Yogin Ma ( Yogindra Mohini Biswas)

The highlights of her life

(This life-story has been excerpted from the book ‘They Lived With God’ by Swami Chetanananda, published by the Vedanta Society of St. Lois. To read the entire studied life, and lives of 27 other intimate disciples, please read this book. )

  1. Born on 16 January 1851 at Baghbazar – North Kolkata
  2. Married into a pious family at the age of seven, but her husband turned out to be a drunkard and libertine man.
  3. Met Sri Ramakrishna in 1882. Gradually, after a few meetings, started feeling attraction and devotion for the Master.
  4. Met Holy Mother and became like her “Jaya” (an attendant of the goddess Durga)
  5. Once when she was desolate about what would happen to her after the Master and Mother, the Master blessed her that “At the devotees’ last moment I shall have to appear before them. Otherwise, how will they get liberation”?
  6. Passed away on 4 June 1924 at the Udbodhan House – where the Holy Mother had lived after the passing away of the Master.
  7. Master promised Yogin-ma that the thousand petalled Lotus would bloom in her Sahasrana before she died.

Her relationship with Thakur and Ma

  1. In her own words: “Gradually I began to feel an attraction for the Master. Just the thought of visiting him would make my mind dance with joy. On the day that I planned to go there I would get up early and finish my household duties as quickly as possible. My longing to see him knew no bounds. After arriving at his room I would forget everything, sitting in his presence. The Master used to experience samadhi off and on, and at that time we would look at his face with wonder. He was so compassionate! Whenever I brought him some ordinary preparations he would relish them like a young boy saying joyfully, ‘Very tasty! Delicious!’ and always at the time of our departure he would say ‘Come back again'”

When I returned home after my visit with the Master, I would spend the whole week in an intoxicated mood. This established a strong relationship. I cannot express the joy I felt. Even while I was engaged in cooking or other household activities, my mind was with the Master. After some days, when I would feel my intoxication diminishing, my mind would again long to see him

  1. When Sri Ramakrishna heard that she had been initiated into a Devi Mantram he told her to continue repeating it and said ‘Look, your Chosen Deity is in this place [pointing to his body]. If you think of me, that will bring recollectedness of your Chosen Deity.”
  2. Yogin-ma described her relation with Holy Mother at Dakshineswar: “Whenever I went there Holy Mother would take me into her confidence, tell me her secrets and seek my counsel. I used to visit Dakshineswar every seven or eight days, sometimes spending the night there. Then Holy Mother would not let me sleep anywhere else, but would ask me to sleep in her room at the nahabat.”
  3. Whenever Yogin-ma came to Dakshineswar she would serve the Master and the Holy Mother. Holy Mother was so fond of the way that Yogin-ma braided her hair that she would wait for Yogin-ma to come again so that she could rebraid it.

Some aspects of her personality

  1. Yogin-ma was a woman of strong determination. Whatever she undertook she carried through to perfection. After practicing spiritual disciplines for some time according to the Master’s instructions, she decided that Calcutta was not a suitable place for such practices. The sacred atmosphere of Vrindaban, she thought, would be better. Sri Ramakrishna was then staying at the Cossipore garden house for his cancer treatment. When Yogin-ma asked his permission to go to Vrindaban he readily agreed, but he asked her if she had talked to Holy Mother about it. Holy Mother was present then and said: ‘Whatever was to be said has been said by you already. What is there to add?’ Nevertheless, the Master said to Yogin-ma: ‘My dear child, go, after obtaining her consent. You will get everything’.
  2. Yogin-ma looked on the monastic disciples as her own children and they in turn were very free with her. One day Swamiji saw her in Calcutta and said: ‘I want to have lunch with you. Please cook a curry for me’. On another occasion he said: ‘Today is my birthday. Please feed me well. Prepare some rice pudding for me’. She was an expert cook. Holy Mother and the direct disciples all liked her cooking very much, as had Sri Ramakrishna.
  3. Although Yogin-ma apparently was a householder, actually she was a nun. She was too modest to make a show of her renunciation, however, and wore the ochre cloth only at the time of worship. At other times she wore the usual white cloth.
  4. Yogin-ma had a deep respect for the monastic ideal. One day Swami Saradananda was dictating some letters to a young monk in his room when Yogin-ma entered. Her foot accidentally touched the monk’s cloth, and she immediately put her hands together and saluted him. The monk said: ‘The touch of your foot is a blessing, Yogin-ma. Please don’t feel embarrassed’. Yogin-ma replied: ‘You are a monk. Your ochre robe is a symbol of renunciation. It is this renunciation that made Sri Ramakrishna great, and you are following in his footsteps. A little cobra is as poisonous as a big cobra. Her words made the monk realize what a great responsibility lies in the wearing of the monk’s robe.
  5. An American devotee, Sister Devamata, also gave her reminiscences of Yogin-ma:

Yogin-ma always seemed to me one of the noblest of Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples… She did not abandon her householder life, but no nun in a cloister was more rigid in her spiritual observance than she… No service was ever omitted, no care neglected.

Her day was too well organized to permit of conflict.

She was very strict in conforming with all the usages and traditions of worship. She would never speak while she was worshipping, and it seemed at times as if Holy Mother was teasing or testing her, for she would go up to her and ask her a question. Yogin-ma would give a monosyllabic answer behind closed teeth without moving her lips. Mother would smile and walk away…

More details of her life story

‘Austerity is the source if strength and also the means to liberation’, says a Hindu scripture. The gods attain godhood by practicing austerity; the sages achieve perfection through austerity; human beings overcome obstacles and attain success in life by the power of austerity. Spiritual life and the practice of austerity always go together. It would be hard to believe that a person has realized God without having practiced austerities and spiritual disciplines. Yogin-ma’s life is a glowing example of the ancient Indian ideal of womanhood and austerity. She combined in her personality great poise and sweetness with a spirit of service and rare spiritual wisdom. She was one of Sri Ramakrishna’s prominent women disciples. Once the Master said about her, ‘She is a gopi, perfected by God’s grace’.

Yogindra Mohini Mittra, or Yogin-ma for short, was born on January 16, 1851, at Baghbazar, in North Calcutta.

When Yogin-ma was seven she was married to Ambika Charan Biswas, who was an adopted son of a rich and prominent family of Khardah, a village twelve miles north of Calcutta. The Biswas family was noted for its piety and philanthropy, and some of its members were well versed in Tantric rites.

She very soon discovered that this rich young man (Ambika Charan Biswas) was a drunkard and libertine. Although Ambika Charan had inherited much property and wealth from his father, he squandered it in a very short time.

Disgusted with her husband’s immoral life, she at last severed her relationship with him and returned to her parental home, bringing with her their daughter (Ganu). By then Yogin-ma’s father had died, but her mother welcomed them warmly. When Ganu grew up Yogin-ma arranged her marriage.

The romantic picture of a peaceful, happy married life had been shattered, and Yogin-ma felt a great void in her mind. Tormented by anxiety and restlessness, she agonized over how she would spend the rest of her life. Just when she was passing through this mental storm, divine grace opened up a new life for her.

In 1882 Yogin-ma met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time at Balaram Basu’s house. As she said in her memoirs: ‘Balaram Babu was related to me, being my husband’s maternal uncle. One day Sri Ramakrishna came to his house and we went to see him. It was the first time I saw him. The Master was standing at one side of the hall in deep samadhi. He had no outer consciousness. Since no one dared touch him, people bowed down to him from a distance. We also did the same. At that time I had no idea what samadhi was. I at first though that he was a drunken devotee of Kali. I could not understand the Master at my first meeting. Moreover, it immediately came to my mind that my married life had been ruined by a drunken husband, and again should I undo my spiritual life through the influence of this seemingly drunken person? But gradually I became acquainted with the Master’.

After some time Yogin-ma also met Holy Mother, and the two were immediately drawn to one another. They were about the same age. Holy Mother once said, ‘Yogin is my Jaya [an attendant of the goddess Durga] – my friend, companion, and attendant’.

During the last two years of Yogin-ma’s life she suffered from diabetes. Although her austere body became weak and fragile, her mind was always alert, and she never forgot her blessed association with Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and the other direct disciples of the Master. For two or three days before she passed away she lay speechless and refused to take even a little liquid. Swami Saradananda asked the doctor who was attending on her to examine her to see if she was in a coma, as is common when there is diabetes. The doctor checked carefully but could not find any symptoms of coma. The swami was then assured that the Master’s words had come true – that Yogin-ma would give up her body in a state of jnana, that is, she would merge into Brahman.