(Late) Kum. MANIAMMA – An Advantage Sai Devotee
Kum. Maniamma who was born on January 28th, 1931 was an ardent devotee of Sai Baba. She first visited Shirdi in the year 1940, at a time when Shirdi was not as famous as it is today and Shri. Narasimha Swamiji’s prachar was picking up steam. Kum. Mani, as was her original name, had a spiritual bent of mind and right from childhood she was inclined towards spirituality. Maniamma was highly qualified educationally, She got her double Master of Arts degree along with a post-graduate degree in law. She was a theater personality and she held a very high position in the Government of Andhra Pradesh. But her love for Sai Baba frequently dragged her to Shirdi. She spent a remarkable amount of time in Shirdi doing sadhana (intensely disciplined and dedicated practice or learning), living alone, begging on the streets of Shirdi for her survival and living alone in a hut near the present-day Sai International Hotel (right across from Gate-1 of the Sai Baba Temple Complex). Imagine a woman staying alone in Shirdi in the 1970s where there was not much of pilgrimage movement.
During her stay in Shirdi, a thought triggered in her mind to translate the Shri Sai Satcharitra Ovi to Ovi from Marathi to Telugu. So, with this determination, she learned Marathi and then started the translation work of the Shri Sai Satcharitra from Marathi to Telugu. It took almost 20 years for her to translate and get the book ready for publishing. Kum Mani also constructed a Sai Temple in Kishan Bagh in Hyderabad entirely with her own funds and the temple is a replica of Samadhi Mandir.
Kum. Mani was so devoted to Sai Baba that she lead a life of simplicity. She saved money wherever possible, by cooking her own meals and packing her own food when she worked as a government official. She felt eating in a restaurant or canteen, or traveling in three or four-wheeler would cost her money. She traveled in General compartment whenever she went to Shirdi and she stayed in some devotees house, or if she found no accommodation, she used to spend the night in Dwarakamai or Gurustan and the money thus saved she spent on the Sai Satcharitra and construction of the temple.
Kum. Mani met most of the Sai Devotees including Shri Narasimha Swamiji, Das Ganu Maharaj and many other devotees who have seen Sai in flesh and blood.
Kum. Mani did lots of sadhana and spent lots of time with many living gurus. She served them physically, sometimes being a cook, sometimes doing their personal chores.
Maniamma’s biggest contribution to Sai movement is the translation of Sai Satcharitra Ovi to Ovi into Telugu and construction of Sai Baba temple in Kishan bagh in Hyderabad. Her Shri Sai Satcharitra was further translated into Kannada and Tamil. Maniamma also translated many other works on Baba into Telugu, which included works such as Stavan Manjari, 4 Chapters, Sai Nath Sagunopasan, etc. Kum. Mani also wrote many bhajans on Baba and also used to sing lots of Baba Bhajans.
Kum. Mani spent her last days in contemplation of Sai Baba. Though bedridden, her faith in Sai Baba remained undeterred and she leaned into Sai last year on this very day in December after serving Baba for more than 60 years. True to Baba’s words, that He will take care of His devotees, Sai took care of Kum. Mani until her last moments, and she passed away peacefully without being a physical burden on anyone. She had only Sai with her in her last moments.
May Sai bless Kum. Maniamma’s soul as she merges into his Lotus Feet.