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Prof M Sivaramakrishna
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 6
Month : July
Issue Number : 3
Year : 2007

“The ignorant cannot comprehend even when told; the intelligent don’t need to be told.” – Mother

This was the question raised by a visitor who had darshan of Amma under somewhat strange circumstances. A ten-year-old boy from a place called Adusumilli came to Amma. He didn’t inform anyone about this. He got the ‘impulse’ to see Mother, followed the impulse (almost instantly) and ran off to Amma.

Mother, we know, is an irresistible, persuasive psychologist. With her characteristic manner, she made the boy tell everything about himself. (The question is: doesn’t Amma know?) The way she got information is described as “laalanaga”. How does it translate into English? Cajoling? lovingly? softly? None of these words match laalana. Just as no verbalization matches Amma’s felt love, fathomless love in her children. The word ‘laali” occurs in Tyagaraja kritis (?). There it is rocking a child to sleep (as far as I know).

Observing the manner in which Mother elicited what she wanted to know (which, unquestionably, she already knew) is concerned also with the anxiety of the parents of the boy. A ten-year-old child just disappearing one fine morning is quite distressing, to put it mildly. Therefore, the priority is to assure the parents that nothing untoward has happened. And, whether the boy knew it or not, he ran away to someone to whom all of us grown ups ultimately – have to run! Where do children go? To Mother, of course.

When the urge comes, does one care about informing family members? We do not know. Perhaps, we should (As Bhagavan Ramana did he wrote a note and left for Tiruvannamalai). But it depends. When all bonds are to be broken, why bother about who or what is left behind? The longing is so intense that logic does not apply. So, when the call comes, run.

And, of course, Mother sent back the boy. She sent him back: “bujjaginch?’ is the Telugu word. How does it translate into English? It carries nuances which are highly emotive, exceptionally maternal. There is no trace of annoyance. No reprimand. Only eagerness to get in touch with the parents about the boy.

“Laalana”, “Bujjaginchi” – if sabda vichara, semantic meditation is done, these two words are sign(al)s of Mother’s nature. She cajoles us, tenderly rocks us into awareness – awareness which makes us awake to who we are: children of Mother. But there is also something else I felt were untranslatable words. Yes, like Mother’s love for us anirvachaniya, avarnaniya, indescribable like the experience of Brahman, they say.

And that brings us to the core of this cameo in Mother’s leela. The boy’s father and his uncle turn up. One of them asks Mother: “Mother! tell us some precious things about vedanta. About the nectar of jnana, or Bhakti yoga. You are omniscient, we are ‘commoners’ ” For commoners, the Telugu word is “Paamarulamu”.

Straight comes Amma’s answer: “It doesn’t seem to me that you are common people.” “Seems to me” is not an exact translation. Perhaps, “Anipinchatamledu” can be translated as “strike one”. “It doesn’t strike me….” what is implicit here is obvious, all are declared, as Brahman. Everything, everyone is that unified, integral consciousness. So, the question’s description of himself is the ego’s assessment, not the Self’s perception. This is not wrong but not right either. For right and wrong do not exist : only the Brahman is. (of course it is almost impossible for us to think of ourselves as more than what our name, form etc suggest to us).

Let us look at this a little in depth. When a person of the stature of Amma says “you don’t strike me as penamaluru” do we believe it? If we have implicit faith in her, then there is no question of doubting her words. She always speaks the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but Truth. Even when she tells the truth and tells it slant, a true devotee can never doubt it. All are divine, immortal children. Then why don’t we realize or at least accept the truth that Mother affirms?

Number of reasons can be given. But, here, let us focus on what reply is given. “No, Mother. We are very ignorant people. You only can / have to tell us all things”. This is another step in the denial of the Truth Amma is asserting. “You don’t look like common people” – denied. And what is asserted? “We are also ignorant”? Isn’t this, whether we like it or not, quite paradoxical if not hilarious? The subtlety here is something which is easy to miss: When you don’t accept what she says (“you’re not common”; “you’re not ignorant, children!”) and yet you want her to clarify the truths of Vedanta”. When she says, firmly and clearly “you don’t appear as ignorant,” she is, in fact, asserting the Truth of Vedanta: “That thou art,” tattvamasi.

“You only can tell us”, the questioner says. That much he knows. And yet, he doesn’t know enough to know that Amma has already given the essence of Vedanta “maya makes you think you are ignorant, you are a commoner, an average, deluded person.” Like that lion cub brought up among lambs, eating grass and bleating. All the while, forgetful of the actuality: that you can roar like a lion. “Let the lion of Vedanta roar” they say.

Perhaps, the sorrow that engulfs incarnate divinities like Mother is due to our either conscious or unconscious denial of the Truths they reveal. Like a parrot in that story which refused to leave the cage even when it was opened “I am secure here. I don’t want to face the dangers of life in a wild forest or jungle!” But one has to be very cautious here: maya is so pervasive and so powerful that it deluded even the God in the form of Varaha! He was reluctant to leave his brood!

Now comes the most fascinating turn in the theme of ignorance. Mother turns the tables and picks up strategies from the very armory of the questioner. “OK. I accept, as you say, you are ignorant.” If that is true, what is the point in telling the Truth? With subtle irony laced with humor which blunts its edge, she says: “In any case, even when told, ignorant people cannot understand. And there is nothing to tell intelligent (vive kulu is the word in Telugu) people. There is no need either. We read so many books regarding Vedanta. And so many things we hear.” Do they help ignorant people?

When I read this part of the conversation, I was jolted, I must confess, out of my complacency. What shocks Mother administers so lovingly, with plenty of local anesthetics! But often there are – to use another metaphor no speed-breakers here on the – psychic highway.” If you think you are ignorant, leave it. Or, listen to what I say, I don’t mind, but you will listen as you do to other things.” – this is what Mother seems to suggest. We don’t listen, to use sage J. Krishnamurti’s words, “with that ease and quietness that brings about understanding.”

Understanding comes when what one listens to takes deep root. When what we listen to has been absorbed without one’s personal predilections, judgements, ideas already assumed as truths. That’s why the questioner here answers Mother’s statement about listening. “We listen to act on that which we listen to.” (‘acharana’ is the word).

The missing boy is, ironically, a contrast to or a parallel of a paradox: the self is ever present but felt as missing. We are all Gods but we feel we are not. We feel that, even when we listen, we are missing out on implementing it.

What does Mother have to say? “Does acting on it lie in our hands?”

Let us look at the issues in the next issue. (The incident is recorded in Talks with Amma in Telugu compiled by Dr. Sripada Gopalakrishnamurthy)

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