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Annam Parabrahma Swaroopam

Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 7
Month : July
Issue Number : 3
Year : 2008

Is the insight we often repeated, referring to food – annam, highlighting the importance that is attached to food ‘which sustains, nourishes and eventually nullifies the psycho-physical organism that is the human body. In this “fallen age of Kali”, the prime power of the humans is centered in food’1.

The kind of importance Amma attaches to feeding can be appreciated from what Richard Schiffman put it in his engrossing biography of Amma “. Invariably, the first question that Amma asked a newcomer to the ‘House of All’ was ‘have you taken your meals?’ Nothing seemed to please her so much as personally looking after arrangements for feeding the visitor. Mother commented humorously once by way of explanation : “You grow weak if you don’t eat, but I grow weak if I don’t feed !”.2

Apart from the esoteric significance attached to Amma’s choosing to feed those who visited her, thus catering to the fundamental sheath, the Annamaya Kosha, the greater significance is, as Mother, to feed her children to satiate the hunger, the pangs of which only Amma knows. In this context I am reminded of an incident wherein, I found it amazing to note that Amma picked up, among several people sitting around her, a person whom she asked to go and have food. She insisted that he have his food first, brushing aside his reluctance to go, for obvious reasons. Later, on enquiry, it turned out that this man did not have food for the past three days!

Amma cannot bear or tolerate if any one suffering from hunger is denied food. This again reminds me of another incident that happened in the 70’s. Amma who was in her room in the second floor of the building, was mildly chiding (appeared to us to be chiding) one of the brothers who happened to serve food to rows of people in the dining place (in the ground floor) and who, it appears, had driven away one of the persons from taking his meals, mistaking him to be a regular visitor to the village on his personal business. Amma with tears in her eyes and with penetrating words which went straight deep into his heart, impressed upon him about the intensity of pangs of hunger. This brother literally cried and prayed for Amma’s pardon.

She declared on one occasion “it is neither the dress nor the address (implying status) that makes you eligible to receive my attention, but your hunger”. She denied herself the food right from her childhood declaring “In this Kali (dark age of Kali), I have no Akali (Hunger).”

Once, during her childhood and while in Bapatla, the sight of some beggars who were having their meals in a choultry, caught her attention and made her visualize a common place, a house, where all her children could live together and a dining place that caters to their hunger. The idea that had started as a seed had taken roots and had taken the shape of a mighty tree called ‘Annapurnaalayam’ established in Jillellamudi on 15th August, 1958. Over the past five decades, several lakhs of her children with no discrimination of class, caste, creed or religion had their food here, considered as divine ‘prasadam’.

When some of the brothers managing the institution there approached Amma, a couple of months ahead of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of her 51st Birthday in April, 1973 and asked her as to what gift they could present her on this joyous occasion, Amma replied, saying she would like to see one lakh (100,000) of her children have their food together on that day! History was thus made that remained etched in golden letters   in the annals of Jillellamudi as more than 1.5 lakh of people partook Amma’s prasadam on that day.

Amma once declared that Annapurnaalayam was her heart and as such it is a bounden duty on the part of the management and a sacred responsibility of every one of the devotee children who love this institution and Amma to bestow supreme importance to Annapurnaalayam and thus protect this ‘heart’ People who have been longtime associates of this place often repeat Amma’s message “Neekunnadi Thripthhiga thini, itharuku aadaramga pettuko” (meaning, ‘have what is given to you with contentment and feed others with love and compassion’). It is my view that Amma, through this message, implies that every house should be an ‘Annapurnaalayam’ catering to the hunger of others, not necessarily in terms of numbers, but in spirit.

True to this message, Sri Viswajanani Parishat (SVJP), Jillellamudi embarked, during this Golden Jubilee Year of Annapurnaalayam, on arranging feeding (distribution of Amma Prasadam) in 50 villages in Guntur and neighboring Krishna districts and successfully completed this program of feeding in about 40 villages by the end of June, 2008.

Another ambitious program launched during this year was the recitation of Lalitha Sahasranaamam 10 billion times over the entire year by all the enthusiastic devotees spread all over the state of Andhra Pradesh and neighboring states as well as outside the country. There has been an overwhelming response to this program and it is expected that the target would be exceeded even before the completion of the year on 15 August. 2008. The invocation of Sankalpam before the commencement of recitation each day reads: “….. Sakala jeeva kshutpipaasa upashamanaaardham……..”, meaning, ‘towards satiation of hunger of all the living beings’. We seek the Grace of Amma, the divine form of Lalitha Tripura Sundari towards fulfillment of this onerous and sacred responsibility entrusted to us!

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