September 2020

Dear Friends,

Anandamayi Ma (née Nirmala Sundari; 30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) was a Bengali Saint, described by Sivananda Saraswati (of the Divine Life Society) as "the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe her perpetual state of divine joy.

Anandamayi was born on 30 April 1896 to the orthodox Vaishnavite Brahmin couple in the village of Kheora, Tipperah District (now Brahmanbaria District), in present-day Bangladesh. Her father was a Vaishnavite singer known for his intense devotion. Though the family lived in poverty. Nirmala attended village schools for a few years. Although her teachers were pleased with her ability, her mother worried about her daughter's mental development because of her constantly indifferent and happy demeanor.

In 1908 at the age of twelve years, in keeping with the rural custom at the time, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakrabarti of Bikrampur (now Munshiganj District) whom she would later rename Bholanath. She spent five years after her marriage at her brother-in-law's home, attending to housework in a withdrawn meditative state much of the time. It was at Ashtagram that a devout neighbor Harakumar, who was widely considered insane, recognised and announced her spiritual eminence, developed a habit of addressing her as "Ma", and prostrated before her morning and evening in reverence.

When Nirmala was about seventeen, she went to live with her husband  at Bajitpur, where she stayed until 1924. It was a celibate marriage.

On the full moon night of August 1922, at midnight, twenty-six-year-old Nirmala enacted her own spiritual initiation. She explained that the ceremony and its rites were being revealed to her spontaneously by her guru. Now she has started going into ecstasies at public kirtans. Jyotiscandra Ray, known as "Bhaiji," was an early and close disciple. He was the first to suggest that Nirmala be called Anandamayi Ma, meaning "Joy Permeated Mother", or "Bliss Permeated Mother".

Afterwards, she shifted to Dehradun. Various scholars were drawn to Anandamayi Ma's light, gift, power and message of love, though she continued to describe herself as "a little unlettered child".  Uday Shankar, the famous dance artist, was impressed by the  Anandamayi Ma's analysis of dance, which she used as a metaphor for the relationship between people and God. She was a contemporary of the well-known Hindu saints like Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Ramdas, and Paramahansa Yogananda.

Ma died on 27 August 1982 in Dehradun, and subsequently on 29 August 1982 a Samadhi (shrine) was built in the courtyard of her Kankhal ashram, situated in Haridwar. In this issue, we have given some of her quotable quotes.

September issue covers a very thought provoking write up The Human Potential By N.Arthur Coulter

In happenings section, we have covered training programme on (i) Organic farming, (ii) Virtual question and answer session on “Traditional Varma chikitsa” (iii) commissioning of Agricultural waste based bio-methantion plant (iv) Mud road making – a Green technology (v) Inauguration of Anjaneya Fitness Farm etc.

In the wisdom section, Anthony De Mello, an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist wants us to decondition ourselves so that we will be “Alive”. Mahatma Gandhi in his famous book ‘Hind Swaraj’ laments that Indians are becoming irreligious and finally James Jeans, a noted Mathematician reminds us about the inadequacies of science.

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With best wishes,
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