I distinctly remember that day on which I had the first Darshan of AMMA in the form of the Idol that is now in Anasuya Swaralayam since 5th May 1987. My initial reaction was that of great disappointment and distress. Frankly, the statue that was sculpted by Neelamegha Sthapathi, winner of the President of India’s Medal did not impress me at all. “This is not AMMA, I saw in flesh and blood”, I thought. “Where is that soft, long look of AMMA, which greets you with warmth and affection, even from a distance” – My mind refused to reconcile to this form of AMMA. “Where is that radiant complexion of AMMA which you can perceive even in darkness? Do I have to compromise with this form as AMMA and return back Hyderabad every time?” My mind was in deep turmoil. However, I dared not express my feelings to anyone around.
I felt very fortunate when brother Sri Racharla Lakshminarayana included me in the team along with I. Ramakrishna Rao and Dharma Suri went to Mahabalipuram to accompany AMMA’s Idol, which was ready for installation in Anasuya Swaralayam. We went straight to Late Sri Sundara Raman’s house in Madras, from where we all went to Mahabalipuram. All of us performed Puja to AMMA’s Idol, before the Idol was lifted into a Van hired specially for this purpose in Madras.
The black granite stone Idol of AMMA clad in a new saree and a fresh garland, was placed in the center of the Van. Sri Yanadi garu and myself were sitting on either side of the Idol. Sri Sundara Raman, Dharma Suri, Ramakrishna Rao and others were following the Van in a separate car. Thus started the long journey from Mahabalipuram to Jillellamudi.
I was sitting on the right side of AMMA and Yanadi garu on the left side. The Idol in solid black granite stone weighed around 1.5 tonnes. As the journey started on the rough road, the van was making swinging movements. Involuntarily, as if to prevent the Idol from falling, I placed my hand on the shoulder of AMMA. That moment, I can never forget in my entire life. I had a sort of shock – when I placed my hand on the shoulder of AMMA, I did not touch the hard granite stone that was chiseled in the form of AMMA. It was AMMA’s real shoulder !! I know that unmistakable touch. I know that size of AMMA’s shoulder. Several times I had the privilege of touching of Amma’s shoulder pressing it along to relieve Her body pains. The present touch just took me to those glorious days and I re-lived those precious moments when I was with AMMA in physical form. That touch. just transformed all my conceptions about AMMA’s form, which shrouded. my mind with all sorts of doubts just a while ago. I could not control. myself and cried to my heart’s content. 1 lifted my head and looked into AMMA’s face. There was that benign smile looking compassionately at me.
I suddenly realized how stupid I was to imagine that this was not the AMMA I knew. AMMA defined herself as the one without the beginning or end, not just the frame of four feet ten inches sitting on. a simple cot in Jillellamudi. Once, Ramakrishna Annayya, before presenting a photo of AMMA to a devotee, handed over the same to AMMA and asked AMMA to do ‘Prana Pratishta’ (imbibing life into it). AMMA smilingly asked Annayya ‘Do you think there is no life in it?” He then blushed and realized how wrong he was. I did a similar blunder in imagining that this is not AMMA’s form. When the whole universe before us is the form of AMMA, how can I draw limitations to AMMA’s form?
The compassion of AMMA is immense in making me realize the above fact and to remove any trace of dissatisfaction in my mind about the form of AMMA.
Subsequent to installation of the Idol in Anasuya Swaralayam, many people had Darshan of AMMA. Many among them have not seen AMMA in physical form. Interestingly, their experience was similar to those who had their maiden Darshan of AMMA.
In the summer of 1988, when I was working as Sub-Manager int Chirala branch of Syndicate Bank, the branch Manager Sri V. Anjaneya Sarma and his wife, who never saw AMMA, expressed their desire to visit Jillellamudi along with my wife and me. We took a taxi from Chirala and went to Jillellamudi. It was mid-day and all puja programmes were over in Anasuya Swaralayam. Only four of us were sitting before AMMA’s idol praying silently. Suddenly Anjaneya Sarma and his wife started sobbing uncontrollably. A few minutes later they controlled themselves. After coming out of temple, they guiltily looked at us and tried to explain the inexplicable act of their crying in the temple It is the experience of many people that AMMA’s Darshan brings about ‘the Baptism of tears’ – a flow of tears prompted by Her healing and cleansing touch, a flow of tears that is the only possible expression of inner joy, peace and purity that Her presence brings. The experience of Sri Sarma and his wife was no different.
Sri Avatar Sarma of Kakinada is a scholar in Sanskrit, an intense worshiper of Mother Durga from his childhood. When Sri Mohana Krishna enquired if he would accompany him to Jillellamudi for Mahasivaratri function in 1990, he had several doubts in his mind. In his mind, Divine Mother means only Durga. He cannot visualize any other form as the Divine Mother. In his deep meditation he sought permission of his Divine Mother to visit Jillellamudi To his surprise, he got the green signal and he accompanied Sri Mohana Krishna.
At midnight of Sivaratri, as he entered Sanctum Sanctorum of Anasuya Swaralayam along with four others, he felt a flash of light which he took as an auspicious omen. During the Abhishekam, he was amazed to find the idol breathing!!! “Can it be true? Or is it some sort of hallucination? ” he wondered. He went on observing more keenly. He clearly saw the heaving of the Idol’s chest and the movement of the saree continuously for 30 minutes !
Sri Avatara Sarma was convinced that it is not a mass of black granite that is receiving worship from the pilgrims, but a great, pulsating Divine force that is in action blessing Her children from within Sanctum Sanctorum of Anasuya Swaralayam.