Swami Bhashyananda

His Mission...Our Lineage

Mother's 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.

Gauri 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.

Early 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.

Durga 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.

It 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.

In 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.

In 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.

It 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.

Mother's 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.

Our History
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