Volume 12 - Issue 01
JANUARY 2014
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Posted on: Jan 18, 2014


A Remarkable Devotee Merges in Her Master Divine

- a Tribute to Mrs. Anjali Devi

 

She might have been a renowned actress who filled her fans with joy for several decades. But for the Sai family she was a simple, sincere devotee ever ready to serve our beloved Bhagawan. Anjali Devi, veteran of over 500 films in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi merged in Swami on 13 Jan 2014.

Anjali-Devi-Serving-Sathya-Sai-Baba

Anjali Devi in the service of her Divine Master

Coming to Bhagawan in the 60s

Drawn to Swami in the early 60s during a sudden poor run in the movie industry, Mrs. Anjali Devi and her husband, Mr. Adi Narayana Rao were assured by Baba that their fortunes will turn for the better shortly. Needless to say, Bhagawan’s words came true and the couple became devotees for life. It was not the assurance alone, that drew them. The majesty of the form and the ecstasy they felt in His presence brought tears to their eyes. Anjali Devi recollecting this incident 42 years later said, “Though so many years have passed, the same feeling of excitement coupled with happiness, wells up in my heart when I have Swami's darshan. And I am certain that it will be the same till I breathe my last.”

Listen Now
A Conversation with Mrs. Anjali Devi in Telugu

Divine Guidance All Through in Her Career

Bhagawan instructed the couple to make the movie Sati Sakkubai (1965) which altogether changed the tides of fortune for the family’s production house. In fact Baba instructed the couple to release the movie under a new banner, Chinni Brothers (named after her children). The movie went on to be a hit of the year, with a successful hundred-days run. The couple later produced many other successful movies under this new banner.

But deep in her heart, Mrs. Anjali Devi wished to resurrect the earlier production house of the family, Anjali Pictures. Bhagawan Who heard her unexpressed wish, instructed her to make the movie Bhakta Tukaram (1973) under the Anjali Pictures banner. The music for the film given by her husband, Mr. Adinarayana Rao and immortalised by the voice of another devotee of Bhagawan, Ghantasala would be presented before Bhagawan by His students and devotees a number of times in the years that followed. (‘Ghanaa Ghana Sundaraa Karunaa Rasa Mandiraa’, for example).

It is indeed quite interesting how Baba, even as He favoured a devotee through His timely guidance, also directed them to give movies to the people that raised their consciousness.

Anjali-Devi-Sathya-Sai-Baba-Radiosai

Swami with Mrs. Anjali Devi (third from left) and her husband, Mr. Adi Narayana Rao. Also seen is the legendary singer, P. Susheela (far right)

Longing to Serve Her Swami

A devotee always yearns to use one's talents to make an offering to the Lord. That was the case with Anjali Devi too. She fervently nurtured the desire to one day make a movie on Baba. But Baba was least interested and so the prayer remained unanswered for a long while. In the meantime, Bhagawan had given her the opportunity, on a few occasions to train His students for the dramas they would stage for Bhagawan. That way, she found some fulfilment of offering her talent to the Lord. Even during those times, more than the chance of training His boys, what she cherished was the opportunity to see Swami Himself come and correct and train the students after she was done with her training.

 
  Bhagawan asked Mrs. Anjali Devi on several occasions to
finetune His students skills in acting, scripting and directing a play

It is said that a devotee's true triumph lies in finding that permanent place in the heart of the Lord. One could say with confidence, that Anjali Devi had accomplished that feat.

Each time Bhagawan would talk about Hanuman, He would say, “Hanuman was born to queen Anjani Devi. Not Anjali Devi, the film star!” The audience would burst into ripples of laughter, but what can give more joy to a devotee than being remembered by the Lord Himself, even if in a light hearted manner (Interestingly, her original name was Anjani!). And also, it is difficult to put a number to the many times Baba has seen her movies, Bhakta Prahlada (where she played the role of Prahlada's mother) and Lava Kusa (where she donned the role of Mother Sita) with His students.

With years, Anjali Devi had given up the idea of the film on Swami. But Swami had His own plans and timings for them. One day, out of the blue the permission that had not been given for years was given unasked. Not just that, Baba gave her a series of interviews in which Swami personally revealed to her the entire story of the Shirdi and the Sathya Sai Avatar. We all know that Baba never gave a thought to means and ways of publicity. In that case, the attention that He gave to this project stands a testimony to the pure devotion of Anjali Devi. He visited the sets, spoke to the crew and even permitted her to cast some of His own students from the school in the film. On Gurupoornima day of 1998, Swami blessed the telefilm and exactly one year later released it.

Anjali-Devi-Folding-Hands-Sathya-Sai-Baba  

A Dream Come True for the Dear Devotee

The film was made as a tele-serial, originally in Telugu - Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Divya Katha; but it went on to be translated into many languages. Not only did Anjali Devi finally get to make the film she so dearly wanted to, but she also played the roles of Devagiri Amma and Easwaramma (the mothers of the two Avatars) fulfilling another deep and sublime desire. On the occasion of the film's release Bhagawan blessed Anjali Devi by materialising an ornate gold necklace for her.

Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Video Grab Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai - Video Grab

Anjali Devi playing the roles of Devagiri Amma (left) and Mother Easwaramma in the telefilm 'Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Divya Katha'
'Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Divya Katha' Archives

The Exemplary Devotion of a Legendary Devotee

The world may remember her as a performer par excellence, a successful producer or a veteran actress. But we remember her as a pure, simple and humble devotee. Please do not mistake this for a presumption or a foregone conclusion. We at Radio Sai have been a witness to her humility and devotion. Recollecting her years with Swami would choke her and fill her eyes with tears of joy. Her simplicity, and pleasant and soft speech made us forget that we were in the presence of a legend. That for us was a true devotee. We remember her today and shall remember her forever as one dear devotee of our beloved Bhagawan. We are certain that the resting place for such a devotee can be none else than His lotus feet.

 

 

- Team Radio Sai

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