Amma visits Kuwait

Mother has been visiting many parts of the world for over fifteen years-but the Gulf States waited until the New Millennium for the blessing of her presence. They have been doubly rewarded for their patience! In late September, Mother visited that part of the world for the first time, giving three days of programmes in Dubai. And now, at the end of November, she returned to the Arab world yet again, this time to Kuwait.

The first programme was held in a private villa, and was attended by enthusiastic devotees from all backgrounds and walks of life. The next two programmes were hosted by the Indian Embassy. The people who came for Amma’s darshan included Kuwaitis, Europeans, Americans, and Indians. Of course the majority were expatriate Indians, from both Kerala and the rest of the country. Their joy at having this opportunity to gather the whole community together for bhajans and satsang was evident, and their enthusiasm upon meeting Amma was beautiful. Many of them had been members of local satsang groups for years, and had considered Amma their own Mother and Guru, but had never actually met her. Imagine how it must have felt to finally see, hear and touch the One for whom they have for so long yearned!

According to the original schedule, the second Embassy programme was to be the last for this visit. However, since Mother’s flight back to India would happen only on the following night, she responded to the devotees’ yearning hearts by scheduling a fourth programme, this one to be held in a private home. So the final morning in Kuwait saw Mother and her tour group arriving at a beautiful villa, where she led all in bhajans and meditation, and then gave darshan to the crowds who-by cell phone and e-mail, had received word that there was yet one more chance to receive Amma’s blessing.

For Amma’s second visit to the Gulf, people came from not only Kuwait but also from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and other neighbouring areas, eager to be in the presence of the Divine Mother. The fond memories of Amma’s visit will continue to nourish their love and faith.

27 November 2000, Kuwait

Early Christmas

14 – 23 November 2000

Winter visits to San Ramon and Ann Arbor, USA

It was an early Christmas for Amma’s American devotees. The most precious gift of all – Amma’s divine presence – arrived in San Francisco for her November visit following the European Tour. The November programmes in the U.S. have the atmosphere of a large family reunion. Devotees from all over the country gathered to see Amma in both California and Michigan.

This year the crowd broke all records for a Devi Bhava in the West. Amma gave darshan to almost 3,000 people during the 14-hour stretch that she sat for the Devi puja and for Devi Bhava darshan. Profoundly grateful to have her with them again, the northern California devotees worked hard to transform the Marin Convention Center’s Exhibition Hall into a darshan temple and dining area. Inside the hall bedecked with hundreds of tiny white lights, Amma lovingly greeted her children for five days and nights, never showing any strain from having just toured Europe for almost six weeks.

The three-day retreat in California provided a very special opportunity for participants to meditate with Mother and receive her prasad dinner. The young children performed a play with scenes from Amma’s life, including a funny and realistic depiction of Devi Bhava, complete with nervous darshan line monitors and all!

As she left the last California programme, the Holy Mother emerged from the Devi Bhava temple and wistfully gestured to her children, bringing them all to her heart and carrying their love away with her.

The devotees in Ann Arbor, Michigan, were blessed to host Amma’s programmes for the second year. Last November, the tour group had wished for snow during Amma’s visit and this year their wish was granted. Amma was given warm shawls and shoes by her hosts upon her arrival. When reaching the ashram, Amma got out of the car and immediately started playing in the snow with the children! At the end of one darshan programme, someone handed Amma a snowball that she continued to hold playfully even while exiting the hall. Amma said that seeing the snow covered fields reminded her of the sandy beaches by her home. As a child she spent a lot of time walking along the beach singing to God.

Thanks giving

Due to an unexpected itinerary change, Mother stayed in Ann Arbor for an extra day after her public programmes ended. She used this opportunity to inaugurate the Amma Center of Michigan’s temple, which the ashram residents and satsang group use for programmes throughout the year. Amma blessed the temple by performing a beautiful puja and singing bhajans by the altar. She then served dinner to everyone present and even sat to join her children for the meal. On this auspicious day, the day after the traditional American Thanksgiving holiday, devotees gave thanks for their Divine Mother who constantly finds ways to give of herself fully.

Life is meant not only for winners, but for losers as well

( from Amma’s benedictory address at the inauguration of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (AIMS), May 17, 1998)

Salutations to all of you, who are the embodiments of love, the embodiments of the Self. Amma is not here to give a speech, nor is it Her way to exhort what others do. But Mother would like to say a few things in the light of Her own experience.

My children, life is meant not only for winners, but for losers as well. Usually people think and speak only about their successes and their achievements. But to gain any real, lasting achievement, we need to pay more attention to and think about our failures as well. We like to take the credit for our achievements, thinking that they are due to our efficiency and our abilities, while we blame our co-workers and others for our failures.

It is human nature to claim that others are responsible for our failures, saying that had they only heeded our advice, everything would have been all right. All this is due to us having the wrong attitude about failure.

The very fact that a person has met with failure proves that he has taken up a challenge, that he has been adventurous. Any action provides a challenge. Learning to drive, climbing a mountain, writing an examination, going deep-sea fishing or even for a toddler to learn how to walk is a challenge. In every task there is a certain amount of adventure involved. Whenever a task is undertaken, success and failure follow like a shadow. So sometimes we succeed and other times we fail.

We shouldn’t be afraid of failure. If we are afraid, we will never be able to succeed, we won’t gain anything out of life. That is why we should encourage and support the losers as well. We encourage someone in order to inspire them and to remove their fear of failure. In sports and games, the loser is often given a consolation prize, which is meant to encourage them. Encouragement is beneficial in every way.

The world belongs to the vanquished as well as the victor. Knowing this, we should be forgiving and bear with those who fail. We should give them every opportunity to try again. To be patient and forgiving is like applying grease to an engine. Patience and forgiveness encourage a person to move forward with renewed strength. The effect of our forbearance is like the power of gravity, which, though invisible, is experienced by everyone. Let us give those who have failed every opportunity to try again and again. Don’t write anyone off just because he or she may have failed once for that would be an even bigger failure on our part. Opportunities should be available not only for the triumphant, but also for the fallen. Nowadays only the victors are given recognition, while the losers are often ridiculed. But instead of ridiculing the losers, we should encourage them. People are enthusiastic only if they are given the encouragement they need.

Life is meant for the courageous and adventurous, not for those who are pessimistic or afraid of failure. The greatest failure in life is to expect victory in every single situation. Spirituality teaches us this principle. Only when we live with this understanding is any new creation possible. By new creation Amma means giving birth to a new, really positive generation.

Forgiveness gives us the impetus to move forward. Both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven are taken to new heights. To forgive and forbear does not mean that we should lose our discrimination and be doormats for others. It means that we allow the vanquished to be right up there with the victor and that we move forward together. Only if we understand this principle can we know what real service is, and be of any real benefit to others.

Most of the construction work of this hospital and other ashram institutions was not done by contractors. Many of Amma’s children who had no previous experience in this field came forward to take up the task with love and dedication. As a result, a few flaws and mistakes did occur. But instead of reallocating the jobs to experts, Amma’s children were given the opportunity to correct their mistakes and to proceed further. Hence, within a short period of time, much more than the expected target was successfully completed. Had they been denied the opportunity to try again, their abilities would not have blossomed.

Real service is born out of love and dedication. To serve with dedication can be compared to a circle, for a circle has no beginning or end. Love doesn’t have a beginning or end either. Love exists for love’s sake only. Love has no expectations.

Those who work with us should be looked upon as God’s gifts to us. But to feel this, we have to love. When there is love we are able to forgive. That is what Sri Rama taught us when He went and bowed down at the feet of Kaikeyi, who made him forgo the crown, exiling him to the forest for 14 years. Lord Krishna gave liberation to the hunter who shot Him with an arrow and thereby became instrumental in the Lord’s departure from the world. The Lord readily forgave the man for his thoughtless action. In the same way, Jesus kissed the feet of Judas, even though He knew that Judas was about to betray Him. Such are the examples shown to us by our forefathers. If we take these examples to heart, we will surely be able to enjoy lasting peace in this life.

What can we do for the progress of the nation and for the welfare of the whole world? This is the question that we have to ask ourselves. Let us mould a group of people who are strong, courageous, selfless and dedicated to the cause of humanity. Only then can this nation develop and prosper. That is what Krishna did. He instilled power, valour and efficiency in Arjuna, and made him the great warrior that he used to be. Krishna transformed Arjuna’s way of looking at life. As Arjuna imbibed Sri Krishna’s words, he did not curse or flee from the situation. Instead he was able to move forward, battling with unfading enthusiasm.

Buddha’s contribution did not end with His death. He created many Buddhas. The same is true of Christ. These Mahatmas created people who were able to contribute much to the world, not only during their lifetimes, but beyond them as well. The greatest gift we can give to the nation is the new generation we are creating. Whether this nation develops or declines depends entirely on the strength of the coming generations.

We should learn to have the attitude of a beginner. Look at a child. Only a child can develop, because he is innocent, and not egoistic. Today, our bodies have grown, but not our minds. For the mind to expand so that it encompasses the whole universe, we need the patience perseverance, enthusiasm and loving trust of a child. We have to awaken the child within us — the innocence within us. And we have to become egoless. Only then can we receive God’s grace.

There is a power behind the universe. We are all being tossed around by that power. Sometimes we may be carried to great heights. At such times we may be wealthy, successful, even famous. But when that power ceases to propel us, we will come tumbling down. We should live our lives with an understanding of this.

Amma remembers a story: There was a heap of stones. A boy came along and playfully picked up a stone and threw it upwards. As the stone was soaring through the heights, it felt proud of itself. “Look at me,” it thought. “While others are just lying down there, I am soaring this high. I am moving with the sun and the moon.” And it called down to the other stones, “Why are you all lying down there? Come and join me up here!” Poor stones! What could they do? They consoled themselves saying, “What to do? For everything there is a time and a tide.” But the flying stone did not exult for long. When the force of the throw began to decline, the stone began to feel dizzy, and soon it fell down. Finally, lying once again on the pile of stones, it said to the other stones, “Having seen your plight, I came down here out of compassion!”

People always find some excuse or other for everything. They are not prepared to admit their mistakes. This is what we see in the world.

Often we have the knowledge in us and yet we fail to put that knowledge into practice. Once a doctor visited a home where his host offered him a choice between the fresh milk from a tender coconut or a cola drink. Even though he knew that nothing quenches your thirst like coconut milk and that cola drinks are bad for your health, he nevertheless chose the cola. Because it is fashionable nowadays to drink unhealthy soft drinks, he avoided choosing the coconut milk. So our knowledge is not reflected in our actions. Only when we begin putting our knowledge into practice will we experience any benefit of our knowledge.

Everybody wants to take from society, but no one is prepared to give.

A man fell into a well and called for help. A passer-by came and told him to give him his hand so that he could pull him out. “No, no,” said the man in the well. “How can I pull you out unless you give me your hand?” asked the passer-by. Then he said, “Alright then, take my hand.” And as he again extended his hand, the man in the well was suddenly very happy to take it.

This is how it is with most people. Everyone wants to take, but no one wants to give. If this attitude prevails, it could lead to the downfall of the nation. Even if we are not able to create young people who always give, we should at least be able to provide the nation with people who both give and take. Only then will there be harmony in our nation — nay, in the whole world. My children strive hard to understand this.

Late night playfulness

9 – 11 November 2000, Turin, Italy

Next, Mother travelled to Turin in Italy, the final stop on this year’s European Tour. The hall was colourfully decorated. Even in chilly northern Italy, the sun could not resist coming out to take a peek at the Divine Mother.

On the second night all were treated to a Bharatanatyam dance performance. All the European devotees wanting to catch the last hours of Amma’s Europe Tour 2000 gathered in Turin, and shared in the blissful experience of Amma’s bhajans. The intensity of her divine inspiration brought tears to many eyes.

Amma blessed the end of this tour with more late night playfulness. In the wee hours of the morning, as the darshan line came to an end, Amma started teasing and joking with the devotees, then started singing some songs. A few lucky devotees found their Mother singing softly as she cradled them in her lap. Forever imprinted in the hearts of all present are the grateful tears of those overcome by the beauty of hearing Amma’s voice as she held them close. The moments of Amma singing a capella, alone, were pure bliss for her children. The softness of her voice in the silent late hours of the night felt like a lullaby.

The last Devi Bhava of the European tour ended at 8:30 in the morning. One would have thought that Amma would have gone to rest after that, but instead she called some of her devotees and spent time with them, and then she left for the airport. Amma’s tour in Europe may be over, but she has not left. She remains as the smile on each face, every kind word and glance, every loving thought and the beauty of each heart unfolding to her Grace.

Greatest devotee of God

Sage Narada thought that he was a great devotee.

“Once Lord Krishna said, ‘Narada, there is one farmer on earth who is a greater devotee than you.’ Narada doubted this and came down to earth to see the peasant in person. He found that the farmer would chant the Lord’s Name only three times a day. ‘How could he be a greater devotee than I?’ thought Narada. Upon returning, he mentioned his doubt to the Lord.

“The Lord gave him a small vessel filled to the brim with oil and asked Narada to keep it on his head and go round a particular hill without spilling even a drop of it.

“When Narada returned after finishing the round, the Lord asked, ‘How many times did you chant My Name in between?’

“Narada thought and was surprised to discover that he had not remembered the Lord’s Name even once because his attention had been fully concentrated on keeping the vessel of oil steady so as not to spill it.

“The Lord smilingly said, ‘Now do you understand what a great devotee that farmer is? Even in the midst of his toilsome work, thrice he is remembering Me, is he not?’

“Children, one who simultaneously does karma (action) and remembers God is the noblest. “

Incredible Hugging Saint from India

5 – 7 November 2000, Barcelona

Bidding au revoir to France, the tour moved on to Barcelona, Spain. Spain has become known for its large, enthusiastic crowds. There was a lot of media coverage throughout the tour, but it was especially impressive how many reporters came to see Amma in Barcelona. Local and national newspapers, magazines and various radio and television stations all wanted to interview and photograph the ‘Incredible Hugging Saint from India’, as one devotee called her. By the end of their interviews, all of them wanted to experience Amma’s darshan as well!

As in France, a large percentage of people were coming for darshan for the first time ever. For long-time devotees, it is priceless to see people’s expressions of awe and reverence as they meet Mother for the first time. Watching the heart-warming smiles that appear on the faces of newcomers, we see how Amma is uplifting thousands, one at a time. Amma’s darshan went very late in the day, and again at night, so that Amma got only a tiny break between endless darshan lines.