Rajeshwari Devi, who was to become famous throughout the world as Jagatjanani Shri Mata Ji (‘Holy Mother’), was born in Melgaon, a small village in the sacred land of Uttarakhand on 6th April, 1930. This day is now celebrated in her memory as ‘Mother’s Day’ all over India and abroad by her devotees with great love and faith. Morning prayers are held in more than one thousand Ashrams, free food is served to the poor and fruit and medicine are distributed to patients in hospitals, It is considered a most pious day which devotees spend remembering and worshipping her.
6th April was a propitious day in the year 1930. All over India Bhagwati, or Goddess Mother, was being worshipped, as this was the festival of ‘Navratri’. This nine-day period is the time when Hindus fast and worship at home, as well as going to temples to worship the Goddess Durga, who is the symbol of the Divine Feminine in all her power and potential.
Before Mata Ji was born her pious parents went on pilgrimage and her father received a vision that he would have a daughter who would be divinely blessed. Even as a child she was extraordinary and astrologers predicted from her horoscope that she would emerge as a great spiritual power and be worshipped as an emanation of Bhagwati by thousands of devotees. Pundit Rameshwar Prasad Bahukhandi, the well-known astrologer from Uttarakhand who prepared her horoscope, declared that she had been born into this world for a special purpose.
Mata Ji was named ‘Raj Rajeshwari’, but was affectionately called ‘Rajuli’ by the older women of her village. She was such a beautiful child and held such an attraction that everyone wanted to be near her. She was quite different to the rest of her family. She had a sweet voice and was fond of singing the folk songs of Uttarakhand (later on she would hold thousands of people spellbound as she sang bhajans (devotional songs) onstage). She was playful and very sociable and had lots of friends among the girls of her village. Even when she became world famous she never forgot her childhood friends and whenever any of them came to visit her she welcomed them with affection and respect.
While still young she saw Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, in a vision. She knew that he was her intended husband and refused to even consider anyone else. In due course they were married. She attended many satsang programs during his lifetime, but tended to keep a low profile. She was loved and revered as ‘Gurumata’ by the devotees, but very few knew how powerful she was in her own right. For the time being she was content to remain in the background, but was nonetheless always busy, looking after her family, mahatmas, ashram residents and a steady stream of visitors. Her pure, simple nature and generosity won everyone’s heart.
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj left this world in 1966. It was very sudden, like a bolt from the blue. A vacuum was created which would be difficult to fill. Naturally, all his devotees (called ‘premies’) were grief-stricken and felt orphaned. In spite of her own grief, Shri Mata Ji sustained them and stepped forward to continue where Shri Hans Ji Maharaj had left off.
Her oration after the funeral ceremony was inspiring and stirring. She exhorted her sons, mahatmas and devotees: “Come and join me in taking an oath to follow the path laid down by our beloved Master! Let us do our best, to dedicate our all to spread the spiritual knowledge in India and abroad. Our every breath will be spent for the sake of humanity and we will follow in Maharaj Ji’s footsteps with faith and humility.”
After the passing away of Shri Hans Ji Maharaj there was a transformation in Mata Ji . She left behind her sheltered life and took the reins of his mission, She plunged into spreading the spiritual Knowledge, regarding it as Shri Hans Ji Maharaj’s bequest. The children were still at school, so for the next few years, she was the guiding force for the devotees. From 1966 until November 1991 she spent every moment of her life preaching the Knowledge, building ashrams, teaching and encouraging devotees, caring for and inspiring the mahatmas and ashram residents. It was a period of expansion and the movement started by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj spread worldwide under her benign leadership.
She gave thousands of discourses all over India and abroad which have been printed in magazines and also in book form. At the first Hans Jayanti program at Ramlila Ground, Delhi, she paid her respects and reverence to Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, saying, “Shri Hans Ji Maharaj truly sacrificed himself for the sake of others. He gave everything he had to the devotees, with no thought for himself.. It is generally the case however, that when holy masters come into this world we don’t hear them and respect them. Rather, we criticize them.”
She passed away on 25th November, 1991, but her work is being continued and expanded by Mata Mangla Ji (wife of Shri Bhole Ji Maharaj). As Shri Mangla Ji said in tribute, “Shri Mata Ji was the embodiment of motherhood. She had all that a mother should have – love, mercy, grace, sacrifice, devotion and wisdom. She was the emblem of all virtues.”