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By Mahamahopadhyaya Gopinath Karviraj
(Note: Sri Gopinath Kaviraj was considered the greatest living Pandit and philosopher of his generation. For many years the Principal of the prestigious Sanskrit College of Varanasi, he was also a disciple of the great Swami Vishudhananda and had attained an exalted state of sainthood and yogic accomplishment himself. He first came to Ma in 1928 and found in Ma all the manifestations of divinity expounded in the Scriptures that he studied. He became Her lifelong devotee and spent the last years of his life in residence in Her ashram in Varanasi , leaving his body there in the 1970’s.)
It was on a fine autumn morning in 1928 that I first came to know the name of Mother Anandamayi. I was getting ready to go to college—I had then not retired—when the late Pandit Padmanath Vidyavinoda came and met me in my house and informed me that Mother Anandamayi of Dacca had come to Banaras . He said to me that the sight of Ma absorbed in Samadhi was really an ennobling one, and he asked me to go and see Her if possible. This commendation from the lips of a person who was known to be a fastidious critic of men and things and who spared none from his attacks seemed to me to carry special weight.
Ma was staying then in the house of Kunja Babu at Ramapura. I went in the evening and Bholanath ji (Ma’s saintly husband) took me to a small room on the ground floor where I found Ma absorbed in Samadhi surrounded by a number of bhaktas. Ma’s condition did not come down to normal even in two to three hours, so I returned home with the intention of coming and seeing Her the next day.
I came back to Ma on the 7th as already arranged. In fact, I came twice every day during Her short stay at Bararas till the 12th September. I remember I did not miss a single day. I can only say that what I actually saw with my own eyes far exceeded anything of a like nature I had ever seen before; it was a dream, as it were, realized in life. During the few days Ma was at Banaras, Kunja Babu’s house presented a spectacle of festive jubilation where an unending stream of visitors continued to flow in from before sunrise till after midnight. All were welcome. The beauty of it was that all felt a sort of magnetic charm in Ma’s personality, so that those who had come once out of curiosity count not resist the temptation of coming again, no longer out of curiosity, but owing to some mysterious attraction. All felt like little children in the presence of their own mother. Mother behaved with them as with Her own children—dear, affectionate and very familiar.
Every evening a sort of informal meeting would be arranged in the courtyard where the visitors would be seated round Ma and ply Her with questions. She used to reply to each question resolving the doubts of the inquirers with a few short sentences in Her sweet and inimitable manner. It was wonderful how Ma tackled all these questions with the same ease and spontaneity and without requiring a moment’s reflection to deal with even the most abstruse and knotty problems brought before Her. Every word that fell from Her lips carried weight, and humor too was not wanting when occasion demanded it.
On occasions when kirtan was being sung it was observed that Ma’s appearance became aglow with Bhava and the normal gave way to the supernormal.
The greatest thing that struck me in those days was Her personality. Her physical features were magnetic—Her smiling countenance, the sweetness of Her expression, the simplicity of Her life and behavior, Her unassuming and genial manners, the cordiality and warmth of Her relationship with all, coupled with Her extraordinary holy life and wisdom, made Her an object of universal attraction and adoration.
(Next, Kaviraj ji goes at great length into an analysis of Ma’s state, showing time and again what Ma is NOT—from an illumined Yogi to a Divine Incarnation—simply because She cannot be confined within the limits of any definition but transcends them all. After exhausting all possibilities he concludes by saying:)
We know very well that behind all these appearances She retains the self-same and eternally self-revealed consciousness. It is therefore a very difficult task to try to describe Ma as She really is. She is too near us to be seen in Her proper perspective, and as for ourselves we too shall have to rise up to the heights and attain to a broad outlook in which an attempt may be made to study Her properly. What is really needed is to feel that She is Mother and we are Her children, and that as mere children we cannot be expected to know Her as She is but only as She shows Herself to us in response to our longings. It really becomes us to behave as infants crying out in the night and invoking Ma with an inarticulate language for Her actual descent and benediction. Jai Ma!
Matri Vani (Ma’s words)
(from Matri Vani, volume 2)
“In order to annihilate what is undesirable and harmful (anishta), the m ind has to be steeped in the adoration of the Beloved (Ishta). The notion that He is far away must be altogether given up. Thou art within and without, in every vein and artery, in every leaf and blade of grass, in the world and beyond it. The awakening of the sense of want is to be welcomed; it opens the way. He is there at every step to make the unfit expert. ‘As the sense of want and emptiness appearest Thou and no other—Thou art close by; Lord, I take refuge in Thee, I take refuge in Thee!’
The Name and the Named are identical; for He Himself appears as the Name. The letter (akshara) is indeed God’s own guise. When the Name one repeats becomes alive, it is as when a seed is sown the tree grows out of it. If the Name that appeals most to any particular person is constantly repeated, one arrives at the realization that all names are His names, all forms His forms. Furthermore, that He is without name and form will also by and by come to light.
Karma accumulated for ages and ages, sins and desires are wiped out by God’s sacred Name. Just as lighting a lamp illumines a cave that has been in darkness for centuries, even so the obscurity of numberless births is annihilated by the power of a divine Name.
The moment that has passed does not return. Time must be used well. Only when spent in the effort to know ‘Who am I?’ has it been used well.”
Two representatives of the ashram (Swami Mangalananda and Brahmachari Omananda) attended the Matri Katha given by Sri Ashok Kulkarni at Ma’s Samadhi Mandir in Kankhal. The event was truly inspiring with many old and life-long devotees of Ma present. Sri Ashok ji took the participants through Ma’s life philosophically, illustrating with many moving personal experiences from his own long association with Sri Ma. All received great benefit from the five-day event.
The Indore and Omkareshwar Ashrams were greatly honored by the visit of Swami Muktananda, the current Head of Anandashram in Kerala. This ashram was founded by beloved Papa Ramdas and Mother Krishnabai. Swamiji’s dynamic presence charmed all and he graciously shared his years of experience in education with us. One evening in Omkareshwar he held an informal session with our resident hostel boys in which by examples and questions, Swamiji brought out beautiful answers and responses from within the children themselves. Swamiji loved our school run in Ma’s name and promised to keep in contact in the future.
We end with Ma’s own words about Herself:
“In all your activities, in your sadhana, Ma is with you. With perfect repose sit still thinking: ‘In the midst of emptiness, Ma is with me!’ This will give you ananda. Whether you meditate quietly or lying down, feel: ‘Ma is with me at every single moment.’” –Sri Sri Ma