And Mother Claps

And Mother Claps

Mundamala, the title of our newsletter, is named for the garland of heads the Divine Mother wears around Her august neck.  Far from a gruesome image, each face smiles with bliss having surrendered  heart, mind, and soul to the Mother of the Universe who removes their obstacles, doubts, and grants them spiritual emancipation.  Over the auspicious time of Navaratri, three of our sisters and brothers received initiation and have taken up their fortuitous position on Mother’s necklace.


Marleigh Fansler, who received the name Saraswati

In chapter 6 of the Bhagavad-Gita Sri Krishna teaches us that it is most difficult to obtain a birth in which one is born into a family of wise yogis. The boon in such a birth is that “he regains the knowledge acquired in his former body, and he strives more than before for perfection.”


SRV’s youngest initiate is Marleigh Fansler, who received the name Saraswati.

Saraswati, the niece of Annapurna Sarada, President of SRV Associations, had the good fortune to be exposed to the teachings of Vedanta at an early age. Starting at the age of five years old she would attend classes at the San Francisco ashram with her father, Ward. She was not really able to intellectually grasp the teachings at that young age but she was surely absorbing the divine atmosphere, particularly while attending the pujas.

At the age of 12, Saraswati attended her first retreat at the American River. At this time Annapurna was developing a children’s program in which Vedantic teachings were presented and intertwined with craft projects. The teachings began to take hold and she knew that she was hearing the truth. She enthusiastically told all her friends about how amazing the retreat was.

Saraswati also began to have a newfound appreciation for Catholicism, the religion in which she was raised. She saw that Vedanta had good things to say about and illuminated the essence of other religions and spiritual paths. Through her turbulent teen years the teachings of Vedanta were a source of strength. Saraswati came to trust in Divine Mother, which has helped her to overcome difficult times. For this she is most grateful.

During eighth grade, Saraswati joined Babaji and other sangha members on a trip to India. Observing the love for God and devotion to spirituality in the midst of such bleak poverty was impressive and transformative for her. She found herself becoming more understanding and compassionate towards others and less prone to getting upset. Visiting such holy pilgrimage sites as Joyrambati, Dakshineswar, and Kamarpukur drew Saraswati closer to the Ramakrishna lineage. A high point was a visit with Swami Bodhasarananda, then president of Advaita Ashrama. She was very moved by his presence and felt that he was able to understand her. Babaji spontaneously asked the Swami to give her a spiritual name and thus the name Saraswati was bestowed upon her.

Saraswati has continued to attend retreats and classes, and her practice has consistently developed as a result. She is most appreciative of the maturation of her relationship with Babaji. At first she was a bit fearful of Babaji, thinking that he could see all her faults. She began to feel that he loved her no matter what and so her trust and devotion deepened.

With her recent initiation a new chapter begins.

Saraswati is now attending Mission Junior College in California. She is working part-time while attending school. Although she has long been a part of the SRV family, we are delighted and grateful for her to now be an initiated member of the sangha. We wish her “Godspeed in crossing over to the farthest shore beyond all darkness.”