Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya’s entire life was an open book for all to peruse. Regarding himself he wrote a lot or we can say that via others as a medium his life sketch got penned. But as far as the biography of his holy consort Vandaniya Mataji (HH Bhagwati Devi Sharma) is concerned (Guruji-Shiva and Mataji-Shakti) it is a mystery for majority of mission members even though she had worked shoulder to shoulder with Revered Gurudeva in a selfless humble manner. Her external personality appearing ordinary was like an iceberg in the ocean. Only a little bit of the surface of her profound life gained exposure for the world to see. But the major great glorious personality got hidden below akin to this iceberg. Those who dwelled close by her side know that Mataji was an unlimited ocean of divine energy despite her external visibly form seeming commonplace. Our inner personality is made up of many units but what is the nature of its completeness (Purnata)? How does one live a spiritual life both from the thinking and day to day social standpoint? What characteristics does a mother possess that is imbued with a gigantic loving heart? In what way did our beloved Mataji shower love and affection on one and all without harboring any differentiation of any kind (caste, gender, high, low, rich, poor, religious differences, nationality etc)? All this can be clearly seen in the glorious divine life led by Vandaniya Mataji (HH Bhagwati Devi Sharma).
This was an incident in about mid 1945 AD. Here was Mataji that had never worn Khadi or coarse cotton ever before but later post marriage to Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya she wore thick rough cottin Saris. While doing so, never did her face show any dislike or aversion of any kind. Those residing nearby in Mathura City would taunt and rebuke her but her mind was cool and calm. Her inner courage was so potent that none could look eye to eye at her. It is not easy at all to live in close proximity to a respectful husband as Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya since he was also termed Aughaddani (never hesitates in giving anything to anyone). He would bring just about anyone and everyone home as their guest. He would not for a moment even ponder whether their house has necessary materials to look after guests or not. If anyone gave him donation for their Akhand Jyoti Magazine or someone gave something else in charity he would immediately hand it over to Revered Gurudeva. It was Mataji’s responsibility solely to see to it as to how she ran her household smoothly with bare minimum materials like one plate, one spoon etc only? How adept was she at collecting materials to look after guests and feed them with a hearty meal? No doubt Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya knew well that his own Revered Guruji (Swami Sarveshwaranandji-a subtly divine embodied Rishi of the Himalaya Mountains) had blessed him with such a life partner as Mataji who was no ordinary human but was Goddess Annapurna herself (This Goddess is known to feed innumerable people via her divine powers even though food may be very less in measure. Over here food means both our meals and spiritual food or soul advancement). Mataji must have cut her household budget so much, must have remained hungry many times for feeding guests lovingly but she never allowed anyone to get even a whiff of this. It was her resolve never to allow any guest to go away from their house on an empty stomach. It is this that is the occult aspect of such Lila Purushas (Avatars of Almighty God) although to the world their activities appear ordinary and simple.
It was Mataji who kept accounts of all household expenditure. She also had to look after the following responsibilities:
- Make hand made paper for publishing the Akhand Jyoti Magazine.
- Doing hand printing of the magazine
- Publishing books
- Sewing clothes etc
- Looking after all near and far off relatives along with their children that had at first broken ties with them and later arrived at their home.
- Focusing on children’s studies and education
- When children had spare time giving them certain chores to carry out
- Reading aloud innumerable letters posted to Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya daily by mission members, followers etc and reply to these letters (hand written) as dictated by him
Everyone remembers Dronacharya’s (epic Mahabharat) story wherein one day his small son insisted he wanted to drink milk. Since Dronacharya was a Brahmin that lived on Bhiksha (alms begged) he could not afford to buy milk. So his wife mixed flour with water and gave it to their child to drink in place of milk. The child Ashwatthama was happy since he thought he had been given pure milk. In this modern era too this incident repeated itself wherein when one day all guests left after being fed properly Mataji ate just ½ Roti (Indian bread) with water mixed in red chillies and salt. She then started making preparations for sleeping. Her sons and daughter were awake at that time. They insisted they wished to eat an Indian pudding (Halwa) made from milk. At that late night hour where would she get the ingredients and make Indian pudding? But smilingly Mataji entered the kitchen and after making a ball of flour mixed it with jiggery. Thus both her daughter Shail and son Mrityunjaya ate it. Premvati who was residing with them saw all this. She said:
Mataji! I never even imagined that you and your children can be so self contented. Without roasting the flour, without adding butter, sugar etc I have for the 1st time seen Indian pudding being made like this.
After laughing Mataji made her children go to sleep. Even today both her children remember how tasty was that simple pudding? On eating it they slept contented.
If our own life is disciplined, economical and strict regarding self control renders us truly simple and this is the quality of a true Brahmin. Her individual life oozed with true Brahmin qualities both in her inner personality and outer actions. Hence she was a true Brahmin from the very core of her being. And this led to material grandeur also being showered on her unasked and never wished for at all by her. She started giving prizes of money to her children in return for honest hard work put in by them. It first started with gifting them 1 paisa. Any child would generally use this money to buy sweets, toys etc but Mataji’s disciplined training was undergone by them day after day. These children hence would buy good character building books and got clothes stitched to wear for marriage functions. It was this great training imparted by Mataji because of which that continued even after the gigantic organization at Shantikunj (HQ of All World Gayatri Family-Haridwar-Uttarakhand-India) was set up. There this procedure continued without pause. It was hence that any visitor, guest etc coming here never went away with an empty stomach. The question was not that money was less and that they did not have means. Despite means being minimal with the help of true Brahmin qualities man can combat the most difficult obstacle successfully. In this manner creations for large scale world welfare tasks can be ushered in. Akin to Langars at Gurudwaras and the free lodging facilities at Virpur of the great saint Jalaram Bapa fame, at Shantikunj (HQ of All World Gayatri Family-Haridwar-Uttarakhand-India) too just about everyone was fed sumptuously in a selflessly serving manner.
Vandaniya Mataji (HH Bhagwati Devi Sharma) the holy consort of Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya was Goddess Annapurna incarnate herself. Possibly like Draupadi of epic Mahabharat fame she possessed an Akshaya Patra (food kept in it never got depleted). On thinking thus no doubt appears in the mind. This is because a true Brahmin left home with just an iron vessel in his hands since he wished to take part in India’s freedom struggle. He had handed it over to his respected wife post their marriage as a gift. Mataji had kept it with her right till the end of her life’s journey. Poverty taken up voluntarily finally gives one manifold measure of wealth, property etc. This happens only if our life is lived for spiritual well being not only for ourselves but for others in society too. Its visible example is Shantikunj (HQ of All World Gayatri Family-Haridwar-Uttarakhand-India) where any cash, clothes, valuable materials etc given to Mataji as a gift is generously handed out to all and sundry. In return much more is gifted to Mataji by devotees, visitors etc.
Once Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya and his holy consort Vandaniya Mataji (HH Bhagwati Devi Sharma) went to attend a Yajna program at Bhavnagar, and Rajkot (Gujarat-India). In any house where Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya went it is natural that the crowd was gigantic since the year was 1967-68 AD and till then the mission had become extremely widespread. In one house Mataji herself saw in the kitchen that there was food enough to serve only 8-9 people. This was because this was the only amount of expenses that family could afford. But in the huge open ground in front of their house hordes of people had arrived to seek blessings of Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya and Mataji. How could Mataji, Goddess Annapurna eat food without feeding each and every person gathered there? This was a very tricky situation. Mataji smilingly glanced at Revered Gurudeva and said:
Let everyone finish eating their meals first and then we both shall par take food.
Revered Gurudeva Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya too smiled back in agreement. Mataji again entered the kitchen and lit a wick lamp where the household grocery was stored. Then she asked the lady of the house to commence making Rotis (Indian bread) and vegetables. The food was continuously cooked. From this miniscule food material available about 200 people ate a full meal. They all had Darshan or hallowed vision of Revered Gurudeva and Mataji. Only after that both divine duo ate their meal. Even after that food remaining in the vessels could feed all household members and 8 people more in addition.
Say what could this Lila or divine sport be called? Was it a miracle or protecting the honor of a poor family via their divine feat? There are innumerable such examples known to people dwelling close by to Revered Gurudeva and Mataji. Volunteers residing at Shantikunj (HQ of All World Gayatri Family-Haridwar-Uttarakhand-India) till the years (1983-84) know about those times until which total responsibilities had not yet been handed over to Mataji. She fed each one with Bajri Roti by seating them near her and satiating their hunger pangs lovingly. She would roast Papad on coal furnace. If she saw that her children desired salted Halwa of gram flour, she would do so lovingly. When we remember that awesome taste our minds wetted with the love of Mataji oozed in bliss. We asked ourselves:
What great fate of our past had we come here with that helped us come close to Goddess Annapurna herself? For us such memories are priceless and a treasure to protect. It is a glimpse given to all regarding the unknown form of Mataji’s divine existence. On seeing and reading it each one can understand the root method of succeeding in spirituality.