Mukkoti Ekadasi is a festival celebrated all around the world. But what is this festival all about? On this day, many people visit Lord Vishnu temples. But how do we truly honor Lord Vishnu? The story of Dokka Seethamma garu and the well-known song ‘Vaishnava Janatho’ can guide us on how to do this.
Dokka Seethamma garu, a respected woman from the Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, is known for her kindness and generosity. She was born in 1841 and learned the practice of annadaanam, which means food donation, from her father, who was known as ‘buvvanna’. Even after her husband passed away, she continued to serve food to people for more than 40 years.
One of her most admirable qualities was her ability to make guests feel comfortable. She would often say things like “The food is already prepared, and you just arrived. It’s no trouble at all”. She would always downplay the effort she put into preparing meals and never make anyone feel bad about their need for food.
This reminds us of the first verse of ‘Vaishnava Janatho’, which says, “A true follower of Lord Vishnu is one who helps others in their suffering, without letting pride enter his or her heart.” This verse beautifully encapsulates the spirit of selfless service that Dokka Seethamma garu embodied throughout her life. Just as the verse suggests, she alleviated the suffering of others by providing them with food, all the while keeping her heart free from pride. Her humility and dedication to serving others made her a true follower of Lord Vishnu, as described in ‘Vaishnava Janatho’. Thus, by embodying these values, we too can honor Lord Vishnu in our everyday lives, particularly on the auspicious occasion of Mukkoti Ekadasi.
In a video by Chaganti, he talks about the greatness of Dokka Seethamma garu, highlighting her perception of annadanam as a way to worship Lord Vishnu in every hungry soul.
Seethamma garu’s life is an embodiment of the spirit of service and Dharmic values, a testament to the spirit of Mukkoti Ekadasi. Her devotion to serving others is a form of worship to Lord Vishnu, a practice that resonates deeply with the principles of Mukkoti Ekadasi.
Tailpiece: I fondly remember a time from my school days when I casually mentioned to a friend that the philanthropic figure, Dokka Seethamma garu, we were studying about in our Telugu class was a relative of our grandfather. This news reached our teacher, Mr. Rao. One day, he announced, “Guys, make room for the great-grandson of Dokka Seethamma garu!” as I entered the class late. It was a moment of embarrassment, but it also led to an enlightening conversation with Mr. Rao about my lineage. He urged me to take pride in my heritage and to follow in the noble footsteps of Seethamma. That day, I learned a valuable lesson about humility and service to others.