Amma Reaching Yanagundi:

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 road.

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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