Along with some friends, on one fine morning in December 1957, I reached Jillellamudi at about 10 A. M. It was my first visit. We purchased flowers and fruits at Bapatla itself.
Immediately after reaching: Jillellandi, we washed our feet and entered the hall in which Mother was sitting. It was a long thatched hall, with two vertical supports, and having two doors, one in the East and the other in the South. One had to bow his head whilst entering, the apparent reason being the low door and a bamboo that projected in the front.
As we entered, Mother, who was lying down on a mattress got up and sat, bending her knees a bit and projecting her lotus feet a little to the fore. in a posture convenient for us to make our obeissances. On that particular day. Mother wore a purple coloured saree and a blouse with hands upto the forearms. The blood-red Kumkam”, the size of a rupee coin, was flashing between her eye brows. Her braided hair, left azar behind her was fairly wide and spread on the mattress. Mother appeared short and very lean and at the moment, 1 felt she was very weak too.
I was the third one in paying our respects. While I was handing over the flowers, banana fruits, scented sticks. coconut and camphor, two flowers slipped and fell on Mother’s feet. At that moment I had no idea that I should keep the flowers on her feet, nor did I intend to break the coconut before her, and light the camphor. Prostrating myself, I got up and sat at a small distance from Mother. Another friend of mine, from my own village, was the last to prostrate before her. Mother caressed his head and his back for a while. When one among us tried to acquaint our group to her, Mother said that she knew us long before! Surprised, I asked Mother how she knew me. She reminded me of an incident that took place thirteen years ago. I asked her whether she was there. She replied that she had not been there. Surprised, I sat thinking over it for a while.
Mother broke the silence: “Recite some poem, child!”
Why a stanza? I had been expounding and reciting the puranas for long. I thought I could recite hundreds of verses from them.. Moreover, I could remember any stanza that was written in the tritional manner, merely by reading it twice. So I immediately started reciting one, with great assurance. But I stuck up at the end of one line! Try I might, the second line would not come. It was not a new stanza for me, but one which I recited several times earlier. I made one more effort but again I failed. Then Mother asked me to recite another stanz I tried another, accordingly. But again I broke down even in the middle of the very first line. “Why is it happening like this?” I asked myself in exasperation.
Mother then said: “Recite one which you already knew, child!”
That was funny indeed! I knew by heart many stanzas which I used to recite and explain, without the aid of the book, such as those depicting the mediation of Sri Krishna or Sanjaya from the “Mahabharata”. Contemplating as to why it was happening like that, I started another stanza, but it too did not come off.
“Never mind dear, sing a kirtan,” said Mother.
This time I sang a kirtan all right. Then we sat silent for a few moments.
My friend complained to Mother that he could not retain the image in his meditation and prayed to her for assistance. Mothers A replied: “Meditation itself will bless you, my son!”
Then She asked my friend: Did you ever see me before?”
“Aye, 1 did.”
“When, and where?”
“Approximately three months to date; one night, lying down I was considering what I have done in this birth and whether God will grace me with a sight of Him, or I am to die like this alone. With these questions haunting me. I fell asleep, even as tears rolled down my cheeks. That night, I saw you in my dream; you were wearing this same saree and blouse, with the same hairdo and with the same kumkum mark on your forehead. You were same as you are today. Immediately I touched your feet and asked you What’s my fate?” You then assured me. “Never fear, my son! I am here”, with your hand held in the posture of assurance. As I again lifted my head, I could not find you before me.”
As he was thus narrating the incident, Mother sat silent, hearing his account with a smile, without denying it. It was his first visit to Jillellamudi too!
For a while, silence reigned in the hall and I broke the silence
“Who are you, Mother?”
“I am Mother.”
For the universe, for all those (creatures) that move and those that do not move”.
After a while, the subject of our conversation centred about a certain Swamiji. I vaxed loquacious in criticising him. Because I was adoring another Swamiji at that time, and I could not think of any other with respect. Imme lately Mother retorted: “The Swamiji has atleast renounced his white clothes and is wearing saffron robes. But we have not done even that! It is sheer unwisdom to criticise others; it’s the way of the wise to criticise themselves.”
It rather hurt me, but the same lesson was driven home to me by Mother on several other occasions. But to continue the account of my first vist……
That day happened to be “Skanda Shashti”, and all of us wanted to perform puja to Mother. Mother agreed and went to take her bath.
One of us cleansel a place in the southern portion of the hall with cowdung, which is held sacred by Hindus and ornamental lines were drawn on the floor. An elevated seat was placed for Mother, and all the offerings were kept ready for the sixteen traditional services. But none of us knew any mantras besides the one hundred and eight names of Goddess Lalitha.
Mother came an occupied the seat. Then we washed her feet with water into a plate, sprinkled the same over our heads, offered incense, sandal paste. Mother sat with her eyes closed all though, he hands assuming the p sture of “namaskara”; her body was free from even slightest movements, her face sole. Our hearts overflowed with joy as our gaz was fixed on the embodiment of peace and Bliss. The puja was going on but our mind was firmly fixed on her feet. None of us remembered the right order of the divine names we were reciting, and we had no book. Semehow, we finished pooja and broke the coconuts. Mother opened her eyes but her eyes were not looking at us. She just took a bite of the coconuts we offered her, and a spoonful of the water. She gave us Tirtha when we finished Arati. It was 12’0′ Clock. Mother invited us all for lunch,
Once, when I visited Mother later, in the midst of our conversation, I asked Her to tell me about Mantra and bang came the reply “Mind is Mantra”. This I never heard before, and so I was bewildered and struck by it. Mother continued “Yes, Child! A weak old man takes a staff to support him. The staff cannot rise by itself, but has to be lifted up by someone else. The old man himself has to hold the stick up and make it support him and with its help, he can walk.
“Mind is extremely wavering. To stabilise it, a mantra is a means. From A to Z all the letters are mantras – each word and each sentence! But the letters by themselves have no strength, This wavering mind should accept the mantra first i.e., the mind should be willing to be the prop of the mantra and then, by constant contemplation on it, the mind will become the mantra. Then the mantra becomes powerful and makes the mind stable. Mantra is, after all, the personification of a constantly churned thought.
“The staff, to support the old man, should be held by him. and the mantra to be powerful, should be held fast by the fickle mind. Then each word and each syllable is transformed into a mantra.”
Oh Thou who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestination round
Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?
Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken’d, Man’s Forgiveness give-and take!
– By Omar Khayyam