Beginning of Bhajan Sessions – Story of Sri.Goddumari Anjaneyulu – Part I
What could be the similarity between Sage Vishwamitra, The fruit vendor of Brindavan and Goddumarri Anjaneyulu of Urvakonda, other than them being contemporaries of the yuga avatars in Tretha, Dwapara and Kali yugas respectively? A divine coincidence suggests that they were the first to recognize the innate divinities of Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Sri Sathya Sai Avatars respectively. Every Avatar chose a unique person (or an excuse – as very famously expressed by Gitacharya, Sri Krishna as “Nimittamaatram Bhava Savyasachin“). The sequence of events that went about expressing the divinities of the respective avatars, more or less, heralded the primary purpose for which the descent happened.
While Sri Rama’s mission of destruction of rakshasas began with Sage Vishwamitra’s declaration to the world, “Ahamvedmimahaatmaanam, Ramamsathyaparaakramam (I know the true capabilities of Rama)”, Sri Krishna’s mission of showing surrender (prapatti) as the ultimate path for liberation began through His first devotee, a blueberry vendor, who sold a handful of blue berries in exchange for liberation.
And it is in this special league that Sri Goddumarri Anjaneyulu also belongs to, who had taken more than a simple liking for young Raju. The liking was strange for Raju was neither his relative nor his neighbor. While Raju lived with his teacher-brother, Seshamma Raju in a Brahmin Street in Uravakonda, this middle-aged salt (Excise) Inspector, lived in a spacious bungalow outside the main town with his son being Raju’s school-mate. His devotion to Bhagawan was a practical example of living by the prescription for liberation in the age of Kali as given in Upanishads – “Kalau Sankeertya Keshavam” (Singing the glory of the Lord).
Sri Anjaneyulu and Smt Bhagyalakshmi
Goddumarri S. Anjaneyulu (1904-1979) was a simple, pious and orthodox brahmin who respected holy men. He and his wife Bhagyalakshmi had two children – a son named Narasimha Dass and a daughter named Subburathnamma. The two children and Raju went to school together. Anjaneyulu could have possibly known Raju earlier as the latter’s brother was a teacher in the local high school. Raju had already picked up a good number of friends then, many of whom had witnessed the miraculous experiences associated with Him.
As His will would have it, one day, Raju requested Anjaneyulu to procure a Shirdi Sai Baba statue for worship. To please the young boy, Anjaneyulu looked for it in the local market, but could not find any. Raju then told him, “Go to the Lakshminarasimhaswamy Temple festival at Pennohobilam and try”. Pennohobilam was situated thirteen kilometers away from Uravakonda. True to Raju’s word the statue was found there.
This statue of Shirdi Sai Baba became a spiritual link between Anjaneyulu and Raju. Being a Shirdi Sai Baba devotee himself, Anjaneyulu created a personal shrine for Sai Baba in his garden. He spread a tiger skin on a boulder and placed the statue there for puja every Thursday. For many months Raju would have His Thursday bhajan sessions (devotional singing) in the houses of his teacher-devotees. A time came when He decided to hold bhajans in Anjaneyulu’s house as it was a quiet place, situated in the outskirts of the main town. This also did not disturb the neighbours during bhajan sessions.
Sri Anjaneyulu’s House
It was apparent that Raju was preparing Anjaneyulu family to receive more that were to follow. Every Thursday after returning from school, Raju would cast off His school uniform and a don silk dhoti (an ankle length cloth worn around the waist) and an angavastram (shawl). He would then perform puja to the Shirdi Sai Baba statue and then start leading the bhajans. During one such session was when He sang “Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam, Dustharabhavasagarataranam (Please seek refuge in the Lotus feet of Guru in order to cross the ocean of existence)”. He also sang. “Baba Raava, Sai Baba Raava (O Baba come)”. He would ask everyone else to follow the song in chorus. This was how He started bhajan sessions in a formal manner.
The Thursday bhajan sessions were great spiritual experiences for not only Anjaneyulu’s family, but for everyone who were a part of the session. During these sessions, Raju would stand in deep concentration, glowing in splendor. His body would sway back and forth in a trance. He would remain in this state for three to four hours. What happened subsequently was a sight for the Gods to see. He would advise, instruct, bless and materialise vibhuti, pieces of cloths, pictures and fruits, apparently from the kafni (robe) of Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi and give it to the visitors. He would raise His hand, pick up the things from nowhere and give them away. The devotees would open their mouths at His bidding and He would put fruits and candies into the open mouths. He would instruct them to eat them immediately and take home other articles He gave them. His instructions were extremely specific for specific people and He was very particular that those specific instructions not be shared with others. Raju would even call people at specified time and place for special spiritual advice.
At the end of this long spell, Raju would indicate and say, “I want to go, perform arathi and break coconut after arathi.” After the arathi, He would fall down unconscious. Anjaneyulu’s family would position themselves in different places in the puja room to hold Him after His fall. They were not sure as to where He would fall. Anjaneyulu himself would then pick Him up, place His head on his lap and fan Him. Raju would gradually get up after about fifteen minutes, with His eyes bloodshot in weariness.
This entire experience was intense and would fill the atmosphere with divine vibrations, for here they had Lord Narayana Himself, singing His glory. He was not just telling, but demonstrating by practice, the way Bhajans needed to be conducted and how one should sing with devotion. This tradition went on to become the staple diet of every Sai activity undertaken. Raju chose Anjaneyulu’s residence in Uravakonda as the first center for Bhajans.
However, this was just the beginning of this wonderful journey of Love between Bhagawan and one of His earliest devotees. Stay tuned for more of Sri Anjaneyulu’s story, his role in Avataric mission and Him being the witness to something very special and divine. Wait for the concluding part of Sri Anjaneyulu’s story.