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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 556

Anandamayi, 1896-1982. Papers, 1950-1981


Papers of Indian spiritual leader, Anandamayi, including audiotapes and transcripts, videotapes, photographs, slides, posters, and background information on the collection. The papers span 1950-1981.


  • 1950-1981


Some restrictions may apply. Please consult the Curator of Archives and Manuscripts for further information. Series II: Audiocassettes have been digitized in order to facilitate access by any researcher wishing to hear the original content. At this time, audio can be streamed but not downloaded. AHTL will not provide physical copies of digitized media to researchers.


29 boxes
This collection consists of audiotapes, transcripts of the audiotapes, videotapes, films, slides, photographs, and posters. The collection documents many of the question and answer sessions Anandamayi held with her followers, as well as special events and occasions which centered around her. The audiotapes are mainly in various Indian dialects, while their transcriptions are mostly in English, but some are also in the Indian dialects. The transcripts correspond to the audiotape numbers and are noted accordingly. Moreover, at times Anandamayi is said to be a trance-like state or speaking in some kind of code and when possible, this is also noted below. As Anandamayi never gave formal speeches or presentations, these recordings are informal and oftentimes unrelated by theme. They are essentially a series of group talks centered on questions asked by the followers in attendance. One of Anandamayi's followers, Gary Empie (also referred to as Gadadhar), lived in one of her ashrams from 1973 to 1981, and during that time he collected audiotapes, films, and photographs that document Ma's life and work. The material he collected was donated to the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School by Gary's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Empie.

The collection contains a number of restricted boxes consisting of source and master copies of the audiovisual material.

Biographical / Historical

Anandamayi (1896-1982) is considered by many to be one of the major twentieth century religious teachers in India. She was born on April 30, 1896 in a small village called Kheora in Tripura district of Bengal (now Brahmanbaria District of Bangladesh). She was not formally educated, and her method of teaching consisted of question and answer sessions she held with her devotees. Anandamayi often traveled throughout India for religious festivals and events, and those in attendance spoke a variety of dialects. She attracted followers from all over the world, including Gary Empie, a young American who came to India to study with her.


Organized into the following series:
  1. Series I. Transcripts of tapes
  2. Series II. Audiotapes, use copies
  3. Series III. Photographs and slides
  4. Series IV. Videotapes
  5. Series V. Background material on the collection
  6. Series VI. Posters
  7. Series VII. Source and master copies (restricted to Library staff; digital audiotape masters, boxes 16-17; audiotape source copies, boxes 18-21; film source copies, boxes 22-25; BetaSP master copies of videotapes, boxes 26-27; microfilm of boxes 1-7, box 29)

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Empie, 1985.
Anandamayi, 1896-1982. Papers, 1950-1981: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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