Essays Gems — 18 February 2017

Quotes and photos by Anandamayi Ma, a widely recognized eminent spiritual being. She is said to have been the embodiment of a joyous self-sufficiency which enraptured the hearts of all who came near her.

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Anandamayi Ma (30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) was born Nirmôla Shundori in Kheora, Brahmanbaria District, British India, in what is now Bangladesh.

She was regarded as a Self/God-realized master. Sivananda Saraswati of the Divine Life Society described her as “the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced.”

Precognition, faith healing and other miracles were attributed to her by her followers. Paramhansa Yogananda translates Anandamayi as “joy-permeated”. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe what they saw as her habitual state of divine joy and bliss.

On the full moon night of August 1922, at midnight, twenty-six-year-old Nirmala enacted her own spiritual initiation. She once explained that the ceremony and its rites were being revealed to her spontaneously as and when they were called for and later stated, “As the master (guru) I revealed the mantra; as the disciple (shishya) I accepted it and started to recite it.”

In 1926, she set up a Kali temple in the Siddheshwari area and devoted herself to spiritual practices. While praying in the temple one day, she underwent a mystical experience. In a deep meditative state, she held difficult yogic positions for long periods and spontaneously formed complex tantric hand positions and gestures.

Anandamayi went on various pilgrimages traveling throughout India stopping in ashrams and attending religious festivals. She had a temple built for her by disciples in Dacca but left the day it was completed. She traveled to Dehradun where she lived in an abandoned Shiva temple for almost a year without money and often in freezing temperatures without blankets.

She was known for her siddhis or yogic powers where she could read her devotee’s thoughts and emotions at a distance, make her body shrink and expand, and cure the sick. One disciple claimed that she was saved from death after a car accident when Anandamayi grasped her “life substance” and brought it back into her dead body.

Anandamayi was sensitive to environmental influences as was demonstrated when she once passed a Muslim tomb. She immediately began to recite portions of the Quran, and to perform the Namaj ritual (Muslim prayers). These and other similar acts showed Anandamayi to be someone always moving through a wide variety of psychic and religious states, each one expressing itself through her. She often objectified her body by describing her actions in phases like “this body did this” or “this body went there”. She believed her chaotic actions were expressions of the divine will.

Anandamayi considered individual identity to be a kind of spiritual disease. She called it bhava roga, or the disease of feeling where every person looks at him or herself as a separate individual. When some of her disciples complained about the large crowds of people that would sometimes follow her, she responded,

As you do not feel the weight of your head, of hands, and of feet… so do I feel that these persons are all organic members of THIS BODY; so I don’t feel their pressure or find their worries weighing on me. Their joys and sorrows, problems and their solutions, I feel to be vitally mine … I have no ego sense nor conception of separateness.

Gopinath Kaviraj, ed., Mother as Seen by Her Devotees (Varanasi: Shree Shree Anandamayee Sangha, 1967), p. 94

Two days after her death in Dehradun, a Samadhi was built in the couryard of her Kankhal ashram in Haridwar. Later, a shrine was erected over the Samadhi, now known as the Ananda Jyoti Peetham.

Credit to Wikipedia and om-guru.com

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