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The Power of Faith

Faith is only one. There is nothing like blind faith. For faith there can be no reason and no season. Faith and spirituality are beyond reason. It is foolish to search for the grounds of faith.

There is a sacred pilgrim centres called Srisailam near Anantapur. In a small village adjacent to it, a widow was trying to give her seven‑year old son, Ramanna, schooling with great difficulty. The Shivaratri festival was drawing near. In the Rayalaseema areas, it was customary to invite home the son‑in‑law and the daughter for the occasion. Ramanna heard from his friends that they were expecting their sisters and brothers‑in‑law for Shivaratri. He asked his mother whether he had any sister and brother‑in‑law, where they were living and whether they would come for Shivaratri. His mother had borne a daughter prior to the son, but she had died in infancy. Memory of that girl's death brought tears to the mother. Suppressing her grief, however, she told her son "Darling, you have a sister.” The son implored his mother to let him know where she was so that he could bring her and her husband for Shivaratri. Yielding to his importunities, the mother sought to satisfy him by saying; "In Srisailam you have a sister named Bhramaramba and her husband's name is Mallikarjuna.”

The boy then said: "Mother, let us both go to Srisailam and bring sister and brother‑in-law and celebrate Shivaratri.” He had complete faith in his mother's words; he was determined somehow to bring the sister and brother‑in‑law to their home. The mother was in a fix. She used various arguments to avoid the journey and ultimately said that she would have to stay at home to make the arrangements for the daughter and son‑in‑law. The boy said he would go alone and bring his sister and brother‑in‑law.

To please the son, the mother sent him to Srisailam with some villagers who were going there. They reached Srisailam. The villagers had been instructed in advance by the mother that at Srisailam they should take the boy to the shrines of Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba, and bring him back. The villagers took him to the temple of Mallikarjuna, They showed him the temple and said Mallikarjuna was inside. The boy cried out, "Baava", "Baava" (Brother‑in‑law) and rushed into the temple. As he entered, the priests stopped him. The boy cried: "Baava! Please speak to me." The 'brother‑in‑law' was silent. The boy thought that as his brother‑in‑law had not seen him, he could not recognise him now. Meanwhile, the priests thought, the boy was out of his mind and pushed him out of the temple. Ramanna was certain that his 'sister' would recognise him. He went to the shrine of Bhramaramba and cried aloud, "Akka, Akka" (Sister, Sister). He rolled on the ground and wailed; "Sister, speak to me.” The priests in that temple too thought the boy was demented and cast him out.

Ramanna was plunged in grief at the thought of returning home without his sister and brother‑in‑law. The villagers who had escorted him to Srisailam were inside the temple engaged in their puja. Ramanna was alone outside the temple. He saw a big boulder. Climbing on it, he cried: "My mother will not excuse me if I go home without sister and brother‑in‑law. Even my friends will laugh at me. I shall not go home. If my sister and brother‑in‑law do not come with me, I shall end my life here.” Such was his firm faith in his mother's words. Faith of this kind never fails one. Crying aloud, "Akka, Akka" he jumped from the precipitous boulder. At that very moment, a voice spoke: "Maridi Ramanna; Maridi Ramanna" (young brother-in-law, Ramanna). From another direction, a loving feminine voice was heard: "Thammudu: Thammudu" (young brother, young brother). When the boy jumped, he was held from both sides by God Mallikarjuna and Goddess Bhramaramba. This spectacle was witnessed by all the pilgrims present there. Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba, appearing in human form, carried the boy to his home in his native village, partook of all the special delicacies prepared by the mother, and then vanished.

Note how the Divine responded to the simple faith of an innocent lad. Faith can achieve anything. Who is entitled to make a distinction between "genuine" faith and "blind" faith? Some may look upon the boy Ramanna as a naive, ingenuous child, who could believe anything in his innocence and ignorance. The boy's faith was a firm, unwavering faith emanating from a pure heart. A big shrine has been erected on the spot where the divine couple rescued Ramanna. This is known as the shrine of "Maridi Ramanna" (Coming to be called later as Mythili Ramanna shrine). It is wrong to think that such miracles do not happen in Kali Yuga. The manifestation of divinity transcends the bounds of time, space and circumstance.