Seven miles from Bapatla in the Guntur district of the Andhra Pradesh, is a small village called Jillellamudi. In that village Sowbhagyavati Anasuyamma (the wife of that village karanam), is an embodiment of the great Mother of the worlds. She was born in 1923, but only since 1956, visitors and devote- es have been going to that vil- lage seeking to obtain darshan, benediction and prasadam. Anyone who sees her once seeks to go there again and again. She is not known to have taken any kind of spiritual initiation from any guru nor to have practiced any set exercises in yoga, tantra or meditation. She is only known for her inte- rest in feeding the hungry, in spite of herself not taking any talk. food worth the name. Any casual visitor to her now will hear from her the question, “Have you had your meal?”
While yet a girl, she paid visits to religious pontiffs, pious men and devotees of repute. They marked the divine in this bright little girl, whom they always found speaking, discernibly, from a pedestal they themselves had not reached up to. A good number of persons would have benefited from her questions and clarifications but we do not have today any one who had followed her up continuously through girlhood, early and later married life. It is only since her 33rd year, 1956 that devotees could trace her in Jillellamudi and people started visiting her. Till recently, she was doing all the cooking and service to them personally. Visitors now take their meal in a free boarding house provided on the campus. She is very sensitive to the hunger of her visitors; she often tells them to first take their meal and come back for pooja or talk.
Nowadays, visitors worship her with flowers, kumkum, betel leaves, puffed rice and whatever they feel like using. Some put flowers on her stomach too and one can hear her chuckling like a child when such peculiarities manifest. Boys and girls, men and women, even widows, do the worship just as they would like to. No rule or regulation restricts the worship- per to adopt any convention or tradition. A good number of families and individuals have settled on the campus, and they do the prabhata seva and the sandhyavandanam every day and celebrate the festivals with Mother sitting for the deity.
Mother says that it is not an ashram or matha; it is “the house of all”. Anyone could come and stay there for any period of his satisfaction; any one could leave whenever he wants without feeling obliged. There is no convention of giving subscriptions, no notice of appeal or suggestion. Some seek out the manager for that purpose, some drop their spares into a mute hundi in a hall. No one points that to a visitor.
The work-routine of that house of all is shared by the ‘permanent residents of that house. They are attached to Mother; they do not worry about their problems elsewhere, nor do they give any importance to per- sonal issues. They vest all their responsibilities on Mother, and go about with the work they have chosen. Very early in the morn- ing, one can hear the manager calling for the farm-boys to get up and prepare to go. He looks after the cultivation of the fields, and the provisions for the kitchen. Before 5-0 A. M. hears the ‘Sankeerthanam’ from the temple, and the Suprabha tam’ recited by boys and girls from before the kuteeram of Mother. The chiming of a bell provides the back-ground. A gentleman is seen plying the water cart to bring all the supply of water necessary for that house, and a blind singer does the namajapam to the accompaniment of his violin. Mother’s girls move about to clean, to boil water, to wash clothes etc. A sreemati starts the kitchen fire, and visitors arrive in threes, fours and dozens. They wash near the only well in the village, and gather in a hall!. Mother takes her morning bath, and presently is seen coming out of her hut and sitting on a cot or chair amidst them. They worship, sometimes with the chanting of the ‘sahasranamas’, do pooja, break cocoanuts, offer her, take prasadam and resume their seating places. She tells them to have their meal on board, and goes back for a bath.
She bathes a number of times in the day and that is the only refreshing item in her routine. She sips two tiny cups of coffee in the day and that is all she takes in. She doesn’t sleep as we do; she is seen resting on her small cot for at most a couple of hours, and even during that period she is attentive to any conversation that might be going on and answers her part of it. In the afternoon again at 2-0 P.M. visitors once more ga- ther in the hall to hear her speak and ask their questions. Some tell her about family troubles, ill-health of a kith or kin, abs- conding juveniles, matrimonial trials and their own money making ventures:
“Mother, I have invested a good sum in this venture. If I get fifty thousand as my profit, I shall give a part to this?” institution.”
“If I could get fifty thousand rupees as profit for you, then why not get it all for myself? Why only a share from it?”
“Mother, my boy has failed in his examinations. My daughter is suffering from a severe-“
“What a pity! My boy has also failed his examination, and my daughter is almost always suffering from a bad head-ache. I am not able to help my children, dear lady, what can I do for yours?”
Questions about spiritual attainment usually loom large.
One: Which is the (good) way to know the Atman, Mother?
Amma: Any way is good.
She: “Kindly mention one for us, so that we could go along that way.
Amma: Follow the way you have chosen. Where is the question of a good way to Atman? When everything you see is that, where is the question of a way?
“I got into difficulties after I started-japan Mother. Shall I give it up or continue?”
“Who prompted you to do it?”
“Who is giving the troubles you mentioned?”
“Where then do YOU enter the picture? He created the desire, he gives you what he would (like to). When all is His doing, where is the question of your continuing or giving it up?”
“Please give me the initiation of the Hamsa mantra, Mother.”
“Why, you have your husband! He is your guardian, he protects you, maintains you, and gives you his love. He is God’s living form for you. You have his feet tied (by him) round your neck. Why ask for a wordy symbol when you can have HIM right in your heart? Worship (God in)your husband. You will not need a mantra.”
“Mother, I had a mantropa desam from a guru. He warned me not to transgress certain rules of personal conduct. I could not control myself, and I am in great distress of fear. What shall I do hereafter Mother? Stop or continue the japam?”
“There is nothing like a deity hitting on your head for the so-called transgressions of my child. No one can, and you too can’t, look upon your wife as a mother. If you could, you wouldn’t revert to your original attitude to an order or advice. Banish all fear of my child. Do what you could whole-heartedly. That would keep you alright.”
“Mother, I am steeped in troubles. You must take pity on me and help me. My wife does not heed me at all. I have never done her wrong. But she- (he weeps) Mother please help me” (he tries to put a currency note in her hand).
Mother hastily but gently puts off his hand and the paper. “No, No, my child. I don’t know how to do all that. Who told you to do this? No, No. Keep it for your use. There is nothing like that here. I don’t know how to do all that.
Several miracles are attributed to Mother, but She always denies them. She tells a visitor that she knew of his taking an active part in a provincial conference of 1918 (and she herself was born in 1923); she casually mentions in the morning the death of a person thirty miles away and the news is received in the evening. She mutters to herself – “this poor boy came to see me for the last time”. A casually spilt ink-blot dries up as her profile on a table cloth; she appears in the dream of a girl doing Anjaneyajapam and worried by the interference of her relatives; she talks to nobody sitting on the edge of her cot; she speaks cunningly to somebody while holding some payasam up to her own mouth, saying, “just a little more, only this little!”. She greets Subbayya returning from the nearby village, “Subbayya, you are very liberal; you donate for your servant’s strong drink too!” when he returns straight to her after the incident! Babu is reproached for eating all the badari fruits (at Bapatla) without getting her even a few; Padmaji is told “I am an ordinary woman my son, this deifying activity is all these people’s”, immediately when he thinks within himself, “These unifications of a human indivi- dual!” etc, sitting near her. These are daily-nay, moment to mo- ment-occurrences on the campus. They are not talked of, they blend with the usual happenings without assuming a color.
“You are a veritable Rajarajeshwari Mother.”
“I am not anything which you are not my son”.
“Who are you, Mother?”
“I am a Mother child!”
“To you, to these, to all”,
She answered Ramakrishnasarma. A.
Here is a mother-we see her two sons and a daughter-iden- tifying herself with the Mother of the worlds. We hear of several bhaktas, sanyasis and san- yasins attaining to siddha hood but not a lady identifying her- self with the great Mother. (In recent times there arose quite a few pretenders for the Jillella- mudi-motherhood; they even visited her. She gently points out that she is the wife of the karanam of that village, and they could certainly avoid say- ing that they are the Jillella- mudi mothers!) There are innumerable instances of her speaking as the great Mother; in fact her answer to any question of the secular level is pregnant with the divine flavor, and her answers to questions attributing divine power to her are always secular.
She does not discriminate between the visible universe (the Jagat) and the Brahman of the Vedanta. She says, “It is only That, which has come as all This. I don’t think that THAT is. The Prop (aadhaar) of the world is endless and relentless. The branch is the prop of the fruit, the tree the prop of the branch, the earth the prop for the tree, and the aakasha is the prop (means of recognition) for the earth. The Aadhaara permeates everything we know of and there is nothing else except it. All we see only changes, but does not get annihilated. You earn money and land for your children, though you know you are not going to stay to enjoy them. That can only be with a faith of the continuance of this. All this may only change, but does not cease to be. “Midhya ” means for me nonexistence of this form, not disappearance. The answer to the question “Who am I” is the thread in the garland of the Universe. When the bead is pulled aside, the thread that is so far concealed reveals itself.” If we have taken this much space and your time for this article, it is only with the hope of introducing Mother to those who haven’t seen her. Mother seldom speaks at length. When She begins to speak, however, bookish knowledge fades into insignificance, as fog would before sunshine, and we get charged with new light. Her aphorisms and epigrams flash into our being and we wonder how this lady of that village got to know what all she says. Two of the girls stayed with her record to the best of their ability, the conversations and the days’ happenings in general. Devotees write poetry, prose- poems, letters and their perso nal experiences and visions. Records of Mother’s interviews with religious Pontiffs, pious men and scholars are available with some of her senior visitors.
For the benefit of those who have not been able to visit Mother and understand her by themselves, these and the following pages would present the several aspects of life around her, her conversations, sayings, poems of devotion, pictures and the like. Our readers are welcome to elucidate their Own understanding of her sayings, conversations etc. We trust that it is needless to crave the pardon of our readers for any of our human failings in writing about the divine.