Panguni Uthram’ is an auspicious day in the Hindu Calendar. This was the ‘siddhi’ day of the great Krishna Bhakta, Sri Ammalu Ammal. Ammalu Ammal at the age of 104 attained Sri Vaikuntam on this auspicious day in 2010. This year (2012), Her anniversary falls on April 8th.
Ammalu Ammal was born in a Kannada speaking Madhwa family. Married as a child she lost her husband within a few years of her marriage making her a child widow. In those days widows were not treated kindly. As she grew up the torture of those around her pushed her to attempt suicide by jumping into the neighborhood pond. But Bhagavan forbid her from committing suicide. Lord Nrisimha appeared before her and blessed her, “Do not attempt suicide. You shall always get the basic requirement of food and clothing.” Ammalu Ammal asked for a boon ‘let me know no hunger’.
The Lord granted it to her and from thence onwards she has lived only on a glass of curd/milk and fruit a day, until her death at the age of 104 in 2010. She used to forgo even these on Ekadasi! She led an energetic life all through. She performed bhajan every day of her life. She would cook variety of dishes herself in the coal oven and offer her Lord Panduranga and give the Prasad to others while she herself ate nothing! Her celebration of Nrisimha Jayanti is well known. She would, singly, prepare 108 varieties of sweets and savouries apart from the regular food to be offered to Lord Nrisimha! Mahaperiyava, on Nrisimha jayanti day would remember her, wherever he happened to be camping. He would say, “Today is Nrisimha Jayanti. There would be grand celebration in Ammalu Ammal’s home!” Kirtans on God, in Kannada, began to pour forth from her. Tens of thousands of kirtans have poured forth from her.
As she grew up Ammalu Ammal was totally engrossed in Bhagavata dharma, always singing and dancing for her Lord and lovingly worshipping Him in various ways. Krishna who she could see played a lot of Lila with her.
One night Lord Panduranga appeared to her in the mirror in her home and commanded her to come to Pandarpur. As soon as day dawned she said to her mother, “I have received a call from Lord Panduranga. I am leaving right now for Pandarpur. Come with me. Both of us can live at Pandarpur and serve the Lord.” Her stunned mother refused to accompany her. Her relatives tried to stop her as she was then very young. But just with the single sari that she wore, her tamboora and the book containing her divine kirtans she set off for Pandarpur!
At Pandarpur, she served Lord Panduranga lovingly and sincerely. She would clean the Temple, draw kolams, string flowers and sing for Him. The Queen of the kingdom, deeply moved by her devotion, sent several silver utensils for her puja; but Ammalu Ammal gave them all away to those who were there at that time! She was highly dispassionate! All through her life she never touched money. After spending several years at Pandarpur she was brought back to Kumbakonam by some of her well-wishers.
Mahaperiyava (Sri Chandrasekhararendra Saraswati Swamigal of Sri Kanchi Kamkoti Mutt) had camped at Kumbakonam. A Madhwa gentleman approached the great Seer for his blessings for the marriage of his daughter. The Seer said, “Why do you approach me? If only you would seek the blessings of that ‘nityOpavasi’ (one on daily fast) living under the tree your desire will be fulfilled.” It was only then that even people of her community realized the glory of Ammalu Ammal.
Kirtans, in Kannada, began to pour out of her in a gush. She has sung tens of thousands of kirtans. They resemble those of Purandara dasa. Mahaperiyava has said that she is an amsa of Purandara dasa. When Ammalu Ammal visited any kshetra she would move into divine trance and kirtans relating to the ‘sthala Purana’ of that holy place and Deity would flow out of her lips. Most of the time, she had no previous knowledge of the sthala purana!
Once, she was requested by the relatives of a dying man to visit him. The man died in the presence of Ammalu Ammal. She moved into a divine trance seeing ‘Rama Nama’ carry the jiva and out poured a kirtan describing this! None in that family knew that he had taken upadesa of and had been chanting Rama Nama!
The samadhi of her Guru Sri Ramachandra teertha (who had lived several centuries back) is at Amarendrapuram on the banks of the holy Cauvery in the suburb of Kumbakonam.
Ammalu Ammal had great fondness and reverence for our Guru Maharaj. She has visited Premika Bhavanam in 1997 when she was 92! Later in 2002, when she had darshan of Sri Kalyana Srinivasa Perumal in Madhurapuri Ashram, a beautiful kirtan poured out of her lips ‘nAkku kAla murtiyu neenE’ – describing the Lord to be a 4-Kala Murti – who takes the form of Srimad Narayana at dawn, Lord Rama in the late morning, Lord Lakshmi-Nrisimha at dusk and Lord VenunAtha, Gopinaatha at night.
A few days before her departure from the world a kirtan describing the Vaikuntam fell out of her lips in divine trance!