Godavari Mataji

Sweetness and Light – Life & Teachings of
Godavari Mataji by Mani Sahukar, Bharatiya Vidy Bhavan, 1966
Bombay, India

the Saint of Shirdi
– In
1941 Sati Godavari Mataji assumed the mantle of her Guru
Shri Upasani Baba Maharaj with the strength, simplicity and
dignity of a realized being. When she ascended the
‘Gadi’ of spiritual eminence, Mataji was only 26
years old. In the freshness of youth, Mataji had a rare and
ethereal beauty of face and form. Today, though she looks
deceptively frail and simple, there is a quiet radiance and
strength, the strength and radiance of immaculate purity
stored up in her. The life eternal flows through her spirit,
mind and body, cleansing healing and restoring all those
look up to her as the manifestation of Shakti. Soft spoken
and gentle, with nothing spectacular about her personality
and preaching, Mataji nevertheless encloses in her frail
form a dynamic fulfillment of God as Mother.

Tantric philosophy gives great
importance to the Shakti aspect of the creator. This aspect
is represented in Bharat in the forms of Durga, Chandi,
Tara, Kali, Bhuvneshwari and Jagatdhari. According to this
branch of philosophy, Shakti represents the manifested
aspect of the Divine, where God, is looked upon as
personified Divine Mother. To this school of thought we owe
the evolution and development of the whole concept of Shakti
wherein God asserts himself more powerfully as a female
presence. It is maintained that God can become infinitely
more lovable, approachable and intimate if He chooses to
manifest as Mother. Even at the ordinary human level the
mother is looked upon as the embodiment of perfect love.
There is scarcely a person who has not, to a greater or
lesser degree, experienced the peerless purity of a
mother’s heart and the sacrifices she alone is capable
of making for her children. There is almost an instinctive
and universal turning to the mother’s love as providing
a solace for all suffering. Consequently, when the Divine
manifests as Mother, that being becomes ever more powerful
and irresistible. When Godavari Mataji was born on 24th
December 1914, another para-shakti was created in this land.
It is no wonder that in his last years Shri Upasani Baba
should have told many bhaktas who were about to prostrate
themselves before him: “Do not bow to me, worship her,
for she is the supreme Shakti and her very darshan will wash
away the sins and impurities of men and women”. This
was indeed a magnificent tribute of the Guru to one who
recognized as his supreme successor.

Godavari Mataji was born on the 24th
of December 1914 at the virginal hour just 23 – 1/2 minutes
after sunrise, when night meets the day in the unspeakable
serenity of dawn. Her parents, like the parents of many
Avatars were pious and God-fearing. Godavari’s mother
Ramabai had an extraordinary vision which gave clear
indication of her daughter’s exalted destiny. One
night, while Ramabai was sleeping between her two infant
daughters, she suddenly saw a white and unearthly glow fill
the whole room with its dazzling radiance. Out of this
strange luminosity a lovely apparition appeared, dressed in
pure white. his ethereal form came up to them and caressed
both the girls and then bending down whispered something in
the child Godavari’s ears. Ramabai woke up with a
strange elation and conviction that this was not just a
dream, but an actual vision. She felt that the radiant
visitation was no less than a Goddess who had come down to
bless her elder daughter.

This early and portentous sign
heralding an unusual destiny was further strengthened by
Godavari’s extraordinary qualities, even as a child.
Pre-occupied and sensitive, mother took delight in creating
for herself with her child’s imagination images of Gods
from pieces of stones, and then showed a premature
inclination to be absorbed in worship and adoration of these
symbols of her creation. Moreover, she had a magic touch,
and the food that she touched seemed to grow in abundance.
Indeed her touch would unlock, as it were, the Divine
storehouse of unlimited resources. The child Godavari’s
prodigious memory was another of her assets. She had an
amazingly retentive memory which enabled her to recite any
poem or passage that was read out to her only once. Another
notable feature of Mataji’s early childhood was her
instinctive attraction to all holy men, and the reciprocal
affection and interest she immediately provoked in the
hearts of great Yogis and Mahatmas who probably recognized
in this young child great dimensions of spiritual
realization. In fact one of these great ones even went so
far as to tell her parents: “This daughter of yours is
not an ordinary soul. One day she will meet a great Yogi
through whom she will realize her exalted status and lead
hundreds of souls to their goals”. Indeed the prophecy
has been abundantly fulfilled. The full moon day in February
1924 was the starting point, for, it was on that day that
Godavari Mataji went to Sakori at the tender age of ten. She
was taken there as a visitor, but she recognized in the holy
soil of the Sthan her own spiritual abode, and stayed their
for the rest of her life as a devotee and disciple, and
later as the presiding Mother of the Kanya Kumari

The moment of meeting between Shri
Upasani Baba and the child Godavari was filled with ecstasy
for both of them. The Master recognized his completion in
her who stood before him, looking at him with her
child’s gaze of acceptance, and she even at that age,
from some ineluctable stillness of her mature self, knew
that she confronted her Guru, the one who would be the
medium for releasing the imprisoned splendor of her true

Godavari Mataji’s unique out
pouring of devotion to her Guru, and the many incredible
hardship she suffered with great fortitude and humility in
the service of the Master are inspiring examples of what a
true sadhana means. As a matter of fact, she suffered
calculable hardships and persecution due to the petty
jealousies of some women at the Ashram. These women resented
Baba’s exalted opinion of this young disciple, and
because they could not transcend their own lower natures,
they resented mother’s innate purity, and did their
best to break it by pouring on her all the scorn and
contumely they could viciously devise. But Mother towered
over all these difficulties. Her sensitive spirit knew that
it was only through the conquest of such fierce ordeals that
she could ascend to the heights which her Guru expected and
demanded of her.

Not that the mother needed a sadhana
to find herself; she was born in liberation, and her birth
and apparent efforts were just a leela of her manifested
divinity to serve as an example and inspiration to others.
Her early life is a moving saga of surrender and devotion
which cannot fail to inspire those who seek salvation
through the path of Para Bhakti. But, once when asked by a
devotee when exactly she had obtained that bliss which is
inseparable from self-realization, Godavari Mataji blurted
out in a declaration of unguarded spontaneity: “When!
there never was a moment when I did not have

Today, Godavari Mataji is perhaps
the greatest living apostle of the path of Devotion. She
advocates the practice of God-adoration in any way suitable
to the temperament and caliber of the aspirant. ‘Japa
Siddhi’, according to Mother, has been given to us as a
special and easy method of attainment in this difficult
Yuga. Mother lays great stress on the powers of the Mantra
Shastra, and she usually initiates deserving sadhakas by
giving them appropriate Names or Mantras. Those who have
been blessed with such initiation by Mataji, know the
powerful impact of these mantras on their inner lives and
perceptions. Herself the personification of purity, the
Mother lays great stress on the gradual cleansing of
one’s thoughts, motives and actions. She gives
tremendous push to those who seek her Grace for spiritual
progress, but at the same time she enjoins on the sadhakas
the necessity of persistent effort. Guru’s Grace does
not operate until it is drawn down by the persistent hunger
and effort. Mataji says: “The highest state man can
aspire to is that of God, and to attain it, he has to exert
himself. By self-effort man becomes God. Effort can make
even God descend on earth, or those of the earth attain

Though nurtured in almost monastic
traditions of ascetic living, Mataji has had the courage and
the vision to reject all formal manifestations of
austerities. She has ushered in an era of gracious living,
where ‘tyag’, according to her, is to be practiced
to control one’s inner life, thoughts and

To look well-groomed and attractive,
and to live with beauty, without getting attached in moha,
is Godavari Mataji’s way of life. Not for her the arid
philosophy of frugal living. The Divine Beloved is the king
of Kings, avows Mother, so why go to him in mortification,
in ugliness and woe! Thus Godavari Mataji has met the
challenges of progress by re-affirming old intuitions in new
ventures, in the comprehensive outlook of religion tempered
with love. Broad-minded and progressive, indulgent to the
minor frailties of her bhaktas, Mataji can none-the-less be
exacting in the demands she makes on her disciples. Her
demands are almost always for the bhakta’s genuine
love, faith and loyalty to the chosen Ishta. The rest will
be taken care of is Mataji’s assurance. This adoration
of God in his supreme personality gets for the bhakta, not
only the knowledge of the nirguna aspect of the Divine, but
also brings him the bliss and ecstasy of a union with the
personal aspect of God as Ishwara.

Herself a true votary of Beauty,
both in its visual and subtler creations, Mother favours
ritualism. She strongly advises against a scornful attitude
of these humbler methods of worship. On the contrary, Mother
encourages the performance of poojas, and maintains that to
worship and adorn idols with flowers, jewels and sandal
paste is an outlet of man’s primitive aesthetical

The Kanya Kumari Sthan has sometimes
been the target of an unenlightened criticism. It is said
that the Ashram and its inmates do nothing in way of social
service. But each Avatar has his or her own unique way of
spreading the Light. Godavari Mataji feels that the most
pressing need of this Yuga is to fashion self-realized
Souls. The purpose of saints like Godavari Mataji, Shri
Upasani Baba and Shri Sai Baba is two-fold Not only do they
uphold dharma, but they make men and women conscious of
their own latent Divinity and help them to find

Sati Godavari Mataji is a living
Incarnation. In a secluded corner of India, in the remote
village of Sakori, Mataji is pre-occupied with the Herculean
task of creating and maintaining such conditions as may
usher in the birth of a greater India.

We offer our humble homage and
tribute to this splendid parampara of radiant Gurus — Shri
Sai Baba, Shri Upasani Baba and Godavari Mataji. In their
vigorous Bhakti cult there is also a touch of mysticism
which lifts their teachings to the stature of a redeeming

August 1992

Women Revive Lost Art of Vedic





Manjul, V.L.


India Ashram Trains Women Ascetics
in Homa Sciences

In 1922 Sakori was a small village
in Pune, India, when Shri Upasani Baba Maharaj settled there
to live in the burial grounds to continue his spiritual
sadhana. He was 52-years-old and had just completed several
years of hard penance under the guidance of the great saint,
Sai Baba of Shirdi. He lived and breathed the Vedas and
wanted to re-establish the right of women to perform all
Vedic rites in Sanskrit as was done in ancient times
according to scriptural injunction. But in 1922 performance
of Vedic rites was the domain of men only, and he received
horrendous opposition from the Brahmin community. He built a
bamboo cage and confine himself in it for 15 months, saying,
“I have undertaken this bondage to liberate my devotees,”
and he became famous for mastering the siddhi of being
present at different, distant places at the same time.
Throngs of devotees offer namaskaram to him. He persisted
against vehement opposition and founded the Upasani Kanya
Kumari Sthan as an ascetic order for kanyas or maiden
brahmacharinis to serve as Vedic priestesses. Upasani Baba
trained them to use Sanskrit as the common language for
daily communication and to perform all Hindu rites including
the ceremonies of name-giving, sacred thread initiation,
marriage and funeral. They also maintained a small farm with
many cows which were treated with the utmost love and

In 1924, a 10-year-old girl named
Godawari arrived in Sakori with her mother and received a
garland and special blessing from Baba. Godawari was among
his first disciples, and when she was just 18, Baba took her
into the ashram’s inner sanctum and removed a Rudraksha mala
from his neck and put it on her, gave her mantra diksha and
spoke about her spiritual destiny as his successor, saying
that she had been a great saint in her previous life. She
became known as Sati Godawari Mataji. In 1941 Upasani Baba
visited Satana, his birth place, for the last time and
installed twelve Jyotirlingas with his own hands. He soon
laid down clear instructions for the future work of his
Kanya Kumaristhan, then attained Mahasamadhi in December
1941 and was entombed at the ashram.

Mataji took her guru’s reins at the
tender age of 27, and the ashram blossomed under her
spiritual tutelage. Most kanyas came with the consent of
their parents, and Mataji admitted them to the ashram with
mantra diksha and bound them with the threefold, lifetime
vow of physical purity, strict celebacy and daily worship.
At the height of the ashram’s success, there were 150
brahmacharinis there. Fifty-eight of them received formal
initiation, 23 by Baba and 35 by Mataji.

There are now 48 kanyas at the
ashram. The present ashram chief, Devital, a disciple of
Upasani, was seriously ill as a child and could not be
helped by any medicinal treatment. She was cured with the
mystic Angara or holy ash given by Baba received his diksha
at the age of 13 and devoted herself to the work of the
ashram. Another 60-year-old kanya, Suniti, came to the
ashram at age 23. She knew Sanskrit and set the Sanskrit
sutras on musical notes for easy recitation.
Fifty-three-year-old Yamuna came to the ashram at age 20.
She explained that all the brahmacharinis wear brown and
saffron-colored garments, and that they don’t have liking
for flowers, scents, jewelry or anythings to physically
adorn themselves. Though provided all available modern
facilities, these kanyas are naturally inclined from within
toward their guru, ashram and something beyond.

The ashram is surrounded by a sturdy
compound, and no one is permitted to visit the
brahmacharinis, not even relatives. They wake up at 5 A.M.,
observe silence until 9 A.M., and do the daily work of the
ashram such as sweeping, cleaning and laying rangoli drawing
in front of temples. They are vegetarians and prepare their
own food. Everyone knows the other person’s job, and they
are trained to do everything and anything, whether it is
sweeping, washing, cooking, feeding the poor, singing or
chanting, cattle-house cleaning, giving spiritual discourses
or attending to village problems, including distribution of
free homeopathic medicines and rendering all human services
with a missionary spirit.

Although these kanyas come from
various states, castes and creeds, their conduct and worship
is common to all. They are quite expert in performing the
srauta ritual and the Ganesha, Vishnu, Rama, Guru, Chandra,
Surya and Rudra yagas. The materials for rituals are
produced and preserved at the ashram, and the sacred fire is
kept ablaze at the yagasala around the clock. A number of
followers of Upasani Baba and Mataji often visit the ashram,
and the resident kanyas perform Purohitya rites for also
paid to teach Vedic mantras and ride bicycles to religious
events in the village for this purpose. They are expert in
Samagama and are invited from all over India in cities like
Pune, Hydrabad, Kolhapur and Banaras. All dakshina or fees
received go to the ashram.

Sakori has become sanctified by the
presence of Upasani Baba, Godavari Mataji and their kanyas
and is now a sacred pilgrimage site as is the nearby village
of Shirdi which Sai Baba made famous. The physical spots
that attract pilgrims to Sakori are the Samadhi shrines of
the Upasani Baba and Godavari Mataji, the bamboo cage in
which Baba did his sadhana and the yagnasala where the
kanyas perform yagas. As the sanctity of every famous temple
in India is kept alive by the daily round of pujas performed
by skilled and kanyas. All this is dramatic testimony to the
efficacy of Baba’s and Mataji’s inspired vision for the
spiritual upliftment of women serving selflessly as
brahamacharinis, and also to the respectful awe and
obesience that these kanyas receive from devotees of

For information, contact: V.L.
Manjul, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune 411
004, India.

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.


By : Dr. S. N. Tipnis, M. A., Ph.

Sati Godavarimataji, the guarding
spirit of the Shri Upasani Kanya kumari Ashram at Sakori
which is at a distance of about 5 K.m. from Shirdi, has
completed sixty years of her life and has entered the
sixtyfirst year in last month. This auspicious occasion was
celebrated on a grand scale at Sakori. We wish her a long
life to shower favours on her devotees.


Swami Sivananda, the renowned saint
of Rishikesh, wrote in one of his works, “Shri Godavari
Mataji is an asset to Bharat-varsha She has set an example
for all the women of India to follow.” In these glowing
terms, he has aptly portrayed the personality of Mataji.
Shri Godavari Mataji is one of the Women-Saints of modern
India, who have added lustre to Indian soil. She has been
continuing its glorious tradition.

Shri Godavari Mataji was born in the
year 1914 at Shegaon, a remote village in the province of
Btrar. She belonged to a high brahmin family, known for its
piety and religious culture. At the age of 9, she had the
darshan of Shri Upasani Maharaj, the renowned saint of
Sakori. At first sight, Shri Upasani Maharaj said to her,
“This all belongs to you. You will have to see to its
management.” His prophetic words came true

Once Mataji came to Sakori, she
preferred to lead the ascetic life. She was initiated in the
Spiritual Path by Shri Upasani Maharaj in 1928. Since then,
she is leading the life of dedication and

Following in her foot-steps a number
of Kanyas (Brahma-charinis) embraced spiritual life. Thus
the ideas of the saint of establishing a religious
Institution for women became visualised.

After the passing away of Shri
Upasani Maharaj, Shri Godavari Mataji, who is his foremost
disciple, has become the head of the Institution and she is
continuing the noble mission of his life.

Kanyakumari Ashram is one of the
Institutes for women who want to lead religious and monastic
life. The Kanyas are busy in performing religious
austerities throughout the whole day and remain absorbed in
divine contemplation. Occasionally, they perform Yajnas
under the guidance of Shri Mataji.

The Institution of Yajna is another
unique feature of this Ashram The Yajnas are performed by
the Kanyas, who are skilled in it They chant the vedic
mantras with a correct intonation of the Svara They perform
nearly 7 Yajnas throughout the year.

Shri Mataji along with the Kanyas
has so far performed a number of Yajnas at almost all the
important places in India. About a couple of years before,
Mataji undertook a continental tour and visited a number of
countries. Shri Mataji was accorded a grand reception
everywhere, and thousands of people took the benefit of her
sacred darshan. Particularly at Paris, Antwerp and London,
programmes of vedic recitations were arranged. The chanting
of the vedic hymns by the Kanyas was very enchanting and
left the audience spellbound. The Archbishop of’ Canturbury,
who was present on one of these occasions, highly
appreciated it. Perhaps, Mataji may be the first
woman-saint, who visited the West, carrying the torch of
ancient wisdom, and who unfurled the banner of Vedic

Mataji is a very radiant
personality. She is the living embodiment of Divinity. She
is the symbol of Peace and Purity. Drawn by her magnetic
personality, thousands of persons stream into Sakori to
secure her blessings and benediction. They come from
different corners of India. Occasionally, there are visitors
from the West. Being the pilgrims of Eternity, they come to
seek her guidance and grace. Indeed, Mataji serves as a
beacon light to countless souls, who are groping in the dark
and guides them to the domain of Everlasting Peace,
Happiness, Kaivalya and Moksha.