Easwaramma, The Chosen Mother
The celebration of the life of Mother Easwaramma, the mother of Sathya Sai Baba, began on May 6, 1977 as Children’s Day in commemoration of her death anniversary. Sathya Sai Baba has said innumerable times that the mother is man’s first preceptor (Guru). Mother Easwaramma is the example of an ideal mother. On May 6, Easwaramma’s life is celebrated around the world by remembering her exemplary life, performing acts of selfless service for the needy, and singing the glories of God.
“I resolved on my birth. I decided who should be my mother” said Sathya Sai Baba. Thus, she was the chosen mother of Sathya Sai Baba. Easwaramma was not the name given to her by her parents. She was christened as Namagiriamma at the time of her birth. After her marriage, Kondama Raju (Swami’s grandfather), being one of wisdom and blessed with a vision of the future, began calling her Easwaramma because he knew that she was going to become the mother of Easwara.
Easwaramma, a pious housewife, was conversant with the legends, folksongs and tales of avatars like Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, and their mothers. Nevertheless, it took years of intimate observation and hundreds of inexplicable incidents to convince her that this child she had caressed and doted on, had come to prove the scriptural prophecy. As the Mother of the Avatar, she was blessed with the most precious motherhood a woman could aspire to. Even while in this predicament, she like any other earnest sadhaka (seeker) anxious to win His Grace, had to trudge along the inner path that leads from multiplicity to unity, from egoism to detachment, from maya (illusory nature of the world) to the Master.
As a mother, her love for all was pure, self-less and unconditional. It was mainly through the teachings and Grace of Swami that she succeeded in the assignment of expanding and deepening her love. Swami, in His elucidation of Dharma, has revealed that woman represents the concretization of God’s beneficence. Easwaramma had a natural aptitude for spiritual endeavour, being endowed with fortitude and modesty. She was intelligent and vigilant. Easwaramma, as the closest devotee of Sai, was aided by Him to uplift herself to the heights marked out for the ideal woman.
From ‘Amma” to “Easwaramma”
“I belong to the world," said Sathya to her. “To whom then do I belong?” was her response. “To you belong the world and its peoples,” was the answer. By the time Swami established His residence in Prasanthi Nilayam, she had witnessed and experienced Swami’s Avataric leela (Divine sport) through many incidents that strengthened her faith in the Divinity of her son. These episodes and moments became lessons designed to promote her from the consciousness of being a "mother of Sathya" to the woman blessed to be the mother of Easwara.
As time flowed on, she became an ardent listener of the divine experiences of devotees around the world. Her counsel gave comfort to the pilgrims who approached her with their problems.
She loved children and so naturally, they cuddled in flocks around her. She would forget her physical ailments when engaged in story-telling. Invariably she rounded up the tales with emphatic messages on humility and honesty, love and loyalty.
She had compassion towards young women who were widowed by fate. The love with which she treated these women blossomed wider as she watched Swami and she became more than their own mother to an ever-increasing number of women in distress. Devotees discovered in her a never failing source of strength and wisdom.
The Three Wishes
Swami says, “ Today, people desire that only their family and children should be happy. But Easwaramma was not like that. Easwaramma had a broad mind. She wanted everyone to be happy. Even though she was not educated she taught noble qualities to everyone.”
Once, Easwaramma was returning from Chitravathi river with a vessel full of water. An old woman was walking along with her with great difficulty, while carrying the vessel filled with water. Easwaramma enquired “Mother! Are you having difficulty in carrying the vessel full of water?” The old woman who was perspiring and unable to keep pace with her replied, “Yes, mother! I am unable to carry this vessel for such a long distance. But, I have no children to help me in this task. I myself have to carry this vessel full of water every day." These words of agony were imprinted on the mind of Easwaramma. After walking for some distance, she saw a small boy holding a slate and pencil in one hand and carrying a heavy load of books in a bag hanging round his neck. He had difficulty in walking, but he had to continue his journey to the Bukkapatnam School. Easwaramma enquired of the boy, “My dear son! What for are these slate and pencil? Why are you carrying such a heavy load of books?” The small boy replied “Mother, I am carrying these books so that I can note down all that the teachers teach me.” After walking for some more distance, she came across a frail lady carrying her infant child on her shoulders, proceeding towards Bukkapatnam. Easwaramma again enquired of this lady, “you appear to be frail and weak, unable to carry the child. Why should you walk such a long distance up to Bukkapatnam?” The lady replied, “Mother! What else can I do? There is no doctor in this remote village who can give some medicine for my child. He is suffering from cold and fever. I have to take him to the Bukkapatnam hospital.”
These three incidents made an imprint on the mind of Easwaramma. Once Easwaramma came in when Swami was eating. She held Swami’s hands and pleaded, “Swami, there is no hospital in our village. Consequently, when the children become sick, mothers are forced to carry them to Bukkapatnam. I am unable to see their suffering. My children and others’ children are one and the same for me. So, kindly construct at least a small hospital in our village.” Swami promised her that He would fulfill her wish which led to the establishment of general hospitals and super-specialty hospitals in Puttaparthi and Bangalore.
Easwaramma was not a scholar, yet her heart was filled with compassion. One day she approached Swami and said, “Swami there are so many rich people in this region. Yet, the children of our village have to walk all the way to Bukkapatnam to attend school. My heart grieves to see these little children walk miles. Swami, could you please build a small school in our village?” Swami replied, “I don’t have money!” She immediately removed the gold chain from her neck, gave it to Swami and said, “Swami, please sell it and build a school.” Swami told her, “Don’t be hasty, it is only to test you I said so. I will definitely construct a school.” On the following day, the foundation was laid, and within a short period the school building was ready. Initially, it was a small one, which has grown into a large educational institution today. She was very happy. She went to the school, kissed the children and showered her love on them.
Then she wanted the village to have drinking water. Swami promised that it would be done. The bore wells were dug to overcome water scarcity, but they became useless within a short period of time. So, Swami got a bigger well dug in the Old Mandir. "Yad Bhavam Tat Bhavati" (as is the feeling, so is the result). If the intention is good, the result also is bound to be good. As the intentions were good, a copious spring of pure water gushed forth, even from a depth of seven feet! At the back of the Mandir, an entrance was provided for people to collect water.
During the summer course in Brindavan in 1972, she was sitting in the hall one day, after breakfast. Swami was upstairs. Suddenly she called out, ‘Swami, Swami, Swami.’ Swami responded, “I am coming, don’t go!” Gokak, who was there, was surprised at that. Swami rushed down. She held Swami’s hands and said, “I am completely satisfied with this Summer Course. It is not only the students who are getting benefited. Even I have developed a broad mind. Swami, I am going!” She offered her pranams to Swami and passed away peacefully. Everyone aspires to a peaceful death. People who have evil feeling will not die such a death. Easwaramma did not have even a trace of evil feeling in her. That is why she was always joyful.
Before Easwaramma passed away, Swami fulfilled all her three wishes. Easwaramma’s desires were very simple! Her desire to have a small primary school for the children in Puttaparthi blossomed into the Sathya Sai University, which provides integral education from primary to doctoral level, free of cost, combining academic excellence and exemplary character. Inspired by this, Institutes of Sathya Sai Education, Sathya Sai Schools, and Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programmes provide value-based education in many countries around the world.
Her second wish to have a small hospital in Puttaparthi has expanded into two Super Specialty Hospitals in Puttaparthi and Whitefield along with two general hospitals. These temples of healing provide primary to tertiary healthcare and modern state of the art medical care, completely free of cost. This has sprawled into a global health mission providing free healthcare to hundreds of thousands of needy people through medical camps, medical clinics and mobile clinics.
Her third wish was to provide drinking water for residents of Puttaparthi. This has developed into the mammoth Sathya Sai Water project which is providing water to millions not only in Puttaparthi but also in other states in India. This has inspired Sathya Sai devotees across the world to start water projects in Africa, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, El Salvador and other countries. Thus, the small wishes of the mother paved the way for gigantic humanitarian projects all over the world.
- Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 32 part 1 ch:14
- Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 36 ch:10
- Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 38 ch:11
- Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 33 ch:9
- "Easwaramma, The Chosen Mother” by N. Kasturi – biography