In the tiny non descript village of JILLELLAMUDI (ARKAPURI), AMMA set foot in the year 1941 along with HER consort NANNAGARU (Sri Brahmandam Nageswara Rao garu) soon after SHE took up the hand of NANNAGARU in the holy wedlock. By then the village was obscure, devoid of any creature comforts normally sought for running the household.
Neither constraining surroundings, nor niggardly resource restrained AMMA in fulfilling the motherly aspect of feeding and caring for one and all around HER, in a thatched humble abode of dwelling, which is hardly weather proof, inviting the elements within at every opportune moment, AMMA made the beginning of HER universal feeding that is all inclusive. Thus AMMA continued HER mission and ministry in this world, more by personal example rather than by verbal precept.
In a scenario of niggardly resource AMMA cooked in a small vessel, serving the same out of a small dish. In terms of Brother Brahmandam Ravi’s recall, he asked AMMA verily wondering how at all the food contained in such a small dish shall suffice to feed all those around. To this poser, AMMA simply responded saying that he shall eat as much as he wishes and simply not bother about the rest. Truly the food contained in such a small vessel quenched the hunger of one and all that were present at the given moment. Such is AMMA’S mystique in the particular aspect of serving food, not to dwell upon the other facets.
To add to the meager fare being served in the stringent circumstance, at times, AMMA prepared some chutney out of the green grass that abounds everywhere. The devotee children lapped up the same merrily with relish. AMMA gently cajoled the children saying “You are such an innocent lot, hardly know anything. You are very much relishing the chutney I made of green grass.” Here the issue is neither of the soil sample, nor that of the green grass chutney; it is the mystic, divine touch of AMMA’S motherly love that imparts such fragrant smell and delicious taste to those commonplace substances.
While this feeding was being continued on such a scale, on AMMA’S BIRTH DAYS, people gathered in sizable numbers who were yet served food despite the odds of resource and ambience. The path to Jillellamudi is not yet set or well laid. The devotee children of AMMA had to tread gingerly on the farm bunds and wade through the two culverts as bridges were not yet laid and the approach road not formed from the 7th Mile. Occasionally, stray snakes on the way were found, to be walked over or avoided with care. AMMA’S children braved the odds of the road, and the path to Jillellamudi and AMMA.
AMMA said “The road to Jillellamudi is strewn with pebbles and thorns. Coming and going from here is beset with pain. Only those destined and are of preordained lot shall set foot on this soil and stay on. Not otherwise so.” This captures the typical scenario of the path to ARKA PURI and the way to the uncommon AMMA, who redeems those who reach HER and enhances their being. The situation is that AMMA is surrounded by the near and dear; a small closely knit retinue and intimate followers. who were fortunate in enjoying the presence and receiving the gracious bliss of AMMA. Many were their uncommon experiences which were recorded and diarized.
This phase of AMMA’S relative exclusion from the larger public continued for some time, till the end of 1956. AMMA’S unique saga slowly spread beyond the confines of the tiny village Jillellamudi. The trickle of pilgrims, say devotee children, grew in numbers. This became a flow and a stream on ceremonial occasions like AMMA’S BIRTH DAYS and so on. The growing numbers were accommodated and cared for in the vicinity of AMMA in humble thatched sheds. The food continued to be served to all the devotee children from NANNAGARU’S modest household for over a decade and a half.
NANNAGARU graciously took this load upon himself in total magnanimity, feeding all the children who came seeking AMMA’S grace and blessing. The kitchen help for such feeding was offered by the devotees like Sister Prabhavathi, wife of Brother Mannava Butchraju Sarma and Sister Smt.Lakshmi Narasamma grandmother of the Oriental College faculty now Brother Valluri Tryambakam. A few others chipped in to the common, collective effort. Thus an arrangement has crystallized in the early decades to carry on the feeding activity of AMMA’S innumerable children. To sum up these were the milestones that were crossed in the initial two decades in the annals of ARKAPURI that is JILLELLAMUDI.
Though this ad hoc feeding arrangement continued, the numbers started increasing. The scale of the effort and the mode needs to be geared up to the growing need. Obviously, this was beyond the ambit of the modest, middle class household to sustain the same. At this crucial moment, the Chirala Fraternity, came forth with the suggestion of creating an exclusive facility to take upon the feeding of AMMA’S devotee children.
While NANNAGARU demurred in accepting this suggestion, AMMA cited that such an exclusive arrangement is like the growing sons sharing the commitment of the elderly father. Their suggestion actualized on a modest scale, yet suffices to meet the growing feeding needs of those days.
The auspicious day for such an arrangement for feeding the devotee children was slated to be the 15th of August, 1958. That is a decade plus after the country gained independence. On that glorious, memorable, unprecedented, historic occasion AMMA decreed “Today you have gained the freedom to feed the fellow men” (Evidently, AMMA implied that a hungry nation does not beget freedom in its true sense or essence) To elaborate this is the singular day of free choice and openness to feed each other, serving a common meal from out of the collectively pooled resource, evenly to all with no distinction of gender, caste, clan, creed, religion or region. AMMA declared. “Only hunger is the prerequisite to be served food here; it is neither dressed nor addressed.”
The days of AMMA on such a historic occasion have many nuances and an implication for the entire mankind. First and foremost it is the given that food is the basic living need for one and all with little distinction or discrimination. This merits to be met with on an equal and even footing for one and all at all times.
Further feeding place is termed ANNAPOORNA LAYAM which signifies that it is a sanctified spot, from where the feeding takes place; it is no lesser than a holy shrine. The food particles dished out from here are truly sacred morsels that work as a positive benefic for the one who takes the same. Several were the miraculous therapeutic and curative effects cited by the devotee children who took the food here. These were recorded and well documented for the benefit of posterity. The sanctity is evidently confirmed by AMMA when SHE declared “The hearth of ANNAPOORNALYAM is verily my heart; its beat, as also the fire shall never cease for all times to come.”
Other quotes of AMMA are worthy of recall on this historic occasion. AMMA said serving food is not giving alms. The individual takes food here for the reason he is entitled for the same and not receiving any alms. Thus serving food, feeding the fellow men is elevated to a sublime plane and given an unheard of dignity, equity and equality. These canons of the basic, ideal, desirable food policy for mankind were proclaimed by AMMA. The basic tenets of food security for all mankind were pronounced by AMMA. Wisdom consists in looking at the same and appreciating its well meaning depth for all the posterity.
These were later summed up and included in the concept of ‘ENTITLEMENT TO FOOD’ that is ever respected in a free order or a democratic set up glorified by the present Nobel Laureate economist Dr. Amartya Kumar Sen. His policy prescriptions in respect of food security were globally applauded, fetching him the Nobel Prize. Seeds of this later day thinking and its rudiments were germane in AMMA’S APHORISMS ON FEEDING IN ANNAPOORNA LAYAM.
AMMA’S initiative of sharing and feeding caught on widely. Now the food situation has improved substantially and feeding has taken up at all other public places of pilgrimage and repute. Even the internet has sites of this purport now.
To recap the basic thoughts of AMMA on feeding others “You enjoy your given lot to the heart’s content, yet share with others joyously with care and concern.” This say of AMMA implies a culture of sharing in harmony and peaceful coexistence with others who are less provided for. This is the culmination of AMMA’S childhood vision when SHE beheld some deprived people sharing their collected alms together evenly and joyously in a spirit of brotherhood, in the precincts of a rural temple.
AMMA’S vision of such a collective kitchen where pooled up resource is shared and served in dignity and equality is conceptualized and crystallized in the ANNAPOORNA LAYAM at Jillellamudi, verily a holy temple, the sacred shrine in this age of need and privation. This is the most significant landmark in the history of ARKAPURI.
Now the year of 1973, the unique occasion of AMMA’S GOLDEN JUBILEE has come up. The functionaries at Jillellamudi sought AMMA’S view on the celebration of AMMA’S GOLDEN JUBILEE. AMMA pronounced that SHE wishes to see not less than a hundred thousand numbers of HER children, from all over eating together. This
is stupendous. incredible, wish and vision that AMMA spelt for the contemporaries of the day and the SRI VISWAJANANI PARISHAT.
From the viewpoint of the milieu of a tiny village this seemed an awesome possibility for any one aware of the same. Even so verily a possibility because of AMMA’S infallible volition for the devout and faithful. This close band set to work from all over the district, the State, the Country and even from abroad. Resource men and material of all kinds were rushed and pooled invoking AMMA’S GRACE in an incredible manner. The memorable day dawned.
Varied was the disposition of one and all. The faithful believed. The Gnostics committed, the agnostics were awed and the skeptics were in doubt of this possibility. Some of the inquisitive just rushed to see the veritable outcome. By the early afternoon, the numbers swelled increasingly virtually out of nowhere. More than one hundred thousand, arrived as if emanated from out of the very soil, this very earth. The working teams were baffled and awed about the possibility of feeding them all, such a huge number at the given moment.
They thought of summoning additional supplies from Bapatla. AMMA quietly assured them that SHE will grace them all after HER ablutions, while moving through the neat rows of the children eating. There is no reason that one shall feel insecure, or unduly concerned in fulfilling this stupendous task. The unique, mega feeding shall take place.
True to HER volition and proclaim the feeding of more than one hundred thousand people took place at one moment. AMMA passed through the endless rows of the children eating, graciously blessing them in an area of well over 70 acres which were till then freshly harvested farm lands.
Time moves on relentlessly, we reached the year 1983, passing through the constraints of resource, men and material. We reached the year of the DIAMOND JUBILEE of AMMA. By this time, the space ahead of the ‘HOUSE OF ALL’ beside the approach road, that is before the Matrusri Oriental College has been leveled and elevated for housing the weaker sections by the State Government.
Here the feeding was arranged for more than 60,000 people that gathered to receive AMMA’S grace. Feeding took place on this elevated ground. Again AMMA passed through the children who came to partake of the food. AMMA blessed them, one and all despite HER frail physical condition and failing health. Another major void is the absence of NANNAGARU who has been consecrated in the sanctum of ANASUYA SWARA LAYAM, as per the wish and design of AMMA, on the 17th February,1981.
On the occasion of the DIAMOND JUBILEE all the cattle too were herded together and served fodder as AMMA is the acclaimed MOTHER OF ALL, that lives and exists with little exception or difference.
AMMA attained eternity in the month of June, 1985. The feeding activity continued in ANNAPOORNA LAYAM. In the year 2008 we celebrated the GOLDEN JUBILEE of ANNAPOORNALAYAM by arranging feeding at more than 80 different places in the country as well as abroad to mark the occasion. Verily, this is a major historic landmark for ANNAPOORNALAYAM.
Throughout all this activity ANNAPOORNALYAM endured and food is being served from its hearth and its sacred fire. The people are being fed under the asbestos roofed shed that is hardly weather proof, offering little comfort.
This is a subject of continued concern. People being fed are not given the comfort and an all weather proof facility. This thought obsessed everyone, in particular Brother Brahmandam Ravi. It was thought that we owe a responsibility to the posterity of AMMA’S children to create the right kind of facility for ANNAPOORNALYAM, which affords comfort under all weather conditions without being open or exposed to the elements.
Fund collection for this mega structure involving nearly thirty million rupees started by the Parishat with the lead of Brother Brahmandam Ravi. The President of the Parishat, Brother Boppudi Ramabrahmam too gave a call to the devotee brothers and sisters. This process continued over the preceding half decade. Our less endowed fraternity of devotee children stretched to their budgetary limits and pooled up nearly the rupee thirty million funds. After meticulous study, scrutiny and verification the work order has been issued. The construction started in January 2013 by Messrs.K.V.K. Constructions, Hyderabad. Sister Kankipadu Subbalakshmi mentored us in the choice of the builder for this structure. Rigid stipulations and specifications given for the builder to make the structure endure over the ages and allow for further additions or improvements in the future to meet the growing needs. Every devotee stretched his utmost limits, supporting this lofty effort either by word, gesture, well meaning counsel, cash or kind.
We shall renew ourselves, committed to the ceaseless feeding activity in ANNAPOORNA LAYAM which precedes all other service activities in our broad spectrum of devotional, spiritual, service and social activities.
Pray AMMA BLESS us and sustain us in this path for all times to come.