Trust / Mother's Place, Sri Sri Sarada Mata Ashram has a special connection
to the Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram of Calcutta, India, the oldest existing
organization formed around the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna
and Sri Sri Sarada Devi. This organization connects us to the past,
back to Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sri Ma and others in this precious lineage
who enter later into this profound chain of events.
Mata Puri Devi, or Sannyasini Gauri Ma, established this women's ashram
in 1895 under the guidance and bidding of Sri Ramakrishna. Under Gauri
Ma's guidance and through great hardship, it grew. Later, the ashram
was moved to its present location near Shyambazaar in north-central
Calcutta. On the present site, many years ago, Sri Sri Ma herself performed
the Bhumi puja, dedicating the land and future compound of the Sri Sri
Saradeshwari Ashram. During the Holy Mother's lifetime, she often visited
the ashram and was much pleased with the holy life style the ashramites
practiced. Every evening, the inhabitants of the ashram would bring
prasad from their worship to Sri Sri Ma at the Udbhodan house - a tradition
that went on for many years.
on in the history of Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram, Gauri Ma began to
take in young girls and educate them. This became the subsequent pattern
at the ashram. Girls lived there, were provided an education, and later,
if they wished, they could join the ashram as nuns. Otherwise, they
would go back to their families, having had the benefit of an education
in a highly spiritual atmosphere. The first such girl was Yugal Kishori,
who later became known as Durga Ma. In time, Durga Ma assisted Gauri
Ma, looking after the affairs of the ashram.
Ma had been initiated by Sri Sri Ma at a young age, and was later given
sannyas - also by Sri Sri Ma - becoming the only woman to receive that
station and precious honor from the Revered Holy Mother. Durga Mata
Puri Devi, the name given to her at the time of sannyas, was deeply
spiritual even as a young girl, and, in time, became the spiritual mother
of the ashram. It was Durga Ma who lovingly looked after the ashram
inhabitants and devotees who came there - always with a mother's heart,
full of compassion and love. Many today, attest to her loving and wise
ways - householder, sannyasini and disciple alike. Durga Ma's spiritual
ministry extended from 1938 until 1963. Many stories are told of her
spiritual insight and of how she would carefully and lovingly guide
her disciples. She has left a deep and profound mark on the ashram.
Indeed, one of the elder sannyasinis at the ashram said, "For me,
Durga Ma was Sri Sri Ma," - such is the love and reverence given
to the revered Durga Ma.
is to Durga Ma that all of us are especially indebted for a certain
significant item in the possession of the Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram.
The story of how this came to be unfolds like this: During Sri Sarada
Devi's last illness, Durga Ma often visited her - the ashram being close
to the Udbhodan house where Holy Mother was staying. On one such visit,
knowing that she would soon be leaving this world, Holy Mother gave
to Durga Ma her most precious possession - the japa mala offered to
her years before by Sri Ramakrishna on the famous occasion of the Shodasi
Puja. (This holy relic may be seen at Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram in
Calcutta.) It is perhaps the most important extant relic in the lives
and lineage of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sri Ma.
the Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram it was said that Durga Ma sometimes
prayed to Sri Sri Ma before her picture, asking, "When will our
western daughters come?" There was a feeling, even in the early
days of the ashram, that - sooner or later, at the right time and place
and in the right way - some connection with the West would be made.
1963, after the Mahasamadhi of Durga Ma, the leadership of the ashram
passed on to Subrata Puri Devi. Under her deeply spiritual guidance,
the ways and traditions of the ashram were preserved through many years.
Stories attesting to her insight, and spiritual depth are plentiful.
The ashram inmates had not forgotten Durga Ma's expectation for an affiliate
ashram in the west and throughout the days of Subrata Puri Devi's ministry,
they waited. On that fateful day, in 1986, when, unexpectedly, Eva Schroeder
(now Sannyasini Gauribrata Puri Devi) first walked through the doors
of the ashram - seemingly through Divine Will - the sannyasinis of Sri
Sri Saradeshwari Ashram recognized this as a historic moment and the
long-awaited occasion. A daughter from the West had come - the first
Westerner, in fact, to see the ashram. Bandana Puri Devi (known as Bandana
Ma), the present head and spiritual guide of Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram,
recalls that day with joy and fondness. The event was witnessed by perhaps
60 sannyasinis, several male devotees of the ashram and other Westerners
who attended Eva on that day.
is especially our revered Subrata Puri Devi who has been instrumental
in the founding of Mother's Trust / Mother's Place. It was her vision,
in 1992, that initiated the beginnings of the women's ashram in Ganges,
and we are indebted to her gifted insight and initiative for her significant
contribution. In 1993, upon the Mahasamadhi of Subrata Puri Devi, leadership
of the Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram passed on to Bandana Puri Devi.
Trust / Mother's Place, Sri Sri Sarada Mata Ashram, has since become
the first western branch center of the Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram.
We currently have nine residents at the ashram to assist with its functioning
and the development of it’s mission.