(Continuation from previous issue)
“Alright, where do they go after death?”
“Back to God.”
“It is His sweet will, my child.”
“If God sends children and takes them back as He wishes, why should we weep over it?”
The child’s question was a profound one indeed! Chidambara Rao was elated beyond words: In spite of the atmosphere of tragedy in the house, he hugged his grand-daughter and kissed her forehead.
Seethapathy looked at his daughter in amazement.
“Father, at least you tell me why we should cry,” Anasuya asked.
He could not contain his grief. “But Mother is dead,” he said aloud and broke down.
“Who is the real mother, Father? Is it that which has left us really? Or is it this body? If this body is Amma, it will perish one day. If that which has really gone is Amma, then we have never seen it. In either case, there is no reason to be sad,” argued the girl who was hardly four years old.
Ramana Maharishi of Thiruvannamalai rehearsed his death in his 16th year. He then came to the irrevocable conclusion that “what dies is this body. The soul force that activates us has no death. It has neither beginning nor end.” At that very moment he became a realised soul a Jeevan Mukta. He proclaimed to the world that “I am not this body or name. I am that indestructible, omniscient, primordial cause. To realise that ‘self within us is self enquiry and self-realisation. To know one’s true self is eternal liberation.”
The four-year old Anasuya brought home the message of this Truth to those who sat in sorrow around her mother’s dead body.
The body that bore the name Rangamma was no more. But ‘AMMA’, the original concept, did not and would not die. It has neither origin nor end. It is both the beginning and the end. The ‘Amma’ who declared this in her infancy lives in Jillellamudi as the embodiment and representative of the great Truth.
‘That’ alone is. It assumes different forms and names and projections in this world of objects. I am ‘that’ alone and nothing else. I am not Anasuya Devi who is seated on this cot. I am the universal love called” AMMA’, which is the first principle and the root cause. All of you are the result of that universal love and hence, my children.” Amma is never tired of hammering home this truth to all those who come to her.
Everyone exists because of a divine force within. That force is everywhere and permeates everything. All other things we see apart from that is illusory.
Once we realise this Truth, all differences will vanish. Amma is a shining example of this Advaitic doctrine of absolute monism.
“I am not the guru (master) nor are you my disciples. I am not the guide, nor you the wayfarers. I am Amma, you are my children.” The kind Mother proclaims this and reveals her true self. If anyone chooses to ask her, “Amma, how and when did you attain this state?” she invariably replies, “I have always been in this state. I have not undergone any transformation. If you find a change in me, it is only because of your wrong estimate of me and your own mental angularities.”
Some ask her, “Amma, which godhead do you worship?”
“The loving and lovable children who come to me are the gods I worship,” quick comes the reply.
In her sixth year, Anasuya went to listen to a religious discourse by an eminent pundit. Observing the curious child who was listening with rapt attention, the pundit asked her, “Who are you, my child?”
Pat came the reply, “I have come here only to know who I am”. The scholar stood nonplussed and speechless. Even at that age Amma had made her point very clear.
“Study of the Puranas and cramming of the Shastras alone will not help. One must aspire to know oneself.” “Know thyself is the cardinal philosophy she preaches. “Just as the running thread is hidden in a garland, so is the real I invisible within you. If you remove the flowers one by one, the thread will be visible. If you surrender the ego, the real I can be recognised easily. The Truth shall shine in its pristine glory.”
Amma does not harangue those who come to seek her blessings nor give any upadesa – words of advice or mantra to meditate upon or ponder over. She replies to the queries of her devotees in a simple way and drives home great philosophical truths through familiar similes. Her words of wisdom touch the hearts of her devotees, influence their thoughts and deeds, show them the right path and bless them with abiding peace.
Amma has no difficulty in understanding you, in whatever language you address her. When someone asked her about this faculty, Amma explained, “Sound is the basis of language. Thought is the basis of sound. Mind is the basis of thought. The soul force is the substratum of the mind. Because the same soul force binds you and me, I can easily know what you think and what you say. I am therefore of the opinion that the language of silence is more potent than all the other languages. If one heart understands another heart, there is no need for language!” Amma’s ‘children’ believe that there is nothing she is not aware of. She has a computer mind which remembers incidents that took place years ago, down to the minutest detail. She can recall without difficulty who said what, and when, how a person was standing or sitting, what the colour of his or her clothes was, etc. It is as if she is giving a running commentary when she recalls the past. Sitting in her room, she will narrate an incident that took place in a devotee’s house the previous day, as if she had witnessed it herself. If anyone asks her, “How do you know, Amma?”, she will laugh it away by saying, “I just guessed. It turned out to be correct.”
It is widely believed that like great Siddhas, Amma cures her admirers of their ailments by taking those diseases on her self. Once, she had satisfied the hunger of another person by taking food herself. Anyone conversant with the journal Matrusri published by Matrusri Publications, Bapatla, will be acquainted with the myriad miracles she performs daily. But she never owns up to them.
She is against keeping anyone under a spell by exhibiting supernatural powers.
Amma does not think that faith instilled in us by such demonstrations of supernatural powers or superhuman acts is conducive to healthy and sustained spiritual growth. To realise the inner spiritual force is the acme of wisdom. That supreme knowledge leads us to ultimate deliverance. That mental state is eternal happiness, which ensures a life of peace and plenty. Amma is interested only in kindling such enlightened ideas in the minds of her ‘children’.
To stress the fact that Amma does not encourage anyone to materialise things through miracles to enchant the credulous, Gopalakrishnamurthi, a resident of Andarillu, recalled an incident.
A sadhu who came to receive Amma’s darshan insisted that he would be the first to offer worship to her on that day. He stood before Amma, raised his hand and materialised a small piece of camphor from nowhere. The onlookers watched with great interest. Amma sat motionless, without any expression of wonderment on her face.
The sadhu asked Gopalakrishnamurthi, who was standing nearby, to light the camphor. But after a moment, it went out. Again he lighted it, and again it went out. By the time the worship was over, half a box of matchsticks had been emptied. The sadhu experienced great discomfiture. He realised at once the superiority of Amma and his own smallness.
He fell flat at Amma’s feet and pleaded, “Forgive me for my arrogance. I misbehaved with you presuming myself to be superior to you.”
Amma just laughed and commented, “Camphor is available for ten paise in the market. Why do you spend the power acquired by you for this trivial purpose?”
Once, a sadhu told Ramakrishna Paramahamsa that he could walk on water. The saint smiled at him and asked him, “For a small coin, the boatman will take you across the river. Why should you waste your yogic powers on this simple thing?”
All the residents of Andarillu at Jillellamudi are dedicated to a life of service. No one addresses the other by name. Since they all consider themselves Amma’s children, they address each other as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’.
That family has a ‘father’ too. Nageswara Rao, the Village Revenue Officer, is Amma’s husband and is known as ‘Appa’. The universal Mother also lives as a dutiful wife.
The moment Anasuya was born, the elders had decided that she should wed her cousin Nageswara Rao. Accordingly, when she came of age, the marriage between the two was consummated. Though because of her spiritual eminence Amma became an object of worship, she remains the simple mother of her children and, by serving her husband as a dutiful wife, she finds peace and fulfilment.
A devotee, fully convinced of Amma’s spiritual attainments, once wondered why she agreed to marry. Amma answered, “I welcomed the responsibility of family life just to show that matrimony need not stand in the way of one wanting to take to spiritual pursuits!” She strongly asserts that the true import of wedlock is the union of the individual self with the universal self.
Amma impresses people as an exemplary housewife when they learn that she performs abhishekam (sacred bath) daily to the golden lockets, tied to the sacred thread of wedlock and drinks the sanctified water.
In the name of ultra-modernism, social progress and women’s liberty, revolutionary transformations have taken place. The concept of the ideal Indian woman has been shattered beyond recognition. In such a confused context, the example of Amma stands unique as a lighthouse diffusing comfort and confidence. Let us hear what Amma has to say to our womenfolk.
“What does the sacred yellow thread worn around the neck by a married woman signify? The two golden pieces tied to it are the two feet of the husband. Whatever he is, and whatever he does, his feet are touching her heart. For a woman, is there an easier way of performing her duty to her husband than serving his two feet? But how many realise the sacredness of the thirumangalyam, the sacred cord of wedlock? Some try to open the lids of tin containers with the golden pieces attached to it. Some even use them as toothpicks. For a woman, her husband is the only God. By serving him, she gets spiritual emancipation. A wife should not grumble that she is serving to please her husband. On the contrary, she must realise that such service is for her own satisfaction and well-being. Such an attitude makes an ideal wife. For her, the home is the temple, her husband is the consecrated lord in the sanctum sanctorum. This opportunity of ennobling her life, by worshipping him sincerely and steadfastly, is afforded to our womenfolk only. An Indian woman is a far luckier person than a recluse who seeks emancipation of the soul by worshipping the unseen God.”