Interest in interior life seems to be triggered in strange ways by Nature (Nature is a synonym for God). The apparently faint flame gets an access to fuel by what look like random events. This explains, perhaps, the way Amma entered my consciousness.
A friend of mine who was very close to Mother of All used to tell me about Her. How artless and profound were Her random observations and how Her every act appeared to be ordinary but in fact was unique. He also told me about the affection and love with which she used to feed everyone who crossed the threshold of Her dwelling near Bapatla. ‘She is Annapoorna, indeed!’ he used to repeat.
My curiosity was roused. I was desperate to know more about Her. I asked him whether any books by or on Her were available. He said ‘yes’ but never volunteered to tell whether he had any. I sensed some reluctance. I dropped the matter.
But in a corner of my mind, the tiny spark of curiosity constantly flickered. I think it was the same friend who showed me, at this stage, Mother’s photo. To say the least, it was instantaneously communicative. The magic of that serene, radiant face, with eyes which looked like perennial pools or springs of infinite love, caught me unawares. I can’t say that I grasped the subtlety of this phenomenon. I didn’t try to grasp. For me, this was a profoundly decisive moment of intense inwardness. I am a devotee (I try to be one) of Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Saradamani. The Holy Mother’s face is the very acme of sublime yet subdued spirituality. My ‘seeing’ Amma deepened and intensified my nascent consciousness.
Consciousness of something marvelous began and continues unabated. This, I realized, was an important watershed in my fascination for women saints in general, and the Divine Feminine they embody, in particular. Shakti as the Primal Energy that pervades the cosmos in myriad forms, both benign and beastly, electrified my sensibility. Amma, I felt, represented this mystery. I can’t say that the depths of this mystery are available for intellectual comprehension. Perhaps, one requires an emotional bonding which makes one glimpse facets of this.
Then in a Railway book stall (if my memory is right) I found Richard Schiffman’s Mother of All (the first edition). I read it cursorily, for one reason. I felt it should have been produced in a more elegant way. What foolishness! I now realize more and more that everything is well determined, literally everything. Who am I, then, to feel something is not as it ought to be ? Cosmos has its own unalterable blueprint. This experience not being available, then, prevented me from diving deep into Schiffman’s book. In retrospect, I think that appearance and reality trapped me into ‘Maya’! What naivete to equate the elegance of production with the quality of contents! In short, do you want a beautifully produced book irrespective of the contents?
Then, one more step Nature took at the ripe moment. A discerning and dedicated spiritual quester gave me a copy of Jeevita Mahodadhilo Tarangalu’.
The book bowled me over. I read it with great interest. I began becoming more aware of the marvelously simple, miraculously revelatory, joyful life and message of Amma.
My memory locked up those early moments. I can call them epiphanic revelations. What struck me most was Mother’s ability to put the most complex interior matters in words straight and simple. Pull them out from the seemingly ordinary events in life. That is, every incident, every word lifted the common place into cosmic space! And what we think of as vaikhan speech the ordinary meaning of words becomes, with a shift of the gears of attention, sphota,the meaning of words which words themselves cannot express! That is, the word Akshara – remains and the words wither away.
I read Her marvelously simple, and the miraculously revelatory wordplay with enormous appetite, with zest and gaiety. But I slowly became aware of the snare of words. They entice you, as Shankaracharya said memorably: Shabdajalam maharanyam. That is where I realized that one needs to look through words if one wants to catch Mother. When she asks Her teacher to give his blessings, he is abashed, most embarrassed. “My blessing, you need Mother? We require yours. Why mine?’ Pat comes Mother’s reply. The words used are playful punning: Ashirvachana and Nirvachana. I require your Ashirvachana because we live in Nirvachana !’ she declares.
We are attracted by the Shabda chamatkar. That any creative writer can manage. But the Creatrix Mother does something infinitely more. Nirvachana points to the world in which we live, the relative world of dualities. It has its own logic and language. I mean the meaning load of language. You have to conform to this world. All Avatars embody one. important truth: when they assume a human form, they abide by and conform to (even confirm) its structure, its patterns of functioning. Nirvachana is thus the world of names and forms, of nama and rupa. The world of what psychologists call ‘the presentation self”,
To transcend this world, you require Mother’s blessings: Her ashirwad. The word vachana is common to both nir/ashir-vachana. But Mother’s vachana is Vak as Parashakti. When I recall this kind of reflection those words ignited in me, faintly I realized the transformation that takes place imperceptibly, invisibly through the nucleus of Amma’s vak. Of course, this dimension is remarkably present in the language of saints and sages. But what struck me most in Mother’s case was Her unlocking the infinite potential of a single word as a kind of mantra.
A remarkable structure is the logic of explanation with which she illustrates the fact that all explanations ultimately, like so many sign posts, lead back to Herself. When Swami asks Her to explain, she is intrigued. affirmation, “My mother’s name is adhara (basis, concrete support, the earth) and my father’s name is avakasha (infinite, undifferentiated space, the sky), Mother’s clarification is a masterly stroke of the stupendous. Reality of Herself as the adhara. Pointing to the wooden plank of a joola, She says: The chain is the adhara (support) of the plank. The beam is the adhara of the chain. The earth is the adhara of the beam. There are so many adharas if we go on analyzing in this way. All things in their turn are dependent on adhara (the universal principle of support.) Therefore, adhara is the all familiar (i.e., Mother of All).”
This is a remarkable example of the way in which Mother’s simple diction activates the meditative centrality of one’s consciousness, all emerging from and giving back to Her as the adhara of All:
The interior odyssey goes on thus. Kind Mother confirms for me the Truth of my mentor ‘Sri Ram’s’ affirmation that all journeys in the spirit are invariably the search for the Mother. The Mother of All waits with infinite patience to effect the Miracle of all miracles: to envelop everyone of us in Her radiant love readily available, but alas, so rarely claimed. I feel that what we should do ‘SriRam’ himself memorably articulated:
What can I do?
Except to slip into sleep
listening to the mellifluous lullaby.
Gazing at your
artless, ravishing Form with breathless wonder
and melting in the lovely
golden swing of your eyes.
Can there be a more blessed, fitting finale for interior life than to bask in the love of Mother’s serene eyes? Pranams to Mother!