16 feb, bharata yatra 2008,
enroute bangalore to mangalore
the yatra from bangalore to mangalore was beautiful and tiresome. about 30 kilometers, the road was very bad, but afterwards, the road became smooth and nice. on either side of the road were coffee plantations, beetel-nut and pepper crops. i never knew karnataka has so much coffee and pepper plantations. there were waves of mountains. the beautiful landscape came more alive as the sun was setting. we ran down the western ghats to the plains once again. the temperature and humidity increased – from the beautiful weather of bangalore to the hot and humid of mangalore. the similarity of the name doesn’t reflect any similarity in either culture or weather.
it was lunch time. it was difficult to find some open space for all of us to sit. we found a coffee company. swami went in there to ask permission whether we use their grounds for some time. but before he came back, amma had already gotten out of her camper and went onto the grounds to sit. while she was walking she made an unusual comment, ‘usually, we should ask for permission, that is dharma, but we didn’t ask this time. it is ok.’
amma started serving lunch, sang bhajans, told stories sitting under the shade of silver tree and pepper plantations.
one of the stories told by a devotee was very interesting. a few kilometers away from the place where we had stopped is a devi temple called amriteshwari. this 1500 year old temple has a beautiful story. there was a demoness who didn’t have children and who did tapas on devi to obtain offspring. but would devi allow it? when the demoness asked for the boon of obtaining children she made a slip of tongue saying, ” o devi you should have many children.” devi said, “tathastu” – let it be so. the temple is built on the spot where devi appeared. in front of devi many shiva lingas appeared. devi told that these are my children. worship them with oil and ghee and then i will be pleased.
this devotee reflected on this story, saying how everyone gathered around amma were just like these shiva lingas. now the real amriteswary has come and is feeding her children here – the food being served similar to the oil and ghee. everyone liked the story and gave a big hand to the devotee.
later, while we were eating, everyone’s attention was being drawn to another noise. ‘quack quack quack…..’ a group of a dozen geese had come quacking and squawking right into the group. they stayed only for a few minutes. their white feathers fit right in with the whites of the devotees gathered near amma. maybe they came to see amma, but left without getting darshan.
when we were about to leave, we found out that this coffee company belonged to a devotee family. amma had previously visited his house during the south india tour, so unbeknownst to all of us, of course amma knew it would be ok to stay here. unfortunately the family wasn’t there, but hundreds of workers got to see amma before returning to work.
it is not easy to understand the meaning of the simple words that amma spoke ‘it is ok, we don’t have to ask permission.’
a devotee belongs to the lord; the lord belongs to the devotees.