Bhagawati Devi Sharma
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Template:Use Indian English oooh, orphan
Template:Infobox Hindu leader Bhagwati Devi Sharma (also known by followers as Mata or Mataji ['mother']) was an Indian social reformer and a great devotee of Gayatri Mantra. As a cofounder of All World Gayatri Pariwar she started various social upliftment programs and successfully organised a series of Ashwamedha Yajnas. She also published Bhashya of four Vedas.
Following the death of her husband Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya in 1991, Shamra took over the running of Gayatri Pariwar. Involved in editing Akhand Jyoti, the journal he founded, since at least 1962, she took over as editor on his death and continued until her own.
Bhagawati Devi Sharma was born on 20 September 1926 in Agra. She was the youngest daughter of Jaswantrao Sharma and Rampyari Sharma. She had religious nature since her childhood. At an age of four years her mother died.
In 1943 she got married to Shriram Sharma Acharya|Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya. Shriram lived in Awalkhera in Agra. He had actively participated in Indian freedom struggle. He had been publishing a Hindi magazine, Akhand Jyoti, from Mathura since 1938.
Right after marriage she started managing arrangements of publication for Akhand Jyoti. She also used to help Acharyaji in replying to the letters of readers. With spreading circulation of magazine, number of visitors also started increasing. As Akhand Jyoti Sansthan (publication office of magazine) was not enough to accommodate increasing number of visitors, it was decided that there must be a dedicated centre, where regular camps of spiritual practices can be conducted. Acharyaji purchased land on Mathura Vrindavan road with all of his savings and was left with no money in hand for construction. At this critical point of time, Bhagwati Devi came forward and donated all of her jewelry for the purpose.
Regular camps started from 1953 in this center named as Gayatri Tapobhumi. After Sahasra Kundiya Yajna of 1958, activities increased manifold. By then members of organisation had started calling her as Mataji. During Himalaya visit in 1960, Acharyaji handed over management of Gayatri Tapobhumi to her.
In 1971, head office of All World Gayatri Pariwar shifted from Gayatri Tapobhumi, Mathura to a newer establishment Shantikunj in Haridwar. Camps for higher levels of spiritual practices were started at Shantikunj. After death of Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya in 1990, responsibility of organisation came on her shoulders. She took over editorial work of Akhand Jyoti. She also led a team of scholars to publish Bhashya of four Vedas as instructed by Acharyaji.
On the occasion of Gayatri Jayanti, 1992, she announced the program of Devsanskriti Digvijaya in a grand Shapath Samaroh (oath taking). Under this program, a series of Ashvamedha Yajna had to be conducted across the world. These Yajnas were to be performed without conducting any violence against a general perception of animal sacrifice in Ashwamedha Yajnas. First program in this series was organised in Jaipur. Series continued in various cities of India and abroad in succeeding two years. She attended these programs despite her deteriorating health. Last program attended by her in this series was in Chitrakoot. Yajna was performed on 1008 fire altars and attended by over a million devotees.
She died on 19 September 1994 in Shantikunj Haridwar. Her organisation All World Gayatri Pariwar is still continuing various social upliftment and women emancipation programs started by her.
- Daniel Philip Heifetz, 'From Gurudev to Doctor-Sahib: Religion, Science, and Charisma in the All World Gayatri Pariwar', Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, 30.3 (2018), 252-78 (p. 254 fn. 4), Template:DOI.
- Lise McKean, Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 45 ISBN 0226560090.
- Annual Report of the Registrar of Newspapers for India (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1962), part 2 p. 423; Press in India (Office of the Registrar of Newspapers, 1992), part 2, vol. 2, p. 1323; Directory of Periodicals Published in India (Sapra and Sapra, 1994), vol. 3 p. 378.
- 'Evolution of a Divine Mission: Chronological Compendium', in Hamsa Yoga: The Elixir of Self-Realization (Soham Sādhanā).
- Brahmavarchas (2010). Mahashakti ki Lokyatra. Mathura: Gayatri Tapobhumi. pp. 39.
- "Devsanskriti Digvijay arthat Aitihasik Ashwamedh Aayojan". Akhand Jyoti 55 (9): 53–59. September 1992.
- Malik, Rajiv (June 1994). "Wow! One Million Join Vedic Rites". Hinduism Today.