There was a crowd at Mother’s place, hence, it was somewhat difficult for us to find a proper parking spot. After we finally finished parking, we went to Mother’s temple. Mother used to live in a hut, where today’s Akhanda Nama Japa (continuous recital of Mother’s name) is being done.
Usually, young girls of Matrusri Oriental College, dressed in traditional South Indian attire participate in the Akhanda Nama Japa all the time. I was enchanted by their sight. Every time I visit this place, I remember the verse from Lalita Sahasra Nama- naama paarayana preeta, nandi vidya nateshwari. These young girls reminded me of the goddesses in service of the Divine Mother. Offering oblations to them in my mind, I had been unknowingly staring at the girls. I soon realized that it caused inconvenience to them and proceeded towards Mother’s temple.
After spending some peaceful time at Mother’s and Sister Hyma’s temples, we went to Lord Shiva's temple.
In the temple courtyard, some young boys were seen reciting from the Vedas while a few others were performing their afternoon Sandhya vandana.
We returned to Mother’s room and sat there silently for some time.
On our way to Mother’s chamber, we encountered an elderly man, who recognized me from a distance, but deliberately acted as if we had never met. Having been used to such things, I smiled to myself, went ahead and introduced myself to him. Pretending to have just recognized me, he said “I think I know you, we must have met in the past I suppose”, but his eyes spoke otherwise, which, Charan and I could easily discern.
He must have perhaps read my blog, which is why he acted odd and uninterested, I thought to myself. Since my writings are hard to digest, not everyone can easily understand them in the right sense. As I do not sugar coat anything and write truth as it is I earned a group of spiritual enemies. The followers of various Cult gurus are against me. I am very much aware of this fact, yet, I converse with them to try to understand their level of spirituality. Moreover, I cannot sacrifice the truth seeking their approval.
Leaving this haughty man to himself, we returned to our room, to rest for a while.
Meanwhile, Charan started recollecting his childhood memories of Mother and this place.
Back in those days, many influential people used to visit Mother to take her blessings. One amongst them was B.D. Jatti (former President of India). Charan drifted back into those days, speaking of some powerful X who sat on the floor waiting for mother’s audience and some Y who played badminton like a commoner on that very ground.
Once a close disciple of Sri Aurobindo named Srinivasa Iyengar, came to visit Mother. He sat to meditate in the hall and hours passed, without any sign of him coming out of his meditation or opening his eyes. It was supposed to be a cleaning day in the home. Without him moving from that place, it was not possible to clean the hall, so people in charge approached Mother, seeking a solution. Mother asked them to cover him up with a white blanket and continue to clean the hall without disturbing him. They finished cleaning and took off the blanket from him, still he was in the same deep meditative state without any body consciousness.
Charan continued, “My father was one among the first three people who came to Mother. It was around 1957, my father and three others had heard about Mother through word of mouth and took her to be a fraud. Enraged by the thought that it was people like her who were defaming Hindu religion, they set out to argue with Mother, all the way from Chirala to Jillellamudi. Back then there was no proper road connectivity to this hamlet. They walked through the vast agricultural fields to finally reach Mother’s home. My father was a staunch devotee of goddess Kali. He had a picture of Kali in our house and he used to worship her everyday.
Interrupting his flow, I asked him “You once told me that your ancestors were Akkanna, Madanna and Ramadas. I thought you were devotees of Lord Rama, where did this Goddess Kali worship emerge from?”
Charan said he wasn’t aware of how it all happened, but he saw his father worshiping Kali.
He continued, “So these three men finally reached Mother’s home and they wanted to expose her to be a fraud, as soon as they reached. But, when my father touched Mother’s feet, he fell back as though he had an electric shock. He remained unconscious for a long time. After he regained consciousness, there was no questioning, no doubt or debate. He totally surrendered to Mother.
My father was a good friend of Chalam, a renowned Telugu writer. It was my father who first introduced Mother to Chalam while in Arunachalam (a holy place in Tamil Nadu state of India, where Sri Ramana Maharshi lived).
I asked Charan how his father became friends with Chalam.
He continued saying “When my father lived in Eluru town, Chalam used to work there. In the literary circles, my father had become acquainted with Chalam and Chintha Dikshitulu. Since my father was younger to Chalam, he used to share a close and warm bond with him which lasted until Chalam breathed his last. There was a very strange but interesting thing about Chalam, he was a rebel by nature. He used to wrap around a saree and roam around on the streets. He never cared what people would think of him.
I laughed listening to this.
Charan extended the conversation saying, Chalam has many sides in him. He had a mixed personality of a spiritual seeker, passionate romantic, a great women sympathizer, a rebel against this hypocritical society. All these are reflected in his writings.
Charan asked if I had read any of Chalam’s writings.
I told him that 25 years ago, I read one of his books, Maidanam. It was a scandalous book back then.
Charan continued, “Yes brother, it was considered a sex novel and was criticized a lot but was read secretly. In those days hypocrisy was at its peaks in our society”.
I replied, “Yes. If a woman no longer likes her husband, then how outrageous does it sound if you encourage her to elope with whosoever she is interested in? Where would you find a husband who is 100% compatible, be it then or now?”
Charan questioned seriously, “What about men? Are they free to elope with whosoever they like when they are not interested in their wives?”
Answering his question I explained “Men don't need such rules as they always have secret affairs be it then or now. Only difference is back then it was a completely male dominated society. Even in those days men used to have secret illegitimate families. Few big shots who were rich and able, used to maintain more than one family. But all these men used to preach sermons hiding their dark shades. Women have been the victims always. Though their self-respect is torn apart, though they are aware that their husbands are cheating on them, though they are being physically and mentally abused by their husbands, they used to grieve in silence without daring to question or revolt, concerned about their children’s future or the family. Most of their lives ended inside the dark walls of the kitchens and bedrooms. Chalam did not like any bit of this hypocritical society that allowed men to enjoy all the freedom and forced women to suffer in silence.
He championed the equal rights of women. When a society calls a lady who acts according to her desires unchaste, why does it not call a man who does the same as impure or promiscuous? He voiced out his thoughts, which the deceitful society could not digest and hence Chalam was portrayed as a sensual writer.
Charan agreed saying Chalam had a very unique and admirable kind of personality.
I continued “Yes Charan, otherwise how could he have a daughter like Souris? Chalam was a committed liberal. He was against all the biased rules. Be it society or spirituality or sexuality he was against all restrictions. He used to believe that every human being should have freedom to fly like a bird. Do you know the reason behind this? I questioned Charan.
He replied with a ‘No’.
My reply followed as “In his childhood, he was influenced by the principles of Brahmo Samaj. He studied under the guidance of Raghupathi Venkata Ratnam Naidu. Kandukuri Viresalingam Panthulu and Raghupathi Venkata Ratnam Naidu were greatly influenced by the preachings of Rajaram Mohan Roy. So, they decided to reform our society with this inspired ideology. As they say, the childhood influences and imprints on a young mind are strongest, which turned out true in the case of Chalam too. He tried to reform the Telugu society until his last.
‘Chalam used to religiously practice Sandhya Vandana as a young boy. Are you aware of this Charan?’ I questioned, to which came ‘No’ as a response again.
While talking we reached the rest house. The ladies retired to a room to relax, while we resumed our conversation.
The puzzled Charan asked again, ‘Then why did he renounce his beliefs and religious practices later?”
So, I decided to reveal the truth to Charan and told him that Chalam was a muslim in his previous births. This time he was born into an orthodox hindu Brahmin family. Which is why he was always torn between two different philosophies. This conflict persisted throughout his life.
Charan and Madan were staring at me with astonishment.
So, I told them that Chalam himself confirmed this in his final writings.
Charan asked “How did he realize this? Is it with his meditative power?”
Confirming his doubts I continued saying “No, he did not have such meditative power or capacity, it was through his daughter Souris that he came to know”.
Charan wasn’t satisfied yet so he again shooted another question “Did he mention details of his past life anywhere in his writings?”
I responded saying “He just mentioned vaguely that in his past birth he was born into a royal muslim family”.
Charan looked with amazement.
I continued “Yes, my personal belief is that Dara Shikoh, son of the Emperor Shah Jahan was born as Chalam this time. And I have my personal theories in support of this opinion too. Because Dara Shikoh was a great admirer of Hinduism, its Upanishads and Scriptures. He himself translated some of the Upanishads into Arabic and Parsi languages. Deep rooted beliefs and policies never left him. Which is why, though he was born into an orthodox Brahmin family, the revolutionary and futuristic ideology never faded in him. He was against religious superstitions. But he had great reverence for highest spirituality. He was also a very religiously tolerant Mughal royal.
Dara Shiko was a true spiritual seeker. Sarmad and Miyan Mir were his teachers. They were great Sufi saints. One of the most unfortunate turns in the history of Indian politics happened when Aurangzeb succeeded to the Delhi throne instead of Dara Shikoh, after the death of their father Emperor Shah Jahan. This can be compared to the unfortunate crowning of Nehru as our first Prime Minister instead of Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
One of his sisters named Jahanara Begum was very fond of Dara. She was very helpless and proved to be powerless, when her younger sister Roshanara Begum had wickedly conspired in the Mughal royal harem. At last Dara was beheaded by the orders of his own younger brother Aurangzeb.
History says that, there was no man who did not shed a tear for Dara Shikoh in Delhi when he was beheaded. He was such a sweetheart and favorite crown prince of all the people.
Aurangzeb was no match to Dara Shikoh, as the latter had always been an open minded spiritual seeker and the former was a ruthless, tyrannical religious extremist. Had it been Dara who succeeded after his father’s death, the fate of India would have been otherwise. Everything turned upside down due to the megalomaniac Aurangzeb.
Jaharana Begum had reincarnated as Souris. This is another strong belief of mine. Bhagawan Ramana was aware of all these things. He had a special fondness for Souris. This can be understood when he did not even turn his head to look at the then Prime Minister of India who came all the way from Delhi for his blessings, but turned his head and smiled at Souris when she came to visit him for the first time. It was because of Souris, Chalam came to know of Bhagawan.
Bhagawan was very well aware of the fact that Souris was a highly evolved soul. Have you ever observed Souris? Anybody can mistake her for a muslim lady by her dressing style. She always had so many dogs around her.
There is another interesting connection here, Chalam had taken a muslim named Wazir as his son-in law.
Chalam himself used to dress up as a Muslim man instead of an orthodox Brahmin. His thoughts were always above idol worship. His mind always dwelled upon the formless worship. He even believed that Wazir was Salim (son of Emperor Akbar) in his past birth.
Though he was a Brahmin, he consumed meat. He used to suffer with severe migraine so he used to eat pigeon's meat for strength. He suffered paralysis for which he applied pigeons blood as a remedy all over his skin. Once Chinta Dikshitulu who was a very orthodox Brahmin, went to visit Chalam at Ramana ashram and saw him eating meat, but he never questioned or criticized his friend. In his book Maruvaleni Mitrudu (the unforgettable friend), Chalam gives a high regard to Chinta Dikshitulu.
Chalam had many girlfriends. He never tried to conceal his excessive sexual desires either. He himself wrote about it. He never tried to hide his darker sides from the world which clearly shows his unhypocritical nature. Enlightened persons observe these kinds of qualities in a man, but not his money or status in the society.
During his stay at Vijayawada, Chalam used to visit Mala Pichamma who lived on Penamaluru road. She was a mystic woman, who used to sit naked, exposed to dust on the road side. She used to affectionately kiss Chalam on his forehead. The world calls Chalam an atheist, but he had seen god in that woman. Now she has a temple of her own. People later realized her to be a great saint, but back then she was only a mad woman.
I asked Charan if he ever saw Mala Pichamma’s photograph? to which Charan replied, “No”.
Hence I continued again, “I saw. Although she was Mala Pichamma by name she used to have a Brahmin glow in her face. Once she kissed Chalam on his forehead and asked if he saw any light or vision. As he saw neither light nor vision, Mala Pichamma told him that he will not have any spiritual realization in this life. It is going to be possible for him only in his next birth”.
Charan interrupted the flow saying “During his final days, Chalam came to know about the Mother through my father and he wanted to visit Mother. Since he could not travel owing to his poor health, he expressed his desire to meet Mother through a letter. When my father conveyed this message to Mother, she decided to travel all the way to Arunachalam in spite of her sickness. Few devotees traveled along with Mother in a bus. Finally, when Chalam saw Mother, he could not stop crying and said, “Until today when someone asked me, where is your Lord Shiva? I could not show. Today, I can show them that the Shiva I have been worshipping all my life is in front of me”.
He continued weeping while saying “Mother, since I am weak and unable to move, you yourself have decided to come to me all the way traveling so far, out of your never ending compassion and love”.
I replied to Charan saying “Chalam might appear as a strong headed rebel and revolutionary to the outer world, but he was a little child inside, which is why Mother herself went to Arunachalam to see him”.
Another interesting thing is, for the first time when he encountered Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi, he was standing in the middle of the road leading from the Ashram to the Skanda ashram on the hill. Bhagawan was coming down from the hill, so some devotees were shouting to make way for Bhagawan.
Chalam did not move an inch. Bhagawan walked past Chalam from the available space on the road and he turned around to see him. Nobody knows what magic he saw in the eyes of Bhagawan, the cigarette in Chalam's hand dropped by itself to the ground.
Initially Chalam never understood the greatness of Bhagawan. He was always baffled by what people found so fascinating in this half naked, ugly looking man.
But eventually Chalam went through a transformation. He realized Bhagawan’s exalted state and always spoke of him and meditated upon him. After Bhagawan left his mortal body, all the so called devotees around him vanished. The ashram was left empty. This is the slave mentality of mankind. They always need the presence of some holy person to have their faith flowing. They are after the person and not after his values. Everyone left the place, except Chalam, who was considered a gambler by people. He stayed in Ramana ashram until his last. That was the commitment he had and that was his devotion. This is the true noble character of a man.
While the whole ashram was empty, Chalam used to sit by the tomb of Bhagawan in despair. That was the kind of love he had. That love bestowed divinity to his life and brought about a great change in him. The man who once criticized Bhagavad Gita wrote a commentary on it in 1964. I have read all kinds of commentaries on Bhagavad Gita written by various authors, but I would say that Chalam’s work is outstanding and the best among them.
His writings are very straight and simple. It is as if he were talking to us directly. His words have the power to touch our hearts and pierce through our souls, make us think and reform.
I concluded saying “But nobody wants this simple yet meaningful true message, most people are not even aware of Chalam’s commentaries on Gita, even today. People can not accept truth as much as they accept falsehood. Isn’t this common in this fake world?”
To be continued…..
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Sri Bhargavi, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on October 15, 2014. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.