“We can change the face of this earth”

Tuesday, 9 March — en route to Ahmedabad, Gujarat — Bharata Yatra 2004

When many people from affluent Western countries visit India for the first time, they are overwhelmed by the immensity of its poverty and the extent to which some of its people are suffering. They simply haven’t seen “villages” of families attempting to construct homes out of trash before. They are not used to watching legless women drag themselves down the street by their hands, leprosy, street children with stomachs so bloated they look like they might pop.

Traveling along India’s highways and visiting her major cities with Amma is the time when many of Amma’s children–from the West and from the East–get their first real taste of the miseries of the world. This was the case for one young American woman accompanying Amma on Her 2004 North Indian Tour. So when Amma asked Her children for questions during a roadside tea stop on the way to Ahmedabad, the lady spoke up. She told Amma just how difficult it was for her to witness what she was seeing, how it was making her quite emotional–even depressed. She asked Amma for advice as to what she should do.

Amma seemed to pay keen attention as the brahmachari at Her side translated the lady’s question, then She spoke: “This journey with Amma is to understand the sorrows and sufferings of this world. We should only take what we need from the world. To appease our hunger, we need food. To cover our bodies, we need clothes.”

Then Amma said something that was beginning to seem like Her mantra for the tour. She had said it so many times–practically, at every stop. It was a proclamation of the beauty and power of renunciation: “When you take, you become a beggar. When you give, you become a king.”

Amma then went on to explain how there are 24 hours in a day, and that we should try to use some of that time for uplifting the poor. She explained how each of us has different capacities, and we should use whatever capacities we have to help others. Amma then suggested that some people could make and sell handicrafts with the profits going to the poor. Those with high education, She said, can teach others. “Our abilities and skills in a given field only increase when we share them.”

Amma told the lady that She was advising her in this way because she was a spiritual person and she had asked Amma. “Worldly people don’t concern themselves with such things,” She said. “They are focused only on earning for themselves.”

Amma said how some of Her children have even worn the same shoes for 25 years in order to save money with which to help the poor, and how all of us can start giving away our old clothes that we no longer use to help the less fortunate. “There are children who have reduced the number of saris, clothes, jewellery, fancy food and luxuries they buy every year, and then are giving what they save to Amma,” She said. “Small children sell flowers, food and malas. Flea-markets, washing and parking cars–all these are ways in which Amma’s children around the world are raising money to help the ashram in its charitable activities. If many people like you start thinking along these lines, we can change the face of this earth.”

Amma then told an anecdote about someone watching the nightly news after the Gujarat earthquake: “Watching the TV,” he later told his friend, “I felt so sad.” “What did you do?” his friend asked. “I changed the channel.”

“Sympathy is not enough,” Amma said. “It won’t be complete. You have to expand and live a life of sacrifice, reducing luxuries.”

“When you take, you become a beggar. When you give, you become a king.”


Amma gives darshan to surat for the first time

Bharata Yatra 2004

8 March, 2004 — New Mumbai, Maharashtra

Amma’s first visit to Surat found thousands coming to hear Her satsang, listen to Her bhajans and have Her darshan. In remembrance of the historic occasion, Smt. Snehalateben Chawan, the Honourable Municipal Mayor of Surat, and Member of Parliament Smt. Savitaben Sharada presented Amma with a beautiful gold kalasha [ceremonial pot] on behalf of the citizens of the city.

Shri. Kashiram Prana, the Honourable Union Minister for Rural Development, also was there to welcome Amma to the city. The Honourable Minister said that he had been trying to come to Amma’s Amritapuri ashram for some time, but had not been able to. So he felt that it was an answer to his prayers that Amma had finally come to bless the city of Surat. He felt Amma’s coming was a miracle in its own right. In his speech, he also prayed to Amma that the citizens of Surat would be inspired to dedicate their lives to loving and serving the world like Amma.

The program took place in the modern S.M.C. indoor stadium, which was full of Suratites, clamouring to have their first encounter with Amma. As Amma gave darshan, Her image was projected onto two giant TV screens adding to the program’s futuristic vibe. As one senior brahmachari commented, “This place looks like a space ship!”

Amma treated Her Surat children by singing many bhajans in Gujarati, including “Dhiyo Darshan Ma Devi Ma.”


Amma arrives at her ashram in New Mumbai

Bharata Yatra 2004

4 March 2004 — New Mumbai, Maharashtra

After a large program in Prabhadevi Mumbai that lasted until 9:00 a.m., Amma came to Her ashram in Nehrul, New Mumbai. Upon Her arrival, Amma walked through the large group of devotees who were still busy preparing the ashram for the two-day Brahmasthanam Festival that would begin the next day.


Amma first asked Her children if they all had food and had slept since the end of the darshan, to which there was a resounding reply of “yes!” Amma then took Her time going to Her room, walking to the left, and then to the right, stopping to talk to a devotee here, pinching the cheeks of a little one there. It was a nice surprise for the Mumbai devotees who had been working so hard to prepare for Amma’s arrival.


“Read the language of her eyes”: darshan in Mumbai

Bharata Yatra 2004

3 March 2004 — Mumbai, Maharashtra

“I pray to Amma to bless the people of Mumbai,” said Smt. Jayawantiben Mehta, the Honourable Minister of Power, to Amma and the some 30,000 people who had gathered in Prabhadevi Mumbai for Amma’s darshan. “Everyone becomes a child in the presence of Amma. Just as we receive amrita [nectar] from the various forms of the Mother, we receive blessings from the Divine Mother. Amma blesses everyone. There is compassion in Her eyes. Amma’s love is not confined to humanity alone, it encompasses plants and animals as well. …

Then Smt. Jayawantiben Mehta said how the program grounds were near the Siddhi Vinayak Temple and recalled a Puranic story wherein Lord Vinayak (Ganesh) won a race around the universe by simply circumambulating his mother, the Divine Mother, and thus received Her boon. Similarly, the Honourable Minister said, when we pray and pay our respects to Amma, we feel fulfilled.

“Amma alone can bring peace to the world. There is no need to understand languages like Hindi and Malayalam,” she continued. “You only need to read the language of Her eyes, Her love. Amma is the messenger of world peace. Just as the river flows, Amma’s river of love just flows. We just have to follow it.”

Other dignitaries on the dais included, Shri. Rajesh Tope, the Honourable Minister of State for Social Justice; Shri. Sanjay Deshmukh, Honourable Minister of State for Youth Welfare and Sports; Shri. Suresh Shetty, Honourable Minister of State for Education of Medicine; Shri. Rajindra Shingane, Honourable Minister of State for Education; Shri. Jaganmath Hegde, the Honourable Sheriff of Mumbai; Shri. Jackie Shroff, film actor; Shri. Sunil Dutt, film actor and M.P.; and Smt. Thackeray, renowned social activists. These were just a few of the many prominent industrialists, politicians, artists, cultural and social workers and educationalists who participated in Amma’s satsang, bhajan and darshan.

The program began at 7:00 p.m. ended at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. Thirty thousand darshan tokens were distributed.