“Blessed are the poor”
ANASUYADEVI was just two months old then and in Her infancy she was practi cally brought up by Mari damma with all devotion. Mari damma lulled Her to sleep and woke Her up with devotional songs. So also the mid-wife Nagamma nourished the child with motherly care and concern.
It was a bright full moon day and Maridamma had to leave for Yajali the next day. Hence she wished to celebrate the traditional function, usually done in the third month, when the child would give away sweet dishes of rice ficur to the ladies. Mari damma spent her time pleasantly till 6-30 A.M, caressing and fondling the tender child. Then Nagamma came in. Maridamma entrusted the child to her care and said:
“I’ll go to Yajali to morrow. At the close of the function today, I shall entrust the child to your care. The parents do not think of this child much, There may be some change in their attitude after some time and till such time you will have to bring the child up. Keep the child at your house, but show Her to Her parents once a day”
Nagamma was all smiles as it was a proud moment in her life.
Maridamma gave (wet) rice to Khaderbi asking her to pound it to flour. She went in to get a sieve, but Khaderbi was busy otherwise and could not attend to this work. From inside Maridamma heared the sound of pounding and naturally thought that Khaderbi was doing that work. She came out to hear the sound but did not find Khaderbi there. She found the flour there which was too fine to need a sieve. Maridamma wondered at it and putting her ear to the mortar,she tried in vain to hear the source of that sound, Startled at this strange occurrence, Marridamma believed that her guru Mallela Rattamma, who was god to her in human form, helped her that way.
Rangamma churned curds at 8 in the morning and smeared butter to the feet of the child. Smearing it on Her back, she prayed Her to throw a gentle look on the family. then she smeared that hand on her own eyelids thereby un knowingly devotion to expressing her the new-born deity. After the usual bath, the child was put in cradle and Rangamma went there to put ‘kumkum’ on Her fore head. But she found bright ‘kumkum’ already shining on the child’s forehead. Mari- damma interpreted, that as Lord Krishna helped Sakkubai, her Own guru Rattamma helped them. But the Kum- kum was unusually bright on Her forehead.
As a special sweet dish was to be prepared on that occasion, Maridamma put
jaggery with water on a stove. But as the firewood did not burn freely, she sprinkled water on it with vexation and with robust faith declared that it would be cooked by the deity Herself. Then she went to the garden to collect flowers for her worship.
It was a custom to invite a pious lady to a feast on such occasions. Then Kakumanu Lakshmayamma, a blind lady, was invited. She took the child into her lap and when she was about to kiss Her, she felt a kind of lightning in her pre sence. The divine rays of the child’s eyes, gently touched the blind lady’s eyelids. In that vision she saw a girl of five years on her lap. As she regained her consciousness, she exclaimed,
“Dear Maridamma, what an auspicious day this is! How blessed I am! With your gifted powers, I could get a divine vision.”
Maridamma replied with more intense feeling:
Right from the morn ing, all are blessed things for me. With mother’s help every thing looked strange.” with these words she uncovered the vessel and to her gratifi- cation she found the sweet dish already cooked well. Then she brought various dishes near the picture of her guru and asked Rangamma to sit at that place of worship with her child. Rangamma came there with her child.
Maridamma recollected and narrated all the strange events of the day and attribu ted them to the miraculous powers of her guru. Then she offered all dishes to her guru and went to offer devoutly, rice and ghee to sacred fire. When she was away, a crow came in and touched rice and another touched the special sweet dish prepared for the occasion. Rangamma drove them away, but as they could not escape, one crow hit the bead of Rangamma and fell down. It was not dead even though it appeared to be so. Another crow stood aloof at a higher place and began to gaze at the child. Afterwards Sitapati came and drove away one crow, but as the other one could not move, he kept it in the cattle shed under a cover. Rangamma considered it inauspicious and was much grieved at heart.
By that evening, all ladies assembled to participate in the function and there was jubi lation everywhere. Unusually at such a moment, Rangamma had a strange doubt whether it was her last celebration. She heard a strange voice confirming that it was the last celebration she could see. She turned round in vain, to look for the source of this voice. She heard nothing but the bustle of the celebration,
The function began as Rangamma sat in a chair with the child on her lap. The musicians devotional played certain songs on their instruments and then switched on to Nagaswara. At the same time a beggar brought some snakes and they played to that music. The little child moved her head in apprecia tion of nagaswara. Indeed She was like a connoisseur of music but Rangamma thought that She moved her head due to illness. Once again a wave of sorrow lapped against their minds and soon settled when the child smiled.
Atlast the distribution of sweets to the ladies began. The first dish was received from the tiny hands by Kana kammma. The second dish was strangely picked up by the child Herself and given away to Janakamma, Her grand- mather. There were many such strange events and they were seen by one or the other of the blessed few. In this case, Rangamma observed the child picking up the dish with Her own hands. She waited to watch how such a tiny hand could pick up the dish again. But then the child did nct repeat the action. The child took up the dish only when it was given to Her. One after another the child gave away the dishes to the ladies and with that the function Came to a pleasant close, that evening.
At 7-30 that evening, Maridamma called in the mid- wife Nagamma and said:
“This is an auspicious day and the full moon smiles softly Our village. Take this child to your house and show her twice a day to us.”
With these words she put the child in the lap of Nagamma.
Maridamma was bowed down by grief and she sufferred a severe shock of unknown fear. Parting is always pain- ful and it was more intense for such an old lady. She shed just a drop of tear which fell on the child’s forehead. Lo! it opened up a great episode of the Lord Krishna before her eyes. She saw king Vasudeva carrying the new born Krishna across his chest to Vrepalle. But the heaven gifted moment was short and the delightfull vision dis appeared soon. They had such rare glimpses but they could not realise their value at the moment.
Nagamma also had a strange experience. When the child was on her lap, she felt that the whole range of mountains had fallen on her head. But again in a moment she felt the child light as a piece of pith. Nagamma tried to know in vain, why it was so. Added to this, she observed another strange event. The child drew the pupils of Her eyes, in two different dire ctions and looked at Mari damma and Nagamma at the same time. Still more surprised at this kind of looking, they gazed and gazed at Her. After a while the eyes of the child appeared normal and with her innocent looks, She fascinated their attention.
The child had black bangles which shone on Her tiny hands. The relatives smiled and said, they were shepherd-bangles.’ Rangamma retorted in a sorrowful tone. that She was indeed going to a shepherd’s cottage.
Overwhelmed with joy, Nagamma went home with her precious jewel, Anasuya Devi that evening. As she reached home, a big cobra greeted them with its outstretched hood bent down before them. Being blind to its reverential mood, the neighbours wanted to strike down the prostrating cobra. But it soon vanished with a dazzling light. They thought it was a charmed or a new kind of snake. Thus many people had rare visions and experiences and they could have realised the descent of the divine spirit, if only they interpreted them properly. But strange are the ways of God who allows one in a million to realise Him.
In her house Nagamma tried to lull the child to sleep either cn a cot or in a borrowed. cradle. The child only began to cry continuously, which got on the nerves of Nagamma. At last, she wrapped her own torn blue saree round a holy fig-tree outside and improvised a cradle for the child. Then the child stopped crying and slept peacefully. Nagamma was delighted to note that the child was particularly fond of her own torn saree out of all the valuable things in the world. Blessed are the poor, for their poverty and misery brought them nearer to Her even in infancy.
“Shall I go away Mother?”
“Why go away? Go and come again.”
“Amma, my sruti (pitch of the voice) is not getting to be stable.”
“No matter. It is enough if smriti gets stable.”