Anandamayi Ma as the Guru

“How would the lives of Western women have been different if they had been raised to believe that God was a Mother, all loving and all powerful?”  It is with this thought-provoking question that Lisa “Prajna” Hallstrom opens her book Mother of Bliss on the life of the Bengali woman saint, Anandmayi Ma(1896-1982).  Hallstrom, through this book, sought to understand the phenomenon of female spiritual Gurus in India.  (See her website)

The book is based on recorded Q&A sessions as well as interviews with 42 devotees (24 householders and 14 renunciants, 25 women and 17 men) and an additional 7 other people who were in close contact with Anandamayi Ma. This article, which is derived from the book, discusses the versatile manner in which Anandmayi Ma functioned as a Guru to her innumerable followers.  It is instructive to examine such Guru-disciple interactions so that we may mould our lives accordingly (rather than gather mold!).

Anandamayi Ma

Calibrating the technique to the individual

Individuals come to the spiritual path in all shapes and sizes.  Some are drawn to Divine in beatific forms, while others contemplate on the formless; Some are intellectually accomplished and others may be devotional in nature. Consequently, a good Guru has to tailor the spiritual techniques to the Swadharma(law of being or psychic orientation) of every individual.  The Buddha denotes this capacity of the Guru as upaya kaushalya(skill in means) and Hinduism in general calls it Adhikara-Bheda(adapting to varying capacity).  With her enlightened consciousness, Anandamayi Ma would assess the capacities of every individual, singling out a few for intensive practice while allowing the rest to focus their entire practice on her as their ishta devata (cherished deity), by surrendering their ego to her.  She encouraged each individual to be true to their ashrama (stage in life) – be it ascetic or householder.  Some were admitted to her Ashram as renunciants and others were expected to live pious lives as householders. In this way, she created an esoteric core of disciples within the larger community of devotees.

The spiritual practice centered around mantra-chanting, meditation, ritual worship(puja), and devotional singing (bhajan) as well as reading and imbibing the message of the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred texts drawn from the Bengali Vaishnava and Shakta tradition.  Some individuals were prescribed meditation, others chanting and yet others were prescribed ritual worship or some combination thereof based on the basic orientation of their personality.  In some cases, husband and wife were asked to worship together at some pre-selected time of the day.

Once an overwhelmed young housewife who received instructions for her practice asked Ma, “How will I do all this?”.  Ma replied, “Why ten minutes is not such a big thing!”.  Ma then told her that if she tried to sit for longer, she would only be thinking about boiling milk. “Later,” Ma said, “you can chant the name in your mind when you’re working.”

While some were asked to undertake rigorous askesis, those who were prescribed the path of surrender were asked to simply become conscious of their ego and surrender to the Divine will.  She told them:

Where complete self-effacement is the sadhana(practice), no other mantra or tantra is required.  Try to become as a little child and without any other effort on your part, the Great Mother of the World will take you in Her arms. But, if on the contrary, you wish to be guided by your own intelligence, you will have yourself to shoulder the entire responsibility for your uplift. Are you not weary of the play of your reason, have you not tasted enough of victory and defeat? Now is the moment to throw yourself into the Mercy of the Almighty as one without shelter and support. Leap into His embrace and you will be released from cares. Remember that it is the pure fool who shall find God.

Her meeting with two merchants illustrates the consummate flair with which she assessed and awakened people:

I met two seths(merchants), rich people [on a train]. I asked them to give bhiksha (alms), saying, “What can you give?”. They were afraid. They thought I was asking for money. They said, “We want to leave right now.” I said, “But you said that you want to hear something spiritual from me. I did not ask you to come here. You have come on your own.  You asked me to speak and I started speaking. You said you will do as I say. Now when I started talking about alms you are talking of leaving.” Both were looking dumbstruck. They were caught in their own words…. “What do you want?” one of them asked, “Beans, rice, flour? Whatever you need I shall give you.” I explained, “Remember Him who has created you. That is the only alms I want from you.” Then he listened to me with great attention and interest and said after listening to me, “I shall surely do as you say. The truth is that we are rich people and we are engaged twenty-four hours a day in these things alone.” I said, “At least take off fifteen minutes for Him a day.” I thought, “Everybody is busy with this world alone. There should be some efforts to return to their real home.”

Be my friend!

Those who are drawn to the spiritual path are often confronted with the knotty question of marriage and a suitable partner.  Here too, Anandamayi Ma provided guidance based on the Swadharma(law of being or psychic orientation) of each individual.

Certain individuals whom she considered mature enough to lead an ascetic life were encouraged to remain celibate.  One individual, when he was about fifteen, went to see Ma in Brindavan with his grandmother.  Ma said to him, “Aaj se hum bandhu,” or “From today we are friends.”  Ma’s friends were her celibate, renunciant disciples.  Although she called all children bandhu(friends), if she said, “From today we are friends,” it was considered a command to live a celibate life.

Another case concerned a woman who was about to leave for study in America.  Ma shocked her by saying, “You are going. I have given you permission to go, but you be careful. You don’t mix with boys or don’t go into some action that is not proper in a life of a kumari (a virgin girl).” The next advice she gave her was, “You are my friend. I call unmarried boys and girls my friends. Be my friend all your life. Don’t get married ever.” That was a very point-blank instruction given to a very modern smart girl who had all hopes for a future career and life.

For householders, the overall directive was to fulfill the ashrama(stage of life) to perfection, to be a sadgrihasta, a true householder.  According to one devotee, this meant living a dharmic or controlled life.  Hallstrom asked the householder devotees if Ma expected them to be celibate in their marriages. The answer was a resounding “No.”  One woman replied, “No, I’ll tell you. It’s that you do not have or you do not even think about having extra-marital sex. Within the rules of the shastras, if you and your husband cleave to each other, then you are as good as someone who is celibate. Ma always said, ‘Celibacy is of the mind. If you are celibate with your body and in your mind you are lusting after somebody else, then that is not celibacy.’”

Anandamayi Ma lived in a simpler time where she did not have to deal with hookup sex, friends with benefits, open marriage, serial polygamy, prenuptial agreements, divorce, child custody disputes, abandonment issues and other contemporary innovations and awful complications.  Despite all that, her suggestions should not be considered outdated because they were driven not by the culture of the age but by timeless insights into the austerities that are needed to unveil the effulgent soul which sits within each individual.  The takeaway lesson for those who wish to progress inwardly is that, irrespective of the age you live in, it is always beneficial to seek a relationship which is long-term rather than short-term, and especially one which is centered around a higher spiritual ideal. Attention expended on fickle temporary partners eventually exhausts the vitality and can even leave traumatic memories, which in turn create deeper subconscious weaknesses (i.e. Karma) which have to be overcome.

Leave not thy goal to follow a beautiful face.
Only when thou hast climbed above thy mind
And liv’st in the calm vastness of the One
Can love be eternal in the eternal Bliss
And love divine replace the human tie.

(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book VI, Canto I)

Two wings of the bird : effort and grace

As Hallstrom perceptively points out, there is parallel tension between the philosophical schools of jnana yoga and the Vaishnava and Shakta schools of bhakti yoga, which is the tension between self-effort and grace and their relative importance. Schools that emphasize jnana, tend to emphasize self-effort; schools that emphasize bhakti tend to emphasize grace (kripa), and surrender (prapatti). The reconciliation between these differences lies in the fact that irrespective of whether Ma asked someone to follow the path of knowledge, the path of yoga, or the path of devotion, it was ultimately the path of turning within, or introversion, called nivritti. While pravritti is looking to the materialistic world for enjoyment, nivritti is looking within for the truth, for God.   In a talk Ma gave, she expatiated that each individual is required to put in some effort, according to his or her capacity, in order to qualify for Grace:

So, it is your duty to prepare your spiritual field to receive the rains of aurhetu kripa (undeserved grace) in time. Had it not been your responsibility, what was the use of coming over here and doing all this sadhana? What was the necessity of doing this action (kriya)? To think that “He will shower his grace and everything will be all right” is totally wrong. Why do you not rely on his grace for eating and drinking? Why do you do business and have these big factories? Do you not use your hands and minds for these worldly things? Then why do you not use your mind in spiritual realm also? He is very kind, there is no doubt about it. He has given you these hands and this mind only because He is kind. So use them for His work. Then automatically your mind will be ready to receive the rains of His beautiful, ever-raining Grace. How many avaranas (veils) are over your mind. Remove those veils. Then your vessel, which is not straight, will become right. But this will be done by a person’s own power, not by the Grace of God. No doubt His power will help you because without Him no one will succeed in his efforts.

One individual, Subodh Chattaraj, undertook rigorous austerities and had certain experiences, but later as he continued the same practices, the experiences did not repeat.  He asked Ma why he wasn’t getting anything although he was trying so hard.  She replied, “Those things cannot be earned by practice. It comes with the higher grace. It comes sometimes.”

On the other hand, there were people who would often ask Ma’s Grace to help them obtain good fortune, children, and other worldly comforts.  Ma would reply, “Don’t waste time in this way.  Ask for something great.”  One Swami praised Swami Jnanananda: “He has taken whatever Ma wanted to give; we have taken only worldly things. Ma can give the spiritual world, but we were interested only in good living and good food.”

The following anecdote from the book concerns an individual who had a dream in which Anandamayi Ma encouraged her to keep up the effort:

Ma came in my dream.  There was a narrow path going along a hill, dimly lit. I am just about able to see Ma. Then she comes up to me and she says, “See, you have come up this path. It looks very difficult. But I am telling everyone, ‘It won’t be difficult if you carry me on your back.’ “Those were her words. She means if you take her with you always. But she told me, “Nobody’s willing to do it!” She said this. She said, ”I’m telling everybody. ‘Don’t be put off by the path. You just have to carry Me with you. It will be made easy!’ But they are not willing to do it. “Then I tell her”–(of course, this looks like a little bit of ego)— “Ma, I think I will do it.” She says, “Oh, will you do it, will you?” She seems so pleased in the dream! So, Ma was the manifestation of love and compassion. She wants us to pick it up and manifest it, too. The guru expects you to be like him.

Grace and self-effort are called the two wings of the bird, and the seeker who maintains a perfect balance between them eventually reaches liberation (soul awakening). It is incumbent, therefore, to persevere while being patient.

Its a bird! Its a plane! No, its a liberated soul. Photo credit: sydphi via flickr. Creative Commons. Click image for source

References

  1. Lisa Hallstrom, Mother of Bliss: Anandamayi Ma, (NY : Oxford University Press, 2008) pp 142-143.

Related Posts

  1. How does a Guru act?
  2. Stages in the spiritual journey (Anandamayi Ma)
  3. Identifying the signs of spiritual progress
  4. Some disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
  5. Signs of spiritual apitude
  6. Signs of readiness for the spiritual path
  7. Modalities of the Initiation process (Diksha)
  8. Are Indians more spiritual?
  9. The foundation of spiritual relationships
  10. Developing one’s own spiritual atmosphere (Gita 3:17)
  11. Developing discernment on which actions are spiritual
  12. The spiritual aptitude (adhikara) needed for Yoga
Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Anandamayi Ma as the Guru

  1. Sandeep Post author

    A blog reader from Germany sent me info on “Healing Music for Feminine Balance(Stree Santulan)” prepared by Balaji Tambe, an Ayurvedic doctor.

    See
    http://www.amazon.com/Feminine-Balance-Shri-Balaji-Tambe/dp/B004DTS2K4

    Ancient Indian scriptures say:
    “Yatra naryastu poojyante, ramante tatra devatah”

    The society where the women are healthy, where they are treated with respect and love, where they are protected in body, mind and soul, is the society where prosperity, peace, goodness and spiritual richness will prevail.

    For the modern woman of the 21th century, it has been become imperative to remember some ancient vital truths for their own physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The music that follows will help the woman to achieve all aims in life.

    God created woman with beauty and balance. Her special hormonal cycle acts as a barrier to disease, and gives her strength and immunity for many afflictions.

    It is also known that a woman‘s beauty and kindness is a reflection of her inner health and her inner femininity. Only a woman full of energy and vitality can ensure the health of future generations.

    The presence of a woman brings joy and creativity to make life a celebration.

    The unique music is the outcome of many years of research by Vaidya Shri Balaji Tambe. Listening regularly to this music, interwoven with traditional mantras, offers health and harmony.

    Ancient Indian scriptures emphasise the importance of a woman‘s innate femininity for bringing joy and creativity to this world. In modern times, it is important as ever for a woman to maintain the delicate feminine balance for health of the body, mind and soul.

    “Healing music is very carefully planned to have precisely the designed effects on the listener. It is much more than just a matter of singing devotional songs or mantras. When certain vibrations are included through specific phonetic expressions, the music can reach particular organs to balance and rejuvenate the entire system. The vocals and phonetics are specially designed to interact with the breath and the bio-energy systems in the body. The compositions work as vibrations which stimulate different centres in the brain. Healing music is designed in such a manner that the notes and the ragas have a scientific connection at all three levels of body, mind and soul.”

    Reply
  2. Diane

    In a recent article Charles Eistenstein says the Age of the Guru is dead.
    Eistenstein argues

    No human being can hold the guru energy in post-modern society. This is old news – the age of the guru has been over for at least thirty years. In the 1960s and 70s, any number of masters came to America from the East and, absent the cultural structures that traditionally kept them in an insulated realm, succumbed one after another to scandals involving money, sex, and power.
    he further states
    ….Quite practically, to inhabit a more enlightened state we must be held there by a community of new habits, new ways of seeing each other, and new beliefs in action that redefine normal.(Charles Eistenstein, The Age of the Guru is Dead at Reality Sandwich website)
    While I think he is probably throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I also feel that it resonates with the fact that Sri Aurobindo, rather than leaving behind a successor (this excluded the Mother of course) left his teachings behind in written form, one of the first of the great spritual teachers to do this, as if he knew this coming age was approaching and left us the tools to be able to carry on our sadhana independently.
    Neither did the Mother nominate a successor. I do remember reading in the Agenda somewhere the below quote is something like it
    Agenda June 23, 1965
    So, Auroville is meant more for the outside.
    Oh, yes! It’s a town, so it is the whole contact with the outside. And an attempt to achieve on earth a slightly more ideal life.
    and to me this indicates that the Mother foresaw a more independent spirital living outside the Ashram walls.
    Malcolm Tillis’s website New Lifes has a series of interviews mainly with westerners I think, who had spent time with and Indian Guru, fascinating reading.
    Diane

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      No human being can hold the guru energy in post-modern society. This is old news – the age of the guru has been over for at least thirty years. In the 1960s and 70s, any number of masters came to America from the East and, absent the cultural structures that traditionally kept them in an insulated realm, succumbed one after another to scandals involving money, sex, and power.

      I do think he is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as you hint. It is quite possible that some of the Gurus were not perfected enough to bear the tremendous vital chaos that exists in non-traditional American society. As Sri Aurobindo points out in the Life Divine and the Synthesis of Yoga, there are a number of intermediate and imperfect stages that a realized soul can exist in – denoted as jadavat, pisachavat , balavat, unmattavat. In these four cases, a person can be “realized” within but unable to manifest it immaculately outside.

      This passage is from the chapter on “Double Soul in Man” in “The Life Divine

      But in our spiritual change we have to forego this defence; ego has to vanish, the person finds itself dissolved into a vast impersonality, and in this impersonality there is at first no key to an ordered dynamism of action. A very usual result is that one is divided into two parts of being, the spiritual within, the natural without; in one there is the divine realisation seated in a perfect inner freedom, but the natural part goes on with the old action of Nature, continues by a mechanical movement of past energies her already transmitted impulse. Even, if there is an entire dissolution of the limited person and the old ego-centric order, the outer nature may become the field of an apparent incoherence, although all within is luminous with the Self.

      (1). jadavat : we become outwardly inert and inactive, moved by circumstance or forces but not self-mobile, even though the consciousness is enlightened within.

      (2) balavat: as a child though within is a plenary self-knowledge

      (3) unmattavat: as one inconsequent in thought and impulse though within is an utter calm and serenity

      (4) (pisacavat): as the wild and disordered soul though inwardly there is the purity and poise of the Spirit.

      Along the same lines, we have the following passage in the chapter “Gnosis and Ananda” from the “Synthesis of Yoga

      The very physical consciousness in man, the annamaya purusa, can without this supreme ascent and integral descent yet reflect and enter into the self of Sachchidananda. It can do it either by a reflection of the Soul in physical Nature, its bliss, power and infinity secret but still present here, or by losing its separate sense of substance and existence in the Self within or without it. The result is a glorified sleep of the physical mind in which the physical being forgets itself in a kind of conscious Nirvana or else moves about like a thing inert in the hands of Nature, jadavat, like a leaf in the wind, or otherwise a state of pure happy and free irresponsibility of action, balavat, a divine childhood. But this comes without the higher glories of knowledge and delight which belong to the same status upon a more exalted level. It is an inert realisation of Sachchidananda in which there is neither any mastery of the Prakriti by the Purusha nor any sublimation of Nature into her own supreme power, the infinite glories of the Para Shakti. Yet these two, this mastery and this sublimation, are the two gates of perfection, the splendid doors into the supreme Eternal.

      The life soul and life consciousness in man, pranamaya purusa, can in the same way directly reflect and enter into the self of Sachchidananda by a large and splendid and blissful reflection of the Soul in universal Life or by losing its separate sense of life and existence in the vast Self within or without it. The result is either a profound state of sheer self-oblivion or else an action driven irresponsibly by the life nature, an exalted enthusiasm of self-abandonment to the great world-energy in its vitalistic dance. The outer being lives in a God-possessed frenzy careless of itself and the world, unmattavat, or with an entire disregard whether of the conventions and proprieties of fitting human action or of the harmony and rhythms of a greater Truth. It acts as the unbound vital being, pisacavat, the divine maniac or else the divine demoniac. Here too there is no mastery or supreme sublimation of nature. There is only a joyful static possession by the Self within us and an unregulated dynamic possession by the physical and the vital Nature without us.

      Reply
    2. Sandeep Post author

      Charles Eisenstein: No human being can hold the guru energy in post-modern society. This is old news – the age of the guru has been over for at least thirty years.

      One more thing. Real Gurus experience and assimilate the energy of the cosmos within their consciousness. In certain transcendental states, the physical world itself appears like an illusion. Compared to the vastness of the Cosmos, the energy of the post-modern society that Charles lavishly praises is nothing.

      This integral movement in the US has spawned a lot of thinkers and intellectuals who live under the illusion that society has advanced so much that all spiritual realizations of the past and all the Gurus are irrelevant and outdated.

      Reply
      1. Mohan

        I second that. It’s amusing seeing kindergarten kids under the I-know-it-all illusion trying to brush off enlightened veteran professors!

    3. stumblingmystic

      “I read Charles Eisenstein’s article, and agree with Sandeep that he’s thrown out the baby with the bathwater. The quotations from Sri Aurobindo are quite illuminating.

      Here’s the thing though: to manage to stay stable and maintain their realizations while interacting with the postmodern world, the sages of the future will have to be remarkably dynamic, to have multidimensional and integral realizations, to be cosmopolitan and familiar with multiple cultures, and will have to have a profound sensitivity toward the multilayered, complex, postmodern individual psyche. Dynamicism and subtlety are the order of the day.

      Personally, I think Sri Aurobindo’s yoga of self-perfection is *exactly* what the doctor ordered for a postmodern world.

      Here’s the next question, though: where *are* the new sages? So far, I don’t see them (but maybe that says more about my own state of consciousness than anything else 😛 ).

      Reply
      1. a_dt

        hm, I might say that Dr David R. Hawkins is such an enlightened being. He is speaking quite a bit about these things, like maintaining earthly life etc. Just look for him on YouTube. (Even though in the YouTube excerpts, he seems to be a “normal man” and quite humorous :)…. ) I also know there are quite a few controversies on him about there, but that is because we cannot “prove” that somebody is enlightened or not. We have to recognize it with our intuitive mind.
        Btw, much of of what DRHawkins says, makes sense to me through Aurobindo’s words. Sri Aurobindo makes all that understandable for me, so to speak.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        a_dt: we cannot “prove” that somebody is enlightened or not. We have to recognize it with our intuitive mind.

        It is actually a good thing there is no objective test to prove someone is enlightened. It breeds variety in the world and allows people to grow at their own pace. Some stay atheists and others follow the religion of their choice. The individual settles on the teacher who is appropriate for his or her stage of development. For some people, Oprah is the Guru and for others, it is Donald Trump !

  3. Sandeep Post author

    Certain sections of Sri Aurobindo’s poem Savitri are pregnant with multiple meanings. In the following lines, Sri Aurobindo seems to be describing the manner in which the Mother Mirra Alfassa guided the lives of all the disciples. It is similar to the workings of Anandamayi Ma seen above:

    One greater than themselves, too wide for their ken,
    Their minds could not understand nor wholly know,
    Their lives replied to hers, moved at her words:
    They felt a godhead and obeyed a call,
    Answered to her lead and did her work in the world;
    Their lives, their natures moved compelled by hers
    As if the truth of their own larger selves
    Put on an aspect of divinity
    To exalt them to a pitch beyond their earth’s.
    They felt a larger future meet their walk;
    She held their hands, she chose for them their paths:
    They were moved by her towards great unknown things,
    Faith drew them and the joy to feel themselves hers;
    They lived in her, they saw the world with her eyes.
    Some turned to her against their nature’s bent;
    Divided between wonder and revolt,
    Drawn by her charm and mastered by her will,
    Possessed by her, her striving to possess,
    Impatient subjects, their tied longing hearts
    Hugging the bonds close of which they most complained,
    Murmured at a yoke they would have wept to lose,
    The splendid yoke of her beauty and her love:
    Others pursued her with life’s blind desires
    And claiming all of her as their lonely own,
    Hastened to engross her sweetness meant for all.
    As earth claims light for its lone separate need
    Demanding her for their sole jealous clasp,
    They asked from her movements bounded like their own
    And to their smallness craved a like response.
    Or they repined that she surpassed their grip,
    And hoped to bind her close with longing’s cords.
    Or finding her touch desired too strong to bear
    They blamed her for a tyranny they loved,
    Shrank into themselves as from too bright a sun,
    Yet hankered for the splendour they refused.
    Angrily enamoured of her sweet passionate ray
    The weakness of their earth could hardly bear,
    They longed but cried out at the touch desired
    Inapt to meet divinity so close,
    Intolerant of a Force they could not house.
    Some drawn unwillingly by her divine sway
    Endured it like a sweet but alien spell;
    Unable to mount to levels too sublime,
    They yearned to draw her down to their own earth.
    Or forced to centre round her their passionate lives,
    They hoped to bind to their heart’s human needs
    Her glory and grace that had enslaved their souls.

    (Savitri, Book IV, Canto II)

    Reply
  4. Diane

    Yes I would agree with all you say here Sandeep, but there is still the question of how one proceeds in the sadhana when the Guru leaves no living successor. For me the answer lies in the immersion in the Master’s works, but are there other paths/ways of doing this?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Why did Sri Aurobindo and the Mother leave no successor? Search me!

      One reason could be that they knew that they would continue to exist in the subtle worlds and exert their influence as and when required. They would make themselves visible to those who are ready for their benediction; the rest have to aspire.

      Reply
  5. Sandeep Post author

    Anandamayi Ma met the Mother Mirra Alfassa on 3rd of November, 1952 in Pondicherry. This is the account of that meeting.

    On November 3, Anandamayi Ma was at Pondicherry. At eleven in the morning that day she had a meeting with “The Mother”, who stood in the sitting room of Sri Aurobindo. Mother looked at her for a long time with a fixed gaze as Anandamayi Ma looked at her with a natural poise. Mother’s eyes blinked after a long time. She presented Anandamayi Ma with a rose, a ‘ball’ flower (globe lily) and two pieces of chocolate. Ma returned the rose and one piece of chocolate. Mother kept the chocolate but gave the rose back. This exchange of flowers was repeated twice or thrice after which Mother tore a portion off the rose and returned the rest to Ma.

    The same evening the two had another meeting at the same place. Mother was distributing roasted peanuts to visitors with a spoon from a wooden container. She offered some to Anandamayi Ma who said, “This little girl is the youngest of all.” Mother said in English “Forever a little child.” The singer-saint Dilip Roy, an inmate of Pondicherry, met Ma several times during her stay and sang before her.

    From”Anandamayee – The Universal Mother”. ,

    Sri Ma has given her own account of this meeting (Ananda Varta, Feb 1960).

    As you know, Sri Haribabaji took this small child with him when he went on a pilgrimage to South India. This is precisely how this little child went to see the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This body did not approach the Mother in quest of spiritual experience or the like; a little girl is simple and natural in the presence of her own mother. You well know that the behaviour of this body is quite Unpredictable (‘elomelo’): here there is no question of giving or receiving power, of finding anything bearable or unbearable-whatever comes to pass at any time is as it should be. As this body feels here with you now, just exactly the same it felt at Pondicherry. What is the difference between this body, the Mother and you all ? From your angle of vision only they are different one from the other.

    “Very well then, since you are eager to hear, listen. When the Mother came and stood before this body, this body out of its own kheyal(divine impulse ) looked straight into the Mother’s eyes and for a moment, just as it looks at all of you ; but then the kheyal (divine impulse )came that the sadhus who had come with us were all being kept standing and so this body for a second looked in their direction ; then again there was the kheyal (divine impulse) to respond fully to the blinkless gaze of the Mother. Thus this body of its own accord did look directly into the Mother’s eyes for some length of time, did it not ? Then the Mother herself lowered her glance and put a flower into my hand; an exchange of flowers followed.”

    For more, see http://www.anandamayi.org/ashram/meera.htm

    The webpage above also contains accounts of Anandamayi Ma’s meeting with other sages.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Jnana yoga « Earthpages.ca

  7. Sandeep Post author

    One of Anandamayi Ma’s disciples had a dream of going up a hill as we read above…
    Ma came in my dream. There was a narrow path going along a hill, dimly lit. I am just about able to see Ma. Then she comes up to me and she says, “See, you have come up this path. It looks very difficult. But I am telling everyone, ‘It won’t be difficult if you carry me on your back.’ “Those were her words. She means if you take her with you always. But she told me, “Nobody’s willing to do it!” She said this. She said, ”I’m telling everybody. ‘Don’t be put off by the path. You just have to carry Me with you. It will be made easy!’ But they are not willing to do it. “Then I tell her”–(of course, this looks like a little bit of ego)— “Ma, I think I will do it.” She says, “Oh, will you do it, will you?” She seems so pleased in the dream!

    Dreams of hills are symbolic of the ascent of consciousness which must be or has been achieved. Such dreams are common across Gurus. Here is an excerpt from Sri Aurobindo’s Elements of Yoga (2nd ed, 2001) pp 72-73

    Question: In dream I saw some people climbing up a mountain with great difficulty. I was also climbing with them. After a time I got tired, so I gave up climbing and began to think what was to be done. Then I felt that a force lifted me up lightly and carried me to the top of the mountain. On reaching the top, I saw that there were many beautiful houses of different colours and lights. Then I woke up. What does this dream signify?

    Sri Aurobindo: It is a symbol of the two methods -one of self-effort, the other of the action of the Mother’s Force carrying the sadhak.(aspirant)

    Reply
  8. ipi

    Sadhaka(aspirant): I want to know what should be the way of my family life. Should I observe Brahmacharya(celibacy)?
    Sri Aurobindo: We do not make rules in this yoga. Of course, if you followed the direct Supramental yoga then it would be compulsory. But even in a preparatory yoga it is better if you can observe Brahmacharya. You have to grow from humanity into something higher and so you must get away from the animal level. In the Supramental yoga no lower movements should be indulged in from the lower poise.

    Sadhaka: So it is better to observe Brahmacharya?
    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if you can observe it it is better, though one does not make a hard and fast rule about it. There are three things in the vital nature which are very great obstacles in the yoga — there are many others besides but they are of minor importance. 1. Lust. 2, Pride and Vanity — that “I am a great Sadhak” etc. 3. Ambition for success or greed for money.

    Sadhaka: I want to know how I am to receive spiritual help from you?
    Sri Aurobindo: That depends upon your faith and sincerity.

    Sadhaka: But suppose I am not here and stay at my place and find some difficulty, then how should I receive your help?
    Sri Aurobindo: You must detach yourself from the obstacle and watch it and then you have to call down the help from Above. You can always receive my help if once the relation is established. Man is not confined to the physical body. The real Soul has almost nothing to do with the physical man. It is not necessary for me to give my thought to you, the subliminal self can give the necessary help even without the thought-mind knowing anything about it.

    source:
    http://www.aurobindo.ru/workings/purani/evening_talks_01.htm

    Reply
  9. ipi

    Words of the Mother- Letters to a sadhak

    Disciple: Mother, what attitude should I take towards women? There is a part in me which prompts me to go to X. This recalcitrant part advises me to do so, telling me that this is the best means of overcoming an attraction, whether small or great.

    Mother: This is childish; it is always the same trap of the adverse forces; if, instead of expressing their advice under cleverly perverted forms, they were to speak of things as they are, it would come to something like this: “Continue to drink in order to stop being a drunkard” or better: “Continue to kill to stop being a murderer!”

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Can I have more than one Guru? | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  11. Pingback: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Anandamayi Ma | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  12. mike

    lt’s a very interesting post.

    “Within the rules of the shastras, if you and your husband cleave to each other, then you are as good as someone who is celibate”

    l’m not quite sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound like celibacy to me. Probably misinterpreted the word ‘cleave’, though.

    lt makes me laugh when these so-called intellectuals pass judgement on Guru’s etc. Usually, these sort of ppl have never had a Spiritual experience in their lives and then they set themselves up as experts on the subject.
    l’m sure a lot of those who are presently following living Guru’s would have something to say about whether we are still living in the ‘Age of Guru’s’ or not. Of course, these Guru’s are few and far between and most, l think, are ‘lntermediate Zone Guru’s’ as SA has called them – like M.Meera in germany, Amma [the hugging Guru – not sure about her]. The late Sai Baba would probably fit into that category as well, in spite of all the ‘unanswered questions’. The one’s that came to the west like Chinmoy, Muktananda etc… might have gone astray, l’m not sure. But OSHO had certainly lost the plot, l’d say – total indulgence is definitely not THE WAY IMO.
    Sri Aurobindo’s letter on the ‘intermediate zone’ clears up a lot of confusion.

    “how one proceeds in the sadhana when the Guru leaves no living successor”

    Diane asks this question . Personally, l believe we need to make contact with the inner Guru/Gurus in the heart as SA and Mother said. That is where the real contact is made.
    l believe we first need to have a Spiritual Opening for the Descent experiences to begin. Before that, it’s all about aspiration and Grace [as sandeep said] and calling for the Force etc…. Once the Opening takes place and the contact with Mother and SA is established we begin to feel them with us on a subtle level. ln my own day to day experience l feel them with me quite often. When the subtle vision develops we will begin to see them as well.
    Their influence is always with those who are sincere IMO.
    l’ve had many powerful dreams about them over the years and l can assure you they are always with us, albeit invisibly most of the time.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      “Within the rules of the shastras, if you and your husband cleave to each other, then you are as good as someone who is celibate”

      Mike: l’m not quite sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound like celibacy to me. Probably misinterpreted the word ‘cleave’, though.

      No, its not celibacy but fidelity (“cleave” as in “stick fast to (someone)”). Anandamayi Ma was recommending fidelity for those who are not ready to give up sex entirely. One should stick to one partner and live a married life revolving around shared higher ideals (such as caring for the environment, social service, austerity as and when possible).

      The guidance which is given by the Guru varies because people are in different stages of evolution. There some people who require some sexual experience before they are willing to become celibate. There are others who prefer a social life and would like to have children. Such people are asked to adhere to the ideals of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga.

      Reply
  13. mike

    Also, l believe a lot of guidance is given through dreams [not really dreams of course]. Most of my contacts with SA and Mother come through dreams and l’ve been given a lot of experiences through them. Don’t forget, we can be given realisation or enlightenment through dreams.
    Usually, these kind of dreams are more vivid or real and much less confusing than the subconscious, chaotic type of dream. l always feel more conscious in these as well.

    Reply
  14. mike

    “The guidance which is given by the Guru varies because people are in different stages of evolution. There some people who require some sexual experience before they are willing to become celibate. There are others who prefer a social life and would like to have children. Such people are asked to adhere to the ideals of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga.”

    Yes, like SA said, it’s the most difficult thing to give up – l mean it’s been deeply embedded in us through millions of years of evolution. That’s why l firmly believe it’s only the Divine Grace that can really take us beyond the sex-impulse.
    l’ve always felt the Yoga [Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga] can’t be perfected without celibacy. lt’s always been my belief based on certain experiences.

    Reply
  15. ipi

    Mother: For example, one of the very concrete things that brings out the problem well: humanity has the sexual impulse in a way altogether natural, spontaneous and, I would say, legitimate. This impulse will naturally and spontaneously disappear with animality. Many other things will disappear, as for example the need to eat and perhaps also the need to sleep in the way we sleep now. But the most conscious impulse in a superior humanity, which has continued as a source of… bliss is a big word, but joy, delight ― is certainly the sexual activity, and that will have absolutely no reason for existence in the functions of Nature when the need to create in that way will no longer exist. Therefore, the capacity of entering into relation with the joy of life will rise by one step or will be oriented differently. But what the ancient spiritual aspirants had sought on principle ― sexual negation ― is an absurd thing, because this must be only for those who have gone beyond this stage and no longer have animality in them. And it must drop off naturally, without effort and without struggle. To make of it a centre of conflict and struggle is ridiculous. It is only when the consciousness ceases to be human that it drops off quite naturally. Here also there is a transition which may be somewhat difficult, because the beings of transition are always in an unstable equilibrium; but within oneself there is a kind of flame and a need which makes it not painful ― it is not painful effort, it is something that one can do with a smile. But to seek to impose it upon those who are not ready for this transition is absurd.

    It is common sense. They are human, but they must not pretend that they are not.

    It is only when spontaneously the impulse becomes impossible for you, when you feel that it is something painful and contrary to your deeper need that it becomes easy; then, well, externally you cut these bonds and it is finished

    (Collected Works of the Mother, vol 11, p 28)

    Reply
  16. mike

    “As Sri Aurobindo points out in the Life Divine and the Synthesis of Yoga, there are a number of intermediate and imperfect stages that a realized soul can exist in – denoted as jadavat, pisachavat , balavat, unmattavat. In these four cases, a person can be “realized” within but unable to manifest it immaculately outside.”

    And also in that wonderful ‘letter’ about the ‘lntermediate Zone’, l think.
    l’d post it here but it’s a bit long.

    Reply
  17. Pingback: Practicing Yoga without a Guru | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s