Divine incarnate Mayammaa
(The above two photos were sent today (08 -10 -2018 ) from Kanyakumari by Shri Nagarajan.
Our grateful thanks to him. )
In general one may find both male and female sadhus, sanyasis, spiritual teachers, divine incarnates and spiritual masters all around. We have seen in our life time great spiritual masters, souls and divine incarnates such as Kanchi Paramacharya, Ramana Maharishi, Shirdi Sai Baba, Sheshadri Swamigal, Sarada Devi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsar, Pondi maa, Arabindo, Karaikkaal Ammaiyaar, Vadalur Vallalaar etc. While many of them lead a life of simple living with austerity and serve the mankind with humility, exceptions are there who rule the minds of their devotees leading luxurious life filled with worldly desires and pleasures at the cost of the devotees. In their midst finding a female divine incarnate leading a life of austerity, free of worldly desires and pleasures will be rare. Also those who lead simpler life largely remained unknown though they had displayed and performed unimaginable miracles and wonders at various stages for the benefit of mankind fulfilling the real and reasonable demands of those who had surrendered to them unconditionally.
For several years I was longing to find some female avadoot after I visited the ashram of one Maa Ananda Mayi in Haridwar along with the family of my friend two years before I retired from my service. The entire samathi sthal was in serene atmosphere, soothing to mind and ashram campus filled with calmness in each and every inch of the land inside. There were displays of her photos, articles and materials including the cot and chairs used by her, all of them kept on releasing the spirits of the divine mother that gripped the mind and heart of one who visited there pushing them into the world of peace. The serenity and calmness reverberated in my mind for years and thereafter I was searching for such a divine lady where one can feel the calmness and peace as was witnessed in Haridwar.
Slowly I learnt about divine souls like Pondicherry Mother, Sarada Devi, Mayammaa and Shivammaa Thayee whose life style had been so simpler and austere and when you think about them you will realize that an unknown feeling of peace fill your mind for the period you are involved in their thoughts. All four, real divine souls in human form, led the most simpler life, free from the bondage of worldly desires and pleasures, free from expectations of anything from the devotees except their love towards mankind. They have silently done miracles and shown wonders in their life without publicizing them.
The greatest Sidha Purushs never revealed themselves as so and so, and left it to the devotees to identify and experience them if they were really blessed souls destined to meet them. This is perhaps the reason why the life and birth of real and greatest Sidha Purushs remained in riddles, spinned in mystery. Such a greatest soul in the recent history has been Shirdi Sai Baba and Mayammaa whose parental details are still deeply debated without conclusion.
The less publicized divine mother Mayammaa who was revered and still worshiped as Goddess Parasakthi, Goddess Kanyakumari Amman and Goddess Mahalakshmi in several places spread up to the coast of Kanyakumari district in deep south remained deep in my mind for the last ten years for unknown reasons. Few years back, I contacted some one managing the the Samathi temple and they were not inclined to reveal more details on Mayammaa as though she was privy to only few known devotees. I attempted to find details from some more people, but was advised to go to the samadhi temple and see for myself before writing on her. Dampened, I silenced my urge which blew up again when a spiritual personality Mrs. Geetha Ganesh with whom I was talking casually spoke of the divine mother Mayammaa. I must admit honestly that only the discussion with Mrs. Geetha Ganesh rekindled my buried spirits again to write on divine Mayammaa.
Who is divine Mayammaa? Not much information is available on her earlier life and birth. It is generally believed that she had manifested as Goddess Parasakti in Kamakya temple in Assam and came to Kanyakumari in human form. It is mystery again as to how and when did she arrive in Kanyakumari. None has any clue. Some of the spiritual masters opine that divine Mayammaa was a great saint in previous births, penanced in places like Kasi, Tibet and Nepal etc and came to Kanyakumari to fulfill her desire to do penance here in her last birth. The general belief is that she must have come here sometime during 1920s.
Initially none knew she was greatest avathooth or divine incarnate since she was seen wearing torn clothes, uncouth in appearance and wandered by the sides of seashore in the district of Kanyakumari. She was always seen resting, walking or sleeping on the sand bed of the seashore, unmindful of heat, rain or even inclement weather, but always found surrounded by pack of dogs. It is always said that those followed by the pack of dogs are in the lineage of Lord Kala Bhairava as pack of dogs always accompanied the Lord. The dogs by the sides of Lord Bhairava represents mankind who are guarded by the Lord. When some one offered food she ate it after sharing with the dogs around her, else remained uncared for food even if food is unavailable to her for many days. Water, food or other eatable were no matter to her as she had not shown interest on them or even displayed tiredness when she remained without food and water for several days.
People have seen her sitting over the rocks of the seashore or even rocks inside the sea. Suddenly she would jump into the ocean, collect sea moss, filth and waste, pile them on seashore, lit fire to them and sat before it for hours. It was strange sight to see her collecting sea moss and debris and lit them to fire without match sticks. But those who follow the rituals in spiritual field have always seen the Sidha Purush or sanyasi and sages in penance lit fire and perform yagna for some cause. It could be that Mayammaa too was engaged in one such an act for some unknown reason only known to her.
Can a divine incarnate look so ugly and uncouth? There is a story behind her appearing so. She was reportedly beautiful when first landed in Kanyakumari and wandered by the side of the seashore. However due to the menace of rogues who stalked her with ulterior motives, one day she turned herself into an uncouth ugly woman. Some may argue whether it is possible to change the basic appearance of their own in matter of seconds? Those who have read the story of Lord Dattathreya will know that he used to deliberately appear as drunkard beggar, some times walking biting meat, mutton or wine bottles in hand etc, and when some one went near him, he spat and abused them in filth language. But those who had understood him well, believed that Lord Dattathreya in disguise of such postures deliberately attempted to test their faith. Therefore unmindful of insults heaped on them by Lord Dattathreya in disguise in different appearances, when they continued to follow him wherever he went seeking blessings, the Lord would finally appear in his true form to bless them. Similar could be the case of Mayammaa who even though changed her outwardly appearance as uncouth beggar, appeared as Goddess Kanyakumari and Goddess Mahalakshmi to some of her pious devotees who continued to offer worship to her unmindful of her uncouth appearance. Both Goddess Kanyakumari and Goddess Mahalakshmi have manifested from the divine energies of Goddess Parasakthi only.
Every one in Kanyakumari who initially saw her wandering in seashore in such appearance believed her to be a beggar. If she went near some one, they used to avoid even walking nearer to her because none knew she was greatest Avadoot and divine incarnate. She was first spotted sometime in 1920 by few fishermen who lived by seashore. However her divinity came to light only in the year 1925 through an incident that happened on road side.
One day one of the tourist buses ran over a dog and sped away. The dog lay almost dead, blood splashed and intestines gushed out from the body. The gory scene horrified everyone who squired with the offensive, nauseating smell and stayed away from looking at the awkward site. Mayammaa who happened to pass by the side saw the ghastly scene, walked coolly towards the dog, showed no expression on her face, took her up the dog on her lap, pushed the intestines inside her body, pulled the skin tightly, inserted few thin wooden sticks picked up from the road side piercing them into the skin as though she was stitching a cut wound, applied mud over the cut areas and walked away leaving the dog by the side of the road. Next morning to everyone’s shock and surprise, the dog slowly came to senses, opened her eyes and in a few minutes stood up and ran away as if nothing had happened the previous day. Even scar was not visible over her body from where the intestines gushed out after the accident. How did it happen was the sole question that reverberated in the minds of curious onlookers.
This incident made everyone realize that Mayammaa was not an ordinary soul and she must be possessing some extraordinary divine power. Thereafter people began to respect her and continued to watch her activities closely. Many have seen her going to the seashore quite often, enter into the sea, disappear and come back after many hours. Some had even seen her walking over the sea as if she was walking on land. All those strengthened the feeling that she was sure to be a divine incarnate and not an ordinary soul. They offered her some place to stay, but Mayammaa never accepted them and instead preferred to sleep outside Lord Vinayaga temple in the midst of busy street side. Slowly people used to meet her seeking her blessings which Mayammaa did without uttering a word. None have seen her talking but her answers to their queries would be in the form of signs of strange sounds and gestures.
Mayammaa would suddenly enter into some eateries and take out eatables directly or ask the shop keeper to give her some food, collect everything and distribute them to those around her, mainly to the dogs that followed here wherever she went. The sale in those shops from where she took eatables would skyrocket from then on. So every one of the shop keepers used to anxiously await the visit of Mayammaa to pick up something from their shop. With food collected thus, sometimes she would herself feed the food into the mouth of those around after feeding the dogs. Some used to avoid accepting such food fed into their mouth without washing her hand after feeding the dogs while others rushed to accept it since they considered her to be divine. Not that Mayammaa did it every day, but spontaneously on occasions.
Since Mayammaa was always found wandering in seashore, most of the people interacted with Mayammaa were the fishermen who ventured into the sea for livelihood. The sudden occurrences of rip tides and rip currents in midway in ocean during fishing used to be terrifying because they catch one off guard. When the fishermen gets caught up in such situations, they are thrown into the sea from their boats by strong winds and had to swim to the shore to save themselves. Unable to swim directly against the strong flow of water, some get exhausted and drowned loosing their lives. But Mayammaa the savior used to appear in mid ocean from no where and saved them from drowning and bring them back to the seashore. Every one will remain stunned not knowing how they were dragged to the shore along with their boats by Mayammaa. Sometimes the fishermen had seen Mayammaa swimming in casual manner in the mid sea, 20 to 30 kilometers deep inside ocean. While returning back after fishing, if they request her to board in their boats she would refuse and instead continued to swim along by the side of the boats and suddenly vanish into the ocean. The terrified fishermen unable to find her when reach the shore would find Mayammaa sitting there laughing awaiting their return. When such experiences with Mayammaa were shared with others, everyone began to realize that Mayammaa was indeed divine.
As time passed, people began to worship Mayammaa as divine incarnate though she mixed with everyone as if she was one amongst them. Problems and incurable diseases of many have ended when they took blessings from Mayammaa who would simply touch their head or caress their hair and soon they found that their long pending problems got automatically sorted out to their satisfaction. Mayammaa reportedly never spoke except gesturing or making unique sounds towards the answers. Many when reach Mayammaa seeking blessings, she would simply bless them in actions and sounds .
In the later part of her life, Mayammaa was assisted by one Shri.Rajendran whose experience with her was unique before he became her full fledged disciple. In the early stage of his life, Shri. Rajendran was deeply devoted to Vadalur Vallalaar Swamigal who was one of the most famous Tamil Saints and also one of the greatest Tamil poets of the 19th century. Initially called Ramalinga swami, the saint advocated the concept of worshiping the flame of lighted lamp as a symbol of the eternal Power. He gained spiritual experience when the priest of a temple was offering aradana (adoration with lighted lamp before the statues of divines in the temple) with a lighted lamp. Vadalur Vallalaar Swamigal’s life came to an end when he vanished in to the thin air from a locked room where he entered last. Shri. Rajendran who was employed in some private firm initially remained devotee of Vallalar swamigal and took up spiritual path getting detached from family life. Once he heard through some conversations that a spiritual master was in Kanyakumari and their comments kept on reverberating in his subtle mind unknowingly when he was searching for a spiritual master. One fine morning he accidentally got a job in Kanyakumari and went there some time in the year 1970. In the evening hours while walking in seashore, he used to see uncouth Mayammaa, wandering there surrounded by pack of dogs and initially thought her to be a beggar. In few days he felt that he was unknowingly getting attracted towards her and kept on watching her movements in his leisure time. Curious Shri. Rajendran was amazed to see her sleeping in seashore unmindful of inclement weather conditions, under hot sun, rain, in pitch dark in the night etc. As days passed, he noticed that whatever food she got, she was sharing with the dogs and those around her before she ate handful of food. He also noticed people coming to her seeking blessings. He began to think that Mayammaa must be different soul, may be possessed with some divine energy and thus be able to live in such an erratic life style….may be she was the guru he was searching for so long. Slowly he began to spend much of his time staying around her and at times attempted to even serve her. As Mayammaa accepted his services in silence, his attachment towards her grew day by day and at one point of time he became her disciple staying with her all through after quitting his job. Spending 13 years with her gave several unique experiences to Shri.Rajendran who had actually slept with her in seashore, in open spaces, staying in dingy and dirty places, wearing same dirty clothes for several days, eating whatever was available to both etc. He was instrumental in bringing Mayammaa to Salem district of Tamilnadu where she attained Samadhi. Shri. Rajendran raised an Samadhi temple with the aid of others and still continue to stay there.
When Mayammaa was staying in Kanyakumari her fame spread spread far and wide as more and more people including intellectuals from different corners of the land reached out to Mayammaa seeking her grace. There were dignitaries of many levels like the then Prime Minister, President, State Ministers, VIPs and even great Spiritual Masters like Poondi Swamigal, Pollachi Koti Swamigal, Gnananantha Giri Swamigal, Marunthuvaazh Naina Swamigal, Kasavanappatti Mouna Swamigal and host of such spiritual masters. Of course spiritual masters such as Poondi Swamigal, Pollachi Koti Swamigal, Gnananantha Giri Swamigal, Marunthuvaazh Naina Swamigal, Kasavanappatti Mouna Swamigal played key role in spreading her fame as divine incarnate through the devotees who reached to them. They used to direct their devotees to go to Kanyakumari and seek her blessings addressing her as Goddess of Kanyakumari. There is controversy on the age of Mayammaa. Though it is generally belied that she must have crossed the age of 300, His holiness Poondi Mahan once expressed her age to be around 470 to 485 years.
For reasons unknown, the fame of Mayammaa remained in closed circles without getting wide publicity. She was visited by persons only on hearsay versions and it was widely believed that Mayammaa herself did not wish her fame be given publicity. She had been revered as ambulant Goddess of Kanyakumari. Once to everyone’s dismay in Kanyakumari, Mayammaa was found missing along with Shri. Rajendran. Later they found that Mayammaa had left Kanyakumari to settle in Salem where she wished to attain Jeeva Samadhi. In spite of the fact that Mayammaa had shifted to Salem, she was often seen on the seashore of Kanyakumari where several have witnessed her miracle cure and been blessed on other issues.
Once a female disciple of His Holiness Gnanaananda Giri expressed her desire to have the vision (appearance) of Goddess Parasakthi in her life. Immediately swaamigal asked her go to to Kanyakumari and visit temples there and in the midst of the said tour she would be blessed with the vision of Goddess Parasakthi, if destiny would be kind to her.
The lady went to Kanyakumari, stayed there for few days and visited almost all the temples, but she could not get the vision of Goddess Parasakthi anywhere. Disappointed she returned back home and met His Holiness Gnanaananda Giri Swamigal to express her disappointment when the swamigal pointed out that she had the vision of Goddess Parasakthi who fed her with her own hand, but she failed to realize the fact due to her misfortune.
Initially the lady was bit shocked to hear him say so, but when she sat alone and calmed down, she recollected one incident when the lady was walking by the side of the seashore. She saw Mayammaa feeding few dogs and others standing around her. When the lady too stood there curiously watching, after feeding the dogs, Mayammaa without washing her hands took out some food and tried to feed it into the mouth of the lady. Averse with her act the lady declined to accept the food and moved away. She regretted to swamigal that she had indeed missed the once in life time luck of getting fed by a living divine due to her misfortune. Swamigal told her that Mayammaa was indeed Goddess of Kanyakumari in human form, another version of Goddess Parasakthi.
One Tapasvini called Pon Kamaraj lives even today in a place called Kani Nilam in Kanyakumari district administering the affairs of a trust of the enlightened soul Yogi Ram Surat Kumar another popular and great spiritual guru from Thiruvannaamalai. Once he had an acute problem in his thigh by way of a big boil which could not be cured by the doctors. At one point of time he was given seven days deadline for his life and doctors sent him back to home unable to cure the boil. But on the insistence of some one, he met Mayammaa. She made him lie flat on the seabed shore, inserted a red hot thin iron rod through the boil much against his agonized loud cry. In few moments, he lost his senses. Later some time when he woke up, he found that the boil had disappeared showing no visible scars in his thigh. Mayammaa sent him to Yogi Ram Surat Kumar in Thiruvannaamalai for adoption of Spiritual Intelligence instead of practicing legal profession as spirituality is what everyone is concerned about that awards internal peace and strength which is due to perceived relationship with God as an infinite power. Today the spiritual Guru Pon Kamaraj is administering the affairs of the ashram of the enlightened soul and a spiritual Guru Yogi Ram Surat Kumar in Kani Nilam in Kanyakumari district. Mayammaa has on occasions displayed to Spiritual Guru Pon Kamaraj her true vision as Goddess Parasakthi.
One Shri Sundaram is a practicing Lawyer in the Supreme Court. He attends to the Guru Pooja of Mayammaa in Salem every year without fail. He reaches Salem a day before the Guru Pooja and next day in meditation in the temple of Mayammaa, he gets the guidance of her by way of mystic sounds and gestures understandable to him. Shri Sundaram admits that he was earlier leading a life full of disgrace and today is a different personality after he surrendered to Mayammaa. Similar is the case of another person namely Shri. Sabarinathan who led a life of confusion for several years and from the day he began visiting the samadhi temple he gets clear directions of Mayammaa through mystic lights and sounds. Today he leads a peaceful life, claims Shri Sabarinathan.
Once six members group came from Pondicherry to meet Mayammaa and one of them, female was afflicted with some serious health issue. When the doctors expressed their helplessness in curing her incurable ailment, and on the advice of some devotees of Mayammaa, they traveled from Pondicherry to Salem to meet her. When they met Mayammaa she blessed every one by caressing their head while completely ignoring the lady with ailment. Suddenly the lady fell at the feet of Mayammaa and wept uncontrollably. There was no change of facial expression on Mayammaa for some time even as the sick lady kept crying digging her face on the lap of Mayammaa. All of a sudden Mayammaa shouted strangely for few seconds and then turned calm and cool smiling and caressing the hair of the lady. Thereafter none spoke anything and went back. In a few days people confirmed that the sickness of the lady had vanished.
In our lifetime, we have only heard Shirdi Sai Baba performing the most difficult Yoga called Khanda Yoga in which the parts of self body are extracted separately, kept outside for some time in different places before reassembling them again as one body of his own. This yoga is believed to be done to abolish the love for body, that is absolute and permanent destruction and internal cleansing of false personality, accumulated desires, tastes, aversions, and everything that keep coming attached with the soul of several births in smaller magnitude. Shirdi Sai Baba is believed to be incarnation of Lord Dattathreya and Lord Dattathreya is considered to be the first guru of Yoga that includes Khanda Yoga practiced it regularly. Curiously, it is stated by some that few have seen Mayammaa also performing same act of Khanda Yoga. In Dasa Maha Vidya one of the Goddesses Chinnamastha represents the same in different fashion. This confirms the belief that Mayammaa was indeed divine incarnate of Goddess Parasakthi.
Why did Shri Rajendran bring Mayammaa to Salem? It is stated that Mayammaa informed him in the year 1986 itself that she wanted to take samadhi in a particular location and therefore he brought her the the same place as identified by her which was of course the present site where her ashram temple exist in Salem. Initially when they reached the place earmarked by Mayammaa, it was a barren land and they stayed under a tree after erecting a small hut. Her devotees continued to visit her when she was residing in that hut. But the locals resented her being projected as divine incarnate because the never failed rain in Salem failed to appear that year after the settlement of Mayammaa in Salem. Everyone felt that the failure of the rain was due to Mayammaa’s presence in Salem and that she should be driven out from there next day. The news reached the years of Shri. Rajendran, who became jittery and reported the displeasure and anger of the locals to Mayammaa. She smiled and said nothing else. That night sudden rains splashed Salem so heavily that the water shortage not only immediately vanished, but the overnight rain ensured that all water beds were filled to full capacity to the extent that the water accumulated in different reservoirs and waterbeds lasted till next rains . Those locals who spew venom on Mayammaa regretted for their act and sought pardon from her. Thus Mayammaa’s fame and belief on her divine power spread in Salem too.
After Mayammaa settled in Salem, few of her devotees too came down to Salem to serve her. One such devotee was Mrs Latha Mangeshkar, a lady teacher from Tiruchy district of Tamilnadu. She reportedly stayed the whole night by the side of Mayammaa’s body after Mayammaa took Samadhi. She told a reporter that when she stayed by the side of Mayammaa’s body the whole night, she noticed the dead body sweating and she continued to wipe the body through the night as the sweat increased. While wiping, she could freely move the hands and legs of the dead body of Mayammaa as though Mayammaa was alive. Normally the parts of body of those death remains stiff and unmovable and Mrs Latha Mangeshkar still believe that Mayammaa would have been alive and took Samadhi in the same state. Before Mayammaa was placed in the pit she gave vision to her in the form of a big flash of light which could be noticed only by Mrs Latha Mangeshkar. Mayammaa took Samadhi on 09-02-1992.
5/184, Santhi Nagar,
Mayammaa’s temple, Kanyakumari
Mayammaa’s Samadhi, Salem