Shodasha Samskaras : 16 Rites of Passage

1. Garbhadana Samskara – is performed by a married couple when conceiving a child. This important Samskara raises the act of conception to a sacred occasion, and is powerfully purifying and uplifting for the unborn child.

2. Pumsavana Samskara – is usually performed between the second and fourth month of pregnancy. Its purpose is: to insure the good health of the foetus and the proper formation of its organs, so that the family line and tradition will perpetuate thorugh the baby.

3. Simantonoyana Samskara – In the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, the mind of the foetus begins to develop. This is when simantonoyana Samskara is performed. Its purpose is to protect the foetus–especially its newly forming mind–from all negative influences, and also to stimulate the development of the unborn child’s intellect.

4. Jatakarma Samskara is the ritual performed at the birth of a child noting the birth time and star and thus create a birth chart which is suppose to be the blue print of ones life.

5. Namakarana Samskara – On the eleventh day after the child’s birth, namakarana Samskara is performed. In this ceremony, the child receives its name.

6. Nishkramana Samskara – The baby’s first outing into the world, beyond the confines of the home.

7. Annaprashana – The first feeding of solid food to the baby, usually in the sixth month after birth.

8. Karnavedha Samskara – usually performed in the sixth or seventh month after birth, consists of the piercing of the baby’s ear lobes, so earrings may be worn.

9. Chudakarana Samskara – At the end of the first year after birth, or during the third year, the child’s hair is shaved–all but a tuft on the top of the head. This ritual shaving of hair, performed with ceremony, prayers, and chanting of Vedic hymns, is chudakarana Samskara This Samskara is for both boys and girls.

10. Vidyarambha Samskara – begins a student’s primary education by ceremonially introducing the child to the alphabet.

11. Upanayana Samskara – initiates the formal study of the Vedas. It is one of the most important and esteemed of the samskaras. Upon performance of Upanayana, a boy traditionally moves from home to live in the ashram of the guru.

12. Samavartana Samskara – With samavartana Samskara the disciple graduates from his Vedic studies and returns from the house of his guru. Thereafter, the disciple will marry and raise a family, and so enter the stage of householder, grihasthashrama.

13. Vivaha Samskara – The traditional Hindu wedding ceremony is known as vivaha Samskara It is considered by many to be the most important of all the samskaras.

14. Panchamahayagna Samskara – A married couple performs the panchamahayajna, or five great sacrifices, daily. In this Samskara, one honours, in turn, the rishis, the gods, the parents, humankind, and all created beings.

15. Vanaprastha Samskara – According to the Vedic tradition, vanaprastha is the third stage of life, following brahmacharya (Vedic student/disciple) and grihasta (householder). Here, a one leaves behind ones life in the world and retires to the forest (or serving the society), to live an ascetic life devoted to service, study of the scriptures and to meditation.

16. Antyeshti Samskara – The final sacrament, the funeral rites, are known as antyeshti Samskara.

Mother and the Moon at Bhavani river

23 April, Bhavani, Tamil Nadu — Bharata Yatra 2000

The sacred Bhavani River is usually a favourite stop for Mother and Her children during the drive back home from Chennai. It was past 2:00 a.m. when the buses reached the Bhavani — probably the only time the steps leading down to the river aren’t overcrowded with worshippers of all kinds.


The gentle breeze after a mild drizzle was a welcome relief from the scorching heat of Madras. The night was calm. The river was flowing with a rhythmic sway. Just in the other side of the river, we could see the lights of trucks plying on the highway. The rising moon was reflecting on the water. It was an atmosphere conducing an introspective frame of mind. Just a small group of people could be seen sitting in the silent night. A group of people surrounding someone… yes, She was there! With Her gaze fixed on the sky and Her arms outstretched as if to embrace the moon’s soft glow. All others were looking at Amma. Well, how could anyone gaze at the moon for long when Amma’s face was shining even more brightly? Amma began singing. Softly the voices of Her children joined in; Mother would sing a line, and the children around Her would repeat it.

Bramarame manasa bramarame
Suddha madhu teti alayunnu talarunnu nee bramarame

O’ mind that hovers like the bumble bee
searching in vain you tarry for nectar pure…

Trees in full bloom on the banks of the river devotion
dwell in bliss untouched by sorrow!
Do not tarry any longer, do not weep O mind,
Mother will one day come to dwell in your heart so pure.

The wise, with their sense of discrimination
remove all sorrow of attachment,
merge you… submerge unto you
offering all sorrows at your altar!

When O Mother , when will you come…
Is it only when all my abilities get shattered.
No Mother, do not delay any more,
Won’t you shower thy compassion on me…
there is no refuge for me, but you!

And there, in the glow of the moon, those sitting close could see tears flowing softly down Amma’s cheeks. An anguish to save Her children from the scorching heat of samsara. Amma and the moon had turned that night into a unique and unforgettable experience.

Vishu celebrations

April the 14th, 2000 was new year’s day in the Hindu calendar. Amma was away on Her tour of North India and the residents used this time to completely restore the old Kalari (temple), where Amma first started Krishna Bhava in 1975. The roof was replaced and internal renovations were carried out.

Flowers, harvest fruit displays, streamers and decorations were made by the ashram residents. The children and old people, students and monks, all worked together under a bright night sky and with lights hanging in the trees, the preparations took on a truly festive air. Everyone looked forward to the morning’s ‘first sight’ (In Indian tradition at the outset of any new venture God is remembered. This is especially true for the beginning of the new year. So traditionally things considered to be auspicious, reminding us of the bounteous blessings of God are the things that are seen first of all on New years day.)
At 4 a.m. in the morning the tiny veranda and garden in front of the Kalari thronged with devotees. Some sat in meditation, others stood prayerfully waiting their turn to visit the shrine room. The day had not yet dawned as the atmosphere rang with the holy sounds of the gong and conch, announcing the moment of the ‘first sight’. The clamor lasted as long as it took for one and all to offer their salutations to the beauty of the Lord’s creation.

Philosophically, the meaning of the rite is that the goodness of God, which we behold in the shrine room, decorated with the harvest of his gifts to us, should stay with us throughout the year, that we might always see goodness in all. Between the arrangements of fruit and flowers a mirror is placed, so that as one beholds the auspicious sight, one catches a glimpse of one’s own higher Self.

Restoration of the Kalari

The Kalari is the small temple where Amma first started giving darshan consists of a tiny inner shrine room and an outer-covered veranda where Krishna Bhava used to be held in 1975. Bhajans were sung every evening.

Over time, the roof made of coconut tree planks became unstable and the concrete floor of the inner temple developed holes which ants had penetrated, making it very difficult to clean.

In March 2000 it was decided to restore the temple. The old roof was removed entirely and replaced, and the inner temple received a new, highly polished granite floor. The beautiful, ornate timber doors leading to the shrine were restored to reveal rich honey-coloured Anjili wood.

The work was finished on the eve of the Vishu Festival (Kerala’s New Year Day) on April 14th, 2000. The doors received brightly polished with brass ornamental bells and the mirror-like floor was painted around the edge with a beautiful motif. Beautiful mandalas were painted on the floor.

At 4:00 in the morning devotees filled the tiny veranda. The atmosphere rung with the holy sounds of the gong and conch announcing that the deities were waiting to bestow their blessing. Krishna, surrounded by the fruit and flowers of His of creation, was magnificently displayed in two majestic statues, whilst Amma’s benign smile showered down on all from the huge portrait on the altar.

1993 amma-parliament of world religions

The Glorious Legacy of ‘Sanatana Dharma’

The following is the speech delivered by Amma before an audience of spiritual leaders and dignitaries, on the morning of the 4th of September, 1993, when the Hindu Host Committee honoured Her, by selecting Her as one of the three Presidents of the Hindu faith:

The great saints and sages of India who were the exponents of Sanatana Dharma have never claimed anything. Ever established in the supreme state of absolute fullness, they found it difficult to express the experience of the infinite Supreme Truth in words. They knew that the limitations of language would never enable a speaker to paint an adequate picture of the Truth. Therefore, the great ones always preferred to remain silent. Yet, out of compassion for those who are searching for God and those who are groping in darkness, they did speak. But before they spoke, they prayed thus:

1993 amma-parliament of world religions

“O Supreme Self, may my speech be rooted in my mind; may my mind be rooted in my speech.”

They prayed to the Supreme Brahman: “I am going to put my experience of the Truth into words. My experience of the Infinite Truth is so utterly complete that words cannot express it. But I am going to try. When I speak, give me the ability to express and convey the essential message of the Truth, through my words. Do not let me distort the Truth.”

It is the duty of each one of us to transmit this great experience of the saints and sages to the world. It is very important that we respect the feelings and the faiths of people of other religions. But at the same time, we should also let the world know that the eternal Sanatana Dharma is not confined to certain individuals; it is a pure subjective experience of great importance to every human being. Everyone is the embodiment of this great Truth. Sanatana Dharma does not pertain to any particular caste, creed or sect. The world should know this. Truly, Sanatana Dharma is a great source of power and inspiration for all of mankind. As such, its followers should constantly work for the peace and harmony of the world. Only then will the sankalpa (resolve) of the Rishis become a reality.

The Rishis did not form a separate religion. They gave importance to different human values and spiritual truths. That is why their prayers, such as the following one, included the entire universe:

“Om Lokah samasthah sukhino bhavantu.”
“Om sarvesham svastir bhavatu
Sarvesham shantir bhavatu
Sarvesham purnam bhavatu
Sarvesham mangalam bhavatu
Om shanti shanti shanti”

( May the whole world live in happiness.May contentment prevail in all. May peace prevail in all. May perfection prevail in all. May auspiciousness prevail in all. Peace… Peace… Peace. )

Once, a sannyasin was invited by a widower to pray for the peace of his wife’s soul. The sannyasin began to pray: “Let everyone be happy; let there be no sorrow; let auspiciousness fill the entire universe; let everyone reach perfection, etc.” The husband who was listening to the prayer became upset by this. He said to the sannyasin: “Swami, I thought you were going to pray for my wife’s soul, but I haven’t heard you utter her name even once.” The swami replied: “I am sorry, but I cannot pray like that. My faith and my Guru have taught me to pray for everyone, for the entire universe. In truth, only by praying for the good of the whole world will the individual be benefited. If you water the branches of a tree, the water is wasted. It is only when the roots are watered that the nourishment reaches the branches and leaves of the tree. Only if I pray for everyone, will your wife receive her blessing. Only then will her soul find peace. I cannot pray in any other way.” The swami was so convinced about this, that the husband had no choice but to yield to his wishes. The husband said, “All right, you can pray as you like. But can’t you at least exclude my neighbor from your prayers.” This is the prevalent attitude among the people of today. We have lost our ability and willingness to share.

When the cold war between Russia and America ended, there was a great sigh of relief throughout the world. With the commitment to end hostilities, the threat of a nuclear war, which could potentially destroy the world, was removed.

Now for the first time, families who were separated by the artificial boundaries of different political ideologies have been reunited in the spirit of love which had always bound them. Of course, there are pockets of people involved in the manufacturing of weapons of destruction, people who are only concerned about their selfish ends.

The sole purpose of nature is to support creation. We should have faith and trust in this. We ought to search for alternative peaceful ways to earn our livelihood, rather than destroying one another for the sake of self-aggrandizement.

Merely going to temples, churches or mosques and performing worship does not constitute the whole of religion or devotion. We should be able to behold God, the Self, within ourselves and within all beings.

This is the dawn of the 21st Century. Here and now, let all the great sannyasins, spiritual leaders and the Hindu host committee, who worked so hard for the success of the religious Parliament, take the following oath, at least mentally:

“Regardless of time and place, we will work hard for the peace and harmony of the entire world, and to alleviate the suffering of humanity. In this way, let the great sankalpa of Sanatana Dharma become a living truth. And let us be determined to transmit this great Truth, and the essential principles of life, to all young men and women. They are the flower buds of the future generation, about to open and become the fragrance of the world.”


Amma Spoke, Then… Gave Darshan! at Parliament of World’s Religions

Parliament of World’s Religions in 1993 , Chicago

Amma’s speech was like the flow of the Ganges. From the highest peak of transcendent spiritual bliss, Amma spoke, letting others drink, bathe and swim in Her infinite consciousness, which overflowed through Her beautiful and compelling words.


1993 amma-parliament of world religion

As Amma spoke, a deep peace seemed to permeate the atmosphere. Her speech was intellectually convincing, and at the same time it had a tremendous healing power, a great purifying effect. For one hour people sat enthralled, and when the speech came to an end, there was an outpouring of emotion which saw journalists in tears and complete strangers leaving their seats to come up to Mother. Hearts overflowed as people spontaneously rushed towards Amma to have Her darshan. It was a great and unforgettable occasion. In Her own inimitable way, Mother, having dispensed with the formalities of talking, was now giving darshan.



People made their way forward, drawn like magnets towards Mother, yearning to share in this divine spirit which had so utterly touched them and inspired them. Mother greeted as many people as She could, tenderly embracing them one after the other.

John Ratz, a Public Relations Counselor, while reflecting on the impact of the speeches delivered during the Parliament sessions, made this insightful observation “Every other speaker had treated the subject of religion and spirituality as if they were two disparate entities. However, Amma’s powerful words struck deep into the center of religion and spirituality, effacing the contradictions, bridging the gap and effecting a harmonious blend of both, thus unfolding their very essence. It was one of the most significant and powerful speeches.”

Whereas the first Parliament resulted in the acceptance of Jews and Catholics into the mainstream and a stirring introduction to the religions of the East, the second Parliament marked the growing recognition and influence of these other traditions and faiths. The Parliament provided a lucid example of an emerging religious pluralism


Amma addresses the Parliament of World’s Religions in 1993

May Your Hearts Blossom
Chicago, 3rd September 1993

Salutations to all of you who have come here today, you who are the embodiments of Supreme Love. Words cannot express the gratitude that Amma feels towards the sincere organizers who have taken the time and energy to bring this highly beneficial conference into being. Though living in the midst of today’s highly materialistic world, they have dedicated themselves to the organization of this conference which is based on the uplifting and sustaining values of religion. Through their hard work and prodigious efforts, they have set an example of selfless service by which the world can potentially profit. Before such big-heartedness Amma has nothing else to say, and humbly bows down.


1993 amma-parliament of world religion

It is not Amma’s way to deliver speeches. Still, Amma will say a few words about things that She has experienced in Her own life. Amma asks your forgiveness, if there should happen to be any mistakes in what She says.

Religion is the faith which eventually culminates in the knowledge and experience that we ourselves are the all-powerful God. To lead man to the Realization of his own true state of Godhood, to transform man into God, that is the goal and purpose of Sanatana Dharma, India’s “Eternal Religion”, popularly known as Hinduism. At present, the mental lake is turbulent with the waves of thought. When these waves subside and die, that motionless substratum which shines forth is the essence of religion, the principle subject and goal of the philosophy of Advaita (non-duality). This motionless, unchanging principle is the very foundation of Sanatana Dharma. The great scriptural dictum, “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman, Absolute Consciousness), indicates the subjective experience of the non-dual Self.

“I am a Hindu”, “I am a Christian”, ” I am a Muslim”, “I am an engineer”, “I am a doctor”: this is how everyone speaks. That nameless, formless, all-pervasive principle common in all as the “I” is the Atman (the Self), the Brahman (the Absolute), or Ishwara (God). To deny the existence of God is to deny one’s own existence. It is like saying with one’s own tongue, “I have no tongue”. God is present in each one of us, in all beings, in everything. God is like space. Space is everywhere. The entire creation exists in space. Suppose we build a house. Space exists before the house is built. And after its completion, the house exists in that same space. Even after the house is demolished, the same space remains. God too is like this. He exists, unchanging, in the past, present and future.

You may wonder, “If God is all-pervasive, then why am I not seeing Him?” Electricity cannot be seen, but put your finger in a live socket and you will experience it. In a like manner, God must be experienced to be known. Stand behind a tree and try to look at the sun. You don’t see the sun, do you? You may say that the tree has covered the sun, but it is not so. The sun cannot be covered. Your eyesight is limited, that is why you do not see the sun. Similarly, even though God is everywhere, our limited vision prevents us from seeing Him. The attitude of “I” and “mine” has blocked our vision and bound our minds.

Sanatana Dharma does not ask us to believe in a God seated on a golden throne, high above the clouds. God is not a limited being. God is all-pervasive, omnipotent and omniscient. God is the Principle of Life and the Light of Consciousness within us. God, who is pure Bliss, is verily our own Self.

Mind alone is the cause of man’s bondage and freedom. Religion is that principle which releases the mind from diverse thoughts and emotions, and from its dependence on external objects. It helps the mind to reach the state of eternal freedom or independence. It is the attitude of “I” and “mine” that makes us dependent. Practicing the principles of true religion is the path that will lead to the elimination of the ego.

We cannot expect to find happiness and perfection in the world. Yet people struggle all the time to find them in the world. Over the years, many women have been saying to Amma, “O Amma, I am forty and still I remain unmarried. I couldn’t find a suitable man.” The men also complain and say, “Amma, I have been looking for the bride of my dreams. But I haven’t been able to find her.” They lose hope and become dejected. It reminds Amma of a story.

Once, two friends met in a restaurant. One told the other that his marriage had been arranged, and he invited his friend to attend the wedding. He also inquired as to whether his friend had considered marriage. “Yes”, replied the friend, “I was quite eager to get married and set out to find the perfect wife. I met a woman in Spain. She was beautiful, intelligent and spiritual, but she had no worldly knowledge, so I couldn’t consider marrying her. In Korea I met another woman. She was beautiful, intelligent and had both worldly and spiritual knowledge, but I couldn’t communicate with her. So again, I continued my search. Finally, I met her in Afghanistan-the woman of my dreams. She was perfect in all respects. I could even communicate with her.” Interrupting, the first fellow inquired, “Did you marry her?” “No”, replied his friend. “Why not?” asked the first fellow. “Because she, herself, was looking for the perfect husband.”

What is it that human beings crave? They crave peace and happiness, don’t they? People run here and there, seeking peace of mind. But peace and tranquillity have disappeared from the face of the earth. We are very enthusiastic in embracing the outside world and all its physical comforts. Meanwhile, the internal realm has become a living hell. There are more than enough comforts in the modern world. There is no scarcity of air-conditioned cars or air-conditioned rooms. These comforts are available everywhere on earth. But what a pity it is that the people who live in them still have no peace of mind. Many of them cannot sleep without the aid of pills. The restlessness and tensions of the mind have become so uncontrollable, so unbearable, that a number of people commit suicide even while living in the so-called lap of luxury, in these air-conditioned rooms. Those who show such a great interest in air-conditioning their cars and houses, should make some effort to air-condition their own minds. This is what is needed in order to attain real happiness.

Contentment and happiness depend solely on the mind, not on external objects or circumstances. Happiness really depends on self-control. Both heaven and hell are created by the mind. Even the highest heaven turns into hell if the mind is agitated; whereas, even the lowest hell will become a blissful abode for a man endowed with a peaceful and relaxed mind. Religion is the science which teaches us how to live a happy and blissful life while still living in this diverse world.

Faith and Alertness Are Needed in Today’s World

These days, our faith is like an artificial limb. It has no vitality. We have no heartfelt connection with faith, for it has not been ingrained properly into our lives.

This is a scientific age. Intellect and reason have reached great heights. But surprisingly, the most intellectually developed people still have great faith and reliance only in cars, TVs, houses and computers-all of which could stop functioning and perish at any moment. We are deeply attached to these things and to the small comforts they offer. If they are damaged or destroyed, we hastily engage ourselves in repairing them. Yet we do not realize that it is actually we who are most urgently in need of repair. For we have lost faith in ourselves. We have lost faith in the heart and its tender feelings. A man who shows great patience in repairing his computer and TV, shows no patience in retuning the notes that are off-key in his own life.

Darkness is slowly enveloping the world. It is a pitiful scene we see all around. Having dissipated all their energy and vitality by running after objects of pleasure, people are collapsing. Man has gone beyond the reasonable limits set by nature. This does not mean that one should not enjoy the pleasures of the world. That is all right. But understand this great truth, that the enjoyment and happiness you get from sensual pleasures and worldly objects are only a minute reflection of the infinite bliss which comes from within your own Self. Know that your true nature is bliss. Just as today’s newspaper will become tomorrow’s waste paper, that which gives happiness today can easily become the source of tomorrow’s despair. To understand this truth while living in the world is what religion teaches us.

The mind can be compared to a pendulum. Like the incessant movement of a clock’s pendulum, the pendulum of the mind swings intermittently from happiness to sorrow and back again. When the pendulum of the clock moves to one extreme, it is only gaining enough momentum to swing back to the other end. Likewise, when the pendulum of the mind moves towards happiness, it is only gaining the momentum to reach the other pole of sorrow. Real peace and happiness can be experienced only when the pendulum of the mind stops swinging altogether. From that stillness ensues real peace and bliss. This state of perfect stillness is verily the essence of life. Religion asks us to be constantly alert. A bird perched on a small twig is aware that at any moment, with the slightest breeze, the twig beneath it might break. So the bird is ever on the alert, ready to fly. Likewise, all of us are leaning on the objects of the world which can collapse at any moment. People ask, “Are you then telling us to abandon this world, to go to a secluded place and sit idle with our eyes closed?” No, that is not so. Be not lazy and lethargic. Perform your duties in the world. Engage yourselves in work. You can work to acquire wealth and to enjoy life, but try to remember that all this acquiring, possessing and preserving is like keeping a comb for a bald head. Irrespective of time and place, death will defeat us, snatching away all that we have. At the time of death, we will have to leave everything. Nothing or no one will come to our aid. Therefore, religion advises us: “Understand that the purpose of this precious life is not only to nourish your body, but to evolve to the state of Perfection.” If a person lives a life knowing and understanding the ephemeral nature of the world, he or she can still lovingly embrace life, without breaking down or losing all courage whenever difficulties arise. A person who does not know how to swim, is at the mercy of a turbulent ocean. Its waves can easily overpower him and pull him down into the depths. However, to play in the ocean is a delightful game for a person who knows how to swim. He cannot easily be tossed about by the waves.

In a similar manner, the diverse and contradictory nature of life is a delightful play for one who is aware of life’s ever-changing nature. He can smilingly welcome both the negative and positive experiences of life with equal vision. But for those who do not have this awareness, life becomes an unbearable burden, filled with sorrow. True religious principles give us the strength and the courage to confront the difficult situations of life with a calm and balanced mind. Religion paves the way towards embracing this life with even greater joy, zest and confidence. For one who has truly imbibed the principles of religion, life is like the joyful play of an innocent child.

Today’s world tries to evaluate religious principles by observing the actions of certain individuals, performed in the name of religion. They then judge the whole of religion based on the misdeeds of a few. This is like discarding the baby with the bath water. It is like condemning all medicines and doctors for the wrong prescription given by a single doctor. Individuals are sometimes good and sometimes bad. They have weaknesses and may lack discrimination. It is wrong to impose the faults and weaknesses that you see in them on the principles of religion.

It is the practice of religious principles that fills human life with vitality and energy. Without religion and faith, life on earth would be empty. Like a corpse adorned with an exquisite costume, the beauty and pleasures of life would be only superficial. Without religion, our minds become benumbed and barren. It is only because people have imbibed at least a little bit of religion and spirituality that there is still some beauty, vitality and harmony in our lives.

The Declining State of Religion Today

Religion contains the essential principles of life by which egotism and narrow-mindedness are eliminated. But sometimes, due to lack of proper understanding, the same religion becomes a breeding ground for these negative qualities. As a result of egotism, narrow-mindedness and competition, quarrels arise. They arise because people have failed to imbibe the essence of religion.

Today, there are thousands who are ready to die for their religion, but none who are willing to live by its principles. People do not realize that religion is something to be lived. They forget that it has to be applied and practiced in our day to day lives. “My religion is the best! My religion is the greatest!” says one. “No, it is my religion that’s the best and the greatest!” says another. Thus, the clamor continues. Because of this narrow vision and all the envy that exists, the true essence and message of religion is lost to the people.

Thinking of the present day quarrels which exist among religions, Amma is reminded of a story. Once, there were two patients staying in separate wards of the same hospital, and each one of them was being cared for by relatives. The patients were very ill and both were desperately crying out in pain. A relative of each went to obtain some urgently needed medication. Upon returning to the hospital, they met in a narrow doorway which could accommodate only one person at a time. Each person wanted to go through before the other, and neither of them would give way. Both insisted on being first, and a big quarrel ensued. While the patients were screaming in unbearable pain, their relatives continued to fight, each one still clutching the medicine in his hand. We often find the followers of different religions enacting the roles of these two relatives. Blinded by the external trappings of their faith, they fail to grasp its true essence and spirit. Instead of moving towards God, in the name of religion they actually drag themselves down.

This is the pitiful state of religion in the modern age. Owing to this unyielding and arrogantly competitive attitude, people have neither patience nor forbearance, and have lost their capacity to love.

All the members of a family will probably not be of the same nature or mental caliber. There may be one person who acts and speaks without discrimination or who gets extremely angry, thereby upsetting the entire household. But in the same family there may be one person whose nature is quiet and calm. He might be a person who is endowed with humility, sharp discrimination and great clarity of vision. Now the question is, who or what maintains the integrity and harmony of that family? Without much deliberation, one can easily reply that it is the latter’s qualities of humility, discrimination and goodness that hold the family and its members together. One person’s anger and lack of discrimination is balanced by another person’s calmness, humility and prudence. Had the characteristics of the angry, indiscriminate family member prevailed, the family would have disintegrated long ago. Likewise, even though today’s world is confronting a great threat, it is the patience, love, compassion, self-sacrifice and humility of the Mahatmas (Great Souls) which sustain and preserve the harmony and integrity of the world. The darkness of our age can be completely eliminated if, in each family, there is at least one member who is dedicated and willing to adhere to the essential principles of true religion. When we truly imbibe the spirit of religion, the sorrow and suffering of others becomes our own. Compassion arises and we are able to sympathize with the pain and suffering of others. Only through the experience of oneness with the Self can we feel real compassion and concern.

Amma will tell a story. A person who lived in an apartment was suffering from cancer. Because of his affliction, he was crying and was in intense pain. He was so poor that he did not have enough money to buy a painkiller for a little relief from the agonizing pain. At the same time, in the adjacent apartment, another person was engaged in wanton enjoyment, seeking pleasure in alcohol, drugs, and through his association with women. If he had used the money he was wasting on destroying himself to help the poor man next door, the suffering of the sick man would have been mitigated. Furthermore, his own self-destructive tendencies and selfishness would have ended. To show compassion towards the poor and suffering people, that is our duty to God. Only such love, compassion and consideration would lead to harmony in the world.

If we accidentally happen to poke our eye with our own finger, do we punish the finger? No. We simply try to soothe the pain. Why do we not punish the finger? Because both are part of us, both are ours. We see ourselves in both the eye and the finger. In the same way, we should be able to see ourselves, our own Self, in all beings. If we can do this, we can easily forgive the mistakes of others. To be able to love and forgive others, seeing ourselves in them, seeing their faults as our own faults, that is the true spirit of religion.

Gold is in itself beautiful, lustrous and precious. But if it also had fragrance, how much more would be its value and charm! Meditation and religious or spiritual practices are indeed valuable. But if along with meditation and worship, one also has compassion for one’s fellow men, it is like gold with a fragrance, something incredibly special and unique.

Religion is the secret of life. It teaches us to love, to serve, to forgive, to endure, and to interact with our brothers and sisters with empathy and compassion. Advaita (non-duality) is a purely subjective experience. But in daily life it may be expressed as love and compassion. This is the great lesson taught by the great saints and sages of India, the exponents of Sanatana Dharma.

The Role of Love and Compassion in Religion

True religion is a language forgotten by modern man. We have forgotten the love, compassion and mutual understanding taught by religion. The basic cause underlying all the problems that exist in the present day world, is the lack of love and compassion. All the chaos and confusion that prevail in an individual’s life, at the national level and in the world as a whole, exist only because we have failed to practice true religious principles in our day to day lives. Religion should become part and parcel of life. Religion needs to be revived, it needs new life and vitality. Then only will love and compassion dawn within us. Love and compassion, alone, will wipe out the darkness, bringing light and purity to the world.

When love becomes Divine Love, the heart is filled with compassion. Love is an inner feeling and compassion is its expression. Compassion is expressing your heartfelt concern for someone, for a suffering human being.

There is love and Love. You love your family, but you do not love your neighbor. You love your son or daughter, but you do not love all children. You love your father and mother, but you do not love everyone the way you love your father and mother. You love your religion, but you do not love all religions. You may even dislike those of other faiths. Likewise, you have love for your country, but you do not love all countries, and may feel animosity towards different people. Hence, this is not true Love; it is only limited love. The transformation of this limited love into Divine Love is the goal of spirituality. In the fullness of Love blossoms the beautiful, fragrant flower of compassion. When the obstructions of ego, fear and the feeling of otherness disappear, you cannot help but Love. You do not expect any return for your love. You don’t care about receiving anything; you just flow. Whoever comes into the river of Love will be bathed in it, whether the person is healthy or diseased, a man or a woman, wealthy or poor. Anyone can take any number of dips in the river of Love. Whether someone bathes in it or not, the river of Love does not care. If somebody criticizes or abuses the river of Love, it takes no notice. It simply flows. When that Love overflows and is expressed through every word and deed, we call it compassion. That is the goal of religion. A person who is full of Love and compassion has realized the true principles of religion.

A compassionate person does not see the faults of others. He does not see the weaknesses of people. He makes no distinction between people who are good and people who are bad. When someone is full of Love and compassion, he cannot draw a line between two countries, two faiths or two religions. He has no ego. Thus, there is no fear, lust or passion. He simply forgives and forgets. Compassion is like a passage. Everything passes through it. Nothing can stay there, because where there is true Love and compassion there is no attachment. Compassion is Love expressed in all its fullness.

To see and feel life in everything, that is Love. When Love fills the heart, one can see life pulsating in and through the entire creation. “Life is Love”-this is the lesson taught by religion. Life is here. Life is there. Life is everywhere. There is nothing but life. So too, Love is everywhere. Wherever there is life, there is Love, and vice versa. Life and Love are not two, they are one. But ignorance about their oneness will prevail until Realization comes. Until Realization comes, the difference between intellect and heart will continue to exist. Intellect alone is not sufficient. In order to attain Perfection, in order to reach the fullness of life, one needs to have a heart filled with Love and compassion. To know this is the sole aim of religion and of religious practices.

This is the age of intellect and reason, the age of science. We have forgotten the feelings of the heart. A common expression the world over is, “I have fallen in love.” Yes, we have fallen down into a love rooted in selfishness and materialism. We are unable to arise and awaken in love. If fall we must, let it be from the head to the heart. Rising up in Love, that is religion.

Restoring the Balance of Nature

True religion tells us that all of creation is a manifestation of God. If this is so, we must have love and concern for nature as well as for our fellow men. The scriptures say, “Isavasyamidam Sarvam”: that everything is permeated with God-consciousness. The earth, trees, plants and animals are all manifestations of God. We should love them as we love our own Self. Actually, we should love them even more than ourselves, because only with nature’s support can human beings exist. It is said that we should plant two trees for every one we cut down. However, when a large tree is replaced by two small seedlings, the balance of nature is not maintained. If a disinfectant is added to water in a smaller proportion than required, its effect will be minimized. If an ayurvedic medicine which is to be prepared with ten different ingredients is prepared with only eight, the medicine will not have the desired effect. Animals, plants, and trees all contribute to the harmony of nature. It is man’s duty to protect and preserve them, for they are helpless to defend themselves. If we continue to destroy them, it will do the world great harm.

Mother remembers that in Her childhood cow dung would be placed directly upon the site of a vaccination in order to prevent infection. But today, cow dung will make a wound septic. Due to the toxins with which man has polluted the environment, our immune systems have become weakened, and the cow dung has also become harmful. In times past, the life span of an ordinary person was over one hundred years, whereas nowadays, it is considerably less and still decreasing. There are rare cases today where people live for more than one hundred years, but this is usually accompanied by poor health and great suffering. Untreatable diseases have become prevalent due to man’s transgression of the laws of nature.

How much pollution has been caused by the smoke from factories? Mother is not suggesting that we close the factories; She is only saying that part of the profits should be used for devising methods to reduce pollution and to revive and protect the environment. In olden days, rain and sunshine came at the right time and supported the cycle of growth and harvest. There was no need for irrigation because everything was taken care of by nature. Nowadays, we have strayed from the path of dharma (right action). We are not at all concerned about nature, and therefore, nature is reacting. The same cool breeze which once caressed mankind has now turned into a tornado.

We may doubt whether we have the power to restore the lost balance in nature. We may ask, “Are we human beings not too limited?” No, we are not! We have infinite power within us, but we are fast asleep and unaware of our strength. This power rises up when we awaken within. Religion is life’s greatest secret which enables us to awaken this unlimited, but dormant inner power.

The Sanatana Dharma proclaims, “O man, you are not a tiny candle, you need not depend on someone else for your light. You are the self-luminous sun.” As long as you think you are the body, you are like a small battery whose power is easily drained. But when you know yourself to be the ‘Atman’, you are like a giant battery connected to the cosmic power supply, which provides you with continuous and inexhaustible strength. When connected to God, the Self, the Source of all power, your energy never diminishes. You are able to tap into your infinite potential. Be aware of your own immense power and strength. You are not a meek little lamb, you are a majestic, powerful lion. You are the cosmic energy, the all-powerful God.

Children Should Be Taught Through Example

Amma has heard that many young children in the West carry guns when they go to school. She has been told that they may even shoot someone without any reason at all. Have you ever thought about why it is that young children are tempted to act in such cruel ways? It is because they have never been taught proper conduct. They have never been exposed to true love and compassion. Many boys and girls have come to Amma and said: “Our mother has not given us any love. Our parents have not taught us to behave properly. We have seen our mom and dad fighting with each other, right in front of us. As we witness such quarrels and selfishness, we begin to feel hatred towards the whole world. We become disobedient and selfish.” Their parents, from whom they are supposed to learn the first lessons of love and patience, fail to set a proper example. It is Amma’s request that parents should shower love and affection on their children in the early years. The infants should not be left uncared for in their cradles. Their mother’s should hold them close and breast-feed them with love and tenderness. The children should be taught religious and moral principles during their formative years. Parents should not fight or express anger and hatred in front of their children. If they do, how is the child to learn patience and love?

If you walk through a field of soft, green grass, it will automatically make a path. Whereas, it would take countless trips up and down a stony hillside, in order to wear away a trail. In the same way, a child’s character can easily be moulded. Children need loving care, but at the same time we should not forget to discipline them. Faith in God should be instilled in them, as well as love for the entire creation. This is possible only through proper religious education.

Children, our foremost duty and obligation in this world is to help our fellow human beings. God doesn’t need anything from us. He is ever full. To think that God needs anything from us is like holding a lighted candle before the sun in order to light its way. God is the one who protects us; He is not the one who needs to be protected by us. A river has no need for water from a stagnant pond. Rather it is the stagnant pond that needs the river’s water, in order to become clean and pure. Today, our minds have become filled with impurities, like the stagnant pond. We need the Grace of God to purify and uplift us, so that we can selflessly love and serve the world.

To show compassion towards suffering humanity is our obligation to God. Our spiritual quest should begin with selfless service to the world. People will be disappointed if they sit in meditation, expecting a third eye to open after closing the other two. This is not going to happen. We cannot close our eyes to the world in the name of spirituality and expect to evolve. To behold unity while viewing the world through open eyes is Spiritual Realization. When a flower has not yet blossomed, when it is still a bud, its beauty and fragrance are not yet manifest. No one is able to appreciate or enjoy them. But when the flower blossoms, when it unfolds in bewitching color and form, when its fragrance wafts through the air, it arouses joy and happiness all around. In the same way, the flowers of our hearts have not yet blossomed. They are still tiny buds. However, if nurtured by faith in God, by love and compassion, and by adherence to the principles of religion, the buds of our hearts are bound to unfold. Revealing their beauty and spreading their fragrance, they become blessings to the world. Religion is not limited to the words of the scriptures. It is a way of life. Its beauty and charm are expressed in the love and compassion of those who live in accordance with its precepts. Whatever Amma has said until now, is like the script on the label of a medicine bottle. Simply reading the label will not effect a cure. The medicine has to be taken. You cannot taste the sweetness of honey by licking a piece of paper on which the word ‘honey’ has been written. Likewise, the principles described in the religious texts must be contemplated, meditated upon, and finally realized. Let us all take refuge at the feet of the Supreme Lord and pray that we may attain that state of Perfection.


The First and Second Parliaments of the World’s Religions

Parliaments of the World’s Religions in 1893 and 1993

The first Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in Chicago in 1893. It marked the first concerted effort to bring all the different religions to a common platform where leaders and representatives of all faiths were able to communicate and share their views. At that first conference they explored the possibilities for religious tolerance and harmony, and ways in which they could co-operate in order to solve the burning issues that beset humanity.

1893 world parliament of world religions

The 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions was attended by 400 men and women, representing 41 religious traditions. It was there that Catholicism and Judaism were recognized as major American religions, and that Hinduism and Buddhism were first introduced to the West. And, it was on this occasion that Swami Vivekananda won wide recognition for India’s ancient culture, philosophy and faith through his powerful words.


The centenary of the first Parliament of the World’s Religions was held, also in Chicago, from August 28 to September 4, 1993. Over 6500 delegates, representing approximately 125 of the world’s religions participated in the grand Parliament; among them were approximately 600 world spiritual leaders.

Whereas the first Parliament resulted in the acceptance of Jews and Catholics into the mainstream and a stirring introduction to the religions of the East, the second Parliament marked the growing recognition and influence of these other traditions and faiths. The Parliament provided a lucid example of an emerging religious pluralism.

The Assembly of Presidents

A momentous achievement of this second Parliament was the formation of a core group of the world’s most influential religious leaders, an assembly of 25 presidents representing all major faiths. During the days of the Parliament, this group met privately to discuss the problems facing the world, to propose solutions, and to set down a Global Ethic.

It was envisioned that this core group should work as a sort of spiritual United Nations: whenever a conflict arises anywhere in the world owing to religious intolerance, the group will use their collective influence and spiritual weight in order to find a peaceful solution. They will try to demonstrate to the world that religion can and should be a source of harmony rather than strife.

Amma was chosen as one of three presidents to represent the Hindu faith, the other two presidents being Swami Chidananda Saraswati (President of the Divine Life Society) and Sivaya Subramuniya Swami (Spiritual leader of the Saiva Siddhanta Church and publisher of Hinduism Today).

This distinguished assembly of presidents, who represent our many different paths, would strive not only to propagate interfaith dialogue, but also to lead humanity towards a new era of harmony and peace.

The spontaneity of a child

10 April 2000, Sydney

During the Devi puja in Sydney, Amma led everyone in chanting the 108 names of the Divine Mother. The devotees chanted with so much energy and concentration that by the time the last few mantras were being chanted, the atmosphere in the hall felt charged with a Divine presence.

Silence followed the chanting. You could have heard a pin drop-until the voice of a small child could be heard exclaiming enthusiastically:

“That was fun! That was really fun!”