Anasuya Devi, as a girl, used to go to Bhavanarayana Swamy Temple daily at Bapatla. At the same hour Anasuya, the daughter of Panguluri Seshatalpa Sayee and Nagalakshmi, the daughter of Madhavapeddi Kali Das, also used to go to that temple. It was their usual pleasure to spend some hours under a blossomed tree in that temple.
Devi never offered a coconut to the Lord, whereas the other two girls offered coconuts now and then. “Why don’t you bring a coconut anyday?” Naga Lakshmi asked Devi.
Ah, she has brought dust (with the feet)……it is enough,” quipped Panguluri Anasuya.
What can I do? Whom can I ask to give me a coconut! I wonder whether they would give me one even if I ask them?”
With these words, Devi looked at Her own feet to find the particles of sand brought in.
“Well, does not the sand come in along with those that bring coconuts?” asked Devi.
She looked at the feet of those girls and found the parti cles of sand there also.
“Why does this dust or sand come along with our feet at all? asked Devi.
“Because we tread on the earth.”
“Are there some in creation who don’t walk on this earth/” asked Devi.
Then they all came out of the temple. They found people mostly walking on the road, except those that moved in vehicles. But even these vehicles moved on the earth. cattle moved on the earth and even though the birds perched on the branches of trees, the trees depended on the earth.
Explaining the nature of such things, Anasuya Devi came nt and collected some flowers and Tulasi and went in. As the Archaka was otherwise busy. she kept the flowers on the floor and stood silent. After a while the Archaka was surprised to find the flowers on the floor and exclaimed:
“How could you keep the flowers on the Hoor, when they are meant for the goddess?
As the plant sprouted from the earth only. I thought I could keep the flowers on the floor.. If so, is it wrong that the plant should sprout from the earth?’ asked Devi.
By then many people flocked there with their offerings and the Archaka escaped to answer that gestion.
All the three girls came out and sat on the Mandapa. They gave Anasuya Devi a part of the Coconut. She broke it to pieces and said:
“Have you noticed this? … one (thing) has become many (pieces).”
“Yes.” They replied in stantly not knowing the signi ficance of Her remark. Nothing more was explained to them that day.
It was dark by then and the other two girls went home. But Devi waited there for some time reflecting on the nature of vari ous things, Sitting on the Mandapa, she asked the devotees what a coconut was and why it should be offered in a temple.
They thought that it was an impertinent or irrelevant ques tion and neither answered it nor attempted to answer it.
The Acharya of that place read out verses from Ramayana’ emphasising Dharma. As he completed reading Purana, Devi went to him and said:
“What is Dharma? Is it what we do or what we say or what we see? What, in truth is Dharma?” Devi pestered him with incessant questions. Over whelmed with the ovation of his audience the Acharya brushed aside Her questions and moved on.
“Is it not your Dharma’ to answer a question”? Shouted Anasuya Devi. But the Acharya ignored Her voice among the kind enquiries of his devoted audience. Devi went back to sit on the Mandapa. In a short while Bapatla Subbarao went there and looking at Her said:
“Why are you staying here so long? It is already 8.9 Clock and it’s late. There is Navarathri Puja in your house and I think your aunt has begun it auspi ciously”.
“Yes, there is. But would you please answer me if I ask you a question?”
“Yes, please do’.
They sat under the same blossomed tree in that temple and a lively discussion followed;
“The Kumkum, the turmeric powder with which we worship the Lord, the jewels with which we adorn Him, our offerings to Him and the plates in which we offer them, where do they born. and where do they get shaped?” asked Devi. This was a searching question and he replied:
Turmerie is produced from the earth and Kumkum is made of turmeric. Hence it is also of the same origin. The jewels are made of gold and silver which me dug out of the earth in a different form. The clothes are made of yarn and the yarn is made of cotton. The cotton also produced from the earth and our offerings consist of re vegetables, fruits, which are all born of the earth. Even the plates etc., are made of metals which are also from the earth.”
“Well, where is this God, who is worshipped, born!” Con tinued Devi curiously.
You mean the images in the tempies?’ asked Subba Rao, hesitantly. “Are not the images god Him self?”
“Why not…. Oh, yes….. murmured Rao. “When I say god’ why do you ask me whether they are images?’ said Devi.
“You are a small girl. Why do you bother about gods and devils. Go home,” advised. Subba Rao. As he went home,
Anasuya Devi back came to the same Mandapa. Later Sriramulu, the clerk of Chida- mbara Rao, came there along with his friends. Surprised at her loneliness, he said:
“Why are you here, girl, sitting lonely? Let’s go.”
He took the girl into his arms and told his friends
“A girl without her mother… a shrewd girl. She makes no Mischief.”
“That’s good. You have no children and you can adopt her’ his friends advised him.
“It’s too late and let’s go home,” again. suggested Sriramulu
Anasuya Devi expressed a desire to stay there for some time more.
“You say, 1 am a shrewd girl. Would you say the same thing even if I refuse to obey you? What do you mean by a good girl? you say I have Buddhi’. But even your dog has that quality,’ quipped Devi. “Goodness means good qualities (gunas), my child.”
“Is there anything without qualities (gunas) in the World? All have qualities,” replied Devi. “She seems to be a naughty girl,” said his friends, surprised at Her words.
“I shall give you a quarter of an anna (Kani), go and buy some thing before the shop is closed”, suggested Rao. “I am also asking you to get on (Kani),’ said Devi. He offered Her a quarter of an anna, but She refused to take it. She quibbled on the Telugu word Kani (1/4th Anna: go on), and asked him to continue the discussion. His friends laughed and said that She was worthy of Her grand father who was a poet.
They all started and Ana suya Devi also start d. holding the little finger of Sriramulu. But soon after the girl was found missing and no body knew when or where She went. She came back to the Sanctorium in the temple and stood still in a corner. The Archaka did not notice Her and closed the doors as usual before he left the place.
Anasuya Devi approached the image of Rajya Lakshmi in the temple, reflecting deeply on sublime things.
“He (Sriramulu) wondered whether god meant an image! Is it said: god different from an image or an image is god Himself?”
Musing on the sublime topic Anasuya Devi removed the eye dises and searched for the eyes of the image. But she found none. Then She removed the robes from the image and found only a stone. The image was painted and hence it was sticky. She addressed the image, but found no response from it. She tried to move it, but found it firm.
“The goddess looked diffe rent when She had all the orna ments! Then, is this decoration a god?” She continued: “Is the man who made these ornaments a god? Is this saree itselt a god? Is the sculptor who made this Vol. image a god? Is the person who thinks that all these things are godly, a god? or is the earth that has given us all these things a god? why is not this earth also worshipped? Is not the earth. the prop of all things in this world?” She mused.
Reflecting thus She asked the innocent world and the ignorant man in it some of these questions. She picked up A handful of dust and looking at
“Mother (Earth)! All things. that are born out of you, grow up in you and die in you are made worthy of worship. But you don’t allow man to perceive your worthiness and endurance. You bear (with us) when you ploughed and trampled. are You bear all burden without any difference between good and bad. How many volcanoes are there in your heart? You hide them there and look very calm and unperturbed and you feed the entire universe……”
You don’t budge even if some cruel persons cause blood shed or cut the throats of the innocent and smear your elegant body with blood for possessing You are firm even if your heart is broken with a hatchet, You don’t blame them, you don’t punish them. You are not even indifferent to them.. On the other hand, you take such cruel persons into your lap and comfort them there”.
Anasuyadevi became very emotional and was absorbed in this sublime thought. Looking constantly at the earth. She continued
“Why all this Endurance? Who recognises your magnani mity? Who perceives your no. bility and eminence? After a short silence She again mused
“Yes, it is not for any body or it is not for any body’s eulogy (that you bear with mankind). That is your nature; that is your Dharma; that is natural for your noble, sublime. pure and wide heart. In that farge heart.. there is place only for an eternal surging waves of kindness and affection…”
With a heart filled with gratitude, She prostrated on the earth and in an attempt to embrace the all-embracing earth, She clasped Herself. Again She said:
“Mother (Earth)! How sacred is your life history that is selfless and unparalleled! How sublime is your life that is full of sacri fice and magnanimity That is why I say, you are the Mother for all this Universe. In all this wide Universe, I say, you are the eminent goddess of Endurance. You are worthy of worship at all times by mankind.”
A Visitor complained to Mother about his wife: She just behaves as she pleases: sometimes she does not heed anybody’s words. She does not take care of the home and the children. She just takes a timely meal for herself and rests.
MOTHER (Smiling and in a light vein) That is the happ Jest condition! She does not heed anybody! She does like that just make us understand that the “samsara” which is constantly deluding us is an illusion. What even great sages failed to achieve, she has easily achieved! As per taking a timely meal, what’s there? Even great ones could not resist hunger and resorted to eating leaves and roots!