Dayanand recalls his experience with Anandamayi Ma in the seventies during the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, India.
In 1974 I was in Haridwar, India, with the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Kirtan Mandali. We also had arranged for a camp, introducing the Dynamic Meditation technique of our Master during the Kumbh Mela. This is the largest Hindu festival in India which is held every 12 years and is attended by millions of Hindus who come to take a dip in the Ganges to purify themselves and to see and meet all the famous and infamous Indian sadhus, sannyasins, teachers and gurus of Bharat (India).
Moving around the masses, I wondered if any true enlightened beings were present, because most of what I saw and heard was just a huge display of spiritual prowess, and holy egos asking for attention and money. A great religious spectacle, a spiritual circus.
There was a procession at some point of all the gurus, sadhus and yogis complete with elephants, drums and trumpets. Somebody pointed out that Ma Anandamayi Ma (Bliss Permeated Mother) was also present, a very revered Indian saint in a woman’s body.
I had read about her in Yogananda’s book Autobiography of a Yogi and consequently had looked for other books about her; reading them, I was convinced about her authenticity as a sage, an enlightened being.
Hearing that she resided in Haridwar during the Kumbha Mela, I asked two friends if they would like to join me to find her, maybe get to see her, and get her blessings. One can never get enough blessings from the true awakened ones on the path…
I was told that she had an ashram in Kankhal on the outskirts of Haridwar, and we walked for maybe one hour, often asking for directions, which can be quite a challenge in India. Finally, we arrived at the ashram – in front stood a bamboo tent structure like those that are put up in India for weddings or any other festivities.
We walked in to what was an empty space with only a sofa in the middle. I called out, “Hello, hello!” and a western lady appeared asking what I wanted.
I said we came to ask for darshan with Anandamayi Ma, whereas she asked me where I had heard about Mother and I told her that I had read about her in various books.
“Wait a moment,” she said. There was nobody else around while we stood there. After a few minutes the lady returned and said, “Anandamayi Ma will see you, please sit down. There’s only one request, please do not touch her.”
Hearing that, I was in a kind of a shock. I had expected to be told to come back in the evening for some event and we could then see her together with maybe hundreds of other visitors and devotees, but to see her right now? Just me and my two friends? This really hadn’t crossed my mind, this saint who had thousands of devotees would actually move her sacred body, make the effort to walk in here just to see us? What incredible generosity and what a blessing.
We sat down and to my awed surprise she indeed walked in and sat down on the sofa.
What do you do in the presence of God in female form? My mind was reeling. I was not prepared what to do, what to say? I did not expect this, I wasn’t looking for another guru, I had already been initiated by my Master, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and that was final.
But the Satguru comes in many forms and here was one of its highest incarnations in a female body.
She broke the spell by asking me what I had come for. “For your blessings,” I whispered; there was no other verbal communication, I was in wonderment.
I looked into her eyes and I knew that this is my Mother, my ultimate mother; not my Guru, but the mother of my soul. I asked her silently in my heart to adopt me and watch over me forever.
I had no idea of time, or just for how long the darshan lasted. Silence prevailed…
Finally she asked if I had a question, since I had already a master who was available to communicate with me, answer my questions and guide me on my sadhana. I only asked if she had any advice for me on the path, just to get a second advice. She said, “Keep your mind focused on Bhagwan always.”
This had a double meaning for me, Bhagwan means God in Sanskrit but it was also what we called Osho then. To keep my mind on God and on my Master was the same for me.
She got up, folded her hands and gracefully disappeared behind the curtain. I was not sure if that had really just happened; dazed and blessed we got up and walked out into the noisy, hot and dusty streets of India but my heart was quiet, silent, and the hustle and bustle around seemed far away.
I have never seen her again; she left her body in 1982. Later I visited her samadhi on three occasions, which is located at the same spot in Kankhal, Haridwar, where I had met her in 1974, to bow to her eternal presence in gratitude for the gift of her physical presence at one eternal moment in my life. She is and always will be my true mother, the mother of my soul.
Whenever I see photos of her my heart jumps in joy; there are many photos that have been taken of her because as a woman she was not only the incarnation of the universal mother but also emanated pure divine female beauty.
German-born Dayanand Bharati took sannyas in Mumbai in 1973 and lived for many years in Osho’s communes. He lives in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.