ONCE when some visitors had asked Mother “Is it true that you have left off food?” She replied “I did not leave food; food has left me”. Those that strive to leave off food would be forced by nature to take to it again and again. It is this inviolable law of Nature to which Mother refers when she says that food had left her; for the common man is in its grip; it holds him inextricably where as Mother was left by it. That is why when she was asked whether she was not hungry, she replied
“In this Kali (age) there is no hunger for me.” By say ing that she did not leave off food, Mother perhaps implied that the One who is All is in all and there is no question of anything being left off by her.
But those who have the good fortune of being closer to Mother for a long time would now and then see that strangely enough Mother sometimes orders for some thing to be cooked specially. Most often it is intended to be given to some one who perhaps wished to have it in his mind or one whose bad health demands of such a food. But occassionally she asks as though she wants it herself. Common experience reveals to us that when once we break our abstinence of anything that we had once enjoyed, the habit is revived uncontrolla bly. And with regard to food we also find that when we take some extra food on a single day, the very next day the hour of the day demands again. But in Mother’s case. it is not so. She asks for it rarely and again for long periods she never takes any thing even when she is offered.
Then Why does she need that food? What is the underlying mystery? For we had seen earlier how she could acknow ledge all offerings to her by various devotees in various parts of the country.
The close observer of Mother would find that sometimes Mcther is whisper- ing and muttering something as though to herself. But her attention is found to be firmly fixed and directed as though at a person nearby. From her facial features it can be easily perceived that she is not totally attentive to us. Not that she enters into a trance-like state. For she readily responds to our call except on rare occassions. One such whispering was the first to raise the curtains over these mysterious requests for food by Mother.
It so happened on 26th July 1964 when all the visitors were sent away to the dining hall, Mother retired into her inner apartment and only a few of us were sitting there with her. Even while she was talking with us normally, suddenly her atten tion was mysteriously diverted and she no longer seemed to be in our midst mentally. She started saying “Syamala, my child, who will look after you? Shall I give you a pan cake of wheat flour? Suddenly she broke the thread and came into normal aware ness. She summoned for a lady who is staying there “so and so is having some wheat flour with her, make a pan cake of it and get it for me” she said. I was inwardly overjoyed and thrilled at the collaboration of her whisper ing with what she is asking for as though she would really eat it. Who was that blessed lady Syamala ? If Mother takes anything, it is clear that it is for some such indivi dual and not for her sake!
Again on 6th October 1963 a similar incident took place. In the midst of casual talk she suddenly entered that state of a strange ness other-minded and said “I had been asking for a pan cake since three days. I was not given that so far by the hotel-keeper Satyam. Why serve these that are rich enough to have anything they want? Give me that, for I am destitute,” After a little pause, she continued, “Today I am on regulated diet. Can you give me two pan cakes of wheat flour and some hot water quickly in ten minutes?” She asked a lady sitting by her. Accordingly everything was prepared and brought. But she refused to take it saying that just then she took barley water. But on being requested to take it, she accepted and started eating it even while lying on her cot. She did not even sit up. While cating she once again relapsed into other-mindedness, and said: “There should be no moisture. Is this improperly baked? If one is not careful water might accumulate in the womb. Therefore, for today, let there be a regulation of diet” “To whom?” one of her closest devotees. “Do you ask about her?” She asked, casting a serious glance at her,and started narrating. But even while she was narrating, and answering our queries she was passing into that state of “other-mindedness’.
“There is an young lady near Pandharpur, the daughter of a tribal couple. Unable to put up with her domestic troubles, she left for the forests where she is dcing penance; that is she is medi tating incessantly. Some one informed her husband that she had left for the forests. He managed to search her out and behaved rudely towards her. She is pregnant. Her mind is pure even though she is living as a housewife. The child in the womb died. Again she commenced her penanc She is no longer her former self and is now immersed in penance. Her mother once served in my grandfather’s house in Tenali”. Even while narrating, she continued to eat the pan cakes in an absent-minded way and finally, she even put the leaf holding the pan cakes into her mouth being so tota asked lly absorbed in attending on that far off Tapaswini in the lonely forests. But one among us hurriedly removed that leaf from her mouth. She then turned to our side and lay quiet with her eyes closed. Her prolonged aspect of me lancholy and agony on the previous day has now assumed a new significance and a new meaning to us, on account of what she told us on that day. I felt that the reason for her asking for any eatable is now revealed to us atleast to some extent.
On 9th of August 1963, when sister Vasundhara entered, Mother was taking oil bath. Mother said to Vasundhara “I ate three idlis. They gave me idlis nicely dressed in pure ghee.”
‘Who gave them, Mother?’ asked Vasundhara.
‘Someone’ she evaded. ‘Please tell me’ entreated Vasundhara. “Is there any condition that I must tell you that? Why should I tell you my secrets? Do you tell me yours? I do not tell you’ Mother picked up a quarrel.
“Is it yosi Ramakrishna that gave you idlis’
“He does not offer me.’ ‘Is it brother Seshagirirao?
‘Then please tell me who it is’. ‘No I do not’,
A few thousand miles away?’ ‘No.’
‘Less than a hundred miles?’ ‘Yes’ Replied Mother as she left the bath room.
I will finish up this subject with an account of my perso nal experience of the type. Every year I celebrate 19th of August as the date of my first visit to Mother. On that day in 1964, I got ‘PAYASAM’ (rice boiled with milk and sugar) prepared and offered it to her after the worship. The payasam was contained in a big vessel to the full and it was brought straight from the oven; it was extremely hot and stea ming. Generally mother takes just a drop of what is offered into her mouth and returns the rest. But on this occassion, she started eating it in the course of which she entered her state of ‘other-mindedness’. She was eating very hurriedly and within no time ate up the whole of it which is too much even for a good eater. As she ate, her attention was focu ssed in the few inches of space between the cot and the wall and she went on muttering *eat a little more! just a little, my child’ as though she were coaxing a child to eat properly. When the whole of it was over sie became self-conscious and then said ‘Oh! everything is consumed? What do you have for you?’ she asked me. Before I could say anything, she washed her hands into the empty vessel and said ‘you take that’. Her other-minded ness, the absolute impossi- bility of a single individual eating the whole of it and the words she was muttering all through were revealing. Now I know that if ever she eats anything or asks for it, it is only for the sake of someone who is either in distress or engaged in Tapas in some deep forests. Now I under-
stand what she implied in her enigmatic statement that she left half unuttered-‘You can buy and eat anything you want from anyone. But who will look after those who have none to turn to, living in far off forests? Who will look after them? Now I know who it is that looks after them!
“You believe that your children are mischievous? What about mine? Look! your children have at least a likeness in their behaviour. But mine? Each is like himself!
An institution is one, where all qualities (good and bad) are instituted.