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Urmila Shah, wife to Yogi Amrit Desai and affectionately known as Mataji, was born in Halol, Gujarat, on July 29, 1937.

Her first exposure to Bapuji began when she was only eight years old. Although it seemed unlikely at the time, she understood that to serve such a master would be the greatest spiritual practice she could aspire to.  Little did she know, Amrit was equally taken with the swami and that the love they shared would eventually inspire Bapuji to stay with them in America.

In 1966 the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania was founded, and in 1972 the Kripalu Yoga Ashram in Sumneytown was established with Mataji helping establish its kitchens. Her love of food and cooking, as a way to be in service to others, was an important factor for Swami Kripalvanada’s eventual arrival in America in September of 1977.

While raising her three children in a now bustling yoga ashram, she prepared Bapuji’s meals to exacting standards and made sure his earthly needs were met. Every day for four years, Mataji lovingly prepared food for Bapuji. Climbing the 108 steps to Muktidham she served his food; and of all the ashram residents including Amrit Desai, Mataji had the most contact with Bapuji. Through her love, devotion, and consistent service Bapuji was able to complete his Sadhana in Muktidham.

On July 31, 2006, dear Mataji left her body. Today, the Mataji Fund serves as a living testament to her legacy.