Devotees & Experiences:


Meeting with Appasaheb Maharaj:

In March 1952, Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj invited her to visit the sacred Samadhi of the famous saint Sri Manikya Prabhu who is belived to be the fourth incarnation of Dattatreya, the tribune deity. Sri Manikya Prabhu entered into Jiva-Samadhi, at Manikya Nagar, his earthly abode in 1865 on Margasirsha ekadasi. Ever since the Samadhi has been held in great reverence and has been worshipped by successive streams of worshippers with great reverence and devotion. Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj was at that time the head of that Mutt. During his regime he did a great deal to propagate the name and ideals of Sri Prabhu. So, it was no wonder that he desired Manikyamma to visit the Prabhu's Samadhi. So, one fine, morning she was taken to Manikyanagar. She desired to go into the Samadhi room to pay her homage to the Saint. But the Brahmin priests objected to her entering the room because puja to the Samadhi has been done in an orthodax manner; in an extremely punctilious fashion. Non-Brahmins and women are not allowed into the Sanctum- Sanctorum.

She is a non-brahmin and a woman, and therefore it is doubly objectionable. They feared that her entry would pollute the sacred Samadhi. But Sri Appa Saheb raised no objection. As a sincere follower of Sri Manikya Prabhu he has a true and correct conception of values. He has a cultured mind and a large heart illumined by the light of all lights. He knows however important external observances are, they must not be allowed to stifle the spirit. He knows what Brahminhood means. It is not birth alone that confers Brahminhood upon a person. A Brahma Jnani is, by divine right, a Brahmin. He knows that Manikyamma is a Jnani of unparalleled vision of the holy spirit and therefore a purer, and more holy brahmin than any brahmin there. As to her being a woman sex pertains to the body. The soul knows no sex.

Manikyamma is not an ordinary human being. She has transcended the needs and limitations of the corruptible human body and is therefore untouched by the impurities of the physical frame of flesh and blood. No food and drink ever enter into her body. She has no excretions that sully the body. She is a spinster of extra-ordinary purity of body and mind. No unclean sexual thoughts ever enter into her God illumined virgin mind. She does not allow her body, or even the clothes on her body, to be touched by anybody-man, woman or child. She knows that the body is the temple of the soul, and therefore endeavors to keep it pure and holy. Her body is like a burning vestment. If any one touches it that personal feels burning pain all over the body; and strangely and mysteriously her body too would terribly revolt against such a touch, and unless it is washed and bathed instantly she could have no rest or peace. Her body seems to be materialised soul, and has all the sensitiveness, purity and holiness of divine spirit. So, where is the question of sex in regard to this woman, who is no woman at all? So, Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj who knew all this allowed her to go in. So, she went in and sat near the holy samadhi of the ever-living Brahmin Saint. She was there for about forty-five minutes, while the Brahmin priests went on with their meticulous puja, in wrapt communion with the immortal spirit of the Prabhu. When she came out the Brahmins were all astonished to see her face shining with a wonderful spritual glow.

They beheld dazzling Brahmatejas in her countenance at her feet without any compunction. So the action of Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj was vindicated. Then he presented her with a big brass Trisulam, a huge beautiful tiger skin and a Kamandalam which are in daily use with her. Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj wanted to go on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Vishvanath at Kasi. Throughout the ages Kasi has been regarded as the holiest of the holy cities of Hinduism. Every Hindu, rich or poor, whether he is intensely religious or merely lukewarm about things spiritual, entertains secretly the hope and nourishes the longing of making his life blessed by visiting this holy earthly abode of Shankara at least once before his death. So, a large number of his disciples desired to accompany the Maharaj to Kasi. He arranged for a special train and made elaborate arrangements for the holy pilgrimage. He felt it would be in the fitness of things if Manikyamma accompanied them. He accordingly, made known his desire and requested her to grant them the privilege of her sacred company during the pilgrimage. He assured her that no inconvenience would be caused to her. A separate compartment with facilities for her bath would be placed at her disposal. But she declined to accept the invitation, saying, - "Maharaj, you go on your pilgrimage. By God's grace it will be a successful and happy trip. But my ways are different from your ways. You go your way and leave me to my ways".

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Siva Linga Temple Miracle:

In spite of the fact that her fame was steadily growing, her stay in Ram Dev Temple gradually became unhappy. So, she wanted to shift her residence to the hillock. She built there with the help of few devotees a small temple. When she was digging under a tamarind tree on the hillock she found huge bricks and a stone gate supposed to be relies of an ancient Siddeswar. These came handy to her in her building the temple. In it she built an attuck as an upper storey and began to reside in it. From holy Kasi Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj brought three beautiful Siva Lingams. One of these lingams was installed and consecrated by him under the name of "Manikeshwar" on Chaitra Sudha Dwadasi in Vyaya Nama year (27-3-1953) with great pomp and splendor. Thousands of people attended the function and made it a glorious success. In a most unexpected and surprising manner, to the joy of all the devotees, foodstuffs in superabundance came. God knows where from. The hillock has since become Manikyagiri.

A new chapter in her life has begun. She continued to reside in the temple. There was no other building on the hillock. On one occasion she decided to go into anushthanam for thirty days. She would observe complete silence (maunam) during that period and would not come out at all. She instructed her devotees to lock the door of the temple from outside and open it only on the thirty first day. Devotees from the neighboring villages used to go to the temple during those thirty days offering silent worship in their admiring hearts to this extra-ordinary girl saint. On the thirty first day she appeared at the small opening in the attuck. There were about ten to fifteen devotees waiting at the door including Sri Ram Reddi Patel and others. They had the blessings of her darshan and broke coconuts and lighted camphor and offered worship to her. Then they unlocked the door of the temple so that she might come out. But strangely enough the doors would not open however hard they tried. Then she got out by means of a ladder through the opening in the attuck. After coming out she too tried to open the doors. She knocked and knocked. But the doors remained stubborn. Then in sheer impatience and almost despair, seeing that all human efforts failed, she stood on one leg in front of the door and silently began to pray. She prayed thus for perhaps half an hour.

Then to the astonishment and consternation of all there was a thunderous sound. The sound was so loud and terrific and unexpected that they were all frightened. Sri Banappa, the former Secretary of Manikeshwari Yogasram Committee, rain in terror to a distance of about thirty feet before he could summon courage enough to look back to see what happened. With that loud bang the doors flung themselves open. Then she went in and bolted the doors from within. It is not known what took place inside the temple then. People have heard a sound like that of tinklets moving round and round and a voice crying in anguish. "Shankara, please allow me to take hold of you. Why do you vex me. What have I done to deserve this? You appear to the eye, but refuse to be touched by the hand. What is this maya? What is this naughty play and so on" Then, after a little while she came out and was worshipped again by the devotees there.

Sri Bannappa and others, who were till then addressing her simply as Manikyamma, have now become convinced of her super natural powers. Henceforward she had become "Amma" to them all. The fame of Sri Manikyeshwari has begun to spread far and wide and the number of devotees coming for her darshan has become considerably increased.

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Meeting with Santveeraswamy :

Santveeraswamy, head of the Mutt at Gurumitkal, about seven miles from Yanagundi, was a great admirer of hers. He used to visit her frequently at Yanagundi. On Krishna Jayanti Day he invited her to his Mutt. When she went there she was received with great respect and affection. She was shown over the whole mutt and Santveeraswamy acquainted her with the origin of the mutt and the unparalleled holiness and great saintliness of the original founder. Then she was taken to the Sakti temple in the mutt which had been kept locked for over two hundred years ever since the maha samadhi of the original founder because the 'sakti' was supposed to be very powerful and terrible and that people were afraid even to look at the idol. So, the doors were always kept locked and such puja(prayer)as was performed was made only before the closed door. She asked them to unlock the door and open it as she wanted to see such powerful deity. After some hesitation and cogitation they opened the door.

The room was knee-deep full with the accumulated dust of centuries, looked abominable and emitted stinking foul smell. She expressed her desire to go in and worship the magnificent 'Sakti'(energy). They were filled with consternation at the very idea. Apart from the terrific power of the 'Sakti', the room was so filthy and foul smelling that they could not imagine how any human being could enter there and come out alive. They warned her of the great danger and tried to dissuade her. But Manikyamma is not the woman to be afraid of any dangerous situation. The greater the danger and risk, the keener her enthusiasm, so, she went in and closed the door. The next morning she opened the door and came out hale and happy to the joyous astonishment of all of them who were waiting with palpitating hearts and worried looks expecting to see her dead body.

Their astonishment was all the greater when they heard that she had also descended into the impenetrable darkness of the underground cell in the temple, which no one had had the courage even to think of seeing. It was indeed a marvelous and miraculous adventure. No human being would ever have ventured to enter and spend a whole night in that 'Sakti' temple against the warnings of Santveeraswamy and other inmates of the Mutt. But Manikyamma went in there as freely and as casually as one would go into one's own house. Indeed the spirit of Adi-Sakti is in her, however much it is veiled by the bodily vesture of flesh and blood. She received reverential and over whelming ovation from them. Santveeraswamy presented her with orange-colored clothes, the symbol of purity, 'Vairagyam' (renunciation) and sacrifice and a pair of wooden sandals- the only footwear allowed to sanyasis. She has been wearing Kashayam ever since and walks only with wooden sandals.

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Sri Shanker Dev:

Sri Shanker Dev, then Minister of the then Hyderabad State, during his tour to Yanagundi, happened to hear of Sri Manikyeshwari and the story of her living without food and drink. He at first thought that it was a cock and bull story. But when Sri Ram Reddi and others vouchsafed for the story he wanted to investigate and find out the facts of the case. He, therefore, employed C.I.Ds like Dr. Akbar Ali Saheb before him. After impartial, severe and scientific testing he was satisfied that there was no exaggeration in the stories he had heard regarding her, that what appears impossible and unnatural to ordinary people is not only possible but true in the case of great Yogis like Sri Manikyeshwari. Hence forward he became an ardent admirer and devotee of this woman saint.

He was eager to make known the unique greatness of this Bala Yogini to the world and so wrote two books, one in Hindi and another in English and some articles to news papers propagating her greatness. He invited her to Hyderabad and took her there one day to introduce her personally to the educated and civilized world. There, Ministers and high Government officials, religionists and bhaktas sought her darshan. Among them was Swami Ramadas, a famous Bhakta and the head of a big Ashram at Kanhangad, near Mangalore. Though a man like Minister Shankar Deo declared after careful watching and testing that he was convinced that Sri Manikyeshwari was indeed living without food and water, people hesitated to believe that it was possible for a human being to live without food and drink for any length of time.

It was contrary to Nature. Oh, ye men of little faith, though you think you believe in God, the Omnipotent, why is it impossible for you to believe in the possibility of a Yogi who lives in constant communion with the Infinite, the Omnipotent God, to live sans food, sans water? We, modern English-educated men have lost touch with our ancient wisdom and have no faith in our own great rishis and Yogis and dismiss them with a high-brow sneer as more charltans. We have come too much under the spell of the un-scientific "Scientific" spirit of the times and the so called spirit of reason, to believe what appears to us as un-natural and contrary to reason. Oh, ye, unbelieving believers, know that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your sciences and philosophies. Having eyes you see not; having ears you hear not.

Natural laws are valid so far as the external phenomenal world is concerned. But there are subtle worlds in, beneath and above the gross physical and material world. And there are subtle laws that govern these worlds. These laws are studied with punctilious ease and proclaimed by spiritual seers whom we call mystics or Sufis or yogis. These laws are as valid in the world of spirit even as natural laws are valid in the material world. When we understand these laws we shall be able to find perfect explanation for the events, which appear to be un-natural, and which we contemptuously dismiss as impossible experienced any disease.

These mystics or Yogis who are in touch with the Omnipotent, Omniscient Omnipresent and Infinitive Creative Spirit acquire what in Yoga Pralance are called Ashta-Sidhis, that is, the powers of anima, mahima, garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, isatva and vasitva. Mahayogini Manikyeswari seems to possess all these powers. But she is reluctant to show them. She does not want to exhibit to the public gaze her yogic powers. To the seeker of God, to him who wants to realise God and get merged in him these powers are an obstacle and a hindrance. Many people who after years of hard and painful quest after God obtain these siddhis as side products as it were. When they happen to get these powers they succumb to temptation and begin to use them.

At first they use them with the best of intentions for the good of humanity - for the alleviation of disease, pain, misery and sorrow. But in course of time the adulation of the people and the fame and power that the use of fame these powers bring them, make them egoistic and make them lose their real objective, namely the realisation of God. As Milton has said "love of fame is the last infirmity of noble minds". The path of spirituality is strewn with dangerous temptations and even the most highly advanced are always liable to fall. Even today we have amidst us great men who have been bestowed with these powers and who use them for their own glorification, though they ostensibly take the name of God and seem to perform them for the good of humanity. The exhibition of these powers promiscuously before all and sundry brings them down to the level of jugglers and vipravinddis and mars the sanctity and holiness of these divine powers.


In our country many mahatmas have performed miracles to reveal the power and mercy of God. The names and performances of man like Manikya Prabhu, Raghavendra Swami, and Sai Baba of recent times are known to all. Sri Manikyeshwari also shows some of these powers and performs miracles. But she never arrogates to herself the power to perform them. She always attributes them to God - "Parameswara must have done them. I know nothing of them," she says that if any person who has been cured of a fell disease comes and expresses his gratitude to her, she will simply say, "Your Bhakti must have done it" (even as Jesus Christ said to the leper whom he had cured "Your faith has cured you"). I have no lot or part in it. God must have appreciated your devotion and cured you of your disease," and so on. This charming humility is a remarkable feature of her character. Innumerable are the miracles she has performed. Only a few we shall mention here, in addition to what has already been said, simply to show that she is in touch with the Supreme Creative Spirit.

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Dr. Akbar Ali Saheb:

Dr. Akbar Ali Saheb of Hyderabad happened to go to Yanagundi on professional work. He practices Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicine. He is a public-spirited man of great enthusiasm and courage. As a follower of the Mahatma, he propagates the cult of ahimsa. Though a Muslim, he has catholic views and honors all religions. His ideal man is Bhagawan Buddha, whose infinite mercy and love of all creatures has captivated his heart. He has learnt his piety from Rama and humanity from Buddha. In his large heart there is no room for bigotry, narrowness and communalism. Once this doctor went to Yanagundi on a professional visit to Patel Rama Reddi. While there he heard about Manikyamma who was living without food and water.

He could not believe how a human being could live for months and years even without water. Being a sincere and seriously religious man he wanted to discover the truth about it. So he engaged a professional C.I.D. man and both of them spent some restless days and sleepless nights in watching closely the movements of Manikyamma. Then at last he became convinced that Manikyamma never ate a morse of food or drank a drop of water and that she is really a great soul. He became her devotee.

He has had strange personal experiences about the supernatural powers of Manikyamma. One day when he was talking to her at the gate of Ram Dev temple she went in promising to come back soon. He waited and waited at the gate for a very long time. But still she did not come out. So he got impatient and inquisitive. He cautiously peeped into the small temple. But he was surprised to see no one there. There was only one doorway and if she went out she could have gone only through that doorway. But he was waiting there all along and he could not have failed to notice her going. No, she did not go out. But, then what became of her? He sat there musing and wondering when Manikyamma came from within and accosted him. He received a shock of astonishment. from there. He showed us a letter he had received from her on 11-11-1964 and told us with what reverential thankfulness he received it and how he regards it as a sacred treasure, more valuable than gold and diamonds and how he always keeps it under his pillow.

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Sri M. Govind Rao:

Sri Manikyeshwari was very fond of bathing in the gundam at the foot of the hillock. She would go there any time, day or night when she took a fancy to bathe. One day at about 3 O'Clock at dawn she went down to the gundam for a plunge. There were with her several devotees including Sri M.Govind Rao, Tahsildar of Kodangal, Sri Ram Reddi, Patel of Yangundi, Sri Venkata Reddy, Patel of Burugapalli. She had in one hand her big brass Trisulam, her Kamandalam she held in the other hand, fresh clothes to wear after bath on the shoulders, and on her head a big brass vessel to bring water up the hill for washing, because in those days water had to be carried up the hill from the gundam. After finishing the bath they started on their return journey.

She started with all paraphernalia Trisulam in one hand, Kamandalam in the other and on her shoulders washed wet clothes and wooden sandals on her feet. She seemed a veritable Sakti. When they were half way up the hillock some one noticed that the brass vessel with water was not on her head as usual, and asked her about it. Her reply was evasive. When they came up they could not believe their eyes when they beheld the vessel filled with water near the tamarind tree, at the edge of the hillock waiting, as it were, for the Devi. Perhaps she had felt that the carrying of the water-filled vessel on her head would be too cumbersome, or that the vessel itself felt ashamed to give her trouble. In those days there were no steps up the hill and the way was rough and slippery.

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Srisailam Miracle:

One day, in May, 1966, Sri Manikyeshwari told Sri Bannappa and some other devotees tha she was thinking of going to Sri Sailam (Srisailam is one among the various Jyothirlingam of India ) and asked them in her playful way how many of them would accompany her. All except Sri Bannappa said that they would all very gladly follow her. But Sri Bannappa told her if she would inform him before hand the date of her departure he would, after corresponding with the Andhra Government, make suitable arrangements for her journey to and stay at Sri Sailam. But with an enigmatic smile she rebuked him and said "you seem to be a mad fellow. Why do I want all that fuss? I will quietly go without any paraphernalia about me and will return quietly after having darshan of Shankara".

Sri Bannappa laughed within himself at her simplicity and at her ignorance. A few days after this, on 11th May 1966, at about 10 O'Clock in the night he accompanied her as usual from the temple to the Ashram and after she had gone in he locked the door of the Ashram and was coming away. When he was about twenty yards from the temple he saw her coming from the temple towards the Ashram and when she approached him she accosted him. He became astounded and breathless. He faltered out the words: "What Amma? What is this? Just now I sent you into the Ashram and after locking the gate I am coming. How do you happen to be here? Am I dreaming? What is this Amma? Smiling in her own child-like fashion she protested , "Are you mad Bannappa? I have been here all along."

One may be excused the guess that perhaps she wanted to hint, in this manner, to Bannappa that she would go to Sri Sailam in this fashion and therefore elaborate arrangements would be superfluous for her trip. How remarkably unassuming and simple is the way she shows her powers to her devotees. No drum beating, no blowing of trumpets, no tricks of jugglery. They are like the natural silent spontaneous miracles of God which we witness everyday - the silent rising of the sun every morning and its glorious setting every evening, the simple silent revelation of the splendid star-studded sky every night and the equally silent veiling of it every morning and a myriad such miracles of God which we take for granted as quite natural and ordinary.


Shortly after this, an incident happened which created a great sensation among her disciples. On 31st May 1966, the door of the Ashram was found locked outside and the key was lying on the lantern, which was on the steps. The previous night she went into the Ashram and bolted the door from within as usual. The next morning the door of the Ashram was found locked from without and she was not to be seen anywhere. In consternation a search was made all around - near the gundam, near Ram Dev temple in Yanagundi and the neighboring villages and towns and the search was continued till the 8th June 1966. Discovering no clue about her whereabouts, the distracted disciples, fearing the worst about her decided that the safest thing would be to report the matter to the Police. So, the Circle Inspector of Police, Sri Halli, was informed about it.

The Police, after a careful search all around, opened the Ashram gate and went in. Sri Mallanna, Advocate of Yadgiri and Sri Konda Narayanappa also of Yadgiri, the then Secretary of Sri Manikyeshwari Yogashram Committee, entered the room together with the police. But they found the room empty. Furious search was made, but all to no effect. At last suddenly at 6 in the morning on 10th June 1966 she was found enjoying a swing on the top of a tree in Ram Dev temple. Where was she during those ten days? How did she leave the hillock and return to Yanagundi without being noticed by anybody? These are questions, which can never be answered, because the only person who can satisfactorily answer them has not deigned to take us into her confidence. Some, perhaps over-credulous, devotees believe that she had been on a flying visit to the holy Mount, Sri Sailam.

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Stonewall Miracle:

Her fame was steadily growing and several devotees were coming for her darshan. Sri M. Govind Rao, then Tahsildar of Kodangal, was one of those sincere devotees who were not satisfied with merely having darshan of the saint, but who desired to do something to make the place more habitable to the saint. He got a small nice Ashram built for her so that she could perform her meditation without disturbance from sun and rain and from inquisitive and obsequious spectators. The room was built and was almost ready for occupation, only the windows and the doorway had to be fixed up. Meanwhile, the Mahayogini became impatient and eager to enter the room and start her tapas.

The devotees requested her to wait for a short while so that they might fix up the windows and the door way. But she was too impatient to heed their request. She went and sat in the room on 23rd December, 1953 and asked them to build up with stones where they wanted to put up the windows and the door way. They felt bewildered and were terror stricken. They did not know what to do. It was a tremendous risk to keep a girl barely twenty years old shut in a room without any opening. She who had been living without food and water, living only on air and light, was now to be denied even light and air. It looked as though she was to undergo a sentence of death confined in a dark cell in a most inhuman fashion. But this extra-ordinary young girl with a stupendous courage and unflinching faith in the providence of God assured them that no harm would come to her and that God, who is the protector of all, would surely not abandon those who trust in Him and depend entirely upon him.

He would surely not allow her to perish in her prayer room. She would come out on the ensuing Mahasivaratri and give them darshan. "But how, Amma, could you come out of this room which has no opening of any kind? How would you come out of these stone walls?" Protested the astonished devotees. Then she smiled a smile of gentle reproof: "What, is there anything impossible to the Almighty God has created this infinite Brahmanandam out of nothing. Can He not make a small opening in the stonewall for me to come out. Have no fear. We will meet on Mahasivaratri". The ensuing Shivaratri fell on 3rd March 1954. For that helpless girl to remain in that dark closed-up cell for more than seventy days - not only without food and without water for which she was accustomed - but without light and with only scanty air! How wonderful! But has he not assured us in His Celestial song. "Name Bhaktah Pranasyati"? True. But how many of us seriously accept that assurance and mould our life on that faith? We quote those words in profoundly devout manner in our discourses and learned lectures in pulpits and on public platforms.

Few of us indeed believe sincerely and whole-heartedly those words of Paramatma. To most of us they are merely words in a book, albeit a scripture and not a definite and indisputable assurance from God. But this little illiterate country girl, devoid of all sham and humbug, in the sincerity of her nature, believed with all her mind and heart and soul in the promised protecting hand of God. Her courage and faith seemed to have proved infectious. Partly inspired by her soul-stirring faith and partly out of curiosity and partly too of their fear to disobey her, they agreed. Then as she sat in 'dhyana' pose the wall was built up round her with big stones and cement, leaving no outlet. Soon news spread like wild fire that the Bala Yogini of Yanagundi was undergoing a most dangerous and unique tapas shutting herself up in darkness in a closed up room without any outlet, and that she promised to give darshan on the ensuing Mahashivaratri.

This sensational news roused the whole neighborhood into feverish inquisitiveness and people began to flow into Yanagundi in their hundreds to verify the truth of this incredible news. In a due course the Government came to know of this and threatened to take legal action against those who were responsible for this murderous scheme. Sri Rama Reddi, Patel of Yanagundi, tried to assuage the suspicion and anger of Government officials and red them that would be no untoward happenings and that there would be absolutely no danger to the person of Sri Manikyeshwari whose miraculous deeds they had witnessed and had been known to all the people of the surrounding villages. To make assurance doubly sure he offered property valued at Rupees Ten Thousand as security against any possible mishap.

The Government was free to confiscate that property if anything went wrong and if Sri Manikyeshwari came to any harm. One cannot but admire Sri Rama Reddi's faith in the supernatural powers of Sri Manikyeshwari and his courage and spirit of sacrifice. He has always remained faithful to the trust imposed on him by Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj and has all along been a true and valiant and chivalrous follower and disciple of the saint through thick and thin, through fair play and foul. The Government thus satisfied, set up a strong watch consisting of six C.I.Ds, and other officials. Hundreds of people came and kept a round the clock vigil till the appointed day, the Mahasivaratri. At last the Great day came. On Mahasivaratri - 3rd March 1954 - long before the previous midnight thousands and thousands of people collected before the room to witness the promised and much expected miracle. People from all the surrounding villages and towns flocked to the hillock.

All roads led to Yanagundi. Among the thousands that gathered there were several rich and influential people, scholars and devotees, scientists and sceptics, C.I.Ds and Police, two Ministers of the Government and many high Government officials. The motley crowd was throbbing with breathless expectation. A powerful searchlight from a Government motor vehicle was shot on the front wall of the sacred room. Time seemed to pass so slowly that minutes appeared as long hours. The impatience of the waiting crowd was growing with the passing of the minutes. But doubt and fear, faith and devotion, expectation and reverence, and an unseen spirit of solemnity seemed to have gripped the teeming thousands and wrapped them in an eloquent flood of silence. At long last, the darkness and the suspense of the night seemed to be dispersing with the dawn of "Brahma Muhurtam" when angels in heaven sing songs of praise and joy to the All-holy and Almighty God. At about 4 AM, when the eastern sky was making slow preparations for the reception of the Great Silent Witness, when the suspense of the people was at breaking point, the impatient crowd saw cracks in the front wall of the great room.

Ten thousand piercing eyes were focused on the wall. The hearts of the multitude were palpitating with suspense, with joy and with strange feelings of awe. The atmosphere was tense with a supernatural glow of expectation. Then beyond the wildest hopes of the most superstitious believers the great miracle happened. The stones of the wall began to fall miraculously one by one in mystic silence as if they seemed to fear disturbing the supernal serenity of the holy place. They fell noiselessly, silently and almost reverently. God thus carved out a passage through the stonewall for this saint to come out. The doubts of the unbelieving were dispelled. The expectations of the faithful were fulfilled. Scientists were puzzled and silenced. Philosophers were non-pulsed. Devotees were jubilant. Skeptics who came to scoff remained to pray. The crowd went mad with ecstatic joy. Such wonderful miracle has not been witnessed since the days of the glorious saint "Gnaneswar" who is said to have ridden on a mud wall. But at a mere glance of Sri Manikeshwari, stones from the cemented stonewall fell down before her in obeisance.


Such is the marvelous power of this Maha Yogini. But it is extremely difficult to understand her complex nature full of seemingly contrary and contradictory qualities. If we could understand fully and well this unlettered rustic women and her illuminated soul we should know - what god and man are. We shall try to describe, however inadequately, some of the more striking traits of her character, though we have already touched some of these in the course of the narration of her story. The first thing that attracts our notice in her is her sense of personal purity. From her early childhood, even when she was four or five years old, she considered herself as being different and separate from the other members of the family. She used to have her own separate eating plate and tumbler and would not allow them to be mixed with those of the family.

She used to fetch her drinking water herself. She kept herself aloof from the rest of the family and would not tolerate anyone touching her. If, however, any one happened to touch her by chance she would feel as if her whole body was aflame and would start crying and weeping and could not be consoled for hours afterwards. When she was a little child some neighbor woman came and took the child fondly from the cradle in her arms and kissed it. Then the baby began to howl and kick and brought the roof down as if it were to the consternation of the poor woman. This sense of purity she continues to cherish even today. She sweeps her own room. She washes her clothes herself. Though there are several disciples who would only be too glad to do her personal service she firmly refuses their services. This trait of hers stands in strong contrast to the behavior of the general run of sanyasis.

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Oldest Devotees:


The splendidly spectacular and grand installation ceremony of the Lingam in the small Siva Temple on 26th May, 1953 in which several thousand people participated with great devotion and earnestness brought to the fore the need for enlarging and beautifying the temple and for providing adequate accommodation to the ever increasing number of visiting pilgrims. This important task was undertaken by three or four prominent devotees.

Late Sri M. Govind Rao:


The first among them is Late Sri M Govind Rao. He was an extra-ordinary person. He served in the Revenue Department as a Tahsildar and Assistant Commissioner. Though a man of large family and great responsibilities he was throughout his official career thoroughly honest and remained incorruptible in spite of great temptations. He was simple and innocent as a rustic, unostentatious like a profound scholar, with suave manners which proceed from a kind, generous and noble heart, unruffled by the ups and downs of life, never cast down by sorrow or elated by joy, calm and serene like a seasoned philosopher. We rarely come across such a man.

He understood and carried out successfully the enlarging and beautifying of the Siva Temple. A big stone Mantapam was built round the temple so that it might stand through the centuries as a reminder of the unique Tapaswini,Sri Manikyeshwari. In those days it was indeed a Herculean task to transport huge stone pillars several feet long for the temple from distant places up the hillock which could not boast then of anything like even a distantly aprroaching road. The Mantapam which has been constructed mainly through his efforts and zeal under very trying circumstances and againt great odds will stand as an eternal monument revealing to successive generations of pilgrim bhaktas his sincere bhakti and selfless services. His services to Manikyeshwari cannot be exaggerated.

Sri Maniappa:

Then there was the question of accomodation for visiting pilgrims, Sri Maniappa of Tandur was the first to undertake to tackle this problem. He is a silent and unassuming devotee. He is the confident of Sri Manikyeshwari and implicity carries out her wishes and instructions. With the help of some fellow devotees he constructed a Dharmasala.

Late Smt. Krishnamma:


Smt. Krishnamma widowed sister of Late Sri A.V.Narayana Rao of Narayanpet had been residing in it ever since it was built and was rendering considerable service to casual visitors. She was one of those who witnessed the great miracle of the wall in 1954. She was so deeply impressed with it that she made up her mind to spend the rest of her life in the service of the Mahayogini. Her faith and courage are indeed remarkable. When there were none on the hillock she was staying all alone with the Mahayogini. And when Sri Manikyeshwari shut herself up for months together in her Ashram during her periodical anushtanams.

Krishnamma was there on the hillock all alone with the Damocle's sword of Muslim fanaticism and threatened violence hanging on her head, through the silence of the lonely day and the terror striking darkness of the night. Neither the cajolings of her rich relations, nor the fearful threats of enemies - open and secret - have been able to wean her away from the feet of the great yogini. Through storm and sunshine, through slander and praise, through illness and health, through poverty and starvation she has stuck to her guns like the heroine that she was.

Late Sri A.V.Narayan Rao & Late Smt. Manik Bai:


Late Sri A.V.Narayan Rao of Narayanpet was another great devotee whose services to Sri Manikyeshwari and Manikyagiri are considerable. With his vast resources and great influence he made himself very useful and helpful in making adequate arrangements for important functions like the grand installation ceremony of the Lingam in the Siva Temple and the construction of the Dharmasala and other buildings. His wife Late Manik Bai was a great bhakta and co-operated whole heartedly with her husband. They both stayed on the hillock when there were no facilities at all - living in a small thatched hut - fetching water from the gundam below with no protection of any kind-supervising the construction of the Dharmasala and other buildings. Amma has visited their home in Narayanpet.

Late Sri Banappa:
No account of the story of Sri Manikyeshwari will be complete without the recounting of the services of Late Sri Banappa Gandhi, ex - MLA and Secretary of the Manikyeshwari trust. He was an interesting character. He appeared to be happy - go - lucky fellow with no serious outlook upon life. He was a boon companion of ministers and high Government officials, he was at once a chum of the ordinary police constable, the secret police informant, the clerk at the desk in the office and the cook with the kettle in the kitchen. He used to talk and behave in a light hearted and humourous way cutting jokes with all and sundry - even with the Mahayogini. But below the surface of this superficiality lies a vein of sincere and genuine faith. His was the hidden hand in bringing to fruition the scheme for electric installation on the hillock. He always strived to spread the name of Sri Manikyeshwari, speaking of her Yogic powers to the eminent men, to ministers and to high Government officials, in every possible meeting. He stroved very hard to get the animal sacrifices at the Chilla stopped.

In that attempt he naturally became very unpopular with the Muslims and also those Hindus who supported them for selfish purposes, with the consequence that several false accusations were foisted on him. In this connection he had suffered a great deal physically, socially and financially. But through weather, fair and foul, through report good and evil, he has constantly remained faithful to Sri Manikyeshwari.

Late Sri Rajayya:
Late Sri Ammanabolu Rajayya was a rich merchant of Secunderabad. He was an ardent religionist of charitable disposition.He has constructed temples in several places and has endowed them with liberal funds for the carrying out of religious functions and for feeding. He perceived that Manikyagiri had a great future before it, and that there was plenty of scope for the exercise of his charitable impulses. So he entered the field, beautified the Mantapam further still, added an upper storey to the residential building of the Yogini in the Ashram. In 1957, he constructed a nice bungalow at considerable cost for the accommodation of pilgrim visitors. Mention has already been made of the motor engine set up at the gundam for pumping up of water to the hillock.


Sri Rajayya contributed a large sum of money and got the water works completed. So there is an abundant supply of water on the hillock a facility which is greatly appreciated by one and all. Sri Rajayya has made arrangements for the Puja and seva in the Siva Temple by appointing pujaris at his own expenses. Every year on MahaShivaratri a gala festival is held, and a large number of people are fed, and clothes are distributed to the poor - all at the cost of this great philanthropist. Seeing that the pujaris were put to much inconvenience for want of proper arrangement for their stay he generously constructed in 1964 a decent building which not only houses the pujaris but affords accommodation to the ever increasing number of devotees. Luckily for him he has a wife who is deeply religious, and generous hearted, and is really his better half. She heartily co-operates with him in all his charitable activities. It is difficult to exaggerate the services which Sri Rajayya has been rendering to the Maha Yogini and her
cause.

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