- (1942– )teacher of advaita VedantaThe American-born Gangaji is a popular interna-tional teacher of VEDANTA in the tradition of Sri Harilal POONJA.Antoinette Robertson Palmer was born on June 11, 1942, in Mississippi and graduated the University of Mississippi. She married Eli Jackson Bear, himself a spiritual teacher, and began a quest for spiritual fulfillment. She moved in 1972 to San Francisco, where she participated in several forms of Buddhist practice. She practiced Japanese Zen Buddhism and South Asian vipassana (insight) MEDITATION and helped manage a Tibetan Buddhist meditation center. She also took the bodhisattva pledge, in which a person vows to help human-ity until all people reach enlightenment. Later she studied acupuncture and became a licensed acupuncturist.Still on a quest to find a deeper level of being, Palmer went with her husband to meet the teacher of enlightenment POONJAJI in Haridwar on the GANGES River in northern India. There she found realization of the Self in the presence of her teacher, a fulfillment that he confirmed. He gave her the spiritual name Ganga, for the Hindu god-dess of the Ganges River. Poonjaji asked her to introduce his teachings to the West.As a popular teacher of ADVAITA (non-dualist) Vedanta, Gangaji does not base her teachings on any specific scriptures, but on her own experience of the Self. She holds regular satsangs (teachings) at her center in northern California and appears weekly on public access television. She travels widely and gives retreats in many places around the world. Her foundation’s Prison Program pro-vides books, audiotapes, and videotapes and orga-nizes visits to prisons by volunteers.Further reading: Gangaji, Freedom and Resolve: The Living Edge of Surrender (Ashland, Ore.: Gangaji Foun-dation, 1999); ———, Just Like You: An Autobiography (Mendocino, Calif.: D.O., 2003); ——— You Are That! Satsang with Gangaji (Boulder, Colo.: Satsang Press, 1995).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.