Yanagundi is a village of Sedam Taluk in Gulbarga district
in Karnataka State,India. It is about 150kms from Hyderabad
and about 20kms from Narayanpet. In this village, there
is a hillock just by the side of Hyderabad - Yadgiri
When Amma came to stay here, and constructed the Shiva
temple, the hillock assumed the name of Manikgiri and
it is now called so by all.
The brother of Sri Manikyamma happen to hear at this
time that there was a sadhu on the hillock, who could
cure devil possessed persons. He was told that the sadhu
would be able to make his sister eat rice and bread.
So his dying hopes were revived. He suggested to his
sister that they should go to Yanagundi and seek the
help of the sadhu. Manikyamma, for reasons best known
to herself only, readily agreed. Perhaps, she had an
instinctive glimpse of the future scenes of the drama
of her life. Brother and sister went to the hillock
but as it was dark by the time they reached the hillock
they went down to Yanagundi for the night.
The next day they met the sadhu. He tried to brow beat
her and challenged her boldly. But his efforts like
those of all the others, proved futile. Manikyamma asked
him some questions which were very perplexing to him.
After a while, he ran away from Yanagundi. The next
day her disappointed brother left for his village but
Manikyamma declined to accompany him to Mallabad.
At the foot of the hillock on the outskirts of the
village there is a gundam(spring) which is considered
to be holy. Manikyamma got upon an 'Aswatha'tree at
the gundam. She remained there for eight days and nights.
The simple village folk were astonished to see this
strange girl there. She was barely sixteen years of
age. She was always staying on a tree. They observed
that she was not eating anything. Naturally all sorts
of rumors sprang up about her. Some said that she was
out of her senses, that she was stark mad. Others said
that she was possessed by a devil. Some others who were
more worldly wise and malicious than those simple folk,
were definitely of opinion that she was a bad character
and had abandoned her husband and came to Yanagundi
to escaped from the pursuit of her relations.
The news reached the ears of the Patel of the village, Sri
Rami Reddi. He is a man who has plenty of worldly wisdom and
is not easily swayed by the talk of these tales. He remained
indifferent for a long time. But at last due to the pressure
of the people one day he went to the gundam, spoke to the
girl, and came to the conclusion that she was neither mad
nor possessed. She was not a bad character either. He made
up his mind to help her, but at the same time it would be
prudent on his part to be cautious. So, he asked her if she
would agree to stay in the Ramdev temple near the gundam -
a temple built and maintained by himself. she readily agreed.
He asked her to discard the colored saree that she was wearing
and gave her a white one to wear. This suited her admirably.
It at once provided a shelter for her and a refuge from the
inquisitive game of vulgar people.
It also provided scope for work and worship which are nearest
to her heart. Her arrival at Yanagundi had been foretold six
months before she actually went there by Sri Pradbhudas (Appa
Saheb Deshpande) the then Pratinidhi of the samsthan of the
famous saint Sri Manikya Prabhu.
Sri Prabhudas Appa Saheb had been to Yanagundi in the month
of October 1949 upon the invitation of Sri Rama Reddi, who
is religious minded. One day and it was Thursday, Sri Appa
Saheb Maharaj after finishing his puja in the Ramdev Temple
sat for a little rest on the platform near the gundam. On
his way back to Sri Rami Reddi's house, Sri Rami Reddi and
many others were all sitting around him having a free chat.
Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj in the course of conversation said
that within a year an individual would go there and through
that individual the place would become famous.
Six months after that Manikyamma happened to arrive there.
It is interesting to note here an incident regarding Sri Manikya
Prabhu. He was a greatMaharashtrian Saint of extraordinary
saintliness and power who flourished in the nineteenth century.
Three hundred years before his birth a sage called Sarvajna
Yogi foretold that on Manichula Parvatam a new town would
be built and in it would dwell a yogi called Manika Prabhu.
At that time and indeed till Sri Manikya Prabhu established
his gadi there, Manichula Parvatam, as the tableland was then
called, was a jungle infested with wild beasts. For some unknown
reason Sri Manikya Prabhu happened to go there. He was so
struck with the virginity of nature there that he decided
to make it his abode. In course of time a town-ship came into
existence which is known to day as Maniknagar. It cannot be
chance coincidence that Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj,a great grandson
of Sri Tatya Maharaj, (alias Narasimha Maharaj) the younger
brother of Sri Manik Prabhu foretold the advent of Sri Manikeshwari
at Yanagundi hillock.
It bespeaks at once the greatness of the Maha Yogini Sri
Manikeshwari and the prophetic foresight of Sri Appa Saheb
Maharaj. Shortly after she began to stay in the Ramdev temple
the same Sri Appa Saheb Maharaj again went to Yanagundi in
June 1951. He stayed there for nineteen days. And everyday
at the time of his puja he would send for this illiterate
girl. She would come and sit by his side during the puja.
She would then get absorbed in meditation. Sri Maharaj was
greatly impressed by the strange devotion of this unlettered
rustic girl. He observed with admiration and joy that she
was getting into 'nirvikalpa samadhi'. Sometimes she would
remain in that condition long after the puja was over. He
used to discuss with her spiritual matters for hours together,
sometimes till the early hours of the morning. After studying
her closely for nineteen days he could not avoid coming to
the conclusion that she was not only a great bhakta, but she
was also a Yogini of extra ordinary power. Being himself a
deeply religious and high souled man the Maharaj was able
to perceive that she was a real Mahatma. He made known his
views to Sri Rami Reddy and others, and asked them to take
good care of her. And Sri Rami Reddy has been faithful to
his trust to this day.
We find her advent to Yanagundi to have been prophecised
by another saint, Pagdyala Kristayya who flourished in this
part of the country. One day in the year during which he took
samadhi he addressed his disciple in the following words:-
"My dear boys, I shall tell you something about the bright
future of the village Yanagundi. Remember it well to test
it later on. In this part Adishakti has taken birth in Bhavasamvatsara.
She will be known as Angana Mani Devi. She will come to stay
at Yanagundi and since then Yanagundi flourishes and becomes
an important kshetra. People will flock to Yanagundi to obtain
from this Devi wealth and happiness and also relief from their
worldy worries and difficulties. She will preach the cult
of ahimsa and try to spread Satvaguna among the people around
where Tamasaguna is in predominance now". Now, here we
may narrate an incident which speaks of the extra-ordinary
courage and fearlessness of this teen age girl.
There was a rumour and also a strong belief among the people
at Yanagundi and round about that a tiger visited the Chhilla
of Moula Ali and sometimes remained there till the early hours
of the morning. So no one would go to the hillock in the evenings
and remain there after dark. Manikyamma heard the rumor and
one day resolved to remain on the hillock during the night
and see what kind of a tiger it was. Perhaps her old desire
for death took possession of her. One night she got up the
hillock and lay down beside the tomb of Maula Ali and eagerly
waited, looking this side and that side at the slightest sign
of sound. Minutes and hours passed. Night broke into dawn.
And yet there was no sign of the reported tiger. One can imagine
what stupendous courage this little girl must have possessed
to remain near that tomb one whole night, in utter darkness,
all alone, expecting to encounter a tiger. In the morning
some people came to the Chilla, saw this brave girl, admired
her courage and faith and were fascinated by her frank and
simple nature. She continued to live at Ram Dev temple. Her
fame as a saint began to spread in the surrounding villages.
People afflicted with bodily diseases used to go to her for
help. She effected miraculous cures by merely giving vibhuti.
Another woman, Lakshmamma, who had a stroke or paralysis was
most miraculously cured by her within eleven days with vibhuti
alone. Innumerable are such cases of miraculous cure.
But human nature seems to be strangely malicious. Some people
became jealous and began to spread all sorts of bad rumours
against her. Three persons of Kanukurti, a village about two
miles from Yanagundi, wanted to create mischief. They went
to Ram Dev temple one midnight, and in their attempt to insult
her they were suddenly struck blind. Manikyamma took pity
on them and restored them their sight the next morning.
One day a sudden desire took possession of this illiterate
girl to learn to read and write. She asked the Jangam Pujari
of the temple if he would teach her. He felt flattered and
readily agreed and began with the Telugu alphabet. She went
on quite well till the letter - 'Ksha' was reached. Strangely
enough she was not able to pronounce the letter 'Ksha' . The
Jangam tried his best in vain to make her pronounced the letter
properly. In disgust he upbraided her and at last taunted
her in a very disparaging manner. This touched her to the
quick. She felt very miserable. In despair she went and clasped
the lingam and putting her head on it, began to weep in a
heartbroken manner. Her miserable plight seems to have melted
even the stony heart of the stony image. Then she was surprised
hear these words, "Dont despair. Take heart. I will teach
you. Pronounce every letter after me". Then she heard
every letter distinctly as uttered by the merciful Lingam
and repeated it. In due course she heard 'Ksha' and without
the least difficulty she pronounced it clearly and well. Her
joy knew no bounds. She leapt in sheer intoxication of joy.
Then she began to teach herself. But for some unknown reason
she does not seem to have continued her studies seriously.
She does not seem to be fond of reading. It is not in her
blood, and it is not in her family. Her book-knowledge is
therefore scanty, practically nil. Even now she is only able
to read simple Telugu with some difficulty.
She is not familiar with the sastras or the classics on philosophy.
The little knowledge she has of these is from hearsay. But
her lack of book-knowledge is more than compensated for by
her intuitive divine wisdom. She has anubhuti. she is in direct
contact with God. Sri Manikeshwari cannot quote from the Vedas
or the Bible or the Kuran. She cannot cite Shankara or Patanjali.
But what she cannot teach by word of mouth she conveys with
a benign look or a soulful blessing.
In her asirvadam, soul speaks to soul.
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. 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 splendour. 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, food stuffs 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 neighbouring 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 consernation of
all there was a thunderous sound. The sound was so loud and
terrific and unexpected that they were all frightened.
Sri Banappa, the then Secretary of Manikeshwari Yogashram
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. But Sri
Bannappa and others have told that they heard a sound like
that of tinklets moving round and round and a voice crying
in anguish. "Shankar, 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
increased considerably .
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