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Devotee Children from Distant Lands

Dr Tangirala Simhadri Sastry
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 6
Month : January
Issue Number : 1
Year : 2007

It is both amazing and interesting to note how Amma draws her children spread over various parts of the world. During early years in Jillellamudi when some of the brothers approached Amma with the proposal to bring out a regular monthly journal with the avowed intention of giving wide publicity about Amma, she quipped asking them what publicity has brought all these children here?”, implying She, as mother, finds her children herself. In fact, many of the early visitors have each had an experience to narrate as to the way they were drawn there and made their first visit.

Among the first of the visitors to Jillellamudi from foreign shores was an American lady by name Marva.L.Hemphill. She visited the place in 1968 when even the approach road to Jillellamudi from 7th mile, a good stretch of 11/2 mile, was only a bullock-cart track. Her visit was brought about through an acquaintance of hers, the elder brother of Latika, a devotee lady from Nellore who now lives in Jillellamudi. It is remarkable to see an American lady who is accustomed to the best of civic life with all the comforts in her homeland to have trekked the cart track to reach this dusty hamlet devoid of even minimal basic amenities.

Having reached there and after having ‘darshan’ of Amma, she was so wonderstruck by Amma’s very countenance and engulfed by Her motherly affection, heretofore not tasted by her, she decided to stay there for a couple of months and accordingly, she stayed on there till around the end of September, 1968. To the surprise of everybody there, she quickly adapted to the conditions there, eating the same food served in Annapurnalayam, along with the rest of the people, wearing the traditional Indian costume, the saree, and walking barefoot in the precincts of House of All. She used to reish even the snacks prepared for breakfast, like Idly, Dosa etc She very quickly mingled with all those around Amma and used to entertain them, while enjoying herself the bliss of rendering Amma’s naamam, Jayaho Mata Sri Anasuya Rajarajeswari Sri Paratpari set to western tune by her Many of those present joined her in the rendering. I was one of them, as I happened to be in Jillellamudi during that time on a short visit. She later wrote a letter to me. there (A part of the letter is reproduced here to share with the readers)*

My dear Me Sartys 

I do hope that all will with an Everything here will be just wonderful and I am truly enjoying the presence of Livinity! So much so, in fact that I somehow have not been able to leave this place. I will not be going to Shirdi. as time le now too short & will be leaving Malia for America on October 4th I live sorry that I could not want you there in Hyderabad


During her stay she compiled, along with brother E. Bharadwaja, a booklet ‘Glimpses of Mother’ which was brought out in print by the Matrusri Publications. At the end of her stay, Amma blessed her with traditional farewell on the day of her departure.

Even as this was taking place in Jillellamudi where the American visitor was physically present, another child of Amma was yearning for her, staying in the US through his letters to Amma since 1966. This was Carl Gordon Westerlund from Portland, Oregon state, a fine example of seeker after Truth. During his travels aboard the foreign ships distributing Gospel literature, he was deeply impressed by the love shown by Indian Gujarati sailors on board Jayanti’, an Indian Merchant ship. Having an open mind about other religions, unlike several lovers of religion, and having his curiosity aroused he sought to learn what their religion taught. He read through the Bhagavadgita, Upanishads, Bhagavatam and books on Indian Philosophy, including publications from Ramanashram, Anandashram of Kanhangad, Anandamayi Sansthan and those of Matrusri Publications relating to Jillellamudi Amma. The sayings of Anandamayi and Anasuya Devi (Jillellamudi) inspired him most, through which he evolved as a better Christian.

He used to write letters addressed to Amma in the form of verses describing his visions of Amma in the objects and places around him. His worship of Amma was in the form of his letters and feeding of insects and birds on the beach every evening. Such is his yearning and devotion to Amma, She used to say to people sitting around her when a mention of him was made during conversation” he is here (though physically not present) while you are all in America”. He continues to be an ardent devotee of Amma, whom he visualizes or rather, sees the ONE in (as) everything and considers every event as her Sankalpa.

The offspring of a random layout of the ‘plants’ in the form of letters brother Gordon sent to Amma was ‘The Garden of Flowers’, a book published in 1970 by the Matrusri Publications and was released in Hyderabad by Mr.J.F.Neiland of Amsterdam (Holland). Having moved to Santa Barbara on the Pacific coast in California, Gordon had the first opportunity to visit India in 1990 along with his wife. His wife choosing to visit Puttaparthi, he made his trip to Jillellamudi, helped by one of our brothers in Bangalore. He visited Jillellamudi during October, 1990 while Navarathri celebrations were in progress and had the ‘Darshan’ of Amma in her glorious form in the Temple. He made it a point to visit the ailing son of Amma, Brahmandam Subba Rao in Hyderabad, undergoing treatment, while staying with Ravindra Rao, his younger brother. He stayed in Hyderabad for a couple of days before leaving for the US.

He has been an avid supporter of all the activities in Jillellamudi and Hyderabad, particularly publication of books and other literature on Amma aimed at taking Amma’s message to the doorstep of brothers and sisters across the world.

He weathered many storms like loss of his house and property in a fire accident, loss of his wife, with saintly equanimity and has not withered a bit. He recently married a lady from a Buddhist family hailing from Sri Lanka to give him company during the pink of his life (a photograph of the newly wed couple was published in the Apr-Jun, 2006 issue of Mother of All).

– (… to be continued)

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