A Critical Look At The Biography Of Amma Part II

Dear Readers,

Kindly read my previous post, titled as above- part 1. This
is a continuation of it.

Okay,let us now look at the mysterious death of Subhagan. In page 152,
chapter 9, Sudhamani aka Holy Mother says,” It seems that brother
Subhagan is nearing the end of his life span. As a solution you can
take a vow of silence, but certain obstacles can be seen which will try
to break your vow. Therefore be careful when you take the vow.”

Let us look at how Damayanti breaks the vow, in page 157 of the same
chapter:

” Damayanti observed a vow of silence one day. However, when it was
halfway over, it so happened that a cow broke its rope and started
running from their cowshed. Damayanti started running from their
cowshed. Damayanti completely forgot her vow and shouted, “There goes
the cow! Catch it!”…….

The family took this as a bad omen, especially as forewarned by Mother.
This auspicious event filled the family with fear and anxiety.”

So there we have it. Sudhamani initially warns Damayanti of impending
death of Subhagan. Maybe we can say this is Karma. But the funny part
is- it is linked with observing a vow of silence. I don’t understand
the reason as how a vow of silence helps to appease Karma. So does this
mean the mute will escape death or law of Karma? This sounds more like
religious superstition and proves the fact that Sudhamani is basically
a girl steeped in religious superstition without much thought.
Damayanti just shouts after a cow which escapes from the cowshed. This
is just the most logical thing to do. Does death gets hastened due to
this? Without thinking what the factors which affect death are, we get
the superstitious Sudhamani dishing out irrational things to equally
superstitious family members.

However so, Subhagan’s death is directly proclaimed by Sudhamani
herself. Let us look at what is written in the page 153, chapter 9:
” One day Subhagan, in a fit of fury, severely harassed a Muslim woman
who had come to Idamannel for the Bhava Darshan. Unable to bear
Subhagan’s vicious remarks, the lady rushed to the temple, burst into
tears and began beating her head against the threshold of the shine
room. She was crying out, “O Mother..O Mother…is this the fate of
those who come to see You?”

Hearing the Muslim woman’s distraught cries, the Mother’s radiant and
smiling face underwent an immediate transformation. With a terrifying
appearance, she stood up from the sacred seat holding a trident in one
hand and a sword in the other. In a solemn and deep tone the Mother
said, “Whoever has caused this undue grief to this devotee will die
within seven days.”

When the Mother’s prediction reached the ears of Sugunanadaan, he
rushed to the temple seeking forgiveness for his son’s grievous
behavior. He pleaded to the Mother to spare Subhagan’s life and take
his instead. Mother calmly told, “I never punish anybody. If I am
abused or harassed I don’t care at all. But when a devotee suffers such
abuse even God will not forgive. Each one must enjoy the fruit of one’s
actions. There is no other way.”

Seven days had passed. It was nearly midinight on June 2, 1978 when
Subhagan, who had been informed of the Mother’s predicition, committed
suicide by hanging. He had written a suicide note giving the reason as
unbearable stress caused by his incurable disease (elephantitis).
Subhagan’s suicide created chaos and distress at Idammanel house. ”

From the above we can see the utter stupidity of the whole story.
Harassing a devotee does not incur such a punishment as death. In
today’s standards, harassing and taunting a person does not amount to
punishment by death. Is god so stupid as to warrant this punishment to
someone who taunts his devotees? The muslim lady was not physically
hurt nor any of her belongings stolen. She did see the so called Holy
Mother and lamented Subhagan’s “vicious remarks” only. This “vicious
remarks” cannot be justified as warranting death punishment by god or
anyone else for that matter. Moreover hypersensitive people can even
classify a normal criticism as “vicious remarks”.

Sudhamani now actively interferes in the death of Subhagan by
proclaiming his forthcoming death due to the taunting of a devotee.
Though pleaded to by her dad, she does not lift this curse. Previously
it could be avoided by just following a vow of silence. That too got
destroyed due to the old lady’s shouting at a mere straying cow. Now it
is the ‘vicious remarks’ which justifies the death punishment to
Subhagan. If we look at the story it seems Subhangan was informed of
his sister’s predicition. He was said to hang himself. Was he forced to
hang himself to make his sister’s prediction come true or was he also
too superstitious to believe this prediction, thereby due to utmost
stress of this disturbing prediction hanged himself? In the book, his
disease -elephantitis, is quoted. But many people in India have lived
and are living with elephantitis without killing themselves. It is not
a psychotic or fatal disease as made out in the book; moreover the
medication diethylcarbamazine was available in India at that time, even
the generic.

In this chapter 9- the sword of truth, we have swami amrita mention
about the rationalists and how they tried to discredit mighty
Sudhamani. From what he has written, it seems that there were a group
of poor villagers who came to the bhava darshan. Sugunandan eventually
helps his daughter in carrying out these activities. Sudhamani becomes
the deity Krsna and Shakti in this bhava darshans. But there is also
another group which seeks actively to stop this activity of Sudhamani –
they are classified as the rationalists by Swami amrita. But we do not
know the real reason that they have done this. From what I can gather
through reading the book, they are portrayed as mere trouble makers who
try to become obstacles to Sudhamani and her quest without any apparent
reason. It is just out of hate. That is as stated by the swami. But I
think it is deeper than that.

Let us now shift our attention on Sudhamani’s bhavas. This bhavas are
also observed in devotional common Hindus during Thaipusam and other
events. It is more like trances or the Christian’s descending of holy
spirit in which some speak in tongues. Whatever it is we can only say
it is yet fully understood by science. There are also small scale
priests who also have this visitation of spirits and who are sought out
for healing and other purposes. The shamans of the pagans and the
priest of organized religion claim this divine power to be able to heal
and prophesize. However so let us look at Sudhamani’s explanation of
this bhavas as recorded by swami amrita.

Page 197 & 198, chapter eleven – The meaning of Divine Bhavas:

” The Great Masters of India have classified Divine Incarnations in
three main categories: 1) Purna Avatara (full or perfect), 2) Amsa
Avatara (partial manifestation) and 3) Avesa Avatara (temporary
overshadowing by divine powers)…

A purna avatara is the descent of the nameless, formless and immutable
supreme energy, assuming a human form and manifesting infinite power
without any limitations.

The incarnation of Vishnu as Vamana and Narashima are examples of Amsa
Avatara. Parasurama, as depicted by Srimad Bhagawatam is avesa avatar. ”

Let us now see the elaboration of the purna avatar in the book. It is
said that Hanuman wanted to visit Krishna but insisted to only see the
form of Rama. Hanuman was a ardent devotee of Rama who is but an
incarnation of Vishnu just like Krishna. Yet Hanuman wishes to see Rama
alone. Only Krishna could assume the form of Rama for Hanuman since he
is a purna avatar. Let us read as stated in page 199, Chapter 11:

” While Garuda was fetching Hanuman, certain events were taking place
in Dwaraka. Lord Krishna, by His mere Will, assumed the form of Lord
Rama, who had lived many centuries earlier. Rukmini, Krishna’s consort,
became Sita. By this time, Hanuman had arrived in Dwaraka. Having seen
his beloved Sri Rama and Sita and having offered worship to Them, he
returned to his abode….

Only a Purna Avatara can easily become one with any other god or
goddess. Being such an Avatara, Krishna easily manifested Rama Bhava.
One day, Lord Krishna asked his wives including Satyabhama, one of His
dear ones, to assume Sita Bhava, but none were able to. Finally
Rukmini, an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, effortlessly assumed Sita
Bhava.

In the case of an Avesa Avasa Avatara, godly powers enter into a
particular person and withdraw after fulfilling the intended goal. This
was not the case with Sri Krishna and Rukmini. What Lord Krishna did
was to manifest Rama Bhava or the attributes of Rama which were already
potential in him”.

Okay, so we have read Sudhamani’s rendering of the meaning of avatars.

Let us see how she classifies her own self regarding this, whether an
amsa, avesa or purna avatar.

Page 200, chapter 11:

” Bhava Darshan is the manifestation of different Iswara Bhavas or
divine moods by an incarnation of God according to the wishes of
devotees.”

Let us see how Sudhamani compares herself with Anandamayi Ma, another
Ma who lived earlier in Bengal and manifested Krishna and Kali as
Sudhamani. Page 200, Chapter 11, last paragraph:

” Anandamayi Ma, who lived in Bengal, used to manifest Krishna and Kali
Bhavas while singing bhajans. These Bhavas manifested by Incarnations
took place only on certain occasions to fulfill a particular end,
especially in response to the ardent desire of devotees. Moreover, they
would last only for a short time. The Holy Mother Amritanandamayi (
note: Sudhamani) manifests the Divine Moods three nights a week lasting
for long periods of 10 to 12 hours depending on the number of devotees
present for Darshan. This is the Holy Mother’s way of serving humanity,
plunged as it is in the deep quagmire of worldliness.”

Page 201: ” During the Holy Mother’s Krishna and Devi Bhavas, she
brings out That which is within her and manifests those Divine Beings
in order to bless her devotees. The holy Mother once said regarding
these bhavas. ” Mother is not manifesting even an infinitesimal part of
her spiritual power during the Bhavas. If it were manifested as it is,
no one could come near!”

Page 202: “Even now some people believe that Lord Krishna and Devi
visit the Holy Mother’s body three nights a week, after which They
leave her body. This misconception springs from a lack of correct
understanding about the Holy Mother’s Divine Moods. These Divine Bhavas
are nothing but the external revelation of her incessant Oneness with
the Supreme. They have nothing to do with possession or Divine Grace as
it is commonly understood.”

So there we have it. Sudhamani is not a avesa avatar. She is not
possessed with divine grace but reveals what is an innermost part of
herself. More than that she is also an incarnation equal to Krishna and
Rama. She has even said that people can’t get near her if she were to
reveal her infinite glory. Perhaps it was some kind of vibration. It
sounds more like a cartoonish science fiction though. She even compares
herself superior to another person who has these bhavas also,
Anandamayi Ma.

Then there arises the question of Krishna and Rama as pertaining
Hanuman. If I were to know a person intimately, definitely I will know
the person’s form and could distinguish cheap imitations. Krsna is said
to assume the bhava of Rama for Hanuman. As Hanuman knew Rama
personally, we can only say that Hanuman wishes to see Rama exactly in
outward and inward form. If he just wants to see the inner core Rama,
Krishna could have assumed this personality for him. But the insistence
of Hanuman means Krishna would have changed his external form to Rama.
It is difficult for me to comment as I have seen neither Krsna nor
Rama. Definitely both men being male warriors would have exhibited
masculine form. But Sudhmani is just her physical self in this bhavas.
What she does is to assume costumes. This any actor could do, just like
her dad Sugunandan did in his earlier frolics during Kathakali. Even
today we have actors assuming historic roles. This is not something to
be called divine. It is just human capabilities of a good actor. I have
seen many darshan pictures of Sudhamani in the book but have not seen
any in which she looks like Krishna who is a male. She just looks
herself, an average Indian girl.

From all these, it can be seen that Sudhamani is just as deluded as
those who follow her. She has made a big hotchpotch of everything she
has learned and heard, which is not surprising considering her
background (refer my earlier post). She has mixed irrational
superstition, vedantam, bhakti and paganism into her show.

Many people believe that her success of acceptance is proof of her
godhood. I beg to differ though. Humans have a tendency to idolize
others regardless of race, religion and culture. Look at our pop divas,
Michael Jackson, sportsmen, actors and actress and other charismatic
personalities. These people are masters of portrayal and attract a huge
following amongst the masses. The Beatles also caused mass hysteria
amongst the people whenever they visited a town. But apart from this,
everyone is human, that is all. Being in power, the chances of abuse is
higher. Sudhamani is just a successful actor, just like any other. She
is idolized just like Michael Jackson. But that’s about it. She is no
more divine than you and me.

In the world we live, many impacting changes have been caused by
ordinary human beings. The amendments of law resulting in gender
equality and abolishing of slavery were caused by men without claiming
godhood. Read our history and you will realize. In science also, humans
like Edison, Wright brothers and others have discovered things changing
the life of mankind itself. Most, if any, never claimed divinity at all
and most didn’t make huge financial gains out of their discoveries
either. As such we can see men and women who have sacrificed their life
for others. The Red Cross, the nurses and many others were responses by
ordinary men and women to provide care for the needy. They don’t claim
divinity either. So we can see that for one spiritual organization
which claims to administer disaster relief and humanitarian work, many
other non-divine ordinary organizations can be touted to do the same.

Here is a proof of Sudhamani’s appropriation of Ramakrishna, just as
she earlier did with Shankara (read earlier post,no. 278).

Page 202 & 203, Chapter 11, Sudhamani says regarding her cross-dressing
habit (for Krishna) and assuming devi’s costumes:

” It will help the people to remember what Bhava is. Child, each attire
is important in its own way. We are naked when we are born. Later,
according to each country and social custom, people adopt different
kind of dress. Whatever the dress, the person is the same….

Mother will make this point clear through an anecdote. One man was
cutting a tree which was growing by the side of the road. Another man
who happened to see him doing this said,” Don’t cut down that tree! It
is wrong to do so, it is against the law.” The man not only refused to
stop cutting but also scolded him severely. The person who tried to
prevent the hooligan from cutting the tree was a policeman. He departed
but soon returned in his official dress. Even from a distance the mere
sight of the policeman was enough to make the hooligan flee without
looking back. See the different impact created when he came in ordinary
and official dress. Therefore, special attire is needed to teach
ignorant people. Likewise, the costumes of Krishna and Devi Bhavas.”

This proves the fact of Sudhamani to be well aware of Ramakrishna’s
biography. In it Ramakrishna will advise that realizing (god) is more
important. He says that without getting the mantle from god mere
preaching will not do. People will not be really benefited. This he
said regarding the Arya and Brahmo Samajs which were active in his
time. Ramakrishna stresses the importance of realizing god compared to
preaching work done by the Samajs. The mantle of god can only come if
one is realized. It is not necessary that god decrees us to instruct
others upon realizing it. This he makes known through a few anecdotes.
One of it is his comparing of a group of people who befoul the banks of
the bathing ghat/river even when warned by others. Only a government
sanction could stop this nuisance. And that too a mere notice of
warning put up near the bank is enough to act as a deterrent.
Ramakrishna compares this notice board as the mantle.

But here we have Sudhamani totally twisting the story and adding a new
meaning to it. Though the basic essence is the same, its underlying
reason is different. For Sudhamani, the uniform has taken the place of
the government notice board. The cutting of the tree substitutes the
act of befouling. And that too to teach ‘ignorant people’ who by the
way appear to be many, judging by her hours in Bhava Darshan.

It will do well to note that Indian people have noted many saints who
were partially and completely naked, not including many who were
dressed without much pomp and ado. Examples include Buddha, Trailanga
Swamigal etc. Many aghoris, natha and naga sadhus also are naked. They
occupy primal position in reverence as can be seen during Kumbha Mela
where these naked sadhus are given priority in taking the first dip. As
such Sudhamani’s excuse of making an impression on the people by
assuming colorful garbs and costumes is at best stupid. It is done to
delude the masses only. People understand genuineness regardless of its
outward form; hence we have the maxim “don’t judge the book by its
cover.” Sudhamani totally ignorant of this makes up her shortcomings by
masquerading as Krishna and Shakti which is why the so
called ‘rationalist movement’ might have riled up against her. That
explains her brother’s and cousins’ oppositions also.

Another thing we could ask here is Sudhamani’s claim of the almighty
itself. She claims that she is the supreme incarnation which could
manifest any divinity. As such she is also the god come as human form,
this according to her also. Sudhamani claims to be accessing or rather
is the absolute. The world is contained in the absolute. By this
Sudhamani claims to be all-knowing even to the extent of being able to
exact death by mere willing. Throughout the book, numerous incidences are
given of Sudhamani’s capability of altering the outcomes of tragic
events for the better, healing diseases and thought-reading. All this
is child’s play to her. But supposedly if we were to ask her any
mathematical question, can she answer? Will she dare to take up this
challenge? By accessing the supreme which pervades all, she is able to
know all, and that includes mathematical or scientific knowledge also.
Even till now she needs an interpreter, she can’t speak fluent English.
This shows that like other humans she cannot have spontaneous knowledge
of a thing without learning, pondering or coming to contact with it.
Instinctual knowledge doesn’t give us any knowledge of understanding
Chinese or Tamil. It is just a small hint through which our intellect
works, more like thinking out of the box. But the things we think about
we have learned or pondered beforehand. This is how scientific
discoveries are made. Sudhamani cannot vouch for any such discovery
also, this is better to prove her godhood rather than changing water
into milk. At least the discovery might be beneficial to humans and
befits her motto of serving humanity. But rather than this we get cheap
and cheesy imitations of gods and goddesses thrown in with a heavy dose
of vedantam, puranam and bhakti teachings. These can be had by reading
the books alone, just as Sudhamani might have done.

To be continued…

-SASHI

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