By Nithin Sridhar
Guru Poornima special- Part 6
Among the various saints and teachers that have roamed around the country, Anandamayi ma stands out as one of the few people who were completely filled with Vairagya (dispassion) and Ananda (bliss) right from their birth. And she spread this Ananda everywhere among all those who came to her.
Therefore, this sixth segment of Guru Poornima Series will be dedicated to Anandamayi Ma, the mother who filled the Hrdaya (hearts) of everyone with Ananda.
Her Life: Anandamayi Ma was born as Nirmala Sundari in a remote village of Kheora which is now in Bangladesh. She was born on 30 April 1896 to Bipinbihari Bhattacharya and Mokshada Sundari Devi, both of whom were devout Vaishnavas (devotees of Vishnu).
She was dispassionate and blissful from the beginning itself. She used to stay aloof from external happenings, but was sensitive to religious rituals that would put her into ecstasy.
At the age of 13, she was married to Ramani Mohan Cakravarti (also known as Bolanath) and she went to live with her brother-in-law’s family till she was 18.
Then, she moved with her husband to Ashtagram in 1918, and later moved to Bajitpur. The marriage was a celibate marriage. Nirmala Sundari was spontaneously dispassionate. It is said that whenever her husband felt sexual urges, her body would become weak and sick.
Slowly, Bolanath realized the true nature of his wife as being an emanation of Divine Mother, and later on took initiation from her.
Her stay in Bajitpur was a period of intense Sadhana (spiritual effort). She spontaneously received initiation from within herself on a full moon night in 1922. In 1922, they moved to Dhaka, where Nirmala Sundari built a Kali temple and involved herself in deep Yogic and Tantric practices and meditation.
It was during this time that people began to visit her. One of her early disciples, Jyotiscandra Ray began calling her as Anandamayi ma – mother who is full of joy/bliss.
She traveled throughout India visiting various ashrams and holy places and guiding many people in their spiritual sadhanas. She finally left her body on 27 August 1982 in Dehradun at the age of 96.
Her Teachings: Anandamayi Ma never wrote anything. All her teachings have been conversational teachings imparted to her disciples and devotees.
In “From Mother as Revealed to Me” by Bhaiji (i.e. Jyotiscandra Ray) says: “The central theme of all her words and expressions is this: Life and religion are one. All that you do to maintain your life, your everyday work and play, all your attempts to earn a living, should be done with sincerity, love and devotion, with a firm conviction that true living means virtually perfecting one’s spiritual existence in tune with the universe.”
Some of the teachings imparted by Anandamayi Ma, as recorded by Bhaiji, are as follows:
“With earnestness, love and goodwill carry out life’s everyday duties and try to elevate yourself step by step. In all human activities let there be a live contact with the Divine and you will not have to leave off anything. Your work will then be done well and you will be on the right track to find the Master.”
“Just as there is a definite time-table for work at school, office or the shop, so should we set apart for divine contemplation a few minutes out of the twenty-four hours of every day, preferably in the morning and the evening. One must make a fixed resolve that this little time shall be dedicated to God throughout life. During this period no worldly activity should be allowed to encroach upon the contemplation of God. A fixed time for prayer or meditation must be allotted to all the members of the family including the servants. If this practice is continued for long, divine contemplation will become a part of your nature.”
“Your earthly pension expires with your life, but the divine pension continues long, long after death. Those who amass money, store it up in a hidden chamber of their house, add to this store what they can save from time to time, and keep a constant watch over their treasure. So also reserve a little corner of your mind and heart for God and always steal an opportunity to add to your stock in the shape of the invocation of His name or some pious work or divine thought.”
She traveled extensively throughout India and sowed the seeds of devotion in people’s minds. She never formally initiated anyone and refused to be called a Guru, but she touched the hearts of thousands of people.
She became a guiding light for these people who considered her as the very emanation of Divine mother who spread joy and happiness everywhere.
Ananda: It can be translated as “Bliss or Joy.” It actually refers to a state of non-duality, which is full of joy because of absence of miseries that are rooted in duality. Anybody who can attain this state (i.e. Self-Realization/Atma Jnana) will always be filled with this spontaneous Joy. Even the common transient happiness that is experienced in daily life is derived from this ever-lasting joy.
Vairagya: It means “Dispassion.” It is non-attachment to worldly objects and pleasures that have arisen out of the understanding that they are transient in nature and true everlasting joy is possible only by renouncing them.
Hrdaya: It literally means “Heart.” But, in the context, it does not refer to the physical heart, but to the subtle Hrdaya which is the center of Individual existence.
Sadhana: Any spiritual effort that would help an individual to purify his mind and ultimately lead him to Moksha (Liberation).
Guru: It means one who dispels the darkness of ignorance. Hence, it refers to a teacher who helps his student to overcome his limitations and ignorance and hence attain Self-realization (Atma-Jnana).
More in this segment: