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Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 13
Month : October
Issue Number : 4
Year : 2014

While returning from Mummidivaram, after having the darshan of Bala Yogi on Sivarathri day, I stopped at Tenali in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, to meet my collegemate Nagarajan. As we were meeting after some years, we had much to talk about. As was his wont, he raised unnecessary heat while discussing contemporary politics, but then his wife tactfully announced that lunch was ready.

Lunch over, I was returning after washing my hands when a colorful calendar with a picture of an attractive middle-aged woman arrested my attention. I stood for a moment lost in the heavenly beauty of her sublime face, which reflected the cool radiance of the moon. Her eyes were full of the nectar of compassion and looked at us with a motherly love.

“Have you ever heard about this lady?” my friend asked casually.

“No, who is she?” I asked.

“Everyone calls her ‘Amma’ (Mother). She resides at Jillellamudi, eight miles from Bapatla. Hundreds of people gather there daily to have her darshan. I am told that if you sit at her feet for some time, you are sure to be blessed with mental peace.”

Nagarajan’s introduction was brief and to the point. “Let’s go there,” I said and my friend, though taken completely by surprise, agreed to join me.

From Tenali, we went to Bapatla and from there we followed the bus route to Peddanandipadu. At the seventh mile, a narrow pathway branched off from the main road. We stopped to make enquiries.

A passerby said, “Going to see Amma, eh? She lives in that white building. Go this way, it is only a mile-and-a-half from here.” It was a two-storeyed building. It looked like a big hostel at first sight. I asked the first person we met there, “Can we have the darshan of Amma just now?”

“Go upstairs, Amma is giving an audience in her room. You have come at the right time.”

On the verandah upstairs, a blind person was reciting some hymns. His fervor and devotion touched my heart. Amma was in the opposite room.

A woman sat by the doorway, gazing devoutly at someone in the room. We stood by her in the doorway and looked in reverentially. Amma, who was seated on a cot, glanced our way. At that moment it seemed as if showers of love had drenched us. 

The woman by the doorway stood up abruptly and almost inaudibly, said, “Go in”. We stepped in, in hushed silence, one by

one. “Please be seated,” said a gentleman sitting near Amma and We sat down quietly. It was a small room. Eight men and women were sitting erect in absolute silence. A foreigner with a goatee sat leaning against the wall with eyes closed, as if in deep meditation.

I looked at Amma’s face. The large, round vermilion mark placed between her eyebrows attracted my attention first. Like the gold ornament that adorns a golden pot, the jewelry Amma wore added more beauty to her beauty. Her face glowed with wondrous luster, as if the peace reigning in the entire universe had settled there. It was a repository of compassion, graciousness, love, beauty, happiness and peace. We suddenly felt like little children sitting face to face with our mother.

An irresistible longing to look into Amma’s eyes overtook me and I looked at her face. Amma also looked at me. And a thousand moons seemed to bathe my body with cool nectar. Who else except a mother is capable of such overflowing love?

Mother is the universal force that binds together with equal love and affection the learned and the illiterate, the rich and the poor, the aged and the young, male and female, animals, birds, insects and worms. Goddess Sakthi, the universal Divine Mother, symbolizes this fundamental and eternal truth.

“If you want to ask anything of Amma, you may do so,” one of the devotees told.me. “I have not come to ask questions, but only to have Amma’s darshan,” I said and again looked at her. Who can resist the temptation to have a bath in the waterfalls at Courtallam!

Amma kept looking at me and it was indeed a difficult task to meet her eyes. Yet I could not divert my attention from that merciful gaze.

Suddenly I had an urge to speak. Amma’s lips parted a little, as if to utter something. But there was no articulation. Her eyes spoke instead. I could read from her facial expression that she wanted to convey that she knew everything.

I fell at her feet.

After a while, Amma called us one by one and offered prasadam. She gave each of us a fruit and a handful of tiny packets of vermilion. When we took our leave of her, she said almost in a whisper, “Take your meals before you leave”. She spoke in Telugu.

It was not meal time for us. 1 thought she must have been under the impression that we had not had our lunch yet. So I said in all humility, “We have had our lunch, Amma”.

Mother heard me and yet signaled us to have our food before we left the precincts.

The woman waiting outside led us to the dining hall. It is named Annapoornalayam (the temple of food). Whoever comes to see Amma, whatever the number and whatever be the time of the day, is treated to a repast. From six in the morning up to midnight, and even after that, rice, sambar and other dishes are available in the kitchen.

All the women inmates are dedicated to a service of love to the Mother. Just like a housewife who attends with great enthusiasm to the needs and convenience of her relatives who come from her parents’ home, the band of active workers there served us with spontaneous affection. It seemed as though Amma would be satisfied only if her ‘children’ who called on her were fed properly.

There I met Captain Dakshinamurthi, an army officer who belonged to Guntur District. He was stationed in Jalandhar in the Punjab and had come with his wife on ten days’ leave to be with Amma.

The captain showed me around the illam (the house). No one referred to it as an ashram. It is called Andarillu. in Telugu, meaning ‘The house common to all’. Those who wish can stay there for two or three days or even a week.

The inmates get up very early in the morning and wake up Amma after reciting the morning invocation (Suprabatham). In the evening, they assemble in a hall and recite hymns in praise of gods and goddesses. They call it Sandhyavandanam-evening prayer. Those who wish may worship Amma by offering flowers at her feet.


When I was there (in February 1972), the inmates were running a Sanskrit school. They were also planning to start a Veda Patasala and an Oriental College. Captain Dakshinamurthi was very hopeful that “liberal donations from Amma’s children were sure to pour in. The day when Amma’s dream comes true is not far off.”

“How old is Amma?”

“This year, she completes her 49th year.”

We came to an unimpressive hut.

“This was Amma’s original residence,” said the captain. 

We went in. Inside was a figure of a girl made of cardboard. It was dressed in a costly silk saree and bedecked with ornaments. The face was a photograph, while the body was a drawing.

“Who is this?” I enquired.

“This is the figure of Amma’s daughter, Hyma. She died four years ago, when she was 25. It was after this tragedy that Amma left this place and occupied the new building,” the captain explained.

“Was she the only daughter of Amma?”

“Yes, but she has two sons. Hyma suddenly fell ill and her condition became very serious. Amma was insistent that her daughter should not be removed to hospital. But the inmates would not listen. They had her admitted in the Guntur hospital in a precarious condition. The doctors were helpless and could not save her.”

“Was Amma very attached to her daughter?”

“As far as Amma is concerned, she has equal love and affection for all. She loved her daughter as she loved us. Hyma served her mother just as the other sisters here do.” “Did Amma ever say to anyone that her daughter would die young?” I asked.

The captain was engrossed in thought for a while, then said, “You are right in a way. It seems Amma used to tell her daughter quite often ‘In your 25th year, there is going to be a remarkable transformation in your life’. The real import of that statement became clear only after her death.”

(to be continued….)

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