Siddhi Ma, a master disciple of the Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba, and Mother of the Universe.
Today is the mahasamadhi day of Sri Siddhi Ma, who left her body four years ago today, December 28th. The great Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba once said that he took his birth in northern India in order to be with Siddhi Ma, who was in fact an incarnation of Vaishnavi Devi.
Maharaji was sitting on a rock by the Hanuman Temple on the side of the lake in Nainital (North India) with Mr. K.C. Tewari. He was looking across the lake at the India Hotel, where Siddhi Ma lived with her husband and family. He said, “Katyayani lives there. I had to come because of her.”
The great saint Anandamayi Ma used to go into K.K. Shah’s house in Nainital, up to the roof and then cross over to Siddhi Ma’s house and go hang out with her in the kitchen. After Maharaji left his body in 1973, Siddhi Ma took over management of his ashrams.
A Westerner spoke about Siddhi Ma: “People have had the darshan of Maharaji after talking to him through his picture. “Oh you spoke to me; you asked me a lot of questions.” We didn’t know anything about Siddhi Ma. Maharaji kept her hidden.” She was always in Maharaji’s rooms and would listen to all that happened in the darshans outside from behind a door or a window. None of the westerners knew anything about her. They knew the other Mas. who would come from outside to have darshan. The Westerners were really devastated when Maharaji left his body, so many flew to India, and got there for his cremation. K.K. Shah explained who she was. “I ran into her arms, and I was crying, and Siddhi Ma was crying. I felt that we could be with Maharaji in a different form, in the motherly form of Siddhi Ma.”
How I Learned the Hanuman Chalisa. I started to learn from a couple of Hanuman Chalisa workshops led by Nina Rao, and then Krishna Das in Maui at Ram Dass’ “Open your heart in paradise” Retreats. And then I sang with this Tutorial https://youtu.be/l8vdH9xWrsM. And then I had to relearn after Sanskrit/Hindi lessons, and used this pronunciation tutorial (https://youtu.be/toGNAtxqGb4) to correct how I sing it, using the Devanagari version of the Chalisa I made here:
On Medium: Hanuman Chalisa with Devanagari and English: https://link.medium.com/6sbYVJMsCkb
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Once, I was at Ram Dass’ “Open Your Heart in Paradise” retreat in Maui, and I got a phone call that my daughter had had a concussion back in California. So I did pranams as they were wheeling Ram Dass across the front of the stage for the mala ceremony. Nina Rao told me that Siddhi Ma had told her that if something bad happened, just keep chanting the Hanuman Chalisa over and over again. So that’s what I did, and my daughter recovered.
Nina also explained that Siddhi Ma said to read along with the words of the Chalisa even if you have it memorized, so that you can focus your attention.
During the 2021 Maharaji Bhandara Twelve Chalisas prep, Rick who was with Siddhi Ma said she told him to keep working on memorizing connecting the memorized words to the actual meanings to understand.
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Siddhi Ma stories from Krishna Das:
Siddhi Ma said he should do asana and pranayama for the health of the body. Krishna Das said, “And those practices start to calm you down. When the heart is as wide as the world, everything is inside that space. The glue gets diluted and thinned out, that keeps us in preconceptions, by spiritual practice.”
Maharaji said, “Ram nam karne se sab pure ho jata.” This means, “From repeating the name of Ram, everything is accomplished.” Krishna Das said, “We need to feel good about ourselves, feed ourselves, in order to be able to give and share with others. We need to know who we are and how to live in our true nature. The answer is that we need a practice. We have to act in this world. Do the best you can.”
Neem Karoli Baba said that it’s not possible to reach higher states of meditation without Grace. So you must do your part, do your sadhana but your progress is Grace.
Siddhi Ma said, “It’s all Grace but you have to act like it isn’t.”
One time I asked (Siddhi) Ma. “Ma, is it all Grace, or is personal will needed?” She looked at Krishna Das and replied, “It’s all Grace, but you have to act like it isn’t.”
Krishna Das went on, “It’s raining everywhere but if we want to drink, we have to cup our hands and catch the drops.”
Did Maharaji initiate you? Krishna Das, answered, “No. No ceremony. Do what you have to do and what makes you happy. Maharaji would just change your life. He never told you what to do.” They did this (learned the Hanuman Chalisa and other prayers) to get more time with Maharaji. For Krishna Das now when he chants, it brings him into his (Maharaji’s) ephemeral presence. “You can’t hide from yourself. Do the best you can. You’re not just singing a song to people. You’re praying to God in that person.”
Siddhi Ma said, “Sing to the Siddhas on the hill (across from Maharaji’s Nainital ashram). What can you get from people?”
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Siddhi Ma was a manifestation of the goddess Vaishnavi Devi.
In the Nainital hills, they used to worship Kali with sacrificed goats. So Maharaji built a temple to Vindhyavasini Devi, a form of Vaishnavi Devi, a form of Vishnu shakti. No Sacrifice was allowed. Siddhi Ma was a manifestation of the goddess Vaishnavi Devi. Once they all got in a car to go to Vindhyachal, the mountain of the goddess Vindhyasvasini Devi, to do a puja there. They were running too late to get to the temple, so Maharaji got out of the passenger seat and took all of the aarti offerings. He sat on the ground outside the back door of the car and worshipped Siddhi Ma as Vindhyavasini (Vaishnavi) Devi. The Vindhyavasini Durga Devi Mandir temple that Neem Karoli Baba built in Kainchi is a temple to Siddhi Ma. It is inside the Neem Karoli Baba Kainchi Ashram opposite of the original temples. This was the Durga temple that Maharaji made Krishna Das the pujari for.
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From Krishna Das’ documentary film, nearing his leaving the body, Neem Karoli Baba started sending the Westerners home. They complained about leaving. Maharajji said, “Ne, you have to go. Your lives are waiting for you. I gave you more than I gave the Indians. I let you love me unconditionally.”
Long after Maharaji left his body on September 11, 1973, Krishna Das visited the Durga temple at Kainchi where Maharajji had made him a pujari or priest back in 1972. The first two pujaris were caught stealing money from the donation box, and so Maharaji had made Krishna Das the pujari. He had to distribute blessed water used in the rituals called “Charn Amrit.” When Krishna Das went there again later, he felt a deep peace. He thought that the ocean and the wave are not different. They appear different. The wave thinks it’s great and dissolves. It’s temporary, just water. He felt like after that he could go back to sing Kirtan and not feel that it was about him. People who came were actually attracted to connecting to Maharaji’s love. Siddhi Ma had said Krishna Das needed to stay in Kainchi to see Maharaji in his big form at the annual opening bhandara celebration.
Siddhi Ma told him that when Maharajji made him a pujari to give out the Charanam, the holy water at the Durga temple, it began what led to singing Kirtan with people. He does that same thing as singing with people in the form of the Names of God.
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Krishna Das tells the story of when Neem Karoli Baba made him the Pujari of that Durga temple at Kainchi Ashram. https://youtu.be/tdt94jcz7mc
Krishna Das singing Devi Puja at 1440 Multiversity. https://youtu.be/EpQPwE1lupw
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“Mother of the Universe” Story about Siddhi Ma.
In 1995, Krishna Das told Siddhi Ma that he was still having a hard time from not going back to India when Maharaji had asked him to, ie in time before he left his body.
So, Siddhi Ma told Krishna Das this story:
Everyone was at the temple in Rishikesh and they’d made plans to go to Madras, Chennai, and they had 40 reservations on the train. Jivantima had another heart attack, and she could barely breath. They drove 7 hours to Rishikesh with her in the car to catch the train, and they got to the old Delhi train station, and they carried her under the tracks, and up to the platform and into the train and into the compartment and helped her into the sleeping birth.
The train takes off and in the middle of the night, Siddhi Ma needs to use the bathroom. There are bathrooms at either end of the car, and you walk down the hall, and then you make a turn, which goes through a door out of the train then turn toward the bathroom. Jaya walks with her, and they went to one side of the train and the bathroom was dirty. So, they went to the other bathroom. When they turned the corner, at the end of the hallway, and there huddled at the foot of the door was a “Fakir.” (Like a Sufi or Muslim saint or another name for a sadhu). He had a black shawl covering his face and you couldn’t see him, as he was looking down. They turned the corner, and then he held his hands up in prayer and said “Jai”, and then Siddhi Ma bowed to him and went to the bathroom. Jaya came back, and asked, “Baba, do you know this woman?”
Still covered, he says, “She is the mother of the Universe.” Siddhi Ma came out of the bathroom, pranced to the fakir, and she walked back to the compartment. Jaya decided that Jivantima had to see the Baba. With great difficulty, they made their way down the hallway. They came in front of the Baba. Jivantima bowed to the Baba. He was covered. He reached into his Jola backpack, and pulled out fresh hot puris, feeding Jivantima himself, putting them in her mouth. Everyone was crying. This was exactly how Maharaji used to feed Jivantima. They went back to the compartment. And Jaya wanted to go back, as the train then came to the station. The Baba was standing with his back to Jaya, facing the station, and he took one step onto the platform and disappeared right in front of Jaya’s eyes.
Siddhi Ma said, “Krishna Das, no one can understand Maharaji’s Lila (play), since he left the body.” And she sent him away.
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One time, we’d been sitting other quite a while in silence. And Siddhi Ma said, “Krishna Das, Maharaji can do anything for anyone at any time.” KD made a surprise face.
Siddhi Ma hid herself better than Maharaji. People would ask her for things, and she’d say pray to Maharaji. What are you asking me for? Maharaji, said pray to Hanuman. Hanuman says pray to Ram.
Ram Dass had a difficult catastrophic stroke. He thought Maharaji had stroked him. When he went to India, he saw Siddhi Ma. She told him Maharaji wouldn’t do such a thing to him. The stroke was his karma, and Maharaji gave him the Grace strength to overcome it.
How we deal with our suffering determines how we move forward.
Chanting is meditation. One type of shamata (or samatha, a Buddhist mind calmness practice) is being aware of your breath. Let go and come back. That’s one aspect of the practice of the repetition of the divine name.
Krishna Das at 1440 Multiversity retreat. Maharajji throws fruit, Love; Siddhi Ma stories. https://youtu.be/IM2-q6KSTrE
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In this Omega Institute Ecstatic Chant recording from New York 2018, Jai Uttal tells a story and then sings a song for Siddhi Ma’s passing: “Jaya Jagadambe” (She Who Tears Apart Thought) (song by Jai Uttal) to Siddhi Ma. [Listen here unlisted: https://youtu.be/3elv3WLxQpM]
In loving rememberance, Ram Ram, Lxmi Devi.