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The Descent of the Divine – VI (The Last Journey of Rangamma)

B V Vasudevacharya
Magazine : Matrusri English
Language : English
Volume Number : 1
Month : December
Issue Number : 6
Year : 1966

Anasuya Devi was then three years old. It was 10-30 P. M. Karthika Shuddha Ekadashi. The girl was running high temperature and her mother Rangamma was lying by her side drowned in a flood of tears. Maridamma came in and com fortingly said.

“It is said that all ailments are cured with the mystical powers of Rajya Lakshmi Yant- ram laid by Mauna Swamiji in our village. Why do you worry? The girl will worship it.”

The girl Anasuya Devi sprang up forgetting her fever and declared emphatically:

“That’s not Rajya Lakshmi Yantram:

It’s Rajarajeswari Yantram.

She made the statement with all clarity and composure and it set Maridamma thinking. But Rangamma said:

‘It is not necessary for a small girl to think of such sub lime thoughts’.

‘It is necessary as great per sons are indulging in petty thou ghts… replied Devi.

‘It is alright… All (things and thoughts) are yours Rangamma said and with that she drew her veil over the girl. From behind, a divine voice declared:

“Yes, because all are mine’ Little did they realise at that time the great truth of that simple statement. Later in 1958 at Mannava, Anasuya Devi show. ed that Yantram to Mannava Krishna Sarma and others and they were astonished to notice it was Rajarajeswari Yantram.

Right under the image of Rajya Lakshmi Devi, there is Rajeswari Yantram.

Later on, Rangamma had another son, but he soon passed away. She suffered an abortion also a few months later, As she was thus crushed down by cruel Fate, Maridamma had to take. up the responsibility of rearing the girl Anasuya Devi. Daily she used to feed (with rice) the girl. But this food did not suit her and in the same form it used to come out excreta. She had Homeopathie treatment from Dr Kamtika Sambaiah at Tenali but it was in vain.

One day a man in saffron robes came in and gave a herb to the girl. He was about to hang it round her neck, but in the meanwhile the girl scized it and put it in her mouth.

Don’t eat it; if it is eaten, people die,’ shouted the man alarmingly.

‘If I die, as per your word. we can conclude your herb has done its work, Otherwise your word will be a falsehood. Can these things kill a man that is yet to live? or can they bring back to life a man that has fini- shed his mortal life? Just as a man that has completed his life cannot recover with medicines, so also one that has not comple ted his life here, will not die with poisons. Then she slowly chewed it and swallowed it to prove the validity of her state- ment. They all looked at Her in bewilderment. Lo! nothing happened to Her and the man was greatly surprised at it.

Anasuya Devi was then three years and nine months old. Rangamma conceived again. She began to suffer from cough and fever. Three months later she got the middle wall in their kitchen removed and got up a stone wall in its place. Her health began to deteriorate. A sentimental feeling got streng thened in Sitapathi’s mind. They decided to arrange better medical care for her at Bapatla. Janika mma, her mother came down from Tenali to help them at Bapatla. Everything was arran ged and a palanquin was also waiting outside. Rangamma put the house in order and handed over everything to her husband Sitapati. She gave him the details regarding the gold meant for the girl’s jewels and all other things. She offered reverential salutation to him. But when she was just crossing the threshold, some body sneezed. Sitapathi sank. He advised her to start after a short time. Accordingly, Rangamma went in.

Almost the entire village was there. They had a feeling that Ranganima would not reen ver and come back, In their thoughts and looks one could clearly see their pity for Sita pati and concern for the little giri’s welfare.

Maridamma was also drow- ned in sorrow, thinking that she had to shoulder all responsi- bilities, which appeared to be a kind of legacy in the family.

The girl Anasuya Devi read the anxiety of Sitapati, realized the mental agony of Marida- mma and perceived the hidden haunted fears of the villagers. But there was no place for fear or sorrow in Her steadfast mind.

Rangamma was ready after a while. She approached her husband Sitapati suppressing her surging sorrow. She handed over the girl to him. She fought with the ever increasing waves of sorrow in an attempt to appear confident before her husband. It was in vain and she fell on his feet as a helpless bird shot down by an arrow. Her sorrow knew ho bounds. Sitapati was greatly moved and his tears began to drench the head of Rangamma, who was there on his feet.

Sitting in his arms, Anasuya Devi wiped out his tears with Her tiny fingers and comforted him endearingly.

‘No. That’s no good, father! Please ask my mother to get up’.

Keeping the girl on a mat, Sitapati lifted up his wife and comforted her saying, ‘you’ll be alright. Even otherwise, what else can you do? If I am lucky, you’ll be cured’.

Again after a while he said, At last for the sake of the girl, you must not weep. Or else she will be sorrowful.

Then he looked at the girl. She was lying like Vatapatra Shayi, with her hand under her. head. With her peaceful looks, her face was calm and collected.

Sri Sithapati thought that the girl did not understand any thing and felt happy about it. Taking the girl into his hands, he led his wife to the palanquin. Rangamma got into the palan quin and stretching out her hands, she received the girl.

They broke a coconut and the palanquin moved on. Ran gamma forgot all her sorrow and the rest of the world while hugg ing the girl on her heart. All the time, she was more concerned with the welfare of the girl than that of either Sitapathi or her son.

‘Child! where will you stay after my death?’

‘Everywhere!’ replied Devi.

“That means?”

‘Everywhere, mother! That means, I will stay wherever you keep me’.

‘No, my child, tell me with whom you like to stay’, entreated Rangamma.

‘I will be with all people, mother. Then, keep me wherever you like’.

‘My innocent girl! Rang amma kissed the girl, overwhel med with that wise prattling and again said:

‘Anybody means? Should they not look after you with all care?’

I should also look after them carefully, replied Devi with a smile.

‘No, child! The elders should

look after you carefully’. ‘No, Mother! Those that can

Soon the past unfolded itself before Rangamma and she re- collected how the girl once replied that she would be the Mother in future.

Suddenly the palanquin came to a halt. The small bells of the Dhwaja Stambha of Che nnakesava Temple at the nearby village Mulukuduru were Chim- ing. The washermen carrying the palanquin took off their shoes and offered their prayers. Rang amma also looked that way with folded hands. She found Ana suya Devi on the tower of the temple stretching out Her hands. It was just like the stretched out hands of a mother for her child. Rangamma was greatly surprised and looked at her own lap to find her daughter sleeping peacefully. Such precious expe riences were plenty, but the Divine Descent passed unpercei ved for a long time.

Again the palanquin started and Rangamma was deep in thought.

“This little girl has been a rare gift to me, but the cruel death awaits me too early”.

The palanquin entered Bapatla and stopped at the house look after others are the elders’- of Rangamma’s uncle, Chandra mouli Chidamabar Rao who came out to receive them. From the next day onwards Rangamma had the treatment from Dr. Desiraju Appa Rao and in two months she recovered well. Everybody was confident of her complete recovery.

But nobody seemed to think of the girl, Devi. Maridamma who was interested in her, left for Nizamabad and Sitapathi was fretfully anxious about the health of his wife. Hence none cared to see whether the girl had her food in time or not.

The wheel of time moves on and Anasuya Devi was then 4 years and 2 months old. One day Manga Tayaru of Muttaya palem who usually supplied fire- wood to them, asked Punnamima, the wife of Chidambara Rao, to give her some money. But when she refused to give it, Tayaru left the place. Then Devi pleaded for the poor woman,

“Aunt! she asked only for some change. You could have found it at any corner in our house. Poor woman, she would not have asked us unless it was inevitable”.

“You are a small girl. Why do you bother about it?”

With all impatience, punna- mma still searched and found some money in a corner,

“Go and give her this money because you seem to be full of kindness!” mildly Punnamma reproached the girl.

Anasuya Devi went out in search of Tayaru.

Tayaru was in a stores, imploring the manager for a loan. He ignored her request and was illtreating her. She was about to shed tears,

“If you don’t give me, who else can give me a loan?”

“Who gives for all beings? – Only that God!” replied the shopman mockingly,

Suddenly Devi came to the shop and saw Tayaru in that pitiable condition. She put that money she brought in the hands of Tayaru. The shopman was greatly surprised and Tayaru was overwhelmed with joy. She began to shed tears of joy and gratitu de and took up the child. She brought the things she required and entreated the girl thus:

“Would you house, sweet girl?” come to our

That was an unfulfilled desire of Tayaru for a pretty long time and the girl consented then. With great joy she took the girl to her home and gave her some ground-nuts and a piece of jaggery. Asking her to play out side. Tayaru went into the kitchen.

Devi slowly walked and reached the beach. The little moonlight was playful with the waves of the sea. The small waves strove in vain to touch the Holy feet of the girl on the shore. Then they wailed and moned and their sorrow was carried by the sympathetic winds.

A fisherman came there in the meanwhile. An evil thought sprang up in his mind at the sight of a little girl standing lone- ly with jewels all over her body. The poor man seized the oppor. tunity and hoped to emerge into heart affluence by next morning.

He lifted up the child care. ssingly and offered her a small guava fruit that was preciously preserved at his girdle. Gradu- ally he stripped off her jewels. But a doubt crept in his mind as to what would happen if this girl were to give away the secret to somebody. Then he would be caught and his jewels and his precious life would be no more. Hence he callously thought of putting an end to her.

Anasuya Devi looked at him calmly. She did not shout out of fear, nor wept out of sorrow, nor revolted out of hatred. She was happy when he gave her a a fruit and equally happy when he stripped off her jewels.

But there was no change in the cruel thoughts of that fisher- man. Kindness would not find a place in that callous heart. Selfishness supressed all traces of kindness and justice. He lifted up the girl with both his hands and flung her far into the sea with all his might.

Nature protests against the cruelty of man- There was in tense lightning in which not only the sea, but the entire universe gleamed. The darkness in his Was driven out and he jumped into the sea shouting, “Mother……. Mother!”.

He moved deep into the sea but the waves were harsh to him and threw him down for his un pardonable crime. He was almost struggling for life in water when two hands lifted him out of water and threw him on the shore. As he opened his eyes he found Devi sitting normally on the shore. But the radiance on her face was too bright for his weak eyes and his guilt was so heavy that he could not speak. He leapt on to her feet and began to repent.

Get up! child! why do you weep!. She said with all sim plicity and innocence of a child.

‘I made a mistake. Save this sinner, Mother! He got up and collected all the jewels and put them back on her with repentance. Devi spoke endear- ingly.

What you had collected was your own wealth, son! You came back with life and that is enough for me. That is all the wealth I want. This is the wea Ith you want. A mother’s wealth is her child and a child’s wealth is the jewellery.

The firsherman took her to his home and bestowed all care and affection on her that night. Anasuya Devi got ready to go back to her home on the next morning. The fisherman told her that he would guide her on the way.

Did you accompany me at the time of my coming? And then what did you do afterwards? Protection and punishment are always in the hands of One! But anyway I had a feast in your house.”

With such a sublime reply, Devi went back to Tayaru’s house, Tayaru searched and waited for the girl the night be. fore and later thought that she might have gone home lonely. Tayaru was then greatly surpri sed at the unexpected return of the girl.

Where were you all the night? asked Tayaru.

Without revealing all that had happened, Devi replied that she slept at a fisherman’s house. After sometime the girl went home straight. Having seen her mother sleeping in a cot she went up to the first floor.

Chidambara Rao was a re nowned lawyer and went to the court that day after returning from Madras.

Nobody noticed the absence of Anasuya Devi the night be fore and none asked her about it when she returned home.

It was the seventh month of conception for Rangamma. She recovered much either be cause of the great interest of the doctor or because of the powerful medicines he used.

It was 7 A. M- on the New Moon day in Bhadrapada. Rang amma asked Sitapati whether they could go home as she had recovered almost completely.

Shortly afterwards, a mess age came from Venkata Subba iah, Rangamma’s father, enqui ring about her welfare. That was from Tenali and they in formed him on Railway telephone that she was alright.

The doctor called on her as usual and sent some medicine for her. As Rangamma took that medicine, stomach ache began instantly.

It was 1-30 P. M. and the stomach-ache became unbearable. They gathered round her but none could help her. The doctor examined her again and again and used various drugs for her improvement. But it was all in vain.

Then at 4 P. M. Rangamina told them that she would live no longer. Sitapati came back from the court and informed his father-in-law who was at T nali, on Railway phone, about the serious condition of Rang amma.

Chidambara Rao sat by her and asked her affectionately. “What will you do, niece?’

‘What is it I can do? What more can you do? You brought me here with best intentions and you did your best along with the doctor. But I am finishing my mortal life. Still, uncle…”

Alas! the pain was so severe that she could speak no more. With a far reaching cry, she coi led herself and her body became dark instantly. Sitapati looked at her helplessly with eyes bedewed.

‘He is innocent…a Dharmaraja …the boy is naughty … the girl is innocent. How can they live later.

Rangamma expressed her anxiety in a feeble tone.

Why do you bother about it now?”

If this tiny girl of mine lives…”

She drew the girl nearer and hugged her. Sitapati took the girl and asked his wife to sleep peacefully.

If she (the girl) lives, marry herself to a rich and a gifted-per son, give away all my gold to her, Rangamma expressed her last wish.

Soon the Local Fund Doe tor of Bapatla was brought in. Having examined her, he said that a serious mistake was made decidedly in the treatment. But he despaired of her recovery as it was too late. He advised them to proceed legally against Dr.D.Appa Rao who was respon sible for her sinking.. Even though drowned in sorrow, Sitapati soberly said..

“No action is necessary against anybody. This is all my fate. I thought of it even at the time of this girl’s birth.”

Janikamma suggested that it would be better if Dr. Tummalapalli Hari Narayana was brought down from Tenali to examine the patient. Accor- dingly Sitapati went to the sta- tion to board a train for Tenali.

Rangamma beckoned her son and daughter (Devi) and took their hands into her own and kissed them. She put them into the hands ofChidambar Rao and looked on them patheti cally. Finally she asked them: 

“Is he (husuband) there?”

“No niece. You can tell us what you want to tell him?”

How can I tell you what I want to tell him.

Her voice became feebl and tremulous and her eyes lost their lustre. Her son and daugh ter were taken in and they were given food.

“Call him(husband) please,” Rangamma said. A man ran to the station to bring Sitapati back to the house.

But the engine puffed and started by the time the man reached the station.

“Is he not there?……… Has not come?”” she sighed hefeebly.

The sun sank while the whole town was in tears.

“Death is better than a life without pains. Hardship is like consciousness. If that is absent, man is as good as dead.”

– Mother


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