Emma's Articles

Anandamayi Ma – The Bliss Permeated Mother

By Emma Salvado..

Anandamayi Ma was born Nirmala Sundari (Translated- Immaculate Beauty)  in 1896 in West Bengal. Her name was extremely appropriate for her , because she was not only spiritually beautiful , but physically beautiful too.

She was regarded as a happy and contented child by all who knew her, but not particularly intelligent. As a child she had a tendency to stop all activity, and stare off into space for long periods of time, which made her parents and those who knew her extremely uneasy.

Their concern started the day she was born, because their newborn infant didn’t cry. Years later, when asked about this Anandamayi Ma responded “ Why should I cry? I was watching the tree’s through the slats in the window”

After 2 years in school Nirmala was taken out of education to begin full time housekeeping, and at 13 yrs old was betrothed to her future husband Bholanath.

Five years later she married him, and they moved in together, but much to Bholanath’s annoyance his beautiful bride refused to consummate their relationship.

His annoyance with his new wife grew greater, when he awoke in the night to find his wife, contorting her body in mysterious ways on the floor , and making odd sounds.

He became convinced that his wife was possessed and asked for some help from an exorcist.

Neither Bholanath nor Nirmala had any kind of formal training, so they didn’t know at the time that Nirmala was actually spontaneously assuming Hatha Yoga postures, and the strange sounds she was channeling were actually sacred Mantras.

Throughout most of her early life Nirmala passed through various stages of Sadhana, without realising. She remained in a lucid witnessing state in yoga called Sakshin. She was unaware that she was doing anything, it was all just happening.

She shocked her family, and husband even more, when she refused to Bow down to her elders , which was customary in India. Nirmala said she heard a voice that told her “You are not to bow down to anything….. You are everything.”

Through this message, she realised, the universe was her own Manifestation.

This was such an unbelievable realisation for an illiterate young woman , who had never had a Guru to guide her.

So she was encouraged to seek out a teacher to formally initiate her into spiritual life. So Nirmala went to all of the local pandits to initiate her, but none of them would, they were uninterested in teaching a poor low caste illiterate girl.

On the 3rd August 1922, in a break with the entire history of Hindu tradition , Nirmala initiated herself. Such was her self Realisation. 

Yoga teacher, the Guru, the mantra he or she imparts, and the mantra are all one. The Guru receives the mantra from the sages of the lineage through meditation, and initiates the student into it. Amandamayi Ma dramatised this unity, when she played the parts of teacher and student simultaneously. Her higher self conferring the mantra to her lower self, she received the mantra directly from the divinity within.

In 1922 after her initiation, her husband finally realised that she had not been possessed by demons, but realised in fact that she had been possessed by God.

So he asked to become her first student…

This unorthodox act was criticised by many people around them, because it was seen as improper for a male to bow at his own wife’s feet.

Anandamayi Ma ( Joy Permeated – In Sanskrit).

As she was now known as , followed her husband to Dhakka where he was given a job as gardener of an Estate. He and his wife moved into a cottage there, and she began her work of healing devotees and chanting the glories of God.

In 1924 Anandamayi Ma stopped feeding herself , her hands would simply not carry food to her mouth , so from that moment onward until her death , she was only ever fed by her husband or her devotees.

Her Inner Guide (Kheyal) directed her life course, and was seen as sometimes being impulsive or erratic.

The esteem for Anandamayi Ma grew, and was reflected in her appearances at the Kumbh Mela ( the biggest religious gathering in the world). The Kumbh Mela is a religious fair which draws millions of pilgrims, and is seen as an opportunity for religious leaders to promote themselves and often rival other religious dignitaries. However Ma’s appearance there was revered by all who went to see her. Disputes and and Egoism were left at the door, by all who went to see her, just to sit in silence in her presence.

It was here that Anandamayi Ma was given the title of UNIVERSAL MOTHER. A saint whose compassion knew no boundaries , caste or religious background. All were AWED into stillness in her presence.

Many Westerners’ introduction to the UNIVERSAL MOTHER was in Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” when he asked her about herself, and she replied….

“My Consciousness has never associated itself with the temporal body. Before I came to this earth I was the same. As a little girl, I was the same. I grew into Womanhood, but I was still the same. Ever afterwards through the dance of creation changes around me in the hall of eternity, I shall remain the same.”

Her message was not one that she taught… it was what she embodied…And what she was.

She was a radical example of a truly liberated woman. She loved everyone who came to her, as if they were her own children, and yet she remained unattached to anyone or anything. She selflessly served others, traveling from place to place to give people access to her “Divine Presence.”

She was a living example of the Goddess.

She supported you in whatever Sadhana you had, it didn’t matter what religion you were. If you were Christian and came to Ma, she would initiate you with the name of Jesus as your Mantra. She saw no separation, she never stressed loyalty. But ultimately the people who came to her knew who their Guru was…

She took Samadhi in 1982 at the age of 86 leaving behind the Bhav of emotional legacy of being…

“The most perfect flower Indian soil has ever produced.”


Emma's Articles

Healing The Feminine

By Emma Salvado.

In India there are more saints per capita, than anywhere else in the world.

1000’s of them were Female Saints, but there was never a lot of information documented about them. During the Vedic period women were culturally held in very high esteem, and enjoyed the same equal rights and opportunities as the men of that time.

They had the opportunity to study the Vedas and were given training in archery, yoga, music, and drama.

Gradually however over time as India became suffocated by battles against foreign invaders woman’s positions became less esteemed and her freedoms were minimised, women lost the privileges they enjoyed in the Vedic times, and began to lag behind in education due to their family responsibilities, and because of the controversial caste system in India many of these women remained with their families, and so women began practicing yoga in their homes, away from prying eyes.  

These women would arise in the mornings before their families wakened, sit at their altars worshiping and praying in their homes… and uncaring for fame and notoriety, not even the people in the next village are unaware of who they are…

The Caste system in the Indian culture meant that many women were betrothed to their future husbands at an early age, because love was not necessary for a successful Indian marriage. Girls had no part in the decision of who they would marry. This was, and still is, in many respects the choice of a girl’s father.

Bad marriages frequently spurned Indian women to immerse themselves in spiritual life, as a way to alleviate the shortcomings of the rest of their lives.

Mira Bai the devotee of Krishna and Mahadevi the devotee of Shiva, were two such Yogini’s who even though they were married,  immersed themselves in devotion to their Guru, and were then seen as being mad, as a way of discrediting them and their devotion.

Tantra was a tradition of Spiritual practice that flourished across India because of its inclusivity. Gender and caste were not a conversation when it came to Tantra. The desire to want to experience divine presence in your heart, through self discipline, motivation and sincerity was all that was required.

This is why many women Sages were Tantrica’s.

This is also mirrored in Hinduism, as it is practiced morning and evening in indian households, primarily by the women of the home at their personal family altar. They are the backbone of Hindu Religious Life, and pass most of hinduism’s highest principles to their children. This is the way things have been for thousands of years.

Women are the backbone of religious life in India and they pass on the principles of worship to their children.

Deities are commonplace on the walls and altars, and Indian children grow up hearing the mystical stories of love, war and life lessons based on these avatars.

How different if the population of the west grew up not with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or Ultra unhealthy Models or Tv Personalities as role models, but pictured themselves as these divine beings, who could move at will through the corridors of the universe.

It’s no accident that in India the deity who governs education, the arts and knowledge is Saraswati, the deity who governs strength and protection is Durga, the deity who rules wealth and commerce is Lakshmi – They are all Goddesses.

The Goddess is adorned in these households reminding the devotees of the spiritual dimensions of life and the compassionate motherhood of God.

Women in India are free to worship the Goddess freely and even imitate them.

This has also trickled down though Yoga’s lineages, one after another the male heads have been passing their spiritual mantles to women.

Some examples of this have been:

  • Ramakrishna (Devotee of Kali) who passed his spiritual authority to Sarada Devi, his wife.
  • Paramahansa Yogananda – One of the keepers of the Kriya Yoga lineage to American Born (Daya Mata)
  • Swami Sivananda  passed the teachings of Sivananda Yoga to Shivananda Radha Saraswati  (German born Sylvia Hellman)

In the 1900’s the tantric adept UPASANI BABA taught that women are capable of “ Faster Evolution than Men”,  and that all male devotees needed to cultivate “Feminine qualities such as Egolessness and Purity, in order to progress.

I am so grateful that in this century Women have taken even greater strides to empower themselves spiritually,  even though they have had to face tremendous obstacles to fulfill their spiritual desires.

When Tantra describes the Goddess, it is not talking about a multi armed deity in a Sari. The goddess is Reality… she is what we mortals call existence.

Whatever is at the root of you and me… That is She…

Through these women saints we can see the incarnate of the divine, because they unselfconsciously evoke her in us!!!!!

Honour the embodiment of what they represent in you…


Love Emma x

Emma's Articles


By Emma Salvado.

Journaling is a canvas for our thoughts and feelings, a canvas for how things fit, for how WE fit, for how we refine Unity.

Journaling is how we stay in conversation with the Universe.

Journaling is how we sketch truth within our heart.

In a deep and lasting way, Journaling is how we practice the art of correspondence within ourselves. Where a diary is a place to track the circumstances of our lives, a journal is a place to unfold the events that lift and drop us through our days, a place to ask all the questions that have no answer, a place to find and gather meaning from all we go through.

The Inherent Sequence of Learning

The threshold of all learning is question and response. It’s the gift of inquiry that draws an inner response from us. This is how we return to promise, this is how we turn into our possibility. By inquiring and inwardly responding, we become authentic.

Real thinking involves question and response, which is at the heart of dialogue. When honest, we enter and engage true questions and stop seeking answers. While the surface world requires answers…. Which foods are safe to eat…? Can I drink the water in Bali …? Etc …The things that give us meaning – Truth , Love, Peace, Paradox .. – are unanswerable. They reveal themselves when we are in relationship with them, not when we answer or try to solve them.

A journal is a private , sacred place where we work out these relationships. The base of all learning is wonder ….. Our chief task as teachers , seekers, students, is to re establish and reaffirm the inherent sequence of learning, to open wonder with a question, and then to respond, to see how things go together, and then unify them.

Any practice, instrument, experience or technique that fosters the sequence of learning is a significant aid in the art of living.

One Common Assumption

One such instrument is the journal. Its use is extremely versatile. Its can serve as a lamp, a mirror, or magnifying glass.

A journal is a personal workspace of inwardness, a soul’s logbook.

These descriptions all share one common assumption – that there is something worth inquiring into, and something worth responding to. It’s the fundamental belief on which all learning is based. We often react to life, before inquiring into it. The importance of self study through a journal, is that is actualizes who we are by exploring our relationship to everything we encounter.

Once committed to the practice of reflection as a conduit between our soul and the universe, a journal can animate our concerns and curiosities, providing a way to weave a tapestry of all the different strands of life …, ( This is living Tantra)

We are always on a journey, and so there are always spaces waiting to be entered and explored. The journey of learning, whether we like it or not, never stops.

We question , then respond.

We correspond, feel and become real.

What sketching is to a painter , Journaling is to an awakened soul.

The Workspace

What then is the nature of this tool, a journal?

It is a daily and personal practice , that is significantly tied to the rest of our lives. Its a travel log, of our souls journey through the world. Just as exercise strengthens our muscles, our practice of question and reflection can enliven us, keeping us open, acute , perceptive, and thorough.

By being faithful to the art of inner dialogue, searching for meaning in events, issues , ideas and feelings we can inhabit the life we are given by engaging the world.

The Manner and Reach of the Journal

A journal seems to work best when its established as a daily or regular practice. I would encourage you to regard it as an intimate place where you can enter time and bear witness to the wonder of your life and all its hardships and wonders. Where you can be honest about how life is happening around you.

It’s a place where you get to tell the truth as only you see if, even when you’re wrong. Write as if no one will see it. Only after you have possibly for meaning from your questions, should you share what you have found…. Do the work yourself first…What’s most important is that you remain honest, without fear of invasion ( others reading it)
Above all, It’s YOUR journal.

I also encourage you to make the space of your journal personal. So it matters what it looks and feels like. It should be chosen with care, something that you have a connection too, something you want to return too. Something welcoming. It doesn’t need to be well organised, or logical, or neat. Let it unfold organically in a way that mirrors the questions moving through your heart and mind. It could be full of sketches or scribbles….. (I write upside down and back to front sometimes)

Generally is most effectively entered in three ways :

  • It can be written in by responding to the impact of your experiences
  • Responding to the things you read ( when I’m moved by a poem or text from a book)
  • By inquiring into a journal question ( I am always on the lookout for questions that stir me, or others….. The kind of questions that have no immediate answers.

Ultimately these questions are carried by us like lanterns, that we swing in the dark to help us find our way.

The Life of Oneness

After initially beginning to journal, we can sometimes get frightened at times , because of the depth of life that opens up for us. In a world where we have grown accustomed to separating what matters from what needs to be done, your journal might seem a little disorientating.
It brings us back to our innate yearning for unity, for a life of oneness, for what we have in common, rather than what separates us.

We return to the art of correspondence, to see how things go together, so see how we fit into our life. Be ready to be opened as you enter a life of new depths. Because you may start to see your life differently, you might start to see all of life differently. You may have to allow other views in that you once thought didn’t belong.

We cannot make anyone learn but ourselves…… so work in your journal , by living closely to the heart of your experience. Feel it within yourself. Do not try to run or escape from the feelings or sensations that might arise from the work. Acknowledge them , and journal through them.

Discover what your thoughts and feelings point to, rather than summarizing what you already know.

Remember your journal is an experiment in authenticity. There is no right or wrong way.

Trust whatever comes.

The Magic you’re looking for, is in the work you’re avoiding.