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Devotee Children from Distant Lands

Dr Tangirala Simhadri Sastry
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 6
Month : April
Issue Number : 2
Year : 2007

(Continued from the previous issue)

Here, we turn back to the release of Gordon’s book Garden of Flowers’ in Hyderabad through the hands of Mr. J.F. Nieland of Amsterdam (Holland) during a three-day function got up in August, 1970. This gentleman, an Electrical Engineer by profession was a great seeker with deep interest in spiritual aspects of life and a keen follower of Indian Philosophy. He was a tee-to-taller and a strong believer of ‘Naturopathy’. In his quest for spiritual aspects of life he was trying to find answers to questions that kept bothering him. During this time he chanced upon a Review of the book ‘Life and Teachings of Mother’ by E. Bharadwaja that appeared in the monthly journal of ‘Mountain. Path’, a publication from Ramanashram. To his great surprise and relief, he found answers to the very questions that were rocking his brain, from some of the sayings of Amma quoted in this review. Deeply impressed by these sayings of Amma he immediately decided to visit India and Jillellamudi at the earliest opportunity.

Pooling up enough finances for his trip to India, he flew to New Delhi and traveled by train directly to Bapatla which happens to be on the trunk line from New Delhi to Madras (Now, Chennai). Alighting there. and on sighting the board “Matrusri Printers” right.

opposite the Railway Station (in those days) he went there and enquired for directions to reach Jillellamudi. As there were no direct buses to Jillellamudi he was helped by one of the brothers there to board the bus bound for Pedanandipadu advising him to alight at 7th mile and walk about 1 ½ mile to reach Amma’s abode. By the time he reached the 7th mile rain that lashed the place had just stopped. So, he had to walk the distance barefoot through the slushy path to reach the place.

When he reached Jillellamudi and enquired about Amma, he was directed to Amma’s room on the second floor. On entering Amma’s room and seeing her sitting on the cot, he was SO overtaken by emotion that he straight got into the outstretched hands of Amma with overflowing tears as if he had found his mother after a long search of several years. Amma also, taking his head into her lap, told him she was just waiting only for him before going for the bath that she was to have.

Amma arranged for bread (brought from Bapatla for him) and raw vegetables, as that was the food he was used to. He quickly adapted to the environment there, including wearing traditional Indian clothes. It is during this period that he visited Hyderabad along with KBG Krishna Murty (Gopal annayya) to participate in a 3-day function got up by devotee children of Amma there to provide a glimpse of Amma to the general public through Lectures, Screening of film/ Slide show. The then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Hon’ble Kasu Brahmananda Reddy graced the function along with his wife on the first day. It was here that the book ‘Garden of Flowers’ by Gordon Westerlund which was printed by Matrusri Publications was released by brother Neiland (Photograph). He later headed back to his country.

He wrote a couple of letters to the author after returning to his home describing his activities there as a follow up to his visit to India, informing how Mother’s influence was catching up etc. (Photocopy of relevant portions of these letters are presented here in pg 12 & 13 for the information of Readers).

During his next visit to India in 1974, having been informed on reaching Jillellamudi that Amma was camping in Hyderabad on Her first visit there, he traveled there and stayed in Amma’s company till the date of her departure from there.

Subsequently he disappeared, touring different spiritual centers and Ashrams and reappeared towards the end of September 1974 in a serious condition, having been afflicted with Typhus bascilii during his wanderings in the forests of Srisailam, the famous pilgrimage center. Soon after reaching the residence of Rajagopalachari (Chari annayya, that is how he is addressed by all of us here), on seeing his condition, got him admitted in the Nature Cure Hospital at his (Neiland) suggestion and was being attended by Chari annayya and a couple of brothers amongst us. As his condition appeared to be worsening there, he was shifted to St. Theresa’s Hospital, a Christian Missionary Hospital nearby. The Doctors there started the treatment immediately on diagnosing the cause of affliction and realizing the seriousness of the problem. This news was immediately communicated to Jillellamudi asking the brothers there to inform Amma and offering our prayers to Her seeking her intervention.

Strangely and to our surprise, we were told that Amma was also in bed there, barely able to get up and scarcely responding to their calls!! There were enquiries from Jillellamudi about the condition of Mr. Nieland. One day Neiland’s condition turned so critical that Doctors said that they cannot assure us until after two days of observation, asking us to inform his relatives, if possible, to rush to India. This triggered further anxious enquiries about Amma as changes in Her condition were being reflected in those of Neiland and vice versa. Even as we were frantically looking into his Diaries etc., to find out the addresses of his relatives or close friends to send urgent messages, there appeared a glimmer of hope and a turning point in the condition of Neiland the next morning, a change for the better. This hope was buttressed with the information received from Jillellamudi that Amma looked brighter and active, to the great relief of all those around Her, as was the case with all of us here in Hyderabad.

Then on, he gradually recovered, thanks to the praiseworthy care and service of the nurses and other staff in the Hospital, and untiring efforts and attention bestowed by Chary annayya over a period of a week or so. In the meantime plans were afoot in Jillellamudi for Amma’s trip to Hyderabad exclusively to visit Neiland. Accordingly. She arrived in Hyderabad on October 12, 1974 and was received by brother T. Rajagopalachari at his residence, where she stayed during the rest of the period of this trip.

The next day Amma was taken to the Hospital with many of us accompanying Her. She was received by the Chief of the Missionary Hospital and led to the room where Neiland lay pining to see Amma. When Amma arrived in his room and went straight to his bed he got up only to be embraced by Amma and be consoled and caressed as he cried like a child on being graced by not only Her physical presence but also Her soul-stirring embrace. It was a sight to see and all those present around there including the sisters and nurses in the Hospital were blessed by this grand scene! It was like the child finding its mother after a long and painful wait (This scene captured on a Still-Camera was included in the two-and-half-hour Telugu movie ‘AMMA’ picturised on Amma). Amma fed him fruits and the diet specially prepared by the Hospital for him with her hands as tears were rolling over his cheeks by this unbounded affection being showered on him. Amma later left the Hospital after going round all the wards blessing the patients there, and taking a close look at the Equipment shown round by the Chief.

Neiland, after complete recovery, left for his native land, carrying along with him the memories of this valuable visit. Years passed by and news was received one day, to the regret of many of us, that Mr. Neiland was no more!

(To be continued)

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