavan was built jointly by the Raja of Solan and the Maharani of Gwalior. The Raja presented an idol of Radha Krishna for the temple. Since the idol presented by the Maharani was of a single Krishna, an additional Radha idol was named ‘Anand-Chhalia.’ The other two pairs had been presented to MA long ago by two sisters - Rama, and Kamala - when MA was staying at the Ashram of Oriyababa in Vrindavan. MA felt that these two images desired that they be installed also along with others at the temple. This led to the installation of four pairs of idols. The idols were given a ritual bath on the 5th of September and then properly decorated and dressed, were taken in a procession along the streets of Vrindavan. The idols were consecrated on September 7. There was a wide corridor on three sides of the new temple. MA stayed there for the Janmashtami Day. On the 7th night after the consecration, MA was heard speaking aloud: “Oh, so you four pairs have all assembled here and are having a merry time. I hope you have enough space in this temple.”
MA left Vrindavan without any prior planning on the 1st of October. She went to Kishenpur Ashram and then to Hoshiarpur and Delhi, to Ahmedabad and then to Bombay. Durga Puja was celebrated at an open field adjacent to the Ville Parle House of B.K. Shah. On the conclusion of the festival, MA moved to Pune to be present during the Lakshmi Puja. When the Puja was held MA had a sudden wish to lie quietly on a cot hidden behind the Lakshmi image. Asked about this later she said that she suddenly felt like remaining close to Lakshmi that night.
She returned to Bombay on her way to Bhopal at the invitation of Sir Datar Singh who had built a small Ashram in lovely surroundings, especially for MA, a few miles away from Bhopal. She was in Delhi during the Kali Puja and Diwali festivals. Those who came to see her in Delhi included Gulzarilal Nanda, Dr. Shushila Nayyar and G.S. Pathak. In November, she again went to Vrindavan for the Annakoot festival and a ‘Self-Restraint’ week was observed from the 20th of the month. This week had been specially arranged by the Maharaja and Maharani of Bhavnagar. On the opening day, the Queen Mother of Greece and her daughter Irene came to have her darshan. The next day, a group of Swiss travellers came to see her. A few days later came the wife of the Ambassador of Argentina. In December also, MA had a busy time attending at Bhagwat Week by Swami Akhandanand. On the 17th December, a special music session was organised by Krishnanand Avadhootji at the Anandamayee Ashram. The day was chosen to commemorate the divine revelation to the legendary singer-saint, Haridas Swami, Guru of Mian Tansen. The Central Information and Broadcasting Minister and the Director General of All India Radio attended this music session. On the 19th December, she left for Agra and then, after short trips to Kashi and Allahabad, she came to Vrindavan at the end of the year.
The month of January saw MA moving from place to place. From Vrindavan she went to Delhi arid then Modinagar, spending only a night at each of the places. Then she went to Suktal. After short halts at Modinagar and Delhi again, she moved to Lucknow and from there to Naimisharanya. She came back to Vrindavan at the end of the month.
In February, MA spent five days in Delhi for the Saraswati Puja, but generally stayed in Vrindavan. She had to receive countless visitors seeking her blessings. There were many foreigners among the visitors. One day came the Czechoslovak Ambassador. On another occasion, there was a British TV team to shoot a film on her. Others included a painter from Finland, a Swiss youth and the noted woman novelist from Germany Melita Maschman. The authoress dedicated one of her books to MA, which contained many references to her spiritual life.
She went to Baandh in early March to attend the birthday of Haribaba on the Holi festival day, as also Shivratri. At this out-of-the-way place, there were only a limited number of devotees around. MA enjoyed the solitude and sang on the occasion, clapping her hands.
MA left Baandh on March 29, and took Haribaba along to Moradabad for 5 days. Then she went to Kishenpur Ashram for a week. In the second week of April MA was at Kankhal. She was surrounded by devotees. An old lady bowed in ‘Pranam’ before an American lady, mistaking her for MA. When she realised her mistake, MA assured her, “You have done the correct thing. There is just one Lord, everything else is of no consequence. To whomsoever you may bow your head in reverence, the offer is being made to the Lord. For that matter, all creatures, plants and even inanimate objects are nothing but the manifestations of God.”
For three days from April 14, the Satyanarayan Puja was held before the idol of Lakshmi Narayan at Kankhal. On the morning of 17th MA had a vision of a strange dwelling in a supernatural world. A few holy souls were housed in that place and a straw hut had been kept reserved for MA. In one of the rooms, MA visualised a woman singing Kirtan totally lost in herself. MA could make Out part of the composition and later she completed the missing lines herself. MA sang that Kirtan for half-an-hour every day and later the girls of the Ashram sang the particular composition. MA felt that the particular Kirtan composition came as gift to the Ashram from the deity Lakshmi Narayan.
Her birthday was celebrated at Dehradun on May 3. Two days later, she moved to Kashi where the birth anniversary celebrations were being held. On 12th, she was in Kanpur where the anniversary celebrations were arranged by the Jaipurias on a grand scale. A thatched hut was built for her stay, with a wide structure in front to accommodate the visitors. Another big pandal was erected for religious discourses.
Sitaramdas Onkarnathji came to see her along with a group of his followers on the day she arrived at Kanpur. Haribaba arrived with his Raslila Party on the 15th.
A room was set apart for conducting a non-stop ‘jap’ session from May 3 to 27. As usual, there was a series of religious functions. The ‘tithi puja’ was in the hours past midnight on the 27th. MA lay in her bed completely immobile till the afternoon of next day. The same day, one of her dearest followers, Dr. Pannalal passed away in Delhi.
On the conclusion of the programme at Kanpur, MA went to Dehradun. There were several distinguished visitors. Sitaramdas Onkarnathji met her one day. Talyar Khan came from Tiruvannamalai in South India. The Peruvian Ambassador paid several visits. The Desjardin family spent a few days in her company. The Mahant of Radhaballabh temple of Vrindavan came on June 27 and stayed till the middle of July.
Both at Kanpur and Dehradun MA continued to run a temperature. Devotees held special prayers for her speedy recovery. On 18th, she moved out to Hoshiarpur and then to Delhi. Indira Gandhi came to see her in Delhi, MA then moved to Vrindavan.
Raslila was held at the Vrindavan Ashram from August 8, and MA was present on every evening. Jhoolan Festival started on the 16th. Jhoolan Purnima and Rakhi was celebrated on the 19th.
Janmashtami was celebrated with special enthusiasm as it also marked the first anniversary of the opening of ‘Chhalia’ temple. MA joined in the kirtan singing and later sang individually. A water reservoir for the temple containing water from the holy Yamuna, was built. MA named it “Krishna Chhaliha Anand Sarovar.”
A ‘Bhagwat Week’ was held in September. On repeated insistence by the devotees, MA agreed to sing ‘the mantras of twelve syllables’ (dwadash akshara mantra) on October 1 on the condition that the singing was to be continued by the devotees for the next 24 hours without a break. When that period ended, MA picked up singing again in praise of deities in the temple, which continued till the next day. This created such a mood of devotion, that singing of Kirtan followed for another 12 hours.
The Navaratri festival was held from October 4 to 13, at the end of which the main Durga Puja festival started. MA moved to Kashi after Lakshmi Puja at Vrindavan.
She returned to Vrindavan for Kali Puja. When the worship ended at dead of night, MA cautioned the devotees around her “Be extra careful while you are performing a worship. Never utter a word out of either anger or hatred, as what is uttered may come true”.
A ‘self-restraint week’ was observed at Vrindavan from November 9 to 15, the 19th in the series. On the 14th morning, the renowned singer, M.S. Subhalakshmi and her daughter presented devotional songs in a long session.
There were endless queries from the devotees. One asked, “If somebody devotes himself wholeheartedly to God and engaged himself in the service of mankind, would he find Him?” MA replied “He would, if he visualises God in everybody else, and serves God through serving mankind. Then his mind will be cleansed. But, he will fail to achieve that if he takes mankind as just humans, as in that case the vanity of self-consciousness will shroud his mind. He will develop pride and will consider himself superior because of his good deeds. This cannot but harm him.”
Many foreigners came to Vrindavan to have her darshan, One of the most distinguished visitors was Dr. Marquet, a noted scholar of comparative religion. On November 30, came the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, B. Gopala Reddy.
For two days in early December she was in Delhi, when Indira Gandhi and Gulzarilal Nanda came to pay their respects. Then she proceeded to Naimisharanya via Lucknow.
A Gujarati devotee, Manubhai Bhimani, had built a Puran-temple at Hanumantila, the highest point in Naimisharanya. The temple was formally opened and consecrated between December 9 and 11 in her presence.
From Naimisharanya, MA went to Lucknow for two days, before moving to Vindhyachal. She left Vindhyachal on December 29 for a week’s stay at Kashi.
From Kashi, MA went to Rajgir on January 6 to spend 10 days in that calm and quiet place, associated with the life of Gautam Buddha. For another two days, she stayed at a colliery at Katrasgarh near Dhanbad, owned by a Gujarati devotee, Morarjibhai Thaker. Then she went to Niramoy, the T.B. Sanatorium at Dubajpur where a Shiva temple had been opened three years ago in her presence. MA spent time with the patients, singing devotional songs to inspire them. She asked them to choose any ‘mantra’ of their liking to pray to God at least for 15 minutes everyday. MA told the patients to take the disease as the form in which God had chosen to visit their bodies and advised the physicians and nurses to consider their duty to the patients as a service to God.
MA was at Tarapeeth on the 21st for the inauguration of the newly-built Anandamayee Ashram. Then she visited Deoghar.
After some days in Kashi and Allahabad, MA reached Vrindavan at the end of February. A French saint came there and had several exclusive sessions with MA during his stay of ten days. HoIi was celebrated at Vrindavan. On March 15, the Sadhu Sangh of Vrindavan held a special meeting at the Ashram to discuss ways to preserve the spiritual atmosphere of the holy city.
The next day, she was in Kashi and moved from there after ten days to Hoshiarpur. From there, she went to Gandhwal village, the birthplace of Haribaba where a Ram-Sita-Lakshman temple was opened on April 7, the Ram Navami Day. The holy Granth Sahib was read out to mark the occasion, and a copy of the holy scripture of the Sikhs was preserved at the temple.
Two days later, she was at Hardwar for the Ardh Kumbh festival. From there she went to Hrishikesh, Kankhal and then to Kashi. Several new buildings were added to the Ashram during her stay. Dayamata, President of ‘Self Realisation Fellowship’ set up by Paramhans Yoganand, and its Vice-President Mrinalini Dutta came to see her on April 22. Yogacharya Vinay Dube came along with them. They stayed at the Ashram till the 24th, and had several sessions with MA. Others who came included Mohananand Brahmachari and Dilip Kumar Roy. MA herself went to see the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Dr. Sampumanand, who had been taken ill and was in a hospital at Kashi.
MA’s birthday had fallen on ‘Akshay Tritia’ on April 30 that year. Several new additions to the Ashram were formally opened on that day including the extended wings of the Anandamayee Seva Hospital. The function at the Hospital was attended by the Maharaja of Kashi, several distinguished citizens and leading physicians.
MA was worshipped at the new temple on May 2 and 3. The birth anniversary celebrations continued for 15 days in which one of the main attractions was ‘Raslila’ by Haribaba and his party.
On May 17, she left for Dehradun to be at Kishenpur and Raipur Ashrams. At Raipur, a Charitable Dispensary was opened in her presence, specially to serve children below 12 years of age. She had a vision one day of a child in an ethereal form. It was a little boy with long wavy hair. He was sitting by MA and singing, totally lost in devotion, his body swaying with the rhythm of the music. MA sensed that it was the same boy whom she had seen during a ‘Restraint Week’ in Kashi in 1952. But this time the words were slightly unintelligible. MA felt like putting words to the music and composed a song: ‘Nar Tan Paya, Aao Pyare, Bob Ram Nam; Ram Nam Lekar Mast Hokar Chabo Ramdham’ and so on.
The song was first sung at Kalyanvan in the presence of Haribaba. MA advised the girl inmates of the Ashram to sing the song everyday after the regular session of reading from the Ramayana. Most of the month of June was spent at Kishenpur. She left for Kankhal on 11th of July and stayed for a fortnight there, and then came back to Kishenpur on her way to Kashi.
Jhoolan festival was celebrated at Kashi from the 4th to 8th of August, Janmashtami and Nandotsav were also celebrated at Kashi.
After a short trip to Vindhyachal, MA returned to Kashi and left for an unknown destination on the 27th morning along with just 3 or 4 companions. She wanted to keep her journey plan secret but it came to be known that she had visited Lucknow, Naimisharanya, Kanpur, Mathura and Vrindavan before moving to Delhi on the 6th of. September.
The Central Education Minister, Dr. Triguna Sen, and a renowned Muslim woman-saint, Rehana Tayyabji, came to see her at Delhi. Before leaving for Dehradun on 9th September, MA spent an hour with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at her residence on her special request. Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were present on the occasion.
The Durga Puja days were spent in Dehradun. A huge pandal was set up by the Khaitans, adjacent to Kalyanvan Ashram for Durga, Lakshmi and Kali Puja celebrations as well as the 19th ‘Restraint Week’. Several eminent persons came to Dehradun for special religious discourses. From Calcutta came Prof. Tripurari Chakravarty, who elaborated on the Balmiki Ramayana everyday for three weeks continuously. During the puja days Mahamandaleshwar Swami Maheshanandji spoke on the ‘Divine Significance of the Concept of Devi Durga’. Every evening, Brahmachari Nirmalanand spoke on the significance of Durga Puja.
During the entire duration of the series of festivals spanning more than 4 weeks, MA met devotees and visitors everyday for hours in the afternoon and answered their queries. On the significance of embracing each other on the Vijayadashami Day, she said, “ It is a symbolic external expression of oneness of every being in a particular state of supreme consciousness. Vijaya means victory with special significance. Vijaya Dashami marks the beginning of the victory march along the route to spirituality”.
On November 8, MA left for Lucknow on her way to Naimisharanya for 15 days. From the 21st, a Bhagwat Week was held at Naimisharanya. Agnistava Shastri(Batuda) read the Bhagwat in Sanskrit while Swami Akhandanand Saraswati explained the significance in Hindi.
At the end of the festival MA, Haribaba, Akhandanand and a few more devotees left for Lucknow on their way to Delhi. In the capital, Haribaba and his associates had organised a religious festival at Subhash Maidan and named it “Brihat Hari Sammelan’. The function was held from 7th to 16th of December.
She came back to Kashi. On December 26, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi inaugurated three new blocks of Anandamoyee Hospital at Kashi. Indira Gandhi also spent some time with MA in seclusion.
After a week in Kashi, she was for two days in Allahabad and then moved to Naimisharanya. This place, associated with the memories of legendary sages and holy men, was particularly dear to MA. She seemed to enjoy holidays like a child, wandering around in her own pleasure.
On January 25, she was in Delhi. In February, she went out for a couple of days. to visit Kishenpur, Hardwar and Kankhal to supervise some of the constructions of Yagna houses and temples. She was back in Delhi on ,February 12.
On 15th, Shivaratri was observed at the Ashram in Delhi. Devotees sat in small circles around the Shivalinga in the main Circular Hall of the Ashram. Such circular groups were formed by devotees in the corridor also. There were a number of foreign devotees who watched with great attention the ritualistic arrangements and the conduct of the worship which were being supervised by Brahmachari Nirvananand. MA was present to encourage everybody. She always felt that these practices of jap, meditation, meeting virtuous people and discussing the writings from scriptures all have a single goal of helping the mind to concentrate on the Supreme. In her words “Life in the human form is a rare gift. Endowed with this gift if somebody cannot devote time to thinking what is the ultimate good (Eesht), then he must ponder: What am I doing here? Do I waste my life in this manner? Whosoever thinks in this manner will be blessed; one who does not is doomed for destruction”.
Among the devotees who observed the Shivaratri, that day were the Education Minister, Dr. Triguna Sen, and Subimal Dutt, ICS. The participants remained on fast for 36 hours, which was broken by the acceptance of Prasad from Ma.
On 18th, MA proceeded to Baandh where Haribaba received her in the usual ceremonial manner, complete with a procession of men, elephants, horses, and a band party. The Holi and Haribaba’s birth day were celebrated there on March 5, MA moved to Gwalior at the request of Rajamata Vijayaraje Scindia. A Shivalinga was consecrated there and a sculptured image of the late Maharaja was unveiled in her presence.
Spending a few days at Namisharanya, MA moved towards Kashi on March 17. At Hardoi railway station on the way, while waiting for her train, she suddenly developed an idea to treat the railway workers and passengers. A huge quantity of ‘Laddoos’ and fruits were brought from the vendors and distributed among the porters, vendors, railway employees and passengers. In the midst of the distribution, she started singing Kirtan spontaneously and the station wore a festive look. Milling crowds surrounded her and joined in the singing. She was still in the mood of singing when she arrived in Kashi for the Navaratri and Basanti Puja including Ram Navami, the birth-day of Lord Rama. On Navami and Dashami days, MA sang her heart out to make the atmosphere transcendental.
For a few days in April, MA went to Ranchi and Calcutta and after coming back to Kashi left for Bombay on April 25. Her birth anniversary celebrations were held in Bombay that year. In the space between her hut and the house of Bhaiya (B.K. Shah), the main organiser, was erected a huge pandal. As usual, a series of religious functions was organised to mark the anniversary celebrations. On the 4th of May, devotional songs were sung throughout the night to mark the beginning of Tithi Puja’ in the small hours of the 5th. MA was lying on a bed in a deep ‘Samadhi’. Thousands of people were present even at that hour with the crowd spilling out from the pandal into the corners of the garden and the adjacent roads
MA stayed back in Bombay till May 20 at the special prayer of the devotees. She had to visit several institutions and the houses of ardent devotees to fulfil their wishes. During her stay, religious discourses were held regularly, drawing distinguished people including Gulzarilal Nanda, a renowned Christian woman-saint, Anna Huberta, and the well known Muslim saint, Paigambar Kamu Baba. From Bombay, MA went to Pune along with Haribaba. There, the renowned singer, Hirabai Barodekar, came one day to sing in her presence. Dilip Kumar Roy also came to her serveral times. On July 26, MA left Pune for Varsi in Sholapur district near Pandharpur. She also went to Sholapur before returning to Pune on her way to Ahmedabad.
The Governor of Gujarat, Shri Sriman Narayan, came to pay his respects one day. On his invitation MA also visited the Governor’s House one day when leading citizens of Ahmedabad were also present to have the opportunity of meeting her. MA also visited “Shreyas”, a home for children who have none to look after them, run by the Governor’s wife, Madalasa Narayan, daughter of Jamanalal Bajaj. MA went to Bhavnagar on August 1 at the invitation of Maharaja and Maharani of Bhavnagar, She and her associates were accommodated in the Girls’ School which was re-named “Matri Mandir” to mark her visit there. There were two religious sessions everyday, the morning one at Neelam Bagh, the Royal Courtyard and the afternoon session at the huge ground adjacent to the local school. Thousands of people assembled to listen to the spiritual discourses at these sessions. On August 7, MA was at Bairagarh near Bhopal at the ashram built by Sir Datar Singh in 1965. This was her third visit there. To mark the occasion, the place was formally declared open as an Ashram for the use of devotees, it was decided that there would be daily readings from Sikh religious scriptures.
Moving from Bhopal, MA went to Vrindavan, then to Kashi and Dehradun where the Jhoolan festival was held in her presence. Janmashtami and Nandostav were also celebrated at Dehradun. During the time, a group of Sanyasis from the Divine Life Society at Rishikesh came to the Ashram along with 15 Sanyasis from Venezuela in South America. The entire group sang devotional songs in Sanskrit in the presence of MA. On another occasion, the American Principal of the New York Yoga School came to see her.
On September 6, MA left for Delhi on hearing the news of illness of Haribaba. She persuaded the ailing Haribaba to get himself admitted to the, Wiblingdon Nursing Home where Sir Datar Singh was also convalescing in another room. Both of them recovered within days. During MA’s stay in Delhi, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to see and spent half-an-hour with her in private. From Delhi, she went to Kashi where two consecutive Bhagwat Weeks were held. The first one was held at the Anand Jyoti temple being sponsored by the brother and widow of the late Raja of Achrol.
Gopinath Kaviraj was lying ill at a hospital of Benaras Hindu University. On MA’s advice, he left the hospital to stay at Anandamayee Ashram. A veteran Sadhika of the Ashram, Mouni MA, breathed her last on the 28th of September. Durga Puja was celebrated at Kashi at the house of a devotee, Harih Chandra Banerjee. Special arrangements were made for religious discourses and functions. Dr. Gauri Nath Shastri and Dr. Govinda Gopal Mukhopadhya addressed the gathering. Dr. Govinda Gopal, a gifted singer, also presented devotional songs. On the Vijaya Dashami Day on October 20, MA herself sang for a long time. At the end of Lakshmi Puja, MA went for a few days to Delhi and Kanpur before returning to Kashi for the KaIi Puja and Annakoot festival. On November 11, she moved to Vrindavan.
At Vrindavan, a group of 65 American devotees from the Himalayan Academy at NEVADA came to meet her along with their Indian Guru. MA talked to them for quite some time and answered their queries.
Another group of 30 Hatha Yoga students from Finland came for her darshan on November 14 along with their Indian Guru. Towards the end of November, MA was at Kashi and later went to Naimisharanya in early December. In between her stay at Vrindavan and Kashi, she made several trips to Delhi to be with Haribaba who was seriously ill.
At Naimisharanya, a Bhagwat Week and a Vishnu Yagna were observed. In the last week of December, MA left for Delhi via Kashi and brought Haribaba and some of his followers back to the Kashi Ashram.
Haribaba had been under treatment at Delhi for serious heart complications. At Kashi, his condition continued to remain critical. MA gave him almost constant company. In the night of January 2, when his condition worsened, MA was sitting by his bedside while the girl inmates of the Ashram were singing Kirtan in the corridor, wishing him recovery. The end came at 1.40 in the night. His eyes had earlier remained closed with MA gazing at him. Just before the end came, Haribaba opened his eyes to look at MA and breathed his last. The great man died at the age of 84, having led a life of high spiritual attainment. It was clear that for the last few months of his life span, Haribaba was increasingly craving for longer company with MA. She also responded, making frequent trips to Delhi to be by his side. The body was carried to Baandh for Samadhi.
At Kashi, there were many visitors for MA, noted among them being the Vice-Chancellor of Benaras Hindu University, Dr. K.L. Shrimali, the Vice-President of India, G.S. Pathak and a group of 15 German scholars.
On February 7, MA moved to Allahabad where she stayed at Satya Gopal Ashram. On the second day, there was a sudden change in her body as she came under a divine spell. The body became immobile and she had t be carried on a chair to be present at the session of religious discourses. The next morning, she became just normal when she visited the house of the Vice-President, G.S. Pathak. A separate room was always kept reserved for MA in that house. This time she went there for the Saraswati Puja.
With a short trip to Vindhyachal MA came back to Kashi and stayed there for the Shivaratri in the first week of March. She moved from Kashi on March 11 to Lucknow and went to Kanpur and Naimisharanya, before reaching Vrindavan to be present at Haribaba’s birthday anniversary.
MA was moving from place to place. From Vrindavan she came to Kashi, then went to Vindhyachal, Kashi again, Hardwar, Kankhal, Dehradun and then to Patiala on April 20.
Before leaving Kashi for Hardwar, MA’s message to Dr. Gaurinath Shastri at the railway station was : “Look, Baba, everybody is your friend, a well-wisher. Everybody possesses the same soul - the Supreme Soul. All are linked with one another; the One manifests itself in all forms. You are the father and the husband as also the son. You are everything that exists. This body is linked with everything and everything is but of One soul.”
After attending the opening ceremony of the Lakshmi Narayan temple, newly built by G.M. Mody at Patiala, MA moved towards Bairagarh near Bhopab via Delhi. Her birthday was celebrated at Bairagarh Ashram that year. Among the visitors there were the Governor of Madhya Pradesh K.C. Reddy and Several Ministers of the State.
From Bhopal, MA went to Delhi and then to Kankhal, where Akshay Tritia worship was held. Indira Gandhi, G.S. Pathak and Gulzanlal Nanda were among the distinguished visitors who went for her darshan there. Her birth anniversary celebrations were held at Kankhal.
On May 9, she left for Bombay on her way to Poona where the birth anniversary celebrations were already in progress since the 3rd of the month. As usual, a series of functions were organised with the participation of many holy men from other parts of India. The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, came to see her one day.
As Didima (MA’s mother) was indisposed, MA decided to cancel her other programmes in Maharashtra and stayed back in Poona till the end of June. On July 2, she went to Miraj, some 140 miles off Poona, and then to Nipani where thousands of people assembled to accord her a memorable reception. She came back to Miraj via Kolhapur for a few days stay. The noted singer, Vinayak Rao Patwardhan, came one day to sing in her presence.
After a week’s stay at Kashi, MA and Didima moved towards Kankhal and Hardwar on July 29th. Early August, a Bhagwat Week was held at Hardwar, mainly sponsored by Sitaram Jaipuria. MA spent the nights at Kankhal Ashram, known as Shantiniketan, which was formally transferred on August 7 as Anandmayee Ashram by the former owner of the property. The next day, while the episode of Sri Krishna’s birth was being narrated at the Hardwar function, MA noticed an unusual glow on the face of Didima. That night, she stayed back at Hardwar. At one in the night, Didima’s condition became serious. She found it difficult to breathe. MA sat by her to affectionately caress her body. But the condition did not show any signs of improvement. Didima suddenly opened her eyes, tried to raise her hands in salutation to MA looking at her and then breathed her last.
The body was taken to Kankhal next day for final Samadhi at the Ashram garden. Several religious functions were held at Hardwar and Kankhal seeking peace for the departed soul. During one of these, MA had a meeting with Swami Vishnudevanand, Sanyas-Guru of Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Chetan Gin.
After Janmashtami and Nandotsav at Hardwar, MA was on the move, visiting Dehradun, Delhi and Vrindavan, where she attended a Bhagwat Week. Then she went to Gwalior at the invitation of Vijay Raje Scindia. A civic reception was accorded to her and Akhandanandji at the Gwalior Chamber of Commerce. A Bhagwat Week was also held at Gwalior.
MA took rest for a few days at Solan. Devotees, of course, came to her seeking message and guidance. A lady, whose mind was seriously disturbed was told “It is not correct to say that somebody else has forced you to lose control over yourself. Bring your own will power into play and you will find that you are in control of whatever is happening inside your mind.”
From Solan she came to Delhi in late September. Durga Puja was celebrated at the Delhi Ashram with unprecedented enthusiasm. Devotional songs were sung by Chhabi Bandopadhyaya. Pushpadi, Brahmachari Brahmananda and others. MA herself sang with divine emotion on the Navami and Dashami days. Those who came for her darshan included Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Vice-President G.S.Pathak, Acharya Kripalani, Sucheta Kripalani, Nijalingappa, Gulzarilal Nanda, Dr. Triguna Sen, K.K. Shah and many others.
MA was on the move again. Three days were spent at Sachchidanand Ashram at Hoshiarpur. On October 19, she was at Jallandhar Savitri Devi Ashram. Next day, she was in Delhi where M.S.SubhaIakshmi came to sing in her presence. After some days at Vrindavan, she was back in Delhi for Kali Puja and Annakoot. Then she went to Suktal where a ‘Restraint Week’ was specially organised by Vishnu Ashram Maharaj, who had made the entire Ashram premises available for the function, himself shifting to a hut nearby.
From Suktal, MA went to Kanpur via Delhi to fulfil the wishes of Padampat Singhania who desired her presence at a Bhagwat Parayan festival organised by him from November 15 to 29.
The first week of December was spent at Kashi.
Till the 16th, she was at Hardwar and Dehradun before returning to Kashi. Sitaramdas Onkarnath came to see her there on the 21st. Five days later, MA was on her way to Ranchi.
MA was back in Kashi on January 4 to stay for a fortnight. During this period, the Canadian Prime Minister, P.E. Trudeau, came to Kashi for her darshan along with the Canadian High Commissioner James George. Prime Minister Trudeau found solace in MA’s answers to certain points of Philosophy. A group of 25 Brazilians of French origin came to see her on the 16th. Also came the Vice-Chancellor of Benaras Hindu University Dr. K.L. Shrimali.
MA moved to Allahabad on the 19th for the Ardh Kumbh Mela, where she stayed till February 3. Spending a week at Kashi she went to Hardwar and Dehradun. She was at Baandh in March for the opening of Haribaba’s Samadhi temple. Till the last week of April she was mainly in the Hardwar-Dehradun region, and then came back to Kashi for her 75th birthday celebrations.
The occasion was observed on a grand scale with numerous functions filling the days of the entire duration of celebrations. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Kamlapati Tripathi opened on May 7 a ‘Satsang’ week of religious discourses which attracted holy men from far and near. A special worship was offered to the reigning deities at the different temples of Varanasi to mark the birth anniversary. On 14th May, the Tithi-Puja was held. At three in the night MA was carried in a silver palanquin to the huge pandal in a procession, complete with singers and musicians. As she was seated at the special place reserved for her, MA Covered her entire body with a cloth and passed into a deep samadhi. Worship, prayer and meditation went on but she lay still till the next afternoon, when she was moved to her room with difficulty. She came Out of the state partially at around ten iii the night.
At the end of the anniversary celebrations. MA went to Vrindavan and Delhi for a few days. She was at Kashi till June 9, when she moved to Hardwar.
Hardwar Dehradun region. The death anniversary of Didima was observed at Kankhal on July 29. Jap, Kirtan singing, observance of silence and meditation marked the occasion.
Coinciding with the time of Didima’s passing away, a deep meditation was observed for half-an-hour at quarter past one in the night. Meditation was particularly dear to MA. She once observed ‘ Meditation touches your inner sense. It leaves a mark, the way a touch of fire leaves a sign. It helps to drive away dangers and, as a result, one either has the fire of renunciation burning within or gets melted in devotion. Material possession loses its charm and one feels detached. One feels uninterested in mundane discussions which hold no attraction and gradually become painful.”
The days of Jhoolan, Janmashtami, Nandotsav - all were spent in Dehradun.. Meanwhile, a torch from the sacred fire brought to Kashi from Dacca was brought to Kalyanvan for installation of the fire at an altar, specially built for the purpose at a place near Ram Mandir where Haribaba used to hold spiritual discourses.
Durga Puja was celebrated at the wide courtyard of the house of the Khaitans. Prof. Tripurari Chakrabarty spoke everyday of the festival for one hour on the Valmiki Ramayan. One day, Sitaramdas Onkamath visited the Puja pandal. On Mahashtami day, a silver replica of the Vishnu-in-Eternal-Rest idol of the Padmanabha temple at Trivandrum was installed at Kalyanvan.
Towards the end of September, MA went to Suktal to attend a Srimad Bhagwat Parayan festival at the invitation of Vishnu Ashramji. Then she spent about a week in Kashi to return to Dehradun in the middle of October for Kali Puja and Annakoot.
On October 21, MA and a large group of devotees left for Vrindavan via Delhi to attend the 22nd ‘Restraint Week’. A large number of foreign devotees joined the ‘Sanyam Saptah’ at Vrindavan that year. Even after the conclusion of the week, some 30 to 40 foreign devotees used to come to MA everyday during her stay. Even after the conclusion of the week, some 30 to 40 foreign devotees used to come to MA everyday during her stay.
MA left for Jaipur on November 6 to oversee the progress of sculpting an image of Didima, to be installed at her Samadhi at Kankhal. For a few days, she was in Dehradun before leaving for Kashi and then to Bairagarh Ashram. A Bhagwat Week held there was attended by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and many distinguished persons.
Resting for a few days at Vindhyachal, MA returned to Kashi on December 6. She was at Kanpur from the 10th to 28th to attend a ‘Bhagwat Parayan’ festival organised by the Singhanias. There, on the 21st when the episode of Sri Krishna’s birth was being narrated, hundreds of devotees were thrilled to see MA, sitting on the dais, moving into a divine state of emotion. She got up to lie prostrate before the Srikrishna image and then rolled and rolled over the ground in total abandon. MA left Kanpur on December 30 for Kashi for a few days.
On January 7, MA and 46 of her followers, left for Madras from Delhi, to begin her fourth tour of South India. The trip was at the special invitation of Maharaja of Travancore who sought her presence at the ‘Laksha Deepam’ ( a hundred thousand lamps) festival, held every six years. At Madras, MA was the guest of the noted singer M.S. Subbalakshmi and her husband T. Sadasivan. MA and her party were received at the Railway Station by the couple, the Governor of Tamilnadu, Mrs. Talyarkhan, and many other distinguished persons. The hosts had built a wooden hut at the spacious lawn of their palatial house, especially for MA. The local newspapers had carried the news of her arrival and stay in Madras. Thousands of citizens came to have her darshan at the lawn, where Subhalakshmi presented song after song as an offering to MA.
Those, who came to see her at Madras included the Governor and his family, two daughters of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Rukmini Devi Arundale and many others. The Sadasivan family held a special worship of MA on the day of her departure for Kerala.
The younger brother of the Raja of Travancore received MA at Angamala station and took the party to Kaladi, the birthplace of Shankaracharya, before escorting them to the royal palace: The Rani did the ‘Aarti’ and worship to welcome MA at the playing of ‘Sehnai’ and chanting from the Vedas. The Maharaja, the elder brother of the Raja, was a bachelor and lived separately in another place pursuing his spiritual ‘sadhana’. He came with his mother for a darshan on January 11.
The Rani herself took MA for a visit to the Padmanabh temple and later in the night played on the Veena in her presence. Next day, January 13, was Makar Sankranti, the occasion for the Laksha Deepam in the evening. As prayed by the Rani, MA herself sang devotional songs in the morning. In the evening they witnessed the memorable lamp festival. Thousands upon thousands of oil lamps in earthen pots burned in a pattern both inside and outside the temple and in the courtyard to present a dazzling spectacle. At night, the Royal family organised a worship of MA.
Her next stop was at Poona where she attended a Bhagwat Week organised in memory of an ardent devotee Amrita Vasudev. After a three-day stay at Bombay MA reached Jaipur on February 5. Three days later, she left for Delhi and then reached Dehradun on February 15.
After a fortnight in the Dehradun region, MA went to Kashi. There, on March 12, a large group of 55 French men and women, came to see her. On 26th came Vice-President G.S. Pathak, the UP Governor, B. Gopala Reddy and a group of senior Government officials. Her stay in Kashi this time was marked by a good number of religious programmes including Basanti Puja, Annapurna Puja and opening of a new Shiva temple.
After a short trip to Calcutta, MA went to Delhi and then to Kurukshetra on March 31. Hundreds of people greeted her, blowing conch-shells and showering flowers. She was welcomed there by the Mahant of Nirvani Akhara and the Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University. Holy men in the region assembled for a session of religious discourses at a pandal set up by the lake. She was then taken to the sites associated with the legendary great war of the epic days. One was the Shiva temple at Sthaneswar, where Lord Srikrishna performed a worship before the war began. MA went in to pour water over the Shivalinga, smeared it with sandalwood paste, offered ‘Bilwa’ leaves, and then slowly laid her head on the Shivalinga to caress it tenderly. She was visibly lost in her own mood. Her followers were charmed and surprised as none had seen her before worshipping any deity in that manner. She also visited Jyotishwar, where Lord Sriknshna gave the messages of the Gita to Arjun.
From Kurukshetra, MA went to Ghaziabad before returning to Dehradun. Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi came one day and spent about an hour with her.
Towards the end of April MA was in Delhi, after a few days stay at Kashi and Allahabad. At the Delhi Ashram, a new structure had been erected for her stay. Her room was surrounded by corridors. The place was formally inaugurated on May 2 to coincide with her birthday.
The birthday anniversary celebrations were held in Delhi from May 23 following a scheduled programme. Indira Gandhi came one day to seek her blessings for the welfare of the nation. Religious discourses, reading from scriptures and epics, devotional songs and plays on the life of saints marked the celebrations. There was a special session of meditation on May 31 to mark the Tithi Puja.
In early June, MA moved to Bombay and Poona. There were several functions in Poona during the entire month of July, Guru Poornima was on the 26th when hundreds of devotees from Maharashtra and Gujarat came for her darshan.
Early August MA was in a mood to spend some days without a plan, moving here and there without a fixed destination. For three days she remained almost incognito at a temple in Bombay. She came back to Poona for the Jhoolan festival, Janmashtami and Nartdotsav. On September 4, MA was on her way to Ahmedabad via Bombay, at the request of Madalasa
Ben, wife of the Governor of Gujarat.
A guest house in the lawns of the Governor’s House had been kept ready for her stay. The way the Governor and his wife treated her is usually reserved for a State guest. The couple went to the Railway station to receive her and then gave her a reception at the Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan. Over a hundred distinguished citizens attended the reception. Among those present was the Central Finance Minister, Sh. Y.B. Chavan. In the afternoon, a child welfare institution sponsored by Madalasa Ben - Sishu Mangal Kalyan - was inaugurated in MA’s presence. On everybody’s insistence, she gave a symbolic message “God is creation, preservation and destruction; the Lord lives wherever there is living being; every woman represents Gauri (Durga); children are gods; service to virgin girls”.
In the evening, there was a huge public meeting in the lawns of Raj Bhavan. Newspapers had earlier reported about her arrival and the time for her darshan. Over four thousand persons, representing all religions and creed, assembled at the meeting for her darshan. Only MA sat on the dais while everybody else, including the Governor and his family, sat on the lawn. Devotional songs were presented by leading artists of Gujarat, the girl inmates of the Ashram and MA herself.
On the 7th morning, professors and the students from the colleges and University in Ahmedabad had a meeting with MA at Raj Bhavan. MA declared there: “There is only one God for every sect, the way the same man is seen as a father, son or husband by different people. The human life is a rare gift. Only the human mind among all living creatures possesses the power to feel divinity. Everybody should strive to fulfil this aim of human existence; it does not matter to which race, religion or sect one may belong”.
The Governor and the entire State Government bade her farewell at the station. The Governor was totally devoted to MA and his desire was that every resident of the State should receive MA’s blessings. Her journey schedule had been made known in advance through newspapers. As a result, huge crowds waited at every station where the train carrying MA stopped on its way.
By September 11, MA was at Hardwar, where she took rest for about a week. Then she moved to Kashi. After short stays at Kashi and Rajgir, MA moved to her favourite place Naimisharanya. For the past 13 months, MA had been observing near silence, speaking only when she had to. At Naimisharanya she came out of that period, talking freely and with abandon.
Durga Puja was celebrated at the sylvan surroundings of Naimisharanya. Bereft of pomp and grandeur of a big city Naimisharanya offered a different setting, but still attracted hundreds of devotees from far corners of the country to attend the Puja celebrations.
From Naimisharanya, she moved to Kankhal on November 8. The 23rd ‘Self-Restraint Week’ was held from the 13th of November at Suratgiri Bangla (Ashram). The huge hall of the Ashram could easily accommodate more than eight hundred people. There were other buildings for the stay of the devotees. Among those who took the vow to observe the self-discipline week were 30 foreigners, mostly from the United States; the others were from France, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. To each of them MA presented a copy of the Bhagwat Gita and a wrapper cloth with God’s name printed on it (Namabali). MA used to be present for about 10 hours everyday at the concourse to encourage the participants. For half-an-hour everyday, she also answered queries of the devotees.
On November 24, MA left Hardwar for Dehradun, Lucknow and Kanpur. The Central Minister of Foreign Trade, Mr. L.N. Mishra, came for her darshan at Kanpur. She then moved to Kashi. The UP Chief Minister, Kamalapati Tripathi, came to Kashi Ashram on December 6 for the release of a book ‘Tantra Sahitya’ written by Gopinath Kaviraj. The writer was felicitated at a function at Gopal temple in the presence of MA. From 7th a Bhagwat Week was observed. This was organised by an ardent devotee, Dr. Premlata Srivastava, in memory of her departed father. During this period the world famous Sitarist, Ravi Shankar, came twice to the Ashram to have a darshan of MA. On December 21, MA moved to Kanpur where a religious festival was organised by the Singhanias on a grand scale.
The first month of the year was spent mainly in North India as MA had short stays at Kanpur, Delhi, Naimisharanya and Kashi. In early February, she was in Naimisharanya for a special function on the 4th to install the four volumes of the Vedas as deities at the Puran temple. This was organised by a veteran promoter of the study of the Vedas, the blind Sanyasi Gangeshwaranandji. As the holy scriptures were carried in a procession, MA sang in praise of the Vedas.
On February 10, MA was in Poona for a Bhagwat Week. After short stays at Mahabalshwar and Bombay, she reached Ahmedabad on the 25th. A sea of people literally flooded Ahmedabad Railway Station to receive her. MA went to the studio of Kantibhai Patel who was sculpting an image of Didima. Along with the Governor’s wife, Madalasa Ben, she made a trip to Bhavnagar also.
MA was back in Kankhal in early March for the Shivaratri festival. On the 5th, she took an east-bound train from Hardwar to leave for an unknown destination. It was later known that she had gone to Deoghar and after a week reached Calcutta. On her way to the Agarpara Ashram, she visited some of the devotees unannounced. They had been passing through troubled days and had been praying in their hearts for MA’s blessings. MA consoled them by saying, “This body” would suggest just one cure for every ailment : God. Have faith in Him, depend on Him, accept whatever is ordained by Him. Consider your efforts as a task assigned by Him. Keep company of virtuous people and think of God with every breath. Conduct yourself with the knowledge that He is around you. Leave all your burden to Him. He will take care and, then you will find that your problems are over”.
A TB Hospital, Niramay, set up by Dr. Gunendra Narayan Roy was inaugurated at Jadavpur in her presence. M.S. Subhalakshmi came from Madras to sing before her during her stay in Calcutta. MA went to see Aparna Devi, daughter of Chittaranjn Das, who was indisposed.
Holi in the middle of March was celebrated at Ghaziabad at the invitation of the Jaipurias. A group of 130 Kirtan singers from West Bengal went there for the occasion. A Kirtan-singing procession went round the city.
She was on the move again, visiting Delhi, Kashi, Vindhyachal, Allahabad, Jhusi, Kashi and Naimisharanya and then reaching Kankhal on April 11, the Ram Navami Day.
The foundation stone for an extension of the Kankhal Ashram was laid on April 13. The same day, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to see her. Next day was the Bengali New Year Day. Her message on the occasion was: “Man is compelled to seek the path of spiritualism if he wants to achieve his goal. He has to be steadfast in his resolve so that he attains a state when he is blessed with realisation of divinity in multifarious forms.”
Moving out on the 16th, MA visited Kashi, Lucknow and Kanpur before spending a few days in the quiet surroundings of Naimisharanya.
She came back to the Dehradun - Hardwar region towards the end of the month. Her birth anniversary celebrations began at Kankhal on May 2. The whole of that night was spent by MA out in the open on a wooden cot placed before the Samadhi of Didima. She lay still without uttering a word. The entire duration of the celebrations till the Tithi Puja was observed at the Ashram with solemnity.
On May 9, MA and a large number of followers, left for Uttarkashi. Hundreds of devotees from far off places assembled there seeking her company. They included the younger brother of the Raja of Travancore, and the noted singer M.S. Subhalakshmi. The birth anniversary celebrations formally started there from the 14th. The entire programme was supervised by Mahamandaleshwar Vidyanandji.
During ‘Tithi Puja’, MA as usual entered into a deep samadhi, and came out of that state only in the afternoon of next day.
Till June 19, MA stayed in the Ashrams at Kankhal and Dehradun except for a short trip to Suktal. Then she left for Calcutta for two days, before taking a week’s rest at Naimisharanya.
Suddenly, on July 4, she left Naimisharanya for an unknown destination and as suddenly reappeared at a devotee’s house at Dehradun on the 8th and stayed in the region for another week.
On the 16th, Vice-President G.S. Pathak came with his family for her darshan. The same night, MA accompanied them on their return journey to Delhi and then proceeded to Bombay and Poona. A week later, she left for Rajgir to spend a few days away from the crowd.
From Rajgir she went to Ranchi to be present at the Jhoolan festival from August 9 to 14. She visited the Yogada Satsang Society, and the Adult Education Centres run by Ramakrishna Mission at Ranchi.
During Janmashtami, MA was in Delhi. The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, paid a visit to the Delhi Ashram to have her darshan.
Towards the end of August, MA moved to Kankhal and remained in the Hardwar-Dehradun region for some time. She had occasional moods of leaving one Ashram for another without announcement and tried at times to spend some days without disclosing her whereabouts. Anyway, she was at Hardwar at the end of September for the ensuing Durga Puja celebrations, beginning from October 2.
On the first of the month, the Head of the “Anubhav School of Enlightenment” of California, Mr Burner came to meet her along with 15 of his students. Next day came Swami Satyananda, a Sannyasini, French by birth. She was running two Yoga schools in France. Burner and his students stayed for the entire duration of Durga Puja during which a number of religious functions and spiritual discourses were held. MA herself sang on the Vijaya Dashami Day.
After Lakshmi Puja, MA went for a few days to Naimisharanya before reaching Vrindavan for Kali Puja and Annakoot. The 24th ‘Restraint Mahabrat’ was held at Vrindavan from November 3 to 10. A record .number of more than 500 devotees took the vow to observe the discipline that year. The concluding day’s assemblage was addressed by a young American Sannyasi, Swami Nirmalanand Gin. He was running an Ashram at Oklahoma under the banner of “Shri Anandamayee Monastery”, and came to India with ten Brahmacharis to attend the “Mahabrat”.
At the end of the session every day, MA gave time to the participants to talk to her. One day, she begged of everybody that each one should set apart a fixed time everyday to remember God. She desired that everyone should pray at least once a day with heart and soul and say “Oh Lord, I belong to You, only You can give me shelter. Have mercy on me, show me the way to reach You.”
MA was on the move at the end of the week. She went to Delhi. Vindhyachal, Kashi, Allahabad and then to Kanpur to attend a fortnight-long Gita Jayanti organised by the Singhanias. On the fifth day of the festival, a special worship was held for the Bhagwat Gita, when the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram was present.
The Gita Jayanti and the follow-up celebrations went till the 10th of December, after which MA went to Bithur on the bank of the Ganga, on the other side of which was the legendary hermitage of Valmiki.
The remaining days of the year were spent at Kanpur, Kashi, Naini, Vindhyachal, Lucknow and Naimisharanya as MA moved from place to place.
MA spent about a fortnight in the peaceful woods of the Naimisharanya before moving to Kankhal and Dehradun. Just two days later, she boarded a Howrah-bound train from Hardwar without disclosing her destination. She got down at Lucknow and went to Kanpur, to stay back there till the 22nd with the Jaipurias. From Kanpur she came back to Delhi where Saraswati Puja was held in her presence. The same afternoon MA went to the Prime Minister’s House to see Indira Gandhi who was lying ill and could not attend the Puja at the Delhi Ashram.
There was an endless stream of visitors while she was in Delhi. One of the noted foreign visitors was a German Professor, Dr. Graf Carlheim Von Durkeheim. For the past 25 years he had been running a Centre for spiritual studies at Black Forest in Germany. He was immensely pleased with his discussions with MA and said he would carry her valuable instructions for his disciples in Germany. In the first week of February, MA returned to Kankhal. The entire Hardwar region had started receiving millions of visitors for the ensuing Poorna Kumbha. The first procession of saints and sages was taken out on February 11, which started from Jawalapur and ended at the fair ground of Nirvani Akhara near the Ramakrishna Mission at Kankhal. MA was taken in procession on a well-designed throne made of gold and silver. The throne was placed on a decorated cart which was drawn in turns by groups of men and women devotees as thousands of onlookers sang her glory.
On February 20, Shivratri was observed. It was attended by devotees coming from far off places. Those, who had taken the vow to observe the occasion, sat in circular groups at the courtyard of the Shiva temple at Kankhal while the worship was conducted by Brahmachari Nirvananand.
On the 21st, MA and a large group of followers moved towards Calcutta. She stayed at a house in the Jodhpur Park area, built, especially for her by a devotee. A Bhagwat Week was held at a pandal erected close to the House. Renowned scholars addressed the gathering everyday.
On Dol Poornima Day, MA joined a procession taken out by devotees of the Vaishnav sect. She was taken in an open motor vehicle to Deshapriya Park where she sang a few devotional songs at the request of the devotees. Sitaramdas Onkarnath was present at the function.
She was on the move on March 9, touching Chandan Nagar, Deoghar, Gaya and Naimisharanya before returning to Kankhal ( on the 20th. There was a specially auspicious day bathing at Kumbha Mela on the 23rd. She was again taken in a procession to the bathing ghat at Har-ki-paui. She went down to the river to touch the water.
From the beginning of April, Work was in progress to give final touches to Didima’s Samadhi Mandir and installation of her image. The sculpted image was consecrated on April 14. Leading spiritual figures of Hardwar and Holy men from other parts of India were present. The day coincided with the main bathing day for the Poorna-Kumbh.
On the 25th, another marble image of Didima (Muktanand Giri) was installed at the Kashi Ashram in MA’s presence.
Towards the end of April, MA left for Bombay where her birth anniversary was celebrated from May 3 to 10 at Andheri. On the 11th she moved to Poona where she stayed till the third week of June. For quite a few days Narendra Brahmachari of Deoghar and Mahamandaleshwar Swami Prakashanandji kept her company in Poona. During her stay, a Bhagwat Week was also held from May 28.
The singer-Saint Dilip Kumar Roy and his disciple Indira Devi came to see her on a number of occasions. The nuns of the Christian Prem Seva Ashram of Poona also came to see her and MA also paid a visit to the Christian Ashram at their request. On the Rath Yatra Day in June, the devotees at Pune persuaded MA to sit on the chariot carrying the deities which they pulled with great delight. MA spent the last week of June in Bombay. One day, she attended a conference on Vedanta at ‘Sanyas Ashram. Early July, she was at Kankhal.
On the sixth she took a train at Hardwar without disclosing her destination. It turned out to be Naimisharanya, where she spent a few days before returning to Kankhal via Kashi on the 18th.
The “Samadhi” Day of Didima was observed on the 25th with a day-long programme of worship, kirtan and religious discourses. A special meditation session was arranged at the precise hour of her passing away. MA sat in meditation in the room, where Didima breathed her last, till hours past midnight.
During Jhoolan festival MA was in Kashi. After a short trip to Vindhyachal, she went to Rajgir on August 5. A German devotee Robert Bosch accompanied MA from Kashi to Vindhyachal and Rajgir. He and a French devotee Arnaud Desjardins had the privilege of spending long hours with MA at Rajgir. Janmashtami and Nandotsav were also celebrated there.
The second half of August was spent in Ranchi where special session on reading from the Bhagwat was held at the initiative of Dandiswamy Bhagabatanandji. The significance of the scripture was explained by him, Brahmachari Nirmalanand and Dr. Gobinda Gopal Mukhopadhyaya. Devotional songs were presented by Chhabi Bandopadhyaya and Madhuri Mukhopadhyaya, wife of Dr. Gobinda Gopal.
On September 1, MA boarded a train at Dhanbad, again keeping her plans secret. She was at Naimisharanya nine days later, at Kankhal on the 13th and then at Vrindavan on the 16th to stay there till the end of the month, during which a Bhagwat Week was observed. In the early morning of the Radha ashtami day, September 23rd, an old devotee Jitendra Nath Dutt expired at Vrindavan. Ma said he followed Bhaiji as example to achieve his goal.
The next four weeks were spent in the Hardwar area, but her movements were unpredictable, the days being divided between the Kankhal Ashram and the Jaipuria’s House at Hardwar. Durga Puja was celebrated at the Ashram with usual enthusiasm.
For ten days, MA took rest at Naimisharanya and then went to Delhi for the Kali Puja. Later, she went to Ramtirth Ashram on November 21, after a few days stay in Dehradun. The 25th ‘Sanyam Mahabrat’ was observed at that lovely mountain resort, a few miles off Dehradun. A galaxy of Holy men including Swami Govindprakashji Maharaj, Swami Vidyanandji and Swami Brahmanandji attended the week and gave religious discourses. MA was not keeping well; yet she gave time everyday to answer queries from devotees. After a community meditation on the last day of the week, MA sang a few songs.
For a day MA stayed at Kishenpur Ashram. There talking to Ashramites MA advised them, “ Do not ever try to find defects in others; the effort only clears the path of your own downfall.”
The first three weeks of December MA spent in Kanpur. The Jaipurias had arranged a reading of the complete Ramayana, by a well-known scholar, Pandit AtuI Krishna Goswamy, explaining the significance of the episodes in two sessions everyday.
From the 10th, she was at the Ashram set up by Padampat Singhania near the Radha Krishna temple. For some years in every December, religious congregation was being held at the Ashram. MA attended the sessions regularly till these ended on the 21st.
From Kanpur, she went to Lucknow. The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Dr. M. Chenna Reddy, received her, and later accompanied her to Naimisharanya, where MA stayed back for some days.
MA’s company was increasingly being sought by her followers whose ranks were swelling all the time. The demands were overwhelming and she had to move from place to place to fulfil the wishes of devotees.
In the first fortnight of January, MA was in Naimisharanya. Everyday, there were readings from Bhagwat in the morning religious gatherings, followed by reading from the Guru Granth Sahib by a sikh devotee.
A place for Yagna was set up in the Ashram where the sacred fire was lit on January 14. It is the same fire preserved from the days of the KaIi Puja in 1926 at Dacca and was being installed at the Anandamayee Ashrams in different parts of the country. The function was attended, among others, by the UP Governor, Dr. Chenna Reddy.
She was on the move again. Remaining days of January was spent at Vrindavan and Mathura. In February she was in Delhi, Dehradun and Delhi again. A new house had been built at Nitibagh by G.s. Pathak, the first floor of which had been reserved exclusively for the use of MA. She was present on the Saraswati Puja Day, both at the Nitibagh House and Kalkaji
In March she was in Allahabad, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Gondal(at the invitation of the Royal family), Porbandar, Rajkot, Ahmedabad again, Bombay again, Delhi, Moradabad and Naimisharanya. Everywhere she was received by a large number of devotees. After a week’s stay in Naimisharanya MA went to Kankhal for the first anniversary of the Samadhi Mandir of Didima. She started for Naimisharanya again on the 16th night.
The Akshaya Tritia Day falling on the 14th May had been fixed for the opening of a temple devoted to a symbolic image of the ‘Spirit of the Legends’ (Puran Purush). The occasion was planned to be celebrated in a grand manner. There was a history behind the decision to set up the temple. The father of a distinguished scholar of Kashi Raj Rajeshwar Shastri, used to offer his worships regularly on a portrait of ‘Puran Purush’. This was noticed by Swamy Akhandanand Saraswati, who printed the portrait in his newspaper ‘Chintamani’. When he saw the Puran temple at Naimisharanya in 1968, he suggested to MA that an image of Puran Purush might be installed at the temple. The suggestion was accepted and a new temple devoted to ‘Puran Purush’ was built adjacent to the existing Puran temple. As far as it is known, it is the only temple devoted to ‘Puran Purush’ in the world. The ‘Puran Purush’ is conceived as the symbol of the essence of the totality of the Puranas.
The image was consecrated in an open space on the 14th morning and then taken in a procession accompanied by Kirtan singing. The processionists covered their heads with bright yellow kerchiefs given by MA. At night, the image was worshiped with a lakh and twenty five thousand small torches. These were kept in five big earthen containers. Each container had five bundles and each bundle consisted of 25 thousand thin wicks, each emitting a flame. After the ‘Aarti’, the flames were kept outside the temple.
May 16 was the concluding day of a Bhagwat Week started earlier. It also coincided with the birth day of Adi Shankaracharya, both the occasions were celebrated with due reverence.
On the 19th, MA moved out on her way to Calcutta via J-Iardoi. Her birth anniversary was celebrated at Agarpara Ashram in the last week of May as MA stepped into her BOth year. A commemorative volume was published to mark the occasion.
On June 10, MA moved towards Assam. She visited the Kamakhya temple on the 12th and next day arrived in Dibrugarh to a tumultuous welcome. After a trip to Tinsukia, she came back to Kashi on the 21st and then moved to Naimisharanya for a few days’ rest. In the middle of July, she was in Kankhal. On the 29th she suddenly left for an unknown destination along with a handful of companions: She was next seen at the Kishenpur Ashram 10 days later when it became known that she had spent the earlier period at Suktal. From August 10, MA was at Kankhal till the 2nd of next month. Jhoolan and Janmashtami were celebrated at Kankhal.
As she reached Delhi from Kankhal she received the news of the serious illness of Gurupriya Didi then at Poona. MA immediately left for Poona and brought Didi back to Delhi for specialised treatment. Then she moved to Vrindavan to attend a Bhagwat Week sponsored by the Raja and Rani of Akhraul from the 13th. Later, she moved to Naimisharanya via Delhi for a few days’ rest.
It had earlier been decided that she would be present at the Durga Puja celebrations at Uttar Kashi that year. But as a landslide had blocked the road to Uttar Kashi, she decided to spend the Durga Puja days at Kashi. Several eminent persons came to see her at Kashi. They included Sitaramdas Onkarnath, noted singer Girija Devi, Pandit Kamalapati Tripathi and- his brother, Dr. Purnapati Tripathi, who was Vice-Chancellor of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University and the noted writer, Asha Puma Devi. MA went to Littarkashi at the end of the month where Kali Puja and Annakoot were celebrated. The sacred fire from Dacca which was being installed at different Ashrams was brought to Uttarkashi Ashram also for preservation.
MA reached Kanpur for the 26th ‘Sanyam Mahabrat’ scheduled to start from November 10. Earlier she stopped for a while in Delhi to see Gurupriya who was under treatment. M.S. Subhalakshmi and Indira Gandhi called on her while she was in Delhi.
The Sanyam Mahabrat in Kanpur was a grand success with the participation of a large number of devotees including several from foreign countries. MA sang on three days during the week. Everyday, she had to answer queries from the devotees. One of them asked about the significance of prayer and MA answered, “It is God who makes you pray. It is God who listens to your prayer. Everything is Him and there is just one God. It is something like when you say “It is me when I touch your hair and give the same answer If I touch your finger or your leg. The fact is, you are everywhere”.
Till the middle of December, she travelled to Delhi, Kanpur, Kankhal and Kashi and again disappeared from public view on the 18th for four days. Actually, she had spent that period at some other place at Kashi itself. On the 24th night, Christmas eve was celebrated at Anandamayee Ashram in her presence. The hall of the Gopal temple was beautifully decorated by some of the Christian devotees. It was complete with a Christmas tree. The Christian devotees made their offerings to MA and adorned her with flower ornaments. Christmas carol was sung at- that time, which was followed by an “Aarati’ of MA. The happy celebration ended with MA distributing prasad to everybody. On 27th again, she left Kashi for an unknown destination and perhaps spent the time at Allahabad and Naini.
The greater part of January was spent by MA at Naimisharanya. In between, she visited Kashi, Delhi, Kankhal and Modinagar. At Delhi, Indira Gandhi came to pay her respects. Swami Sachchidanand and forty of his American disciples also came to see her at Delhi.
The first part of February was spent in Kashi. On the 15th, she was present on the opening day of the annual ‘Tapasya Brat’ (akin to Sanyam Mahabrat) at Narendra Brahmachari’s Ashram at Deoghar.
The whole of March MA was at Kankhal where she had earlier arrived on February 23 after a short stay at Naimisharanya. Two Americans who had become Brahrnacharis moved into a new hut close to the Ashram at Kankhal. Twelve virgins, including one from America, were offered worship on the occasion. Those, who called on MA at Kankhal included Swami Chidanandji, Head of Sivananda Ashram and some of his followers, and Swami Madhavaiiandji with some devotees from the same Ashram. Shivaratri and Holi were celebrated at Kankhal.
Navaratri festival started from March 31, Narendra Brahmachari and 150 of his followers came from Deoghar to attend the Annapurna Puja from April 7 to 9. A Bhagwat Week started there three days later.
A German priest and professor, Father Anomia Lassaley, who had been living in Japan for the past 46 years, came to meet MA on the 20th. He met her twice, and later this learned man declared, “What MA has been doing to bring peace is far more effective than the combined efforts of all politicians and peace-workers of the world”.
Two days later, MA moved to Naimsharanya where her birth anniversary celebrations began on May 2 coinciding with the first anniversary of the opening of the Puran-Purush temple.
She left for Kashi on May 4 on receiving news of serious illness of Gopinath Kaviraj, and then proceeded to Kankhal.
A small drama-group led by Dr. Rama Chowdhury staged a few episodes of the life of Ramkrishna in Sanskrit. With them came the famous Baul singer, Puma Das Baul to present memorable songs at the Kankhal Ashram.
From May 10 to 18, MA’s birth anniversary was formally celebrated at Kankhal. One day, a devotee asked her the definition of a ‘family based on religion’ in the context of the present day world. She replied, “One that is holding everything together and guiding them to God is religion. A family which takes up activities which help attain the road to the Supreme is known as a family of religion”.
MA was seated on a small wooden platform, built a few feet above the water level., as priests made their offering to the Ganga to the accompaniment of chanting from the Vedas. MA sat like the Goddess in person.
Several functions marked the birth anniversary celebrations. One day, 10 Mahamandaleshwars and many saints were treated at the Kankhal Ashram. The next day worship was performed on 100 virgins. On the Buddha Purnima Day, there was Kirtan singing throughout the night by a party led by Chhabi
Bandopadhyaya. ‘Maharas’ was performed by a party from Vrindavan. The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Chenna Reddy, came with his family to attend the Tithi Puja. The Governor of Punjab also came to pay his respects that day. MA observed complete silence for a few days and then suddenly left for an unknown place on the 20th to stay in seclusion for eight days. It was later known that she had stayed in a nearby lonely house by the Ganga. -
For two days, she went to Dehradun to be present at a religious congregation at the invitation of Swami Govind Prakashji of Ramtirth Ashram. She returned to Kankhal on May 30, visiting Kachchi Ashram near Sapt Sarovar, on her way.
After a short trip to Uttarkashi at the invitation of Mahamandaleshwar Swami Vidyanand of Kailash Ashram, MA returned to Kankhal on June 8.
Two days later, she received the news that the conditions of Gopinath Kaviraj had become critical. MA at once sent Panu Brahmachari and then Virajanand and Nirmalanand to go after her long-time devotee at Kashi.
Sitaramdas Onkamath met her on the 11th. The next day came the Governor of Haryana. The same afternoon news was received of the passing away of Gopinath Kaviraj. MA’s plan to go to Kashi was cancelled. She received the message in total silence and retired to the solitude of her room.
In the fourth week of June, MA went to Dehradun and returned to Kankhal on the 12th of next month. On the 24th she moved to Delhi. For the first time, a Tulsi Ramayan Navah (nine-days of reading from the Ramayan by Tulsidas) was observed at the Delhi Ashram from July 27. The idea was suggested by the former rulers of Nabha. MA took great interest if the arrangements and attended the sessions regularly.
She came back to Kankhal on August 5 for the Jhoolan festival and then arrived in Calcutta on the 14th, to attend a series of functions and festivals including Janmashtami and Nandotsav to the delight of local devotees.
Leaving Calcutta on August 24, she visited Vindhyachal, Vrindavan and Kankhal before arriving in Delhi in the last week of September for Navaratri aid Durga Puja celebrations.
The festival days were observed with great enthusiasm. Renowned singers including M.S. Subhalakshmi sang devotional songs. There were sessions of religious discourses.
A gentleman asked MA one day, “How do you differentiate between Rama, Krishna, Kali or Shankar”? MA said: “You are a father, a son and a husband - where is the difference?. In essence everything is the same.”
At the end of the festival days spanning from Durga Puja to Kali Puja, MA moved to Gondal where the 27th “Sanyam Mahabrat” was held from October 30 to November 6. Leaving Gondal, she visited Ranbhav, Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad and Bombay before reaching Poona, to the great delight of local devotees who were blessed with her presence after about two and a half years.
Spending three days in Poona, MA came to Bombay for another three days before proceeding to Karauli. Close to the Guest House where she stayed was a Mahalakshmi temple, where a Yagna was held from November 17 to 21. MA went there on all the days and also visited the famous Madanmohan temple.
From Karauli MA went to Delhi and from there to Patna and Jamshedpur on way to Chakulia where a year-long festival was in progress to mark the fourth centenary of the Tulsi Ramayan. Spending a day and night there, she came back to Patna to attend a Bhagwat Week sponsored by the Royal family of Hathwa.
MA came back to Kankhal on Dec 23 after spending some days at Ranchi, Ratu Palace near Patna and Kanpur. At Kankhal she remained busy with the preparations for travel to the next Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. A number of spiritually-inspired Christians came to see her at Kankhal.
Toward the end of the year MA reached Kashi, where Thakur Sitaramdas Onkarnath came to meet her.
For the Kumbh Mela, MA reached Allahabad on the 6th of January. Next day, she was taken in a procession to the Mela site under the management of Nirvani Akhara. The procession was led by the assembled Mahamandaleshwars, followed by Kirtan singing groups. MA sat on a silver throne behind the ‘Narayanshila’ of the Ashram. The throne was placed on a wheel-cart. Mahamandaleshwar Gita Bharati was at the rear of the procession, which covered four long miles to reach the camp set up by Nirvani Akhara.
MA stayed at the camp of Anandamayee Sangh. On the special bathing days on the 14th, 19th and 21st, MA joined the bathers’ procession.. She herself did not take a dip, but stood in ankle-deep water of the Ganga in a posture of bowing. She sprinkled a, little water on herself, some drops falling on the fortunate followers who were close by.
On the most auspicious day on the 19th, it was raining incessantly and the winter cold was biting. The long pathway to the river became muddy, slippery and dangerous. MA said that was the will of God. People did not take to penance in the present age. God was mercifully causing everybody to shiver and suffer, for a while, showing no discrimination to rich or poor, high or low, or to saints or family men. Everybody had to go through the rigour of trudging through slush and rain, braving the shivering cold.
There was heavy demand on her time. Every Akhara represented at the Kumbh Mela wanted to take her to its camp. MA tried to fulfil their wishes as much as she could.
From the 25th MA attended a Bhagwat Week at Modinagar held in memory of the late G.S. Mody, and then returned to Kashi. From February 6, MA spent a week in total seclusion at Naimisharanya, and then went to Kurukshetra via Delhi, at the invitation of G.L. Nanda to observe Shivaratri.
Her next stop was Ahmedabad for the opening of a temple at the invitation of Mahamandaleshwar Gita Bharati. In early March, MA reached Kashi after touching Bombay, Delhi and Kankhal on the way. Holi was celebrated at Kashi and MA revelled in the festivities along with the devotees.
After spending two days at Allahabad, Ma went to Chitrakoot by the Mandakini river at the earnest request of Mongturam Jaipuria, who had organised an eight-day programme there of recitations from the Valmiki Ramayan, followed by discussions on the episodes. Leaving Chitrakoot on March 17, MA went to Deoghar via Kashi, to visit the Ashram of the late Narendranath Brahmachari. The holy man had conducted Annapurna Puja at Kankhal the previous year on a grand scale, and had desired MA’s presence at the Annapurna Puja at his Ashram that year. His wish was fulfilled, even through Narendra Brahmachari had unfortunately and suddenly passed away earlier.
On March 30, the Dashami Day of Basanti Puja, MA returned to Kashi. The same evening, one of her closest devotees, Durga Singh (Yogibhai) passed away at Solan. The former ruler of Solan had MA’s portrait before his eyes, and quietly uttered ‘MA’ thrice before breathing his last. When this was reported to MA, she commented: “It was just like Bhaiji” . The next day, the singing of M.S. Subbalakshmi and her daughter Radha at the Ashram brought some solace to the bereaved inmates.
Early April MA left Kashi for Naimisharanya and Kankhal. The birth centenary of Didima was observed from April 14. Didima was born in Baishakh (April-May) in 1877, but the exact date was not known. It was, therefore, decided that the centenary would be observed for full one month from the beginning of Baisakh, at all the Ashrams of Anandamayee Sangh.
While MA was at Kankhal, Mahesh Yogi came to her one day. Another day, the Head of Shivanand Ashram, Chidanandji, called on her. On April 14, all the Mahamandaleshwars in Hardwar came to the Ashram and addressed the devotees. One day. Brahmachari Nirmalanand spoke on the high spiritual attainments of Didima and the glorious life led by her. MA herself spoke at times on Didima’s exhulted existance and said that she reflected the glory of ‘enlightenment with composure’ (Sthita-Pragya) as mentioned in the Gita.
MA, of course, did not stay at Kankhal during the entire centenary celebrations. She went to Naimisharanya for the second anniversary of the PuranPurush temple on the Akshay Tritia day on April 21. The same day, the foundation-stone for the “Institute for Puranic and Vedic Studies and Research” was laid there.
The setting up of such an Institute had been suggested by MA two years ago to Dr. Chenna Reddy, Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Dr Reddy had taken immediate interest and arranged 6 acres of land for the Centre. A Board of Trustees was formed with Dr. Reddy as President for life and Dr. Gaurinath Shastri as Director. Funds came liberally from Sitaram Jaipuria and the brother of G.M. Modi.
At the end of the month MA was at Dehradun on her way to Ramtirth, where her birthday and Tithi Puja were celebrated with great enthusiasm from May
2. She was back in Kankhal after a week. The celebrations there drew holy men like Swami Ranganathanand of Ramakrishna Mission, Hyderabad and Mahesh Yogi.
MA’s health became indifferent. The doctors insisted that she take rest for at least three months and stop her wanderings. She acceded to the request and stayed back at Kankhal till the end of September. There was, of course, no end to religious functions during the period, nor to the pressing demand by devotees to have her darshan. Dr. Chenna Reddy came on the Guru Poornima Day. Srinath Shastri from Vrindavan conducted a Bhagwat Week. During Jhoolan Purnima came the Governor of Mysore, Govind Narain.
At the end of September, MA suddenly left for an unknown destination and came back after a week. She had spent those days in total seclusion at a farmhouse near Hardwar. Then she left for Narendranagar at the prayer of the Raja and Rani of Tehri to attend a Bhagwat recital for nine days. Unlike every year, the Durga image was not worshipped at the end of the festival. MA told the Royal couple, “For so many years you have been worshipping the idol; now turn inwards and meditate on the Goddess that lives within yourself. Only a symbolic worship was held for Durga on the Puja days.
On October 24, MA left for Kashi and within days left for an unknown destination with just a few companions. Later it was known that she had gone to Rajgir.
MA left for Western India on November 13, reaching Baroda via Delhi. From there she went to Chandod and Badrikashram where the 28th Sanyam Mahabrat was held from the 18th. at the request of Mahamandaleshwar Brahmanand. A huge pandal was erected near the Narmada river to accommodate over one thousand people who had taken the vow to observe the week. During religious discourses one day, MA commented, “A worthy Guru will never forsake his disciple. The Guru will not release the disciple, howsoever adamant he might be to run away”.
After Badrikashram, MA visited Bhimpura Anandamayee Ashram, Baroda and Bombay on her way to Poona where the 95-year old blind Sannyasi Swami Gangeshwaranand held discussions on the Vedas at a function for seven days. MA also attended a Gita Jayanti at Poona from November 18 to 22. On the concluding day, MA charged with divine emotions sang her heart out for half an hour, invoking the spirits of Krishna, Gopal and Kanhaiya.
After two days in Bombay, MA went to Bairagarh Ashram near Bhopal to rest for a few days. At the end of the month, she went to Panchmarhi, where the Chief Engineer of Madhya Pradesh, N.N. Shah, an ardent devotee, had built a hut several years ago for use in anticipation of MA’s visit to that picturesque hill resort.
MA reached Kankhal via Kashi in the second week of January. A flame of the sacred fire from Dacca was this time ceremonially installed at a specially built place for Yagna at the Kankhal Ashram on the 14th.
Her journeys began four days later. She travelled to Delhi, Naimisharanya, Baroda, Chandod and then to the Bhimpura Ashram where she rested for a few days. Early March, MA was in Baroda for a day on her way to Vrindavan, where a statue of Haribaba was installed by his devotees.
Towards the end of March, MA left Vrindavan for Delhi on her way back to Kankhal, where she stayed till the end of May., She had to attend many religious functions and received many eminent persons who came to see here. They included Swami Hans Prakash, Swami Amar Muni, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Raina and several senior Army Generals.
Her birth anniversary celebrations in May were marked by a special function that year to install a statue of Adi Shankaracharya in the assembly hall of the Ashram. The Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath came on May 10 to lead a procession with the statue. It travelled to Brahmakund and back stopping at the different Akharas and institutions both ways. The statue was formally installed at the appointed place in the hall in the presence of MA, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, Swami Shantanand and a number of Mahamandaleshwars of Hardwar.
On May 12, the birth anniversary of Adi Shankaracharya was celebrated all over India. A special worship at the installed statue was organised at Kankhal Ashram. Swami Swarupananda did the ‘Aarati’ in the presence of 12 Mahamandaleshwars.
From May 19 to 26, MA’s birthday was celebrated at Krishna Nivas Ashram at the invitation of Mahamandaleshwar Swami Purnanand Gin Maharaj. A large number of followers was present there along with MA.
In June, MA went to Narendranagar three times, taking rest for a few days on each occasion. On July 10, she left for Delhi on her way to Vrindavan for a stay of about a fortnight.
Those who came to meet her at Vrindavan included Prabhudutt Brahmahari, the noted annotator of the Ramayan Goswamy lndrabhushan, and a Bengali woman-saint from Gangotri-Gomukhi, Krishnanand.
In a lighter mood one day MA recalled an incident of many years ago. During a religious congregation, an old Sannyasi fell into a deep sleep resting against a wall. He was snoring with his mouth open. At MA’s bidding, a sweetmeat (Rasogolla) was pushed into his mouth. As the candy juice entered the gullet, the sleep was disturbed and the Sannyasi woke up MA cited the incident to underline a message. “When one is engrossed in ‘Sadhana’ then one can come out of the slumber to step into consciousness on realisation only when the essential juice of the Almighty permeates one’s senses.”
On July 25, MA at Naimisharanya where a two-month long programme of reading from the Bhagwat with explanations was continuing. The work at the Puran Research Centre had also started. Three research-students, housed at the Anandamayee Ashram in absence of a regular hostel, had taken up their assignments. MA left Naimisharanya on August 7 for Kanpur to see Mongturam Jaipuria and Padampat Singhania, both of whom had been taken ill. After three days, she went to Rajgir to spend about a fortnight in total seclusion.
On August 24, MA reached Calcutta via Bakhtiarpur. Janmashtami was celebrated at the Agarpara Ashram with the participation of a galaxy of renowned singers. The next day, Nandotsav was marked by joyous festivities, when senior devotees turned into the cowherds and milk-maids of Brajdham to dance and sing. Even MA joined in the festivities singing and dancing. At the end of the month, MA reached Vrindavan via Dhanbad and Delhi to attend a Bhagwat Week organised at the Anandamayee Ashram from the 7th of September. She was held up at Vrindavan for some days as unprecedented floods that year had completely disrupted the transport system in northern India. Towards the end of the month MA moved to Rajkot on her way to Gondal where she was specially invited by Raja Jatinder Singhji to be present during the Durga Puja celebrations. The royal couple worshipped MA every morning and did ‘Aarati’ every evening while the Durga Puja was also celebrated with great enthusiasm.
Leaving Gondal, MA came to Vindhyachal for rest for a few days. On October 26, MA called Udasji and said “Why .is Lila weeping ? Tell her that Bhaiya is alright.” Bhaiya, of course, was B.K. Shah and Lila was his wife. Within two hours of this incident, news reached Vindhyachal from Bombay that BK. Shah had been taken seriously ill with a heart attack. Actually, MA had a vision in Vindhyachal that Lilaben was smearing blessed ash on the body of her husband who was on the verge of death. The ash, blessed by MA had earlier been given to Lilaben to be used only in case of an extreme danger
End of October, MA reached Calcutta to stay for four days at a new hut, especially built for her at Bhasha on the Diamond Harbour road by an ardent devotee Bibhuti Chakravarty. Kali Puja was celebrated there with great enthusiasm despite the disruption caused by floods. From Calcutta, her next stop was at Nadiad where the 29th Sanyam Mahabrat had been organised by Narayan Dasji Maharaj at the Samacihi temple of Sant Ramji. It was observed on a grand scale with the participation of more than two thousand devotees, 900 of whom had taken a vow to follow the discipline during the week. The Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Sharda’Peeth was an honoured guest at the Mahabrat. At the end of the week MA went to Bhimpura Anandamayee Ashram to rest for a few days. Early December, she reached Morvi via Baroda and Rajkot. Later, she went to Ahmedabad, Bombay and Poona. The last week of the year was spent in near seclusion at the Bhimpura Anandamayee Ashram. Only foreign devotees and visitors from abroad were permitted to see her there. Among them was Arnaud Desjardins and his family from France, who had come to India to spend Christmas day with MA.
MA was in resting during the first fortnight of January at the Bhimpura Ashram. She kept herself confined to her small room and came out on rare occasions. She blessed the devotees who came for her darshan sitting by the window in the afternoons.
For the next three weeks she was in Poona and attended a few religious functions, two of which were organised by Bhaiya and the Maharaja of Bhavnagar.
For a week from the 10th of February MA was in Vrindavan and then reached Kankhal via Delhi. Shivaratri was celebrated at Kankhal after which MA moved to Naimisharanya. She went back to Vrindavan in the middle of March for the Holi festival which was marked by the presence of a group of 108 Kirtan singers from West Bengal complete with ‘Shrikhol’ (a two-way percussion instrument hung from the neck). The singing and dancing continued for three days and nights. On the concluding day, women devotees, led by Chhabi Bandopadhya sang Kirtans. MA joined the singers for some time after midnight, moving in circles along with the group singers. Sitaramdas Onkarnath spent a night at the Ashram during the Holi festival.
From Vrindavan, MA went to Vindhyachal to take rest for a few days before leaving for Kashi in early April for the Basanti Puja at the Kashi Ashram. Ten days later, MA went to Kankhal to attend the Silver Jubilee of the Vedanta Conference at Krishna Niwas Ashram. She was specially requested to be present by Mahamandaleshwar, Swami Purnanand, who presided over the conference. In the fourth week of April, she was in Delhi for the opening of a Kali temple and a Temple devoted to Didima.
On May 1, MA left for Secunderabad to begin her fifth tour of South India.. At Secunderabad station she was received by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr.M. Chenna Reddy who took her to a hut, especially built for MA’s use, at his farm house. A group of Brahmin scholars uttered the Ved-Mantras to greet her there. She was worshipped before she set her foot inside the hut. A Hanuman temple was opened at the farm house during her two-day stay. Her next stop was at Bangalore. Her birth anniversary celebrations had been planned to be held at Bangalore under the patronage of the Governor of Karnataka, Govind Narain and the Travancore royal family. At Bangalore station, a grand reception was accorded to MA by the Governor who later took her to the farm house of the Travancore royal family, where special arrangements had been made for the stay of MA and her companions. Elaborate arrangements had been made by the devotees in Bangalore to celebrate her birth anniversary. A huge pandal had been erected at the courtyard of the Gondal Palace which could easily accommodate a few thousand devotees. The main celebrations were inaugurated on May 8 by the Shankaracharya of Dwarkapeeth. Numerous functions were arranged for the next 8 days. Mahamandaleshwars and other holy men spoke at religious gatherings. Devotional songs were presented by such artists as Subhalakshmi, her daughter Radha, Chhabi Bandopadhya and others. MA met the devotees every day and answered their queries.
A Nam Yagna was sponsored by a group of Kirtan singers from May 16. In the afternoon of the next day, MA suddenly passed into a divine state. She was sitting with children and enjoying the proceedings, when she suddenly stood up and started dancing and singing with her arms raised in the manner of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. She was visibly under a divine spell. Her body was in a flow. The wonder was that she was indisposed and had to be carried in a chair to the pandal to be present at the function. But there was no trace of illness when she started dancing and singing. She had defied her years to look fresh and young. Her actions so inspired the assemblage that even the revered Governor and the Swamijis followed her to join in the singing.
The same night MA left for Madras at the invitation of the State Governor, Prabhudas Patwari. He came to the railway station to receive MA and took her to a dwelling in the Raj Bhavan compound which had been reserved for her.
On May 21, MA reached Bhubaneshwar from Madras. It was late in the night but a large number of people led by the State Governor Bhagwat Dayal Sharma were present at the station to receive her. The next afternoon, MA left for Puri where she stayed till the 27th of next month, mostly in seclusion.
Moving from Puri, MA travelled to Jamshedpur, Kashi and then to Kankhal for a three-week stay. During this period, Guru Purnima was celebrated at the Ashram on July 9. At Hardwar, a small house had been built for Ashu, nephew of Bholanath, for whom MA had a great affection. The house was formally opened in her presence.
In the fourth week of July, MA moved to Naimisharanya. A Seminar was held there under the auspices of the Institute for Puranid and Vedic Studies and Research. Speaking to devotees at Naimisharanya one day, MA observed: “Mercy comes from three sources—Mercy of the Guru, Mercy of God and Mercy from within. The first two are easy to get; the Guru is ever merciful to the disciple showing him the way. God is the ultimate goal and his other name is Mercy. But if there is no mercy from within - Mercy from the self - Mercy of the Guru and God will be of little value. Mercy of the elf means being merciful to yourself. This requires total self-control, patience and tolerance.
Towards the end of July MA was at Vrindavan where a Bhagwat Week was held. She was not well and mostly kept herself confined to her room. Yet, she was present during the Jhoolan festival, Raksha Bandhan, Janamashtami and Nandostav for short durations:
On September 9, MA was at Kankhal where she stayed for about a month Durga Puja was celebrated with usual enthusiasm drawing a large number of devotees from different parts of the country After Lakshmi Puja she travelled to Delhi and on to Bhimpura Ashram via Baroda to take rest for a few days till the quiet solitude of the Ashram by the Narmath river. She was on the move again on the 17th, reaching Nadiad via Baroda. She stayed for a few hours only at the Ashram of Mahant Jarayandas and visited the Samadhi temple of the first Guru of the Ashram, Santram. During Kalipuja on October 20, she was at Gondal at the invitation of the Maharaja. Annakoot was also celebrated there.
The Maharaja and Maharani accompanied MA to Rajkot on the 24th where she was taken to a National Monument bearing memories of Gándhiji. A relation of the Mahatma Purushottam Das showed her the room where Gandhiji was on a fast and also the prayer room where Gandhiji held religious discourses.
The 30th Sanyam Mahabrat was organised at Kurukshetra from October 28 at the initiative of Gulzarilal Nanda. MA reached Kurukshetra three days earlier to a memorable reception She was seated on a flower-bedecked throne in an open jeep like an Empress. There was a canopy of flowers over her head; She was taken in a procession to the Ashram of Mahamandaleshwar Ganeshanandji
At the end of the Sanyam Week, she was on the move again reaching Hoshiarpur, Jallandhar, Kashi, Naimisharanya and then Vrindavan to ttena Bhagwat Week from November 20.
On the conclusion of the Bhagwat Week, MA moved to Delhi and then to Modinagar to attend a three-day religious conference held at the Lakshmi Narayàn temple. MA was not well but she attended the function ignoring the advice of her followers as she had earlier promised the organisers.
From Modinagar, MA moved to Biharghàt to visit a new Ashram of Vishnu Ashramji of Suktal. Then she went back to Bhimpura Ashram via Delhi and Baroda to rest and recuperate.
As usual, she would not listen-to the advice of the physicians. There was Dr. Seth from Bombay and Dr. Vijayanand from Kankbal in addition to the local doctor. Her health improved according to her own mood. On the Christmas day of December 25, she came out to give darshan to the assembled devotees.
Rest at Bhimpura helped MA to regain her health to some extent. On 19th of January, she left Bhimpura for Nadiad and then moved to Ahmedabad, Bombay and Poona. In the middle of Feb. Shivaratri was observed at the Poona Ashram with 170 men and women under the vow to take part in the night long worship. For the first time, MA was absent torn a Shivaratri Puja.
During Holi, MA was in Vrindavan. At the request of Haribaba’s followers, she unveiled a life-size statue of Haribaba which was installed at the new temple built by his disciples at his Ashram. MA had to be taken in a wheel-chair to the statue where she sat for half-an-hour.
On the day of Holi, March .1, MA sat by the Chhalia temple when everybody had the opportunity to, offer pranam and be blessed by MA.
From Vrlndavan, she arrived at Vindhyachal via Delhi and Kashi. She took. rest for two weeks in the solitude of the Vindhyachal Ashram, joining the sessions of religious discourses only on rare occasions. On one of these days, MA said “God has created this world out of His own’ idea for the purpose of His own divine play (Lila)’ He can do whatever He wishes.The duty of mankind is to remember Him all the time with all the ability - to take His name all the time.”
MA returned to Kashi on March 22 with her health showing some improvement. She was able to walk up to some distance. She again left for Vindhyachal after four days for further rest. In the second week of April she arrived at Ranchi where the anniversary of Sanyas by Didima (Muktanand Giriji) was celebrated on April 13. Later, a three-day function was held for the installation of a statue of Didima at the Ranchi Ashram. The consecration ceremony started on April 15, the sponsor, of the ritual being Didima’s son Makhan Bhattachàrya (Mamu). The function was under the supervision of Mahant Giridhar Narain Purl of Kankhal. The next day, the statue was bathed in ghee and water. On the third day, a Kirtan procession was taken out which carried a portrait of Didima.
It returned in time to Ashram for the hour of installation of the statue. Only MA and Mahant Gindhar Narain entered the temple which was closed to all others. The installation ritual was performed inside the temple in the light of a single candle as MA caressed the face of the statue and garlanded it.
From Ranchi, MA moved to Kashi and then to Kankhal reaching there on April 23. MA’s birth anniversary that year was celebrated at Kankhal Ashram.
On the Tithi Puja, a worship of Ganga was held at Har-ki-Pauri in presence of MA.
As usual, a series of religious functions had been organised to mark the anniversary celebrations.” All the local Mahamandaleshwars and holy men from other parts of India came for the celebrations.
In the second-half of May, MA was in Dehradun to attend an Ati Rudra Mahayagna sponsored by the Khaitans. The yagna was performed by 56 pundits led by Acharya Ranganath Tripathi of Kashi. The yagna ended on May 29.
MA stayed back in Dehradun till June 27 when she returned to Kankhal. The next day, Maneka Gandhi, widow of Sanjay Gandhi, came to her carrying the ashes of her departed husband in a procession. After her darshan, the ashes were immersed in the Ganga at Hardwar. MA blessed the urn with flowers and embraced Maneka. In July, she remained busy in consecutive religious functions. A Bhagwat Week was held from the 14th seeking peace for the soul of Brahmachari Brahmanand who had died, a year ago. After that, there was a party from Bareilly singing. Ramayana without interruption for several days. Then started another Nam Yagna by a Kirtan singing group from Delhi, seeking peace for the, soul of Brahmachari Brahmanand. On July 27, the Guru Pumirna Day, MA was busy for a series of worships, offered separately to Didima in her Samadhi temple, Shiva, Padmanabh, Vyas and Adi Shankaracharya. MA was present at each of the worships for some time.
The first week of August was spent at Kishenpur Ashram’ in Dehradun after which she left for Kuchaman in Rajasthan with a short halt in Delhi. Raja Pratap Singh of Kuchaman had long desired her presence at his place and organised a Bhagwat Week during her slay. in the third week of August, MA went to Bharatpur and then to Vrindavan. But she had to. rush back to Delhi with the news that Gurupriya Didi was seriously ill. Dr. Seth from Bombay flew down to Delhi to take Didi to Bombay for treatment. MA went back to Vrindavan where Rakhi, Janmashtami and Nandostav were celebrated.
A Bhagwat Week was organised at Vrindavan Ashram; from September 11. At midnight the same day, ‘news from Bombay came that Gurupriya. Didi’s condition had become critical. MA reached Bombay on the 13th and took Didi along with her the same day to ‘Kashi. She made special arrangements for nursing Didi in her sick-bed. She told Narayan. Swami and Panu Btahmachari that she would not be present at the time: of Didi’s death. MA advised them that Didi was Sanyasini, the body should be Immersed in water (Jat Samadhi).
The parting moments were heart-rending. MA asked everybody to clear out of the room where Didi’s life was ebbing away. MA fondly caressed the entire body and then put her hand on Didi’s head, pressing the top (Brahma Talu) three times. Softly she said, “Didi, let me go now.” She uttered these words thrice. Didi nodded her head and, with some effort could just utter ‘Yes’. MA took the name of God ‘Narayan’ and left the room.
The same afternoon MA left for Vrindavan where she was ‘committed to attend a Bhagwat Week.’
On one of these days, MA said “God has created this world out of His own’ idea for the purpose of His own divine play (Lila)’ He can do whatever He wishes.The duty of mankind is to remember Him all the time with all the ability - to take His name all the time.”
Didi’s condition went from bad to worse. From ten in the night of May 15, Didi’s eyes remained open gazing at the portrait of MA kept at her bedside. She was in that state for 11 hours, the two looking at each other in peace and tranquillity. The end came at 8.53 in the morning of September 16.
At that very moment, MA was attending the Bhagwat Week at Vrindavan. The news of Didi’s passing away had not reached there. The episode of the birth of Sri Krishna was being read out when MA suddenly uttered: “Didi has left.” Didi was among the handful of followers of MA who had directly received Sanyas Mantra from MA.
When the news of the death was received on telephone at Vrindavan, MA left for Kashi. The body of Didi was still kept at rest at the Gopal temple. But MA did not go there to have a look at the mortal remains. She told her followers that she should not be taken near the body. The next day, in the morning, the last rites were performed before the body was taken out for its final journey. It was carried in a houseboat (Bajra) and was consigned to the deep waters of Ganga near the Manikarnika ghat. At that very moment MA uttered in her room: “The idol has been immersed.” The same afternoon, she left for Vrindavan to be present at the concluding function of the Bhagwat Week.
In October, MA left for Udaipur at the invitation of the Rajmata. Spending a day there she went to Govardhandhari Shrinathaji temple at Nathdwara and kept herself confined to the temple Guest House for three days. Later, she disclosed that she was detailed by the deity there.
During Durga Puja, she was in Bombay. The Puja was organised by the family of B.K. Shah (Bhaiya) at a place close to the Pagoda House where MA stayed. After the Puja days, she took rest at Vrindavan and then moved to Delhi on November 5. Kali Puja and Annakoot were celebrated at the Kalkaji Ashram. The famous sitarist Ravi Shankar played on his instrument on the Annakoot Day. On the 9th, she was in Kankhal where the Prime Minister of India came for her darshan.
The 31st “Sanyam Mahabrat” was observed at Kailash Ashram at Rishikesh. This was organised by Mahamandaleshwar Swami Vidyanand as part of the centenary of the Ashram. Over 800 devotees attended this Sanyam Mahabrat including 60 foreign devotees. Some 14 Mahamandaleshwars took part along with Saints and holy men of all the local Ashrams. MA was present on the dais for hours every day.
On November 30, MA left for Kashi. Most of her followers went on to Kashi but MA, along with a few of her companions, got down at Ayodhya to spend three days there at the invitation of the Rani of Makrai.
In mid-December, a Bhagwat Week was celebrated at Kashi seeking peace for the souls of Sir and Lady Datar Singh. One day during a religious discourse, MA said, “You cannot lead your life to the Supreme without observing discipline and restraint. There should be self control in every matter, be it eating, speaking or behaving with others.”
In the last week of December, MA left for Naimisharanya along with a number of followers, including some foreign devotees. The Christian devotees observed Christmas on December 25 and the New Year, through community meditation in presence of MA.
MA was in Bombay on January 7 to attend the birth centenary celebrations of the blind Sanyasi, Swami Gangeshwaranandji. A week later, she was in Poona. On the 25th, a self-discipline day (Sanyam Brat) was observed which was marked by a community meditation. Shri Ram Baba, a renowned saint came to see her on the day. Two days later, MA was on her way to Secunderabad at the invitation of the Andhra Pradesh Governor, Dr. Chenna Reddy. Thousands of devotees came for a darshan while she was in Secunderabad.
At the end of January, MA was at Bhimpura where she stayed for more than a month. Saraswati Puja and Shivratri were celebrated at Bhimpura during her presence. On the latter occasion, about 150 devotees under vow sat around the Shivalinga to offer worship. They included the Raja and Rani of Gondal. They did a separate worship of MA.
On March 6, the was on her way to Vrindavan. Two days later, MA reached Calcutta via Lucknow. She went to Belur Math to attend the 145th birth anniversary of Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
She was in Kashi two days later. A long-standing devotee, the 91 year old Yogesh Brahmachary was formally admitted to Sannyas by Swami Narayanand Tirth, and given a new name -Niranjananand.
MA was in Vrindavan for a Bhagwat Week conducted by Narayan Goswamy from the 12th. Holi was celebrated with usual enthusiasm, MA herself splashing coloured water and powder on the devotees. Swami Gangeshwaranand came to see her the same day.
Staying back at Vrindavan for a fortnight after the celebrations for some rest, MA reached Kankhal on the 7th of next month, where a Bhagwat Week started two days later. For a day, MA attended a Vedanta conference at Purnanand Ashram. A group of saints and sannyasis from Shivanand Ashram came to see her the same day. There was a special ‘aarati’ for MA on the Ram Navami day. The other religious functions in April were the observance of the anniversary of ‘Sannyas’ of Didima, and a nine-day reading from the Ramayana.
MA’s birthday celebrations were held from May 2 to 23. The days were marked by a series of religious programmes. About 1200 people attended the celebrations as guests. MA was not in the best of health, yet demands on her company were so great that she had a busy time during this period.
The most important function during the anniversary was the ‘Ati Rudra Mahayagna’. The Fire-god (Agni) was conceived as the God of Destruction (Rudra) and the Yagna was devoted to the well-being of the Universe. The place of Yagna by the Anandmayee Ashram was believed by devotees to be the place where the legendary ‘Daksha Yagna’ was held. Five Yagna pyres(Kund) were set in a row, flanked on two sides by a row each of three pyres. A vantage point was selected in the spacious ‘Mandap’ for MA to sit.
The Yagna was conducted by the renowned pundit from Kashi, Dr.Bamdev Mishra, who was assisted by 135 pundits proficient in the four Vedas. All the pundits went in a procession on May 5 to MA’s room for a formal introduction. The next day was Akshay Tritia and the preliminary worship began in the afternoon.
The main worship started the following day, with all the 135 pundits performing the worship on five
specially decorated altars in accordance with the directions in the holy scriptures. On the birthday of Adi Shankaracharya on May 8, the yagna fire was formally installed in MA’s presence.
The Yagna continued for 11 days, during which a total of 24,19,758 formal homages (ahuti) were offered to the fire. MA laid special stress on going in circles (pradakshin) around the Yagna centre. She advised the devotees to go round the place on bare feet, observing silence and without touching one another, with heads covered and palms joined together in supplication.
On the 9th night, MA became indisposed and could not attend the ‘Aarti’ for the next two days. Worried devotees doubled their prayers wishing her an early recovery. The Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth came on the 13th, and MA received him at the assembly hall in front of the statue of Adi Shankaracharya. Twenty four Mahamandaleshwars also gave him a reception at the same place.
On the concluding day of Ati Rudra Mahayagna on the 16th, the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth and MA led a procession in an open car from the Kankhal Ashram to Brahmakund for a ritual bathing.
From May 28 to June 26, MA took rest at the Panchabati hut near the Kalyanvan Ashram in Dehradun. She spent an hour every afternoon for spiritual discourses, and enjoyed the spare time in rest and relaxation. Two distinguished visitors in June were Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Swami Chidanandji.
Spending a week in Kankhal, MA left for Naimisharanya in early July. A Bhagwat Week was held there. A Shiva temple was also opened in her presence. There had been a wood-apple (Bilwa) tree at the same site. MA had visualised Shiva playing on his blow-horn (singa) under that tree one day. The tree withered away and the place was selected as the temple site.
Guru Purnima was celebrated on July 17 when some 500 devotees from remote corners assembled at Naimisharanya to offer their homage to MA. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came there for the opening of the Institute for Vedic and Puranic Research and Study on the 21st.
In the second week of August, MA was in Delhi for a couple of days, before leaving for Porbandar at the invitation of Swami Ashishanand. Jhoolan Purnima was celebrated there. One day, she was taken in a procession in an open car along the streets of the city.
On August 19, MA was on her way to Morvi at the invitation of the Rajmata to be present at an Ati Rudra Mahayagna, organised by her, seeking peace for the soul of his departed son. Janmashtami and Nandotsav were also celebrated at Morvi during her stay.
At the end of the month she was in Vrindavan for a Bhagwat Week organised from September 6. Later, she moved to Kankhal via Delhi.
Navaratri and Durga Puja were celebrated with great enthusiasm in Kankhal, MA attended the Durga Puja every day from morning till end, and sang herself for some time on the Vijaya Dashami Day.
She left for Kashi on October 14 receiving the news of the serious illness of Narayanswamy and spent a week there to cheer up the ailing devotee. She consoled the suffering Swami by saying: “God at times makes you suffer a little only to ward off a bigger suffering. A living body is bound to undergo illness.” Her parting advice was: “Always inward always inward - meditation of own self, remembering, thinking always. That is enough. As much as you can, to your ability. Whatever He may wish to do, in whatever state He may put you - That is all.”
On the 21st, MA returned to Kankhal and mainly stayed in the confines of her room till the Kali Puja. She was not well and badly needed rest. She gave darshan only from the window of her room. Ordinarily, no devotee was allowed to meet her except those coming from great distances or a few seeking initiation.
Speaking to a devotee seeking initiation in spiritual life, MA said “The first consciousness came to you when you were still in your fifth month inside the mother’s womb. Make use of that gift. Seek God and say; “Oh, Lord, let all my heart and mind be directed towards you.”
A Sanyam Mahabrat (32nd) began on November 4. The previous night Narayan Swami had passed away in Kashi. MA described him as an ‘embodiment of renunciation’. Known as Gopal Chakrabarty as a family man, the old devotee had remained close to MA for 54 years since 1927. He had written a number of books, of which one in two volumes on ‘the depth of affection of Anandamayee MA for her children’ deserves special mention.
The foundation stone for a permanent place for performing Ati Rudra Mahayagna was laid in mid-November in the presence of MA.
After a few days rest at Vindhyachal from mid-November, MA went to Patna to attend a Bhagwat Week. In early December, she was at Hathwa, 100 miles off Patna, for a Gita Jayanti. Later, she spent some time in complete seclusion at Rajgir to recoup her failing health.
During Christmas, MA was in Vindhyachal. Several devotees from France, U.K., USA and other countries came to see her at Vindhyachal. Four days later, she went to Kashi.
On New Year’s Day, MA went’ back to Vindhyachal. She was blissful and cheerful as ever despite her continuing poor state of health. Those, who kept her company experienced the same sense of bliss.
Spending a few days in solitude, MA moved to Allahabad on the 9th for the Kumbh Mela. The Mahants of the Nirvani Akhara took her next day in a huge procession to the fair ground where MA formally inaugurated the Khumb Mela. She was again taken in a procession to the confluence of .three rivers on the Makar Sankranti Day on the 14th. While all others took a holy dip, MA sprinkled a little water on herself and on others standing close by.
MA stayed at the Anandamayee Camp from January 10 to 25. There were streams of visitors, seeking her darshan, including the high and low, the distinguished and the commoner, and all were blessed by her despite her failing health. The Mahamandaleshwars who came in their numbers, made respectful reference to her divinity in their speeches. Naradanand Swami of Naimisharanya declared ‘There is no difference between God and Shree Anandamayee MA”. On the Mouni Amabasya day on the 25th, she was again taken in a procession to the confluence.
She reached Kashi via Vindhyachal four days later. Next day, after Saraswati Puja, she left for Naimisharanya.
After taking rest for three weeks, MA went to Kankhal for the Shivratri on February 22. Her health had improved considerably and she was active as usual. A foreign devotee, Brahmachary Gadadhar had passed away. Consoling the bereaved parents MA said “The soul is all pervading the body is a temporary phenomenon. In fact, the body is dying every moment. The embryo in the mother’s womb dies in the infant, infancy dies in childhood, and childhood dies in early youth. The world is always on the move changing its position, but mankind misconceives itself as an isolated existence and ties itself in knots.”
She paid a visit on February 25 to the Ramkrishna Mission at Kankhal where Ramakrishna’s birth anniversary was being celebrated and then left for Delhi.
At the Kalkaji Ashram in Delhi, a medical centre was opened on the 26th by Indira Gandhi. The same day MA left for Vrindavan. A Bhagwat Week was observed there. In March, several distinguished visitors came for her darshan at Vrindavan. They included, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the centurion blind Sannyasi, Swami Gangeswaraiand, the former ruler of Jodhpur Jay Singh, Dr. Karan Singh and a Central Minister, Bhagwat Jha Azad.
Holi was celebrated with great enthusiasm with MA’s active participation. She went round and round the circular altar along with Kirtan singers, raising her arms in a divine mood. Her health seemed to have visibly improved. She spent hours with the devotees, asking about their welfare, answering their queries.
News came on the 15th of the passing-away of Swami Shashwatanand. at Kashi.
On 26th, MA left for Delhi on her way to Tripura. She reached the capital, Agartala, after nearly three and half days of arduous journey. An Ashram was being set up there by the Anandamayee Sangh. The land along with an old temple of Uma-Maheshwar had been donated by Maharaja Manikya Bahadur for the purpose and the local devotees had been waiting for about three years for MA’s arrival.
On March 31, MA entered the Ashram for its formal inauguration. Nearly 50 thousand people, who eagerly waited for her darshan, were blessed by her. The next day, she visited the temple at the royal palace at the special invitation of the Maharaja. The royal family accorded a fitting reception to her.
From Agartala, MA travelled to Dharmanagar and Bongaigon before returning to Calcutta. On April 10, she was back in Kankhal. She looked exhausted, needing immediate rest.
She gave darshan to devotees only from the window of her room. She kept herself confined even on Didima’s Sannyas Day, except for a brief ten minutes’ presence at the function site. There was formal ceremony to open a new building by the Ganga, devoted to her by Sailen Ghosh and his wife, Ranu Ghosh, on the Akshay Tritia day. MA sat in a room there for an hour.
The birth anniversary of Adi Shankaracharya was celebrated at the Ashram on the 28th. MA was present for half-an-hour. The same night she left for Kanpur to attend an Ati Rudra Mahayagna at the invitation of the family of the late Padampat Singhania. MA came back after two days to Kankhal, where her birthday celebrations were held from May 3 to 11.
The first worship was done before her portrait in the hall. Later ‘Aarti’ was performed with MA seated in the verandah of her hut.
Raslila was performed in the mornings. Readings from scriptures and religious books continued during the day and holy men gave their sermons in the evenings. But MA hardly came, out of her hut, and mostly rested in her bed. The Tithi puja was done at her hut in the presence of just a few saints, holymen and devotees.
On May 17, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came for her darshan. The same day, MA moved to a secluded place near Raiwala for complete rest for about 10 days.
MA was back at Kankhal on May 27, but almost totally stopped her public engagements for about three weeks. On June 16 came Jagatgüru Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math in Sharda Peeth, along with over one hundred disciples and devotees. Despite her illness, MA came to the Ashram hall to receive the honoured guests. She spent some time everyday with them till their departure on the 18th.
A week later, MA moved to Kishenpur Ashram in Dehradun. Occasionally, she would give darshan to devotees or be present at a religious function.
The Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math made an earnest appeal to her on July 1 to get herself well from illness. MA in reply said, “Baba, this body does not suffer from any disease. It is being drawn towards the One who cannot be expressed. Whatever you notice is an action favouring that goal.”
While taking her leave the next day, the Shankaracharya invited her to grace the Durga Puja celebrations at Sringeri Math. MA told him “Baba, if this body survives till that time, then it is committed to be present at Kankhal this year.” When the request was repeated, MA told the Shankaracharya “The soul-form of ‘this body’ will always be with you.”
The same day, Sitaramdas Onkarnathji came to her from Kanyakumarika and repeatedly prayed to her to get well, emphasising that MA’s physical presence was an urgent necessity for the well-being of the whole world.
But, her health deteriorated day by day. She found eating difficult since her return to Kankhal in April. For the past few days, she was unable to swallow any solid food; now any liquid food, even milk, was being rejected by her system. Yet, the physicians could not precisely diagnose her illness.
While in this state, MA suddenly decided to go for a change. On July 4, she moved to the Panchabati hut near Kalyanvan Ashram, to spend her time in peaceful solitude. Yet, there was no improvement in her physical condition. On the Guru Poornima Day on July 6, Brahmachari Bhaskaranand performed her worship in the verandah as MA lay in her bed. She herself restricted the darshan to once a week—half-an-hour every Sunday. Exclusive darshans had already been completely stopped for quite some time. The queries and problems of devotees were routed through Brahmachan Bhaskaranand who conveyed MA’s blessings in appropriate cases. He could secure from her a rare message for the devotees on the occasion of Guru Poornima: “Be a seeker of your full identity - Sri Gurudev’s mercy (kripa) is ever with you.”
A number of devotees came for her darshan on July 11. Among them were Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, her sons and daughters-in-law and her grandchildren. Indira Gandhi had rushed down from Delhi on hearing the illness of MA. For a few minutes MA sat up on the bed and spoke to her. This was the last time that MA sat up on her own to give darshan to anybody.
MA Yogashakti flew down from USA, having seen in her dreams that MA was not keeping well. Devotees from remote corners came to Dehradun to have just a glimpse of MA. Ma’s condition deteriorating day by day.
Her disciple wanted to know whether MA desired to go to Kankhal and she commented, “Will you be able to take ‘this body’ to Kankhal?”
In the night of July 23, MA told Mrs Khaitan, “Tomorrow morning ‘this body’ will move to Kishenpur Ashram”. On arrival at Kishenpur, next morning, she was seated in a chair kept in the courtyard to be taken straight to her room. On all earlier occasions, she would first go to the temples in the Ashram before retiring to her room. An exception had to be made for the first and last time.
MA never came out of her room in the first floor after this day. Only her lifeless body came out in the morning of August 28.
From the day of MA’s arrival at Kishenpur, devotees held religious functions almost uninterrupted, praying with all heart for her recovery. There were reading from the Ramayana, and observance of anniversary of Didi’s (Gurupriya) Samadhi, Jhoolan, death anniversary of Bhaiji and Janmashtami, all marked by solemnity. As the midnight worship and kirtan were on to observe Janmashtami, MA lay on her bed, her looks far off. At times, she seemed to be closely watching and listening to all the events around.
Jap continued without break at the Ashram. Similar jap and prayers were being held in all the Ashrams everywhere. The Uttar Pradesh Governor C.P.N: Singh and Health Minister Lokpati Tripathi sent a team of top Vaids to treat her. Two of the team, the Principals of Government Ayurvedic Colleges at Pilibhit and Handwar stayed on at Dehradun but they felt helpless as MA would not accept any medicine. When the Punjab Governor, Dr. Chenna Reddy, came to see her on August 19, MA told him “Keep on coming here as always, treating this place as your own.” This seemed to carry the essence of her last message to all devotees.
B.K. Shah took the initiative to bring on August 23 the renowned physician, Dr. S.C. Seth of Nanavati Hospital, Bombay to examine MA. He had earlier examined MA at Kankhal and declared that there was no disease anywhere in her body. But this time, he declared MA’s condition to be critical.
Dr. Seth asked MA whether she was suffering from acute discomfort in her body. MA said, “None at all.” It was so true. It seemed that MA was just an onlooker, watching the discomforts of her body from outside.
That day, Swami Krishnanandji, Secretary of Divine Life Society of Rishikesh came with two others and Dr. Aruna Mudalkar to see her. Swamiji had long desired to worship MA as Radha on the Radhashtami day. He ultimately had his desire fulfilled on August 23, Rishi Panchami day, considered to be an even more auspicious occasion. He also performed the ‘Aarti’. This, as far. as is known, was the last worship offered to MA in her divine life-time.
The nausea and vomiting stopped four days before the end came, but the serious breathing trouble continued. At midnight on the 25th, MA told everybody around her: “Sit down, wherever you are”. All the ladies attending on her immediately obeyed. Towards the end of the night, MA uttered: Salutations to Shiva (Namoh Shivaya)”.
The next morning, she felt slightly better but the, breathing trouble increased in the evening, causing great anxiety. Two hours past midnight her condition became critical. The Vaids were called and they advised massaging. The whole of the next day the massaging continued to warm up her body and, it seemed to take effect. But the signs were ominous enough to cause deep worry in everybody’s mind.
Brahmachari Nirmalanand, who was standing. by helplessly asked, “MA, what would we live with?” MA replied thrice with emphasis “With God, with God, with God.”
She told Udasji “Increase your jap.” The at-tending ladies heard her uttering several times in a feeble voice, “Narayan Han”. These were the words last spoken by her.
At three thirty in the afternoon MA suddenly opened her eyes and looked in a full gaze for about a minute. At quarter to eight in the evening, she opened her eyes for a while to look upwards. The end came within minutes.
Kirtan singing was taken up immediately, which continued throughout the night. The Bhagwat Gita was also read out.
MA was dressed by the female Ash remits with a silk dhoti, and sandalwood marks (tilak) on her forehead. She was looking beautiful, divinely resplendent, with no trace of illness in her body. Death ceased to exist there. One could only remember her immortal message: “Who goes where, or comes from where? Coming or going has no meaning to ‘this body’. Whatever was before, exists even now; Where is the question of life and death? Where is the scope for a doubt when one continues to live even after death?”
The District Magistrate of Dehradun and other officials rushed to the Ashram on hearing the news of MA’s passing away. It was, decided that the body would be carried •to Kankhal next morning. MA’s body was brought down to the courtyard and placed on a cot for everybody to have a last darshan. The cot was later placed inside a closed van with one side open. Starting at about 11 in the morning, the van reached Shankaracharya Chowk at Kankhal at quarter past one. Thousands lined the route to have a darshan and to pay homage.
Mahants of all the Akharas offered garlands to the body at the Chowk. The procession reached Kankhal Ashram at about two in the afternoon. The body was kept on a raised platform, within the enclosure in front of Shankaracharya temple inside the assembly hall, to all visitors to have a darshan.
The Kirtan singing continued till two in the afternoon next day. The last journey began to the courtyard of Sadhu Kutia. The body was kept in a sitting position. Scriptural rites had started earlier from three in the morning. Mahant Giridhani Narayan Puriji had bathed the body with five nectars (milk, curd, honey, ghee and Ganga water). She was attired in a new dress and placed on a new seat (Asana) on a new sheet of cloth. The Mahant and other saints performed the aarti.
A little after midday Indira Gandhi flew in from Delhi. Wreaths were offered on behalf of the President and the Prime Minister of India.
At about one thirty, the body was raised high for everybody to have a final darshan. Saints and holy men then carried the body to the site selected for samadhi inside the Ashram. To the chanting from Vedas and Kirtan singing by ladies, the sacred body of MA was laid to rest inside the pit of the Samadhi made of marble stone.
MA’s words would ring in the ears of devotees forever; “Why make a distinction between life and death? What more can you say when one continues to exist even after death.”
“Oh mother, it is our earnest prayer take off the curtains and reveal thyself to the humanity by your own power. Our mother is none else but Jagatdatri “incarnate”,
Maha Mahopadhyay Gopinath Kaviraj
“This is Ma Bhabatarini, the Bhairabi of Dakshineswar whom Thakur (Sri RarrtKnishna) used to worship”
Meanwhile Baba received the shocking news of the sudden passing away of Ma Anandamayee. He remained, completely silent for a day. He was rather restless and uncomfortable. Then slowly again he regained his usual form and observed: “Ma has gone to the Dressing room to have a change. She will return soon. She will be back in Bengal and in a Brahmin family. This time she will be coming with much more creative power. You will all see what a tremendous change for the better will come over in India.” -
“The light of the world comes and goes, it is unstable. The Light that is eternal can never be extinguished. By this Light you behold the outer light and everything in the universe: it is only because it shines ever within you, that you can perceive the outer light. Whatever appears to you in the universe is due solely to that great Light within you, and only because the Supreme Knowledge of the essence of things lies hidden in the depths of your being is possible for you to acquire knowledge of any kind.”
“All this which is His creation, is under his dispensation, in His presence and is He.
In whatever state He keeps anyone at any time it is all for the good, for verily everything is ordained by Him, is of Him.
Relative happiness, which is happiness depending on anything, must end in grief. It is man’s duty to meditate on God, who is Peace itself. Without having recourse to that which aids the remembrance of God there can be no peace. Have you not seen what life in this world is? The one to be loved is God. In Him is everything—Him you must try to find.”
“Try always to bear in mind that God sends all the worries of life for purifying yourself.”
Remember always repetition of His name has enough power to wash away all sins if there be any whether of this life or of the past ones.
It is beyond our common intelligence to comprehend what Mother stands for and what she is in reality. Though she always says: “I am only a crazy little daughter of yours”, still in all her ways of life, in her ever delightful Lila amongst us, all the powers of the Divine find expression in tangible forms.
In Mother, we find a perennial fountain of joy and sweetness, though she is surrounded day and night by the noise and bustle and a thousand entreaties of all classes of people. Her calm and serene looks, her gracious, ever smiling response to all queries, her exquisite sense of humour bring satisfaction and delight to every soul. Her ways of life are so universal and all-embracing that she may be called Motherly Live incarnate.
Some say that she is the Supreme Goddess of the Universe in human form. Others again are of the opinion that she has reached perfection through spontaneous psychic evolution without any effort on her part. To us she appears to be whatever anybody may consider her to be. At the first sight of her, one becomes animated with a religious fervour, even if one happens to be almost impervious to spiritual ideas. In her presence thoughts of God and his glory flourish with all their brilliance in hearts as dry as dust and the vibrations of one universal, all-pervading life overpower one’s heart, as it were, with endless surges like a vast ocean of bliss.
When at one time she was asked who her preceptor was, or from whom she had received initiation, she remarked: “in earlier years my parents were my guides; in household life, my husband; and now in every situation of life, all men and things of the world are my Guru. But one thing is certain, the one Supreme Being is the only Guide for all.”
From the standpoint of worldly people Mother is an ideal daughter, wife and mother. To an aspirant after spiritual life, her words and behaviour have deep significance, indicating various modes of spiritual culture and yogic practices, as well as the basic truths of dualism, non dualism, dualistic monism and other philosophic doctrines. The physical changes that become manifest in her body lead one to the inference that she is a confirmed Vaisnava; in the Tantric worship of Siva, Kali, Durga and other gods and goddesses or in the performance of Vedic religious sacrifice she has evoked admiration from eminent philosophers of the East and West. The only difference that we notice between Mother and the Great Masters who have reached perfection through bhakti yoga, jnana yoga or karma yoga in their special lines, lies in the fact that in Mother all the paths of sadhana have reached a wonderful synthesis. It is through this harmony of the various modes of approach to the Divine that all types of people receive inspiration from her presence.
Her genial and sweet appearance, her uncommon patience and endurance, her spirit of sacrifice and simplicity, her ever joyful humorous ways of dealing with men, women and children, her unsullied, clear vision and good will for all living beings, her love for all men irrespective of caste, creed, community and nationality, her absolute freedom from pleasure, pain and the life, make her a unique figure of modern times. One can not say that she has attained perfection through self effort, for those who have watched her from infancy assert that she has been the same in her thoughts and actions all through her life. Nobody has yet seen her perform spiritual or religious exercises of any kind.
The natural or super-natural phenomena that became manifest in her body occurred spontaneously for the welfare of all human beings Those manifestations did not depend upon her will nor did they function against it, nor were they the result of any devotional effort on her part. When clarified butter with other oblations are offered into the fire on the altar, the flame flares up by a natural law, but the perfume that emanates, purifies and enlivens the whole atmosphere. After a little while no trace of the sacrificial offerings remains, but the flames keep on burning in purity and brightness. In exactly the same manner when Mother’s devotees bring their offerings to her feet with the best of their love and reverence, the very touch of these gifts, cause the fountain of her heart to burst forth, like the natural flow of milk from the mother’s breast at the touch ‘of her infant’s lips. So in the case of Mother, her speech, her looks, her face, all express love for her children. With a divine flame her face brightens up for a time and soon after resumes its normal composure.
There is no conflict in her, no urge to action or inaction disturbs the serenity of her will. She is completely steeped in the light of that Supreme Truth which forms the bedrock of all principles and practices of religion and of the moral codes of the world and which has been revealed to the human mind in different ages for the good of the universe.
A glimpse of that Truth, a suggestion thereof shines forth in all her actions, words and songs. Her life illustrates the great fact that man, while doing his everyday duties neatly, joyfully, and maintaining social relations can yet advance on the spiritual path.
The time has arrived for us to take stock of the amount of good that is being done to our social life by the crowds of people that are swelling the number of sannyasis and sadhus. Stepping out of the boundaries of family life and the pale of civic rights and responsibilities to try to open up easy paths of spiritual uplift for family, society and nation is not a very simple matter. There are persons who have reached high levels, of spiritual greatness by retiring from the world and living a life of seclusion in solitary Ashrams or mountain caves. Their individual greatness does not pull up the general level of culture of the masses of people to any appreciable extent, nor are the standards of mass life raised higher. Through their inspiration many Ashrams are established in different parts of the country, the spires of the temples erected therein may shoot up high into the sky, the glamour of worship and the hymns and devotional music sung morning and evening induce many people from far and near to spend more and more money upon the enterprise, free distribution of prasada may attract crowds of hungry men like flies from the surrounding regions. But the influence of such institutions built up at the expense of so much labour and money hardly helps to make our social life healthier and brighter, neither by spreading knowledge and literacy nor greater live for men nor again by fostering a more ardent desire for the life Divine. Our society is getting more and more crippled through mutual jealousy, rivalry and petty squabbles over trifles. Those who are strong at heart with a spirit of social responsibility and selfless service, hardly find scope for real and efficient social work, being half paralysed by stagnant, social ideas of the class seclusion of orthodox olden times. On the other hand one meets at every step opposition to all efforts at reforms.
The culture by which physical and mental health is made secure, which makes man strong and hardy through the realization of God’s grace in all walks of life, which refines and transforms our narrow, selfish impulses into an unselfish spirit of service and self sacrifice irrespective of caste and creed is fast disappearing from our country and there is hardly any doubt that the scope and field of such culture is gradually shrinking amongst us.
It is time for us to enquire as to what has brought about such a state of affairs. We have fallen into the narrow grooves of time-worn cults and prejudices. The ideas and ideals of olden times and those of the present age have met face to face and have produced a slack water in our social and religious life. Mother stands at the parting of ways.
We always find in Mother’s life and in all her activities an ardent desire to secure the welfare of the world, throwing the burden of looking after her body upon others, and releasing herself completely from all cares for her own bodily comforts. She has thus made herself absolutely free to advance the cause of the helpless and oppressed, of the sock and destitute, as well as to help the rich and powerful who ever suffer from the various physical and mental maladies of their surfeited and pampered lives. Her life is an eye opener to us all. She shows by her everyday activities how we can link every minute detail of life to the Infinite and how we can cultivate a new spirit, a new outlook in our relations with men and make this world a place of new joy and hope and peace.
From the worldly standpoint she possesses nothing to call her own. All places of the common man, temples, dharamsalas, public Ashrams and huts are now her only places of residence, places where all people from the highest to the lowest may flock freely to her without any obstruction. She has devoted herself wholly and completely to the good of
the world. All living being are her own kith and kin. As mentioned previously she says: “I find the whole world to be one vast garden, you all are flowers blooming in this garden with your individual beauty and grace. I move about from one corner of it to another. What makes you feel so sad when I leave you, only to be in the midst of your brothers over there?“
On another occasion she said: “I have no need of doing or saying anything; there never was any need neither is there now, nor will there ever be in future. What you found manifested in me in the past, what you see now and what will be observed in the future is only for the good of you all. If you think that there is something peculiarly my own, I must tell you that the whole world is my own”.
The glories of the creative activities of the Universal Mother that we find revealed every where in this world, can be noticed in all her words and actions, in her social intercourse with all classes of people everywhere. To those who are devoted to her, she is like a little child demanding tokens of their love for her; to those who are distressed owing to disease or other worldly troubles, her motherly anxiety to give them relief takes shape in various acts of redress. All these attitudes proceed from a reservoir of a mighty spiritual power always working in the background.
She shows equal regard and reverence for all religions, for all social institutions and laws, for all types of education. This illustrates the great truth that everything in this world is the embodiment of one Supreme Being. She says, “All religious thoughts flow in one direction as all streams flow into one ocean; and we are all one”. If anybody puts the question to her: ‘To what caste do you belong? Where is your home? Mother at once answers with a laugh: ‘From your worldly standpoint this body belongs to East Bengal and is Brahmin by caste; but if you think apart from these artificial distinctions, you will understand that this body is a member of the one human family”.
At times, she has been heard to say: “Have faith in this body. Your wholehearted faith will open your eyes”. She also says from time to time “I know nothing. I say what you pour into my ears”. Arid then: “This body is but a toy-doll ; just as you desire to play with it, so it goes on playing”.
From these and other remarks it is evident that in her person the Power that lies behind this phenomenal world has assumed shape. Her activities emanate from one fountain head and flow back into it. She has no sense of duality. She often says either
On one occasion she said: “is there any essential difference between myself and yourself? Only because He is, there are also I and you”. If with staunch faith, strong devotion and a heart overflowing with life, anyone of you can exclaim: “Mother, come, come to me, Mother, I cannot pass my days without you, rest assured, the Universal Mother will spread out Her arms towards you and clasp you to Her bosom. Don’t look up to Her only as a mysterious refuge in your hour of distress. Remember always She is very, very near you, guiding all the forces of your life. With that conviction proceed; She will take the brunt of all your responsibilities from your shoulders and give you strength to bear the cross.
(Anandamayi Ma’s spiritual son)