Tuesday, 28 September 2004 — Amritapuri
It was nearing three o’clock in the morning, and Amma had been giving darshan for 14 hours straight. “They are not singing in all the languages,” Amma suddenly said, referring to the brahmacharis and brahmacharinis sitting on the stage behind Her. “Get the microphone. I will sing, and they can sing the chorus from there.”
And with that, Amma began to sing a song in Tamil, “Ellamarikendra Kannanidam.” The 8,000 or so devotees in the hall went wild. Within seconds, everyone was clapping and singing along.
During the next 30 minutes, Amma sang four Krishna bhajans as She gave darshan—two in Tamil, one in Marathi and one in Kannada. A brahmachari at Amma’s side right held Her microphone, and a brahmacharini on Her left held Her bhajan books. Amma would sing one line and then, as the response came, She would embrace the next devotee in the queue and whisper in his or her ear. Sometimes, Amma would completely lose Herself in the singing, and hold a devotee in Her arms for as many as three minutes, the whole time calling out in song.
Amma was radiant. Her smile was a celebration of the entire creation. It was the defining moment of Amma’s 51st birthday.
Sleeping in his mother’s arms at Amma’s side was a three-year-old boy named Appu. Perhaps this is why Amma chose the Tamil bhajan “Chinni Kanna Chella Kanna” as Her next song. The bhajan is actually a lullaby sung to baby Krishna by Yashoda. As Amma sang, She was in full Yashoda bhava, emphasising the lyrics with Her hands, turning to sing directly to the sleeping boy. “You enchant the whole world with your smile,” Amma sang. “Now, Lord of the Universe, go to sleep.”
Amma’s third song was “Panduranga Vittala.” It is one of the most energetic bhajans in all of Amma’s songbooks. The song continues to build in tempo until there is nothing the singer can do but repeat the name of “Vittala” [Krishna] over and over again as fast as he can. There was such a light in Amma’s eyes, as She did this. With one hand She held a young man tightly to Her chest, with the other She rallied everyone in the hall to sing out their hearts.
Perhaps the most memorable song was the last, “Banda Krishna,” a Kannada bhajan that proclaims “Krishna has come and he spreads happiness and cheer. He enjoys the company of his devotees and gopas.” As Amma sang, it was as if She were telling the story of what was happening in that very moment.
Throughout all four songs, an 82-year-old ashram resident was sitting at Amma’s side. Actually, his name was Krishna—although not many people know this because he goes by a nickname. Amma turned to him and began keeping time by slapping lightly on the top of his bald head. Then, just as She had done to little Appu, Amma began addressing him through the song, pointing at him each time She called out “Bonda Krishna” [come Krishna]. It was too much for him. Staring up at Amma with folded hands, his eyes filled, and soon his cheeks were wet.
When Amma finished the bhajan, the entire hall exploded with applause. The devotees weren’t cheering the songs. They were cheering the glory that is Amma Herself, claiming Her as their very own. To do so was why they all had come.