Ram’s temple darshan

28 July 2000, Amritapuri

It seemed a day like any other here in Amritapuri i.e. a day full with Amma: Mother sat for meditation for a while, threw pebbles at a few sleepy meditators, then gave satsang for an hour or so. Then Amma began singing a bhajan: “He Giridhara Gopala!” She sang, and “Rrrrraaarrrgh!” came the response. Everyone laughed: Ram, the baby elephant, wanted to sing too! Mother continued singing, and now and then Ram could be heard calling out from his abode on the east side of the ashram. Laughing, Mother called out, “Ram! Va, va, va!” (“Ram! Come, come, come!”) Bhajans finished, Mother called the devotees who had been waiting on the front steps of the temple, and gave them darshan; but not until he had called out once again, “Ram! Odi va!” (“Ram! Come running!”) Of course, how was Ram to come running when he was outside and She was in the temple?

Amma indicated that Ram should come for darshan. Yes. Right into the temple! The brahmachari in charge of him brought him round to the front steps, and he mounted them obediently – practically running! Right into the temple he came, and raced the full length of it to a corner where he calmed down while Mother continued giving darshan. At last, the final person was hugged and given prasad, and Mother called for Ram – a good thing, too, as he had become interested in the bhajan microphone stands that were stored against the wall in his corner! But now he had a better diversion: Mother Herself was calling him, and stretching out Her Hand, with a banana for him.

He made straight for Her where She sat on the darshan bench, and eagerly took the banana …and another …and a third. Mother kept calling his name, and reaching out to stroke his long and inquisitive trunk. He was intrigued by the fan beside Mother, and tried to explore it with his trunk, to the consternation of people nearby! Mother called again, “Ram!” and stroked him some more, and murmured to him perhaps much the same things as She does to us. He responded like any loving elephant son, caressing Her with his trunk. He even kissed Her, it seemed: he “sniffed” Her mouth and nose with his trunk. All in all, it was a long and lovely darshan for Ram.

Maybe he is just like the rest of us: he can never get enough. For in the evening, after bhajans, he was again with Mother, this time at the foot of Her stairs. As arati was taking place in the temple, Ram and Mother had another sweet encounter – more bananas, more caresses both ways, and more affection from Mother to Her elephant son.


Kali puja on Karthika

26 July 2000, Amritapuri

On Wednesday 26 July, Amma’s Birthstar (Karthika) was celebrated with a Kali puja in the Kalari. The entire ashram had been decorated with garlands and lamps, and the Kalari itself was graced with traditional motifs (mandalas) and more lamps and garlands. The highlight of the ritual occurred during the singing of the rousing bhajan, “Ayigiri Nandini Nandita Medhini”.


Suddenly Amma was in the Kalari, among her children (normally Amma does not attend these pujas). She stood gazing at the lamp, the statue of Ganesha, the flowers and oil lamps, the brahmacharis who were singing and then turned and smiled tenderly at the devotees. As She returned to Her room, She seemed to be dancing to the continuing chanting, and clapping Her hands in time with its captivating beat.

Legends of Ramanathapuram

Sthala Puranas of Bharat

Ramanathapuram—or Ramnad—is located approximately 50 kilometres from the island immortalized as “Rameswaram” after Sri Rama’s army built a bridge from it to Sri Lanka in order to rescue Sita from the demon king Ravana1 . But Ramnad is not only significant for its proximity to Rameswaram. It has a rich spiritual history of its own.

Sri Rama Setu: NASA’s satellite picture of the bridge built by Sri Rama connecting India and Sri Lanka.

After the maha-samadhi of his guru, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda wandered for several years throughout the length and breadth of India. Towards the end of this period of parikrama, the spiritual visionary met two kings who encouraged him to act upon his idea of going to America in order to propagate Vedanta—the Maharaja of Mysore, and Bhaskara Setupati, the ruler of Ramnad.

Both kings offered to bear all of Vivekananda’s travel expenses. Swamiji left for America in 1893, where he won over countless hearts and minds through his discourses at the Conference of World Religions in Chicago. Swamiji returned to India in 1897. When Vivekananda came through Ramnad on his journey homeward, the horses carrying his carriage were unhitched and Bhaskara Setupati and the people of Ramnad drew Swamiji through the streets themselves—such was their respect and devotion for the dynamic samnyasin.

It was also in Ramnad that yogi and saint Sri Tayumana Swamigal performed austerities and ultimately took maha-samadhi2 in 1783. The sight of his samadhi is maintained to this day in the form of a temple maintained by Ramakrishna Math Tapovan.3

Tayumana Swamigal hailed from Vedaranyam, Tamil Nadu. His parents were devotees of Lord Shiva in the form of Tayumanavar {news} in Tiruchirapally4 , and they named him after that Lord. He was born in 1707. Tayumana was a householder who held the position of Minister of Finance in the then small kingdom of Tiruchirapally. However, he was spiritually inclined, and after the early death of his wife, he quickly became a disciple of Mauna Guru, a samnyasin who taught him both spiritual disciplines as well as passed on to him the spiritual wisdom of the advaita tradition in the Tirumular line. At some point, Taymana Swamigal relocated to Ramnad to engage in full-time spiritual discipline and contemplation.

Tayumana Swamigal enriched the canon of spiritual literature with 1,400 poetic verses that he began composing as a spiritual seeker and continued to do so as a liberated soul. One of the most famous of these is called the Paraparam. His verses were oft quote by Ramana Maharshi. Hailed as veritable spiritual guidebook, Tayumana Swami’s verses are simple, beautiful and packed with meaning. Many are in fact sutras5 meant for deep contemplation. Tayumana rarely mentions form in his devotional and instructional verses, but instead indicates the ultimate reality in terms of bliss and consciousness absolute. Two of his main themes were the absolute necessity of transcending the mind and of renunciation—be it internal or external—for realization to take place. All 1,400 of the verses remain available today in Tamil, with some having been translated into English by Swami Chidbhavananda of Ramakrishna Math Tapovan.

Although it is not a part of recorded history, according to the people of Ramnad, Sri Tayumana Swami’s maha-samadhi has an interesting tale behind it. The legend goes that the saint was absorbed in samadhi—completely unaware of inside and out, day and night. Seeing Tayumana Swamigal frozen in that supreme reality, some of his attendants believed that he had died. With sorrow it in their hearts, they erected a funeral pyre and began his cremation. However, as the flames reduced his body to ash, the poet saint began to sing, issuing forth final spiritual instructions to his devotees through yet more verses

Here are a few verses from the 1,400.

The lure of the charming phenomenon is so enticing that people madly pursue it day and night. A few fortunate ones, after sufficient experience, come to know that pursuing it amounts to pursuing the will-o’-the-wisp. A few fortunate ones come to know the futility of this mad chase. Still, they repeatedly fall into its snare. Fewer still pray to the Lord to save them from the fall. Fortunate are the still few who strongly seek the grace of the Lord alone for their redemption.


The uncontrolled mind is capable of wrecking the entire spiritual career.
Still I hold fast to the ideal of vanquishing this demon.


O rare gold, O gem, O my love, intelligence residing in love, the flood of bliss that comes from my intellect; addressing you thusly, I sang, I danced. With a panting heart I sought your communion. I got annoyed with you. I shouted; with horripilation, I folded my hands and shed copious tears like rainfall. Being dejected in mind, I prayed for your grace.


As the moon vanishes from sight once a month, this phenomenon is also a passing phase.
O mind, be not drawn to it. Be not attached to vain disputation.


Silence is not in keeping the mouth shut; it is in the negation of the mind.


Woe unto me who am carried away by the advice of anybody and everybody. A girl ignorant and indifferent to sense pleasure seeks it ardently after marriage. As that is so, I, who am tossed about by varying views, will get fixed in divine bliss if I get a slight taste of your grace.



1 Satellite photographs have revealed a succession of slabs that look strikingly like a bridge linking the islands of Rameswaram and Sri Lanka.

2 When one who has realized his true nature as being the Self drops his mortal coil it is referred to as maha-samadhi.

3 At the request of the Ramakrishna Tapovan Math who manage the ashram and Tayumanavar Samadhi in Ramnad, Sri Mata Amritananamdamayi Devi visited the samadhi sight on 7 February 2007.

4 Tayumanavar literally means “He who also became a mother.” It is in reference to a tale from Tiruchirapalli wherein Shiva took the form of a woman’s mother in order to deliver her child.

5 A sutra is a short scriptural statement that reveals a great wealth of spiritual knowledge when contemplated upon.

Realise who you are

Question: “It is said that in the spiritual path one needs to have a Guru? Who is Amma’s Guru?”

Amma: “As far as Amma is concerned, every object in the world is Her Guru. Guru and God are within every person. However as long as the ego is dominant, one fails to be aware of that. Ego is the veil that covers the Guru within us. Once you discover the Guru within you, you can perceive his presence in every object. When Amma realised the Guru within, even a speck of dust outside became Her Guru.

Amma looks upon even Her body as Her Guru, for when one ponders over the ephemeral nature of the body, one realises that the Self alone is the Eternal Truth. In Amma’s case everything around Her contributed to Her progress and lead Her to the Truth. Therefore Amma has only reverence towards everything in life.”

Question: “Does Amma mean that one doesn’t require a Guru in particular for realising the Self?”

Amma: “Amma doesn’t say that. A person who has an inborn gift for music may perform all the ragas without undergoing any special training. However if everyone else tries to do so, going by his example, what a mess it would be? Amma would not say that a Guru is not necessary. Amma only means that a precious few who are gifted with the right awareness have no need for an external Guru. Whenever one comes across anything, one should be able to observe it with awareness and discrimination. Amma will give you an example: A person was walking along a path, when a thorn pricked his foot. Thereafter he was careful with every step that he took, thus protecting himself from other thorns on the way, and also preventing his falling into a deep pit that lay a little farther along the path. Here the initial thorn prick became a Guru to the person, saving him from greater dangers.

One should not have attachment or aversion towards anything. If so, one can move forward learning lessons from everything. However how many amongst us have such awareness, dispassion and patience? A person who doesn’t have such qualities cannot attain God without the guidance of an external Guru. The real Guru is one who awakens the knowledge that is innate in us. Today our eyes are blinded by the cataract of ignorance. We are unable to perceive the Guru within us. We should perform surgery on our eyes and make them see the light of knowledge. It is the attitude of discipleship, the attitude of surrender, that aids us in achieving this end.

One should always have the attitude of a beginner, for only a beginner will have the patience to learn anything. The growth of the body doesn’t necessarily mean the growth of the mind. For our mind to become expansive and enfold the whole universe, we should have the attitude of a child. Only a child will be able to grow. Today we are egoistic. We are identified with our body, mind and intellect. Forgoing this, we should imbibe the attitude of a child. Then only can we attain the shraddha necessary to follow what is taught. Even if any amount of rain falls on the top of a mountain, nothing remains there; whereas a pond below will become filled with water. Likewise, if we have the attitude that “I am nothing,” then everything will come to us. Patience and shraddha are the most important wealth in our life. He who has gained this will be victorious everywhere. When we have patience and shraddha, the mirror within us through which we can see the blemishes in us will become clear. One becomes one’s own mirror. Then without any external help, one will be able to recognize one’s own faults and rectify them. Such a person will be able to behold the Guru in everything. He will not engage in unnecessary disputes and debates. Such a person does not resort to empty words; what he preaches can be found in his own life.”

Question: “Does it mean that there is no need to study the shastras (scriptures)?”

Amma: “It is necessary to study the scriptures. By studying Vedanta, the quickest path to realise God will become clear to us. We will be able to learn that God is closest to us, that God is within us. Today many people confine Vedanta to mere words. It is not reflected in their actions. Vedanta is not a burden to be carried on the head, but something to be brought into the heart, something to train the mind. Not realising this, many become egoistic. When a person properly understands Vedanta, naturally he becomes humble. Vedanta will help us to learn that our true nature is divine. However to bring it into our experience, we should be prepared to lead our lives according to Vedantic principles. If you write ‘sugar’ on a piece of paper and lick it, you will not be able to relish the sweetness. To experience sweetness, we have to taste the sugar. Mere reading or talking about Brahman will not give us the experience of Brahman. Our actions should reflect what we have learnt. It is only then that the knowledge becomes one’s own experience. Encouragement is necessary to inculcate enthusiasm. It is the lives of those who have imbibed Vedanta that become the inspiration for others to tread the same path. Some people sit idle saying, “I am Brahman.” If it had been enough to sit idle, there would have been no need for the body. Yet we are embodied, and we have to live those Vedantic principles in our lives. Once we understand this we will automatically become humble.

Amma has been talking about what She has learnt from Her life. Amma doesn’t insist that others should accept them as such. You can move according to your own experiences in life. Realise who you are. This is the only thing Amma wants to tell.”

US Yatra 2000

June-July 2000, US Cities

Seattle, Washington

Because of the ever-increasing number of people coming for the programmes both the public programmes and the retreat were held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, in the north of the city. On Saturday afternoon, after the meditation, Amma served dinner to every devotee and then sat at the table with the smaller children. While Amma had been serving the meals, the children had been drawing. Carrying these, they came to Mother, one at a time, and handed Her their efforts. Delighted with their gifts, Mother would accept each drawing, touch it to her Head, and keep it aside. Then She would feed the child a piece of papadam. These were wonderful moments of innocence and laughter.

Afterwards, Amma left the tables and entered the glass-sided elevator which was to take Her to Her room. As it began to rise to the top floor, Mother stepped right up to the glass wall, gazing down at all the upturned faces and outstretched arms of Her children. Everyone wanted to look at Her for one more moment. She raised Her arms as if to embrace and bless everyone, and a chorus of “Amma!” filled the air. Those few seconds were magically transformed by Amma into a memory which will light the hearts of Her children for a long time to come.

San Ramon, California

Amma is now at the San Ramon ashram where sunshine and rain clouds make the grounds look especially beautiful. Roses and magnolias are blooming and fruit trees are bearing bright yellow lemons or baby pears with shiny red cheeks. Last night, as the darshan was finishing Mother slowed down, as if She didn’t want to leave, talking, joking and calling up those who still hadn’t come for a hug. As She walked out of the hall, She stopped and talked to different people, caressing cheeks and handing out kisses (Hershey’s Kisses) and gazing lovingly into their eyes. Finally, She left in the car, waving, and offering Her hand out the window to everyone lining the route. As people slowly dispersed, everyone shared in the joy of knowing that they could see Amma again, in the morning.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Santa Fe ashram lies in the beautiful mountain region outside of the city. For the very first time Amma’s programme was held in the historic, south-western style, hotel ‘La Fonda’ in the heart of the old city.

For some time now this area had been under a dry spell but surprisingly, upon Amma’s arrival in the city, it began to rain, and each day of the programme there were light showers, just enough to lay the dust and bring new blossoms to bloom. Large crowds attended the programs and Devi Bhava finished so late that as Amma’s car drove away the sun was just rising. Saying goodbye to Amma in those last moments, and watching Her car disappear into the mountains, it was as if the Divine Mother had come to the region, caressed Her tired and dusty child, holding her in Her lap for a few moments and restoring her to new life.

Dallas, Texas

Vast crowds squeezed their way into the ballroom of the thoroughly modern Crowne Plaza Hotel and although some people had seen Amma before, many were coming for the first time.
There was a cultural programme during the darshan, and two small boys who treated the crowd to a devastatingly funny ‘dance-cum-fight’ stole the show. Dressed in expressive costumes depicting Shiva and Ganesha, they came dancing onto the stage, wielding spears and brandishing all kinds of fearsome weapons, attacking each other, and then dancing apart again. As the music reached a crescendo they became carried away with their play and exuberant games, and could not stop! On and on they went, even after the music had stopped-much to everyone’s amusement ….. including Amma’s. Finally, to the clapping of the audience, Amma took them on Her lap, laughing and holding them in Her ever-loving arms.

Chicago, Illinois

When Amma brought Her message of love to the heartland of America’s Midwest it seemed that the whole world was watching. For Chicago was the place where the press descended, calling Amma, ‘the hugging saint from India’. Newspapers and television stations sent their photographers, videographers and reporters, and the two major American networks, CBS and NBC, carried features about Amma, Her hugs and Her charitable activities.

News interviewers wanted to know why Mother hugs. She replied, “Do you ask why the sun shines, or why the river flows? It is Amma’s nature to love, and hugging is an expression of that love.” Then they asked Her, “People say you are a healer, or a saint, or a Mahatma, or an Incarnation. What do you say?” Amma only smiled and said that She makes no claims, She simply loves. Mother told the press, and through them the public, that She is trying to help bring out ‘the Mother’ in all people – the loving, forgiving, accepting aspect which all human beings, men and women alike, have deep within them.

Light the lamp of Love

Our lives should be filled with compassion. We should be ready to help the poor. No one is above fault. Whenever you see any faults in others, you should be ready to look within yourself. Then you will understand that all those faults can be found within yourself.

If someone loses his temper, you should think of it as his samskara (the totality of impressions and deep-rooted tendencies that we have acquired during countless lives). Then you will be able to forgive him — you will have the strength to forgive.

Our attitude of forgiveness will make our thoughts, words and actions good. Our good deeds will bring us God’s grace. Just as good deeds are followed by good results, bad actions are followed by bad results. Our bad actions are the cause of suffering. So we should always take care that and do only good; then God’s grace will flow towards us. And having received that grace, we will have no reason to complain that life is sorrowful.

Life is like the pendulum of a clock, constantly moving back and forth in opposite directions, from sorrow to happiness, and back again. To be able to accept both joy and sorrow, and to move forward, you need to understand spirituality. Then you will be able to overcome the swinging back and forth from happiness to sorrow; you will understand the nature of everything and move ahead on the path. If you know that firecrackers are about to go off, you won’t be startled when they suddenly explode. In the same way, if you understand the nature of the world, you won’t go to pieces over mere trifles.

In every evil person there is an inherent possibility of becoming good. There is no human being who doesn’t posses at least one divine quality. If we can forgive the mistakes of others, the divinity in them will be awakened. So we should try to cultivate this attitude. When we perceive the good in everything, we are filled with God’s grace. That grace is the source of all success in life.

If we all turn our backs on a person, thinking only of the bad that he has done, what future does he have? On the other hand, if we perceive the little good in him that is still there and allow him to cultivate that quality, he will be uplifted, and this may have such an effect on him that he may even become a great person. Sri Rama was willing to prostrate before Queen Kaikeyi, who was responsible for his banishment to the forest; Christ washed the feet of Judas who betrayed him; and the Prophet Muhammad readily looked after the atheist woman who once had poured refuse on him. Such are the example shown to us by the great souls. The easiest way to attain constant peace and happiness in our lives is to follow the path which they have shown us.

Divinity lies dormant also within those who are evil. By trying to awaken the divinity in them, we are, in fact, awakening the divinity in ourselves.

There was once a Guru who wanted to move to a village. He sent two of his disciples to that village to inquire about the nature of the people living there. One of the disciples visited the place and returned. He told his master that all the people in that village were the most wicked people imaginable. They were robbers, killers and prostitutes. Nowhere else could you find such evil souls, he said. When the second disciple returned, he said to the Guru, “The people in that village are very good. Never before have I met such good people. ” The Guru wondered how the two disciples could have such contrasting opinions about the same village. When he asked them to explain, the first disciple said, “In the first house I entered, I was greeted by a murderer; in the second house lived a robber, and in the third house I saw a prostitute. I felt so discouraged that I didn’t bother to go any further; I turned around and came back. How can I say anything good about a village where such bad people are residing?”

The Guru then asked the second disciple to describe what he had seen. The disciple said; “I went to the same houses as he did. At the first house I saw a murderer. When I arrived at the place, he was outside taking care of a poor man who was lying on the road. It struck me that even though he was a murderer, he still had some compassion in him; his heart was not entirely dry. And when I saw this, I felt so much love for him. A robber was living in the second house I came to. When I reached that place, he was busy feeding the poor. He was in the habit of calling all the starving people in the village. He would find out who didn’t have enough food and he would feed them. When I saw this good quality in him, I was filled with joy. I then went to the third house, which belonged to a prostitute. There were three children in the house. When I asked about them, I was told that they were all orphans and that the prostitute had taken them under her wing and was raising them. So when I discovered that there were such good qualities even in those who are considered to be the worst people in the village, I couldn’t even imagine how much more noble the other villagers must be! By visiting those three houses I was given a great impression of the people of that village.”

To withdraw from people saying that one sees only evil everywhere, is the way of the lazy. Instead of talking about the evil of others, if we do all we can to awaken the goodness within ourselves, then we can give some light to others. This is the easiest way to change ourselves as well as society for the better. If you see darkness everywhere, there is no point in blaming the darkness of the world with the small light within you. Instead you should light the candle within you and spread the light. Don’t feel daunted at the thought of dispelling the darkness of the world with the small light within you. If you simply light it and move forward, it will shine its light at every step of your way, and sit will benefit others as well.

So, My children, light the lamp of love within you and move forward. When we take each step with good thoughts and a smiling face, all the goodness will come to us and fill our being. Then God cannot possibly stay away from us. He will embrace us. There won’t be a moment in our life without peace and happiness.

I never felt any difference. Just like I am talking to you, I was talking to them

Returning Home after the Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations

Finally, the day was almost over, but the excitement was just beginning. Amma had asked to change everyone’s flights from the following night to that night. The entire group would be returning to the Ashram one day earlier than scheduled. The devotees had been told of the change, and more than 200 people came to the Newark Airport. Amma jumped out of the car, went around the terminal building to a bench outside… to give darshan! At one point She left to the ticket counter to ‘check in’, and then came back outside to complete the darshan. And then, all too soon, it was time for Amma to walk down the concourse to Her plane.

Friday, 1st September

When Amma’s plane landed at the Cochin Airport, local news reporters were awaiting Her arrival from the U.N. Summit in New York.

Q: How did you feel speaking in Malayalam to a foreign audience (this is the first time that someone is speaking in malayalam in the U.N. General Assembly)?

AMMA: I never felt any difference. Just like I am talking to you, I was talking to them.

Q [by a woman reporter]: We are happy that Amma spoke up for women while She was at the U.N.

AMMA: In many nations, women are oppressed; they don’t even have the basic freedoms of life. In God’s creation, women and men are equal. They should have equal freedom. In the West, women are coping with oppression by acting like men – they cut their hair, smoke cigarettes and drink – thinking that this will make them equal to men in society. But men are also unhappy with their lot in life, and try to become more like women. But both are reaching nowhere. Women should invoke the positive masculine qualities and men should invoke feminine qualities. Every individual should have both courage and compassion. Women give birth to men. Because she’s a creator, if she loses patience, the harmony of the world will be lost. Now Indians have started imitating the West. Amma is happy if Indian women gain the courage of Western women, but still maintain their motherly qualities. If the heart is lost, the culture is lost.

Villagers Reception

Enroute from the airport to Amritapuri, Amma was received by thousands of people as Her car inched along the roads full of well-wishers. In the local villages and along the seaside road to the Ashram, every household irrespective of their religion or caste honoured Amma in the traditional way – by lighting oil lamps, burning incense and waving camphor in front of their homes. Many offered garlands to Her and showered Her with flowers. Enthusiastic cheers and firecrackers announced Her progress. Amma spent almost four hours driving the last seven kilometers, taking time to give prasad to everyone she passed. The enthusiasm and joy of the crowd reflected the pride they felt in what they thought of as an invaluable contribution to presenting the glory of their ancient culture in front of the world. The respect and honour that Amma received from such an august world body also added to their joy.