ANY casual visitor to Jillellamudi would hear the sankeer tan, Jayaho maata Srce Anasuya hajarajesvari Sree Paraat pari’. When I went there for the first time, I felt shocked at this over liberal deificatian of ‘at the most, a saintly lady. Panth isn gets abused in these and similar verbal eulogies heaped on a human being, who may not after all like these, but suffers them for the sake of a few’. I said to myself. I half felt like asking that young singer if there were no steps at all from piety to divinity; otherwise he would not catapult a lady he respected to the throne of Rajarajesvari in a single breath!
At that moment. she appeared at the entrance of that hall: A short, fair lady dressed in silks, golden ornaments, and a big tilaka in kumkum between her eye-brows. An unusual calm spread over her face, and her eyes moved without intent over the whole assem bly. She was worshipped by two girls who used puffed rice instead of flowers. She was indifferent to what they were do’ng to the accompaniment of Lalita ashtottaram,’ and there was no expression on her face. She could be sitting there only as a mark of the divine for the girls worshipping, even as the figure in the temple does. I should learn more about her. I thought, she is not like the vain glorious pontiffs, who seek to build up their reputation by posing for the worship of householders in the name of ancient practice’. Before she left, she made a sign with her hand to all in the assembly to have their food. They got up to go to a nearby building and had their meal. I followed them at the invitation of an inmate of that ashram, took some paayasam, as I had already taken my food at home, and returned to the hall. There was no jingle of coins or flare of currency; a lone hundi was there tied to a pillar but I saw nobody approach it to drop a coin! We were about thirty or forty of us, and I learned that everyday about the same number visited her.. How is this establishment run? I didn’t hear of any trust nor did I see any appeal for funds all these days I had been going there! Here is an institution that is living like a tree, draw ing its resources from unknown depths.
I asked for any books about her and her teachings, but I could not get any, as none were published. However, annual souve nirs, three in number, published in celebration of her previous birth days were available and I read through them. There were prayers and praises by devotees, not even an essay or note dictated by her personally. Below the line, under cach page, however, there was an epigram of her’s. These formed a good number and were like the stars in the sky, each self-luminous and striking. They were not from the shastras; they were in the living dialect of Guntur. There was no flavour of memory or the past in them; they were sparkling with life. They are the rays of the Light within his little lady: their impact is formidable. Here is a radio-active being some of whose radiations were recorded in these pages by a pious soul! But what is her real nature?
I went to Jillellamudi a number of times thereafter, and asked everyone about her. She was not known to have done any worship or japa, not to have been taught by any guru. Reports said that those who were keeping company to this silent lady saw her unconscious to things before her for quite long periods of time. She would often use a blanket to cover herself up in such a state! I continued my visits and the question in me gave place to an urge to see her again and again. One evening, at the place of my duty, a youngman renewed the challenge that first rose in me. He had asked, he said, one of the learned youngmen of Jillellamudi, why he considered her to be Rajarajeswari: (The doubt that occured to me when I had been there for the first time.) “Did you see Rajara. jesvari descend into her body from the skies, or did she herself tell you that she is Rajarajesvari, or did you obtain the mark of her little finger on your slate and tally it with the mark of Rajaraje svari? How did you decide that this particular lady, of all ladies, is Rajarajesvari?”, he asked. ‘Doubting Thomas zindabad, I thought. He asked me too what I thought of her. I said ad not understood her yet, and that when I did, I would tell him too.
I was in Jill Alamudi one morning. She was sitting in a chair and worship was going on but she was looking at the sky visible from between the roof and the edge of the pandal in which she was being worshipped. I was quite near her. Her eyes looked like eyes of glass, but she was inattentive to what was going on. When she turned to answer the girl guiding the worship. I waited till she answered and said apologetically. “More time of Mother (meaning herself) is lost in looking at the world, than in being aware of her Self”. She said immediately, “In this business, there is no loss or gain, child”. I had the shock of my life! No loss in looking at the world? What could she mean? I continued to hang on: “Yogis are said to be in the samaadhi state Mother,” I said. “I meant that we are depriving you of that state, to the extent to which we are demanding your attention to our worship. She replied immediately. “The difficulty would le only if I couldn’t see myself in you”. That was enough, the climax got energetically doubled. There is no gain or loss to her, in looking at the world or herself! She looks at herself only while looking at the world outside! I remembered her epigram, “When the I is the 1, 1, I, of everything that is Abam Brahma Asmi”.
It took me some days to assimilate the effect of this brief exchange of words. This lady of four and a half feet height, how tall is her actual stature? I went over to Jillellamudi to clinch the issue, another morning. “It is said, Mother, that Brahman does not create, but his shakti-Rajarajesvari as we call it, does Creation, maintenance, and destruction. Before creation, Rajarajesvari is dormant in Brahman, and both are aware of themselves, filling the universe of space. When creation takes place, ‘both Brahman and Rajarajesvari are aware of themselves in that creation. Does it not then follow that Brahman and Rajarajesvari only could remain aware of themselves in creation, as well as quiescence?” I asked. Mother. She nodded in fulsome approval.
Here is Mother, aware of herself when turning her attention inwards, and aware of herself even when looking outwards. There is no loss or gain in this business. Who else could She be? Our readers might wonder at the apparent hairsplitting of God into Brahman and Rajarajesvari. The Vedaantists did not like to attribute any netivity to Brahman, lest that attribute should limit the infinite.. They preserved the idea of Brahman as unique without a second, inconceivable by the min. To explain creation, however, they postulated that the Shakti of Eral man does creation. It is impos sible to conceive of fire without its burning power sugar without its sweetness, and Brahman without creative activity. So, Brahman and Rajarajesvari are not different, they are not two, When one says Rajarajesvari’. mentioning a being different from God or Brahman, he emphasises the activity of the Lord, the ‘Akbar aspect of Him. Through centuries of description, discourse and practice, particular aspects of that Infinite came to be circumsribed, and even given a distinctive form. Each attribute of God, like knowledge, power, wealth etc., became represented as a form and this is what we see today, an apparent multiplicity of gods, goddesses etc., confus ing the common man, and appearing to deteriorate into polytheism. Rajarajesvari is the first offspring of speculation in philosophy; Kapila calls her Prakriti. Moolaprakriti, Maaya, Paraashakti, Kali etc., are other names used by devotees.
When I next met my challenging friend, I cited an analogy: When the sea is still, the wave is dormant in the sea, its energy is in the potential form. (The wave and the sea are indistinguishable when the sea is calm). When the sca is rough and kicks up a ship, the waves are both conscious of their presence in that phenomenon. Both are aware of their reality as the whole, when the sea is calm as when it is rough. Here is Mother aware of herself when she is quiet, and also when she is attending to activities outside. She is aware of herself all the time. Who can She be? ‘Bhavani’ and Rajarajes vari are two words but they mean the same. God is neither man nor woman! As we see Mother in a particular form, we instinct. ively give her the feminine name, Rajarajesvari. If then you ask how a localised form could be termed Rajarajesvari, I have only to point at the ‘Ganges in the small vessel in your poojapeetham. That water is from the Ganges, it is Ganges all right, is n’t it? When you say you have bathed in the Godavari, you mean you havebathed somewhere from Nasik to the sea; you do not mean you spread althrough the waters of the Godavari, do you? Mother is Rajarajesvari in as much as She is conscious of existence of the one ‘inside’ or ‘outside’, in you, me, the mountain the air, the sky, the all. She acts as such, only we need to understand more and more about that in Her.
Once Hasan Basri met a child carrying a candle and asked him whence had the light of the candle come. The child remained em barassed for a time and presently a blast of wind blew out the light and the child said in triumph- “Tel’ me Sir, where has it dis appeared, and I shall tell you whence did it. Come.”
A visitor was shedding tears before tak ing leave of Mother; finally she asked Mother: “What is it that we have in us which is not there in you, Mother?”
Mother smiled and replied “Yearning for me!”