Steeped in Devotion ~ Great Granny Anjamma from Nellore

by on October 5, 2013


Spiritual musings-Anjamma

Meeting great-grandmother Smt. Anjamma(73) along with her son Sri Chinni Venkata Subbarao (57) was like seeing two kinds of devotion – his devotion as a son and hers as a devotee for her Lord. In an unhurried manner, he sat beside her and played the role of the translator since she spoke in Telugu. His love for her, his attention to her every need, and his admiration for her values made it obvious that for him, his mother was no less than God – ‘matru devo bhava’.

Talking to her was like being in the presence of a saint. Each thought of hers lead to the divine, each reply steeped in religiosity and equanimity, and each moment a prayer for nirvana. A mother of 3, grandmother of 9 and great-grandmother of 5, she truly believes that for a woman, taking care of her family is akin to worshipping the Lord.


Namaste Anjammaji. Tell me about your childhood.
I was born in Kavali village near Nellore. My mother was a great devotee of Lord Hanuman whose mother’s name was Anjana. Hence I was named Anjamma. I grew up in a large family of a dozen members. My parents instilled good samskaras in me.


How old were you when you got married?
When I turned fifteen, I was married to late Sri Chinni Srinivasulu. Since then, I have lived in Nellore. He was a well respected person and believed that we must instill the right values in children from a young age. Even though he passed away when he was just forty and did not see any of his grandchildren, I can see his positive influence on the children even now.


Your family says that you subscribe to the values of earlier times?
It is not about old or new time, it is about values. Earlier we believed in devotion while nowadays people believe in donations. Can everything be bought by wealth? Life is not just about material aspirations but also about once spiritual growth. Secondly, I believe that even though we did not study as much, our minds worked better. I studied only up to the 5th standard, yet I don’t need a computer to do my mathematical calculations. Thirdly, while I was growing up, my elders taught me the value of protecting domestic animals such as cows and goats. I think it is very important to see animals as an integral part of our lives.


Are you saying that earlier people lived with far greater integrity than they do now?
I can’t define it like that, but yes, earlier honour was an important word. We did not need to draw up contracts for everything. I grew up seeing that people keep their word. But the present generation is running behind wealth. They are forgetting to take pride in belonging to one’s community and in protecting the family honour.


In your family, your grandchildren show a lot of respect for you. This means that you have imparted the right values to them.
I feel blessed because my family has always been receptive to our value systems. My children and grandchildren have deep religious orientation. I would love to share with you that my grand-daughter Madhavi and my grand-daughter-in-law Alakananda have borne me grandsons this year. What is wonderful is how they spent the duration of pregnancy like a spiritual practice. Both of them, along with their spouses, followed the method of ‘Arham Garbhasadhana’ as taught by a Jain monk, Upadhyaya Praveen Rishi. One of his disciples Shilpa Katrela guided them in this sadhana.


Chinni Venkata Subbarao (son): When my daughter Madhavi won the state rank in her 12th standard, she just said one thing when she was interviewed, “My grandmother is my inspiration.”


Madhavi (grand-daughter): What I have always admired about my grandma is her harmonious relationship with my mother Smt.


Suneetha: They share so much affection and respect for each other. As a child, I grew up absorbing and learning whatever they were saying and doing.


Pavan (son): My wife and my sister were quite diligent in following the sadhana taught by Shilpaji. Now my second sister is also aspiring to do the same. For my grandma, religion is a way of life. My mother, on the other hand, is practical along with being religious.


Anjammaji, what is the secret of such affection in your family? How does one find the path that begets such blessings?
The path that leads to the Guru and not to the world. My inspiration is Guru Anubhavanandaji who belongs to the sampradaya of Achala Guru. From him, I have learnt to devote myself to a religious way of life.


In your religious pursuit, what is one of the best things you have found?
It is important to be good than to be rich. Being warm and hospitable are important values. According to our tradition, when a guest comes home, we wash their feet and place a mat for them to be seated. And we offer them whatever we have cooked. A guest should be treated as one would serve God. For me, talking to you today is indeed a blessed outcome of some good punyas that I have done in the past.


The pleasure was mine. I have been enriched by listening to your views. In fact, I can say that your voice has that certain mesmerizing quality. Kindly sing a bhajan for me. After that, I would be delighted if you will share one of your favourite recipes with me.
Yes, I will sing some bhajans for you. It is what I truly love doing. As for the recipe, would you like to learn the Bellam pongal which is offered to Goddess Parvathi, or the Chakkarai pongal for Lord Vishnu, or the Vadapappu panakam for Goddess Lakshmi?


First published in Oct 2013 in Harmony – the Indian Magazine for silvers for the column – The Great Granny Diaries. Part-2 of this post is Bellam Pongal, a popular preparation during festivals from the kitchen of Anjamma. She is the 14th grandma featured in this column.


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