Food is the prime need of existence. Obviously it is for all species of a varied kind across all the world’s granting that life subsists everywhere in the universe. The mandir, mosque, gurdwara and the cathedral well regard offering the food though not so equally vociferous on this vital aspect of need.
In the ancient order, “Sanathana Dharma”, giving out, ‘Dana’ is accorded the priority among the good deeds, often termed the ‘Satkarmas’. Reason being giving others is deemed to benefit the recipient and grace the giver too equally. This being so when the mindset of the subject is such that of viewing the recipient as the redeemer of the giver’s ‘Karma’ or the very Almighty receiving the same in a human form to redress the subject.
Having said this, even over ‘Dana’ feeding others is placed on the highest perch of good deeds begetting the auspices for the doer. Here the reason adduced is in any other doling out, there is always the scope of giving more, leaving some room for discontent or dissatisfaction in the recipient’s heart. In respect of food, at the given point of time the individual can be fully satisfied to the point of utmost, complete fulfillment that the recipient cannot partake much more. Such completion of the ‘Dharma’ is feasible in no other good deed or ‘Satkarma’.
Apart from the righteous angle or the need perspective, the relevance of food merits to be considered in the universe on a pragmatic premise. Every being endowed with regular hunger that is to be fulfilled regardless of the age, gender, and species and so on all over the universe. This is the basic physical urge or need for all the living species equally with little distinction. The only exception being divine manifestations like AMMA or the highly evolved saints or yogis who can exist, survive even without food. This is conveyed in the phrase ‘Nirahara Maheswaran’.
Once the food is served the person has to digest and assimilate the food taken by him. This is done by an innate, natural gastric process within the system. This is analogous, synonymous with ‘Vaiswanaragni’, considered one of the sacred Panchganis which ought to be worshiped. This is living within every individual which causes the assimilation of food. This fire needs to be fed, subdued, and doused on a regular basis for every being.
Otherwise, the living system deteriorates, the physical form decays, disequilibrium sets in. When such inadequacy looms on a larger scale, discord and disharmony prevail disturbing the overall order in creation. Even hunger deaths may arise. Food deficiency or inadequacy on a larger scale, GOD forbid shall disturb the social stability and even unleash undesirable forces in the community.
These are precisely the reasons food is accorded a high priority in almost all religions. In the ‘Kali Yuga’ times of deficiency and scarcity unlike the previous well provided ‘Yugas’ this prescription becomes inviolably sacrosanct. AMMA pronounced that SHE is without hunger in this age of hunger, which is predominant. (“Ee Galilo Naku Akali Ledu”)
These are the premises which focus on the food security as the basic prime need for every society. The well being, harmony and auspices hinge on the fulfillment of this basic living need, adequately, if not abundantly. AMMA cared for others hunger ever since SHE was a toddler, as the anecdotes in HER authentic life saga convey. SHE has spared HER personal gold, other belongings placed HERSELF in apparent discomfort or hardship to fulfill this need for others at large.
AMMA viewed this as the MOTHER’S ordained lot to feed the children. SHE proclaimed that SHE has two discontents, one is to have ever more children and the other is feed them ever more to
their heart’s content. After getting into the wedlock with NANNAGARU and setting up the household in the sparse ARKAPURI of those days AMMA started feeding all those who came to see HER with devotion, deeming them as the children and not so much as devotees. As the Universal Mother, the MOTHER OF ALL, the entire existence, SHE decreed that it is HER commitment, ordainment to feed everyone. Besides, SHE shall feel hungry in empathy with all those famished and hungry.
NANNAGARU too graciously, in all magnanimity has taken up this onus and assumed the role of feeding all those who thronged to AMMA for receiving HER grace and blessing, with little respite. Eventually in the late 1950s, that is 15th August 1958, the present ANNAPOORNALYAM found its genesis, with the blessings of AMMA and NANNAGARU. Presently as everyone is aware, a mega project in the process of completion to accommodate ANNA POORNALAYAM in a well equipped all weather proof structure.
In the beginning, while dedicating the ANNAPOORNALYAM to the wider society, AMMA declared the same to be the day of freedom. Freedom to prepare food and serve each other with little distinction, in a common kitchen, with collective means pooled. Here to feed the person’s hunger is the prerequisite and no other social criterion. In such aphorisms, the inner essence is that for a populace, community or even a nation, fulfillment of hunger is the basic freedom or the precondition for the so – called political or economic freedom. Other freedoms do not subsist or sustainable in the backdrop of rampant hunger or without its fulfillment on an equal, egalitarian, universal plane.
In this premise, one intrinsic guideline is empathy for the hunger of others and ethical compulsions to well regard the same and it is the bounden duty to appease the hunger within one’s ambit, or capability. That is those well provided shall care for the worse off and cater to them. When this premise is extended a little further, it becomes obligatory in any society, for men of consequence, and those at the helm of affairs to account for the need of hunger and address the same purposefully. In other words this is mandatory for public policy for any nation in the world.
Besides personally living up this tenet, AMMA practiced and facilitated both directly and indirectly. Directly AMMA set a living, vibrant exemplary precedent ever worthy of emulation by all others. HER demonstration set up an ideal practice of feeding others wherever possible and permissible, preferably at all public places and pilgrim centers involving large gatherings on a regular basis.
To recall in the early 1980s, Sri P.V.R.K. Prasad I.A.S. a well known Executive Officer of the TTD, the most richly endowed pilgrim center in India used to come to Jillellamudi, through the association of one of his kith and kin. In one of his visits AMMA indicated to him that with all the monies, wealth and the other resources available at the disposal of TTD, they can as well begin free feeding of the pilgrims there with much facility.
To present the same in AMMA’s own words in the vernacular, read like this – “Vaadiki Antha Vosthundi Kada, Vadu Kooda Annalu Pettukopvachchu Kada” Inspired by these words Sri Prasad moved a resolution in the TTD Board, which was passed in the Board readily. Other private donors too chipped in and donated for the free feeding effort by TTD at Tirupati. Here one subtle point to be mentioned in the casual utterances of AMMA referring to the presiding deity of Tirumala Tirupathi, HER perspective of viewing the Lord of TTD as HER own child, son comes out apparently, ringing out in unmistakable terms. This is to vouch once again that AMMA regards GODS and Deities as HER own children with little distinction regarding them as the inclusive members of the universal fraternity, already covering the humans too in HER expansive motherhood.