Out of compassion for the struggling mass of mankind the Supreme Spirit comes down to earth from time to time, assuming a human form and sharing the limitations of physical existence. Then That which is beyond the grasp of austere sarea and ascetics beco mes easily accessible to even ordinary mortals, and communion between God and man is readily establishe l Many are such mani festations of the Over-soul, and each seeker is drawn to one of these forms in accordance with his own temperament aud spiritual needs. God has come to me in the form of an ever-loving and all-forgiving Mother, and it has been my good fortune to sit near her feet and enjoy her blissful presence on several occasions.
It occurred to me during my fourth visit to Mother that it would be good to take notes and keep a careful record of my obser vations on these on these occasions, as I would then be able to share my joy with the readers of my notes. The task of recording Mother’s sayings has, however, proved hard for me, ; as the pace at which she proceeds to expound even the intricate problems of theology and philosophy in a few simple words and homely similes is too fast for me to note down fully. Thus I know well that these notes are not comprehensive. Yet they are being presented here in the belief that sketchy though they are, they are sure to bring sweetness and light into the lives of many spiritual aspirants.
It was on 12th April, 1965 that I first came to know about the gracious Mother of of Jillellamudi. As it happened to be her birthday according to the lunar calendar. a feature article by Sri Kondamudi Ramakrishna, illustrated with a picture of Mother, appeared in the Telugu daily Andhra Prabha on that day. The serenity and benignity that were writ large on her face in the picture appealed to me greatly, as did her teachings quoted in the article What appealed to me most was her emphatic declaration:
“I am not a preceptor,
nor are you disciples;
I am not a guide,
nor are you way-farers;
I am Mother,
and you are children.”
Though I did not fully understand the implications of this positive assurance then, it was obvious that Mother was assuming greater responsibilities towards those that sought shelter at her feet than those of a preceptor or a mere guide. I also liked her attitude towards the overt display of thaumaturgical powers. It was said that she usually disclaimed knowledge of miraculous occurrences, tending to play them down, though her followers seemed to exper ince her abounding grace and unfailin; protection in their hours of trial and need.
Everything I read about Mother in that article appealed to me at once, as her way of life and teachings were in harmony with my own likes and beliefs. I showed Mother’s picture to my wife and told her bout Mother’s benign attitude towards mankind. It occurred to me then that it would be good to visit such a gracious person and spend a few days in her presence. The wish was not. however. ardent enough to receive immediate, fulfilment.
After a year, in May, 1966, I came into contact with Sri B. V. Vasudevachari, Lecturer in English at Chirala College. He heard from a common friend about my interest in spiritual pursuits and lent to me a few copies of the Birthday Souvenirs and books about Mother. This reawakened my dormant wish to sanctify myself by visiting Mother and receiving her blessing, and Sri Vasudevachari kindly offered to accompany me to Jillellamudi and lead me to Mother’s presence.
I tried twice without success to go to Jillellamudi; and was thus made aware of Mother’s assertion that a person cannot help visiting her when the ordained moment comes, even it he is very busy at that times, and that one cannot likewise visit her till that mo ment, however much one may try. In my case that ordained moment came on 18th December, 1966. Sri Vasudevachari and I went on a scooter from Chirala and reached Mother’s cottage a little after 10-30 AM. As it happened to be the festive season of Dhanurmasa, special worship was being offered to Mother then, and on that particular morning she was worshipped with vermilion by her maternal uncle. The room was a little overcrowded at the moment, and, as Sri Vasudevachari and I stood near the threshold. Mother raised her head a little and cast a gracious look at me. It was a real home coming for me. as I had that day found shelter at Mother’s feet.
Mother’s feet were fully covered with vermilion and when I bowed low in obeisance, part of that powder stuck to my head. Mother poured some milk into my hands as tirtham, and as this was the first thing I received from her hands, it seemed to me symbolic of our mother-child relationship, and made me very happy. Then Mother offered as pradam two rice preparations and asked us to go out and eat them. We stood there for a while and Mother again asked us to go and eat the food. A few moments later she retired to the inner apartment to have her bath.
Sri Vasudevachari secured a tray and a large plate from one of the inmates to arrange the articles of worship that we had brought from Baputla, and we sat in the room waiting for Mother’s return. She came back after 2-00 P. M., and sat on the cot as is ker usual habit. We worshipped her with flowers and fuits and received Prasadım.
Mother asked Sri Vasudevachari whether we had our lunch. We had not had our lunch till then, as we had been sitting in that room, waiting to worship Mother. She was concerned about it, and said, “It is so late, and yet you have not had your lunch!”.
Sri Vasudevachari told her that as we were not hungry we did not go to the dining hall for lunch. As a matter of fact I was getting hungry by then, but partly because I thought that Mother would come back much sooner, and partly because I was a stranger there and had to be led by my friend, I had not gone out to have my lunch. I cannot bear hunger much, and Motler, no doubt was aware of it. So she repeated her remark about it being very late.
It was a Sunday, and by then several other visitors had arriv ed, and they came forward, one after another, to worship her. I sat, in a corner and watched the process. Mother sat there, absolutely unconcerned about the worship that was being performed, as though she was not its recipient. I could see no reaction in her face, There was only perfect serenity.
Suddenly I was troubled by a sens of my own unworthiness to sit near her, and felt uneasy for a while, Gradually I regained composure by reflecting that even the worst of children has a place in his mother’s heart, and that as Mother’s compassion is boundless I had nothing to worry about.
Among the flowers that were used in worship there were some yellow chrysanthemums. Mother took a few of them in her hauds and began to play with them, dropping some, and pulling out the petals of others. She gave one of these flowers, after removing all the petals, to Sri Vasudevachari, saying in fun, “This is for you.”
He immediately said, “I know why you have given me this.”
Mother just smiled and said nothing.
He then told her about the anxiety I had shown that mor ning to reach Mother’s cottage without losing any time on the way. He added that my wife and children too were anxious to visit her and that my daughter in particular was eager to see her soon.
After a few moments Mother asked: “Who? Is it Dayamayi who is anxious to come?”
He answered that it was so.
After a while, a visitor came and sat near Mother’s feet and asked Sri Kondamudi Ramkrishna whether he could put vermilion on Mother’s feet.
Before he could reply, Mother said with what seemed to me a slight touch of displeasure: “why do you ask? As far as you are concerned, you are free to do what you like.”
Immediately that person burust out weeping and said: “Are you going to vex me in this manner?”
Mother, “I am not vexing yo with you?”
He calmed down after a few moments and said: “I have been offering worship to your picture in my prayer-room all these days. A tw days ago a Sudhu came to our town, and, taking him to be a holy man, I extended hospitality to him. He looked at your picture and objected to my offering worship to a female deity, insisting that it would lead to disaster. He repeatedly advised me to give up my present worship. Then one day he departed suddenly without informing me, and I suspect that he did something to my prayer-room. When I entered it I found the whole place to be lifeless. The past splendour and life have vanished from that rooni. Something untoward has happened.”
Mother: “You say that life has disappeared. Pray, whose life? You have been worshipping me and you think that that man did something. Yet nothing has happened to me. You can see that I am hale and hearty.”
Everyone laughed at this remark.
Mother: “And you are quite well, too. Nothing has happen ed to you either. Then whose life do you think has been affected? It is all in your imagination. That is all.”
He had mentioned that this happened in some town. So Mother asked him whether he was not a resident of Guntur. He insisted that he belonged to another town and began to explain to her who he was and when had first visited her. What ever is the matter.
Mother interrupted him and said: “I know, I know you very well. Are you not the man who waited outside this cottage and asked for all sorts of assurances from your companion-Mother mentioned his name before you were willing to step into this room during your first visit?”
He kept quiet, and left the room after some time. Then Mother told Sri Ramakr shim about the visitor’s antecedents. Turning to Sri Vasudevachari, she added: Why, were you not here when I scolded these people? Do you remember that occasion? You sat in the other room while I was speaking to them.”
Sri Vasudevachary said that he did remember the time when she spoke angrily to some visitors and added that he never heard her speak in such a tone before.
Mother: “I don’t approve of such practices-miracle-monger ing and duping women. I once said that one could get camphor for the paltry sum of a quarter of a rupee. Why then should one produce it from thin air? After all, the fellow who suddenly pro. daces it in his palm does not create it. He draws only that which already exists. Why then this display?”
A young girl came from the inner apartment and bowed before M. ther’s feet. Mother asked an attendant to bring some fruits and gave those to her. Then the girl began to sob, unable to entrol herself. It was obvious that she was about to leave Mother and go elsewhere and that the thought of separation was very pain ful to her. Mother took the girl’s head into her lap and gently patted her, all the while looking at her very tenderly. The flow of grace is, no doub, imperceptible, but so tenderly did Mother look at the girl then that it seemed as though I could even see the shower of grace from Mother’s eyes, and the sight thrilled me much. Here was an assurance that Mother was incarnate compassion and tha all that I beheld was full of blessing. The atmos he e in the room suddenly changed dramatically, and now everyone felt easy and relaxed.
One of the visitors, who had come with his family on a Jeep, was sitting in front of Mother, his eyes moist with devotion. He introduced himself as Sri rajasekhara Reddi’s father. He pointed at his wife an introduced her also. He told Mother that he was recently transferred to Vijayawada and that as that was Sunday he came with his family to offer his obeisance to her.
He told us about the way in which his son was drawn to Mother. It seems Sri Rajasekhara Reddi saw a copy of Mother’s Birthday Souvenir in a second-hand book-stall in Hyderabad. His interest was at once roused and so he bought the book and learned about mother. He then proceeded to Jilleliamudi and found peace and solace at Mother’s feet. Then tenor of his life had been rather uneven at the time, and as a result of his attachment for Mother, his circumstances changed for the better.
Mother listened to the story passively, and when they were about to leave, she a ked Sri Rajasekhara Reddi’s father to take the girl, that had taken leave of her a little while ago, to Guntur in his Jeep, as she had to go there. He readily agreed and the party left the place.
A few teachers from a nearby village also had come that day to see Mother. She asked every one of them whether they had their lunch. They told her that they started from home after taking their lunch. One of them hurt his finger while drawing water from the well near Mother’s cottage. None of us had noticed it, but Mother enquired him about it with solicitude, and asked someone to bring a wet piece of cloth. She asked him to wrap the finger with that wet cloth and he did so.
She turned to us and said: “It is getting so late. You have not had your lunch, and yet you are sitting placidly.” I was very hungry by then. Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Gopalakrishna, who had gone to Bapatla, returned rather late in the afternoon, and they too had not had their lunch.
I knew, of course, that when visitors reached that place at a late hour and therefore hesitated to go to the dining hall, Mother would invariably ask them to go and have their food, assuring them that their food-that is, the food that was to be theirs was ready for them there. As I had already read this saying and knew that Mother was particular about everyone having his food, I began to wonder why I had to feel famished then.
After some time the other visitors left, and Mother went into the inner apartment. In a few moments she sent for us, A huge quantity of rice mixed with ghee and cucumber pickle was spread on a plate Mother placed some rice in a few leaves and gave one each to the four of us that had not had lunch, saying affectionately: “You just hold these leaves in your hands and I shall feed you myself.”
She sat on a cot in that room and we sat round her. She started taking a few morsels from our leaves and feeding us with her own hand. For a few minutes she fed us by turns, and then started feeding only me. It was a rare fortune. Mother was feedin ine with her own hand. Then I understood where my share of food. for the day lay.
Suddenly she fed a morsel to Sri Vasudevachari and sail: “Are you wondering why the food smells so delicious?
“How did you know what I was thinking. Mother?”
Mother laughed away the matter by saying, “When you people conie, I seem to be able to read your minds.”
She went on feeding me, and soon I was full. Out of reverence for her I was gulping the food, but there seemed to re hardly any place for even a morsel more. At last I pleaded with her that I had enough and could not eat any more. She nodded but kept on feeding me, and I had to swallow it only as I dared no refuse. I do not know why Mother kept feed on that day even after I humbly told her that I had more an enou, and could not eat any more, but I am quite sure that the… significance n this gracieus act.
Once, while feeding me, she said: Well, you will cat again only tomorrow after you reach home. You wont’t have any food tonight. Isn’t that so?”
Shwas, of course, referring to the fact that I was due too travel by bus from Bapatla to Hederabad that night. Sri Vasudeva chari had written earlier that we would stay for a day there but it was note to be so. She teased him about this revision in our plans and hehad to admit that only her will would prevail.
After we finished our “special” lunch, we sat chatting with Mother. By then I was fully convinced that none could approach her unless she herself graciously brought about the meeting. So I took the opportunity to put in a word to her on behalf of my family.
“Mother, my wife and children are eager to visit you. I shall tell them that you have asked them to come, and will make them come here.”
Mother smiled to suggest that she understood the implications of my statement.
She asked me, “when will you bring them? In January?”
I thought that it was not just a question but advice that I shouid bring them to her in January. I told her that I would do so.
Soon it was time for us to leave for Bapatla to catch the bus to Hyderabad. We were standing in the verandah when Sri Vasu devachari told Mother that we had come on a scooter.
Immediately like a child she said, “Oh, you have come on a scooter! How interesting! I wish I too could be taken round on a scooter!” It was amusing to watch Mother react like a Simple child.
Finally, we had to take leave of her and procee to Bapatla. She put vermilion marks on our foreheads and gave us prasadam to take home. We left the place with a sense of fulfilment.
(to be continued)