Amma once said, “Bhartha (Husband) means Bhavana (a concept)”. If we wonder what it would mean, by examining some instances in the lives of Sri Nannaaru and Amma we may get some insight into this statement.
At the age of about thirteen, the marriage of Amma and Sri Nanna garu was mulled over in the families on the both sides. In fact, even from the time of the birth of Amma, the possibility of her being given away in marriage to Sri Nanna garu was frequently discussed by the elders. After the marriage proposal was finalized and invitations were printed, the actual performance of the marriage got postponed by more than a year and it appeared that the marriage may not take place. At one point of time, Sri Sripati Sarma, Amma’s father contemplated to look other alliances. Amma firmly said while she was all of thirteen years old that the very agreement among the elders to perform the marriage. Fixing of the ‘muhurtham’ and printing the invitations amounted to the marriage being solemnized through the ritual connected to the events did not physically take place! In one context she confirmed to her would –be-husband that as far as she is concerned the marriage is over, albeit mentally. She further clarified that she is marrying the ‘Manasu’ and not the physical body or the property. It means Amma accepted Sri Nanna garu as her husband in her ‘Bhavana’ and thus she saw Bharta as Bhavana.
When once this Bhava was ingrained in her, she kept Sri Nanna garu as her visible God and assiduously adopted the ‘Pativrata Dharma’. Amma never given importance to dogmatic customs and practices. She put into practice what she felt right with unwavering commitment which many a time was misunderstood by the society as also the relatives including Sri Nanna garu. She however arrived at the right thing to do out of her experience distilling the issues with her incisive intellect and other- worldly intuition.
As such, though her words and ways appear to be simple when looked cursorily, they are like live embers covered with ash. The fire of knowledge concealed thus gets revealed to some extent if approached with surrender reverence.
Reverting back to the subject of the article, an instance to ponder deeply:
Sri Nanna garu and Amma happened to be at Tenali in those days when Amma decided that Sri Nanna garu is her consort. Amma prostrated to the feet of Sri Nanna garu in the street as a traditional wife does. She worshiped Sri Nanna garu by placing flowers on the feet. Two tears of infinite emotion (that of Shakti about to merge with Lord Siva?) welled up from her eyes and fell on the two toes of Sri Nanna garu. They shone like the due drops on lotus leaf. Amma saw the face of Nanna garu reflected in the tear drops clearly for the first time! Thus the Bhava that he is her husband which permeated her being in all the states was a resolve that materialized in course of time.
Amma not only propounded great truths in a simple manner but followed them. She set an example to the world by walking the path of an ideal house-wife (Saha Dharmacharini) all through her life. When someone asked about the manthra she practised, she replied that it is saying ‘Yes”! Amma obeyed the words of Sri Nanna garu to such level which is unheard of in the human history. Her life is replete with so many poignant instances which are incredulous. But, they did happen in contemporary history. Once when Sri Nanna garu impatiently asked Amma not to talk much, she obeyed the dictate and for about thirteen long years she spoke only few syllables! And this is only a minor incident.
Though Amma by word and deed sought to teach the world the ideal way of living, only few could understand Amma and her teachings properly. Is it that our deep rooted Samskaras and beliefs are coming in the way to understand her?
Sri Kulaskhara Reddy, a devotee child of Amma tried to answer this in his article ‘Understanding Mother’. A paragraph is reproduced below.
“Many people lack the ability to accept new concepts or perhaps they lack the moral strength in the face new ideas because they are the victims of their own way of life. Resistance to change probably is the greatest weakness of mankind. There should be a revolution in the traditional approach because it has assiduously encouraged the rumination of inherited knowledge as a result the critical and creative talents get neglected. The world around us rapidly changing in every respect and the people too must change. Frequently there is the awareness of a problem and genuine desire for change, but these are accompanied by resistance to the idea of help being received from an outside person like Amma. A person may feel that he is foregoing his security and status if he takes the help of an external source. Many individuals stick to old and traditional practices and beliefs not because of their functional utility but because they provide certain emotional satisfaction and feeling of psychological security. It means resistance to change or ability to accept new idea occurs in many of the cases on account of factors other than indifference, stubbornness or ignorance. If one wants to understand Amma, Jillellamudi, one should leave all traditions and old beliefs ate the gate and enter into her presence”.
The above paragraph is quoted in the context of trying to understanding Amma’s actions. Some of Amma’s actions appear to contradict established traditional patterns. When a tradition on or practice becomes dogmatic devoid of essence with which it was practiced in the first place. It loses its vitality and relevance. More particularly tradition has no afford scope for synthesis with the society. Any tradition which is not dynamic and which does not keep the society’s welfare and aspirations will become meaningless and join the long line of worthless vestiges of the past.
Now let us see the attitude of Amma, the divine being and acclaimed as Avatara towards Sri Nanna garu. From recorded facts, it is evident that Sri Nanna garu did not share the sentiment about the divinity of Amma for several years. On the other hand due to Amma’s passive and submissive attitude, he viewed Amma as a docile and country woman! Amma on her part did not make any effort to disabuse him of this nation. In fact the esoteric pearls of wisdom emanated from Amma in very ordinary and sometimes painful circumstances were dismissed as hysteric babble. The highest peaks of yoga Amma achieved were misconstrued as symptoms of Roga (disease). This apparently uneven equation, with gradual.
Understanding of Amma’s divine nature by Sri Nanna garu led to the convergence of the juxtaposed concepts. Thus Amma along with her Sri Nanna garu are worshipped in their own right.
When Sri Nannagaru began to understand Amma’s nature and her mission to redeem millions, he supported all the activities without any reservation. He took part in the community living as one of its member without claiming any special place. But the highest place Amma accorded to him did not fade with Amma being recognized as a divine person by more and more people over time. She worshipped him while the world worshipped her.
Amma the great reformer did not approve of the tradition of removing the signs of married woman like removing hair, bangles the scared ‘Mangala Suthram’ and vermillion mark on the fore head with the passing away of the husband. This is not to be taken to mean that she riled against the tradition we have to go back to the observations in the beginning of the article as to the redundant traditions and undesirable dogmas which Amma sought to change. She led by example by not removing these signs after the passing away of Sri Nannagaru during 1981. This gave hope for many women to follow suit.
It is not easy to view one’s own spouse as divine being. However experiencing many instances which established her divine nature, Sri Nanna garu held Amma in high esteem. The fact that for some times he kept Amma’s image in his mind for his meditations reveals his regard for Amma. When it dawned on him that she is the mother of universe, he did not hesitate to place flowers on her feet in supplication. A divine being Amma acting out her role as an earthly mother to millions and an ostensibly ordinary human being Sri Nanna garu ascending to the state of god-hood in the association of Amma! Real convergence of concepts!!