For me. AMMA became Allah sometime around 2003-04. No, I did not change my religious orientation but the distinction between AMMA and Allah has gradually disappeared by the intervention of a wonderful friend Moazam. More about Moazam a little later, but first a little about my journey. In the mid-1970s, I went to the USA to pursue my higher education. It so happened, my major advisor, Dr. Collins had difficulty pronouncing my first name, Haragopal. So, he asked me whether it is ok if he called me by my last name ‘Parsa’. Since then I became Parsa to everyone and no one calls me Haragopal anymore in the USA.
Now let me introduce Moazam to you. Moazam Syed is undoubtedly one of the best friends I have had in my life. However, he was born and raised in Hyderabad, Pakistan. He is the oldest in his family with three brothers and two sisters. He attended one of the top engineering colleges in Pakistan (IIT of Pakistan). As a meritorious student, he was able to go to the U.S. for his MS degree in electrical engineering in 1975 with a full scholarship. Providentially, I have joined the same university six months later to pursue my master’s degree. I met Moazam casually as a new student on campus. In those days, Indian and Pakistani students used to get along well, at least in the USA. He became curious about my unusual name Parsa which sounds Islamic and I am a devout Hindu, but he never asked me about it. Later he came to know the story of how I became Parsa and he relayed the same to his family. Immediately, his father wrote him back (no internet and no emails at that time) saying that he had a friend with the same last name, late Durga Prasad Rao Parsa from Karepalli village near Khammam, India. Next week, Moazam asked me whether I am related to the late Durga Prasad Rao garu. I did tell him that I am the fourth son of my parents. About a month later, I received a letter from his father Mr. Raza Ali in beautiful Telugu handwriting explaining how our families have been friends and neighbors for three generations in our village. He was reminiscing about his friendship with my late father. Yes, our friendship has a history of three generations. His grandfather and my grandfather were neighbors in our village of Karepalli. In the second generation, his father, the late Mr. Raza Ali, and my father, the late Durga Prasad Rao Garu were friends and classmates. Again, we became friends and classmates in the USA. Yes, we became roommates the next semester. We used to respect each other’s religion by leaving the room during the prayer time of the other person.
Fast forward to the early 2000s. We both got married, had children, and remained the best friends. One time, in Dallas, Texas, we even celebrate Dasara and Ramadan together at his house. For Dasara, we made the feast and prasadam. My wife Daya made the Dasara dinner with Kheer etc. Moazam family joined us for an all-vegetarian Dasara feast. He did not allow his wife Tajver to come near the kitchen as she is not very familiar with our traditions and restrictions. As a student, Moazam used to attend our bhajans and he knows our traditions and rituals well, and I have attended his mosque with him a few times. The next day, Daya and I attended his mosque for Ramadan prayers. Moazam was able to arrange a special vegetarian meal for me and Daya at the mosque as he was the President of the community. Our families also became very close as our children were also of the same age. Moazam and I never took any major decisions without consulting each other and we remained very close in spite of religious differences.
This happened one night in 2003 around 3.00am. We were living in Columbus, Ohio at that time and Moazam was living in Dallas, Texas. I was fast asleep. Suddenly, I heard Moazam calling my name. I was scared and got up quickly with a jerk and looked at the clock. It was around 3.00am. Why is Moazam calling me now? I know he needs me for some reason, but I was not ready to call him in the middle of the night. I could not sleep for the rest of the night. Around 6.00am, I could not wait any longer and called Moazam at this home. His wife, Tajver answered the phone and she was surprised to get a call from me that early in the morning as he was busy getting kids ready for school. I asked her right away, “Is Moazam doing ok?’. She was surprised by my question and asked why?
I told Tajver what happened last night and said that I know Moazam definitely needs my help. She said “I don’t know Parsa. He went on Hajj to Saudi Arabia with a group from the mosque.” Then she said that he called her two days earlier and he is doing fine. She apologized for Moazam as he did not tell me before leaving on Hajj. She narrated how he had less than six hours to pack his bags and leave as it was a group tour. I accepted the explanation yet I remained concerned about Moazam.
A week later, Moazam returned home from Hajj and I am relieved that he is ok. Then, since it is first Hajj, as his best friend, I wanted to know what he prayed to Allah for me. His response was a memorable one. He said “I prayed to the Almighty to show you the path that is right for you’. Moazam is indeed a wise friend and I am fortunate to have him as my best friend. Then I teased him asking ‘what about money, job, family, etc. We both laughed as he knew what I meant.
Here is the interesting point, as you may have guessed, when I compared the time difference between the USA and Saudi Arabia, it was within two hours of a margin of error when he was praying for me and I received the middle of the night wake up call hearing Mom’s voice. Yes. Moazam was praying to Allah the Almighty, and my incredible, ever benevolent AMMA conveyed the message to me. One more life experience to know the divinity is universal and humans interpret it differently – ekam sat bahudha vadanti. In the universal plane – AMMA is ALLAH humans may erroneously identify it differently. Once we open our inner eyes the distinction melts away and the ignorance fades away. Yes, indeed AMMA is ALLAH. No wonder it is Imam, a Muslim boy, that coined our dearest bhajan, “Jayahomata Sree Anasuya Rajarajeswari Sree Paratpari.” –