Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 7
Month : October
Issue Number : 4
Year : 2008

[Following is a transcription from a recording of the talk by Swami Tattvavidananda who reviewed the book “Divine Play of Amma Initiation as Revelation” by Prof.M Sivaramkrishna during the function organized at Hyderabad to release the book. It may be noted that a major portion of the text of the speech relevant to the context is presented here – T.S.Sastry]

Om! Sri Gurubhyonamah!

Sri Ganeshaayanamah.! 

Atma Swaroopa! Brahma !

I will say a few words in English as wished by the organizers, though I would love to speak in Telugu. Firstly, I will say a few words about the introduction of the topic of Amma in my life, and then I will say a few words about the book. In those days, I was a student of Vedanta studying the Bhashyas and other texts under the guidance of my father, Late Rani Narasimha Sastry. Interestingly, quite a few seekers from all over Andhra Pradesh were coming to my father to study higher texts of Vedanta under his guidance. Quite a few of them, at any given time, not less than four or five of these students of all ages young, middle age and elderly too, were studying under the guidance of my father and so I was exposed to almost all of them because they were all staying in my house or close by. My mother was preparing food assiduously, carefully and serving all of them. So, this was the environment in which I was brought up and I was listening to these discourses, even when others were studying with my father. In between the discourse some of these students, at least two of them, mentioned Amma to my father.

In those days, Amma was in Jillellamudi, very close to Tenali and my father used to go to Vijayawada and Tenali for some of these Vedanta Sabhas and they used to mention about Amma, say quite a few things about little experiences they had, a little encounter with Amma, with my father.. He used to listen to them with rapt attention and used to respond in his own characteristic style, saying “Oh! Wonderful! Is it so! Marvelous!. It is indeed, if she said so.” He was responding like that in the context of Vedantic discourse. He was wondering how some of the essence of the Vedantic teachings that were going on day-in and day-out in the house were mentioned by Amma, occasionally through very succinct and very brief statements. My father used to wonder, “Oh! Is that what Amma said? What a marvelous thing it is!” So, this was how I first heard the name Amma in my life.

Then I went my way just like anybody else; it was a flow of life in the samsara. I continued to lead that life and then it so happened by the Grace of the Truth that I became a mendicant. Then one day I got a message from my mother when I was somewhere else. I always find that my mother, as per my understanding, never knew what it is to complain. My father attracted many people for the study of Sanskrit and Vedanta and she knew only one thing; whosoever enters the threshold, he was fed and she never complained, accommodating and enduring the difficulties of life. So for me my mother was the role model; she was my living God. She sent me a message when I was on my way to Tenali and for Krishna Pushkaras. After taking a bath in the sacred river Krishna, I went to Tenali as she said “I want to see you”. Then my mother asked me, “You see, Jillellamudi Amma’s place is nearby.” Amma left the mortal frame by then, but I clearly see and understand Amma’s presence in the hearts of all of us, nay, in the hearts of all the human beings as the vital force of life even now, the mortal frame is absent alright.

My mother mentioned “We should visit Jillellamudi after taking a bath in Krishna river and pay our respects to the sacred memory of Amma” So, as I told you, whatever my mother says is ‘Veda’ for me and it is ‘Veda vaak’. Accordingly, myself and my mother went to Jillellamudi, where I participated in a function and there I met all these wonderful people, the devotees of Amma. There my mother was very very happy; by then my father was no more. I. saw a brilliance of light of love and joy in her face. So she spent a little time in that village and then we came out.. Very soon my. mother passed away. I became a kind of devotee of Amma, though I never met her in her physical form. Also, my mother was particularly impressed by the daily offering of food to the devotees in Jillellamudi Ashram. So, this was my association with the sacred memory of Amma.

Sri Sivaramkrishna sent this book to me and the organizers. were very kind to invite me to participate in this function. I consider it a great privilege and a good fortune that I had the opportunity to attend this function. I am an ardent student of Shankara’s texts called Bhashyas. In addition to Bhashyas, there is one kind of literature that I love to read; that is, a study of Zen masters’ sayings. In the Vedanta tradition, there are two distinct approaches. In fact, the entire tradition of Vedanta is based on ‘Brihadaranyaka’ mandate or injunction, namely, “Atmaava ave Drashtavyah; Shrotavyo Bhavitavyo Nidhidhyaasatavyah’. Every human being is exhorted to gain the knowledge of the self in this life itself by following a method that consists of ‘Shravana’ listening to the scriptures, which means, the study of the scriptures; ‘Manana’ – pouring over the scriptures to clarify our doubts; and ‘Nidhi Dhyaasana’ – the contemplation on the teachings of scriptures. These are the three methods. So, we have these three steps, Hindu dharma being what it is, a democratic dharma.

We have a school of Vedanta which emphasizes the first step, the second and third being subservient to the first one; which means, striving to study the scriptures further, further and further spend all the life in the study of scriptures. Then you will gain the knowledge of the self. It is one school. This is called ‘Vivarana’ school of Vedanta. Then we have another school of Vedanta. Here, the study of scriptures is only primary effort, but the realization of the Truth finally happens in the contemplation of the Truth as enunciated in the scriptures. This school of Vedanta is called Bhaavathi’ school. These are the names given in the Vedantic literature. These are brief, laconic statements arising over a realization of the Truth. So, they constitute or refer to a secondary tradition of Vedanta, namely, the ‘Nidhi Dhyaasana’ tradition. In this tradition, the spoken words and sentences have a relevance and place, but they are primary. The emphasis is on the realization and abiding in the Truth and oneself. Accordingly, there will not be any profusion of literature, there will not be any very many sentences or very many words in the literature.. There will only be very brief, succinct statements.

In addition to Zen masters, in the Indian Vedantic tradition, mention may be made of Nisargadatta Maharaj and Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi. They belong to this category, namely, giving expression to the realization in very brief words, very brief statements. I had the opportunity to study the ‘Divine Play of Amma….. and I felt that this book belongs to that class of literature and stands on par with Talks with Ramana Maharshi’ and also Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj’ and then the Teachings of Zen Masters.. So, this enters into that category in which the study of scriptures is preliminary, but contemplation becomes an all-important effort in gaining the knowledge of the self. So, I would love to put this book in that category, in that school of Vedantic learning. I was going through the book carefully; it requires a lot of focus of mind and love for the statements of Amma as they are translated. I had the occasion to compare the translation from the original Telugu version as I had the original Telugu book first and by the time the English version arrived, I already had occasion to read the Telugu book. So, I could compare the two works.

The translation of a work is always a hard task, especially when it comes to spiritual literature; in particular Vedantic literature, because here they are not any stories. In story-telling, translation could be easy-going, smooth-going. But when the literature is in the form of brief statements, it is very poignant. statements with eclectic meaning, suggestion etc., translation becomes a real hard task.

(to be continued…)

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