to the Lord and unshakeable belief in Him,
it was this that carried Sakamma in her journey through
life. She devoted her whole life to the service of her divine
Could we say that she was one of the founding
figures of Prasanthi Nilayam ashram? Surely nobody would
grudge the old and humble lady for her devotion and contribution.
Few devotees of today or even of those bygone days can be compared
to her in devotion and service. Coffee-podi Sakamma was
Sakamma was originally from Bangalore. This Coorgi lady was the
third wife of Doddamane Chikka Basappa and resident of
Basavanagudi, Bangalore City, then of Mysore State. She was a
coffee planter and philanthropist who was honoured with the title Lokasevaparayani
(one who is devoted to service of society) by then Maharaja of
Mysore. The Imperial government awarded her the title
‘Kaiser-e-Hind’ (‘Jewel of India’). She was also nominated
by the Late Maharaja of Mysore to be the first lady representative
in the Royal Mysore Assembly.
elderly, healthy, active and good-hearted lady was one of the
first few devotees from Bangalore. Baba spent many months in her
house. She spoke Telugu fluently. She treated Baba as her child
and cooked food for Him.
is an interesting story reported by Sri Kasturi in ‘Sathyam
Sivam Sundaram’ of how Sakamma had come to know of Baba. One
day as she was engaged in worship she was informed that she had
two unknown visitors who insisted on seeing her immediately. One
turned out to be a tall fair old man who looked more like a sage
and the other a very young teenaged boy at the wheel of a car with
the unusual nameplate of ‘Kailash Committee.’ Sakamma invited
the old gentleman inside and offered him the necessary
hospitality. The sage requested the lady to become a member of the
‘Kailash Committee’ by donating a sum of one thousand rupees.
Sakamma signed the declaration promising to pay the said amount.
The sage, however, prevented her from paying the sum, saying that
he would collect the same when required. The two left soon after,
almost disappearing in their car. Years later, Baba appeared once
to Sakamma as the same teenaged driver and once as the sage of the
mysterious visit. Baba surprised Sakamma by asking her to pay her
promised one thousand rupees and even described the incident in
the minutest detail. Since then Sakamma was a regular visitor to
Puttaparthi and spent months in the divine Presence.
was Sakamma who could compel Baba to rest in the afternoons,
pleading with the others not to disturb Him during such times.
When Baba was busy with his devotees, He would not pay heed to
food. Sakamma would pick up courage and affectionately drag Him
away, pleading with Him to eat.
often made fun of her. He would roll His big eyes and say that He
had fever. Sakamma would become greatly concerned and she would
start perspiring. With great care, she would feel His body,
touching His tender cheeks. She would rush around to bring herbal
medicines. He often fooled her by running away to play with
others, even when she thought that He was actually sleeping in the
other room. Sometimes, while she was searching for Him everywhere,
He would be hiding right nearby.
when Sakamma was in Coorg she lost a nine-gem ring. It was stolen
by some of her relatives. Baba asked her for more details about
the ring, materialised the same ring and gave it to her.
had pleaded with Baba to wear a red robe so that He could easily
be distinguished in a crowd. Besides it hurt her maternal
instincts to see the hardly twenty-five year old Baba dressed in a
had also pleaded with Baba to move away from Prasanthi Nilayam and
open an ashram in Bangalore. But Baba had promised Mother
Easwaramma that He would not shift base from where the avatarhood
had first began. Along with a few others, she then generously
contributed to the construction of Prasanthi Nilayam, sending
carpenters from Bangalore to do the woodwork. In fact in the deed
for the Prasanthi Nilayam land that she offered Bhagawan, she had
put down such clauses that hold good even today. She also provided
funding for a Radio Park and Public Library at Bukkapatnam.
her relatives were not pleased with the young Baba, she was not to
be deterred. Women at that time were mostly without power, but she
managed to outwit the relatives and have her way. Whenever Baba
stayed with her—either at Bangalore or at Mysore, for any length
of time—she took care of Him.
she took ill and was hospitalised for a few months in 1950, Baba
went to the hospital in Mysore to see her. She died at the age of
75, in May 1950. Like Subbamma (who did not live to see the
Puttaparthi Mandir finished, although she had provided land for
it), Sakamma, too, did not live to see the inauguration of
Prasanthi Nilayam (a project that she had helped to envision and
today Bhagawan remembers her with fondness. The heart of the
avatar suddenly wells up with the feeling of a child towards its
mother whenever He talks of her. He refers to her as coffee-podi
Sakamma which means the Sakamma of the coffee powder fame.