(21 Jan '04)
An unexpectedly large crowd of Amma’s children came to see Her in Pondicherry. More than 37,000 darshan tickets were issued on Amma’s first visit to this former French colony, and darshan lasted until 9:30 am. Even after darshan was over and She was standing from Her peetham to leave, Amma remained to serve Her children yet a little longer. Though She had come to the stage at 6:30 pm the previous day, Amma still kept giving out prasad to those who had arrived as darshan was ending, just minutes before.
Pondicherry hosts a strong spiritual tradition, being the home of one of India’s greatest philosophers, Sri Aurobindo. His ashram is located here, and his main disciple and collaborator, the French mystic popularly known as the Mother, founded the nearby Auroville, an experimental ‘new age’ town that has attracted many westerners. Amidst this evening’s line-up of Tamil bhajans, Amma sang a bhajan in French as well.
In Her satsang, Amma criticized the trend of mixing religion with politics and pointed out that people are more important than either religion or politics. “Amma is very much concerned about the increasing terrorism and diminishing family values. India needs a Renaissance to make all religions work together to achieve progress and development,” She said. Amma also underscored the need for cultivating “dharma” and moral values, as people are bogged down with stress and the insatiable desire to achieve more in life, saying, “We should all get ready for a battle — a battle where love is used as a weapon to bring about peace.”
The stage in Pondicherry was full with dignitaries on Amma’s very first visit to this coastal town: the Lt. Governor, the Chief Minister, the ex-Chief Minister, the Opposition Leader, the Inspector General of Police and many more.
The Lt. Governor of Pondicherry, Shri. N. N. Jha, was genuinely touched by his first encounter with Amma: “It was the first meeting with Amma for me and my wife and it was a very moving and enlightening experience. It was inwardly very moving!” In his speech the Lt. Governor said that he was overwhelmed and honored that Amma was blessing the people of Pondicherry with Her presence, saying, “I hope that Her visit will promote peace, amity and brotherhood among the different sections of people in the Union Territory.” The Lt. Governor asked Amma to start an Amrita Kuteeram housing project in Pondicherry and Amma immediately agreed!
The Amrita Nidhi pension scheme was also introduced this evening, with the distribution of pensions to the 15 widows selected as the local program’s initial beneficiaries. These women all share especially sad circumstances: they were widowed by husbands that had all committed suicide. Amma is always extending Her consoling touch to those that need it the most.
Handing over the pension to the beneficiaries, Pondicherry Assembly Speaker M. D. R. Ramachandharan said, “Amma is striving to evolve a society that unites all castes and religions.”
Education Minister K. Lakshminarayanan said Amma was the epitome of simplicity and love and believed that language and religious differences could be overcome by love. M.O.H.F. Shajahan, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the Pondicherry Constituency said: “It was a wonderful experience to meet Amma. What does it matter if I am born a Muslim? Love knows no divisions! She is so Motherly!” Pondicherry Local Administration Minister, A. Elumalai, just had a big smile after meeting Amma and said: “inwardly thrilling!”
O. Rajagopal, Union Minister of State for Defence and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministers E. Valsaraj, A. M. Krishnamoorthy, M.L.A, and many others also received blessings from Amma.
– dass & devadath