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“If only I could see any vicious deed!”

Prof M Sivaramakrishna
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 5
Month : April
Issue Number : 2
Year : 2006

Arundhathi is not more than six or seven years old. She pesters her mother to ask the Mother of All to talk. Mother calls her to come close. Arundhathi gets up and sits nearby. 

Mother makes her sit beside herself on the cot. And asks: “Shall we play? Arundhathi nods her head joyously. “What game shall we play?” Mother asks.

“Let’s play with toys. I have many toys at home.”

 Mother shows the people around and says: 

“All these are my toys.”

Arundhathi “I have wooden toys.”

Mother: “For me these are wonderful toys.” 

Arundhathi “I don’t want to play with these toys”.

 Mother: “Playing with these toys is very lively.”

“The game known and the game unknown game e is a game. That’s all.”

This conversation (recorded by Sripada Gopala Krishnamurthi) is transparently simple but transcendentally revealing. “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings” come. unbeknown, the profoundest truths says the Christian scripture. This conversation is an extraordinary instance of that truth. The six-year old child and the ageless Mother playing on the same word: “Aata”: play game. Mother plays the game using the two contexts of Arundhathi’s toys and her own (creation = the on-looking devotees) to show truths, which we hardly notice. The irony is we are immersed in the play and its results, sweet and bitter, relishing the one, refraining vainly, from the other.

We are all replicas of Arundhathi. In the beginning we too wanted to. “Wooden” toys (Chekka bomma). But we grow up. Play with other toys not knowing that what we are playing with are still toys, pups and pets of the Mother. WE want to win the game: we win often, to the resentment of the one who lost. And if we lose there is no end to our misery. Either way it leaves one or the other frustrated..

Then how do we play in the game of life? Is there an art of living, which ensures winning always? There is no art because art has the basic impulse to recycle chaos into order, ugliness into beauty and, if one is not anchored properly, mistake the aesthetic harmony for the reality of life. Moreover when we are faced with what Shakespeare memorably calls “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and reap the bitter fruit we long for Mother’s grace to tide over the turbulent tsunami of emotional and mental. waves. But, then, Mother has an answer to our crisis. That is. Her grace in moments of distress is not to console but to awaken us. To the truth of the matter. In another context this is revealed : some devotees narrate their family problems and ask her advice:

Mother (smiles): “What advice do you expect me to give? About what to do or what not to do? Is this what you want me to tell you?” 

Visitors: “Whatever strikes you”

Mother: “I do not know”.

Visitors: “What can we do if you say that? If we have grace we do not have these ups and downs. Mother (smiling): “Even when my grace is there, the ups and downs do exist. And, child, my grace is these very ups and downs.

Visitors: You only talk like that. But wherever your grace exists. nothing else will be there.

Mother: No, child. Even when grace is there, the ups and downs exist. Where I am, there they are. Indeed, my very name has ups and downs.

Strange words, stranger truths difficult to stomach. In the face of calamities, disasters, death and devastation, can one. anchor to the faith that it is Mother’s play? You may quote the poet and say “the web of our life is of mingled yarn, good and ill together!”. But does it ensure real grace? Sri Ramakrishna used to sing:

Mother: Mother! My boat is sinking, here in the ocean of world:

Fiercely the hurricane of delusion rages on every side!

Clumsy is my helmsman, the mind, stubborn my six oarsmen, the passions:

Into a pitiless wind

I sailed my boat, and now it is sinking.

Split is the rudder of devotion, tattered is the sail of faith

Into my boat the waters are pouring!

Tell me what shall I do?

For with my failing eyes, alas, nothing but darkness do I see. Here in the waves I will swim.

O Mother, and cling to the raft of thy name. Only when we face this intense crisis do we understand that Mother’s answer is implicit in the very words in Telugu she uses for “ups and downs” The word is “odu dudukulu”. Whatever other meanings the word “odu” has, one can take it as “odi” – “lap”. When Mother says, “odi” we can surely infer that the games we play are in her cosmic lap – the Viswa Janani’s womb. And ‘duduku” would also mean “willful rashness. Even if – assuming we have free-will we turn out to be rash prodigal children, it is also her play. Her game. She plays with us not as pawns on a chessboard but as pups and pets frisking about on her domestic /home front. Above all, frisking about with the toys she gives and clamoring for more!

The most memorable concluding assertion comes from Mother in another chat:

“When people are doing vicious, evil deeds, can you not be the creator of both good and evil actions, change the minds of such children and put them on the path of goodness?” asks a brother. Straight like a trigger comes Mother’s answer :

“If only I could see any vicious deed!”

Should Mother of all tell her children anything more than this verified and verifiable Truth? But do we claim it as our own heritage bestowed by the blissful benevolent Mother?


  1. Sripada Gopalakrishnamurthy, Conversations with Mother (Telugu) 
  2. M. Sivaramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishn

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