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ANASUYA DEVI (1923-1985)

Dr. Timothy Conway
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 5
Month : July
Issue Number : 3
Year : 2006

(….continued from last issue)

In line with this, as already suggested, Amma always reassured people that they need not do any arduous spiritual practices since the Divine Sakti was doing everything to accomplish their God-realization. (Once in a while she would identify herself with this Sakti, saying, “I will do everything” – an’ utterance very similar to the teaching of the great God-man, Sai Baba, to whom Amma has sometimes been compared: “Only keep quiet, and I will do the rest”). Be that as it may, some of her ‘children’ regularly chanted a mantra to the Divine Goddess utilizing her name (“Jayaho Mata Sri Anasuya Raja Rajeswari Sri Paratpari”), sang bhajars (devotional songs) or did pujas (worship services) to her image on their own altars. Some devotees read scriptures; some practiced a natural self-enquiry, aided by her pithy utterances of nondual wisdom. Many who practiced these forms of Sadhana (spiritual discipline) reported that such practice happened spontaneously under Amma’s influence, without their having to make any heavy effort or strain. Even more remarkable is that some devotees abided naturally in the awareness of the Love (prema) that Amma embodied, no longer feeling the need to be involved in any specific spiritual practices, since no longer maintaining the problematic sense of being a separate self. Amma, true to her word, had dissolved their egocentricity in this infinite Oneness of Love. They now simply abided as THAT.

Amma’s sole daughter, Hyma, was one of those who became established in this highest state of real spiritual freedom.. Born in 1943, she was a very sickly child, suffering from chronic headaches – and the fact that Amma did not heal these but advised her to regard them as her “friend” indicates that even for some of those people very close to Amma (and for Amma herself, who was chronically ill the last several decades of her life) the way of divinity was not a physically easy one, but something which requires at least a minimal effort in detaching from ordinary physical comforts. Hyma was very humble and ashamed of her lack of perfection, though her mother was all forgiving. Deeply devoted to her own mother, Hyma worshiped her in solitude as the Divine, doing pujas to her image. Amina predicted that Hyma would be merged in the Absolute and “be the Reality itself,” and would herself also come to be worshiped by devotees. This came to pass, and devotees venerated her as “Chinna Amma,” “little Amma, especially impressed by her compassion for suffering creatures, and her readiness to serve all with a strikingly warm, self-forgetting all-giving love. Devotees were fairly certain that Hyma would eventually be the successor to her mother, but, as destiny would have it, she contracted small-pox in her 25 year, and, though it seemed she might recover, Amma knew otherwise and made it clear that Hyma was. soon to leave the mortal plane behind. (One sees her the inexplicable ways of destiny. Amma would save other women’s children from disease and death, but not her own child). Hyma did indeed pass away, on April 5, 1968; Amma, in the spirit of the Zen master who “sleeps when he’s hungry, eats when he’s tired, laughs when he’s happy and cries when he’s sad,” did not repress any tears of sadness over her daughter’s passing. But soon Amma was in her usual equanimeous state, and performed an act of spiritually energizing Hyma’s lifeless body as a sacred form (a process known as prana pratistha), after which the empowered body was buried, and a shrine (Hymalayam) and life size statue erected on the spot. Amma had declared “Hyma has not gone anywhere, she is here with us”, and so, as Amma had predicted years before, devotees now venerate their sister Hyma as an abiding spiritual presence, who is helping them Godward.

The unfolding years brought more changes. In 1966, Matrusri, the monthly journal edited by Dr.S. Gopalakrishnamurthy, et al, was begun, which would come to feature many of her sayings and doings, testimonials by those who had been drawn into her orbit, selections from the scriptures, and so on. In honor of Amma’s 50″ birthday, April 12, 1973, 150,000 devotees came in to worship the Divine in female form. Amma personally went around to be sure that all were fed, and “filling them with Her Bliss”. Shortly after this Amma made some extensive tours of other districts in Andhra Pradesh state, visiting schools, hospitals, welfare institutions, prisons, and private homes to bless ail, rich and poor, young and aged, healthy and infirm, with her love. In 1975, Amma set out for Tamil Nadu state, visiting not only its capital, Madras, but also the ashram of the famous Sri Ramana Maharshi (d. 1950) at Tiruvannamalai (about 100 miles west of Madras) and the senior and junior Sankaracharyas of Kanchipuram (official patriarchs of the Advaita Vedanta tradition). The year 1975 also saw some miscreants raid her ashram to see what they could steal. Mother calmly remarked, “They are also my children. I have docile children as well as naughty children. The child is never at fault in the mother’s eyes. It is mother’s nature to love her children equally, whether they are good or otherwise”.

In 1980 an unusual sickness afflicted Amma and brought her and many of her devotees to Hyderabad for a two-month period where she received medical treatment. Her return to Jillellamudi was spectacular, marked by joyous throngs of people at every train stop. With Amma’s help, a residential, English medium public school was opened in August of 1980 and a medical center also made available for the poor, beginning in 1981. In February 1982 the Anasuya Swaralayam temple, after years in preparation by Amma and company, was opened to the public, previously no temple had been allowed in Jillellamudi since the orthodox brahmins of the district had not considered the lower castes living here to be “eligible” for having one in their midst.

Beloved Nannagaru passed on in February, 1981 and Amma herself “dropped the body” on June 12, 1985, her physical health finally breaking down altogether. Since then the Divine Presence of the Goddess is still invoked through Amma’s name at pujas (worship services) held at “Matrusri” (“Beloved Mother”) centers over Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. Her devotees clearly know that Amma’s real nature, Pure Divine Love, has not gone anywhere, but is always, changelessly HERE in all Her glory and power.

Jayaho Mata!

– (Concluded)

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