It is said that reminiscing the divine qualities of saints is a sure way to progress in our spiritual quest. Saints are those rare species, who being in communion with God always, show that equality among all is a distinct possibility. All differences such as race, gender, status, etc. melt away into oblivion. The path shown by these spiritual giants is the much needed panacea for peace in this world. Saints from the feminine gender have made the same, if not greater, impact as saints from opposite gender. Names such as Meerabai, Muktabai, Janabai, Mother Sarada Devi, Anandamayi Ma immediately spring forth when we remember female saints. One such mahatma was Mataji Krishnabai, who baffled the entire world with her staunch devotion to her guru, Swami Papa Ramdas.
Krishnabai, born in 1903, was leading a simple, uncomplicated life. Married and blessed with two sons, a life-changing tragedy struck her in 1928, when her husband passed away suddenly. Filled with sorrow, she earnestly prayed to God to show her the way. But she had grown up listening to the life-stories of great Mahans and this spiritual background gave her immense strength at this time of crisis in her life. This was the time when she had the darshan of Swami Papa Ramdas. He initiated her into the most powerful Rama Nama. As ice would melt immediately in hot sun, Krishnabai’s vasanas were immediately burnt away by the grace of her Guru. Her spiritual progress was so rapid that in 1930 Mataji Krishnabai realized her oneness with the Absolute. Years later, Papa would say of her readiness for absorption into Rama Nama, “All others were like green wood. Mataji was dry tinder”.
From then on, her life was a shining example of Guru seva and Guru bhakti. She toiled hard, day and night, in establishing Anandashram at Kanhangad (in north Kerala) along with Swami Papa Ramdas. As Papa himself notes “the brunt of the work was borne by Krishnabai”. Mataji later embarked on a world tour with Papa in 1954 and many devotees felt blessed in their company. Her autobiography, titled Guru’s Grace, depicting her struggles in her early life and her darshan of Papa, was translated into English from Kannada by Papa himself.
Her life’s message, similar to that of many saints, was to chant the Divine Names of the Lord always. She once mentioned “We should develop a childlike nature. We should become innocent and pure like children. Ram Nam removes all the vasanas and makes everything void in us while reading (spiritual literature) lends us strength and power to carry on with our sadhana till we have developed that childlike nature.”
After the maha samadhi of Swami Papa Ramdas in 1963, she continued with the maintenance of the ashram, communicating and blessing all devotees for the rest of her life. Though she suffered immensely from bodily ailments, not once did Mataji Krishnabai flinch from performing Guru seva. This beacon of hope and inspiration dropped her mortal coil in February 1989. This month marks the 22nd year of her maha samadhi.
Aravind Thathachari, Orlando, FL