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THE TAMARIND GROVE (Chinthala Thopu)

Marakani Dinakar
Magazine : Viswajanani
Language : English
Volume Number : 12
Month : December
Issue Number : 5
Year : 2012

The word ‘Chit’ means the one force that is all pervasive, all permeating and ever luminous that causes bliss to the person. Again the word ‘Antha’ means that it  is diffused all over. When both these words fuse it becomes ‘Chintha’. This word ‘Chintha’ is an active noun meaning thinking, brooding, musing and so on which also connotes the other similar synonyms. ‘Chinthana’ again when used alone or to qualify any other subject, means the process of reflection, contemplation and so on as per the various synonyms that are available and being used. By its implication these words could also imply or mean inner probing or deep introspection.

Dr. Sripada Gopalakrishna Murthy when attempted collating the sayings and thoughts of AMMA and tried to crystallize the same termed it AMMA CHINTHANAM’. J.F.Nieland, a Dutch national, stayed at Jillellamudi. AMMA saw him at Hyderabad to bless him when he was admitted into the Ct.Theresa’s Hospital at Hyderabad during October 1974. Nieland coined the expression ‘AMMANESS’ to convey the thinking of AMMA or to expound HER school of thought. This expression came up as a sequel to AMMA’S Hyderabad visit in the year 1974.

But the word ‘Chintha’ in the vernacular also means  tamarind and refers to the trees and the substance of tamarind that is often added to the curries and condiments to give it a sour taste. Elders of Mannava and the legends convey AMMA liked the tamarind tree and tasted its sap which is termed ‘Tinthrini Sudha’ in Brother Manna Butchi Raju Sarma’s songs. These songs are most acclaimed said to contain and depict the trials and tribulations which AMMA has undergone during HER physical form like any ordinary housewife. AMMA says in vernacular- “Naku Chinthakulanna Chintha Kayalanna, Chintha Rasamanna Ishtam”To capture this in English “I relish tamarind leaves, tamarind fruit and tamarind juice”. In the vernacular telugu the “CHINTHA’ means grief and affliction too.

Having dealt with these words it is proper to expound that AMMA named a chapter depicting the episode that took place in the “Chinthala Thopu”,that is a tamarind grove very close by in Mannava in HER native village, the birthplace of AMMA. This is one chapter in HER authentic autobiography that reveals several metaphysical aspects of AMMA revolving around the happenings within the tamarind grove of Mannava.

When AMMA scales up the tamarind tree and tries perching herself on one of its thin branches it gives way. This triggers HER thinking. Oftentimes, AMMA got above the almond tree in the back yard to pluck the leaves for dining purposes for her grandfather or anyone else, its branches supported HER. It is a matter of common knowledge that the branches of an almond tree are light and brittle. On the contrary the branches of a tamarind tree are firm, thick and strong. AMMA thinks aloud about this happening. While beginning thus AMMA is lost in a stream of thoughts emanating 

from within. Let us for a moment concern ourselves with such loud thinking and the subsequent thought flow.

First and foremost let us discern the apparent paradox of the almond tree supporting AMMA and the more enduring tamarind tree breaking its branch. The physical laws of vegetation cannot explain this unusual phenomenon. Could the reason be something else for this visible, apparent contradiction?

If we look at this more incisively, could it be because of AMMA’S extraordinary being that overcomes the known physical laws in any domain. This could be attributed to the pronouncement of AMMA that ‘SHE IS UNBOUND’ (“Naa Jeevitham Abadham”), thereby meaning that SHE is beyond the confines of dimension and substance or even the five elements.

One other mystic explanation that can be offered readily is that when a person attains ‘Siddhi’ or gains ‘Ashta Siddhis’ HER being could be light or heavy at will. If we are inclined towards this theory, it is plausible that AMMA has become so light at that moment, she could be supported by the frail, brittle branch of the almond tree. Much more so, because even the purpose for getting over the almond free is very trivial and mundane which could have been viewed very casually by AMMA? This prompting is

not unlikely in the given scenario that is presented.

AMMA muses that the fruits of the tamarind tree are not all equal but vary in taste. Even the tamarind tree is not all the same but changes itself. The tamarind tree grows, develops foliage, branches ramify, it flowers, bears fruits of different sizes, shapes, quite likely even the taste of these fruits varies. But the tree does not exhibit all these traits at the very same moment but at different moments, as time unfolds. This change occurs as time moves on. AMMA concludes whether time unfolds the change in the tree and time alone is the cause for change. Or more precisely, is time alone the determinant of change? Plausible answer to this poser is that any material or living form is ‘Anithya’, transient, so it develops and decays over the passage of time. AMMA terms the process of ‘ANITHYA’ defined in ancient lore as but the process of transformation over time.

AMMA perched atop the tamarind tree is able to see the entire Mannava village. At this AMMA raises the question whether the tamarind tree is showing HER the entire vista or SHE is viewing the same. Which could be true? After musing for a while, resolves that “I have thought of all this, the tree, the village and so on. It is I who has seen all this. Decidedly it is me that is the cause of all this.”?

While AMMA is reflecting thus, an old man passing underneath the very same tree thinks “It is I who planted this tree which has now grown to this stage.” This person does not see AMMA though passing under the same tree. Reading the thoughts of this person AMMA declares “I am that I am”. “I am the very fusion of all the singular I’s” (all the individual entities in this world). Thus referring to or conferring HER unique, mega, universal seamless self which is the fusion or the very confluence of all individual selves, like the waves in the ocean.

In fact, AMMA concludes that this is nothing but the essence of reasoning by negation (Neti Neti Mahavakyas). In this mode of speculation every aspect is isolated as not significant or untrue, by virtue of its transience or change, deterioration subject to time leading in the end to the one remaining and ever enduring self the ‘Athman’. Such ‘Athman’ again is nothing but a reflection of the Universal Eternal Soul’ that is boundless and infinite that contains every manifestation the visible, as also the unseen and invisible.

Just then, Gangaraju Punniah garu, resident of Mannava, is passing the very same way. AMMA shouts at him calling ‘Grandpa’, ‘Grandpa’. He looks around and does not find any one. Unable to see anyone around, he looks up at the tamarind tree top; he gets the vision of Lord Krishna. He shouts to everyone nearby that Lord Krishna is visible and rushes to the tree. At this point of time, AMMA stands on the tree top without any visible support. AMMA is five and half years old at this point of time.

Sri Punnaiah runs ahead to the road and rushes back to the tree. Now he even sees the halo of Lord Krishna around AMMA. The fact is that he is a devotee of Lord Krishna and perceives his chosen deity in AMMA. AMMA gets down the tree and asks him whether he is playing and if so SHE too shall join the play. In this devotional trance, he places AMMA on his shoulders and runs into the village shouting the name of his choice deity Krishna

Mannava village folk presume because AMMA has no mother, he is caring for the child and carrying her. In the process he is carried away and overwhelmed by his devotion to Krishna Further as the usually calm and collected person Punnan is running around the streets they begin to doubt whether he is imbalanced momentarily. Even tus brother Ramasubbiah presuming so follows SriPunnaiah.

Sri Punnaiah oblivious of his surroundings, totally unmindful of his home even, runs around the village thrice and finally enters the residence of Sri Sitapati, AMMA’S father. He stops chanting and becomes still standing within the house. Bewildered Grandmother Maridamma comes afore and questions him as to why he is carrying on his shoulder the little AMMA Remarks that Lord Krishna is always with him and that is what Sri Rangamma, AMMA’S natural mother quite plausibly has.conveyed to the child AMMA.

Listening to her, Sri Punnaiah loudly responds “Why do you presume so? At the very moment, Lord Krishna is verily with me and right now on my shoulder, showing the little AMMA.” Saying this he starts dancing without even holding AMMA. Apprehensive of AMMA falling down Grandfather Chidambara Rao tries to pick up AMMA who did not come down clinging to Punnaiah. Grandfather observed these questions as to how Punnaiah glued AMMA to himself. AMMA replies saying that he fused the self within him to the larger self in the being of AMMA. That is “I am THAT I AM” (Nenu Nenina Nenu).

Hearing  this Grandfather, seeks a clarification whether it is a fusion of the souls or more likely the attraction of the mortal soul to the mega soul of AMMA (Paramathma). Or more precisely Punnaiah I did it with his soul? AMMA clarifies this issue by saying that the soul is such that it cannot be fixed, fused or attached physically. It is the one that pervades or permeates all over. Such a mega soul is seamless, covering one and all.

Punnaih puts down AMMA and listens to all this dialogue between the granddaughter and the grandfather in a dazed condition unable to decipher the content. Grandfather pleads with AMMA to explain this point further. AMMA replies “I do not know”. AMMA says there is much more to clarify but SHE will convey what is generally said or commonly understood.

AMMA to illustrate this aspect further draws a circle on the ground. Questions as to which is the most important point of this circle? Grandfather again questions whether SHE means the circle, within the circle or outside the circle? AMMA responds if he knows within the circle the answer is as well given.

Again Grandfather repeats whether it is the line around the circle or the center which is the very base for drawing the circle. He concludes that all are important, the line, circle and all. AMMA again stressed as to which is the most important one on the line of the circle.

Grandfather responds saying that the starting point is the most important. AMMA queries again which is important at the very beginning, even for starting? Grandfather replies “It is the volition (Sankalpam).” To this reply AMMA again raises a question “Why at all raise the issue of volition? Are not the finger, the finger nail and the earth too are equally important?” Grandfather “Aren’t all these three related to the very same volition of drawing the circle?”

AMMA: “The volition is not physically manifest while the other three are visibly seer, and manifest In this given situation, one shall first mention the three visible aspects and then touch upon the subjective, invisible volition.”

Grandfather smiling jocularly “Why not do so”

AMMA: “Not that is not plausible; yet if one starts with those visible and moves to the invisible,subjective aspect; evidently the person understands better which is to be excluded and that which is not there?”

Grandfather: “Where from this intelligence of yours has arisen?” AMMA: “It is from the very same source from which all of you obtained yours.” Meaning thereby that the prime force or the original cosmic source is the one for all and from where one begets everything, even one’s intelligence.

While all this dialogue is going on and the sequel continues in a good humored mode, grandmother Maridamma intervenes saying “Are you only bothered with your conversation; are you not concerned with the condition of Punnaiah and listen to his plight?” AMMA responds saying “I have not heard him; I have caressed or cared for him like his very mother.” While this conversation goes on in a mild manner with AMMA, on the possibilities and HER capability, everyone looks at Sri Punnaiah, a little surprised.

Reason being that Sri Punniah emerges out of his trance, collects himself and becomes his normal self. He draws AMMA closer to himself, kisses her saying, “Oh! Little child, you are the little mother who lost her mother.”

Amma: “By saying I am the mother without the mother; do you mean mother means the beginning?” All this begins with the mother or  motherhood. Grandfather 

Chidambara Rao clarifies that what Punnaih means is that SHE lost her mother, and that Punnaih’s words do not construe what AMMA implied. AMMA retorts that SHE did not refer to his intentions or what he implied but his words mean the very same sense that AMMA conveyed. (MOTHER MEANS THE BEGINNING).

About this moment, Punnaiah intervenes saying “We do not possess the stature of Lord Krishna or we are not similarly endowed while AMMA is placed on such a divine plane of Lord Krishna and is similarly placed by virtue of HER very being, SHE could infer all this meaning out of the commonplace words uttered by him. AMMA brushes aside the impressions on what has been said at that precise moment by Punniah and the comments of Grandfather Chidambara Rao.

Getting more serious, AMMA QUESTIONS Punnaiha: “Tell me what differentiates Lord Krishna from his stature or status?”

Punniah: “Mother, I cannot answer this in specific terms. Yet, while looking at you I am inclined to doubt (feel), whether YOU are the very same Lord Krishna?” AMMA: “Verily it is only you who doubt ME to be  Lord Krishna. Otherwise, you could have addressed ME as the Lord Krishna himself.”

Venkata Subbiah: “Presuming that we have raised the very same question that you have put and give us the answer”

AMMA: “Krishna consciousness (being) (Tathva) means the qualities, traits or characteristics of the Lord Krishna. While the persona of God Krishna means merely his divine entity, the person himself. For depicting the qualities of Krishna our epics dwelt on the same. Wherever we find such qualities described in our epics, we are conceptualizing the same as Krishna Tathva. ” Listening to this clarification from AMMA, Punnaih exclaims “He (Krishna) is but this AMMA; this AMMA is but the very same Lord Krishna.”

Saying so, he swoons. Everyone presumes he got into a trance once again as in the morning; all stand up and keep looking at him. By then, his mouth, hand and leg get into a deformed twist like the person suffering a paralytic stroke.

Grandmother Maridamma thinks that this could be the real reason for their journey being put off, approaches him and feels his pulse. For a moment she thinks about whether he passed away. Yet concludes that he is still alive and is in his final moments. All of them lift Punnaiah, carrying him to his home. He did not breathe his last till 7P.M. that night..

AMMA visits his dwelling to know of his condition. When AMMA reaches him and stands before him. He opens the eyes to look at HER; moves his till then unyielding hands and bows to AMMA. Punniah in his faltering words confirms in finality. “YOU are the ONE who stood on the tree top.” Then widens his eyes, tries getting up concluding affirmatively with little room for doubt “YOU AND YOU ALONE” Thereby, confirming in his final moments that AMMA is but Lord Krishna. He breathes his last uttering these words. Thus Punniah merges in the ‘Paramathma’, none else but the eternal AMMA.

(In the official autobiography of AMMA, this is a very touching episode termed “Cinthala Thopu’ meaning the tamarind grove in English. This is the apparent literary meaning. Other vernacular implied meanings of this word are already conveyed in the beginning. In its innate sense it is a stream of thoughts in AMMA’S consciousness that is boundless. These are HER musings on the very crucial metaphysical aspects like the self, universal motherhood, all pervasive beings (Nenu Nenina Nenu), Krishna’s godliness and so on. The truth is that the tamarind grove (Chinthala thopu) has virtually become the abode of ‘Chintha’ or ‘Chinthana’ a much deeper inner reflection by AMMA for the benefit of others understanding AMMA’S true being.)

(Adapted from ‘Chinthala Thopu’ from ‘JEEVITHA MAHODADHI’ AMMA’S authentic autobiography.)

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