“Still many more strange events shall take place,”
IT was the twenty-ninth day after the birth of Anasuya Devi (Mother). While cele brating the traditional function Mrs. Rangamma (her mother) gces to the well along with other ladies, to the accompani ment of auspicicus music. Keeping the pitcher of water on her girdle and veiling her beaming face in the traditional fashion, Rangamma came back in a procession. All the time, the child was in the cradle in the house.
As Rangamma approached the house, she felt she heard the cry cf her, child, calling her to the cradle. She went to the cradle but found the child sleeping peacefully. Then after seeing the ladies cff Rangamma came back to the cradle. Le! she found a scorpion lying by the side of the Child. More stupefying than this was, the Child kept her maternal hand on the scorpion as though she was Fondling it. Naturally, started at this unusual sight, Rangamma rushed out shouting for help. With her tremulcus voice, she takes the baby, with its living doll the sccrpion, into her nervous hands and went out. Weak in body and mind at the moment, Rangamma dropped the Child, but kept the scorpion and the blanket in her hands. Fear follows no logic and as such she fell on the Child, but the scorpion stuck to its bed without budging. Alas! there is no way of knowing what bliss the scorpion had at the mysterious tender touch of the baby.
As usual, the clamorous crowd of ladies rushed in and declared that the mother and the baby were no more. In the meanwhile, the musicians play the devotional song Evarani Nirnayinchedira on Nadaswara. Either the sweetness of the song or the sublimity of its thought or the ineffable eternal grace brought her back to senses. She took the baby Anasuyadevi in to her hands, but she was blind to the surroundings. She went out with that blanket seeking help from her husband Sitapati. But he was at another village then and pulipaka Narayana Rao (V. M. of Mannava) and others assembled there. They knew not what had happened and began to make wild guesses. Some people thought that Rangamma almost became mad as she might have lost her baby and others thought that the baby had epilepsy. They also began to cure the baby differently for an imaginary illness.
In the meanwhile, Shaik Nalla Khasim, the devoted and dependable person attached to this family brought them in and asked Rangamma to feed the baby. Probably Rangamma did not regain her senses completely and kept the child in the same cloth. As she fed the child, the scorpion crept to the tiny feet of the child. When she was keeping the child in the cradle, little knowing that the scorpion was still with the child, she found the black scorpion shining on the lotus-like foot of Anasuyadevi. Startled at it, once again she rushed out, shouting for help. She had the feeling that somebody had sent an evil spirit into her house.
All her life Rangamma had unusual fears about her progeny. Once an astrologer told her that she would suffer for the sin of killing a cat in her former birth. It was believed that killing a cat was a heinous sin. Hence she was told that her children would not live longer due to her sin of the former birth. More over she had already lost three children by then, which only confirmed her fears. Thus all the time, Rangamma was very nervous about the life of her Child Anasuyadevi.
After a short time Mrs. Maridamma! came in from another village and having felt the tense atmosphere in the house, she went straight to the cradle. She took off the dead scorpion from the foot of the baby and remarked!
“Why all this moaning? The Child’s smiling with her eyes open. Why do you cry? But we don’t know why she is born. The great grand-mother passed away on the eleventh day of her birth itself!” The mid-wife Nagamma added!
There are many deaths in the family right from her birth and that too they are very strange deaths!”
Rangamma was brought near the cradle and she was: comforted by them. Mari damma assured her that her Child was free from all dangers and nothing would happen to her. She inspired confidence into her by adding:
“Your child sanctifies this family. Otherwise there won’t be so many deaths.”
Sri Sitapati came to know of all this on his way back and reached home at 8-0 P.M. His anxiety was partly relieved as he found peacefulness in the house. He was filled with bliss and wonder.
Sitapati usually fed a cat at his table daily and that day he finished his food for getting the cat. Rangamma was surprised at the absence of the pet cat, but Sitapati remarked that the relationship in the world is a kind of debt. It ceases when the debt ceases. Little did he realise the irony of his remark at that time.
Then he came near the cradle. The cat was there in the cradle for about half an hour with its tail lifted up like the hood of a serpent. Nobody noticed it SO Sitapati looked at it and mistook it for a serpent and cried out for help. He wanted to get the lamp but abstained from doing so with a strange old belief that a snake-bitten child should not see a lamp. Again he looked at the cradle and felt that it was cobra itself. But again he felt it was an ordinary serpent. Luckily for him there was lightning and he could see the child and the cat in the cradle. Keeping all fears at rest he was happy.
He went to his wife Rangamma who was taking her food and assured her;
No anxiety; it’s not a serpent. You can dine and come before the child cries.”
Rangamma with her tense nerves heard only two words, ‘child’ and serpent’ and became clammy. Maridamma came in and couldn’t under stand anything there. She sprinkled drops of cold water on her face and closed her eye-lids. Sitapati told her all that had happened and took her to the cradle. As he patted the cat, it jumped down and went round the cradle purring for about half far. an hour. Then it went to its normal place and purred for another quarter of an hour, looking at the child all the time. Again it jumped into the cradle and kept its mouth on the tiny feet of the child. Perhaps the cat felt it was rich to die at that hour and at that place and mewing for the last time it passes away peacefully at the holy feet of the child.
They stood there motion less at this strange happening and after a while, Sitapati expressed his fears:
“From all this we should think that evil days have befallen us. Even the danger to the life of its (baby’s) mother seems to be inevitable. The evil influence of the time of birth is being felt. But what is inevitable is to be accepted.”
With this resignation and a heavy heart, Sitapati went out and lay on the cot. Then his neighbour came in and asked him why he was sleeping so early. Lost in his own despe- rate thoughts, he quipped: “This may be eternal sleep.” The neighbour Rajamma went near Rangamma in the kitchen and comforted her,
“The past should not pain us! We are happy so far.”
She patted on Rangamma who did not move. She did not hear or see anything. She lost herself in the blissful vision of her divine daughter before her. She was lost in the light of her own thought. Maridamma and Rajamma sat before her keenly scanning her face to know whether it was swoon, sleep or forgetfulness. Then
Maridamma had a rare vision, in which she saw the child in the lape of its mother and the head of Rangamma appeared as the hood of a serpent for this child. She also heard a divine voice. Saying:
“Still many more strange events shall take place.”
This rare vision was granted only to Maridamma but not to the neighbour Rajamma.
It was 12 midnight when Rangamma came back to senses. She went to the cradle with a lamp in her hand. She patted the cat but it did not move. Thinking that it was in slumber, Rangamma put the cat down on the floor. She did not know that the cat breathed its last at the tiny divine feet of Anasuyadevi in the cradle.
Maridamma was still having the same vision in which she saw the child in its Mother’s lap under a hood. She also heard the voice of Rangamma. On the one hand she saw the rare vision and on the other hand she heard the voice of Rangamma. This is called “Sahaja Samadhi” (profound meditation), which was her greatest bliss in solitude every night.
The next morning the dead cat was removed but no body dared to divulge the secret to Rangamma of the delightful death of the cat at the tiny feet of Anasuyadevi.
- Mrs. Maridamma was the aunt of Sri Sitapati. She was married m her third year but she became a widow in her sixth year. An excessive zeal to serve others marked her character from he childhood. She possessed knowledge of the Divine. Staying in hot father’s house she reared the Children, who lost their mother, for two generations. For her, love for others was the chief guiding principle in life.
- “There were eleven deaths# either in that family or among their relatives before the 29th day after the birth of this Child.
“I got into difficulties after I started, japam Mother. Shall I give it up or continue?”
“Who prompted you to do it?”
“Who is giving the troubles you mentioned?”
“Where then do you enter the picture? He created the desire, he gives you what he would (like to). When all is His doing, where is the question of your continuing or giving it up?”