Moving across the memory lane, my association with Brother Sri Racherla Lakshminarayana, dates back to the early 1970s, which spans across nearly four decades. Many were memorable events, poignant moments and life’s situations in which we passed through. Most obviously relate to Jillellamudi with a few exceptions here and there. It is not a hype to say we passed through thick and thin, the rough and the smooth in this context.
Age wise he is over a decade plus to me and even in the workplace Jillellamudi, where we found ourselves together, his seniority is more than a decade plus stretching up to nearly a couple of decades. In this small tribute it is far too difficult to recapitulate our equation. Nonetheless, it is felt appropriate to share a few moments and also capture Brother RL’s person and profile.
As an individual he is one of the early associates of Jillellamudi very close to AMMA, deeply devoted to HER and committed to the core in pursuing the ideals of AMMA and following HER precepts. The basic tenet of feeding or serving a meal to others he observed verbatim to the logical completion; sometimes even seemingly impracticable stretch. Once when not much of cooked fare is available at home, he is prepared to serve rice with chutney, tamarind liquid and whatever simply to cater to other’s needs and quench his hunger.
During October 1975, I recall serving at State Bank of India, Edlapadu for a very brief spell, very near Chilakaluripet about seven miles where Brother R.L. was working in the cotton trade and stayed with his family. Those days he is often referred to as the COTTON KING, because of his standing and reputation in that line of trade.
In that spell I was a little indisposed eating hotel food. He insisted and made it a point that I shall eat my meals at his place. His insistence prevailed over my embarrassed reluctance and took my evening meal at his house. To recall, those days his children were not yet grown up and used to feel quite at home. Kamala Akkaiah, his consort, always served me a sumptuous food, persuading me to eat many extra helpings.
Apart from the food, at this point of time they have become the gullible victim of some friends and borrowed a couple of thousand from RL to tide over their ugly design, which has been repaid eventually.
Later on both of us met frequently on matters concerning Jillellamudi. After a lapse of nearly three decades in the year 1995, he came to Mumbai when I was working in the Indian Express, Corporate Office. There I was allotted a leased flat in Chembur, very near the residence of his late elder brother Sri Krishnamurthy. Here again I was unwell. Though I have come to know his elder brother’s family soon after I landed in Mumbai, with his introduction, RL’s association there strengthened our ties. Here again with RL’s instance food was arranged for me till my family joined me in the subsequent month in a few days. Thus he put AMMA’S basic premise of serving food to the others deserving and needy to the finest degree possible.
It is apt to recall, while narrating this aspect, that during his subsequent Mumbai visits, he interfaced with my daughter Hyma on Jillellamudi. She really accepted him and even now often enquires about him affectionately, wishing to know his say on matters of concern. RL has been instrumental in inducting her, and imparting the right perspective of Jillellamudi.
In pursuing our common focal point of AMMA and JILLELLAMUDI, our paths crossed and intertwined always. At times even arguments flared up though which never affected or undermined our personal affinity. In all the works he has taken up at Jillellamudi, I had some involvement or other even without any intent upon my part. Presume this is AMMA’S design that unfolded. This association started right before 1979 Koti Namarchana and continued ever after in devotional, spiritual and other activities.
` More momentous is the financial restructuring of Jillellamudi in the year mid 1980 when there was a massive operation of clearance and claims settlement as a prelude to financial restructuring that ran into sizable sums. In this crucial operation
too, he stood by my side. Do not wish to dilate much on this as this was a discrete maneuver, which was entrusted to me by AMMA. RL had a significant part in this effort as he has been one of the signatories of the account meant for this purpose.
Later on AMMA’S health has become a matter of concern. It was an instantaneous compulsion to take AMMA to Hyderabad by both of us Brother Ramakrishna and myself. This was a very tenuous difficult span of time for all of us. Despite our reluctance, the other options seemed less desirable.
This was the third visit of Hyderabad by AMMA, with the first glorious visit during April 1974. Every AMMA’S visit to Hyderabad has been my singular concern despite the time lag of more than a decade. In this visit, morale was low and it was a testing time for one and all.
Soon after we landed in Hyderabad and found our footing, Brother RL reached the very next day or so. I was still sorting out the odds for the comfortable stay of AMMA, her retinue with enough space and resources for the best medical treatment of AMMA at Hyderabad. At this juncture, I was still in service as the Manager of Bapatla SBI.
RL insisted that I should give him a word to which I readily agreed even without knowing what it is. (He said (“Nuvvu Naku Oka Mata Ivvali”). He spelt that I should remain in Hyderabad, come what may, regardless of the official pressures and resistances that follow often. He said “You should not leave Hyderabad as long as AMMA is in Hyderabad”. (“Nuvvu AMMA Unnai Mallu Hyderabad Wadala Koodadhu”). I complied in strict accordance with my word given to RL against all odds and pressures which put me in dire straits on all fronts. I returned with AMMA in a triumphant train journey with joyous shouts of AMMA’S loving children at each station on the way to Bapatla.
His association with AMMA and JILLELLAMUDI is much valued. His contribution over the preceding decades is by no means smail and viewed in any perspective this is immense. In the days of stringent circumstance, he ever reached to help despite the sparse resources he had personally. In the devotional and spiritual activities, he ever took a willing and enthusiastic lead that spurred others to ready participation. AMMA commenced Lalitha Koti Namarchana under his stewardship which continues even now every year on HYMA JAYANTHI. In the words of AMMA, RL rendered Lalitha Sahasram with the spirit, Bhava. (To present this fact in AMMA’S words in the vernacular – “Lakshmi Narayana Lalitha Bhava Yuktamga Chaduvu Radu”).
In the temple rites and rituals, he excelled. RL took a very singular interest in the sacred shrines, their construction and architectural details. Particular mention shall be made of HYMALAYAM structure, Nava Nageswaralayam, Varada Ganapaty shrine and other related areas.
Even in the AMMA’S idol installation, RL and Brother Kesava Sarma took the lead. More recently AMMA CHARANA SANNIDHI is a very beautiful, meaningful, purposive structure that is highly amenable to the devotees. When lit with frosty, snowy lights in the night times, this looks a very captivating, eye catching devotional architecture which is well ahead of its times, for the posterity of the devotee children of AMMA.
Despite his superficially individualistic attitude, which is only apparent he nurtured a well intended democratic spirit inviting all suggestions and also adapting well meant pragmatic, worthwhile suggestions on the subjects of temple structures and rites.As a person at times though curt in manner, he is soft and amicable in the inner core which attracted people towards him. His arguments were always brushed aside and every one took to the person within.
He nursed a lofty vision in every aspect of Jillellamudi. He thought on a mega scale in all the rituals he initiated and participated in Ever magnanimous in spirit, ever ready to share his lot, his person, resource, fortune with the being of ARKAPURI that is ever close to his heart. RL always cherished mega dreams and unheard of vision, ever obsessed with AMMA and HER precepts. Every devotee child of AMMA ought to regard RL as the ideal role model.At this pensive moment while bidding adieu to Brother RL, always cherish his memory, his reminiscence, as also my fruitful association; the intimate, close bonding our family had with him always.
Pray AMMA grant him eternal peace.
Pray AMMA bestow the fortitude for the family to forge ahead in his stride.