Sri Sakkarai Amma

Om Sri Chakra Anandambige Namaha:


The Embodiment of Everlasting Bliss

She was different, even when she was in her preteens. Born in 1854 in a village called Devikapuram near Polur of Thiruvannamalai District, Tamilnadu (India), Anandamba’s favourite spot to spend hours together in solitude was a corner in the western corridor of the famous Sri Bruhannayaki temple, facing the sanctum sanctorum of the principal deity, the consort of Shiva. Anandamba would always sit in the same spot convenient to view the deity, and concentrate on the manifestation of the primordial energy. The temple is at the centre of the village and its name Devikapuram rightly indicates it is the town of the deity.
Anandamba's house was adjacent to the temple, and her father Sesha Gurukkal was one of the priests of the temple.  This helped young Anandamba to frequently go to the temple and sit in meditation that came to her naturally. She would mutter Shiva Studi, a devotional sloka praising Shiva taught by her father.  The young Anandamba used to experience amazingly peaceful and happy inner self whenever she was meditating. The experience prompted her to meditate quite effortlessly, as if a fish in the water. While girls of her age were spending their times in playing, Anandamba enjoyed sitting quiet in meditation.
According to the customs of the days, Anandamba was given in marriage when she was just nine years old. Her husband Sambasiva was 24-year-old widower. He was the head of a small monastery in Komaleeswaranpet, Chennai (Madras). This locality is now known as Pudupet, converted into a roadside market place, mostly of scraps and used automobile spare parts. The former name of the place was derived from Komaleeswara, another name of Shiva since there is a temple for the Lord by that name.
After attaining puberty, Anandamba was sent to Komaleeswaranpet to live with her husband. The monastery was also the residence of Sambasiva. He was indifferent toward her, treating her totally like a maid, seeking pleasures elsewhere. This was a blessing in disguise for Anandamba. Right from her tender age, she was not inclined to normal family life, her mind always immersed in spirituality. She would go to Komaleeswaran Temple and spend her time after attending to household chorus. At home, there was a raised platform in a corner of the terrace that served as the seat of meditation.
Sambasiva, because of his reckless lifestyle, died early and Anandamba was widowed at the age of just twenty. Her kith and kin wept for the misfortune but for Anandamba, it gave her immense relief from being a traditional housewife.  She could now devote her full time in meditating on Shiva. Since she was widowed, her father took her home in Devikapuram and after a short while, she went to Polur, where her brother was residing.
Her Polur days enabled her to blossom into a fully matured spiritual soul.  She had an opportunity to meet Nakshatra Gunamba, a woman saint who lived in a hillock called Nakshatra Kunru (The Star Hillock) near Polur. The town was also the abode of Sri Vittoba Swami, the silent mendicant of high spiritual order with whom she could commune. She also came in contact with few more spiritually advanced persons, who frequented Polur either on their way to nearby Thiruvannamalai, the centre of saints and mystics or returning from there.
Anandamba was drawn most toward Nakshatra Gunamba and a kind of intimacy developed between them. Gunamba took Anandamba as her disciple and treated as her own child. When Anandamba told her that she would have to return to Chennai soon and how would she be able to contain the separation from her.  To this, it seems the compassionate Nakshatra Gunamba consoled her saying that she could come to her whenever she felt like and blessed her with the feat of flying in the air like a bird.  This feat is called “lahima,” one of the eight ‘sidhdhis’ (yogic achievements) attained after vigorous practices of yoga. Nakshatra Gunamba was so attached toward Anandamba and impressed by her devotion that she had even transformed all her spiritual prowess to Anandamaba, when she decided to cast her mortal remains aside.  In later years, Sri Sakkarai Amma once revealed that she was none other than Nakshatra Gunamba!
Nakshatra Gunamba had also assured Anandamba that she would soon immerse in eternal bliss or total happiness in tune with her name “Ananda,” meaning happiness irrespective of physical or worldly pleasures or sorrows. It is assumed that Nakshatra Gunamba initiated Anandamba into Sri Chakra Upasana, an intense spiritual practice of observing Godliness in the female form.
Returning back to Chennai that is Madras, Anandamba continued her meditation at the terrace of her residence.  She forgot all her worldly obligations, even foregoing food and drink many a time.  The relatives who stayed with her thought that she had gone mentally deranged having lost her husband at a very young age. They did not mind when she started staying in the terrace permanently and at times going out and sit at the entrance of the temple of Sri Komaleeswara. They would simply place meagre food and water in a small room in the upstairs where Anandamba used to stay in the nights. She would spend the whole day sitting on the raised platform, following the intense spiritual practice of Sri Chakra.
The day of attainment of bliss arrived one fine day as predicted by Nakshatra Gunamba, when Anandamba was in deep meditation. She was suddenly flooded by blinding rays of a very bright circular light, leaving her with the feeling that she herself had been lit and was shining.  She started laughing hysterically and since then the laughter became a permanent feature of her. People engrossed in their mundane activities, took her to be lunatic.
It was by this time Doctor M.C. Nanjunda Rao happened to meet Anandamba. He was not only a benevolent medico treating the poor free but also a philanthropist donating for all good causes and taking active part in varied social services. A staunch nationalist, he was also with a spiritual bent of mind.
In those days, Anandamba’s brother Arunachalam came to stay with his sister at the monastery and he fell ill during the course of time.  Dr. Nanjunda Rao was requested to treat him and that was how Dr. Rao had an occasion to know Anandamba. Once, he heard the loud laughter of Anandamba from the upstairs and enquired about it. The relatives casually remarked that it was a mad woman staying in the upstairs who did nothing but laughing aloud always.  She might have lost her mental faculty probably because she was widowed at a very young age, they added. Dr. Rao became curious. He started observing the behaviour of Anandamba since then.  Once, when he saw her sitting and merrily laughing at the entrance of Komaleeswara Temple, he approached her and asked politely the reason for her uninterrupted laughing.
Anandamba stopped laughing and smiled at Dr. Rao. “My son,” she said, “The inherent nature of the soul is experiencing happiness always. The pleasure and sorrow affect the physical structure of the body only. You are not the body. You are in a body; that’s all. And that is, what all happen to the body that is your temporary cage do not relate to you that is the atman, the inner self. The inner self is destined to be happy always. And you know a happy person always enjoys and laughs in amusement at watching things around. Those who are ignorant about this fact would only weep or be happy that relate to the body!”
Her words struck Dr. Nanjunda Rao like a powerful lightening. He could immediately identify her as a spiritually advanced person.  Since then, he started interacting with her regularly and shortly became her disciple. He came to know that she was a Sri Chakra Upasaka and started referring her as Sri Chkkarathamma, meaning ‘The Mother of Sri Chakra.’  Gradually, it became ‘Sakkaraiamma’ in the people’s tongue and that was also quite apt for her: it meant Sugar (Sweet) Mother!
Dr Rao took his guru Sri Sakkarai Amma on various pilgrimage including Varanassi, the holiest of holy places.  He took her to Thiruvannamalai also once, where she met Sri Seshadri Swami and Sri Ramana, the two spiritual giants of the day. When she asked the blessings of Sri Ramana, he said she was already a blessed soul.
Many have noticed Sri Sakkarai Amma flying like a bird, going places.  Sri Thiru.Vi. Kalyana  Sundara Mudaliyar, a great Tamil scholar and social activist of yesteryears  had recorded in his book “Ulloli” (The Inner Light) that he had once seen Sri  Sakkarai Amma gliding like a huge bird and hopping on the parapet wall of the hostel terrace.  He further states that she was subjected to various scientific tests under Dr Edgar Thurston, CIE, the then curator of Madras Museum to find out Sri Sakkarai Amma’s mysterious feat of flying like a bird.  He then concluded that some humans rarely possess inbuilt mechanism of wings and Sri Sakkarai Amma was one bestowed with that kind of mechanism!
There lies Sri Marundeeswarar (Shiva) temple in Thiruvanmiyur situated at the south east end of Chennai (Madras). In early 1901, Sri Sakkarai Amma wanted to visit this temple. Dr Nanjunda Rao took her to the temple. A few, who have also become her disciples by then, followed them.  Sri Sakkarai Amma prayed at the temple for the blessings on all her disciples.
While returning from the temple, Sri Sakkarai Amma pointed out a casuarinas grove on the way and told Dr. Rao that she would soon put aside her mortal remains and it should be buried there. Rao felt sad to hear that but nodded silently.
“My Samadhi will be scarcely noticed by people, leave alone revering it. But it will become a centre of immense spiritual power, comforting whoever comes there to pray. The spot will be a TEMPLE OF PEACE,” Sri Sakkarai Amma said.
As predicted, Sri Sakkarai Amma left her physical frame on February 28, 1901. Her mortal remains were taken in a procession and buried in the spot identified by her. Dr. Rao had already bought the spot and a piece of land around it, soon after his guru Sri Sakkarai Amma showed the place where she wanted her body to be laid.

Dr.  Rao built a Samadhi over the spot and also constructed a small temple.

As predicted by Sri Sakkrai Amma, the temple was hardly noticed by the people. It took exactly a century for people to realize the greatness of the place. It was all miracle that suddenly words some how spread about the spiritual vibrations emanating from the Samadhi of Sri Sakkarai Amma and devotees, as if pulled by a forceful magnetic field, throng the temple every day, mornings and evenings, non-stop, from far and wide.

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