Gauri-Ma's original name, given by her family, was Mridani. She was also called Rudrani. She was born in 1857. Her father, Parvati Charan Chattopadhyay, and mother, Giribala Devi, were both very devoted to God. Giribala composed many devotional songs and hymns. Even as a child, Gauri-Ma was fearless and uncompromising, and no external pressure could make her deviate from a resolution which she considered right. Her relatives arranged her marriage against her will when she was thirteen, but her mother allowed her to run away and hide herself. She later on accompanied a group of monks and nuns to Hardwar and spent several years wandering alone, sometimes disguised as a man. During her itinerant days, Gauri-Ma practised severe austerities, such as fasting, observing silence, meditating and studying scriptures. Finally she returned to Kolkata. Drawn by a mysterious pull, Gauri-Ma came to Sri Ramakrishna in the company of Balaram Bose. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to fulfill a special mission through Gauri-Ma. He realized that the women of the society were terribly neglected, especially in the area of education, and it was his wish that Gauri-Ma should work among them. Gauri-Ma looked upon Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother as her own parents. She had a strong desire to practise austerities in a secluded place, and left for Vrindaban. There she met the Holy Mother when the latter was visiting Vrindaban after the Master's passing away. Later, when she took sannyas, Gauri Ma came to be known as "Gauri Puri Devi". In 1894, Gauri-Ma founded the Sri Saradeshwari Ashrama for women on the banks of the Ganga at B arrackpore in Kolkata. The Holy Mother praised the way she took care of the girls there. During the Master's birth centenary in 1936, Gauri-Ma gave an address in Bengali, which was broadcast on All India Radio. On 28 February 28 1938, the day of Shivaratri, Gauri-Ma started consciously preparing for death and passed away the following day.
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