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  • Sri Anandamayi Ma. Life and teaching of the mother permeated with joy

When Paramhansa Yogananda met Sri Anandamayi Ma in 1936 and asked her to say something about her life, Mataji replied: “Father, there is little to say. My consciousness has never been associated with this transitory body. Before coming to this earth ... 'I was the same'. As a child 'I was the same'. I became a woman, but 'I was the same'. When the family arranged to marry this body, 'I was the same'. And now in front of you, Father, 'I am the same'; and forever in the future, although the dance of creation changes around me in the space of eternity, 'I will be the same' ”.

Writing about the lives of people like Sri Anandamayi Ma is definitely impossible. Those who engage in this attempt run the risk of narrating only a series of external facts, without being able to grasp the essence that lies beyond the appearance. The life of these greats escapes any attempt at historicization. In their case it is not possible to apply the common evolutionary concepts of birth, growth, development and death, which fall under the dominion of space and time. According to the Hindus, all spatio-temporal creation is the lila (game) of God. The term lila also defines the earthly events of the incarnations of God. Mataji often said that she was a detached spectator who voluntarily played in the illusory theater of the world of names and forms; for this reason it seems correct to speak of 'Lila of Sri Anandamayi Ma'.

That said, let's briefly see what the highlights of his lila were. His parents were Vaishnava devotees. The mother, who was called Mokshada, was the sublime model of all Hindu women. After the birth of the first daughter, the father had left to lead an ascetic life, but the sudden death of the child had made him resume the life of the head of the family. A few years later, in Kheora, a small village in East Bengal (today Bangladesh), on April 30, 1896, twelve minutes before the sun rose, another baby girl was born to them, who was called Nirmala Sundari Devi. Four other brothers and two sisters were born after her.

Nirmala Sundari (which means Immaculate Beauty) grew up in an atmosphere of extreme simplicity; always joyful and smiling, she was helpful and friendly to everyone, Hindus and Muslims. Without hesitation he obeyed the words of the grown-ups. Her schooling lasted just under two years, since the family could not do without her services. His religious education was poor, but he soon accompanied his father in religious ceremonies, singing sacred hymns with him. Every now and then she had moments of 'absence': in the middle of a job or a game the little girl became inert, with her gaze fixed and, when she regained her senses, she seemed to go back from far away. Other times they saw her talking to plants and apparently invisible beings. However, these things were quite rare, and his parents didn't care. In 1909 they arranged for their daughter to marry the Brahmin RM Chakravarti, who would later be called Bholanath (a name of Shiva). According to custom, after the ceremony the bride returned to live with her parents. Bholanath, who was much older, often changed jobs and moved continuously throughout East Bengal; so the couple only reunited after five years. A year after the ceremony (according to local custom), Nirmala went to live with her husband's family, to prepare for her future duties as a wife. Here, too, everyone was amazed by his obedience, by the precision and speed with which he worked and above all by his cheerfulness.