The lady affectionately called Amma was born on March 28, 1923 in Mannava, a village in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The parents had mysterious experiences for some time before the birth of the child and little did they realize that they were the shadows of the coming divine event. Mother Rangamma had lost two children earlier and so the little one was handed over to the midwife Nagamma for being brought up.
Even as a tender girl Anasooya was radiating love and affection, sharing food and clothes with the less fortunate of her age. There were occasions when she readily parted with gold ornaments to help needy elders. Her father’s paternal aunt, Maridamma, was well-versed in Yoga and known to give initiation to ladies. Anasooya often tried and attained various difficult postures of Yogabhyasa to the bafflement of the elders around.
When the girl was barely four years old, Rangamma reached the end of her earthly sojourn. However, the mishap did not shake the girl in the least. She asked the wailing grandfather; ‘Where did my mother come?” ‘From God’, he said. “And where is she gone now?” “To God’. ‘If she is sent by God and taken back by Him, why should we weep?” Anasooya looked verily like Krishna telling Arjuna:” Gatasun Agatasunscha Naanusochanti Panditah”. Indeed, it was given to the grandfather to watch the uncanny propensities and intuitive flashes of this unusual girl and recognise that she was Kaaranajanma.
Some time later, she was in the temple of Bhavanarayana Swamy at Bapatla and observing various types of offering made to lord, asked whence the deity came. It was too hard a question for the priest to answer and Anasooya said that Mother Earth is truly the source of all the temple, the idol, the offerings, etc. It is Mother Earth, then, that should be worshiped. In fact, it was with little balls of earth that Anasooya once worshiped Lord Anjaneya and strangely the balls tasted sweet like sugar candy when offered as ‘Prasadam’.
Even today, it is this earth, the wide world, the circumambient universe, the here that is emphasized by Amma. She says that she has no ‘That’ in mind and that ‘This’ is what is supreme. What is described by the Upanishadic seers as ‘That’ is ‘Etat’. There is no that apart from This.
From that early phase, Amma’s life has been one of service and sacrifice, compassion and commiseration. She felt the suffering of others in herself and offered solace and succor to those in need. She has been a veritable fountain of Love, love that is boundless and barrierless. Injunctions of orthodox religion did not restrain her concern for the humble and the lowly nor did insults from others ever disturb her.
It was in 1956, in her thirty-third year, that Amma became known to devotees from far and near and people started turning up in ever increasing numbers to seek guidance and grace from her. Now there is a daily gathering of four to five hundred people. They sit together in rows without distinction of caste or creed and have their food and Amma’s love. She gives darshan twice a day. Devotees are free to worship her in any manner they like and Amma sits there unmoved. She offers packets of kumkum as ‘prasadam’.
As the Gita says, devotees are of three types: those who seek relief from distress, others who desire fulfillment of desires and still others who thirst for Jnana. Amma, the Universal Mother that she is, gives to each according to his need. Those in agony find peace and poise in her presence and there are many who feel that good happens to them after her darshan. Seekers of light, experience an inner awakening thanks to her grace. Scholars return from her with an accession of new knowledge, which is not be had in texts. Amma speaks from the celestial height of super conscience, though she says that she is unlettered and has no access to books. Her words, like laser beams, pierce through the layers of avidya and kindle the spark within.
Amma takes nothing for granted and her statements, which are couched in sweet, simple and touching language, strike at the root for superstition and blind belief. Many things that she says are startling in their freshness and incontrovertible finality. Amma, for example, says that the universe is permanent, though subject to change. There is nothing else that is changeless which can be described as ‘Sat’. This universe, which is ever-changing and also never changing. is ‘Sat’ not different from it. The ‘Is’ that we see at the given time is nothing but the ‘All’ which keeps changing.
Follow the prompting of the mind, says Amma. No other guru is necessary and there is no particular mantra that is efficacious. There is no spiritual striving which does not give us happiness and harmony. The impulse within you is God, says Amma. What one can do with ease and joy is what is intended for one. One must start from where one is and what is good for one may not be so for another. It is not merely the fruit of action that is to be renounced; one must make an offering of one’s all at the altar of God. This is what Amma suggests.
Though she is a great teacher, it is not in that aspect alone that we find Amma’s purpose and personality. She is the very embodiment of love and she is divinely human while dealing with her countless children. Few were those whose eyes did not get bedewed when they were face to face with her enveloping love. She is particularly fond of her less privileged children and whenever she tours she goes out into hutments and slums and lavishes her love on the dwellers. The humanitarian missions founded in the name of Amma are trying their utmost to serve the cause of the poor.
The word Amma is the very first meaningful articulation that a child is capable of. All the beauty and wonder of the world is contained in that single, simple word. And it is this word that comes effortlessly to one’s lips when one is either in joy or sorrow, Amma is another name for love that is undemanding and undiminishing. It is this ambience of love that draws people to Amma. A Grieving man has much need for Amma’s love and grace. May Amma’s humanitarian mission and spiritual ministry widen their circle and include global humanity for enacting the Life Divine here and now.
(Courtesy: Matrusri Monthly Journal – December, 1977 & January, 1978.)