Masters of perfect attainment say that the different paths to perfection like Jnana, Bhakti and Yoga have a fundamental unity, and that when one pursues one of the three, the other two follow of their own accord. So said Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. The unique greatness of the Bhagavadgita seems to be this synthesis of these paths. For, Lord Krishna not only expounded their unity but symbolised it in Himself. He is called the Yogiswara, Jagadguru, and the Jagannatha i.e., he is at once the Ideal and the goal of the three paths of Yoga, Jnana and Bhakti respectively. We find this unity of all paths propounded by Mother and exemplified in herself. There can be no greater illustration of this fact than the House of all that grew around Her at Jillellamudi. That this House of all was not a chance establishment but was premeditated by Mother is evident from the resolution which she had arrived at as a girl – to establish a free lodging and boarding house besides a Sanskrit School and a Temple.
What one finds to the most conspicuous besides Mother Herself at Jillellamudi is this house of all. It does not in the slightest degree resemble a choultry or a restaurant. It is a universal family in which the visitor will not be treated as a stranger but as a member of the brotherhood. From the elderly inmates of this Universal family to the tiniest tot everyone is addressed and treated as a brother or sister by everyone else. “Everyone has his family. But all those families together constitute the Universal Family,” Mother once remarked. No guilty thoughts find their shelter behind any hypocritical shyness between the brothers and sisters. The Universal Family is a different world of its own kind utterly unlike the world in which one generally finds himself imprisoned at birth. The new visitors are often struck by the informality, cordiality and the familiarity with which he is received into their brotherhood by both the brothers and sisters. Even if the cobwebs of our sinful world stick to one like burs, soon he is freed from them or else he will find himself so utterly unfit for the place that he dares not set his foot again till repentance has burnt out the evil.
The inmates of the house of all’ are drawn from various walks of life and various classes of the society. We are likely to be surprised to see a simple person turning out to be a wealthy one or a great scholar who has preferred the hard work of looking after the needs of the new visitors to the place as being more ennobling than mere enjoyment of wealth. Many of them had considered the simplicity, sanctity and the cordiality of this place as being far more attractive than what they had “sacrificed” in the eyes of the world. There are nearly a hundred resident members in the house of all. All of them attend to some work or the other and are never idle. They are ever up and working to provide for the necessities of the visitors. They feteh hundreds of pots of water from a nearby tank for drinking. They attend to cultivation of acres of land. They do all the manual labour necessary in the construction of the buildings for lodging of visitors. They cook and serve food to them. Waking up hours before sunrise to join the recital of the Suprabhatham to the Holy Mother, they put in continuous hours of hard work which astounds even a man of a strong build. What is more, more than half of them are girls. Neither the sweltering summer nor the biting cold of winter, not even the heaviest downpours of the rainy season can force them to swerve from their duty. In spite of such hard work, all that they eat is nothing but a chutney, tamarind – water and buttermilk. They do not enjoy even the minimum of comforts like warm rugs, soft beds, hot water bath etc., But they always live more happily than those who have them and are never conscious of the simplicity of their lives. No one asks them or compels them to work. They derive no personal benefit out of it. They do not get any gratitude from the visitors who often mistake them for labourers. They had identified themselves too well with the toil even to realise that gratitude is due to them. They enjoy no special previleges either with the other inmates of the house of all, or from Mother. They find no time even to sit for a few minutes with mother everyday. But it is always the chant of the the Mother’s name that ever dances on their lips; it is always the very vividly felt presence of the Mother constantly by their side that opens for them the flood- gates of the infinite energy that renders any strenuous task a mere matter of play for them. If you ask them, “Where do you get such strength? How do your limbs stand the strain?” they reply – “We don’t feel any when we work; when we return, it is the Mother’s body that aches for all that we do if at all it is we that do that work.”
Years might have passed since their arrival at Jillellamudi. Even the prospect of a short spell of their absence from Jillellamudi is a terrible catastrophe in their view. One of the girls lost her father while she was at Jillellamudi. The news was brought there. She wept not so much for her father’s death but the possibility of her being kept away at her home. Only strong assurances by her kith and kin that she would be sent back to Jillellamudi in couple of days, could divert her sorrow towards her father who was no more.
All that these children of Mother know was that they could not bear the separation from the Mother. Her presence is the reward of all that they do and no other desire for a reward ever makes its appearance in their minds. In their toil we find the practical demonstration of the oneness of all the paths Yoga, Bhakti, Karma and Janna of which Mother Her-self is the visible manifestation. All the toil that they perform is based on the intense self-denying love of Mother’s nearness. That constitutes Bhakti or Devotion. The toil that they do is selfless – the very perfection of Kamma Yoga, wherein it is not action that is relinquished, but it is the fruit of action. Their absolute and unwavering faith in Mother, their continuous awareness of her divinity, the absence of any longing in them for anything else – these constitute their Vairagya and Viveka. The Christian ideal of service is more than achieved in them. In the unceasing music of their divine labours the thraldom of all wordly attachments and desires is broken. I was one of those who looked upon them as the unwise, non-spiritual busy-bodies who prefer a side-tracking task as being far more. engrossing them undivided spiritual quest in the form of meditation and austerities “Do you suppose that the mind can be separated from all sensuous desires merely by running into a forest, or by closing of the eyes?” Mother echoed to my unspoken thoughts – “What happened to the great masters in penance like Viswamitra, Agastya, and others? Sensual pleasures are the very matrix of creation, they are the cause of your birth; you are a product of that. Even the animals that move around you in the lonely forests are enough to taunt you with your innate emotions and desires. Certainly the almost continuous hard work that these girls do their continuous chanting of the divine name, their fai, their selflessness, their austerely simple lives, are far more, efficacious instruments of their inner purification than the mere closing of the eyes of one who has none of these aids to save him from his own passions and carvings”.
I was initiated by Mother’s words to a more impartial self examination and prayed that I should deserve as much attention from Mother towards my spiritual development as those inmates of the house of all. For, theirs is the Yoga of Devotion and Japa, theirs Dhyana, theirs is the divine fruit of Nishkama Karma and service. Theirs is the cream of Vairagya and Viveka. Even they do not know the infinitude of the treasures of Bliss to which they are the heirs. It is rather a deep-seated and dim perception of that by their intuitions that perhaps binds them so inextrierably to Mother and to Jillellamudi.
As with their bodies, so with their minds. Despite the incredibly hard work that they attend to throughout the day, they still have the zeal in them to devote the one or two hours of their rest to the study of Sanskrit. A Sanskrit school was founded in 1966 for that purpose. All of them had passed the examination in the first class. Today you can hear them conversing freely and fluently in Sanskrit among themselves “They are not merely my children, they are my limbs” said Mother once.
Though the ‘Children’ of the Mother are rarely conscious of the fact, Mother has a definite purpose and a method in entrusting them with so much work. For, once she explained her purpose. “Theirs is the time to come. All of my children must know all kinds of work. There should be nothing which they cannot do. Whatever be the nature and habits of the men that they might marry in future, they should be perfect in moulding their (domestic) life accordingly. If the husband happens to be a drunkard, the girl should hand him the cup with joy. They must adjust within their means. Instead of complaining of what they do not have, they should have the resourcefulness to make the best of what they have. They attain perfection through the perfect discharge of their duties. For example, the winnowing basket is the fifth Veda. We are within ourselves just as the rice is within the paddy. We should get separated from the chaff of our flaws in a like manner there are as many truths hidden within us as there are in a grain of paddy”.
Obviously, what Mother is preparing them for is the ideal life of a housewife, for an ideal marriage. “To a woman, husband is God in human form. That faith is the easiest means for Liberation. Creating the form of an invisible God in the mind, worshipping it in mountain fastnesses, falling a prey to suppressed (not conquered) desires, even a Muni cannot accomplish what an ordinary housewife can easily accomplish and She needs no special mantra or Sadhana fot it.”
If this is so with the Mother’s daughters, how about her sons? Well, it’s all the same. Just as women should worship her husband as God’s manifestation, he should endeavour to see God in his wife. This does in no way prejudice the conjugal relationship between the couple. In fact God as the bestow of all wishes and necessities is more completely symbolised therein. Only the attitude of respect, sanctity and devotion should be there and marriage should not be a licence for mere lust. Besides, she seems to imply that God alone is the “Purusha” or the Lord, and that all Creation is Prakriti or His consort: each individual creature is His consort and finds completeness of its perfection only by being absorbed into him through devotion. Viewed in this perspective, marriage is different from legalised sex-indulgence in that is preeminently symbolic of the divine union with the “Beloved”, as the Sufis call Him. When this symbol is recognised by the couple and adhered to, both attain perfection without the need of all artificial suppressions of the natural urges. The truth and possibility of such a marriage and such a reward of the marriage is amply established by the case of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Smt. Sarada Devi.
The house of all was established on the 15th of August, 1958 to cater to the needs of the new visitors. The dozens of early visitors all enjoyed the hospitality of Mother and Sri B. Nageswara Rao, whom they affectionately address as ‘Father’. Today, hundreds of devotees and visitors come daily and have their food in the free boarding house and reside in the lodging rooms. Every drop of water that they drink, every morsel of food that they eat, every inch of the room in which they sleep, had all been anointed by the piety and the devotion of those blessed children of Mother who bless the visitor by calling him as one of their brethren and welcoming him into their fold.
As for the new visitors who arrive at the house of all, those who stay there sufficiently long would assist the inmates in their tasks. No one asks visitors to do anything but most of them, when Mother had retired into inner apartments, find greater joy and benefit in lending the inmates a helping hand. For one thing, the place affords them a chance to render real service to their brethren, which they are prevented from doing elsewhere, owing to the prudish habits and ways of our world. Without reservations, they can let their minds and bodies bow low in humility and take delight in affording the inner self, the cool breeze of being noble. This joining with the band of workers, further, secures the mind of the visitors from idle wandering and prevents them from being too curious about the ways of others. In fact, the charm of the brotherhood that is found in that service is such that many a visitor desired to stay away at Jillellamudi for that purpose. During the first few visits, the visitor might retain the taint of prudishness of the outer world, but soon realises that to be the greatest obstacle in the way of realising himself, in the way of communicating with the divine springs of service that lie in him. The visitor realises that when he attends to the work, the body which, with all its habits and fleshly evils, causes the greatest distraction of the mind when left to itself, is kept too busily occupied to be able to disturb the mind from its constant dwelling in the Mother. The mind and body at once do the service of the Mother. At the end of a few days work, he realises how the hard shell of his egoism and vanity had been completely dissolved. The inner spirit feels the fresh beauty and the natural wonder of life and creation, which the newly hatched chick would feel. The mind is gently and constantly caressed by the breezes of inner purity and simplicity. Christ said that one must become innocent and pure as a child before he can enter the kingdom of heaven. This is the change that is wrought in us by work. We realise why traditional religion laid stress on devoted and selfless service to God, to humanity and to the spiritual guide.
(Courtesy: Martrusri, April 1967)