The birth of the cosmos, Order out of Chaos, was felt to be the key to the perpetuation of life on earth. Anandamayi was little known outside India and only four Europeans had spent any time resident in her ashrams. Past and future, this world and the next - indeed, everything is contained in you. But when he saw that this body became rigid, that it was incapable of performing certain types of worldly actions, unable to bear them, he himself most gladly took back his request. But her parents had misgivings about her future. Witnessing such a state now with my own eyes, I was enraptured. She also encouraged her devotees to serve others. ", and at this she made a further turn of hair tightly round her finger, ". There the question of destruction cannot arise. I have now tried to communicate the flow of my inner vision with oblique allusions, connections from page to page affinities and contrasts, the gradual aggregation of an interlinked totality, which evokes rather than depicts the sacred. Why then should you have to concern yourself with the revelation of the Moment? Holding the camera below my own eye-level, I slowly looked up from it. Oh dear, it hurt terribly. Her large following included many distinguished and impressive people. . Firstly, her order of priority, as always, was to put first things first and let everything else sort itself out accordingly. The graceful plasticity with which they took up their places in a single configuration at once recalled to me visual art traditions that I assumed belonged irretrievably to the past. It is your nature to crave for the revelation of That which Is, for the Eternal, for Truth, for limitless Knowledge. Shortly afterwards, Kamala was taken to Switzerland where she often had waking and dream visions of Mataji. In her silence she was, it seemed, aside, detached, apart. - she's a dud. I would have to shelve the project. This presented me with severe problems as a photographer during my concluding workdays. Mere gymnastics is nutrition for the body. With this second phase of the story two extremely interesting and unusually strange details have appeared: the dome-shaped mound and the white ants. I considered it so deeply personal a theme that I could scarcely bring myself to expose it more than occasionally to anyone else, either publishers or friends. Not until the "I" is perfect - in other words, not unless "Aham Brahmasmi" (I am the Supreme Being) has been realised - will the roots of the ego be destroyed. Sri Ma Anandamayi was born in a small village called Kheora, in what is now Bangladesh, on April 30, 1896. It was sublime. After the Guru has given sannyasa, he prostrates himself at full length before the disciple in order to demonstrate that there is no difference between Guru and disciple, for both are indeed one. Take to japa and strengthen your mind by repeating God's name.". We were taken straight to the room where Mataji was sitting alone deeply absorbed in meditation. Then the "I" will go and "Atmananda" may become revealed.". There is no limit to their spiritual insight. I am not anywhere. At the appointed time, however, Nirmala sent for him. Jean Herbert had introduced Anandamayi to a limited French public and a documentary film by Arnaud Desjardins had been shown on French television. Subsequently Virendra Dada was made to get up and I was asked to sit on it. I cannot do so. It was actually quite difficult to settle your gaze on them, regardless of whether or not she happened to be looking at you. But her mind was absorbed in prayer and she was having visions of the Deity. Even acute physical pain did not affect her. Her boundless compassion overflowed in concern for whoever came within the orbit of her ministrations: family, neighbours, servants as well as animals and plants felt the magnetic touch of this innate interest in their welfare. Autobiography of a Yogi, byYogananda, in which there is a short but enthusiastic account of her, had become a minor paperback classic in the English-speaking world, particularly the United States. On the eighth day, it rained heavily in the morning. It is eyeless - not to be beheld with these ordinary eyes, but with the eyes of wisdom. Published accounts relate how the little band of pilgrims was seized by a mood of intense exaltation, yet shadowed by hints of impending trouble. As she got older she appears to have become more conventional with regard to sleeping, although at no time did she ever sleep very much. She was known for her siddhis or yogic powers where she could Some experience it in this manner; realisation does not come to everyone in the same way. The disciple places himself in the hands of the Guru and the Guru can do no wrong. It is useless to seek happiness in anything that is of the world. Arthur Koestler was aroused to particularly contemptuous scorn by this essay, pointing out that this kind of scholasticism went out of fashion in Europe in the 16th century. The area is now in Bangladesh but was then part of the province of Bengal, on the eastern edge of India. The following quotation reveals a most vivid and outstanding example of that. By any standards, this is one of the most arduous of all trekking pilgrimages. To wear out the veil that occludes the vision of Reality is all that man can do, and that he has got to do. All the same He has come to you in the form of the Eternal Sound or the descent of God in the form of the Word, or in the form of an Avatar. Her father, Bipin Behari Bhattacarya, sang Vaisnava songs often appearing But the fact is she had never been in, so there was nowhere for her to come out from! When she no longer had the strength to answer people's enquiries, she had but one injunction: "Bhagavan ke niye thako!" A person who expects this body to be always super-normal in its dealings with the world, will be disappointed. Likewise, the Siddheshwari hierophany as experienced by Nirmala and her followers is also such a return to the Source of Life. From another point of view; I might say it is you who see me travelling. So the women now tied a sheet tightly round her body. I found this book to be an excellent introduction to Sri Anandamayi Ma. Then they introduced my husband as the Guru. Attribution of divine status to a living person is deeply entrenched in the Indian spiritual outlook. ', Next day I asked Mataji why she had called me so unexpectedly in the middle of work the day before. When Mataji would suddenly make or cancel a decision, issue new and perplexing instructions, break off, interrupt or upset elaborate arrangements - or perform some notably dramatic act with the most paradoxical meaning. I replied that the thought of going home had made me remember all the paperwork I had left unfinished at the office. Then he explained, "Just as the milkmaids lived with Sri Krishna, you must come and live with me. The stillness of the cold December night, the loneliness of the Shahbagh gardens and above all the sublimity, and serenity, of the atmosphere in Mataji's room - all combined to produce a sense of holiness which could be distinctly felt. There is an element of spontaneity in the act. Her most eminent and learned interpreter, Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj, in his essay on the nature of her true identity; puts it this way: Thus Grace acts freely and immediately in the case of souls which are not clogged with material vestments The mere fact that her knowledge did not originate from the Guru does not take us very far into its mystery... She played the role of a sadhika in her earlier years, no doubt, and during this period she seemed to have passed through all the stages of a real Sadhika. Answer: Nobody is new. Here was my model in a dual sense: on the one hand, a paragon of that "I am a camera" truthfulness I sought to emulate; on the other, a photographer's "model" whom I could record from every angle. And if you imagine that you receive according to what you do, this is not correct either, for God is not a merchant; with Him there is no bargaining. Just as you are both father and son. Mataji established her main ashram since Dhaka at Kishenpur in 1936 and three others in the Dehradun area later, with further ashrams in the foothills at Almora and Solan. For this purpose, ancient man placed himself and his shrines at the Navel of the Earth, prthivi nabhi. The Self is not subject to destruction. They seem harmonised into a music that is tranquil, dreamy and infused with pathos - something immense, but also restrained. In that condition, she would cover her body completely with a cloth and for a long time retire to a solitary corner of the house and stay by herself. He was on a visit to Paris from Chicago to discuss plans for his new book, Patanjali et le Yoga, for which he wanted to use some of my photographs. The aim is to go beyond accepting and rejecting. As soon as the recitation ceased Mataji's father began to sing a few songs of Ramprasad in an exquisitely melodious voice, and Rai Bahadur Mukherji remarked that the sweet songs of the old man must have been instrumental in bringing about the descent of the Mahadevi. The editor greeted me warmly and opened the mock-up with an air of pleasurable anticipation. Do you know how this is expressed? The fact that she was a woman certainly accentuates the distinctive features of her manifestation. The first is obtained as the result of one's actions; but when it is understood that one cannot get anywhere by one's own effort, then Grace without cause or reason is received. Question; But then the major portion of the work has to be accomplished by the disciple? In fact, it is you alone that questions and you alone that answers. Her femininity certainly imparts to the heritage of Indian and global spirituality certain qualities of flexibility and common sense, lyricism and humour not often associated with its loftiest heights. I chose the word 'simulacrum' with care for the simple reason that I do not know what a divine human being really is. For them she was everything that the Guru traditionally should be a perfect vehicle of Divine Grace. Is there even a question of whether the body exists or not? What did she do to help the poor? At the southern cape, where the temple of the Goddess Kumari Devi (in the form of a little girl) is situated right on the seashore, the little daughters of the temple guardians would move round Mataji in a circle every evening to sing the arati hymn. But I want you to laugh with your whole countenance, with your whole heart and with all the breath of your life. take on the qualities of death and she would grow faint. There are several ponds round Kheora and plenty of little woodland glades full of atmosphere and a strong sense of place. And of course, in my case just as much as in everybody else's, the first priority was my immediate relation to the Spirit. What had touched him to the quick nobody could tell. large crowds of people that would sometimes follow her, she responded. "Then the woman told me that they were so unfree, so dependent in every respect. Every day I was exposed to the scorching rays of the sun and every night stored away in the house. The field of the play is His, the play His as well, and so are those who take part in it - friends and fellow-beings. A few moments before he died she blessed him thrice by passing her hands over his body from head to foot. Who or what is that One Self? She was visited by avatars and deities After the glossolalia she might speak for a little while and then turn silent. That you have no control over the body's need of food and sleep does not matter; your aim should be not to allow any interval in the performance of your sadhana. But how badly mistaken I was! But there is a stage where this question does not arise. On alternate days, she would also drink a small quantity of water. Mataji sat absorbed in bhava and replied in this state, providing all the details as to exactly how large and how high it should be, although she was not in a normal state. She looked extremely delicate, indeed vulnerable, much softer than usual, with a misty look not just to her eyes but to her whole face, as if her head were enveloped in a very fine vapour. We look on them as sinister and mendacious personalities who take backhanders from politicians or seduce the daughters of our friends. Hymns containing many "seed mantras" began to be recited by Mataji in uncommon accents, producing wonderful resonance, which affected the whole surroundings. You become wholly centred on this aspect of Him; then formlessness does not exist for you - this is one state. Nirmala Sundari was famous in Bajitpur for her beauty. Thus, I also wish to honour the memory of a great scholar, Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Sri Gopinath Kaviraj, for wise counsel and for his indefatigable efforts to serve Anandamayi over a very long span of years. Question: If I feel the urge to become a Hindu, should I give way to it or is it right to suppress it, since it is said that everyone has been born where it is best for him? And 60 years of total accessibility must surely have been unendurable had not Anandamayi herself sustained a marvellous balance between effort and effortlessness. The various activities that aid the spiritual life have to be knit together closely with ever renewed effect - as the thread is not seen in a garland, without a gap. Anandamayi possesses an extraordinary gift of remembering people she has met despite the ceaseless and numberless parade of faces which passes daily in front of her eyes." But, more to the point, this body has not come into being to reap the fruits of past karma. Ancestors on both sides of the family had attained spiritual distinction: her father came from the well-known Kashyap clan of Vidyakut. Both watched over each other's needs with attentive concern and Bholanath was a tower of strength on innumerable occasions when it was her kheyala to make almost impossible demands on all who served her. As there is a state of Supreme Knowledge, likewise there is a state of perfection at the zenith of the path of love. For me, this has been the single most important question in my entire life, and remains so. In your person, also He has come here now to give darshan. Those around Mataji could not help but be impregnated with this wonderful ideal, and at the same time feel all the petty differences and distinctions which normally surround us disappearing. I went down to the yard and found that the row was between the senior Swami and Mataji's brother. It is just a common everyday thing, nothing special." I soon noticed the complete absence of regimentation - no serried ranks or rows of obedient congregation, no processions no massed lines of followers performing synchronised rituals at the command of intoning priests. The Sanskritic roots of most modern Indian regional languages run even deeper than those of Latin in some modern European languages, and the Sanskrit vocabulary for spiritual matters, being the richest and most precisely differentiated of all ancient languages, figures prominently even now in daily religious usage. However, in view of her frequent, instant "takes" on a persons inner nature, it is interesting to note that samadhi of the elementary sort is a recognized form of thought for grasping the essentials of an object or person directly without background knowledge or imagination; samadhi makes for extremely acute intuition. Then again at the time of playing the role of a sadhaka it occurred that when people offered pushpanjaliceremonial offering of flowers in worship or placed a garland round my neck, this body would become as if paralysed. Only one man, I gather, Brahmachari Kamal Bhattacharjee, had the ability to transcribe her discourse with scrupulous fidelity. She never complained about these illnesses and said she welcomed them just as she welcomed all her visitors - as manifestations of the One. The "message" of the hierophany, which we read with the benefit of hindsight as a coherent structure, came about bit by bit, enigmatically, and who are we to say what was the participants response? If Henri Cartier-Bresson had recently photographed Sri Aurobindo and Sri Ramana Maharshi, then Anandamayi - their successor in stature, as I was given to understand - might provide me with a scoop. There is certainly a state where both difference and non-difference exist simultaneously - in very truth. In this state there is no room for emotional excitement; indeed, it would make it impossible for Supreme Love to shine forth. What I am claiming is that we have here, in accordance with her kheyala, an entirely spontaneous, involuntary re-emergence of a long-forgotten ancient hierophany. They come to this world with a pure motive of service to humanity. There was no rule about this - they wanted it that way; it was voluntary, spontaneous and unanimous. To sweep and clean, wash clothes and cook primitive kinds of food was hard work for him. You literally shake with merriment from head to foot, so that it is impossible to tell which part of your body is most affected. He is. So long as there is craving, one will be born again and again; in other words, physical existence continues due to the sense of want. "Weren't those trees beautiful," the lady in the back persisted as the car sped on. Some genuine perceptivity must be retained, whether one contemplates the Self as such or any particular form. She was so oblivious to herself that even her sari was slipping down. Indeed, I went to much effort to maintain this outsider's view as a positive factor in my work. So this is now my only request to you - make a place for me in your heart! The process continued till outer consciousness reasserted itself. The experiences of each of these stages are also infinite. Answer: Most certainly you should respond. Then, like a light being switched off- without the least drama - all animation, all expression, all the fine sensitivity that held you in thrall, would abruptly vanish. It does not last; it is impermanent. Nirmala's linking of this mound with Bholanath's austerities in a previous life enriches its charged significance. But if tempted, at the first touch of Bliss, to allow oneself to be drowned in it and later declare: "Where I was I could not say, I do not know", this is not desirable. Delving into her experiences with Swami Sivananda, the Dalai Lama, Anandamayi Ma and other spiritual luminaries, Swami Radha’s explores the roles of the guru and disciple in modern life, dispelling common illusions surrounding this sacred relationship. This is the way to proficiency in meditation. Her life was so completely taken up with her attention to others that there is no tale to tell. At this latter end of the process, her teaching became like the delta of a great river system, an infinity of tributaries, each one flowing towards the unanimity of the human spirit. Hence, when one speaks of Dvait-advaita (non-dualism and dualism, at one and the same time), both are facts. Question: The self Atman and the Supreme Brahman are only differentiated by way of limitation. Early in l982, aged 86, she had made the strenuous journey from Kankhal near Hardwar in the western Himalayan foothills to Calcutta and back. Each of the two standpoints is complete in itself. Arthur Koestler, after a very cursory look at the literature on these phenomena and no direct observation of them loftily declared that - "Anandamayi could be judged both from the mystic and the psychiatric point of view, and the two do not necessarily contradict each other. The eyes of all three of us were now fixed on the strand of hair. For these dignified and venerable religious elders, the most respected in the community, ecstatic trance was a phenomenon of recognized spiritual significance. According to your actions you will reap the fruits. That I, and others, have found the thread of a story is the consequence of the nature of certain events, all of which point towards the central pivot of everything we can relate about Anandamayi's life: her perennial union with the Source, that mystical zero-point of maximum potential. The Guru in his compassion points out each one's own path, the path that leads to Self-Realisation. The Essential Sri Anandamayi Ma - Life and Teachings of a 20th Century Indian Saint So we went there and were told that some three or four miles away in the village of Raipur stood a Shiva Temple which was quite solitary and a fit place for a secluded life. What we have, even so, is impressive, although the musicality and alliterative word-play somehow die on the printed page. Find out! Answer: That is on a different level altogether. He did so. The population of the village was predominantly Muslim and relations between themselves and the few Hindu families were entirely amicable. Without turning towards the other members of the party, she commanded them: "Bring the basket of fruit and all the garlands that are in the car." How itself? In a letter she sent to a group of sadhakas, Anandamayi reveals her own high-energy inclination: .."Those who are pilgrims on the path must develop great inner strength, energy, mobility and swiftness, so that their lives may become beautiful, to fill their new life with a new current. One must be fully conscious, wide-awake. Then the fool, buddhu may perhaps become enlightened buddha. ", When really pressed to answer this question she appeared to experience, at least in her younger days, a considerable degree of agitation. She built her life on the predication that this and this alone matters. leaving us all like this-?'". Are your husband and all others alike to you? The other half was that she was so involved in everything. Then I pressed the shutter once and moved away. She was beginning to establish her public identity and it would soon reach far beyond the circle of companions gathered round her in Dhaka. Answer: In this world? Printed on demand in Canada Question; What is the work of the Guru and what is the work of the disciple? she was saved from death after a car accident when Anandamayi There were several great spiritual personalities alive at that time in India, but none remotely like her in this particular respect. Her body gradually shrank so much in size that everybody had the impression that only her sari was left on the vedi. She has joined three words together in a perfect triptych. This lila was performed secretly. Look, now, at this very moment there is motion as well as rest. There is yet another state (these states are not progressive but each complete in itself), where difference as well as non-difference exist, both being impenetrable, and where He is quite beyond expression. Everyone was witnessing this bhava for the first time, so long had it been kept secret. Inner voices would tell her what actions to perform and which When it is removed, God stands revealed. Hours passed. Just as a man cannot be without bones, blood, flesh and skin, so the One is present everywhere, at all times, interwoven with everything that exists. But by what special work of yours such vision would be possible, no one can predict. It is entirely beyond such words as "what is or what is not?". Intrinsically she was freedom itself -that was one extremely important half of the truth. Now she started moving round the extent of the whole room, as if intoxicated by some strange source of inebriation. Answer: Let the work be done of its own accord, without strain. During the period of sadhana lila, Nirmala Sundari went for days without eating or even taking a drop of water. Addressing the woman with sweetness of tone and expression, the visitor in white told her: "take great care of these two trees and worship them. Your days are numbered and when your time is up you will have to leave. Perhaps, they are implying, there must be something wrong with me, something in my samskaras, which prevented her looking directly at me. Question: People are asked to worship God, to sing His praise in hymns, to perform puja, to repeat constantly His name, and they do all this without knowing what God is. Lo and behold, I was subjected to a new kind of trial. Anandamayi's changes were more extreme than From this point of view, difference undoubtedly exists. Since the habitation constitutes an imago mundi, it is symbolically situated at the Centre of the World. She seemed to be at ease with neither cloth nor pillow, in all weathers, in the cold, on damp ground or dust, or outdoors in pouring rain. No sooner had I noticed this than I was struck by something I was naive enough to believe impossible: events and experiences essentially inner in nature could best be portrayed in action. On the staff of a school inspired by the ideas of Krishnamurti, she was then in the process of readjusting her whole life to the new perspective opened up for her by Anandamayi. Even the simplest of her words in answer to questions had immense and reverberating potency for the recipients. The Guru, by definition, reflects the profoundest and most urgent needs of all followers. In reality I do not move at all. During such periods of complete or partial fasts her appearance was bright and cheerful, her body nimble, full of health and vigour as usual. For what is hidden in ice, water, of course. In response, sannyasa mantras spontaneously issued from Mataji's lips. 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