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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Karunamai Maa

The benevolent mother

- Piyaray Lal Raina

Karunamaa Mai
Karunamai Maa in Ashram Temple (1999)

On  October 28, 2000, Hindu community and particularly Kashmiri Pundits lost one of it modern day saints who had achieved siddhi in her lifetime by taking samadhi in New Delhi. It was indeed a sad day for the followers of Karunamai maa.


Karunamai Maa was born in 1913 in a devout Kashmiri Pandit family of Kichloo’s on Nag Panchami and was named Bimla. The family priest Surikant Joshi of Bijbehara in Kashmir who had himself achieved siddhi by worshipping Param Shakti Ragnnya Bhagwati (Khir Bhawani) initiated her into shakti sadna at an early age. She wanted to be a sanyasin but her guru advised her to live a normal grehesti life. She therefore was married in a well to do Kashmiri family of Channas in New Delhi.

Although she lived a life of common grahesti woman with her three sons, she was always engaged in attending and conducting satsangs in New Delhi for about 30 years. Many who attended her satsangs became her dedicated disciples and started calling her Karunamai Maa - the benevolent mother.

Shree Karunamai Maa Shakti Peeth

Until 1989, she would regularly go to Kashmir (Khir Bhawani) for meditation. In 1989, she decided to establish a shaktipeeth at a place known as Sanp ki Nangli near Sohna in Gurgaon District of Haryana State (about 50 kms south of New Delhi). This shaktipeeth came to be known as Shree Karunamai Maa Shakti Peeth. She procured about 10 acres of land there and with the help of her disciples she constructed a beautiful temple dedicated to Maa Durga (Ragnya) with a big hall which can accommodate up to 500 attendees at a time. She also built a small residential cottage for herself where she lived with her chief disciples. Additional construction was done to accommodate pilgrims, a library, a medical clinic, and sevaks. The land around the temple was converted into a beautiful garden with flowers and greenery. Fruit trees such as mango, amrud, papayas, lemons were planted. To meet requirements of eatables for the residents wheat and vegetables were cultivated. A number of cows were added to meet the requirements of milk and milk products. Neem trees have been grown all round the periphery for providing clean and calm environment. The devotees feel enchanted and spirited at the very sight of this Ashram.

Karunamai Maa had achieved siddhi at a young age. She preferred to be left alone to meditate and enjoy the divine bliss of which she was a symbol. This was the primary reason she chose to live in a remote rural place. But her devotees were always looking for her. Everyday the disciple cars were lined up outside the Ashram gate. On auspicious occasions, like Navratras, special arrangements for devotees and car parking had to be made. She never installed a telephone in the Ashram as she thought it would further distract her peace.

Spirituality and Beliefs

Karunamai Maa believed in purity in all phases of life. She taught that cleanliness of mind is as essential for the spiritual growth as physical one. She adored deities in temple with choicest dresses and ornaments and was herself dressed well. She lived by the principle of "sound mind in a sound body". For achieving siddhi, she favored the route of Japs rather than ritualistic puja. One would see her always reciting Jap mantras with a Jap Mala concealed in a small pouch in her right hand even when she was talking to her devotees. She insisted on praying daily preferably loudly in her melodious voice to elevate her spirituality before performing Japs. She had adopted Kashmiri prayers for recitation in Ashram. Thus one would hear recitation of prayers like:

Ganesh Prayer

Hemja Sutam Bujam Ganesham Ish Nandnam
Kalpavraksha Bhaktaraksha Namostutey Gajaananam

Gauree Prayer

Om Leela Rabda Sthaapit Lupthakhil Lokaam
Gauree Ambaah Ambur Haakeem Hameeday

Bhannamsahasrastutih, Bahuroop Garbpath and Mahimnapar ( with the beginning of Aadinam agdam divyam) were daily recited. The above prayers are purely of Kashmiri origin and are not typically recited outside of the Kashmiri Pundit families. Most of her devotees were non-Kashmiri’s and they would recite them verbatim as was done in Kashmir.

During the two annual Navratras, special prayers were held with a daylong havan’son Durga Ashtami. Durga Mata was specially propitiated as a fountain of shakti by offering homs (svaha) as established in Bhavani Shestranavali. Karunamai Maa had great faith in Maa Durga. During the nine days of Navratras, she would often remind her disciples that Maa Durga is in a mood to forgive sins and bestowing blessings and therefore they should do as much Japs as possible over 125,000 limit. During Havans, prasad was distributed to devotees where Kashmiri style food such as plain rice, dam aloo, chok vagun, moong ki daal with nadru etc would be served to thousands who would attend. Ashram has raised a permanent platform for distributing prasad to a large gathering.

Benevolent Mother

Karunamai Maa was a benevolent person at heart. Despite her old age and indifferent health, she never refused to attend to the prayers of those who came to seek her blessings. She would always give a patient hearing to them and made it a point to see that they left satisfied. She would give them a small mantra for a jap and then she kept track of the progress of the individuals problem. If no progress was reported she would give a different mantra. She called her devotees by their first name. To give maximum satisfaction to her devotees she made it a point to apply tilak and tie nariwan(mavli) round their wrists herself in spite of her physical discomfort towards her old age. She had a tradition of going to Haridwar along with her devotees for few days and after having a bath in the river Ganga along with them she would offer extensive pooja and made everyone participate in it. It used to be a great event for her devotees and they eagerly waited for this opportunity. New disciples were initiated with mantras at this time. She felt very sad for Kashmiri Hindus who suffered so much for no fault of theirs and offered prayers for their return to their motherland.

Social Activistism

She thought it her duty to do something for the poor. She opened a Homeopathic and Ayurvedic clinic in the ashram where she invited leading doctors to treat the poor. Free medicines were distributed. For the old who suffered from the partial loss of vision she organized camps for their cataract operations. A center was opened providing sewing training to ladies. Weekly coaching classes were held for children to teach them alphabets and also helping in doing their home- work. She had a deep love for children and she laid a park for them in the ashram premises in which swings and seesaws slides were fixed. Annual sports day for village children was held. Winners were presented prizes.

During Navratra celebrations, children were encouraged to recite mantras and were rewarded. On Navratra ashtami, nine small girls were selected among those who came with their parents. They were dressed representing nine goddesses and were carried in a procession to temple, their feet were washed by Maa herself. After performing their pooja, they were sent away with good money as dakshina.

The excitement on the faces of children and their parents as well was a sight to be seen. On these occasions, she distributed lot of new clothes among the poor. Every year she made special arrangements on a particular day to invite local village people for a pooja for their welfare that was followed by a lunch. This was her way of keeping local people in touch with all the activities in the ashram. They always attended in large numbers.

Other interests

Maa wrote hindi poetry. A collection of her poems has been published under the title Maa Prasad. One finds a touch of Kabir in her poetry. For example:

Gyan bakti ke bina kahan miley nirman
Goru charan seva bina nahi miley bhagwan

Bool per bool kare apne ko dubayey
Neki kar tere kam aayey dubey koun bachy

Maa had a hypnotizing melodious voice which kept audience spellbound when she recited prayers or her poems. All these have been recorded. She enjoyed music and thus encouraged all those who could sing or play music.

Maa liked travelling. She traveled regularly to US, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong etc. As a matter of fact, she returned from a two-month trip of Germany and France on September 1, 2000.

Future Plans for Ashram

To take care of Ashram after her taking Samadhi Maa had already performed an elaborate abhishek for installing a young sansasi who had renounced his career as a Chartered Accountant as her heir. She gave him the new name Nand Baba who posses all the divine qualities of Nand and with the blessings of Maa he will surely carry forward the mission of Karunamai Maa’s dreams.

Those who she touched in her life have been blessed. Let us all pray for her everlasting peace and remember her benevolent presence amongst us.

Kanik Puja celebration in the Ashram (2000)



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