Amma’s Birthday Celebrations 2001

6 October, 2001

Radiating divine bliss and peace to all humanity, the birthday celebrations of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi were held in the Amritapuri Ashram on 6 October, 2001, in a festive atmosphere of fervent devotion, exuberant joy and deep gratitude. The beautifully decorated Ashram was filled to overflowing with devotees from around the world, who had come, full of enthusiasm, to join in the celebrations honouring their most beloved Guru and Mother, Amma.

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The day began with congregational Sahasranama chanting followed by a talk given by Swami Amritaswarupananda. He said, “A Divine Incarnation is born to set an example to humanity, to be one among them, to partake of their joys and sufferings, and to teach them great lessons through the example of their own life. And that is what Amma is doing in Her everyday life. She is ever ready to share our griefs along with our joys. Surely, generations after generations will be inspired, purified and motivated by Her Divine Love.”

At around 9:00 am, Amma was escorted to the dais as devotees along the way offered flowers at Her holy feet. The atmosphere reverberated with the vibrant sound of “OM Amriteshwaryai Namaha!” being chanted by the devotees, who filled the spacious auditorium to overflowing. Amma’s radiant smile lit up all hearts, while every soul seemed to blossom in the sun of Her presence.

The most auspicious event of the celebrations, the pada puja, was then performed by Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, assisted by Swamini Krishnamrita Prana, as Vedic mantras and intense devotion filled the air. The 108 Names of Amma followed, all devotees joining in the chanting. The people of Parayakadavu village then presented a ceremonial offering, as a token of their love and gratitude to the Divine Mother who has incarnated in their midst.

Amma then showered Her divine wisdom and guidance upon the world through Her benedictory address. She lamented, in Her divine message, the present state of the world, marked by violence and destruction, and gave a rousing call to shun the path of hatred and create a new world of love and harmony. Amma made a fervent plea for the regeneration of spiritual culture and the uplift of women. She delineated the path to a life of bliss and contentment, and revealed Her deep commitment to the suffering humanity. She said, “The only birthday gift Amma wishes for is a tear drop of compassion for the suffering, a consoling word and a helping hand offered to the poor and distressed.”

Amma’s talk, replete with vivid stories and illustrations, delivered in Her usual charming style, appeared to move the devotees deeply; towards the end of the talk it seemed as if a vast wave of silence had washed over the crowd. Finally, Amma led the devotees in meditation and prayers for the peace and the welfare of all beings everywhere.

After Amma’s Benedictory Address, the birthday function officially began with a prayer by T.N. Krishnachandran. Sri A. P. S. Krishnan then welcomed the guests of honour, Sri A.K. Antony, Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala, Sri Jual Oraam, Honourable Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, Sri O. Rajagopal, Honourable Union Minister of State for Railways, and Smt. Urmila Singh, Honourable Minister for Tribal Welfare of the State of Madhya Pradesh, who were each gifted with a bouquet. They in turn paid their respects to Amma by garlanding Her.

Sri A.K. Antony inaugurated the fifth phase of the Amrita Kuteeram project, a magnificent scheme of Amma’s ashram to construct 25,000 houses for the homeless poor in the country and handed over the keys to the representatives of the beneficiaries.

A.K. Antony also presented the newly created Amritakeerti Puraskar award, for extraordinary contributions to Indian philosophy and culture, to Acharya Narendra Bushan.

Sri O. Rajagopal then offered the Ponnada and dakshina to the renowned artist Nambootiri, who had designed the beautiful sculpture presented with the Amritakeerti Puraskar award.

Sri Jual Oraam then inaugurated the Amritaranya Jivanam Project, a new scheme created by the M.A. Math for the all-round welfare of the Tribal people throughout India. He then presented prizes to two meritorious Adivasi students from Amma’s school in Parippally, Sri Kumar and Sri Nanchan K.V..

Swami Turiyamritananda Puri then offered mementos to Shri A.K. Antony and Shri Jual Oram.

New books and cassettes released:

Bhajan cassettes sung by Amma and Her disciples were released by Smt. Urmila Singh, Minister for Tribal Welfare, Madhya Pradesh.

Amrita Resmi, a compilation of poems dedicated to the Divine Mother, by Swami Turiyamritananda, was released by Kavalam Narayan Panicker.

Jyotirgamaya, Volume 2, a rich collection of Amma’s inspiring talks, was released by Justice Hariharan Nair.

 

Amritanandamayi Jayanthi Jalotsav

5 October, 2001

Racing boats cruising through the water, paddles splashing vigorously, sending droplets flying through the air like silver beads, and tumultuous cheers by thousands of viewers lining either shore of the Kayamkulam backwaters, transported the villages of Vallickavu and Parayakadavu into a great mood of gaiety and festivity.

After prayers for invoking God’s grace, the festival began with the hoisting of the flag by Shri Kadavur Sivadasan, Kerala Minister for Electricity, who in his address said that Amma, by showering the rain of compassion, is creating a revolution in the world: a revolution of ethical values, material progress, and spiritual uplift.

Shri O. Rajagopal, the Central State Minister for Railways, then formally inaugurated the Jalotsav by lighting the lamp. In his speech, he said that this is a true festival, wherein jubilation combines with cultural values, a befitting tribute to Amma on Her birthday.

Shri K. Sudhakaran, Kerala Minister for Sports said that Amma is scattering spiritual and temporal blessings all over the world.

Before the commencement of the race, the more than 1,000 crew members brought their boats together and waved their oars through the air in various ways in perfect unison, thus revealing the sense of unity underlying the competition.

The “Amritanandamayi Jayanthi Jalotsav”, a 1.2 kilometre-long race, finished at the colorful pavilion constructed at the boat jetty on the Ashram grounds, with the race’s starting point being the Sri Krishna Swami Temple in Kuzhithura. Twenty-one racing boats of various types from different parts of South Kerala had gathered in the backwaters to participate in the event, while dozens of spectator boats of all sizes and varieties lined the waterway, creating a beautiful scene.

As the announcer’s voice boomed instructions, with a wave of the flag the competition began, with nine snake boats (long, thin canoes each holding approximately 100 rowers) cruising through the water at high speed in three separate ‘heats’, the crews paddling hard and fast in perfect synchronicity, while men standing at the back of the boat used giant paddles, digging into the water with all their energy. It was obvious from the intensity of their effort that each team was striving with all their might to make the coveted Amritamayi Trophy their own.

After all nine snake boats had completed the course, races were held with four smaller boats, known as veppu vallams, followed by a race of iruttukutti boats. After that came races with female crews. Swimming skills displayed by Syam Prabhodhini formed the charming interlude.

 

This was followed by a colourful procession in which boats depicting legendary stories from the Puranas served as literal “floats” in a charming parade.

Distributing the trophies and congratulating the winners, Amma said, “Such sports and healthy competition is not in-congruent with spirituality, for any aspect of living can be made spiritually uplifting, provided it is performed in the right spirit and with the right understanding.”

Amma’s visit to Europe: Barcelona

5 – 7 November, 2001

Newspaper interview with Amma in Barcelona.

The interviewer commented that Amma has come to Spain, which is a bastion of Christianity.

Amma replied that She has not come to convert people but help them to delve deeper into their own religion.

The devotees gathered in the stadium for Amma’s satsang before the evening bhajans. The stadium was situated next to the Barcelona waterfront beach, with a beautiful view of the sea nearby.

Work as Worship

A man was travelling in a bus one day. He was amazed at the behaviour of the bus conductor. The conductor was very relaxed and smiled at everyone as he dealt with them. He always rang the bell at the right time, so that the bus would stop at the right places. And when the passengers paid for their tickets, he always gave them the right change. No matter how crowded the bus was, or how badly the passengers behaved, his self-composure was never disturbed.

Having observed all this, the man asked the conductor, “How is it possible for you to always keep smiling in a crowded bus like this? I have never seen anything like it! Tell me, what is your secret?”

The conductor smiled and said, “There’s no great secret to it. It’s simply a lesson life has taught me. Before taking this job, I worked in a factory. I had to travel to and from work by bus every day. Whenever I waited for a bus, it was my experience that the bus never bothered to stop at the right bus stop. It would pass me and stop a little farther away, and I’d end up running after the bus; but before I could catch up with it would start again. Or if the bus did stop for me, it would take off with a start the moment I had stepped onto the bus and I would have to struggle to keep my balance in the crowd. And then, after I had paid my fare, the conductor never bothered to give me my change. If I asked for it, he’d get angry. And if I didn’t have the exact change, he’d scold me. On many occasions, I was about to lose my temper. But I somehow managed to control myself, thinking that I would have to travel on the same bus the next day as well. Because of these unpleasant experiences, when I reached the factory I was always in a bad mood. I never smiled at my fellow workers. I was never kind or loving towards anyone. My attitude caused people to be indifferent towards me. Because of all this, I couldn’t concentrate properly on my work; this often led to my being rebuked by my boss. In the evenings when I returned home from work, I vented all my frustrations on my family. I scolded my children and quarrelled with my wife. The atmosphere at home wasn’t peaceful at all. I didn’t show my children any love, nor was I able to open my heart to my wife. Thus I felt very lonely both at home and out in the world.

“Then one day when I came to the bus stop, the bus had arrived but it began to move before I could reach it. When the conductor saw me trying to catch the bus, he rang the bell, signalling for the bus to stop again. I got on the bus and, to my surprise, he waited for me to get inside before he signalled for the bus to continue. All the seats were occupied, but the conductor gave me his own seat.

I had never seen this conductor before. I was speechless with joy and gratitude. I was so tired that I fell asleep along the way. When the bus reached the place where I was supposed to get off, the conductor woke me up.

“You can’t imagine how comforted I felt by his kindness. It was like a gift of cool, fresh water for someone dying of thirst. His kindness and consideration gave me tremendous inspiration. As I walked from the bus towards the office, I experienced within me a joy that I had never known. In contrast to my usual sullen manner, I smiled at everyone in the factory. And they responded by smiling at me. That day I worked with diligence. Noticing this, my boss congratulated me. The workers under my supervision were clearly happy because I was so pleasant towards them. They, in their turn, behaved completely differently towards me; they were really friendly. When I came home from work that day, I spent some time with my wife and children. I felt so at ease with them and showed them so much love. I hugged my children — something I hadn’t done for a long time. It was like a festival. I was so happy.

“I realised that a great change had taken place in me because of the simple kindness of just one person. From that day on, I was very careful about my attitude towards people and how I behaved towards them because I knew that whatever we give out will come back to us. It would be impossible for me to change for the better if I were first to wait for everyone else to change. I realised I could choose to be good, regardless of everyone else; and that once we change for the better, it has a positive effect on those around us.

“Soon thereafter, I got this job as a bus conductor. I remembered the conductor who had transformed me, who had changed my life. I remembered the great lesson he had taught me. I vowed that I would always behave in a loving, respectful way towards everyone. I made the decision that I would contribute my share of spreading love and brother/sisterhood throughout society. I will never forget that bus conductor and how he affected me.”

My children, society is made up of individuals, and the thoughts and actions of each individual influence the culture of that society. Instead of waiting for others to improve, we should try to improve ourselves. And once our attitude has changed, we will be able to perceive goodness throughout world. If there is a positive change in us, it will also be reflected in others. It is only what we give that we can hope to get back. We should always remember this.

The heart sends blood to every cell of the body, and in this way the cells are nourished. The same blood then flows back to the heart. If the flow is obstructed, the person will die. We need to learn this process of give and take from the heart. For the benefit of others, and also for ourselves, we should have the attitude of sharing and giving. We are all links in the chain of life. If one link is weakened, it will affect the strength of the whole chain.

Our every thought and action has the power to bring light or darkness into the lives of many. So we have to be careful that our actions are the kind that bring joy and satisfaction to others. We shouldn’t fall into a state of despair when we see the evil in the world. Nor should we allow the wrongs done by others to encourage us to do similar wrongs. Instead of cursing the darkness, let us try to kindle a small lamp. If we can’t do this, let us at least refrain from causing others any discomfort.

You may wonder how this can be practised in our day-to-day lives. One way is to perform all our actions as an offering to God. We should make our every action a form worship. This will give joy to others and will benefit us as well.

Amma remembers something that one of her children said to Her about 15 years ago. He had a strong wish to study medicine, but he failed because of the difference of one mark. He was so disappointed that he didn’t apply for anything else. Later, because of the insistence of his family, he wrote a test for a position in a bank and was given the job as a clerk. It was then that he came to see Amma. He said to Amma, “I am always in a bad mood. I easily lose my temper. I never smile at the customers or treat them particularly well. I even doubt that I will be able to continue with this work.”

That son was very depressed. Amma said to him, “Son, suppose a close friend of yours were to send someone to you, how would you behave towards that person?”

“I would do my duty.”

Then Amma asked, “Son, suppose Amma Herself were to send someone to you. How would you behave towards him?”

“I would treat him extremely well; I would be very loving towards him because You had sent him.”

Amma said, “That shows that you can do it. Imagine that every person who comes to you has been sent to you by God. Then you will be able to be pleasant and loving towards everyone. Just make the effort and you will definitely succeed.”

From that day on, there was a remarkable change in him. He now had the attitude that his work was a way of worshipping God. This made him happy, and he was able to transmit his joy and satisfaction to others. If we perform each action as a form of worship, it will benefit not only ourselves but all of society as well.

First Kidney transplant at Amrita hosptial

Amrita Institute has been recognised by the Kerala Government, Human Organ Transplant Act 1995, for performing both live donor and cadaveric renal transplantations. The programme assimilates the most modern technology for the benefit of our patients.

The first kidney transplant at Amrita was performed by on 4th September, 2001. The patient’s mother had donated one of her kidneys. He and his mother were discharged after only ten days with excellent prognosis. In the four months after inauguration, five transplants were performed and all been completely successful. Accutane has already helped thousands of people with acne and other skin problems. Many more patients are awaiting compatibility results with their potential donors before being accepted for surgery.