Biography of Anandamayi Ma – Part 2

At the age of 18, Anandamayi Ma came to Ashtagram to stay with her husband at his place of work. From Ashtagram, Bholanath came to Bajitpur on a transfer. It was at Bajitpur that Ma undertook intense sadhana. In the evening she swept the house and its precincts, lit incense and made a circumambulation round the house with the burner in her hand. Then she took care of Bholanath’s needs on his return from work. She even prepared the hookka for his after-dinner smoke. While Bholanath rested, she engaged herself in sadhana. In her childhood she had learnt to chant the name of Hari from her father. Therefore in the beginning of her sadhana she was repeating the word “Hari, Hari, Hari” After a few days she would start holding difficult yogic postures (asanas) for long periods and spontaneously forming complex tantric hand positions (mudras) and gestures. Ma later said, “While practicing Asanas it would have been harmful if my body tried to control and direct the limb movements. I would not get the desired results.” Oneday during this period Bholanath said to her, “Why do you say ‘Hari’? We are not Vaishnavas”. Ma asked, “Shall I then say Siva, Siva?” Bholanath was happy. The change of Name had no effect on the kriyas of sadhana.

Often Nirmala would be lost in spiritual ecstasy while doing household work. Bholanath would find her in that condition after returning from office. The cooking often got spoiled. As Bholanath could not bring her back to normal state she would do it herself. At the sound of religious chanting, she would become stiff and even fall to the ground in a faint. Her body would occasionally become deformed during these events. Sometimes it would lengthen. At others, it would shrink or its limbs would seemingly go into impossible positions as if the skeletal structure had changed shape beneath her skin. Referring to this period of her life, Sri Ma has said, “Sadhanas by which man endeavors to attain self-realization are of endless variety, and each variety has innumerable aspects. All these revealed themselves to me as a part of myself“.

Anandamayi Ma was never formally initiated by a Guru. One evening she spontaneously performed her own initiation, visualizing both the ritual scene and movements. One day before this ceremony, her face assumed peculiar expressions together with a rapid movement of the tongue. She remained in meditation the whole day repeatedly paying tribute to the Sun God. That night while in deep meditation, she had the feeling of entering an unknown world where her whole body turned into an instrument, she herself being the player. The next day she uttered the mantras. The whole day she remained in meditation and indifferent to the happenings around her. In the evening she went into the process of initiation all by herself, completing every single ritual in a perfect manner. This was followed by her undergoing many spiritual experiences. Soon after this Bholanath himself accepted the much-coveted initiation from Ma. From then on their relationship was that of a Guru and a disciple.

<<Part 1: Childhood                 Part 3: Her fame spreads>>