Top Stories

The mystical transformation of Sadhvi Ritambhara to Didi Maa of compassion

Wednesday, 1 March 2023 | Mriganka M Bhowmick

It was a pleasant breezy February morning in Vrindavan. A daughter of Vatsalya Gram was leaving her mother’s home after a grand wedding ceremony the previous night. Like many others, she has also been adopted, provided education to establish herself successfully in a corporate at Gurugram and eventually married to a well-established groom. That’s how some pleasant story unfolds every fortnight in Vatsalya Gram where all the residents, once abandoned by society, got adopted and live in a closely knitted family eco-system of mothers, daughters and brothers. With teary eyes the supreme mother of the family was giving a send off to one of her beloved daughters, so were the other residents of the facility. It was not a duty-bound send-off but an emotional one. I later met her in her simple room where one got a glimpse of the mystical and spiritual journey of a compassionate mother who is otherwise known to the world as Hindutva leader Sadhvi Ritambhara, the Didi Maa of Vatsalya Gram.

In the last 20 years you have embraced more and more services for humanitarian causes. What brought about this development?

It is a transformation and every internal transformation is based on spiritual awakening. That internal transformation which also consists of one’s nature and habits draws its strength from that great divine power. That divine power is omnipresent. It’s up to you whether it will go upwards for constructive causes or downwards towards destruction.  That energy reveals its full potential once one performs continuous Sadhana. Through that sadhana you come to know that you are only a conduit of the great divine cause and it is He who performs through you. Once you accept that you are only a small creature in the hands of the great grand divine intelligence, you cease to become a prisoner of your own desires. No doubt, every mind has its own desires and aspirations but surrender to the divine protects one from negative influences of the mind. ‘We are merely a witness of our mind’- I was taught this as soon as I left home to become Sadhvi. My guru, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Parmananda Maharaj taught me that every thought needs to be pure and one needs to stand desireless before every intense desire. Once you become a witness of your own mind and subconscious, you are free from the mind’s influence and the divine power takes care of you. In fact, everything is guided by the divine. Did I have a choice to select my Guru? No, certainly not. It was His mercy that I got my Param Pujya Guruji.

Do you think that this journey of transformation converts you from the rebellious Sadhvi Ritambhara of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement to the compassionate Didi Maa of hundreds of children and followers of Vatsalya Gram?

Indeed, it is so. I always believed that my innocent Ram Lala who always sacrificed for others should get his place at Ayodhya. So, I was discontent with the system which failed to give him his rightful place and I fought for it.  My role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement brought me much criticism and I was disowned by many. As I have been taught to become fire for a right cause instead of becoming the smoke of damp wood, I stood by it. I underwent many painful experiences for a very long time. In those days of struggle, I learned the outer world in a hard way. Slowly the movement reached a defined stand and my aggression also decreased. Very quietly, a situation evolved before me by some divine intervention which channelised my aggression into compassion for Vatsalya Prem. I want to remind you that rebellion for a cause and compassion, both go side by side and it is the same love which manifests in different situations in different manners.

What was that special situation which brought the compassion of mother to the fore and became a stepping stone for Vatsalya Gram?

As I told you one is very small in front of divine power and He decides your destiny. In those days of Ram Janmabhoomi movement I and my Guruji were coming back from Mumbai to Delhi. Suddenly I wanted to go to Jalon en route. It is a small town in Uttar Pradesh which I had visited earlier. We didn’t know that an incident had occurred in Jalon a day ago. A newborn baby was abandoned in the verandah of a professor’s house on a rainy night. She heard the baby’s cry, found it and took him inside. Next day she got overwhelmed and moved to the hospital for his treatment. At that very hour, she was stopped on the way by a revered saint Swami Sureshanand Maharaj, famed as Pedwale Baba for his rigorous Sadhana which involved tying his hair to a tree trunk. He said, “I am seeing that his mother is coming” and took the baby in his lap and stood in the road. People gathered around him and all were expecting a miracle. As we stopped unaware opposite this site I heard the thundering voice of Sureshanand Maharaj saying, “Ritambhara, you have had enough of roaring like a tigress. Now its time for you become Ganga of Vatsalya Prem, be the mother of compassion.” Saying this he put the baby in my lap. I can’t say what happened to me at that time. I embraced the little one and kept on crying inconsolably for long. I realised that I had finally reached home. 

So, your journey to compassionate love for the abandoned and oppressed began from there.

It was not an easy job for me. I was roaming around for Ram Janmabhoomi movement and I did not have any house to stay. I carried the infant with me everywhere. Sometimes I kept him inside the car and delivered a lecture before rushing back to the car. The judgmental world kept on talking about the little kid with a Sadhvi. But we got the blessings of my Guru and all the saints and gradually it bloomed to a movement of compassion- Vatsalya Gram.

The flagship organisation Param Shakti Peeth runs more than twenty initiatives including higher secondary schools, schools for special children, charitable hospitals, Gaushala, skill development centers and others along with Vatsalya Gram. Being a spiritual woman, isn’t it challenging to manage such a huge organisation?

Yes, of course challenges are there. Further it is more challenging if you work for humans to uplift their lives. It’s less challenging if you work for animals and trees which are governed by nature’s rule. Here every soul is dear to me as I am everyone’s mother. People say it’s the mother who experiences the birthing pain and that’s why she can’t abandon her child. Here the same rule applies to me too. The only difference is that I have experienced birthing pains hundreds of times as all are my children and I can’t abandon anyone. I learn every day, I accept every day, I move every day. It is the way through which my own transformation has also taken place and I am continuing to serve with all my strength. There is no easy way out to fulfill the duties which come with Vatsalya Prem. That’s how our approach is different from other charitable organisations.

Do you think that India has evolved as a great democracy amidst poverty due to this type of unconditional services by many saints? Did they keep the ethos of Bharat intact over the ages?

Yes, I agree. Democracy is in our blood. In Sanatan, we get moved by the pain of an ant even if we become the most powerful Brahma. Though our country was under political colonisation its consciousness was never captive. The 200 years of colonisation was not a time of captivity, rather it was the time of struggle and movements. Whoever was the king and whatever was his nature, the people were aware of their own Dharma and duties. It is only here that someone who is hungry for forty days and a guest arrives, he serves the guest first without any disturbance. Sanatan showed us the way to surrender everything for others. We may have poverty but we were kings at heart so, I never understand the narrowness of other religions. My Sanatan Dharma also has stories of reward in heaven but it never excited our saints that much. They were always on the path of unconditional love to bring heaven on earth. Don’t you remember that Shakuntala, forgotten by her husband Raja Dushyant, gave birth to Bharat in the Ashram of Kanva Muni. It is the deep-rooted compassion in Sanatan which turned an abandoned boy into Vyasdev and a girl child discovered from the field into Ma Sita.

As you mention Sita, do you think we have moved to accept women as leaders in our society or do we consider them only as those with selfless service, devotion and surrender?

It is in the process of evolution. We still have some influences of colonisation and captivity. If you go back a bit, women leaders were in every field in Sanatan Yug be its Lopamudra who taught thousands of students in Gurukul or Ubhaya Bharati who participated in debates on Shastra with Adi Shankaracharya. The colonial era left some bad influences in the mind of Bharat due to which saints and women suffered the most. We have to accept this downfall and need to cure it with a strong hand. If a woman can lead her home and work place so well, why can’t she lead the country?

What do you think about the future of India going forward?

India is at an exciting crossroad where its progress or regress is in our hands. I think that the long struggle of evolution by our society has enhanced our consciousness. Nothing can hinder the excellence of India if we all focus on our own excellence, be it internal or external. India will show the world the way of love and compassion, because we know how to shower love on mankind. India can be a Vishwaguru of technology and only India can lead the world towards divine love for mankind. If we get only wealth of technology devoid of divine love for humans, we will not sustain as world leader. It is not the sole responsibility of the leadership, it’s also our duty to participate. Eventually It will be a holistic transformation of India’s conciseness. We should move ahead with our grace and divinity.

Do you think your initiatives of love and compassion should provide a healing touch internationally?

Of course, if god wishes we will do that too. Once I visited the US and I explained the concept of Vatsalya Gram to the mayor of Huston. He was spellbound and gifted me a big key and said, “The door is open for you and you start here. What do you need- land, money, other resources?” I said, “It does not need money and infrastructure; it needs the heart of an Indian woman who knows the meaning of Vatsalya Prem.”  Until the world follows the ethos of Indian women, it will not understand the real meaning of compassion.

What is the final destination of Didi Maa?

There is no destination to achieve. To be your real self is both the journey and destination.  I am here and now with my true self and I am happy to walk ahead. How destiny will take me to the last regarding my physical body and world is not a concern. I have realised that I did not make any sacrifice, I only got joy by coming to my true nature. I am drenched in the love of my daughters, mothers and others and vice versa. Let the Ganga of humanitarian services flow till I am alive- that’s my Sewa and my life. 

Related Articles

Back to top button