The book fulfils the long- felt need of Sri Anandamayi Mil's philosophy. It is based upon the most authentic sources-the revelations that occurred spontaneously in the life of Sri Mil and the answers she gave in response to the questions put before Her.
Ultimate Reality, according to Sri Anandamayi Mil is an 'Absolute Identity' - a totality, which denies or excludes nothing. This absoluteness of totality in Her life, was reached and realised not by 'negation' but by 'assertion' . moment to moment and just because of this we find that Her every answer turns to one singular theme- the One, the One who is All.
Sri Anandamayi Mil does not see any contradiction in One and Many, in Duality and Non-duality, in Existence and Non-existence, in Consciousness and Unconsciousness, in Bliss and Non=bliss and all such antinomies. All antinomies according to Her are the expressions of the ONE who, in the words of Sri Mil 'is everything yet nothing; and nothing yet everything' .
The One of which She speaks is the highest synthesis of all contradictions. It is not a dialectical or a thought-of conclusion but is a fact which can be experienced by each seeker of Truth for himself when he reaches the highest realm of Reality. This we may call the 'transcendental unity' of Reality which is at once one and beyond everything.
The absolute cognition philosophy of Sri Anandamayi Mil stands for such UNITY. It is this Unity of Truth which gives a real basis to humanism. And in the realisation of this Oneness lies the real solution of the humanitarian and social problems which the modern society is facing today.
Many books have been written on the life and teachings of Sri Anandamayi Ma in various languages, but none exists dealing with Her philosophy. Here is a humble attempt to fill up this vacuum. How I was motivated to write this book has a brief history. It lies in three factors, viz
1. A sense of dissatisfaction with the existing doctrines and explanations of Reality.
2. A search for a new explanation; and its discovery in the life of Sri Anandamayi Ma .
3. A token of gratitude at the holy feet of Sri Anandamayi Ma through this offering.
Dissatisfaction with the existing explanations of Reality was caused by my perception of so much discrepancy among the theories as put forth by the exponents of different schools of philosophy. The controversy was so distinct that I found it rather impossible to reach some definite conclusion. Although I have come across many interpretations offered by some modern scholars suggesting a synthetic approach to various schools of Indian philosophy yet mostly all forward a progressive view which does not seem very convincing. Perhaps no founder and no exponent of any system would admit this situation.
Sri Anandamayi Ma tackles and solves the problem in a quite different way which satisfies the reason and tallies with experience. This, however, we shall deal with in the main text, here what we wish to point out is that although dissatisfied with the available interpretations of the Reality, the attempt here is not to criticize any doctrine or to appreciate the other. For, after considerable contemplation over the problem we have reached the conclusion that it is only in direct realization or mystic illumination and not through the discursive intellect that the problem of the nature of Reality can be solved in the most definitive way.
It may be added that it is this direct realisation or "seeing" that makes philosophy a "darsana" (vision of Truth). And it is this vision that turns the conception into perception and makes the cognition of Truth complete and absolute.
The vision of Sri Anandamayi Ma stands for a complete and absolute cognition of Reality, and as such her philosophy may rightly be called "the philosophy of absolute cognition" (Puma Prajnapti Darsana). Sri Anandamayi Ma has used the word 'Ya ta' for the Absolute and its cognition'. 'Ya ta' is a Bengali term which can be translated as "Puma Prajnapti" in Hindi and "Absolute Cognition" in English. There will be more about 'Ya ta' in the body of the text.
As I have said earlier, this is the first attempt that has been made to present systematically Sri Anandamayi Ma's philosophy of absolute cognition on the basis of the revelations that occurred spontaneously in her life and the answers she gave in response to the questions put before her. The questions were so varied and manifold that one cannot hope to cover all of them in a treatise which is meant only to serve a specific purpose, yet whatever we found to be most essential to formulate her philosophy, we have included in the text. Our attempt, however, is just a beginning and the future may invite many others to work on the subject. The person we call Sri Anandamayi is like an Ocean - the deeper one dives, the more one gets from it.
It is hoped that the present work will motivate the scholars of philosophy to carry on the work we have initiated and the future will witness the comparisons of Ma's philosophy with other oriental and occidental systems of philosophy' thus opening new frontiers of knowledge.
Man is a creature of deficiencies and imperfections and as such many shortcomings may be found in this presentation. The only apology which I can make is that it is a work of devotion andedication and that my six years of close and direct association with Sri Ma has given me an understanding and insight that could go deeper into the heart of things. And with this blessing of Sri Sri Ma, I have made this humble effort.
I shall feel amply rewarded if the seekers of Truth are inspired by this and make 'Ya ta' - the true ONE, the true goal of their lives. In the realization of 'Ya ta' lies the future of humanity, as it is this realization which makes one free from egoity which is the root of all evils. To know 'Ya ta' is to know God; to know God is to know Self; and to know Self is to know ALL; and to know All is to know Sri Anandamayi Ma. "To know and attain Me is to know oneself and everything" declares Sri Anandamayi Ma. May Sri Anandamayi Ma, the Mahakaruna Incarnate, bestow her grace upon one and all.
I have been asked to write a few words by way of introducing a book which really introduces itself.
It is difficult to realize that Sri Anandamayi Ma is no longer with us physically. For many She continues to be a living presence. If therefore, I write of Her in the past tense I do so from my own limited vision, and from memories of Her in the nineteen fifties. I write descriptively, as one person from the West who has been deeply affected by an encounter, over several years, with Sri Anandamayi Ma . I would particularly like to address these words to those who never met Her, or saw Her but seldom and fleetingly. I hope those who knew Her far better than I will forgive the limitations of my own experience and understanding.
Description is the least adequate of methods with which to present a being of almost unimaginably rare subtlety. India, of course, is famed for her genius at producing individuals who have attained the summit' of self-realization and uncommon spiritual elevation-saints, sages, seers, the Vedantin, the Sahajin, holy men and women illuminated by the light of divine inspiration, steeped in the wisdom of pure jnana, suffused with the sweetness of immeasurable bhakti, lofty in perfect command of yoga. The variety is almost as great as among the flowers of the forest! Each is unique, incomparable. However, to the disciple and the devotee there can only be one who is Guru, for the Guru is the one, the Beloved.
It seems to me patently clear that this book celebrates the teaching not of an individual who is part of a cultural phenomenon of representative of a passing trend but a Being beyond the reach of our limited and limiting worldly-wise, our knowing categories. Certainly, Sri Anandamayi Ma was a woman, a Bengali, a 'great name' to conjure with among the discriminating - surely no single human being in the India of our time has reached more individuals with such perfect promptitude, wise counsel and deep spiritual insight. Yet there is strangeness, a particularity, an indefinable rarity about Sri Anandamayi Ma,an uncanny, ineffable quality which comes so near the limits of the definably human as to make an adjective like 'human' quite inadequate when applied to Her case, and 'divine' paltry. It is widely accepted that She was, simply, unique.
That there is more than mere hyperbole to this claim of singularity is evident from the striking fact that while all around Her were devoted to the principle of perfectibility and to effortful striving, she was, throughout Her life, the acme of effortless perfection. At birth, Sri Anandamayi Ma was given the appropriate name Nirmala - the 'taintless', in recognition of Her exceptional sweetness of disposition. From Her earliest years Her bhava drew people like a magnet. If features of conventional sddhana were spontaneously manifest from time to time, as it were without bidding, they were in the nature of effortless and playful lila - the over plus of fullness - not a purposeful striving towards betterment.
There never was any question of Sri Anandamayi Ma identifying with a particular established creed, sect, or doctrine. She performed no act of worship or 'practised' anything, did no yoga or japa in any regular sense. If she became involved in any such activities it was, again, in the nature of Lila. One can only assume, with all the limitations of the mind, or sheer unfamiliarity with such phenomena, that she was already established, probably from birth at a level where such action is simply irrelevant, surpassed.
Each person who knew Sri Anandamayi Ma has stories to tell of Her marvelous ways, Her love, compassion, insight, practicality ,wisdom. She operated at every level and in every domain pertaining to the spiritual life. The depth and diversity of Her manifold gifts are evident on every page of this book. She was so untainted by prejudice, so present to all, that each felt that she met their inner most needs with unerring and precision. Nobody could fail to understand Her for She addressed Herself to that level at which we are all, in truth, the children of God. The quality of strength - so quintessentially feminine - is evidence of an Energy as subtle, as dynamic, and as elusive to grasp (still more to write about) as a perfume or the sound of a distant bell. For Mataji spoke at all times from the very fundament of simplicity - lightly, unhesitatingly - yet with a more completely commanding authority and utter certainty than any one known to me.
For those who knew Her over many years, particulary who were either residents in or visitors to Her ashrams there was also the added dimension of Her extraordinary skill at organizations, Her grasp of detail, and Her limitless capacity to provide totally opposite advice or instruction at the right time with extreme precision. Her skill in this domain is attested by the way She became the indispensable guide to all members within numerous remarkable and distinguished families over several generations. She was thus not only an exemplar of the exalted spiritual state, of sadhana; of psychological acuity of compassionate succour, but a paragon too of action in service the Supreme. It may appear a somewhat worldly comment, but the solidity of instruction, the soundness which She Herself manifested, and prompted in others, was as vital to the spiritual welfares of Her bhaktas as was the sheer luminosity of Her presence to the more contemplative sensibility.
I will never forget Her talk - particularly to small groups gathered in the evening at Vindhyachal. It flowed, mellifluous and clear, like mountain water, tumbling without hesitation over Sparkling pebbles.
If I had to choose just one metaphor as an approximation of what such poetry means to me I would say that Sri Anandamayi Ma was as far beyond ordinary mortal ways as the Self is far beyond the mediocre self-dramatization of the ego. She was, surely, the nearest one is ever likely to find to an earthly embodiment of the quintessence : illumination, enlightenment. So untrammelled by our ordinary burdens was She that one could hearken here to the very essence of inner Being.
It may be noticed that Sri Anandamayi Ma's attention is absolutely single and focused upon one sole theme. Her discourse is shorn of even the least irrelevance, the least detour into technicalities. Not a shread of spurious glamour or mystification. No announcement of secret esoteric doctrine. The urgency is irresistible. Not a moment is wasted by dwelling on the colorful inventions and fantasies of mysticism and symbolism, be they ever so ingenious. To no self- pandering idleness does She appeal. The matter in hand is that sole concern which unites all humanity, irreducible in its simplicity- immediate, totally accessible : the One.
This introduction records some of my experiences which gave me an insight and understanding into the heart of the matters spiritual and metaphysical. As my re- interpretation of the doctrines of Indian philosophy is based upon these intuitions, I thought it necessary and meaningful to include them in this book. Since my whole spiritual journey from beginning to the end had been in the boat sailed by Sri Sri Anandamayi Ma, it was only natural that in a book on Her philosophy I should include it.
In May 1976 I had my first darsana of Sri Anandamayi Ma in Kankhal (Haridwar). In my very first darsana of Her, She graciously revealed Her divine status and identity. The very moment I saw Her I could not control my emotions and burst into tears. A very strong and deep intuitive feeling told me that I was seeing a living God-a God of Love, a God of Truth and a God of Compassion. All thoughts of the mind ceased to exist. The only thought that overpowered my whole being was that She was nothing but GOD ALONE and that She had come on earth to save and guide humanity; to release the souls who find themselves in the clutches of samsara (worldly existence).
Before this event, I had not read any book about Her, nor had heard anything about Her greatness. It so happened that I was in search after Truth, and in this search I had found Her. Finding Her, my mind became still. This was the end of my seeking a God imbued with fullness and majesty. I had found Him not 'in' Ma, but 'as' Ma.
After seven months of this experience, again by Her grace, I was allowed another experience that was totally of a mystic and transcendental nature. It was so abstract that even to designate it as an "experience" seems improper. At best I can call it the "limit of negation', or in the words of K.C. Bhattacharya it could be termed the "denial of ‘I’". The self- consciousness as it were, had given place to a Reality that had no speech to say and no mind to think or analyze. It was a returning of the consciousness into something unknown, which can be termed neither the consciousness nor the unconsciousness.
I cannot say that it was an experience of a "blissful" being or that I realized something "positive" or even that it was an experience of "being". It was a total negation. Nothing was left there to experience or to realize. Perhaps I may call it the 'fullness of emptiness'.
The denial of 'I' was the denial of the world as well. Nothing then was real or 'existent' for me. I myself, and the world were both lost in some unknown void. When the consciousness returned from that state of nothingness or emptiness, it found that everything existed, and yet nothing existed. 'I was; and yet I was not; the world was, and yet the world was not.' Such was the very nature of this experience.
If I am not wrong, I can equate this mystical experience with the 'ajativada' of Gaudapada on one hand and with the 'nairatmyavada' of Nagarjuna on the other. Explaining his doctrine of no-origination (ajativada) Gaudapada says, "No individual soul is ever born, nor is there any possibility of it. This is the highest truth that nothing whatsoever is born."4 The same declaration we find in Nagarjuna when he says in his Mulamadhyamakakarikas: "Buddha has taught that 'there is neither atman nor anatman', and again he also taught that 'there is atman' and that 'there is no atman" 5 "production is impossible, because nothing can originate; and if there is no production, how can there be sustenance and destruction? They are like an illusion, a dream or a magic city of the Gandharvas. And thus when they are unreal, a composite substance is also unreal.
Nagarjuna and Gaudapada both say that the objective world and the subjective individual self both do not have any substantial reality. And this exactly was the experience which unexpectedly occurred in the course of sadhana. I took this experience to be the final one and thought I had reached the Goal and that now there was no more journey. I asked for a private interview with Sri Anandamayi Ma, which She readily and kindly granted. I narrated this experience before Her and asked whether I was right to consider my realization as 'final', and that this was the end of the my journey?
Before this interview, I had approached Her many times, putting my spiritual problems before Her, and every time I found Her explaining the matter in all its details. I was expecting the same this time too. But to my utmost bewilderment, She only made a very cryptic remark: "The journey has begun".
Perplexed with this enigmatic reply I looked at Her face. Within me there was a flood of thoughts. I thought, "What more can remain to attain or know when I am not? It is always ‘I’- the individual self- which desires, seeks and attains but when it is just not, how can there be any more journey to know or to attain something?"
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