My First Meetings with Anandamayi Ma, February, 1959, part 2
by Swami Kriyananda
originally published in Ananda Varta, October 1983
Thursday, February 12, 1959
Daya Ma and the others had been planning to visit the Mother on Friday, but changed their minds on learning that Saraswati puja was a special day at the Agarpara ashram.
We arrived there at about eleven in the morning. Daya Ma was as anxious as I’d been to internalize the experience. She didn’t want it turned into a ceremonial encounter between two heads of religious organizations. At her request, therefore, care was taken not to disclose her identity and those of the other sisters. The three of them took their seats a bit away from the crowd, and at a distance from the Mother. I sat at the back of the crowd.
Standing up at one point to locate the sisters, I caught the Mother’s eye. Sitting down again, I found my meditation instantly deepening.
Public curiosity about us couldn’t be stifled. When the puja ceremony had ended, people approached Prabhas-da (Master’s cousin) and Mohini Chakravarty and asked who we were. Thus the truth came out. Daya Ma and the rest of us were immediately invited to come up on to the platform and sit near the Mother, who blessed each of us, giving Mataji a garland, and the rest of us, roses.
Many people came forward for Her blessings. One woman pressed many gifts on Her, but not in a spirit of devotion. The Mother turned away from her to face us. Her magnetism drew us into a meditative state.
Then She asked me to sing. Nervously at ﬁrst, I complied by singing Ram Proshad’s beautiful song, in Bengali, “Will that day come to me, Ma, when crying, Mother! my eyes will ﬂow with tears?” I soon lost myself in the inspiration of the words.
“Most beautifully sung!” exclaimed the Mother at the song’s end. Turning to the crowd, She remarked concerning us, “They are soft!”
Then, rising, She told us, “Please remain seated. I will be away only for a little while.”
After She’d left I sang Master’s chant, “In the Valley of Sorrows,” in English. She returned after I’d ﬁnished, and told me, “I was listening to you. Please sing it again.”
I did so, then sang two other songs in Bengali: “Blue Lotus Feet,” and “Take Me on Thy Lap, O Mother.”
“What sweetness you express through your singing,” She exclaimed.
I said, “It gives me much joy to be able to sing for you,” to which She replied:
“Joy cannot be measured in terms of ‘much’ or ‘little.’ It is absolute.”
A devotee then sang a devotional song in Hindi. While the woman was singing, the Mother looked at Daya Ma long and deeply. Afterward, She remarked to the crowd, “Look, here you see an example of the unimportance of understanding the words literally. These Americans have not literally followed a single word of the Hindi song. But see how, overcome by the spirit of the song, water is ﬂowing down their cheeks!” She tossed Daya Ma a garland, then gave us all garlands. Of Daya Ma She said, “She has come a long way to make this contact. Her meditative state is beautiful.”
The time came at last for us to leave. Using the Bengali expression for “goodbye,” I said, “Tabe asi” (literally, “Then I come” again).
“To say you will come again,” She replied with a gentle smile, “implies that we shall be separated for a while. But there can be no separation between us.”
Friday evening, February 13th
I postponed my trip to Madras, so as to take the fullest possible advantage of Mother’s stay near Calcutta.
Friday evening I went again, accompanied by Mohini, but without the others. The Mother asked me to chant again. I sang “Blue Lotus Feet,” and, “Will That Day Come to Me, Ma?” Later, still under the impression that I, rather than Daya Ma, had requested an interview, She asked me if I didn’t want to see Her privately. At ﬁrst, embarrassed to take up Her time, I declined, but almost immediately corrected myself and said ‘Yes’.
Mohini came into Her interview room with me to act as a translator. But once we got there, I could think of nothing to say! Then I remembered that Brother Turiyananda, in America, had told me the only thing he wanted from India was Anandamayi Ma’s blessings, and some item that She had used. I made this request for him.
“Very well,” She replied.
“Also,” I continued, recalling a problem that was bothering me, “my sadhana has been a little difficult in recent weeks. Might I have your blessings, and any advice that you’d care to give me?”
Mother: “Always think the Divine grace is with you. Depend on it, and you will never ﬁnd it wanting.” She paused, then continued, “Now, then, tell me what you want me to give you of my belongings.”
I: “Mother, that is for you to say.”
Mother: “No. Take anything — bed sheet, shawl — anything.”
She: “Will you be shy about asking from your own mother ?”
I: “But please, I don’t know what you need most.”
She: “I don’t need anything!”
I: “Please, at least let one of your devotees choose for you.”
She: (ﬁrmly) “No, you must choose. Are you not my own?”
I: (wanting to make the smallest request possible) “Then Mother, might I have a handkerchief?”
An attendant rose instantly to fetch one for me. Thinking suddenly how nice it would be to have a memento of my own, I said hastily, “Mother, might I have two handkerchiefs ?” Everyone laughed.
Mother: (taking off Her shawl and giving it to me) “Here, this is for you. I have worn it for ﬁve years.” She gazed at me lovingly. Then, in Her mood to give me more, She ordered the attendant to bring me a ﬂower bouquet also. Of the shawl, She told me, “Wrap your body with this shawl, but always remember that Nama — God’s Name —— is the best thing in which to wrap yourself.”
Overcome with emotion, I held the shawl silently to my heart for some moments. Then I told Her, “We all feel we are not meeting you for the ﬁrst time.”
Mother: “The more you advance in meditation, the more you will realize your identity with me.”
I: “Mother, would you give me some personal advice for my spiritual practice?
She: “Always practise japa (taking God’s name). Keep your mind busy chanting God’s name, and you won’t have time to think of anything else. Say, ‘Hari! Hari!” — here She clapped her hands joyfully once, as if to indicate that everything of this world disappears with the thought of God — “or any other mantra you like. Filled with His joy, you will laugh at all dangers.”
I: “I like to take my Guru’s name.”
She: “That is good. Everything you have attained has come to you through his blessings.”
I was so full of inner joy by this time that I could only close my eyes in meditation. While I meditated, the Mother spoke brieﬂy with Mohini. He told Her that I and the others in our party meditated five or six hours a day.
Mother: “I can see that. Your American brother and sisters are highly advanced in the spiritual path. Daya Ma, especially, enjoys perfect calm, both inside and outside.”
I: “Mother, you are so good.”
Mother: (sweetly) “It takes goodness to see goodness.”
She gave me the bouquet She had ordered, and the handkerchief, adding to them a large towel.
Love ﬁlled my heart.
“Tamar chhele khub kusi,” I said as we left, meaning, “Your child is very happy!”
Saturday, February 14th
We went again to Agarpara this evening. Mother asked me to sing “Blue Lotus Feet” for Her again. I sang it gladly.
Mother: “How many times I have asked him to sing this song! In spite of so many repetitions, it never loses its charm.”
Later I told Her, “Daya Ma would like to spend some time with you alone — not to talk; just to meditate.”
Mother: “She is always welcome.”
I had brought a scarf to give Her. Hesitantly I gave it at last, whereupon She said playfully, “I was going to snatch it from you, but waited to see if you would give it!” She then asked me to put it around Her shoulders.
When I had done so, she repeated ten times, solemnly, “Tamar ghare ami thaki” — “I dwell in your heart (literally, room).”
“I know,” I said, thinking of a blessing I had received from Her in meditation that morning. I added, “Ami tomar chhele — I am your child.”
She: “This is not a new relationship. It is eternal.”
I: “I know.” I was thinking both in the human sense, and of Her as a manifestation of the Divine Mother.
In time I became known affectionately as Her “chhoto chhele — little child.”
Many were the meetings we had over the months and years after that. Always She showered me with grace. One time She said, “Many thousands have come to this body. None have attracted me as you have.” The translators emphasized several times to me that she had said, “None.”
Another time She said, “There are people who have been with me for twenty-five years and more, but they haven’t taken from me what you have.”
And to others I’m told She once said, “Here is a lotus in a pond. Many frogs sit under the lotus, croaking. Then a bee ﬂies in, takes the honey, and ﬂies away. Kriyananda is that bee.”
She surprised me once by asking, “What would you say if I asked you to stay here?” Why did She ask me that? Perhaps She saw what I would suffer from my Guru’s organization. But even had I known what the future would bring, I would have faced that suffering rather than forsake my dedication to him. Perhaps She didn’t want me to devote my life to service, but purely to sadhana.
I could have remained faithful to Master in Her ashram. Certainly She would not have asked me to leave him; that is not Her way. But I couldn’t set aside his words to me: “Your life is one of intense activity — and meditation”; his statement, “Your work is lecturing and writing; and his frequent charge to me, “You have a great work to do.” Moreover, I had dedicated this incarnation to spreading his work. I live for nothing else.
After my separation from SRF, Anandamayi Ma later told me, She would gladly have taken me in. But Master himself seems to have prevented that possibility, for I was not granted an Indian visa for ten years.
Nevertheless, Anandamayi Ma occupies a more than special place in my heart. I see Her as the Divine Mother Herself. Through Her, next to Master, I have received the greatest blessings in my life. Indeed, with Her I was able to have the relationship that my greenness on the path never permitted me to have with Master during his lifetime. It was a relationship which, far from taking me from my Guru, served to deepen my relationship also with him.