The light in the darkness

28November 2002, Kochi

Amma returns to India and is welcomed by devotees and the media alike.

Amma returned from Her European and American Tour today. Upon Her arrival in Kochi, She took part in a press conference organised in the context of Her winning the Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence. Amma answered questions for about half an hour.

Amma told the assembled reporters that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi had dedicated their lives to humanity. Amma said that we need more people like them and that She would be happy if more people dedicated their lives to the service of humanity like King and Gandhi.

In response to a question regarding violence in India, Amma said that although we may be in the midst of darkness, we all have a light within. We can use that light to see the path, to walk. Talk alone is not enough. We must act. We are all links in a chain. We are not isolated islands. Don’t expect the other person to change before you yourself change. You have to change first and then inevitably the others will change too.

Another journalist asked about the differences Amma sees between people of India and the Western countries. Amma said that in the West people are self-reliant and can stand on their own feet. She said that the Indians need to cultivate this quality, this self-sufficiency. She said that on the other hand Indian society is rich in love and that we shouldn’t lose that. She also warned against blindly mimicking aspects of Western culture that don’t suit us.

Another question was about the decline in the quality of family life and morality in India. Amma said, these days in a family of three, the family members are like three islands. This trend is increasing day by day. In the next 10 years, the situation could worsen to such an extent that parents may have to book a place in old age homes to secure their futures — they won’t be able to depend on their children. Amma then said that the media should work for the establishment of dharma. “Media also has an important role in maintaining the culture, so you have to do your part.”

In response to a question about what Indian parents can do to protect their children from sexual exploitation, Amma said parents must begin educating their children about these issues, as is done in the West, otherwise the children will fall easy victim to sexual deviants.

Amma also said that the gap between mothers and children is increasing because of the mothers’ need to work and contribute to the family income. They are not able to spend much time with their children and therefore the proper bonding between mother and child doesn’t take place. If motherly love and guidance are not given at the right age, then the children become wayward. Amma went on to tell a story illustrating the present condition of society: one mother was always tense because her daughter wouldn’t tell her anything about things that she did; another mother was always tense because her daughter told her everything about the things she did. Amma said that mothers need to understand their children. It is due to this lack of understanding that the gap between mother and children is increasing.

After the press conference, Amma continued on Her way to Amritapuri, where Her ashram children were waiting to see Her after Her two-month absence. Amma spent some time with them talking and cracking jokes; smiling at all who had assembled there. She then went up to Her room, only to appear a few minutes later at Her window. Darkness had set in, the sun had set by then. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on Amma —the light in the darkness.

on Devotion: Amma says

“Crying to God for five minutes is equal to one hour of meditation. If tears are not coming by themselves, try to cry by thinking, ‘Why am I not able to cry?’ Try to develop devotion. That is the easiest way.”


“Love is not something that can be taught by someone or learned from somewhere. But in the presence of a perfect master we can feel it and, in due course, develop it, because a Satguru creates the necessary circumstances for love to grow within us. These circumstances created by the Guru will be so beautiful and unforgettable that we will truly cherish these moments as something precious and invaluable. They will remain as a sweet memory forever and ever. One incident of this kind will create a big wave of love in us. More incidents like this created by the Guru will make a chain of exhilarating memories which will produce waves and waves of love within us, until at last there will be only love. Through these circumstances the Guru will steal our heart and soul, filling us with pure and innocent love.”


“Don’t we get some relief when we confide our problems to those who are dear to us? We should feel that same love and closeness to God. We should feel that He is our very own. We need not hide anything from Him. It is in that sense that Amma says we should tell Him everything. It is good to lighten the burden in our hearts by telling God about all our sorrows. We should depend only on Him in all our difficulties. The true devotee never tells anyone else about his troubles. Our strongest relationship should be with God. If we decide to tell Him about our sorrows, it should only be for the sake of getting closer to Him.”


“Only if lust, anger and other negative tendencies are uprooted from within through sincere effort, will God dwell within one. How can seeds sprout if they are sown without removing the weeds? In the same way, when there are the weeds of lust and anger in us, the seed of bhakti (devotion) will not sprout in us and God will not dwell in us.”


Real Devotion

“Amma doesn’t want Her children to chant the Lord’s name simply with their lips. Amma wants them to chant it with their hearts and live in the Lord’s name. Devotion is not simply doing pradakshina (circumambulation) around the temple, chanting ‘Krishna Krishna’ and then kicking the destitute beggar who asks for alms as you come out. The compassion and love that you show to the beggar is the real devotion to God. This is what Amma wants Her children to do.”


“Constant remembrance of God, irrespective of time and place is real devotion. Constant waiting, waiting with intense longing for the Lord’s or the Guru’s arrival is the sign of a true devotee. Such a seeker is always ready to receive Him; therefore, he is always prepared both internally and externally to welcome his Guru or Lord.”


“A real devotee considers everything as the will of his Lord. His whole being is constantly in a prayerful mood. For him, every word and deed is a prayer, a worship of his beloved. Having surrendered everything to his beloved Lord, a true devotee is always in a blissful mood.”


“A true devotee is always optimistic. His or her first and foremost quality is acceptance, whatever may happen in his life. He or she holds on to his Lord and considers everything as prasad.”


“A true devotee or disciple will have great humility and, because of this, will also possess a certain spiritual beauty. The beauty of spirituality lies in humility.”


“Forgetting God in times of happiness and remembering Him only in times of sorrow is not a sign of true devotion. We should be able to see that He gives us both happiness and sorrow.”


See God Everywhere

“Children, a sadhak is supposed to see divinity or the presence of his Guru or God everywhere. When a person tries to see and feel the divine presence everywhere, he or she will value external cleanliness. Such a person thinks that his or her God or his Ishta Devata dwells everywhere, walks everywhere and sits everywhere. With intense love and devotion, the sadhak waits with great expectation for His arrival.”


“Devotion in principle means recognising that it is the one and the same God who manifests in all living beings and in all the deities, in all names and forms. It means surrendering selflessly to Him. That is the kind of devotion we should have.”


Devotion and Knowledge (Bhakti and Jnana)

“Bhakti is not different from jnana (knowledge). Real devotion is itself wisdom. One should put medicine on a cut only after cleansing the wound with disinfectant. Otherwise, it will get infected and become a serious wound. Likewise, having destroyed the ego through devotion, wisdom should be established. Apply the medicine of jnana after cleaning the mind with the disinfectant of bhakti. Only then will there be true wisdom.”


“Knowledge helps you to imbibe devotion with the proper understanding of its principles. You have to have wisdom if you want to taste devotion fully. But knowledge without devotion is bitter; it has no sweetness. Those who say, ‘I am everything,’ rarely have any compassion. Devotion contains compassion.”


“Bhakti and jnana, though seemingly different, are not two. Bhakti is the means and jnana the end. Bhakti without jnana and jnana without bhakti are both harmful.”


Question: “Can a devotee become a Vedantin?”

Amma: “Parabhakti (supreme devotion) is pure Vedanta. The true devotee sees everything as pervaded by God. He does not see anything except God everywhere. When a devotee says, ‘Everything is pervaded by God,’ the Vedantin says, ‘Everything is pervaded by Brahman.’ Both are one and the same.”


Legendary Devotees

“Look at Prahlada. In all adversities, he was calm and unmoved like a mountain. He was fearless, courageous and always content. Why? Because he was a true devotee of God. His joy didn’t leave him even when he was thrown into the ocean or was condemned to death by being trampled by a mad elephant or burned alive. Through all of this he remained calm and unperturbed. He was content with whatever happened, good or bad, because he considered life and everything that happened in life as a gift from God. All true devotees have this attitude.”


“In Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Rama, one can find a beautiful blending of both masculine and feminine qualities. He did everything in the name of Rama, his beloved Lord, and he took no credit for anything. Even though Hanuman succeeded in doing very difficult tasks, he was never proud of any of his feats. On the contrary, he remained the humble and obedient servant of his master, Lord Rama. ‘Not by my power and strength, but by Lord Rama’s grace’ was always Hanuman’s attitude.”

Life: perform action, reap results

Darling Children, life consists of two things: first to perform actions and second to reap the results thereof. If we cultivate the right attitude with which we have to perform actions and the right attitude with which we have to experience the results of those actions, our lives will become full of peace and bliss.

It is seen that what we expect, often does not take place, and what we may never expect, often does take place. It is because the obtainment of the results of our actions depends on several factors besides our effort.

Only if all the factors are fulfilled, will the result come according to our expectation. However, the only thing that we have control over is how to perform the actions.

Therefore what we can do is to perform actions to the best of our ability and not worry about the results. That is why Lord Krishna advises in the Bhagavad Gita to perform actions without expectation of results. It doesn’t mean that one should work without accepting the wages. If we are able to perform actions without being preoccupied with the benefits, we will be able to discharge our duties efficiently. And their results will come to us, naturally.

Even if a student writes the examination very well, if the professor who evaluates the papers or the clerk who records the marks is not careful enough, he will not receive the desired marks. One student studied very well and wrote the examination to his utmost satisfaction. He was expecting first rank. However when the results were published he had just secured a pass. Still he was not despondent. He asked for a re-evaluation of his papers. In the re-evaluation he was awarded first rank. How did this happen? On enquiry it was found that the professor who evaluated his papers originally was in a disturbed state of mind at that time, because his wife had eloped with someone. That is why Amma said even if we perform our actions very well the results will depend upon many other factors which are not in our control. Our success is determined by several factors over which we have no power.

Even if a person crosses a road very carefully, there is a chance that some vehicle driven recklessly may knock him down. This shows that in order for all the factors governing the results of our actions to be fulfilled positively, we need to have the grace of God. The easiest way to receive this grace is that we perform all our actions as a worship of God. If we look upon all our actions as worship of God, then we will be careful to perform them in the best way possible.

In worship we will offer only the best things to God. We will never offer a rotten fruit or withered flowers to God. We will never use unclean utensils while we are performing the worship. Similarly, if we make every action of ours a worship of God, then we will be able to perform only good actions. Eventually all our actions will become noble and selfless and we will refrain from evil actions, as they are not fit to be offered to God.

The most important attitude a worshipper should have is humility. If we make our actions a worship, we will never become egoistic. Even if we attain success, we will take it as the grace of God and not as a proof of our merit. For whatever we get after the puja is the prasad of the Lord. We should continue to keep the attitude of humility even after the result is obtained. After worship we will not be concerned about the defects of the prasad, but will accept it as a blessing from the Lord. If we have to meet with failure, we will accept that also as the prasad of the Lord.

That doesn’t mean that after failure we should sit indolent, accepting it as the will of God. If there is a possibility for success, we should try again. Even after sincere effort, if we again meet with failure, we should accept it as the will of God. If we accept success as the grace of God and failure as His will, we will neither become elated in success nor go to pieces in failure. We will not be lost in self pity if we can accept even failure as the will of God. We should be able to accept even failure as a necessary experience that we have to undergo at a particular time for our growth. We should feel happy that our prarabdha (results of past actions we must reap in this lifetime) is over. We should look upon it as a lesson and learn from it so that we can advance in our lives.

If we have proper discrimination, we will be able to transform any situation in our life to our benefit. The right attitude towards action will liberate us from boredom and bondage. If our attitude is right, we will be able to perform our duties with diligence and enthusiasm. When this is coupled with the grace of God, success will certainly be ours. Whatever be the case, we should not despair. God is always with those who put forth effort sincerely with the right attitude. Success also belongs to them.