We are on the threshold of AMMA’S 88th birthday. We are almost nearing a decade of HER centenary celebrations. Some of us had an invaluable association with AMMA during HER physical form. Those of us who are yet young fortuitously shall witness AMMA’S centenary celebrations. And for those who are committed to AMMA and serving HER cause, a poignant moment to rethink and find one’s bearings to renew the self in this pursuit. Thus this means a lot for many and signifies the most for quite a few others.
Every birthday of AMMA JILLELLEMUDI, more formally known or deemed as the incarnation of goddess RAJA RAJESWARI, marks a memorable milestone on the path of time. Each such mile stone sends ripples of bliss and echoes HER message of boundless motherhood, across the endless corridors of time.
For us lesser beings and the entire existence each such milestone is a major and significant landmark that conveys AMMA’S uncommon mode of life and imparts HER unique message that equally covers the body, the mind and the soul. HER creed cared for the mundane needs, creature comforts and also healed the troubled core, gently nudging it towards the truth while caressing us on our way to the positive bliss which was assured for all of us by AMMA.
AMMA’S advent onto this earth is registered on the 28th March, 1923, on the auspicious day of Aslesha, Chaitra Suddha Ekadasi. Several good omens, unearthly symbolism which are well known have preceded HER advent. These were witnessed by Nagamma, the midwife who handled the delivery as also by the parents and others near and dear. Good auguries galore evidently seen.
HER early childhood was over in and around Mannava. In HER ramblings SHE bestowed numerous experiences on those around in the rural neighborhood which mystified quite a few. Some found or witnessed their choice deity in AMMA while construed that there is an unearthly, mystic, divine element in AMMA. Yet they could not precisely specify their feelings or give the same a much needed articulate expression. They were merely awed, intrigued, bewildered and bowed to HER.
After this initial exposure in the Mannava environs, the birth place and surrounding rural scenario, AMMA entered into matrimony declaring that matrimony is not a bar for spiritual attainment or spiritual way of living. After getting into wedlock SHE moved to the tiny village of Jillellamudi, as HER husband happened to be its village officer.
AMMA had to eke out a troubled, sparse existence in the niggardly surroundings of this dry village those days, hailing from a well to do, well provided household in every respect. Innumerable trials and many severe tribulations AMMA passed through in this troubled phase of life. This state synchronized with the early 1940s and late 1950s.
In the wake of childhood spent amidst kith, and kin, near and dear as also other rural dwellings, SHE moved to Jillellamudi. The experiences of the early childhood phase were recorded and documented reasonably vouching for HER extraordinary godly being and divine prowess.
Yet the two decades spanning from 1936 to 1956 were muffled in obscurity. Not much has come out by way of recorded episodes. This phase was confined to the very close few and presumably to HER intimate followers and immediate retinue. The facts conveyed to the outsiders through other informal modes indicate this was a phase of untold suffering and a saga of touching travails. Very few are aware of these; notable mention could be made of brother Mannava Butchraju Sarma who empathized with AMMA’S hardships during this time which found vent in soul stirring, intensely philosophical lyrics.
From the 1950s, to be more specific around 1956, visitors from other places started visiting Jillellamudi looking for AMMA. This very soon grew in numbers. This slow, steady trickle of AMMA’S devotees, deemed children by AMMA, widened into a flow and a stream eventually. This necessitated the efforts to create some infrastructure around AMMA to care and give some comfort to such visitors.
From here on, it is almost well known history, recorded, well documented and even filmed, also carried through print media. From then on after a magnificent display of divine glory, ever caring, loving, vibrant motherhood for nearly three decades AMMA attained eternity. SHE entered the sanctum of ANASUYA SWARALAYAM on the 14th June 1985 following HER husband, affectionately addressed as Nannagaru (father) by one and all into the sanctum, who preceded AMMA on the 17th February 1981 entering the very same sanctum. Thus once for all conveyed and confirmed to the whole world that the holy matrimony can bestow divinity to the spouse and install the subject on the pedestal of divinity for eternity.
This is to sketch the saga of AMMA in very brief, simple mundane terms, though HER life story has no bounds whatsoever and can never be set to dimensions of any kind in terms of space or time either. Yet for the sake of record and some sense of completion, we have no option but to convey the same in these terms for the context of this article.
In any case, the physical life span is of contemporary relevance. This is also for the benefit of those not exposed to AMMA and Jillellemudi before. Other detailed works reflect the richness and varied texture of AMMA’S form and being; as also HER divinity and manifest motherhood.
Could AMMA be a mere part of recorded history? Is SHE a mere entry on the log of time perhaps better known than other contemporaries? Is SHE simply among the multiple saints and god men of this country? These are the issues that assail our minds, more so those who lived and witnessed HER glory, HER unique, uncommon, unprecedented being, physical form, nature and disposition.
To recall in this context, our late elder brother Haridas used to stitch blouses for AMMA to wear, sometime in the early years of stay at Jillellamudi. To his discomfiture, he often found that he was unable to fit the blouse properly for AMMA, despite his best efforts at taking a measure and all. This inability he expressed before AMMA, as is conveyed in the printed word.
AMMA typically quipped or responded saying -“Naa Aadi Anadi”. This is a simple three worded sentence in Telugu, as usual a cryptic quote of AMMA. Like all days of AMMA, sounds too simple, yet means a profound lot which should only be fathomed as per the person’s reach, insight and comprehension of any one who attempts the same.
The word “Naa”simply means “mine”. The word “Aadi” ordinarily in its simply used form means the measure, here the measurements of a person for whom the blouse is made. In its deeper sense, it means the measure of any thing, everything and all. “Adi” also has a literary meaning of ‘Beginning’.
Furthermore, “Anaadi” also means the one without any measure. In another sense, “Anaadi” also implies the “ONE” without any beginning. When one has no beginning, obviously it also has no end. This by the very same reasoning conveys that AMMA has no beginning; if so, logically SHE neither has an end or conclusion. Thus by HER own words, AMMA symbolizes the ceaseless creation and one with or personifies the entire cosmic process in all its magnitude.
Viewed in this perspective AMMA embodies the earth, the fire, the sky, the water, and the air. SHE includes all the elements, their interaction, amalgam, compounding and all in the micro and macro forms as conveyed in several written works on AMMA. The tiny, slight physical form is only meant for the sake of physical identification by us children who cannot cognize HER infinite presence and process. Such form is only the focal point for the cosmic energy and process which SHE verily is.
In yet another context, as recorded in AMMA’S official biography, SHE pronounced unmistakably – “Eee Srushti Naadi, Anaadi”. This is again a far reaching declaration to the world establishing once for all and confirming HER supremacy, lording over the entire cosmic process.
AMMA in this aphorism declared that this entire creation is HERS alone. And that this creation has neither a beginning, if so has no end either. Apparently this conveys that SHE is but the author of this ceaseless cosmic process.
In a telling episode during HER childhood where SHE revives a dead child back to life, SHE emphatically declares “Sarva Srushti Karini Nene”. This undoubtedly conveys that AMMA is the cause and source of this entire creation as verily declared by HER. SHE is perched on such a supreme, unique, even inaccessible pedestal.
Eldest brother Dr. Sripada Gopalakrishna used to summon all his energy in ultimate desperation to truly depict AMMA, gesturing with his raised hand and saying in Telugu – “Valla Kani Mitta Meeda Undi Ayya, Avida”. He was the physicist with a doctorate, who attempted expounding AMMA, HER person and HER precept. In his own terms to capture the said quote in English, “AMMA is placed on an inaccessible, unattainable height, peak or summit that is beyond the reach of one and all.” Such is HER unique stature, though SHE apparently hobnobs with us all, as a loving mother, putting us at total ease.
This shall never be mistaken, misconstrued or brushed aside as mere hype. Direct first person experiences of most of us, and recorded episodes from HER childhood vouch for HER bewilderingly ‘Supreme Being’ and positioning.
Yet in another episode that occurred in Doppalapudi a village in the vicinity of the present Ponnur town, SHE declared “Nene Samharakarinini”. In this event the dying old man initially fumbles that SHE is the frightening slayer and as a moment of last minute realization that is bestowed on him before breathing his last, declares or confesses that SHE (AMMA) is the “Srushti, Stithi, Laya Karini”.
This conveys that AMMA is the cause and verily the author of creation, sustenance and destruction, the three pronged never ending cosmic process. AMMA thus granted the old man realization and salvation in his dying moment. This dialogue with the old man has unfolded several concepts in AMMA’S thought which have relevance to our conventional wisdom or ‘Sanatana Dharma”.
From these excerpts, we can very well understand, AMMA never brushed aside or departed from tradition. SHE upheld the same in a truly eclectic manner, by culling its essence and adapting the same in an acceptable mode that can be observed with ease by the modern man. Thus the essence of convention is enriched and made eminently contemporary, quashing the blinkers of taboo and stigma.
From such elevated perspective and positioning, SHE condescended to concern with the ordinary person’s woes and privations, cared for the same as a very touching human mother. SHE is ever concerned with feeding and caring for HER children always at all times of the day or night. While doing so, SHE never lost HER divine touch and shepherded us towards the timeless truth and divine bliss. AMMA is very much in the world with us in all our woes, privations, sorrows, yet SHE is very much far above and sounded as though beckoned us from a far away, distant domains, with HER unique love and caring concern that were way beyond the merely human, though these touched our lives intimately.
In our country there are and were countless saints, realized souls, much attained individuals, god men and so on who blessed and redeemed the masses. Few claimed authorship for this creation. Virtually no one declared that “Gods too are my children”, Such a declaration while proclaiming to be the mother of the entire existence was nonexistent before.
In the scriptures of yore, only Lord Krishna claimed the authorship for this creation and cosmic process and his supremacy over the same in a very specific mode and clearer terms in the Bhagavad Gita, Few others ever took such a stance.
More baffling and intriguing is the fact AMMA used to wear gold toe rings that had the images of Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Annapoorna, Gods Ganapathy, Shanmukha and Nagendra during HER physical span. These ornaments were laid along with AMMA’S physical form during the time of consecration within the sanctum of ANASUYA SWARALAYAM.
When some queried on this unique adornment, AMMA replied this is to convey “They too (the respective Gods and Goddesses) are your fraternity”. Thus meaning that they too (the fraternity of gods, goddesses) are HER children in HER all encompassing motherhood. Further these unmistakably indicate that
SHE is none but HER IMPERIAL MAJESTY “GODDESS RAJA RAJESWARI” swaying all the worlds celestial and ephemeral. Thus AMMA is verily lording over all the beings, gods, goddesses and the lesser mortals.
AMMA as we have all seen rarely worshiped or took to any rituals though we performed the same at HER instance. SHE revered HER spouse Nannagaru (father) only as was seen generally. As narrated by brother Raju, once AMMA placed a coconut in a glass (referred as Kalasam in the ritualistic sense) and said – “Sarigga Undu, Ippudu Nenu Neeku Puja Chesthunnanu”. To render the same in English, “Be Stay Put. I am now worshiping you” addressing the goddess Lalitha. This was one very rare moment when SHE addressed and summoned the goddess at AMMA’S behest to be worshiped.
Even there are experiences of sighting other gods and goddesses in AMMA’S being and presence. Some perceived the same in AMMA or conversely beheld AMMA at other temples in the idols consecrated there. Thus AMMA is boundless, limitless, unconditional and beyond any measure or dimension.
Placing AMMA in the annals of hagiography# or referring AMMA in terms of chronology is only for our perception, that of the contemporaries and Another true episode worth mentioning in this to carry the legacy to posterity. Such so called context is from Brother Mannava Butchi Raju Sarma, limiting of AMMA though not verily true and realistic who had very close access to AMMA even during is much needed for human perception across the the times of muffled obscurity to the outside world. flow of time eternally.
We do our little bit on this memorable occasion by committing ourselves with renewed vigor and pledging ourselves once again to the cause of AMMA and HER service.
We may endeavor to carry on AMMA’S legacy to the nook and corner of the world, perpetuate the same in our own modest manner we can so that over the ages other fellow men shall know AMMA, if only to perceive the truly loving mother, that is touchingly human, yet intensely divine and savor HER loving grace.