After finishing dinner, we went back to our lodging.
“These are all neglected gems, I have not seen anyone other than you, who has properly understood Chalam”, said Charan.
I disagreed with him saying that there were many people who understood Chalam, but it is just that we never knew of them.
Charan supported my statement saying “Same is the case of Nanna garu” (meaning Father, husband of Mother of Jillellamudi. Everyone affectionately called him Nanna garu).
He was a very simple and egoless man. He was so down to earth that it was hard for any stranger to recognize him to be Mother’s husband. He had not the least bit of pride or extravagance. Everyone gave importance only to Mother, but not him. Yet, he never craved for any attention. He was very friendly and mingled with all equally like a common man. He used to play shuttle badminton during evening hours with everyone.
Sometimes he used to quietly sit outside the ashram compound near the petrol bunk like a commoner. He never desired for either respect or attention. Nobody ever cared about his internal conflict either.
Sixty years ago, Mother got married and stepped into an orthodox Brahmin family who observed strict adherence to traditions and rituals such as religious cleanliness, but she never followed any of them. On the contrary, she welcomed everyone into her house, irrespective of their caste and religion. Devotees roamed around the house freely and she herself used to cook and affectionately feed them, saying that they were all her children. She followed unconventional ideologies and explained complex Vedanta philosophy in simple terms. Their house eventually turned into an ashram for everyone while her husband remained as just one among the many devotees. How hard it must have been for a husband to accept and make peace with all these changes? Nobody ever cared to think about the turmoil he must have gone through”.
I agreed with him. Charan extended the conversation saying “In my opinion, Nanna garu and sister Hyma are the neglected gems. Nobody bothered to interview either of them or tried to understand them. Everyone flocked around Mother flattering her, expecting some boons in return, or wrote poems and books in praise of her in an attempt to display their scholarliness. In this regard, there is a huge difference between the foreigners and us. If they decide to research upon something, they do it very thoroughly. They execute a task with perfect planning, proper ground work and detailed understanding of the subject. Had the foreigners been in this country, there would have been many documentaries and comprehensive biographies on Mother by now”.
We are deficient in such a vision. We are always after such realized souls pestering them “Now that you have attained divinity, grant us our wishes”, but never bothered to understand what they felt or record the thoughts and experiences of people close to them, for future generations. Their relationships were always one-to-one. They tried to exploit Mother. Our Indian mentalities will continue to remain cheap this way.
Due to this mentality of ours, the biographies of many great sages and enlightened souls never saw light until today. Mother had already become a magnet. But Nanna garu and sister Hyma were like iron nails. How much suffering these nails must have gone through when they were close to the magnet, while they had not yet become magnets themselves? How much internal conflict they must have experienced and evolved from it, no one considered documenting such things.
These people fought their war from within the fort, unlike Mother. She neither had a fort nor a battle to fight. Her battle ended nobody knows when and she was detached from the fort, flying free in the vast blue skies. But others’ battles had not ended. They were still fighting, sometimes from inside the fort and at other times from outside. They endured immense pain and struggle. Unfortunately, this was never recorded and the so-called devotees too conveniently ignored this fact.
Nanna garu was a friend of all but people disregarded such a pleasant man, because he was an ordinary man like any of us, with no powers, unlike Mother, to grant them boons. How selfish humans are?” concluded Charan sadly.
I looked at Charan. He seemed totally involved in what he was saying and overcome with emotion, tears flowed down from his eyes uncontrollably. I too could not control my tears listening to his description about Nanna garu and his conflict.
Madan had been looking at both of us strangely.
He must have thought “Why are these two men crying for the people who are a history today? Besides, they were not even related to them. Why are they shedding tears for people whom they never shared any bond with?
Meanwhile, Charan’s thoughts shifted towards sister Hyma. He started describing her personality saying that “She was a personification of selfless love and affection. She used to weep whenever any devotee was about to leave the ashram after visiting Mother. Unable to part with them, she would walk along with them to the main road to see them off personally. Though she did not know who they were or their whereabouts, she felt that they were her sisters & brothers, simply because they were devotees of Mother. She had a very pure heart and was an embodiment of love. She had inherited the endless and divine love, compassion and empathy from Mother. Her compassion was indescribable. How else can we expect someone born of such a Mother to be? Nobody cared to record what agony she had gone through, not even her feelings towards Mother”.
I totally agreed with Charan and told him that it is an unpardonable mistake. It happened similarly in the case of Lord Sri Ramakrishna too.
What we know of Thakur’s (Lord Sri Ramakrishna) life today is only 25%. Only the last four years of Thakur's life and his teachings were recorded in the ‘Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ written by Mahendranath Gupta. The actual story and his preachings took place during the first 40 years of his life, which were nowhere recorded and lost in time. By doing so, we have done a great injustice to all the enlightened souls. In reality, the injustice meted out is upon ourselves and not them. This is going to be a great void to mankind.
Charan asked curiously what might be the reason behind this?
Clearing his doubt I explained to him that, “One of the major reasons for this is the selfishness of mankind. People are only interested in the powers of these divine people but not in what they preach. Except a rare few, no one bothers to record their teachings.
The other reason as you mentioned is that we are very unlike foreigners, who precisely collect information by analytical methods and meticulously work towards recording with futuristic objectives. And thirdly, we lack collecting thinking. If a great soul is born amongst us, all we know is to use him for our personal gains. We are unwilling to imbibe their true teachings. We don’t want to walk on the path guided by these masters, we just want these masters to fulfill their greedy wishes and desires. On the other hand, westerners do a thorough research on these great souls, if they happen to come across any of them and they build institutions and organisations around them and turn them into great business houses. It is their mistake. We have our mistakes and they have theirs.
Charan sighed in dismay. I asked them to come along to visit brother Apparao.
Triloka Apparao is an ardent and close disciple of Mother. Mother’s devotees do not usually practice any other kind of upasana or yoga, except for living a worry free life with unwavering faith in her. But, some people like Apparao are an exception, who chose to do yogic practices and attained a few elevated states.
Apparao had retired from his business and was currently residing in one of the apartments in Jillellamudi.
By the time we reached his flat, he had some guests to whom he was explaining the Bhagavad Gita about prakriti-purusha-purushottama (Nature-Soul-God theory).
After exchanging greetings with him, we went to check out the newly constructed apartments and again returned to Apparao’s residence.
He offered us some cut fruit. This is a commonly seen characteristic among all the devotees of Mother. They are very affectionate and hospitable towards their brother devotees. They don’t question the caste or religion of a person. The fact that you are Mother’s child is enough for them to shower us with their affection and treat you as their own family.
Apparao shared with us some of the incidents from Mother’s life when she had visited Arunachalam.
There was a European named Dr. Bear who was very fond of Mother when she was a little child of six. Back then he was planning to build a hospital in Arunachalam, so he took Mother along with him to inspect the construction work of that hospital. That was the very first time that Mother was visiting Arunachalam, she later visited the place again for the sake of Chalam. She was seated on a bench while Ramana Maharshi was coming down from the hill towards his ashram. The exhilarated Maharshi came running to Mother and said “Matrusri, have you finally come?”. It was Ramana Maharshi who first addressed her as Matrusri, auspicious Mother.
While listening to him, I looked at Charan who was checking out Apparao’s book collection in the cupboard.
He came to me and handed over an old brown colored book. It was a commentary on Bhagavad Gita by Chalam.
Charan said excitedly “See! Just this morning, we were talking about this book and I was wondering where we could get a copy of this rare book, since it was no longer in print. But by evening we found it here in this remote village. These are the kinds of miracles that Mother does”.
Apparao started explaining to us, “Chalam is a highly realized soul, I know him personally. While he stayed at Arunachala ashram, I visited him a number of times. I also know Souris very well. The fact that Chalam was a realized soul cannot be denied. I have never missed any chance of interacting with him in all my visits to Arunachalam.
After Chalam left his mortal body, I once went to Arunachalam. That day happened to be the monthly anniversary of his death. I had my lunch there as per Souris’s request.
He continued “Ramana Maharshi had the Matrubhuteshwari Temple constructed over the burial place of his mother, which was exactly the same spot where Mother of Jillellamudi once sat, when she visited Arunachalam as a six year old. This shows how much respect Maharshi had for Mother. He gave Mother of Jillellamudi an equal regard that he had for his biological Mother.
I once asked Mother “You always say that ‘Everything is one’. Should we assume or feel that way, what is correct?”
As he was still finishing his sentence, the answer to his question flashed in my mind. “Assumption is the sadhana phase and feeling it effortlessly is the evolved state. When we try to assume that state by force, there is a struggle within us and it is unnatural. However, when we feel that state effortlessly, then it is natural and is called Siddha dasa, the accomplished state”.
While I was lost in these thoughts of mine, my attention was again drawn back to this world by Apparao’s voice, which said “First assume, then you will realize - was Mother’s short response to his question”.
I was elated upon hearing how beautifully Mother had put the whole thing in such a simple phrase.
The guests who were in the middle of a discussion when we arrived, had been waiting patiently in the front room for us to finish our conversation with Apparao. We did not want to take up more of their time, so we took leave of Apparao and started back to Guntur after paying salutations to Mother.
It had already turned dark by then and our car was on the road towards Pedanandipadu village from Jillellamudi. There were trees on either side of the road which looked like saints meditating in silence. The atmosphere too was quiet and serene.
Interrupting the silence, Charan said “How strange and coincidental is it that we found the Gita commentary by Chalam in this remote place within just a few hours of us discussing it?”.
Concurring with him I said “Another interesting thing is that we have also met a man who did not misunderstand Chalam like most others did”.
Charan said, “Mother’s ways are always like this. Miracles that Mother does seem to occur so naturally in our lives, that they do not even appear as miracles”.
I asked Charan if he noticed the difference between the scholar we met in the morning and Apparao? While one tried to intentionally avoid us, the other person barely knew us, yet he affectionately welcomed us and offered us fruits to eat.
Charan replied “Yes, I noticed that. Perhaps, it is the difference between a mere scholar and a true spiritual seeker. Scholars may have knowledge but they lack the love and affection in their hearts.
I told him that the gist of Mother’s teachings can be expressed in just two words i.e,. Boundless love.
Tears rolled down Charan’s eyes. He continued, “How can such scholars understand Mother’s philosophy? All they only know is poetry and scholarship. But in love, every cell within our body is transformed. What a start contrast there is between the scholars and seekers!”
I asked Charan to clarify a doubt of mine.
“It is true that Mother’s devotees shower a lot of love upon us, when they come to know that we too are devotees of Mother. Even an Islamic extremist is very loving towards a fellow Muslim. It is the same in case of Christians too, which is not at all great or appreciable. Regardless of country, caste or religion we must be able to love everyone as our own, without any judgement. That love I believe is the true kind of love. Are all devotees of Mother able to practice this true love in their lives? You know that I am not very much associated with any of the devotees here, hence I am asking you”.
Charan smiled helplessly and said, “It is impossible brother, there are very few people who practice this kind of love in their daily life, majority of them shower love only upon fellow devotees of Mother. Most of these people have read Mother’s philosophy. They even teach others about it. But in practice they are all failures. Men are the same everywhere. All they want is materialistic desires to be fulfilled. They never try to look beyond this”.
How could I have not agreed with Charan? Human nature is the same irrespective of their country, religion, caste, creed or color. True seekers are rare. They don’t just read the literature and survive by teaching it to others. They try to implement the teachings of great saints in their lives and strive to evolve as persons. Their mind always dwells upon spiritual realization. They teach others only after they have practiced it themselves, that too, only if need be. This is the true path of a spiritual seeker.
Everyone was silent, absorbed in their own thoughts while our car cut through the darkness and drove towards Guntur city.
To be continued…
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Dr. Sri Bhargavi, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on October 21, 2014. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.