SHREE  MAA ASHRAM

Shree Maa's Ashram is as big as your heart. Along with Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Shree Maa teaches the meaning and method of worship. Their basic teaching is that every home is a temple, and all of the occupants within are the priests; that a Guru is an example of inspired leadership, and wherever there is teaching the Guru is present; and that whenever anyone performs any action with respectful attention, sincerity and devotion, that person is performing worship.

Worship means paying attention. Learning takes place when one pays attention. When we love something or someone, we pay attention. We offer respect through paying attention. The practice of concentrating our attention is called meditation. Through the practice of meditation we learn how to learn, we learn how to love, we learn how to respect, how to worship, how to pay attention -- how to increase the efficiency of every function in our lives.


 Shree Maa

Shree Maa was born into one of the most extraordinary families in India, which included both extremely wealthy businessmen and highly advanced yogis.

From her earliest years her only desire was to meditate, merging her own being in the universal being the Hindus call Brahman. Her spiritual radiance was such that as a young child, when local fishermen saw her walking along the beach, they would leap out of their boats and race up the sand to ask for her blessings.

Inspired by the 19th century Bengali mystic, Ramakrishna, she left her family's home, and taking to the forests and foothills of Kamakhya, she performed sadhana in the regions of the State of Assam and in the Himalayan foothills in India. She sat most of the time in the silence of deep meditation, speaking very little, and eating practically nothing, only sandal paste mixed with water, basil leaves and occasional juice fed to her by devotees.

 Her body weight reduced to little more than 60 pounds. People who saw her in deep communion with God for hours and days at a time, called her the Goddess of the Mountain, The Goddess of the River, or simply Shree Maa, the Respected Holy Mother.

After several years, she began to roam throughout India worshipping in temples, forests, fields and homes, conducting pujas to the Divine Mother, reading from the Chandi Path, one of the most frequently recited scriptures in India describing the Divine Mother Durga's manifestations on Earth. And she began to sing. Sometimes she would sing all night, and devotees would gather to be in the presence of this holy woman whose voice can melt stone, whose entire life is worship.

In 1980, at a small temple in Bakreswar, West Bengal, Shree Maa met Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Born and educated in America, Swamiji had worked for several major corporations in managerial positions before traveling to India in the mid 1960s. At a time when journeying throughout Middle Asia was arduous at best, he had traveled an unbeaten path to India's interior where he studied with a number of gurus, coming to embrace the worship of Chandi and the sacred fire ceremony, the yagya, as his primary system of worship and meditation, while undertaking great austerities in the process. On his journey he became proficient in numerous languages including Bengali, Hindi, Latin, Hebrew, Pahari, Urdu and several dialects of Indian languages among others, and developed a deep passion for Sanskrit.

On meeting Shree Maa he immediately recognized in her the embodiment of the Goddess he had been actively worshipping for so long. The two traveled together throughout India, sharing dharma even when, due to cultural clashes and unrest, their own lives were at risk. It was in the early eighties that Shree Maa, in communion with her guru, Ramakrishna, 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 they 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.

They undertook the Sahasra Chandi Yagya, 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 statues fashioned from clay by Maa and Swami's own hands, depicting the forms of the Gods and Goddesses described in the Chandi worship.

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, so much so that since 1992, Shree Maa and Swamiji travel much of the world offering programs and teachings of divine inspiration.

The Mandir has managed to publish important translations of original Sanskrit scriptures by Swami Satyananda, crucial texts including the Chandi Path, Devi Gita, Kali Puja, Bhagawad Gita, Lalita Trishati, Guru Gita, Sundar Kanda, Cosmic Puja, Sadhu Stories from the Himalayas and many more.

Shree Maa has recorded CDs and cassette tapes of her own heart rending compositions and the inspired songs of Ramprasad with beautiful musical accompaniment. Instructional recordings and videos are also in production to help elucidate the translated texts and demonstrate the pujas and systems of worship.

Shree Maa has been featured in a book by Linda Johnsen entitled "Daughters of the Goddess: Women Saints of India" published by Yes International Publications in 1994. She had also been featured in numerous articles in magazines such as Yoga Journal, Hinduism Today, Yoga International, East West Journal, New Realities, Challenge, and in newspapers such as the Times of India, Contra Costa Times, India West and the Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

Shree Maa has declined all offers of temples and ashrams, preferring the solitude of her own spiritual discipline. She 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's realization is an example, an inspiration, a gift. Her Bhava comes from pure intuitive experience. Her message transcends all boundaries as she builds bridges across continents, cultures and creeds. 


Swami Satyananda Saraswati

 

He is a Saraswati, coming from the lineage of Adi Shankaracharya, living the life of a Brahmin, a knower of wisdom initiated by his Guru in 1976, in the worship of Chandi and the sacred fire ceremony, the yagya, as his primary system of worship and meditation, while undertaking great austerities in the process. Swami Satyananda Saraswati spent fifteen years walking across the length and breadth of the 

Himalayas of India. On his journey he became proficient in numerous languages including Bengali, Hindi, Latin, Hebrew, Pahari, Urdu and several dialects of Indian languages among others, and developed a deep passion for Sanskrit, and learning the systems of worship wherever he went. He knows the mountain pathways as well as he understands Sanskrit roots, and he makes the verses of his translation come alive with experience.

Swamiji's teachings combine to make intellectual understanding a foundation upon which to erect our devotional practices. He teaches how an aspirant can move from the intellectual contemplation of the whys and hows of creating a discipline, to the practical applications of actually sitting for recitation of the Sanskrit texts, how to sit, how to breathe, how to become one with the Guru, one with the Goddess. Only when we hear and see, watch and listen to a qualified guru, only then can we inculcate into our own lives the tones of the Divine Mother.

Swamiji has dedicated his entire life to the Divine Mother. His selfless love is visible in all his actions. He inspires by example, to see Swamiji perform puja creates a desire to worship the Divine, to hear him creates a desire to learn the mantras, to watch him creates a desire to have the same absorption. Like a Master craftsman, he utilizes all the tools of chanting, mantra, pranayama, asana, transforming a ritual into an offering of love and surrender. Every breath, every sloka, every offering brings him closer to the Divine Mother.

What is even more extraordinary is that he maintains the same bhava, whether he is performing a puja, chanting at the altar, tirelessly working on translating scripture, chopping wood for the homa or digging a ditch, as he does in his spiritual discipline. Swamiji says being spiritual means giving more than you take. Living the life of a brahmin means conforming one's behavior to those who have lived the ideal. It is only then that we can change ourselves into really pure and silent divine beings.

His love, his intuitive understanding, his experience is evident in every scripture he has translated. He not only translates but lives its ideal and philosophy. He brings to life every character of the scriptures with such intensity that one can begin to recognize these characters within us and how we can purify ourselves until we too become divine! Starting with the Chandi Path, She Who Tears Apart all Thought was translated in Rishikesh in 1981, and in the recent years, the Devi Gita, Shree Maa:The Guru & Goddess, Kali Puja, Bhagawad Gita and Sundar Kanda. Along with these he has translated the Cosmic Puja, an extensive puja manual for those aspirants desiring to follow the Spiritual Road Map as well as pujas for beginners such as the Siva Puja, Kali Dhyaanam, and Durga Puja.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati is the President of the Sanatan Dharma Society of Belur Math in Calcutta, as well as the Rama Krishna Tapomath in Bakreswar, Devalok Ashram in Rishikesh, and several others.


 OUR CREED AND MISSION STATEMENT

 

We believe in One All-Pervading, Infinite Divinity, which resides in every being of Creation, and is especially manifest in the hearts of all humanity. That this Deity inspires within seekers sincerity, joy, love and wisdom, and the highest respect for all that lives. That all bodies are temples for the holy spirit, and that the duty of man is to honor God through loving service to all created beings, and attentive devotion in the pursuit of self-realization.

The primary purpose of the Devi Mandir is to inspire the worship of Divine. Our goal is to create the desire in you to follow the example of the Sadhus (the efficient ones ) and the rishis ( the wise ones). These are not just historical figures. If you look around you, you will find these people exist today. We find such beings in Shree Maa & Swami Satyananda Saraswati. By following their example well we become spiritual beings and satisfy the purpose of our existence. Some of us become the sadhus and rishis for future generations. The scripture of Sanatana Dharma (The Eternal Ideal Of Perfection) is never complete; each of us contributes in its writing by living the example.