[This serial is published in response to the ever growing number of requests from the devotees of Mother, from all corners of this pious land, to publish details of Her life. Every effort has been made to collect the information about her from her birth onwards and it is being published in this Monthly The original is in Telugu and as such, much of the beauty of Telugu expression may be missing in this translation. However, no stone is left unturned to present the inspiring episodes from the life of Mother.
Mannava is a remote village in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. It was a village which prided itself over the community of orthodox Brahmins, of which the family of pious Sri Sitapati and his devoted wife Srimathi Rangamma was renowned for its simplicity and spiritual awakening in the area. But as life is composed of broken arcs, the pious couple had many a woe to endure. They had many children, but most of them died early in life making the life of the parents a broken reed. To get out of the valley of despair, they approached many fortune tellers and temples. They wor- shipped Lord Chennakeshava to whom the temple was dedicated in that village. But when their prayers were not answered, they stopped worshiping any deity.
Once Sithapati had a rare and mysterious vision when he was sitting in dejection under a tree. He saw in that vision a seven year old girl who transformed herself into Lord Channake swara and Lakshmi. The same form of the girl reappeared to him. The significance of the dream was not perceived by him.
On another occasion Sitapati had a dream in which he saw an awe-inspiring lady, with kum kum prominently on her forehead, clearing his house of all its contents and later sitting in a chair in the middle of the house. On being asked who she was, she replied, “I am the Mother.” A learned Purohit explained the significance of the dream to Sitapati that a divine being will be born in his family. Thus as the Sun proclaims his coming by brightening the entire horizon, the Divine spirit has given an indication of its mani- festation, in more than one way.
It was an auspicious dawn when the bells in the temple and the loquacious birds awakened the world with their soft and sweet music. The Sun pleasantly dispelled the lingering darkness and a soft and gentle breeze promised a happy time. The auspicious music from the temple announced an event of great significance to the world.
At such an auspicious hour, in that simple and pious family of Sithapati and Rangamma of Mannava village, Anasuyadevi was born on the 11 th day of the first month in Rudhirodgari, to baffle the thoughts of even intel- lectuals and philosophers at a later stage. At the time of her birth, there were Sethupathi and his sister Kanakamma, who would be the mother-in-law of Anasuyadevi, and Koti, the mid- wife along with an attendant Nagamma. Her life is like a rare and magnificent House Beautiful, where a few blessed people had seen some chambers. They open for us the delightful first chapter in Incarnation.
Anasuya Devi is born with twisted hands and legs and she is white in complexion. She does not cry after her birth which causes considerable anxiety to one and all. The village midwife Koti thinks that she is a still-born child and shouts alarmingly. “Can it be that this child is also lost? Our good Rangamma is unfortunate to put the babies under the sod already four times’ ‘. Shocked at it, Rangamma looks at the face of the baby and finds her own misery reflected therein. She is startled at it and becomes cold and clammy. Koti is much more surprised at the apparent cruelty of fate and expresses a doubt to Seethapathi that his wife is also lost. Looking into the face of the baby, the midwife asks whether she is born. to snatch away the life of pious Rangamma. Then the baby begins to cry, bringing the ray of hope to one and all and Rangamma also moves gently.
Thus as Kanakamma(Bamma) remarked often, “Long before the people thronged round her (Mother) like this, there were many wonders right from her birth-nay, the very birth itself is a great wonder.”
As soon as Devi is born another midwife Nagamma takes a string and a knife to cut the cord of the navel. She tries to tie the string round the cord, but the string appears to be too long. With disgust she takes the knife which shines like Tri- sula and becomes too big for her small grip. As she looks at the navel with great wonder, it appears like a conch. She is much more puzzled at it, but more wonders await her. She finds the navel like lotus unusually soft, in which she sees the figure of a mother standing. The midwife thinks that the baby is born under the influence of witchcraft and it may take some time before she can be recovered. Then she finds the petals of the lotus tossing and the figure in it moving round. Unable to interpret the delight- ful vision, the midwife closes her eyelids for sometime and opens them later. Then the knife appears to her as normal. She explains away the delay for her reeling sensation, but her mind is fixed on that vanished vision.
AnasuyaDevi is born in the 4th division of Aslesha and that too with inauspicious Varjya. As Sithapathi is much more pulled down by this, he hears the piercing cry of the baby and he satisfies himself that she is healthy enough, without any cause for anxiety. Then the midwife comes and tells him that he is fortunate for the day. But he says;
“That is exactly what I am also thinking; but the problem is for the rest of the day. My life itself has become a huge problem.”
Bowed down with a heavy heart, stricken with grief, he thinks of the village whose level is raised with his buried babies. Then two tears escape his eyes and drop on his feet. When he looks at them he finds a new born baby reflected in those tears. Thinking that it may be due to his illusion, he goes near his wife and stands there looking on. Rangamma rests with. a feeling that something heavy and too big for her on the cot. She wishes to express it to her husband and as she opens her eyes, she finds him there. They shed tears unknowingly.
Rangamma nods her head asking her husband to look at the child and the child all alone moves its head to look at them. She draws the girl nearer thinking that it will be better if somebody adopts her. She asks her husband,
“Have you looked into the Calendar? Did you write to my father?”
“Even if a letter is written can they change the horoscope?” he heaves a sigh and continues.
“There is some difference between other deliveries and this delivery.”
Then the midwife comes and asks: “Madam, have you fed the baby?”
Pitying herself, Rangamma says: “My milk is sinful, Nagamma.”
“You give it now, later on I shall rear the baby,” advises Nagamma. As Rangamma tries to feed the baby, her husband cautions her: “Be careful. The baby is delicate, but it does not matter if her life is not as deli- cate as her body.”
Then Rangamma lifts up the twisted legs of the baby when they appear to be as lengthy as a yard. With a feeling that a short lived baby is too long. Rangamma takes the fingers of the baby into her own. Then the long and slim fingers of the baby appear like the rays of the Sun. Unknowingly, Rangamma lets out tears and peals of laughter at the same time. She finds the baby dirty but the entire house is filled with inex- plicable dazzling light. Controll- ing herself after a while she speaks:
“Well, what time has elapsed since my mother was born? Nay- what is it I am calling her ‘Mother’ I mean the baby”, asks Rangamma. Perhaps that is a proud and blessed moment for her. “It is about six hours, Madam”, answers Nagamma and continues to remark: “Your child opened her eyes and the Sun is severe. I have been immensely happy. I had the unique experience a little while ago”. With these words Na gamma takes the baby into her arms and goes to the backyard to give her a bath. She takes her towards the kitchen saying:
“Will you give water for my Mother?”
“You have brought the newborn to the kitchen side! Will this not be polluted? Go that side and I shall get you water”, so saying Kanakamma sprinkles holy water. Fondling the child after the bath she says, I am afraid of drying you up with a towel lest your tiny feet and hands should come away.” She also informs her brother Sita pati that “Mother is white like a roll of cotton,” implying there is the fair complexion and purity but delicate nature of the baby.
“What have the former children done with their sturdy nature? All this is a matter of paying back one’s debt,” speaks Sitapati dejectedly.
Sleeping peacefully in the hands of Kanakamma, Mother seems to reply that “Life itself is a debt.” These words ring in his mind, but he satisfies himself that this is only a feeling of his own mind.
It is now twelve noon and the neighbors gather to felicitate them on the birth of the new baby.
“Well, a daughter-in-law is born for you?”, they caiole Kanakamma.
“No, my friends, What I thought earlier did not come through. Man proposes and God disposes. Moreover this girl cannot be my daughter-in- law as she is too young.”
“This girl will be your daughter-in-law without fail and a difference of ten years in age is not too much…
If it is ordained so, it will happen,” they assure her.
“Of Course that is true. Nay, enough of it, I have come to this Brahmanandam family,” photo-phones Kanakamma.
“The baby is not fed so far,” so saying Kanakamma gives her own milk to the child. She continues, “My milk is good, I think it will not spoil her health.”
“How good your milk is! It is truthful. Please give it to the child daily,” entreats Ran- gamma.
“Oh, then my boy will not be able to get good feeding,” argues Bamma. (Kanakamma)
“Your boy will have milk from me and you can feed my daughter with yours.”
“Your girl can relish my milk but my boy cannot tolerate yours,” replies Kanakamma.
As Kanakamma feeds the baby, she feels that the baby is her own. As though to confirm the feeling, the girl nods her head. Kanakamma doubts with delight whether the child has read her mind. But she contents herself with the idea that the child nodded its head due to weakness.
You have not given the baby castor oil. Hence due to dirt in the belly, she nodded her head. You can give it after an hour,” advises Kanakamma.
With all tenderness and affection Kanakamma strokes the cheeks of the girl, asking her to sleep. Turning towards Rangamma she says “Turn towards the child and lie down.”
“Whenever I turned towards the new born they passed away. So it is good, if Mother turns towards me, so that she will live,” sentimentally replies Ran gamma.
“Your back should not turn to the child, and I think you know the tale of Vennamma,” cautions Kanakamma.
Then Koti, the midwife, is kept by the side of the cot and Kanakamma goes away.