(14 Sep '00)
14 September 2000, Amritapuri
The ashram is buzzing with activity, as preparations are being made for Amma’s birthday celebrations next month. Dust has been flying everywhere as the central ashram building, housing the temple and offices, and which provides accommodation to many, is being readied for a fresh coat of paint. The ‘dining hall’ at the rear, is steadily being transformed into a major hall – the plan is to hold large programs, like Devi Bhava (which, now regularly sees about 10,000 devotees every Sunday), there.
Mother, the centre of all this activity, meanwhile, goes on doing what She always does: meeting the residents three days a week for meditation and satsang, and giving darshan to the public the other four days of the week. And when She is not outside, She is in Her room, attending to mountains of letters from all over the world, giving guidelines and directives on the running of the branch ashrams and the myriad charitable activities, and meeting with individuals.
Playing with Ram
In the midst of all this activity when can She find time to enjoy Baby Ram, the ashram’s new little elephant? At the end of bhajans each night, when the residents and devotees remain in the prayer hall for arati, Mother is having Her daily rendezvous with Ram. His mahouts bring him to the foot of Her steps, and there She feeds him bananas and biscuits, calling him by name, stroking his trunk, trying to convince him to settle for kisses and caresses. Sometimes She will hold out a biscuit to him, and as his trunk stretches out for it, She will move it away, just out of reach. She goes on like this, teasing and tantalising him, and of course in the end relenting and popping the morsel straight into his mouth, or else letting him grab it with his trunk and feed himself. Showing his appreciation, he will occasionally prostrate, or reach out to ‘kiss’ Her Face with his trunk; mostly, however, that appendage is busily searching wherever She is hiding Her Hands, whether behind Her back or high above Her Head, looking for another bite of food! When all the titbits are finished and Mother has let Ram sweep the tray with his trunk for the last crumbs, She says, ‘Ram, now go back’. She then turns, climbs the steps to Her room, and perhaps at the top turns to watch him being led away, back to his enclosure.