Sri Sri Anandamayi Ma at the Durga Puja celebration on the Dehradun Ashram grounds the day of my first meeting with her in Oct. 1972. Early that day Swami Jnananandaji and I left Barlow Ganj to attend the evening puja at the ashram. We arrived at the home of a wonderful devotee of Ma's, Smt. Pushpa Bhadwar. Swamiji had told me that she was an 'anterang bhakta' of Ma's and would do her very personal 'seva', like the combing of her long hair etc. There was mutual delight at our meeting and the morning passed in Sat-sang and kirtana with Swamiji. All were to rest just after lunch and Pushpaji wanted me to stay in her puja room, which was a pure delight for me, there with her Lord Krishna and many photos of her Guru Maji. Here the most unexpected thing happened after sometime I suddenly felt wonderfully refreshed and energized. There standing in front of me was the beautiful Mother Anandamayi, radiant! Dressed all in white she shown like a rising moon and was smiling down at me. We exchanged many things in this silent meeting, in a language beyond words. Whether my eyes were open or closed it made no difference to the amazing sight of her and I was in total rapture! When we three met for tea at 4 pm, Swamiji and Pushpaji were elated to hear of the vision of Ma!
When we arrived at the Ashram, Kirtana was already going on in the lovely huge tent on the lawn there. And when we went inside I was surprised that it was already half full of devotees singing in expectation of the coming of Anandamayi Ma. But the real surprise as we followed pushpaji was that instead of siting down there, she said, "Come!" and lead us up the isle, between everyone and right up to the empty places reserved in the very front row! The devotees faces beamed with even greater joy and the mood of the chanting of God's praises greatly increased! It was all so exhilarating , the Bengali musicians and all the devotees joining in the ecstatic singing! I sat down between Swamiji and Pushpaji and joined the singing. Soon the excitement highly increased again as Maji herself made her graceful entrance. The amazing part is that she came and sat on the decorated wooden bed exactly in front of me, so close that I could have reached over and touched her! She looked down and right into my eyes, right into my heart and soul with her blissful smile. It was the same wonderful smile I had seen earlier that day! She nodded to me with a sweet sort of recognition. I was the whole time outside myself, smiling through my tears in perfect rapture. Ma was delighted with it all! Eventually she she went over onto the platform and sat in a special place prepared for her where her Puja and Arti were to be done as the Devi! (This is the photo here above).
After this as the singing continued she suddenly left the stage. Soon after that Pushpaji also went out to see her. She returned later and quietly told us to come out now with her to meet Ma, because she is leaving. It was dark and we stood on the lawn outside the house with a few others, and the car waiting for Ma. She finally came down the stairs and stood before us. Maji was pleased to see Swamiji, whom she knew from his days in Calcutta way back. And he brought me forward to introduce me, it was so very wonderful, she smiled so sweetly remembering Santji in Chandigarh, I glanced at Swamiji and got a sign confirming my desire to touch Ma's feet...so I did through my tears of joy. The ladies around her gasped and she looked at them slightly annoyed and said for someone to bring out prasad from the house. They looked puzled and she said to bring out the two big apples from the dining table! When she had the apples she gave them both to me and tapped her fingers on my head! This was the beginning of a beautiful unending connection with the amazing blissful Mother, Sri Anandamayi Ma.