“The human being's dharma is love.” 

- Ma Shivā Mayi -

Ma Shivā Mayi

Dr. Maria Letizia Bencini, Ph.D.
Dr. Maria Letizia Bencini, Ph.D.

Spiritual Yoga Teacher and Counselor

Clinical Psychology Degree, Università di Firenze

Indovedic Psychology Ph.D, Yorker International University

Counselor Diploma, C.S.B di Pisa

Member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and registered in the Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane di Psicoterapia (FAIP) and in the Istituto Nazionale Counselors.

Ma Shivā Mayi was born in 1961 in Livorno, in to a wealthy family. At the age of 18, she left all of the comforts and securities of her life behind and decided to dedicate herself to a deep spiritual practice of self discovery. Ma Shivā Mayi started to work to be able to financially support herself while also graduating from the Liceo Classico with high scores. Once she finished high school, she felt free to begin her spiritual path.

At the age of nineteen, Ma Shivā Mayi left on a quest to obtain the real answers to the existential questions she had about life that always had disturbed her profoundly. She journeyed to the semi-abandoned island of Capraia to feed her soul with meditation, and introspective silence. She was able to gain contact with her "Inner Voice" through living off Capraia's land and learning how to listen to her intuition. Eating only rice and grounding herbs that the land provided her, sleeping under the stars and in caves and ruins, facing the challenges of inclement weather, and living barefoot and half-naked in the wilderness all challenged her mind, body and soul to gain awareness during her exploration of self. The lessons she learned were profound, and led her to travel to India to learn more.

Ma Shivā Mayi then immediately took a job working in the tomato and strawberry fields of Castagneto Carducci. After a few months, just before reaching her twenties, she travelled to the Himalayas where she met her Guru and famous teacher, Shri Shri 1008 Haidakhan Wale Baba, Babaji. Babaji initiated her to the pre-vedic rituals of the sacred fire as dhuni pujarini and introduced her to the practice of spiritual yoga.



During her visits to her homeland Livorno, she begins to cut with a machete the thick Mediterranean forest, to create a spiritual spot where to live in the Benedetta Valley. In a few years a dhuni was born, a small temple dedicated to the sacred fire where she was able to celebrate along with her students and yogis, the ritual offerings, meditate and sing mantras accompanied by musical instruments from India.


Later on, two small wooden huts were built and a havan kund, which is a deep fire pit used to make large offerings to the sacred fire that since then it has been used regularly.


In 1996, the Benedetta Valley was becoming more frequently visited by spiritual seekers from around the world and received the blessing of a spiritual name, HariHara Dham, given by the Indian teacher, Shri Muniraji. In India, God is only one, but has thousands of different names that indicate the different divine aspects: HariHara is the aspect of God that keeps the entire universe alive and then dissolves it into nothingness during infinite existential cycles. Dham, on the other hand, means “sacred place”, referring to the HariHara, in this case.


In the last twenty years, Ma Shivā Mayi has been traveling between India, Europe, and the Americas, teaching spiritual yoga. In the mean time she dedicated herself to completing her preparation of teaching others by studying and receiving her Ph.D.

The mataji (mother) of the HariHara Dham for decades has dedicated herself to support people of all ages and cultures through individual sessions, seminaries and courses to a path of growth and expansion of the consciousness, teaching the ancient philosophy and wisdom of Spiritual Yoga and integrating such knowledge with the academic training acquired. Titti-ji, as she was tenderly called for years by many, after 35 years of total dedication to the spiritual growth of others, begins to use her spiritual name Shivā, given to her in 1993 by the world wide known Spiritual Guide Shri Mata Amritanandamayi. Since then her students and chelas have called her

Ma Shivā Mayi

In 2000, her autobiographical book Giocando con Dio Autobiografia di una Yogini, edited by J. Amba Ed., won the Anfiosso Speciale Giubileo prize for being the best spiritual work. She translated from Sanskrit and commented ancient texts of Vedic wisdom such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutra and is currently working on the publication of several texts on Spiritual Yoga.


In January 2008 she presented at the ¨World Congress of Psychology and Spirituality¨ in New Delhi her innovative method of Yogic Psychological Counseling, which was very successful among the participating international scientific community.

In April of 2007, she founded the Haidakhandi Dharma Ashram in Costa Rica, a small spiritual center where her students can meet and practice Spiritual Yoga.


UNA RIVOLUZIONE DI COSCIENZA Scienza e Spiritualità dello Yoga, her new book published by the Vittoria Iguazu Editora, is an important monograph on the true and original Yoga, a compendium on the profound millenary knowledge transmitted by the Vedic literature, written with alive language, modern and accessible to all.