(11 Dec '03)
11 December, 2003 Amritapuri
A large crowd gathered in front of the temple this morning, as Amma welcomed Her newest resident into Amritapuri. New ashram residents don’t usually cause such a stir, but this is a special case. Her name is Lakshmi – the elephant.
It was just after 11 a.m. and everyone was on or around the temple steps, looking up with anticipation, waiting for Amma to appear. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, Amma emerged from around the corner below! Amma stood at the base of the steps, as Lakshmi, garlanded with yellow and orange flowers and anointed with sacred ash, was brought forward to receive Amma’s blessings.
Amma fed Lakshmi apples, bananas, payasam, and balls of jaggery and nuts with affection, speaking softly to her while stroking her brow and trunk. Lakshmi was perfectly calm and composed, happily accepting the sweets from Amma’s sweet hands.
Amma teased her, “Lakshmi, have you seen Ram yet?” eliciting laughs from those nearby. Ram is the five-year-old “brahmachari” elephant that has lived in Amritapuri for the last three and a half years. Now Lakshmi becomes his elder sister.
While feeding Lakshmi some payasam, a small amount fell on the floor. Lakshmi then received her first instruction from her new Guru, as Amma said, “Ram doesn’t waste his prasad, so you should pick up everything.” Lakshmi promptly began to carefully pick up each small piece of sweet, and Amma approvingly said, “Good. You have shraddha, you don’t waste – you’re my child.”
After whispering a few loving words, and hugging and planting some tender Motherly kisses on Lakshmi’s forehead, Amma turned and walked up the temple steps, returning to Her room. Lakshmi was then led to her new home, near her new brother Ram’s stable.
Sadanandan and his family, who offered both Ram and Lakshmi to Amma, have been devotees since She visited Chennai in 1985. Amritapuri.org had the chance to speak briefly with him:
So many people offer gifts to Amma. Why do you offer Her elephants?
“I wanted to offer something that Amma could play with. I found a small baby elephant – Ram – in the Andoman Islands, and bought him for Amma.”
Why Lakshmi? Was there anything special about her that made you choose her?
“One night while playing with Ram, Amma mentioned, ‘Poor Ram, he doesn’t have anyone to share his heart with.’ I heard this, and decided to find a friend for Ram. I found her nearby, in Kollam. Lakshmi has what are considered to be auspicious signs – 18 toenails and a straight tail with much hair at its end. Ram also possesses similar auspicious qualities.”
With the nightly interplay between Amma and Ram already such a source of fun and laughter, the addition of a female elephant is sure to provide even more delight, for Amma, Her children, and of course Ram, who now has a friend to play with and share his heart with.