Matrusri Anasuya Devi, popularly known as Jillellamudi Amma was born on 28th March, 1923, at Mannava, a small village in Guntur Dist. of Andhra Pradesh, to a pious couple Seethapathi Rao, the Village Officer (Karanam) of Mannava and his wife Smt. Rangamma.
Some mystical indications announced the advent of the Divine. Her birth came in the wake of some visions and spiritual experiences to her parents. A few months before the birth of Anasuya, Seethapathi had a dream, in which he saw a middle aged woman with a large vermilion mark on her forehead, seated in a chair in the middle of the house.
Who are you? asked Seethapathi.
“I am the Mother” – she replied. Whose mother? he asked again
“I am the Mother of All” she replied.
Rangamma too experienced strange visions and a feeling of joy and bliss during her conception.
At the age 13 Anasuya married Nageswar rao, her cousin. In 1941 the couple moved to Jillellamudi, where Nageswar Rao had been appointed as ‘Karanam’ the Village Revenue Officer. They had 2 sons and a daughter. Hyma, the daughter, passed away at the premature age of 25 years. Amma, a rather unassuming woman, lived a simple life as a wife and mother. She is a unique embodiment of love, ocean of compassion, completely selfless, and spiritually bountiful. Amma seems to have hidden her spiritual grandeur in a very subdued state till her 33rd year. Afterwards her saga slowly spread beyond the confines of the tiny village. But Her life is replete with personal suffering and nightmarish experiences, which Amma seldom shunned. Nor did she opt for a life of comfort and ease. It is surprising to know that all this suffering emanated from or caused by near and dear.
Her motherly nature was so obvious even in childhood that many addressed her as Amma, instead of my child (ammayi in Telugu). When Anasuya was barely five years old her mother passed away. Anasuya did not show any sign of grief over the death, and challenged her father and grandfather – “when a person who came from God, again gone back to Him, why to grieve?
I am not the God and you are not devotees; I am not the guru and you are not disciples. I am the mother and you are the children. You are all my children, whether you sit by my side or stay elsewhere, whatever your age and whoever you are – these are some of the revelations of Amma about herself.
Her life was a wonderful mixture of the human and the divine. Apart from her spiritual power (kept subdued), the very human aspect of her life makes her an exemplary and unique character. The most dominant character was her motherly love. Everybody found a mother in her. Her boundless love and spontaneous motherly attitude was enough to bestow a unique security here and salvation here after. For some inexplicable reason many devotees overwhelmed with emotion shed tears in her presence. It’s neither sorrow nor joy. A sort of catharsis, a sort of cleansing of the inner self in the divine presence. Amma is all pervading. Once you visit her you are sure to be obsessed with Amma. Her love and compassion knew no distinction of caste, creed, religion, gender, or geographical boundaries. People from all countries would visit her to receive her benign blessings and love. Her unspoken language of ‘silence’ conveys more than any language can.
AMMA ON SADHANA.
What sadhana did you practice? – somebody asked. “I never practice anything. I enjoyed anything and everything that fell to my lot cheerfully. Begetting children and looking after them is all that I have done! Amma never prescribed any do’s and don’ts in spiritual pursuits. She simply succinctly pronounced sadhana is that which is possible (saadhya mainade saadhana). This stance brought Sadhana within reach of many. Thus the barrier between worldly living and spiritual pursuits is brushed aside. We tend to think Spiritual life and worldly life are two different spheres. Doing ‘japa’, pooja or reciting slokas are spiritual activities and doing a job or business is a worldly affair. They are like the two sides of a coin, complementing each other. Amma clearly said that – what one needs for leading a spiritual life is required for temporal life as well. Amma demonstrated this practically, all through her life.
AMMA ON MARRIAGE:
Many entertain the view that marital life is a hindrance to spiritual progress. Whoever aspires to reach spiritual heights is averse to marriage. But Amma gave an altogether new perspective to the institution of marriage. “In marriage you enjoy everything and renounce everything – Not feeling that ‘samsara’ is a bondage is liberation”, Sankalpa (volition) is Samsara (worldly life) Renunciation is an internal aspect. Family life is like fighting a battle from inside the fort. These are the new angles unveiled – by Amma.
During the course of Amma’s life there are numerous instances of miraculous occurrences which defy logic. In a number of instances Amma showed clearly, she knew in detail what people were doing, what they were talking about, who were staying miles away. Similarly, one Sri R. Seshagiri Rao, a professor in English, was sitting by the side of Amma’s cot. It was late at night. Amma used to communicate with unknown people in some unknown languages during her trance. Sri Rao observed that Mother was chatting with Betrend Russel, and John Woodruff and quoting from Russel’s book. Unable to bear with the curiosity, next morning he went to a library and referred to Russell’s book, to his amazement he found in the book what Amma uttered last night! And there occurred many instances of healing of various diseases, both in Her presence and to people at far off places. Amma for her part would try to take the focus off herself and say that all such things were due to the faith of devotees, not her doing. Though Amma never had two square meals right from her childhood, she always engaged and enjoyed feeding others. Amma would frequently go for long periods without any food and occasionally take a cup of coffee.
Young Amma at the age of 26 was taken by an elder relative, to a female Guru, Smt. Desiraju Rajamma. What happened over the course of this encounter was a remarkable switching of roles! A long dialogue took place which lasted for 3 days, in which Amma expressed herself in rich provocative and characteristic dialogue. By the morning of 3rd day Rajamma the guru was tearfully and joyfully regarding Anasuya as Divine Mother incarnate, while Amma sat there in a state of trance for about three hours.
Her profound yet enigmatic teachings challenged the traditional views and even rejected the popular belief that the world is an illusion. (Jagan mithya) She quips there is nothing like previous birth or future birth. Karma is not the reason or basis for this Janma. The reason is, explains Amma – go back to the first janma, where one cannot attribute any Karma to that jiva. She never accepted any traditional belief without questioning. She discarded many traditional practices, when she considered them as irrational. She always respected other faiths and never discriminated on grounds of caste, creed or religion.
She never recognizes any distinction between friends and strangers, between young and old and treated all in the same intimate approach. Her love is not confined to humans. It extended to the entire creation. Her life is a commentary on love. The good, bad, illiterate, learned, rich, poor, wicked and virtuous, ascetics and agnostics – all basked in the divine love of Amma. Thousands of devotee children are following Amma’s teachings and experiencing Her grace and loving care, though she left her physical form three decades ago.
Her mental penetration and common sense was so strong even on matters supposedly outside her ambit, she could give a sound and shrewd opinion. Teaches nuances of life in a matter of fact, down to earth manner.
SOME SAYINGS OF AMMA:
So long as you see divinity in others, you become divine
Protection wherever exists represents ‘motherhood’.
Feeling ‘I am doing’ is human, feeling that ‘He’ does everything is “Jnana”
That which is all-pervading is the Atma. Seeing everything as Atma is,
God is formless because all forms are His, He is nameless because all names are His. Mind itself is Mantra. The efficacy of Mantra is not a mechanical result of its repetition, but a function of the mind that uses it as a tool. The mind of the practitioner overwhelms the Mantra with its own power. If want is a desire, not wanting is also a desire. One worships God in the form of an image or a picture, another visualizes in the form made out of turmeric and another on an installed idol. Everyone worships according to one’s own imagination and label. Don’t you think conceptualization of form is more important than form itself?
“Eat what you have with contentment and share what you have with love and regard. And have faith that you are doing everything at ‘His’ bidding.” This is the core message that Amma has so passionately spread.
Amma delivered no discourses, but responded to devotee’s questions ranging from Philosophy, to mundane, familial queries in simple, short replies full of meaning. She had not received any formal schooling. Her replies stunned highly respected philosophers and scholars. Amma is always expressed in simple, short and snappy, idiomatic Telugu, which is brief, intelligible, yet profound in content. Such unfathomed profundity of expression intrigued the scholars and savants, such as Sri Siddheswarananda Bharati swamy of Kurtalam Peetham, Vasudasa Swamy, Ekkirala Bharadwaaja. Dr.Sripada Gopala Krishna Murty, Mouna Swami of Kurtalam, Kalyanaananda Bharati swamy, Sadguru Sivananda Murty etc. They could comprehend the many manifestations of Amma and experience Her divinity and benevolence.
Amma’s father Sitapathy used to comment that I am more fortunate than King Dasaratha, who could not recognize his beloved son Rama as God incarnate, whereas I could!
THE MATCHLESS BIRTHDAY GIFT:
On the occasion of Amma’s 50th birthday (12th April, 1973) devotee children asked- Amma what do you want on this occasion? “to witness a lakh people partaking food together” – was her wish! In that tiny village of a few hundred population, the devotee children made all arrangements with good faith in Mother. They were highly skeptical whether a lakh people would come, and food was prepared for a few thousand only. Suddenly the crowd swelled and volunteers were in panic and reported to Amma and their plan to rush to the nearby town Bapatla to fetch a few more bags of rice. But Amma with her conspicuous gesture stopped them and visited all kitchens and looked at the mounds of rice and offered camphor ‘harati’, signaled to serve. The prepared food was sufficient for over a lakh people, obviously food multiplication might have taken place.
In her view there is no concept of ‘sin’ whatsoever and no ‘siksha’ (punishment), only ‘sikshana’ (guidance and training). Many people’s difficulties, bad habits, addictions. pride, envy, negative tendencies got cleared by a simple look or an utterance from Amma. She even decreed that she does not have a catalog of rights and wrongs to categorize people. All are accepted, the good, bad and the ugly! She is not happy with the episode of Narakasura’s killing and celebrating the event. Once Amma’s house was attacked by Naxals. After a few days the police inspector brought a few culprits for identification. Amma’s response was, let them have food. Some children take by asking, some others threaten and take. They belong to the latter category. In any case they are also my children.
Since her 33rd year the trickle of pilgrims started growing in numbers and feeding them by Amma alone has become a difficult task. So an arrangement in the form of “Anna poornalayam” had been crystalised to carry on the feeding activity of Amma’s innumerable children. Inaugurating it on Aug. 1958. Amma declared The hearth of Annapurnaalayam is verily my heart, and the fire shall never cease for all times to come. Amma never accepted the term Anna “dana” and my children are not receiving any alms. It is their right to have their own food here. It is estimated that more than 12 million people would have partaken food as ‘prasadam’ of Amma so far.
The sanctity of the feeding process is evident to the point that this feeding place is on par with an altar, where mankind come together to eat and share their lot in fraternity with little distinction. This is not merely fulfillment of hunger, but working out a transformation in the lives of the devotee children of Amma, almost unknowingly. Amma had made the Annapurnalayam a veritable preface to the book of her divine manifestation. says Swami Omkarananda Giri
Amma left the physical form and attained siddhi on 12th June, 1985. A temple Anasuyeswaraalayam was built, in which a life size idol of Amma was consecrated in 1987. Jillellamudi has become a pilgrimage center, where philanthropic activities such as Annapurnalayam for feeding, Matrusri Oriental College, a hospital, goes on. Amma foretold even without the body, my work continues. Today many people confirm this.
None is coming here (Jillellamudi) and going in vain. The very desire to visit is in itself fruitful. Visiting is more so. It will never be in vain afterwards, proclaims Amma.