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Shree Maa of Kamakhya

By Gauri Gangadharan

Shree Maa of Kamakhya

Shree Maa at the Devi Mandir temple in California

Shree Maa is a Hindu mystic who was born near Kamakhya, Assam, India from where she traveled to the US in 1984. Together with Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Shree Maa teaches the meaning and method of worship through the tantric traditions of prayer and meditation.

Family Background:

She descended from the family of the famous Bengali mystic Ramprasad Sen. Shree Maa's great uncle was Atulananda Saraswati, a renunciate who never married, but spent his entire life wandering from place to place. One of her aunts was Renuka Sen, a famous poet and friend and inspiration in the life of Rabindranath Tagore.

Birth:

The author of her biography, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, writes that she was born in the year when there was a great earthquake in Assam. Many records were destroyed in the quake and so there is no factual evidence to verify any date of birth. He adds that her birth could be somewhere between 1938 and 1948, although it could be easily be earlier or later.

Childhood:

From her earliest years her only desire was to meditate, merging her own being in the universal being the Hindus call ‘Brahman’ (God). Inspired by the 19th century Bengali mystic, Sri Paramahamsa Ramakrishna, she left her family home, and started living in the forests and foothills of Kamakhya and the Himalayas where she performed intense ‘sadhana’.

Meditation and Penance:

She meditated for long periods without moving and became absorbed in the silence of deep meditation. During this period, she had no food except sandal paste mixed with water, tulsi (basil) leaves and occasional juice fed by devotees. Because of her intense tapasya (austerity), her weight reduced to 60 pounds. People who saw her in samadhi (deep communion with God) for hours and days at a time, called her the Goddess of the River, or simply the Respected Holy Mother.

Journey through India:

After several years, she began to travel throughout India in temples, forests, fields and homes, conducting pujas and worships to the Divine Mother, reading from the ‘Chandi’, the famous scripture on Durga, and singing bhajans (divine hymns). In 1980, in a small temple in Bakreswar, West Bengal, met Swami Satyananda Saraswati. After this meeting, the two traveled together throughout India, preaching dharma.

Departure for America:

It was in the early 1980s that Shree Maa, in communion with her guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, was instructed to move to America to share divine love and to teach the meaning of dharma. In 1984, with no capital and few possessions Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda Saraswati left the shores of India for the West Coast of the United States. Shunning self promotion and publicity, they lived a very simple life dedicated to daily worship, preferring to own little, and to offer all to God.

Fame and Followers:

They undertook the Sahasra Chandi Yagna, a three year fire ceremony and worship of the Goddess, without setting foot outside from the humble temple grounds they established in Martinez, California. The temple itself contained numerous beautiful murtis, statues fashioned from clay by Maa and Swami's own hands. As word of Shree Maa's presence in the Bay area spread, thousands of seekers found their way to the humble grounds of the Devi Mandir.

Her Teachings:

Shree Maa teaches that every home is an ashram, a place of worship, every resident is a priest or priestess, and that all acts of life can be service to God and expressions of devotion. Life itself is worship. Shree Maa has recorded of her own compositions, songs of Ramprasad Sen, and traditional Hindu Mantras such as Om, Gayatri, and Navarna.

Books About Shree Maa:

Her biography, entitled, "Shree Maa: The Life of a Saint", by Swami Satyananda Saraswati was published in 1997. Shree Maa has been featured in a book by Linda Johnsen entitled "Daughters of the Goddess: Women Saints of India" published in 1994. She has also been featured in numerous articles in magazines and newspapers.

For more information visit www.shreemaa.org.

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