HEARTS IMAGE: As a child Amma was given almost unlimited freedom. She was allowed to roam about at will and her guardians seemed little concerned with where she went, what time she returned home, or whether she took her meals. Probably they had realizes early on that it was not possible to control such an independent spirit and simply gave up all attempts to do so as being futile. Amma's maturity and self-sufficiency must have been clear to all, so nobody worried much about her and she was left to her own resources to do as she wished.
From some stray incidents of this period which have been recorded it is clear that wherever Amma went people of all ages and backgrounds recognizes her unusual qualities and found themselves attracted to spend their time with this young girl in whose presence they enjoyed such a rare peace and happiness. Hearing these stories of her childhood we are naturally reminded of the young Lord Krishna whose captivating personality is said to have irresistibly charmed all with whom He came in contact.
Amma knew no shyness in the presence of elders, she was equally at ease with total strangers as with friends and family members. In fact, it is clear that she never recognizes any distinction between companions and strangers, between the young and old, and treated all in the same intimate and familiar fashion. Her Motherly nature was so obvious even in childhood that many individuals spontaneously addressed her respectfully as Amma (Mother) instead of using the Telugu diminutive Ammayee most commonly employed to refer to young girls. Whoever it was who came within the orbit of her influence, none were capable of long resisting the appeal she made directly to the heart. Even hardened criminals were won over by her charms and a number of people leading immoral lives are said to have been completely transformed by their contact with Amma.
Like a bee of love pollinating all the flowers which it rests upon but pausing nottoo long at any one, she moved swiftly from place to place imparting experiences of various sorts to all she met in accordance with their differing natures and capacities. To a fortunate few she revealed glimpses of the Divine Person, usually so carefully concealed behind the outer nature of a child.
A striking incident of this sort occured during a family pilgrimage to the temple of Lord Veera Raghava Swamy in Tiruvalloor, Tamil Nadu. Leaving the sanctum after having had Darshan of the Lord, Amma's relatives went over to the sacred tank, sprinkled jaggery in the water as an offering to the deity and then took their ritual baths in the prescribed and ancient manner. Amma, however, did not stand on ceremony but simply jumped right in swimming about joyfully in the pond-sized tank as if it were her private bathing pool At one point the relatives became anxious when Amma disappeared under the stagnant waters for an extended period. But soon all breathed a sigh of relief to see her surface near the center of the tank and sit up on the Mandapam, a small island-pavilion set aside for the worship of the temple deities on special festive occasions.
While Sitapathi was gazing at her thus, a holy man in ochre robes came up to him and asked, "Who Is that girl sitting on the Mandapam, please?" "She is my daughter," Sitapathi admitted with a tinge of embarrassement as her unconventional behaviour, little anticipating the Sadhu's enlightening response. "Blessed man! You are the father of a Goddess," the holy man proclaimed, and then without waiting for Sitapathis comment he disappeared amongst the other pilgrims. However much Sitapathi searched the temple precincts thereafter, the mysterious Sadhu was nowhere to be found.
When the proud father told his sisters a short time later of the holy man's extraordinary revelation, it evinced little enthusiasm. One of them mocked her brother's innocent credulity thus: "What if he did say so? Sadnus will be telling like this for money. At least he haunt told you that the child is threatened by some danger and that he will save her for a price. Everything is receipt with them. Did you actually believe his words?" The other sister had a hearty laugh and chimed in sarcastically, "You are puffed up because you think a Goddess was born in your line. Don't even entertain the thought by mistake. Would a Goddess be born in your house?".
We can reasonably speculate that Sri Sitapathi was not unaffected by these 'common sense’ attitudes of his sisters and experienced some sober after-thoughts of his own about the Sadhu's incredible claim. In fact, despite several visions and other miraculous experiences, Sitapathi was not to achieve a sustained sense of Amma's spiritual perfection until much later on. ln 1959, a few years before his death, he would write in a letter to Amma: "When Nanda took the child Krishna in his arms he was not aware of his greatness. So too l did not know who I carried when l clasped you as a child in my arms."When the proud father told his sisters a short time later of the holy man's extraordinary revelation, it evinced little enthusiasm. One of them mocked her brother's innocent credulity thus: "What if he did say so? Sadnus will be telling like this for money. At least he haunt told you that the child is threatened by some danger and that he will save her for a price. Everything is receipt with them. Did you actually believe his words?" The other sister had a hearty laugh and chimed in sarcastically, "You are puffed up because you think a Goddess was born in your line. Don't even entertain the thought by mistake. Would a Goddess be born in your house?"
"How is it you are not talking? Will you break these iron chains?" the wrestler asked Amma pointing at his formidable exercise links in and attempt to lure her into conversation.
"I cannot break any chains, nor can I bind them," she answered thoughtfully.
"Are there chains other than these?" he wondered.
"Anybody can break these chains, but you cannot break the chain that is the basis for these chains," she told the strong man.
"Where is that chain?" he asked.
"It exists in all things, yet it is not a thing in itself."
The wrestler could not penetrate to the meaning of these riddle-like words. "How does that chain appear?" he asked, pressing for something more concrete.
“Like all this”she replied with a sweep of her hand.
“You mean like both of us?”
"Yes, something like that Like being 'I' and becoming 'We'," she responded. What Amma meant by this was that the One (the I) becoming two (the We) constitutes a kind of primal chain or bondage. The wrestler asked for further clarification, but apparently the frontiers of language had been reached beyond which nothing more could be fruitfully said.
"This is not the sort of thing that can be clarified and known in such a way. It will stand revealed only when the destined moment arrives," Amma assured him.
"When will that moment come?"
"You can't know when it will come. Only when it comes will you know." was her pithy response.
By this time the wrestler was 'altogether won over by Amma's charms. A pleasant image, flitted before his mind's eye and he straightway asked her, “I have a peacocks feather, will you wear it?"
"Where to put it?"
"Your fine figure, your plaited hair are so well suited to it, 'he reflected.
"Does the feather suit me, or do I suit the feather, or when both are combined is that combination suited to some thing else?" she asked with an impish smile. "Yes that's right. You become suited to Him," the wrestler said pointing at a picture of Murali Krishna with the characteristic peacock feather rising prominently from out of his flowing locks.
"If I am suited to Him then to whom would I be unsuited?" she said, implying that one who was 'suited' to the Lord would necessarily be 'suited' to everyone.
"You say that you are suited to all. Are you suited to me?" the wrestler wondered innocently.
"Let me know what you mean by the word ‘suited'. At first you used it with reference to forms, now you seem to be using it with reference to mind. Tell me exactly what you mean and I shall answer," Amma probed like a seasoned master of philosophy.
The wrestler was amazed to recognize where the simple offer of a peacocks feather had led him: "You are taking me to the depths!" he said in mock complaint.
"I was just answering your question. To whatever depths you take me, I shall also follow suit"
In an instant tears of joy were flooding .his eyes and he drew Amma near. "I was praying that Lord Krishna come and speak to me. When I showed you the picture a while back His Divine Beauty seemed to shine in you. Gradually you have come to appear indistinguishable from Him." After saying this emotion soared beyond the bounds of expression and he stood motionless and silent as one entranced. When he had recovered his balance for a few moments, the wrestler spoke again in a tremulous voice-"Krishna, have You come as Radha? The other day I thought of getting Your picture with Radha but there is no longer any need to do so. You stay with me in this form alone!" As he finished speaking he pressed his chin tenderly on Amma's head and lost himself once again in silent bliss.
When the wrestler finally returned to normal consciousness he carefully placed his peacock feather in Amma's hair, and handed her a flute. Then, fetching his camera, he snapped the child's photo in the way he wished to remember her, in the characteristic pose of the charmer of worlds, his beloved Lord, Murali Krishna.
Sometime earlier, when the Sadhu saw Amma's radiant form framed majestically by the Mandapam of the temple tank ha recognised her as the incarnation of a Goddess; Sithapathi's sisters, on the other hand, influenced by their family ties, perceived only the human relative, the wrestler, charmed by her unique personality and innocent beauty, saw Amma as his own 'shta Daiva, Murali Krishna. So it is that each one understands Amma according to his cherished ideal, and can penetrate her mystery only as deeply as his insight will take him ("To whatever depths you take me l shall also follow suit.”)
In a sense, all who come into contact with Mother expose their own personal images on the delicate film of the heart. Like the wrestler each of us poses Amma in the manner which pleases him most - some as an awe inspiring Divinity wielding the instruments of sovereignty, others as a Teacher of Truth discoursing on the Eteranl Verities, still others as a Mother embracing Her children in Causeless Love. But, Whatever way we choose to take our picture, it is a Supreme Truth that Mother transcends all limited conceptions, all partial images. She never states that She is the Incarnation of any particular deity, a prophet, a guide, an Avatar come to redeem the race. She calls Herself a Mother ,but says that even this is a figurative way of pointing at the inexpressible, a luminous symbol for that which is beyond all words and symbols She asserts that Mother is the All, the One without a second.
We picture Her is so many ways. But it seems that in the end when we exhaust all dreams of Gurus and Gods of, Mother and children we come to know that She was never separate, that all along She was our very own Self.