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Recollecting Sri Jayalakshmi Mata’s Life- Her Childhood

Jayalakshmi Mata also known as ‘Puttu’ as we know is the mother of Pujya Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji who we affectionately refer to as Appaji. We have read that she is an incarnation of Goddess Rajarajeshwari, but a question that lingers is, while in a physical human form, what kind of person was she?

She was born to parents Linganna and Savitramma in 1924, along with five other siblings- Puttagowramma, Sharadamma, Krishnappa, Sita and Parvati(Chikamma) in the village of Sogala. She was the fourth child of her parents. 

Moving to Mekedatu

Her family (excluding the two elder sisters who had gotten married and moved away) moved to Mekedatu in 1930 when Jayalakshmi was about 6 years of age. Her father built their home on top of a small hillock on the banks of the Arkavathi near the temple of Sangameshwara. (Sangam means the meeting point.The meeting point of the three rivers- Arkavati, Cauvery and Guptagamini was called the “Triveni Sangama.”) 

An interesting detail about Mekedatu was that the forest dwellers aka Gypsies and hunters made a living from selling coals which they prepared from trees that were felled by the wild elephants which rummage through the area in search of food. They tried their best to keep the elephants from eating their crops, but it was to no avail. Sometimes it was believed by the Gypsies that the place (Triveni Sangama) was frequently visited by a very great Rishi of the past. Everyone who saw Him had a different vision of him and He cursed anyone who glared at him, he also blessed and cured those who came in contact with him in the forest when they bowed down to Him in reverence and prayed.

On moving to Mekedatu, Jayalakshmi adapted quite well to life in the forest, like it was her home- not just the house she lived in, but the entire forest. She was fearless! When going horse riding, on encountering any herd of elephants, she would face them on her horse with the drums in her hands. She even carried her father’s gun but never had a chance to use it. She spoke very fluently in Hindi and English. All the yogis who travelled through the forest came to the parents’ home, had a meal and conversed with her.

At the age of twelve, she had some odd habits, in the corner of the house she used to keep a stone that she found in the forest. After her morning bath, she would draw a picture of Ganapati with chalk on the stone and worship it. She would then take it to the Tulasi plant in the yard for puja. After Puja, she would collect a basket of flowers and make a garland, all the time while muttering to herself and not speaking to anyone. She would then take that garland to the temple and offer it to Lord Sangameshwara, then sit for about 10 minutes in deep meditation. She would then roam the forest and when asked why she roamed so much, she would answer that she felt profound peace come on to her in that atmosphere and she lost track of time. On returning home, she would sing a few melodious songs that she composed herself, most were devotional ones by the famous saints of the past and their life history. She also included in those compositions, a few lines on the beauty of mother nature. One evening, she composed a song depicting the flowing river Cauvery sitting smilingly on the lap of Lord Narasimha.

As a young girl, she was always intrigued by the spiritual aspect of life and though her father, an agnostic, she still engaged him in the topic of spirituality. 

Meaning behind Mekedatu

The conversation went like this on a particular night when they were unable to sleep. “Puttu came to my bedside and started to chat with me.” said Linganna.

Puttu started, “Dad, have you noticed that this centre you have chosen to live is an extraordinary place. On three sides there are three hills, which have joined with each other and look like three shoulders joined together. If we climb up the hill on the south we will be entering the centre of this sacred place. Exactly at that spot is the union of the 3 rivers. During the quiet breeze of the summer when the rivers Cauvery and Arkavathi are quiet, one can, by deep concentration, hear the flow of the river Guptagamini underneath. This design of the joining of the 3 hills and 3 rivers has brought out the symbol of the sacred "Sri Chakra". Because of that one considers it as the pilgrimage centre of Trimurthy. For this reason only it is believed to be visited by the 3 great rishis.

Do you know as to why this place has the other name ‘Mekedatu’?

In between the hills on the west and the north is a narrow passage through which the river Cauvery is running towards the east. As you go past the narrow passage, on either side, the foot end of the 2 hills appears to go up and gives the impression of a rope on a water well. On going further for another 2 miles or so, if one can see the river underneath from the top of the 3 hills, ( approximately of the height of about 3 lengths of the rope of an ordinary well ), can recollect the scene from the Patalaganga at the sacred centre of Srishaila. On careful observation one can also see some holes on the hills on the south. They look like the holes made by the goats horns while digging.

There is a story about this. It is believed that in the Treta Yuga, sage Atri and others conducted a great yajna "Brahmasatra" on the southern hill. One Gandharva (Gandharvas are divine persons living in the higher worlds and are well known for their celestial music) by name "Changala" due to a curse from Gods had taken the form of a rakshasa and was said to be roaming in the vicinity of the hill at that time. To disrupt the yajna he took the form of a goat and tried to jump from the north to the south hill. Realising his true identity of a rakshasa, the Brahmarshis sprinkled the water from the pot. The goat died and while falling left its mark as holes on the southern hill made by the nails of his feet. As the goat jumped from one hill to the other it is known as "Mekedatu." (Mekedatu- "Crossed by the goat." )

The gandharva on falling in the sacred rivers was cleared of sins and regained his original form.

As the area on the banks of the river Cauvery was used by the rishis to conduct the yaga "Brahmasatra", the other name for Mekedatu is "Brahmakunda". (Kunda means a bowl. The area when viewed from the top of the hill appears like a bowl). The approach to the Brahmakunda is bedecked with many dangers. It is believed that those who bathe in these waters will attain divinity. As the elephants inhabit the place it is said to be a favourite spot for Ganapathi. Lord Sangameswara in this far off place is really the spiritual guide to the 3 worlds. The yogis who visit this place call Sangameswara as "Vaidyanatha" also. This is because of the plantation that grows and the atmosphere which make the place very healthy and which is said to cure many ailments. Lord Sangameswara, like a puppet artist has strung together Ganesha, Trimurthy and mother Parashakti and is making them perform a melodious musical.

Dad, it is Divine blessing that we have come to live in this place. There are some rich people who visit the sacred places, spend a day or two and write big books on what they see in such a short time and make fortune out of it. I do not feel that they achieve any spiritual benefits from such acts and I also that they have not made the best use of human birth. You have brought us to this place which is like Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. We should be proud of what you have done by coming here.”

Her father never heard her talk so much before and he was in shock. The language she used during this conversation was very different to how they usually spoke at home.

She learnt about this from Karapatra Swamy- a saint from Kashi who was over 90 years old and was in the forest. She always listened to the stories he told. She also met Fakir Tatha- a muslim saint who taught her how to create yantras which she used to protect the forest dwellers from the herd of elephants.

She spent quite a lot of time with these saints and was initiated by Fakir Tatha into Kundalini Yoga.

Stay tuned, in our next post we will explore further the exciting chapter of Sri Jayalakshmi Mata’s life - her marriage and family life.

Om Sri Matre Namaha. Om Sri Jayalakshmi Matre Namaha.

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