An unusual way of finding Mâ
by André Riehl
Yoga teacher _ President of the Association pour le Yoga Traditionnel
I met André at the European Yoga Congress in Zinal, Switzerland, at the end of August. André is in charge of the traditional yoga federation, he has a long association with Chandra Swami, who at the beginning also lived in Hardwar. We dined in a chalet with a view of Matterhorn mountain, and André told me the unusual way in which he came to Mâ.
“It all started with a dream, in 1978: I saw a lady who was asking me to come to India. I had the precise image of an alley with a cow, the roadside rising to five feet against the houses. Upon waking, when I told my partner the dream, my tone was so intense that she thought I was going to India the same day! I told myself it was only a dream … However, the next night the call was heard again. This time, I tried, inside the dream, to explain to this stranger that I had no money to go and see her; she replied that a person would come the next day to give me the money. That day indeed, an old friend Monique rang my doorbell. Quite fortuitously during our conversation, I told her of my desire to go to India. Immediately she began to talk about Mâ Anandamayî, taking out of her bag the book she was reading. It came to no surprise to see that it was the lady I had seen in my dreams! I confided in Monique who offered immediately to finance the trip. I left the following summer, and my friend decided to accompany me. I was certainly reluctant, because when we arrived in Benares, I did not go directly to Mâ’s ashram but settled in a hotel for 3 or 4 days. It was at the reception of this hotel where a courier arrived while I was there. The boss simply said to me, “There is someone from Mâ’s ashram who has come to bring you a message.” This message was not for me, but I still understood that I had to go to the ashram, the coincidence being too strong. When I arrived in the alley of Badhaini, I immediately recognized the image of my dreams, in all its details, including the stairs descending to the Ganges. A pûjâ had just begun in the new temple on the left, where the statue of Mâ is now standing. Suddenly, I was engulfed in a joy of lost consciousness, and my friend had to support me. I then went to the reception of the old ashram, saying that I wanted to see Mâ, explaining that I had experiences where she appeared. I was told that many people had experiences with Mâ, and that they did not have the time to listen to them all; Moreover, Mâ had gone to Naimisharanya, a village in Uttar Pradesh near Lucknow, where the Puranas are said to have been written, and where Mâ had founded an ashram. The next day, we took the train in third class to this place of pilgrimage. The carriage was packed and we spent the night packed like sardines. In the early morning at the station, a Swâmi of Mâ’s came towards us to ask us if we knew where to stay, because there was no hotel in the village. He told us of a Dharamsala where we rented a room. He also told us that Mâ gave her darshan daily at seven o’clock. She was ill and received very few people, but we could see her at that hour. So, in the afternoon, we went to the darshan. There were several hundred people waiting. At the appointed hour, she appeared on the terrace, but two or three minutes later, she was already preparing to turn around! I had just traveled 10,000 km to meet her, and she was going to disappear before I had the chance to talk to her! Totally beside myself, I began to shout: ‘Mâ, Mâ, I want to see you!’ She turned for a moment, then left. A crowd of disgruntled and strong Indians had appeared around me, reproaching me for my indecency towards Mâ. A Swâmi finally asked me: ‘What do you want exactly?’ I answered: ‘see Ma.’ ‘OK, tomorrow after the darshan, I will wave to you, follow me.” As expected, the next day he motioned to me and I followed him to the door at the bottom of Mâ’s building. But it was closed from the inside, and we could not enter. Again, I sort of lost control and started to hit the door violently with my shoulder. When she opened, I rushed, and pushing a person, I climbed the stairs four by four with Monique who followed me as best she could. Mâ, who was standing upstairs, worried about the noise. The people present explained my situation and she asked me to introduce myself. I explained to her that I had traveled 10,000 km to talk to her, and that I wanted her advice. She said to me, ‘Go to Mass on Sundays!’ I was completely taken aback by this totally unexpected answer. After having collected my bearings, after a moment, I managed to tell her that I was quite far from Christianity and much more attracted to yoga. She thought for a moment, and finally gave me a yoga exercise. Once in the street, I was filled with indescribable joy, and throughout the night I had visions, in particular experiences of light, as well as very strong emotional experiences. I lived through periods of ecstasy where I forgot myself in meditation. This avalanche of experiences lasted for six months very intensively, then again for three years in a fairly sustained manner.
On August 27, 1982, I went to see Krishnamurti in England. It was late, I arrived at a campsite in the Paris region, I set up my tent, I had nothing in my stomach, it was already dark, and suddenly I felt that Mâ was entering my body. It was only three weeks later that I learned that that night, Mâ had left her body.
Another time, I was in a small room in Aix en Provence. I lived alone, with many ups and downs, and one morning when I was rather depressed, I saw Mâ in my room. It was an extremely realistic vision, I do not know if his words were explicit but the message was very clear: I should not remain there doing nothing, I had to leave. So I went down the streets and went into a bookstore. There, I took the first book that came to hand, it was a book of Mâ’s words, I opened a page at random, and it directly described my situation.
Experiences continued until 1986. At that time I returned to India. While passing by Kankhal, where the samâdhi of Mâ is, I met Swami Ashishanananda. While I told him what was happening to me sometimes, he exclaimed: ‘But it’s not extraordinary, a number of us see Mâ every morning in the garden!’ I immediately thought, ‘They are very lucky!’
Little by little, the rather lively contact that I had with Mâ for years ceased.”
André Riehl ©