Early Life

[Annai Sri Umadeviyar is fondly called by her devotees as Amma and Poojyasri R. Muthukumaraswamy is called as Ayya. Throughout Amma’s biography, mostly the names Amma and Ayya are used.]

Amma’s parents were Sri Shanmuga Mudaliar and Sri Gnanambal Ammal. The couple didn’t have a child for about eight years after they got married. They both went to many pilgrimage places to get the blessings for a child.

Once they went to Nagore Dharga along with a relative’s 12 year old son to offer prayers. There was a saint called Bheer Mahaan who was playing on the seashore by putting lemons onto the sea and taking back the lemons that were returning. He saw the couples who were praying in front of Dharga. He took a lemon that returned from the sea and gave it to Gnanambal Ammal with blessings. He also looked at the boy smilingly.

The couple came back to Chennai. After some time, Gnanambal Ammal conceived. She delivered a girl baby on 22 May 1942 in CMC Hospital at Vellore. The couple named the baby as Umadevi. The baby was very beautiful with golden skin tone and lustrous eyes.

Baby Umadevi started crawling and saying few words like amma (means mother), appa (means father), thatha (means grandpa) etc. Everyone was rejoicing on hearing these words. Whenever Gnanambal Ammal and her mother went to Pooja room, baby Umadevi also followed them and prayed with them. Deep devotion and divinity were expressed at the very beginning itself. Years passed. She grew and was put up in Royapuram Northwick school. She became the favorite student for her teachers. Her father arranged Thevaram, Thiruvachagam classes to be taught to her at home. She learnt Carnatic music in vocal as well as Veena instrument and excelled in both.

Royapuram Northwick school is a Christian convent school. Whenever teachers wanted to compose tunes for their lyrics on Jesus, they called Amma and asked her to compose. Once, there was a circular from Darmapuram Adeenam regarding a competition on Thevaram for all Tamil Nadu schools. Amma also participated and she won the first prize. Whatever she sang, people were mesmerized by the melody of her Divine voice.

On a different occasion, Sri Pandrimalai Swamigal visited Shanmuga Mudaliar’s house. Pada pooja and other homages were performed by the family. By the time, everything was over, time was twelve midnight. Sri Pandrimalai Swamigal called the girl Umadevi (Amma) and asked her to sing. Amma started singing along with Veena simultaneously. Almost 4 hours passed and the entire Thandaiyaarpettai (the area where Shanmuga Mudaliar’s house located) was drowned in the divine music.

Once Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was visiting a stadium in Chennai for attending a function. Amma was performing a drill in front of him and got his accolades. On another occasion, she was singing in a function at Chennai Vadapalani temple. The chief guest was Veena Balachandar.

Popular musician Veena Balachandar was a good friend of Shanmuga Mudaliar through Cosmopolitan Club. He was directing a Tamil movie called Andha Naal. After seeing Amma playing Veena, he expressed his desire to Shanmuga Mudaliar to debut her in the movie playing Veena. Though her dad was happy that his daughter would get fame in the movie, neither he said yes nor no. He consulted his wife and mother-in-law. Both were against the idea of acting/playing in the movie. They said that Amma was born after many years of penance. She should be offered only to the Lord but not for material purposes. On hearing this conversation, Amma was not even slightly disturbed. She was treating the pooja room as a great treasure. Mostly, she spent her time in prayers and sadhana. Once, she got the vision (darshan) of many saints in the pooja room wall like a movie while doing prayers. Everyone in the family realized that Amma was not an ordinary human being. Whenever she gave viboothi to sick people, they were cured.

Once, a saint came to the house of Shanmuga Mudaliar and was calling people at home for alms. Amma came out to see who was calling. Immediately, the saint told her, “You will marry the advocate in your mind. Don’t worry. You will be prosperous and happy.” Amma thus thinking went inside to get the food for the saint. By the time she came out, the saint disappeared. She was thinking who was that advocate that the saint told. Then, she came to know from her mother about what happened before she was born. A boy who was accompanying Shanmuga Mudaliar and Gnanambal during their visit to Nagore Dharga became an advocate. He is related to Gnanambal. His name is Muthukumaraswamy (Ayya), son of Sri Ramu Mudaliar and Smt. Vruthambal. He is also the descendant of Thirupugazh famous Sri Arunagirinathar saint.