The Mother as an Apprentice…

How dearly the simple village woman in The Chosen Mother, Easwaramma, loved her ‘Bundle Of Joy”, often failing to grasp the Truth that He was verily the source and sustenance of the world and beyond. Unassuming and full of motherly love, Easwaramma, the Mother who cradled Him… nursed Him – Who was verily Her delight, would often worry about the safety and security of Her Avataric Son when He often crossed the borders of Prasanthi. Read on how the Mother cared for ‘Her Love and Light and Delight’…from Kasturi’s Pen…

Prasanthi Nilayam was inaugurated on Swami’s Birthday in 1950. The Birthday until that year had been rather informal. Swami delighted the Mother and the Father and their sons and daughters by visiting their home and going through the ritual of lunch in their company. After the parents had placed a few drops of oil on His cluster of hair, the ceremonial bath was gone through and Swami fulfilled the longing of some devotee by accepting the robe and dhoti he placed at His feet. All those present then touched His feet praying for boons and blessings.

Prasanthi Nilayam, however, challenged the devotees to inaugurate a more impressive although still intimate celebration of the Birthday of their dear Lord. Elderly women gathered at the Nilayam in the early hours of the twenty-third day of November. Each one had a plate on which were piles of flowers, fruits, sweets, coconuts, turmeric, kumkum, rice grains, betel leaves and areca, sandal paste, blocks of jaggery, glass bangles and other auspicious materials. Shining pots filled with consecrated water were carried on their hips. One of the groups bore a silver plate with a silk sari upon it. A few elderly men joined them with a silk dhoti for the father and they proceeded to Puttaparthi village preceded by pipers and drummers. When they reached the Ratnakaram home, they announced to the parents that it was the Birthday of Bhagawan and invited them to Prasanthi Nilayam. One could sense a feeling of awkwardness and unpreparedness that dimmed their eyes, for, both of them would rather be left alone than be placed before the flood lights on the centre of the stage. Nevertheless the Mother and Pedda Venkama Raju did fulfill the wishes of the thousands. They were overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity given to them by Swami.

As soon as they stood before Him they lost all sense of time and space. Easwaramma placed flowers on Swami’s feet and stood up to dip a rose in oil. When she lifted her palm to drop the oil on the Son’s hair, He bent low so that the head would be within reach. The father too did the same and as both of them descended from the dais, the devotees hailed the occasion expressing their joy in loud acclaim. It was only then that Easwaramma became aware of the Hall and the crowd, the Nilayam and the village. It was an embarrassing moment for her. But she was soon relieved, for she found another wedded couple climbing the steps to place flowers at Swami’s feet and apply oil on His hair. Swami selected about eight others to share in the joyous ceremony. They come from different linguistic and geographical regions and are invariably old in age and rooted in faith. Easwaramma shunned publicity and prominence and loved to lose her identity in a group of devotees but on the Birthday she had to submit to what she dreaded most a pre-eminent love.

During Swami’s discourses, she stood for a few minutes somewhere on the circumference of the audience, thrilled by the free flow of His silver voice. And when the applause sounded in the auditorium she wondered what He had said that could evoke such spontaneous acclamation. When she next passed by my residence she would ask me in confidence, “Was what Swami spoke so profound? Where does He gather all these mantras?” By ‘mantras’ she meant the Sanskrit verses, the Upanishadic lines, the Vedic hymns that Swami quoted. When the monthly magazine, Sanathana Sarathi, was inaugurated, she could not suppress her curiosity to know the number of people to whom it was sent. When I informed her that devotees not merely demanded it but actually adored the issues as they arrived by post considering them ‘Prasad’ granted by Swami Himself, I found her not quite happy. She could not forget the fact that Sathya had left school too early and that He was venturing into depths that no one, known to her, would dare plumb.

Easwaramma found that doctors and lawyers, monks and merchants, Rajas and Princes were coming to Puttaparthi and, sitting around Swami, pleading for answers and solutions to the doubts and questions they placed before Him. She herself only understood conversational Telugu but she could see the relief and rejoicing that settled on their distracted faces when they heard Swami’s words in reply. She gasped when Swami gave them His assurance, “Don’t worry. I will be with you… Why bother? I am yours.” He was promising too much to too many, she felt in alarm, and it took years for her to get rid of this fear. She had no knowledge that Avatars could address gatherings and transform base metal into gold through the alchemy of speech. The Rama and Krishna she knew had been householders who had themselves learnt from sages. Krishna inspired and instructed others to obey Him and be saved. Rama had no time or inclination to give discourses on Dharma; He just lived it and people learnt it. Easwaramma feared that some day some old pundit would arrive and silence her Son. It took some years before her heart was set at rest. Meanwhile, people of all races and all levels of civilisation were arriving with hope and departing with faith after hearing Swami’s intimate instructions imparted in confidence in their own native dialects and languages.

Mother was happy when Swami was before her eyes. She grew nervous whenever He proposed to leave Puttaparthi on a visit to distant villages and towns. She was afraid that He would stay on indefinitely or go on from there to other places nearby. She had heard that there was a wave of atheism and religious irreverence invading village after village in the southern parts of the country and so, when a group of elders from V. arrived and prayed that Swami accompany them to their town she resolved to countermand the visit at all costs.

Srimathi Susheelamma, who witnessed her frantic efforts, gives this description of her agitation: “They do not know the real situation in that place, or if they do, they don’t care what happens to Swami or themselves. It is sheer bravado”, Easwaramma told herself as she hurried to the Nilayam in hot haste. Swami was in the dining room and at the table, ready to go through the rite called lunch when Easwaramma came in gasping for breath, for she had climbed the steps at one stretch, “Why this excitement? What has happened?” Swami asked, pretending to be ignorant of her mission. The mother said, “I have heard some news. Is it true?” “First tell me what they have told you” Swami replied. “I won’t tell You until You give me Your word that You won’t go now to any town”, she insisted. Swami had a hearty laugh at her anxiety. “How can I stick to this one room all the time? I have come from where I was in order to go to places near and far”, He said. “That is not the point. Have You agreed to go with these people to V., tell me,” the Mother asked, her voice shaking with trepidation. “Promise me that You won’t go to that place. That is all I ask. Listen to me. Heed my prayer. They say it is a centre of wickedness and cruelty. When I say don’t, don’t” she pleaded. “That is the very reason I have agreed to go there. The doctor visits only the sick. How can people who are seriously ill harm the doctor? I do not hate them, so, they will not hate Me. I am not angry with them; so, they won’t be angry with Me,” He replied. But the mother’s fears held on. She shed tears and looking straight into Swami’s eyes said, “What more can I say? Bangaroo. Send these people away. Give me this one boon”. Swami rose and holding both her hands in His soft grasp, He wiped her tears and spoke so sweetly that she left the room greatly relieved.

Yet, she met the group of hosts and requested them to be ever vigilant of who approached Swami and when. She was lost in prayer all the days that Baba was away, and she was right there at the door when He returned. As soon as He spotted her, Swami said, “Do you care to know what happened there? I plucked the fangs of every serpent!”

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II