Mother of All: A Revelation of the Motherhood of God in the Life and Teachings of the Jillellamudi Mother

Richard Schiffman, Author Blue Dove Press $19.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-884997-28-0
Mother Anausya Devi (1923-1985) of Jillellamudi was a beloved spiritual leader in southern India. Here, NPR commentator Schiffman takes us to the village of the Mother (as she is affectionately known by devotees) and acquaints us with her life and teachings. This book begins, like many accounts of religious leaders, by offering a mystical account of her birth and childhood: As the midwife attending her birth prepared to cut the umbilical cord, the knife in her hand was purportedly transformed into a trident, a symbol of divinity, and the mystical symbols of a conch and a lotus appeared on the baby's abdomen. Furthermore, a sacred cobra, which looked ready to attack the baby Anausya and her mother, instead bowed before them ""as if in reverent prostration."" Like the precocious Jesus of the Gnostic Gospels, the young girl is depicted as provocatively and insightfully questioning her elders. Throughout the biography, Schiffman introduces us to many of Mother's core beliefs: Love should be selfless, and not the possessive, demanding ""marketplace sort"" of love; the inner meaning of marriage and sex is not just the union of two people, but their union with ""the Absolute."" The book ends with a useful appendix of Mother's sayings. Followers will no doubt appreciate this loving--indeed, hagiographic--account, though readers who are unfamiliar with Mother's legacy may wish for an introduction that offers a bit more critical distance. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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