14 January, 2004, Madurai
“What is the cause of the modern day’s cultural degeneration?”
As they gathered on the rooftop of Amma’s Madurai ashram, those traveling on the Dakshina Bharata Yatra were all asked this question by Amma, thus beginning this evening’s unplanned Satsang. As Amma sat, Her easy smile lightened everyone’s spirit as always. Saying She wanted to hear Her children discuss a spiritual topic with humor and wit, Amma asked the above question, upon which emerged responses of every texture and color.
The first response touched on the idea that, due to our lack of faith in and adherence to the scriptures, we no longer have the proper foundation for knowing our true spiritual nature and are thus led into a destructively ignorant way of life. The next speaker was less philosophical. He simply answered by saying, “This is Kali Yuga”, it’s only natural that things be like this!” Amma laughed, saying that it’s not enough to just state this without explaining how it is that this Kali Yuga came about, and asked him not to try to escape with too easy an answer. She reminded that the Four Yugas — Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali — all take place within us.
The next speaker offered a beautiful spiritual song as her answer, with lyrics describing a harmonious vision of life, ‘about a people who know how to live; where their words and their deeds are simple and pure, and their love they most willingly give.’ Another offered a more revolutionary angle, commenting on the social ills of the world as being mainly the result of political greed. Yet another devotee half-jokingly described the main western religion as having become football (soccer), wherein, just like an orthodox religion, the fans (devotees) gather together regularly to concentrate on a single team (deity) and chant slogans (prayers) in unison. Also, just like Amma’s devotees, the ‘football-ians’ will spend long hours, sometimes all day, queuing for tickets (darshan tokens), or forgo sleep just to watch a game on television… and even tend to dress alike! “Only, they’re really just men chasing around a ball of pig-skin in a field.” Like this, a wide assortment of answers was given.
Amma responded to this last answer by saying that She accepts everything, even football, since everything in this world is God. “There’s nothing wrong with it.”, She said, laughing. “But whatever the ‘faith’, the real question to ask is how it is benefiting others. Is it helping to uplift the downtrodden? Is it instilling morals and culture in society? And most importantly, is it expanding our consciousness towards being more loving and serving others?” Amma then reminded that ours is the religion of Love, and that, rather than philosophy or political speeches, this Love is the only thing that will be able to truly counter the ills of our modern world.