I had the good fortune to stay at the Anandamayi (ananda - divine joy, bliss; mayi - me) International Guest House. I had only tangentially heard of Anandamayi Maa and did not really know anything about her other than she was regarded as an Indian saint and revered by many. Entering into the small lobby I immediately felt the peace, purity and grace of this place, of Her. I understood why people revered Her. Why they loved Her.
Every morning when I awoke I saw the photo that is the cover photo for this blog. If you can imagine the hair as part of the darkness of night; her beautiful head seemed to emerge wonderously from a luminous lotus flower that was as light and lofty as clouds. This is how it appeared.
Morning prayers and aarti at Anandamayi ashram was a quiet affair. In attendance were some young boys, elderly women, men and 3 or 4 middle aged women- less than 20 in all. This in contrast to more crowded and louder aartis at temples and river banks.
This recording is of the aarti sung on 3rd day of my visit. This woman's beautiful and unusual voice pays homage and calls at same time. Unlike the high pitch sweet voices of most indian female singers, her voice seems to come from the core of the earth like a powerful snake and moves up until it is like a gong knocking on the heart then a beautiful banner in the sky flying high. Singing for Maa, Calling for Her, Asking for the Sacredness in all of us to rise. The collective unostentatious reverence, the simple, pure love of the people and the energy in the room is not easily forgotten. The silent tears shed as I heard this then and now - were not of sadness but of remembrance of something ancient and timeless, full of grace, joy, love, compassion, beauty - something not quite describable - that should not have ever been forgotten not by me, not by anyone of us. The expression of this - Anandamayi.