Shree Ma taught that Man was nothing but the Self.
Shree Shree Ma Anandamayee is a unique name in the realm of saints and sages of India. She was born on April 30, 1896 in a small hamlet called Kheora (now in Bangladesh) in a pious Brahmin family.
She was called Nirmala by her parents. Her father was Bipin Bhattacharya, a deeply religious man and her mother was Mokshada Sundari Devi (she was later known as Swami Muktananda Giriji, after she took Sannyas in 1938).
Unlike ordinary mortals, the baby appeared on this earth with full consciousness. In fact, Ma Anandamayee forever remained in complete identity with the Brahman, the Unmanifest.
The little Nirmala grew up into an exceptionally beautiful and spiritually advanced girl. At only the age of 13, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakravarty on February 7, 1909 who was later known as Bholanath/Pitaji.
After her marriage, she stayed at Sripur and Nurundi, her eldest brother-in-law's place and at Atpara, her in-laws house. Afterwards, she spent three years at Vidyakoot with her father and then for 5/6 years with her husband Bholanathji, before she arrived at Dhaka.
In the words of Bholanathji, she wished to remain an Akhand Brahmacharini all through her life, and that is just what he offered her.
SELF-Initiation : -
Ma received no initiation from any guru. She, in fact, was her own guru. There is perhaps, no other known instance of self-initiation. It happened thus on the night of Jhulan Purnima on August 3, 1922:
When her family had retired to rest, she sat in one corner for her daily worship. After sometime, she watched as her finger, by itself, drew a mystic design (yantra) on the floor. She herself became the Guru! Despite never having learnt Sanskrit, the 'Bij mantra' (mantra syllable, mantra of initiation) proceeded from her lips spontaneously, and she saw herself write this mantra inside the mystic design.
She now became the shisya (disciple) and received the mantra, from herself as the Guru. The Guru, the Shisya and the mantra were now One! She began the japa-sadhana of this new mantra, instead of the Names she had been chanting earlier.
Later, Shree Ma explained the underlying significance of initiation thus ;
"God Himself in the role of the spiritual Guru, disclosed his name to the pilgrim wandering in search of a guide".
While at Shahbagh, at the garden estate of the Nawab of Dhak, Shree Maa used to be immersed in ecstasy most of the time. It was at this time that a unique event took place.
Some years back at Bajitpur, Ma had had a vision of the ancient Siddheswari Kali Temple, lost for ages. Convinced that it was near where she was at Dacca, she urged her disciples to make enquiries. She was led to an abandoned, almost inaccessible Kali temple in the midst of a dark wilderness that hardly anyone knew about. Lo and behold, it was indeed the lost temple!
It was here that Ma was named "Anandamayee" by Bhaiji, and posterity records Shree Ma Anandamayee: The Bliss-permeated Universal Mother, ever radiating her spiritual fragrance all over the globe.
One day, while at Dacca, Shree Ma visited the Mazhar of a Muslim saint located in a garden there. She suddenly started reciting verses from the Quran, which she had never studied before. The Muslim devotees who were around exclaimed that they had never heard such clear and distinct recitation of the Quran from any one before!
Great healing powers emanated from Shree Ma Anandmayee for the benefit and succour of the needy and the tormented. During this early period, when after a deep trance or state of Samadhi Shree Ma returned to her normal serene state, many yogic activities often manifested themselves automatically. At times, uninterrupted and supremely divine tunes would emerge from her lips in the shape of Sanskrit hymns, pregnant with rich spiritual meanings.
Shree Ma said, "You have to go beyond the mirage of getting or not getting, achieving or not achieving. That is the supreme achievement in one's life."
She called it 'Charam-Param', the Super-blissful state. Ma said, "Don't brood over anything excepting Chidananda (super blissful) Ma".
Till 1928 Shree Ma's activities remained mostly confined to Dacca district. After that, there wasn't any restraining her. In May 1928, she visited the temples of Deoghar in Bihar where she met the renowned saint Balananda Brahmachari, who, deeply impressed by her spiritual demeanour, proclaimed: "She is the Divine Mother incarnate."
Wherever she went, she attracted people like a magnet. The rich and poor, irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or religion, and also the most reputed holy men from all corners of India and abroad. In fact, towards the last few years of her life, these saints and sages gathered around her to receive divine benediction.
Despite everything, Shree Ma never called herself "I" , and used to call herself merely this "body", indicating that Ma was totally egoless, and lived beyond the physical self.
She often said, "There is no going or coming for this body." She further said, "You all wanted this body. Now you have got it. Keep it so long it is destined".
In fact, what Ma Anandamayee propagated was a Universal World Religion - full of love, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, unity and self-fulfillment. It propagates peace, shuns violence, stands on truth and is against all type of fanaticism and hegemony.
She laid maximum emphasis on human endeavour and potential, which was infinite.
Very plainly and simply, she repeatedly pronounced, "Know yourself, and that is knowing God".
She said, "All religions lead in the same direction, all religious trends are identical - we are all ONE!"
She said, Shree Ma indicated a cosmic religion which is eternal, all comprehensive, universal, spontaneous and vital. Ma said, "To know one's self is to know God. When this known, nothing else remains to be known. It is the essence of peace, bliss, the essence of being!"
This thoroughly churned up our Sanatan Vedic Dharma, completed its integration and presented to the world its innate beauties, up to the core of its strength! This happened at a critical juncture, when it was needed most by all mankind.
In the contemporary spiritual history of India, such a feat had never been achieved never before.
Shree Ma seldom kept herself confined to any one part of the country. Once, when some devotees observed that Shree Ma was always moving about, she replied that since there was not even enough space on Earth for her to repose, there was no question of her moving from place to place! The fuller implications of her statement would mean that she was not conditioned by space and time, and that her vision was indeed beyond all dimensions.
During her travels many devotees, men, women, young and old joined her entourage. Some permanently left their family homes and stayed with Shree Ma.
The need for constructing Ashrams was thus felt and consequently, a small Ashram was first built at Siddheswari and then one at Ramna in Dhaka. Later, a chain of 26 beautiful Ashrams came into being in different pilgrim centers in the country.
Shree Ma did not tour western countries, yet hundreds of foreigners visited India for Her darshan. Amidst the confusion in values, multiplicity of ideas & dogmas and their cruel material rat-race, Ma Anandamayee was a revelation! What they saw was unbelievable! There was no need of any spoken language! Communication had already taken place through hearts and their questions answered! Ma transcended all limits and barriers of time and space, and yet she accepted everybody who came to her.
In August 1982, Srimad Shankaracharyaji of Sringeri Math visited Shree Ma at Kankhal. Concerned about her, he requested Ma to take Kheyal (care) of her body and life.
Ma replied, "Baba! this body has no disease, only a strong pull is being felt with the Abyakta (undescribable) Brahman!"
In the evening of 27th August 1982, Ma Anandamayee left her body at the Kishenpur, Dehradun Ashram (Uttarakhand).
But in the heart of every pilgrim in search of Truth, she lives and guides forever.