Maha Jagadguru Maathe Mahadevi
"Though young in age she carries in her intellect the wisdom of the ages'' exclaimed everybody who came in the presence of and heard the discourses and speeches of Her Holiness Jagadguru Mathe Mahadevi, even at her young age of 20 years. The Goddess of knowledge seems to be dancing on her eloquent tongue. Besides being an orator of genius, she is a sound scholar, a revolutionary preacher, an impressive writer, a mystic and above all a reformative thinker with progressive ideologies. Being a devoted student of Indian heritage, she has made a special and thorough study of Indian scriptures and lives of Indian sages. She has dedicated herself to the deep study of the mystic literature of the great Saranas of 12th century and has attained a mastery over that special literature in Kannada. She gives a lucid but deep exposition of the scriptures in her discourses and writings. It is not an exaggeration if one exclaims that hours roll away like minutes while hearing her lectures. Her metallic and yet melodious voice with tremendous clarity of thinking and with spontaneous flow of expression, is a continual source of thrilling experience. Her spiritual discourses provoke our intellect, quench our thirst for knowledge, inspire our will to step forward with self-confidence and bathe our hearts in the shower of bliss. It is a matter of pride to see her as the first woman in the history of religion, ascending the pontifical seat of a Jagadguru, so far reserved for men only. By taking this bold and vehement step she has established a sublime tradition of recognising the women as preceptors (Gurus).
Her Holiness Jagad Guru Mathe Mahadevi, popularly known and shortly addressed as Mataji, was born on 13th March, 1946 at Chitradurga (Karnataka State) as the eldest daughter of a noble father, late Dr. S.R. Basappa and an ideal and pious mother, Smt. Gangamma. And she was named Ratna, a jewel of that family (Probably it was the will of God that she should become a jewel of religious tradition). From childhood Mataji showed an extraordinary brilliance and was studious in nature. Being a precocious genius, most of her talent inclusive of her aptitude for literature and philosophy bloomed at an early age. She was attracted to things devotional quite soon at her teen age, and with an unquenchable thirst for acquisition of knowledge she was spending most of her time in studying religious scriptures, some times being mocked at by her playmates of girlhood as a "Book-Worm'' and as 'Grandma' and was much interested in activities like worship, prayer etc., But, as a tender bud of jasmine unfolds, as the new moon grows whole into full-moon, Mataji's personality blossomed incessantly.
After the completion of science-graduation in 1965, Mataji's mind swayed so much towards intense ascetic life that, in spite of unwillingness and resentment of her family members, she could not be prevented from stepping into the spiritual life. Mataji's inner-self yearned for proper guidance that could shape (or mould) her future life and she was praying for Divine Grace. As though by divine will, she met the revered Sad Guru Linga nanda Swamiji, who was one of the greatest revolutionary-religious leaders of the land, and who was popular as Abhinava Vivekananda. Revered Guruji was able to read the Divine will behind her decision to enter the ascetic life. Being successful to trace the precocious genius of the new comer during her first interview itself, Swamiji provided shelter and guided her in the spiritual path of Sivayoga.
Mataji got first initiation into religious life called ' Istalinga Diksha' on 21st August, 1965. The shower of grace of God, that descended through the medium of initiation, blessed and divinised her personality so much that soon she received the divine spell in her ear, her literary genius sprang at once and flowed spontaneously in the form of lyrics like a rushing torrent. To add up to this treasure, on one day she had a Revelation of Jaganmata Akkamahadevi , the great lady saint of the twelfth century, who was the spiritual model for Mataji. Mataji is fortunate enough to have been charged with divine grace & power through divine vision (Sakshatkara) of Akkamahadevi . Mataji's experience which bathed herself in divine grace and ecstasy transformed her life thoroughly. Realising that she was picked up by gracious God to fulfil His purpose, Mataji decided to devote her life for this divine cause and made up her mind to serve the humanity as a Sanyasini. After this revelation, she took Sanyasa initiation ( Jangama Diksha) on 5th April 1966 at the age of twenty.
After initiation, while she was absorbed in yogic practice and engaged in expressing her feelings and experiences through lyrics, once again Mataji received divine commandment in her dream to continue her academic study. So, to fulfil this divine order and to extend the horizon of knowledge, she joined the M.A. course at Karnataka University, taking Philosophy and Religion as her major subjects, To her credit she passed M.A.with distinction in First in First class.
First Women to be Jagath Guru
Being one of the greatest religious teachers of the present day Indian society, Mataji has inaugurated a movement called Viswa Dharma or Universal Religion, which aims at inculcating great many changes into the religio-cultural milieu of India. This campaign initiated by Mataji is not a sectarian one with stereo typed ideas, but broad based one to show light, to one and all without any discrimination of caste, class and sex. To implement the ideals of Viswa Dharma, Mataji has started an institution named Viswa Kalyana Mission (World Welfare Mission) which aims at bringing together the whole humanity under a single roof of brotherhood. Propagation of knowledge and service of mankind are the twin oars propelling the boat of Viswa Kalyana Mission.
To awaken the mass to make them realise the need of to-day, Mataji launched a programme of travelling through different parts of India as well as world. In this context she visited England, being invited as the Chief Guest to address the 'World Religious Conference' held in July 1976, and the "Symposium on Indian Religions'' held in September 1976, conducted in the city of London. During her stay in England for nearly six months, Mataji visited many Yoga centres, churches and other religious organisations, and spoke on subjects of varied nature. She visited U.S.A and Canada in 1981 being invited by V.S.N.A, travelled there for about six months, delivered Lectures and conducted Yoga camps.
Getting a tremendous response from genuine spiritual seekers of truth of western countries, where a large amount of interest is developing towards yoga and meditation, Mataji is aiming at establishing centres of Viswa Kalyana Mission in foreign countries, which involves "Paripurna Yoga Centre'' as its essential wing so as to guide the seekers of introspective nature to achieve highest spiritual attainment.
"Paripurna Yoga'' being unique in its kind, is a blending of all existing traditional yogas of Indian heritage including Kundalini Yoga and is much more effective. It aims not only at such individual attainments like realisation and perfection but also at the transformation of the whole individual in full and is comprehensive of the development of surrounding society and nation.
To highlight her literary achievements, Jagad Guru Mataji is a writer of deep thinking. She weaves speculative thoughts and noble ideas in the warp and woof of her lectures and writings as beautiful golden flowers are woven in silk cloth. Even at her young age of 25, she had written not less than twentyfive-books on varied subjects. She has written under the title of "Suyidhana Sugrantha Maala" 75 books and has published more than hundred books. Two of her publications have won state Academy Award, and one other Amminabhavi Memorial Award. At the age of twenty she wrote a philosophical work of 860 pages titled " Basava Tatwa Darshan'' perhaps the first work dealing with multifarious aspects of Lord Basava's social reformations. Mataji is able to deal not only with serious reflective type of philosophical works, but she can handle with uniform ease and lucidity many other forms of literature. She has composed several lyrics and songs of praises of God and His saints, which can be classically sung. She has produced light literature also inclusive of stories for children. At the same time she has stepped in the arena of novel-writing. Her first novel "HEPPITTA HALU'' (Curdled Milk), a social novel that runs to 600 pages was rewarded State Academy prize of 1973, and is considered as one of the classics in Kannada literature, being widely read. Mataji's second novel, which bears the title ' TARANGINI ' (The River) that runs to 800 pages deals with the life and achievements ofAkkamahadevi , already referred to as the spiritual model for Mataji. Tarangini which is treated as a master piece of Mataji's writings has won Amminabhavi Memorial Award of Karnataka Vidya Vardhaka Sangha of Dharwar. Mataji is also the editor of KALYANA KIRANA a socio-spiritual monthly magazine, started in 1970. Very recently she has written a scholarly book, " Basava Dharmada Samskaragalu'' dealing with the rites and rituals of Linga yat religion and further she has edited and published Lord Basavanna's Vachanas.