THE old man looked at the girl Anasuya Devi and was struck with wonder at her unusual beauty. Her eyes, with their compelling radiance, attracted everybody that had the good fortune of looking at them. It looked as though she was an embodiment of beauty and tenderness. The precious jewels on her body were shin ing all the more by her divine radiance. The old man could not perceive the source of his bliss. Suddenly he saw in her, young Krishna with a peacock feather on his head, tilakam on his forehead! and a lustruous gem hanging on his chest. The tiny tinkling bells on his feet and the melody of his flute drove the old man into raptures. He was thrilled with joy and his heart was filled with unknown bliss. With folded hands he called out, Krishna…. Krishna,” and he shed tears of joy.
Devi went near him and sail with all innocence: “Tell me, how do you find me?”
There was no reply. She asked him again. With eye – lids closed and with quivering lips, he said:
“Your form!– A feast to the eyes! I wailed earlier, know ing not the purpose of my prolonged life. Now I have understood. it. I have seen the Lord dear to my heart. It has fulfilled my long cherished desire…
O, Lord Krishna, I don’t need anything more.” her into his arms and drenched her head with his tears. He drew
“It is me, old man,- look this way-“
The old man opened his eyes and his vision vanished.
“Is it you! Is there nobody else? Is all this only an illusion? Life itself is a dream and there is another dream within that dream!”
“If life is a reality, can dream also be reality?” Devi asked.
“What is it that we have been talking about? In the mean while, how is it that my mind and body have become like this?”
“I don’t know all that. I was telling you that the saying ‘dhana mulam idam jagat (money centred is this world)’ has no authority of the Srutis. It can be thana mulam idam jagat’ (‘self centred is this world).
“As I look at you, I recollect the words of my guru who fre quently used the word ‘Srut. He also used the expression rajju sarpa bhranti. Dou you understand what we mean by it?”
Devi dropped the veil of ignorance over him! “No please. I can’t follow.”
“That means, to mistake a rope for a snake,” explained the
“Is it not possible to mistake a snake for a rope? Illusion. can be of either way.” Devi twisted the age old saying, thereby confusing the old man.
“My guru told me like this. This world, that means this Universe, is only temporary. It’s unreal! we mistake it to be real something like a dream.”
“I am not able to follow. Will you please explain it better?” said Devi.
“You are a small girl- You can’t follow all this.”
He forgot the rare experience he had a litte while ago, as the curtain of ignorance is dropped over him. He began to explain it. It was something like bringing a candle to show the path to the Sun!
“Suppose there is a rope in darkness It is likely to be mistaken for a snake Darkness is like illusion. If you bring light. the darkness vanishes. The light is something like knowledge.”
The old man began to listen to her with attention. Devi continued:
“In fact one who knows both the rope and the snake feels the illusion. If he knows only the rope, there is no illusion. If he knows only the snake, there can’t be any illusion. Suppose a snake comes before a boy. He plays with it. The same boy also plays with a rope. Should we say that he does not know anything? He knows how to catch hold of a thing that is before him. He knows to crawl along with it as it moves. But he does not know that it bites and hence it is dangerous. Then, has he got intelligence or not? Even among elders, there are some who don’t know the use. fulness, or nature of certain animals. They don’t have this fear or illusion— Illusion means attachment. Illusion means thinking. It is like this: you mistake a rope for a snake it is illusion. Does – illusion mean thinking or Maya! As you see a snake in a piece of rope, you say, the world is mistaken to be real. You say this with the scriptural authority that Brahman alone is real and the world is unreal. When they are related to each other, we call them inter related. It is my feeling (Bhava or modification of the mind) that has seen a snake in a rope. It is my own feeling that has rejected that idea. Everything is my own feeling. This world is made up of Bhava and Abhava. It is not devoid of anything. It includes everything. Everything is seen as one looks at it.”,
The old man enjoyed the sweet melody of her words even though he could not make a little out of them. Once again he began to say more about his guru and his interpretations of “great words”. When Devi began to argue with him, he could not continue that for want of clear understanding. Finally he invited her to his guru, assuring her of a better explanation for her doubts. Thus slowly. he stepped down from the sublime heights which he had reached. some time ago.
In the meanwhile, the boy got up and cried that he woul go to his mother. “You don’t have your mother; she passed away,” the old man began to comfort the boy.
“I want the mother that gave me a ring.”
“That girl is just here. my boy-“
The boy sprang up, and embracing Devi heartily, shouted ‘mother!’ and then passed away suddenly.
The oldman had another shock.
“What injustice, mother! Even in the compartment, right from the moment you got into it, there were many calamities Why should he come back to life again, having lost it once? 1 have brought you along with me thinking that you are a pios girl In truth, who are you?”
“I am his mother.”
This also meant that she is the mother for every one.
With the wailing of the old man, Khasim got up. As he lighted a match stick, he found the corpse of a boy on Devi’s stret ched legs. He tried to lift the body, but found it very heavy. He was greatly surprised. The old man slowly narrated all that had happened to Khasim. Then he wanted to know whether they had, even earlier auy intimacy. He doubted whether she gave him some fewels even earlier.
He said to Devi:
“It is almost morning. What shall we do? Why do you distribute it (money) like this?”
“That is my way”
“What shall we do about this boy? Corpses can’t be kept inside the temples and the Archakas (priests) won’t keep quiet if they come now.”
“In fact, corpses should be kept here. How fortunate he is! He lost his life in the temple. Otherwise he won’t die in the temple.” Devi replied..
“Does losing life mean merging with the Infinite? You may as well say he has merged in you, because he lost his life in your lap!”
“Who says he did n’t?”
“If so, have you taken away his life the old man said to her.
“Why not? the One who has given it will destroy it.”
“But you have n’t given him life,” he argued.
“And so I have n’t taken it away!” “You have taken it away.”
“Then I also gave him (life).” After a while, Devi added again:
“We are not responsible for both. You have learnt so many great savings and acquired knowledge. But with all that, you feel I am a girl; for him (boy) I am the mother. What is responsible for making you feel like this? The same Power is responsible for wounding the boy in the compartment, then for protecting him and later for taking away the life after giving the realisation that I am the Mother.” This was all too high for the old man. Then he said: “Show us a way, Mother?”
“What can I do? I am only a girl. Ask Khasim about it.”
Then Khasim came in and said: “Let us go. Devi.” “Let us first send them and then go,” suggested Devi.
“Why do you bother about them? What have you got to do with them?”
“I have the same relationship with them, as I have with you.”
It is true! Whereas our relationships are limited only to the known. Eer affection embraces all
Later, Devi took the corpse of the boy on her shoulders and began to walk fast. Khasim and the old man meekly followed her. The old man wondered whether she was the same girl that had saved his brother-in-law at one time at Bapatla.
Devi stopped after sometime and put down the corpse. That was the very place where she got down along with her mother, while coming from Tenali. She found a spade there, as she thought of it. Then she buried the corpse there, where there is now the image of the goddes in Sahasrulingalayam. She did it all alone, asking them to be away. As she came back, the old man said to hr
“Did you take away the ring from the boy’s finger?”
“I won’t do it. If you want anything else, I shall give you.” “Why should a precious ring be wasted and buried?””
“We had to bury that body which was brought up with great care and affection! What does it matter if we have to bury the ring also? We may get a similar ring ma le, but can’t get back the boy. No, perhaps, we can’t get a similar ring also.”
Then they all started. But shortly afterwards, the old man had a motion and vomiting and became unconscious. Khasim thought it was cholera, which had snatched away the boy also.
Devi shouted, “Grandpapa opened his eyes and said: grandpapa!” He slowly
“I thought that you were the one who saved people from danger; but you are a fearful destroyer too, which I did n’t realise.”
“Is it so?” Devi smiled..
Nobody knew what he saw and felt in that smile. He said again with folded hands, “I have mistaken, mother! Pardon me You are not only a destroyer- You create, sustatin and destroy everything.” With that rare realisation, he breathed his last in her divine presence.