It was at the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago that we first heard about Sannyasini Mataji Gauri Ma. Swami Bhashyananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order and head of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society in Chicago and the Vivekananda Monastery and Retreat in Ganges, Michigan, would read and translate the story of her life to us from the original Marathi. It was a tale that captivated our hearts and minds. Years later, as our memories dimmed, we longed to hear the story of her life once again – and share it with others. That was the motivation that began this book. Swami Bhashyananda gave us all the encouragement we needed. The task was formidable and many long hours were spent on the project, but it was a source of great joy to us.
This short biography by Swami Shivatatvananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, was first published in three parts in the magazine Jivan Vikas (vol. 4, no. 1-3 [March 1960]: 2-11: [April 1960]: 98-107; [May 1960]: 150-58). Jivan Vikas was a Marathi journal on spiritual matters published by the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Nagpur, India. The biography was also presented in book form, entitled Aghormani and Gauri Ma, published by the ashram at Nagpur.
Swami Vyomarupananda, President of Nagpur Ashram, has very graciously given Mothers Trust/Mothers Place permission to publish this English translation. We are grateful to him for this kindness.
Translating the book presented quite a challenge. To us, the original Marathi with its richer vocabulary seemed far better for narrating a spiritual story than English. Through the tireless efforts and sincerity of Professor Sahasrabuddhe, Indu Sahasrabuddhe, and Indra Makhija, and with the help of Swami Bhashyananda, the bulk of the translation was completed. Many long hours were spent at the Vedanta Society working on the text.
Others helped in preparing this translation for publishing. Geeta Makhija and Nagu Kant typed the manuscript on computer. Judy Lawrence edited the first draft. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to her for a job well done. The final editing was done by Pamela White. She did an excellent job, and suddenly the original Marathi seemed to melt into English. Our deepest gratitude goes to her for all the work she has done. A few paragraphs have been moved in the text in the interest of preserving continuity for the benefit of Western readers. Aside from this, we have remained faithful to the original.
Through the generosity of Lex Hixon and Richard Presscott, the publishing of this book was made possible. Our deepest thanks go to them for their generous support. We would also like to thank Huston Smith for his encouragement and best wishes throughout the preparation of this text.
Mothers Trust/Mothers Place, the publisher of this book, is an ashram in Ganges, Michigan. With great joy we present to you this biography of Gauri Ma.