Anandamayi Ma, Sri (1896–1982)
Prominent Indian mystic, revered as a living saint and noted
for her spiritual insight and perceptive instructions to devotees.
She was born Nirmala Bhattachari on April 30, 1896, of devout
Brahmin parents, in Kheora, a small village in the Comilla district
of Bangladesh. The name ‘‘Nirmala’’ means ‘‘Pure.’’ She
began primary school at the age of five and showed unusual facility
in learning. However, she preferred devotional songs to
books and would often lose consciousness during the singing
of hymns or the chanting of names of Hindu deities. At the age
of 12, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakravarty, but her
trances continued, and her husband eventually concluded that
she was to be his guru rather than a traditional wife. She renamed
him ‘‘Bholanath,’’ and thereafter their relationship was
of guru and disciple rather than wife and husband.
At the age of 18, Nirmala went to the village of Bajitpur in
East Bengal. During some five years there she spontaneously
assumed yogic postures and recited mantras. For a year and a
half she remained silent, then continued the period of silence
for another year and a half on returning to her husband’s home
in 1923. Bholanath had her examined by various holy men and
exorcists, but all believed her condition to be a spiritual one.
At the age of 27, Nirmala manifested a profound knowledge
of spiritual teachings, although she had no formal training in
scriptures, and she was able to fluently discuss spiritual matters
with learned professors. One of her followers named Hara
Kumar started calling her ‘‘Ma’’ (Mother) and revered her as
a saint. In 1924, Jyotish Chandra Roy, a distinguished officer
of the Bengal government, renounced his worldly life to become
her disciple and attendant. She named him ‘‘Bhaiji,’’ and
he gave her the name of ‘‘Anandamayi’’ (spiritual bliss).
In 1932, Ma Anandamayi, Bholanath (now known as ‘‘Pitaji,’’
or Father), and Bhaiji went to Dehra Dun in the Himalayan
foothills and established an ashram there. Subsequently a second
ashram (later to become the headquarters) was established
at Varanasi (Benares). In time, a number of other ashrams were
established throughout India, some with hospitals, high
schools, orphanages, and charitable dispensaries. As her fame
spread, Anandamayi Ma acquired devotees from Britain, Germany,
France, and the U.S.
She never left India and visited her various ashrams without
any special schedule, as the spirit moved her. She had remarkable
presence, and many testified to her spiritual influence on
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Anandamayi Ma, Sri
them. She answered questions succinctly, with great spiritual
insight. Her disciples in the United States were organized into
the Matri Satsang.
Anandamayi, Ma Sri. Matri Vani. 2 vols. Varnasi, India
Shree Shree Annandamayee Charitable Society, 1977.
———. Sad Vani. Calcutta, India Shree Shree Anandamayi
Charitable Society, 1981.
Lipski, Alexander. Life and Teachings of Sri Anandamayi Ma.
Delhi, India Motilial Banaridass, 1977.

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