(18 Sep '00)
The birthday of Amma was celebrated around the world, with the message of spirituality, love and selfless service being proclaimed far and wide. The Amritapuri ashram became an ocean of humanity, bubbling with enthusiasm when tens of thousands of devotees from every part of the country and abroad poured in to participate in the birthday celebrations of their beloved Mother.
In her divine message for the occasion, Amma made a plea for people to strive for the regeneration of samskara (a noble culture) by developing the spirit of renunciation, love and compassion, and by performing their actions with discrimination and enthusiasm. She began Her address by asking us to feel empathy for all those who are suffering and to try to help others. She said that our duty in life is to truly rejoice and to make others rejoice. But to be able to rejoice we have to become aware of our thoughts, words and deeds. And this awareness can come only from spirituality. We have to look within and correct our mistakes. We need to imbibe spiritual principles so that we can lead a purposeful and fulfilling life. We long for freedom, but true freedom can be achieved only by cultivating samskara.”
Here are a few excerpts from the speech:
Today is a day when festivity blends with tyaga, the spirit of renunciation. We give new impetus to samskara through tyaga. Today is a day to revive the samskara handed down to us by the rishis. Life becomes a festival when we forget our egoistic self and engage wholeheartedly in selfless deeds, rejoicing in this. When enthusiasm combines with samskara, it becomes a true celebration. A festivity with good samskara is like the innocent smile of a baby. It elevates us towards God. A festivity without samskara, on the other hand, pulls us down towards animal nature. Today our culture is facing grave challenges, which can be observed in family life, education, politics and many other aspects of life. Good samskara originates from spiritual understanding. Spirituality is the science that makes life meaningful; it is the art that brings beauty to life.
We have to imbibe spirituality – the art and science of life – for this will make our lives truly fulfilling. We have to understand spirituality in order to enjoy life in its fullest measure. In fact, spirituality is the basis of all other fields of knowledge. Yet, even so, people do not give it any importance in their lives.
Today our children and our youth blindly imitate the West, forgetting the real values of life. As a result, they are losing their identity. The mind of a child is like a cement coating that is still fresh and wet. The impressions, once made, cannot be erased easily. Unfortunately, the first impressions children receive today are the impressions of maya (illusion). So it is important that we develop good samskara in our children when they are still young. If a mould is defective, every product that comes out of that mould will be defective.
Today we learn a lot of things at schools and colleges, but all that education is like a building without a solid foundation. As a result, schools and colleges have become battlefields, where students fight and even kill one another in the name of politics. Amma doesn’t reject politics, but everything has its own place. Students today have become like walls and the professors are like machines. The heart doesn’t speak to the heart, and as a result any real unfolding of the student’s personality, of his or her inner self, cannot take place. Through education students hope to become something, but they become something else – they become walking computers. Artificiality has taken hold of every aspect of life.
Today we are living as though we are half asleep. We have no awareness, only information. Only when suffering comes to us do we become aware of ourselves. Even at the age of fifty people have no awareness of what their duty is; they are not aware of what they say or do. It is awareness, not just knowledge or information, which prevents a person from doing wrong. Awareness is a blending of knowledge and action. We worship our own creations, while we forget the One who created us. We should be rooted in our real Self instead of depending on others, who are subject to change at any moment. There should be awareness in our every word, thought and deed.
We have every right to rejoice, but if we give up dharma, we will lose not only our happiness but also our identity.
We have to get rid of our egoistic nature. It is the egoism in us that prevents us from both giving and taking. The one who becomes the servant of all, becomes the master of all.
We have to overcome our anger if we are to live a peaceful life. Anger creates tension and destroys the harmony of life.
Another highly important quality that we need to develop is contentment. Contentment is the real wealth of life.
We are not the masters of our lives – it is God’s will that prevails. We should therefore perform our actions with humility and with the spirit of surrender. We shouldn’t become elated when we succeed, soaring like airplanes; nor should we go to pieces when we fail, sinking like submarines. We are always dependent on God’s grace, and that grace becomes available to us only through our selfless, compassionate actions.
If there is to be any real social progress, the state of women has to improve as well. To hope for social progress, without caring about the plight of women, is like trying to fly with one wing!
Amma concluded Her words with a passionate plea for people to go out and serve the poor and the suffering.
Poverty is of our own creation, for in this world only people starve. Animals seldom starve, and when they do, it is because of the selfishness of humans.
Amma’s inspiring talk replete with striking examples and stories delivered in Her sweet voice moved the devotees beyond measure. Finally, Amma led the devotees in meditation and prayers for universal peace and welfare.
The pada puja (worship of Amma’s sacred feet), the most auspicious of the celebrations, took place at 9 a.m., immediately before Amma delivered Her birthday message. Then, after Amma’s speech, the people of Parayakadavu village presented Amma with a ceremonial offering, as a token of their love and devotion towards Her.