Shri Anandamayee Ma was a great female Saint, born May 1, 1896, in a remote village in Bangladesh, into a poor family and given the name Nirmala, meaning immaculate. She left her body in 1982. Ma’s last teachings to her devotees were: “Remain where you are, as there is no need to change one’s outer circumstances, and do your sadhana.” The following dialogue is pieced together from conversations she had with various people who visited her, it forms the preface to the book, Death Must Die, which focuses on the teaching of Ma, as experienced by one of her devotees.
Q: Am I right to believe that you are God?
MA: There is nothing but God; everything and everyone is only a form of God. In your shape also He has come here to give darshan.
Q: Then why are You in this world?
MA: In this world? I am not anywhere. I am within myself.
Q: Why am I in this world?
MA: He plays in infinite ways. It is His pleasure to play as He does.
Q: But I, why am I in this world?
MA: That’s what I have been telling you. All is He. His play is in numberless forms and ways. But to find out for yourself why you are in the world, to find out who you really are, there are various sadhanas (spiritual practices and methods). You study and you pass your exam; you earn money and you enjoy the use of it. But all this is in the realm of death in which you go on life after life, repeating the same thing over and over again. But there is another path –the path of immortality, which leads to knowledge of what you are in reality.
Q: Can anyone help me or must each one find out for himself?
MA: The professor can teach you only when you have the capacity to learn. Of course, he can give you help but you must be able to respond. You must have it in you to grasp what he teaches. It is you who study and you who pass; you who earn and you who spend.
Q: Which is the best path?
MA: All paths are good. It depends on a person’s samskaras, his conditioning, the tendencies he has brought over from his former lives. Just as one can get to the same place by plane, ship, train, car, cycle, etc., so also different types of people. But the best path for each is the one which the guru points out for him.
Q: I am a Christian
MA: I am also a Christian, a Mohammedan, anything you like.
Q: How can I get happiness?
MA: First tell me whether you are willing to do as I bid you.
Q: Yes I am.
MA: Are you really? All right, suppose I ask you to remain here, will you be able to do it?
Q: No (laughter)
MA: You see, happiness that depends on anything outside of you, be it wife, child, money, fame, friends – whatever it is – cannot last. But if you find happiness in God who is everywhere, all pervading, who is your own Self – that is real happiness.
Q: Is there no substance to me as an individual? Is there nothing in me that is not God?
MA: No. Even the form of not being is only God alone. Everything is He.
Q: Is there no justification in professional or any other worldly work at all?
MA: Occupation with worldly things is like slow poison. Gradually, without your noticing it, it leads you to death. Should I advise my friends, should I advise you, to take this road? I cannot do this. I say tread the path of immortality, take any path that suits your temperament which will lead you to the discovery of your Self.
Q: What is your work?
MA: I have no work. For whom can I work since there is only One.
(Excerpted from the Prologue of the book, Death Must Die, by Ram Alexander)
– Selected by Sharon Gannon