anandamayi-ma

Anandamayi Ma (30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) of India (from Bengal) was regarded as a Self/God-realized master. Sivananda Saraswati of the Divine Life Society described her as “the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced.” Precognition, faith healing and other miracles were attributed to her by her followers. Paramhansa Yogananda translates Anandamayi as “joy-permeated”. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe what they saw as her habitual state of divine joy and bliss.

Anandamayi was born Nirmala Sundari on 30 April 1896 to Bipinbihari Bhattacharya and Mokshada Sundari Devi in Kheora, Brahmanbaria District, British India, in what is now Bangladesh. Her father, originally from Vidyakut in Tripura, was a Vaishnavite singer known for his devotion. They lived in poverty. Nirmala attended the village school for approximately two years. Although her teachers were pleased with her ability, her family had doubts about her mental abilities because of her indifference and constantly happy demeanor. When her mother once fell seriously ill, relatives remarked with puzzlement about the child remaining apparently unaffected.

In 1908 at the age of thirteen, in keeping with the rural custom at the time, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakrabarti of Vikramapura, whom she would later rename Bholanath. She spent five years after her marriage at her brother-in-law’s home, where she was in a withdrawn meditative state much of the time. It was here that a devout neighbor considered insane, Harakumar, developed a habit of addressing her as “Maa”, and prostrated before her morning and evening in reverence. When Nirmala was about seventeen, she went to live with her husband in Ashtagram. In 1918, she moved to Bajitpur, where she stayed until 1924. It was a celibate marriage—whenever thoughts of sexuality occurred to Ramani, Nirmala’s body would take on the qualities of death. 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 as and when they were called for. She later stated, “As the master (guru) I revealed the mantra; as the disciple (shishya) I accepted it and started to recite it.”

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 North India, a shrine was later erected over the samadhi, now known as the Ananda Jyoti Peetham.