15 December 2003,Amritapuri
A lone butterfly danced happily on Her garland as Amma stood gazing at Her children in all Her divine magnificence. Thus the first Devi Bhava in Amritapuri since early September came to a close this morning at 11:30 am. Yesterday morning Amma began giving darshan at 9:45 am, and stayed until 2:15 pm. With only a couple of hours break, Amma was back on stage again by 4:45 yesterday evening for Devi Bhava, and, as over 18,000 darshan tokens had been distributed, didn’t return to Her room until today, a quarter after noon – a total of 25 hours of service to Her children in a 24 hour day!
As usual, most ashram residents had stayed up all night with Amma. Most anticipated a day of rest and recuperation before making the 10-hour road trip on Tuesday to Kozhikode, where Amma will conduct four days of public darshan programs. However, life with Amma is everything but predictable, and in this case the anticipation most had for a leisurely day off was to be traded for a chance to practice some renunciation.
Shortly after lunch (or breakfast, depending on how you view it), word started making its way through the ashram grapevine that the buses might be leaving that very night (Monday) itself! By 3 pm it was official. Many ran to quickly do laundry in order to catch the last drying rays of the sun, and others got what little sleep they could before we packed up and set out. Just after midnight, when the seven large tour buses had finally been fully loaded with people, luggage and supplies, the ashram caravan headed north.
Five hours later we stopped in Kodungalloor to rest at one of Amma’s Amrita Vidyalayam schools. Although the sun arose just after everyone had finished unloading the buses and laid down for sleep, by 9 am almost all were up again, preparing for the next leg of the journey. After a late breakfast we reloaded the buses, and after a light early lunch were on the road again.
It’s truly amazing how vigorous one manages to remain when in the service of Amma, even with little rest and erratic food and sleep schedules. Despite the difficulties, all one sees are smiles.
Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, Kozhikode, Kerala
It’s been a year since the devotees of Kozhikode (Calicut) received the blessing of Amma’s darshan, and many couldn’t wait until the first public program tomorrow. Amma arrived at the Kozhikode ashram at 6:43 pm, and so many of Her children were waiting for Her that it almost felt like a program was already in full swing!
Kozhikode has become famous among Amma’s Indian tours for the innocent and enthusiastic devotion that the local devotees have for Amma, and for this reason is sometimes referred to as “Amma’s Brindavan”. Due to this fervor of bhakti, many attendees have regularly described this as the most “intense” program in India. The bhajans are exceptionally powerful and the throngs that invariably turn out for Amma’s darshan seem to cry out as if in a single voice, “Amma, Amma, Amma!”
Amma responds to their guileless hearts by showering them with an especially radiant affection, and there is a profound lesson here for those with eyes to see. Amma’s way of reflecting Her children’s hearts reminds one of Sri Krishna’s words in the Bhagavad Gita, “As My devotees approach Me, so do I receive them.”… and so does Amma receive us.
Wednesday, 17 December, 2003 – Kozhikode, Kerala
The first day’s program in Kozhikode began at 5:15 am with one of the five archanas that are to take place each day, as part of the brahmasthanam festival that is happening in tandem with the public darshan programs. Amma installed a brahmasthanam temple on the ashram grounds 11 years ago, which is maintained by the ashram priests who conduct pujas throughout the year. Amma’s annual visit marks the commemoration of this temple’s installation, and special planetary pujas are performed for the masses, primarily to Saturn, Mars and Rahu.
Amma came out for the morning program at 11:00 am to lead bhajans, followed by archana, satsang and then darshan. The darshan hall, constructed specially for the program, was filled to overflowing, as was expected. The morning program didn’t end until about 5 pm. Amma returned again for bhajans, satsang and darshan by 7:30, and gave darshan until 4:30 am … 15 hours total darshan time – a slow day, by Amma’s standards.
… but it was still just the first day.