Ma Yoga Shakti International Mission
(est. 1979)
   The Ma Yoga Shakti International Mission, with ashrams and centers in India, the United King-dom, and the United States, is dedicated to the spread of YOGA in the West. It offers instruction in a variety of yoga paths.
   Ma Yoga Shakti (no birth name available) was born April 6, 1927, and raised in the holy city of BENARES (Varanasi), India. She spent her youth fas-cinated by high ideals and devoted herself to the quest of finding solutions to life’s mysteries. She obtained an M.A. in political science and became principal of an all-women’s college in Bihar, India. In 1956 she founded the Annie Besant Lodge of the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY in Chapra. In 1965, she took vows of SANNYAS, renouncing the worldly life, and became a paramadesa SANNYASI, or one who becomes a monastic without being initiated by another SANNYASI. She does not acknowledge any one GURU or Hindu lineage. She took the name Ma Yoga Shakti Saraswati. In 1969 she was given the name Shakti Sant Shiromani by several monas-tic orders of India at the KUMBHA MELA. She was given the title Maha Mandleshwar in 1974 by the Niranjani Akhara, one of India’s largest orders of monks.
   In 1979, following her intention to spread yoga to the West, she established the Ma Yoga Shakti International Mission, with ashrams in South Ozone Park, New York, and Palm Bay, Flor-ida. Other ashrams are active in London and in five cities in India. Following the teaching of Ma Yoga Shakti, the mission emphasizes four forms of yoga—HATHA, raja, KARMA, and BHAKTI—and instructs students to pursue the yogic path that is most accessible to their inclinations and abili-ties. The mission publishes books by Ma Yoga Shakti in English and Hindi and offers a monthly periodical, Yoga Shakti Mission Newsletter. Each of the movement’s ashrams offers retreats, devo-tional services, yoga and MEDITATION classes, and workshops.
   Further reading: Guru Chetanshakti, Guru Pushpanjali (Calcutta: Yogashakti Mission Trust, 1977); Ma Yoga Shakti, Prayers and Poems from Mother’s Heart (Melbourne, Fla.: Yogashakti Mission, 1976; ———, Yoga Syzygy, 2d ed. (Melbourne, Fla.: Yogashakti Mission, 1982); ———, Yoog Vashishtha (Gondia: Yogashakti Mission, 1970).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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