About Durga Ma

Durga Ma's education began in a small mining town in Missouri. After being "discovered" by the director of the college of music at the University of Missouri, she spent three years on scholarship completing her bachelors degree in education and music (piano and coral conducting). She has performed in concert and recital, is an elementary, secondary and adult education credentialed teacher, and has taught in the psychology department at Antioch College West in San Francisco, California.

In 1963, with only $25 in her pocket and her small stash of belongings packed in the trunk of her Ford, Durga Ma set out to find answers she had sought since childhood. She had completed her BA with an eye to breaking free and satisfying her quest for knowledge and enlightenment.

Working jobs as she traveled westward, her journey came to an abrupt halt when she reached the Pacific Ocean. Within months of arriving in a small town in California, Durga Ma began her first foray into the spiritual world for which she was destined. She had her first experience of samadhi, years before she was to hear the word or discover it described in Sanskrit mystical texts.

Her attempts to find someone who had the knowledge she sought and the mastery to guide her, continued to fail. She became depressed, sought distraction, and completed a Masters degree at San Francisco State University in 1973. Discouraged and in despair, she threw in the towel and gave up. In spite of all this, a few years later samadhi made a surprise return, this time with clues that would take her to the portal of discovery.

Durga Ma found her spiritual master. She did not see bright lights or hear fireworks. She simply recognized the teachings of her master and his lineage as "familiar" and was drawn to pursue them to their end. After so many years of seeking, she was finally on her way.

After owning her own business and raising her two children, she simplified her life in order to take up the full time study and practice of an ancient spiritual path of Eastern origin (shaktipat kundalini yoga) which is passed down through a lineage of spiritual masters.

For many years Durga Ma lived in solitude meditating eighteen hours each day and studying ancient Sanskrit writings. Her extraordinary gift for comprehending the inner meanings of these great works, and her own meditative experience have given rise to her extraordinary grasp of the spiritual path. Having successfully completed all the stages of this path over a period of several years, she was appointed to teach her teacher's advanced students in the United States. Now, having attained success after many years of yoga sadhana (spiritual practices leading to union with God), Durga Ma has become a master in her own right. Replacing her original spiritual name, Gandharvi, with the name of the goddess from whom even the gods seek counsel, her students began calling her Durga Ma.

She has written and published on the subject of meditation and the spiritual path, and has translated various texts from the original Sanskrit into English specifically for the Western reader. Realizing that most spiritual and religious writings and oral teachings have traditionally been carried by and addressed to men, she interprets these teachings for women in current time in Western culture.

Her many years of study and experience have equipped her with an amazing ability for refining ancient teachings for access to a modern world without sacrificing essentials and authenticity. She stresses empowerment through conscious choice, and personally tailors her spiritual guidance to meet each person’s needs and aims.

Her students represent various religions as well as those seeking Truth outside organized religion.

If you were to see Durga Ma on the street today, you would probably not recognize her for who she is. On those rare occasions when she leaves her home, what you would see would be just another woman in her seventies. Having abandoned "uniforms" in favor of moving about incognito, she wanders through life looking at it through a very different set of eyes — eyes that see God everywhere, in you and me, and in all creation. When asked how she felt about having successfully completed her sadhana, she responded, "Oh, there's always more."

Durga Ma occupies all her time her time in meditation, study, writing, guiding initiates and students, and responding to their emails. Her life is sustained by the generosity of her students and well-wishers. She currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona (January, 2013)


A spiritual master passes spiritual teachings orally to his or her disciples, thus creating a lineage of teachers. Though the teachings remain the same, teachers may differ in the way they teach, thus providing unique settings in which each unique individual can find a place.


The first person known to attain the final state, completed this transformation nearly forty thousand years ago. She was called Adhinatha, First Master, first in the line of spiritual masters to this day.  Of Adhinatha's disciples, two names are known to us: Vishnu, a woman, and Shiva a man, both of whom attained the same state as Adhinatha, and through whom the experience and teachings of Adhinatha have been preserved and passed down. The receivers of this knowledge have, over time, evolved into numerous branches of spiritual wisdom.


Durga Ma's branch, which came to be known several hundred years ago as Pashupat Shaivism, is thought by most to have long since died out. However, an Immortal by the name of Lakulisha, or Babaji, revealed himself to a man in Gujarat, India, in the 1900s, in the foothills of the Himalayas near Rishikesh.


This man was Swami Shri Kripalvanandji, affectionately known to his disciples as Kripalu, “Giver of Grace.” After passing through its ups and downs and near dissolution, Pashupat Shaivism was revived by Kripalu through the direct teachings of Lakulisha, the twenty-eighth incarnation of Shiva.


As a descendent of the Shaivite branch of the lineage of Adhinatha, Durga Ma has been charged by her teacher, Yogeshwar Muni (Charles Berner) through whom she received the complete teachings of Swami Kripalu, to bring back the worship of the Goddess.


Exactly what this meant to her, and what she was being asked to do, were left to her understand and to teach to sincere seekers who would benefit from her knowledge and experience of Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga and Surrender Meditation.