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Ee Kalilo Naaku Aakali Ledu

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

(I have no hunger in this Kali (yuga))

So declared Amma to her maternal grandfather Chidambara Rao garu during her childhood and remained true to this statement till the end. But she had ever since been very concerned about the hunger of those around. At the tender age of five, the sight of some beggars gathering at a choultry and eating the food they collected, initiated Her to visualize a “House For All” where all her children, irrespective of their caste, creed or social status could have their food together.

Thus came into existence the ‘Annapurnalayam’ in Jillellamudi in 1958, where food is prepared and served to visitors throughout the day, sometimes even during odd hours to visitors arriving from distant places after a long journey. Only a mother can understand the hunger of her child and it does not need to announce its hunger, more so to its mother. True to this understanding and to the surprise of those sitting around Amma during those years, She used to pick up those of the visitors who happened to be hungry, and ask them to go and have their food. When they felt reluctant to leave, depriving themselves of such an opportunity of sitting before Amma and listening to her divine voice, she used to insist that they first have their food, assuring them of her darshan later.

Amma used to drive into the minds of those manning the services at Annapurna Bayam, on the pain of hunger and the value of food. Her concern for those hungry was so deep that one is led to shedding tears when she was doing this exhortation with such intensity. In fact, it happened once that when one of those serving food, forced one person sitting in the line for food to get up and go away, thinking that he was one of the visitors to the village who came there to have food here (some people actually used to do this way and continue to do even to this day). Amma. who sits in her 2nd floor room. later called for the person responsible (without being reported by anybody) for driving the pseudo visitor away, gave him a dressing down in her own motherly fashion to drive the point home to him on the pangs of hunger and the value of food. Such was the discipline inculcated in those days that both those serving the food as well as those sitting to consume it exercised utmost caution to see that not one grain of rice is thrown away or wasted. It may not be an exaggeration to say that this discipline among those early visitors and residents turned gradually into a habit for them even to this day.

When one of the visitors asked Amma once whether she too had desires, she replied that she was not free from desires – the desire to provide food to each one of her children, to see that they are provided adequate clothing etc. and to see that none of her children suffers from hunger. She even said that it was her desire to see that no one leaves the precincts of the House of All in hunger. This desire of hers led to feeding more than one lakh people at a time on the day of Golden Jubilee Celebration of her birthday in 1973.

We wish the kind of discipline of those years both in serving and consuming food is restored, so that the discipline thus inculcated among visitors is taken back home to help spread this culture of appreciating the value of hunger and value of food more through practice than precept.

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