The hermitage of the great saint Anandamayi Ma is located along the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi, India. Anandamayi Ma, whose life is described in Autobiography of a Yogi, died in 1982. On a pilgrimage to India in 2006, our group meditated on her balcony and later were blessed by a talk from one of her direct disciples.
As we were leaving, the monk in charge came to us and said, “You are obviously a very sincere group. Would you like to come back tomorrow and meditate in Anandamayi Ma’s bedroom? This is where she spent most of her time while she was here.” We eagerly agreed.
The next morning about 15 of us were led down a narrow hallway to a small bedroom. We filed in and sat wherever we could—completely filling the room. There was a single bed pushed against the wall on the far end draped in cloth. After we began to meditate, I thought I heard a slight sound of someone knocking. I was pressed against the door, and the door opened just a small crack. I said “May I help you?” The door opened and there was a 10-year-old girl wearing a beautiful sari. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I have to wake up Ma.” Wake up Ma?
She came into the room and began moving toward the bed saying, “I’m so sorry, but I have to wake up Ma.” She approached the bed, bowed lovingly, and then began to rearrange some cloth that was on the back wall. To our surprise there appeared a huge picture of Anandamayi Ma. The young girl draped the cloth around the picture and began to uncover many personnel belongings of Anandamayi Ma’s that had been under the cloth on the bed. She stood back, bowed again, and reached under the bed to pull out a small rug that held a pair of Anandamayi Ma’s shoes. She then stood up, bowed, and again said, “I’m sorry but I had to come and wake up Ma.” Then she turned and left.
It was one of the sweetest acts of devotion I have ever seen. Apparently it’s a duty of the school children not only to wake up Ma but also to put her to “sleep” at night. Only in India, I thought, would you see this kind of devotion from someone so young. Truly an inspiring moment.