Celebrating the glory that is Amma

Tuesday, 28 September 2004 — Amritapuri

It was nearing three o’clock in the morning, and Amma had been giving darshan for 14 hours straight. “They are not singing in all the languages,” Amma suddenly said, referring to the brahmacharis and brahmacharinis sitting on the stage behind Her. “Get the microphone. I will sing, and they can sing the chorus from there.”

And with that, Amma began to sing a song in Tamil, “Ellamarikendra Kannanidam.” The 8,000 or so devotees in the hall went wild. Within seconds, everyone was clapping and singing along.

During the next 30 minutes, Amma sang four Krishna bhajans as She gave darshan—two in Tamil, one in Marathi and one in Kannada. A brahmachari at Amma’s side right held Her microphone, and a brahmacharini on Her left held Her bhajan books. Amma would sing one line and then, as the response came, She would embrace the next devotee in the queue and whisper in his or her ear. Sometimes, Amma would completely lose Herself in the singing, and hold a devotee in Her arms for as many as three minutes, the whole time calling out in song.

Amma was radiant. Her smile was a celebration of the entire creation. It was the defining moment of Amma’s 51st birthday.

Sleeping in his mother’s arms at Amma’s side was a three-year-old boy named Appu. Perhaps this is why Amma chose the Tamil bhajan “Chinni Kanna Chella Kanna” as Her next song. The bhajan is actually a lullaby sung to baby Krishna by Yashoda. As Amma sang, She was in full Yashoda bhava, emphasising the lyrics with Her hands, turning to sing directly to the sleeping boy. “You enchant the whole world with your smile,” Amma sang. “Now, Lord of the Universe, go to sleep.”

Amma’s third song was “Panduranga Vittala.” It is one of the most energetic bhajans in all of Amma’s songbooks. The song continues to build in tempo until there is nothing the singer can do but repeat the name of “Vittala” [Krishna] over and over again as fast as he can. There was such a light in Amma’s eyes, as She did this. With one hand She held a young man tightly to Her chest, with the other She rallied everyone in the hall to sing out their hearts.

Perhaps the most memorable song was the last, “Banda Krishna,” a Kannada bhajan that proclaims “Krishna has come and he spreads happiness and cheer. He enjoys the company of his devotees and gopas.” As Amma sang, it was as if She were telling the story of what was happening in that very moment.

Throughout all four songs, an 82-year-old ashram resident was sitting at Amma’s side. Actually, his name was Krishna—although not many people know this because he goes by a nickname. Amma turned to him and began keeping time by slapping lightly on the top of his bald head. Then, just as She had done to little Appu, Amma began addressing him through the song, pointing at him each time She called out “Bonda Krishna” [come Krishna]. It was too much for him. Staring up at Amma with folded hands, his eyes filled, and soon his cheeks were wet.

When Amma finished the bhajan, the entire hall exploded with applause. The devotees weren’t cheering the songs. They were cheering the glory that is Amma Herself, claiming Her as their very own. To do so was why they all had come.

—Sakshi

Watch bhajans

Amma’s 51st Birthday

Monday, 27 September 2004

Out of their immense gratitude for the infinite love and compassion Amma has showered upon humanity, Amma’s children from around the world will soon be making the pilgrimage to Amritapuri in order to participate in Amma’s 51st Birthday Celebrations.

This year, the festivities will return to Amma’s place of birth, Amritapuri and will be celebrated on Monday, 27 September.

B’day preparation: Setting up of a temporary pandal in front of the ashram during the late hours of the 22nd of Sept.

As always, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math will take the opportunity to further its already vast network of charitable humanitarian activities.

Schedule events include:

1. The inauguration of the Amrita School of Ayurveda & Research Centre by  Sri. Oommen Chandy, the Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala.

2.  Distribution of keys to houses built across the states of India as part of Amritakuteeram, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s scheme of providing shelter to 100,000 destitute homeless families.

3.  Bestowing of the Amritakeerti Puraskar upon an individual whose dedicated his life to spreading the culture of Santana Dharma.

4. The inauguration of a hospital for tribals in Kalpetta, Kerala, Wayanad District,  complete with a Tele medicine Centre.

5. The marriage of couples unable to bear the costs of a traditional Indian wedding in a mass ceremony with the Mata Amritanandamayi Math shouldering the costs.

6. The distribution of free food and clothing.

On the morning of 27th September, Amma’s padapuja will be performed, and Amma will deliver Her birthday message. New Ashram publications will be released and prizes will be awarded to the top subscription-gatherers of Matruvani, the Ashram’s monthly spiritual magazine.

On the night of the 26th, Amrita Educational Institution students will offer cultural performances to Amma.

Mass marriage for impoverished couples

Monday, 27 September 2004 — Amritapuri

Amma’s 51st Birthday Celebrations

Srinath and Lakshmi (names changed) never dreamed this day would take place—the most memorable day of their lives. But on September 27, this very poor couple were married at Amritapuri Ashram by none other than Amma Herself.

Their wedding took place along with those of 30 other couples who’s families were similarly unable to afford the costs of a traditional Indian marriage. After a careful economic screening process, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math arranged all the necessary clothing, gold ornaments and puja items needed for the ceremony and conducted the mass wedding on the auspicious occasionof Amma’s 51st birthday celebrations.

One of the stipulations for the couples was that the bride’s family would pay no dowry to the groom’s.

This was the second time that Amma and the Math had conducted a free mass wedding for the poor. The first took place a year before during Amritavarsham50, Amma’s 50th birthday celebration in Cochin, where more than 150 couples were wed.

–Sushil

Healing the impoverished through telemedicine

Monday, 27 September 2004, Amritapuri

Losing a child since the doctor was not at hand or suffering constantly since the diagnosis was faulty or getting handicapped for want of timely medicines is now going to be a thing of the past for many residents of Kalpetta, Wayanad. As part of the 51st Birthday Celebrations of Amma, the Honourable Minister of Health and Family Welfare for Kerala, Shri. Ramachandran Master, inaugurated an Amrita Charitable Hospital in Kalpetta.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that service to humankind was service to God, and that this teaching was embodied in the life and teachings of Amma.

What makes this 10-bed healthcare centre unique is that it will be Kerala’s first hospital to benefit from the telemedicine link when connected with Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Cochin. Though AIMS is linked via an ISRO Satellite with 82 hospitals and clinics in India, it is the first time that a Kerala hospital will become a beneficiary; and that too, a center that will be accessible by the poor.

Restoring the glory of Ayurveda

Monday, 27 September 2004 — Amritapuri

Shri. Oommen Chandy, the Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala, officially inaugurated the Amrita Ayurveda Medical Hospital today, as part of Amma’s 51st Birthday Celebrations.

Speaking at the occasion, Swami Amritaswarupananda, said that Amma’s envisioned the college as an institution that would merge the modern and the ancient: “Not only will this 250-bed medical college help preserve India’s holistic tradition, assuring that the profound knowledge of the ancient Rishis continues to be passed down to future generations, but—through the use of scientifically documented research—it will also pave the way for the ancient science’s acceptance by the mainstream medical community.

“The need of the hour is the creation of well-trained professionals who can take up the challenge of applying the ancient principles of Ayurvedic medicine to the chronic health problems plaguing the modern world.

Being situated so close to the Ashram, the college campus is bathed in Amma’s divine energy. In such a serene atmosphere, the holistic vision of health envisioned by Ayurveda—the healing of not just the mind and body but also the spirit—can easily be attained. The Gurukula system upon which Ayurvedic education is founded can be reawakened.

Housed on a 25-acre campus just across the backwaters from the Amritapuri Ashram, the 250-bed college will offer eight disciplines, including gynecology. It also will be equipped laboratories, an extensive library and two operation theaters.

Mahakavi Akkitham receives Amritakeerti Puraskar

“Now Why Should I Write?”

Monday, 27 September 2004 — Amritapuri

When Mahakavi Akkitham Achyuthan Nambootiri received the Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s Amritakeerti Puraskar for his contributions to poetry, philosophy and Vedic culture, his eyes were filled with tears.

“I am standing in the greatest, most auspicious moment of my life,” he said, standing at Amma’s side. “There is no greater recognition than this for me to attain.”

He then quoted a verse from one of his famous poems:

ഒരു കണ്ണീര്‍കണം മറ്റുള്ളവര്‍ക്കായ് ഞാന്‍ പൊഴിക്കവെ
ഉദിക്കയാണെന്നാത്മാവില്‍ ആയിരം സൂര്യമണ്ഡലം
ഒരു പുന്ചിരി ഞാന്‍ മറ്റുള്ളവര്‍ക്കായ് ചിലവാക്കവെ
ഹൃദയത്തിലുലാവുന്നു നിത്യ നിര്‍മ്മല പൗ‍ര്‍ണ്ണമി.

oru kannirkkanam mattullavarkkay nan pozhikkave
udikkayaanennatmavil aayiram saura mandalam
oru punchiri nan mattullavarkkay chilavakkave
hrdayattilulaavunnu nitya nirmmala paurnnami

[When I shed one tear drop for others,
a thousand galaxies burst forth in my heart.
When I offer a smile for others,
the eternal pure light of the full moon strolls in my heart.]

“My lines—Amma has accepted. This is the contentment receiving this award gives to me. The goal of human life is moksha. Through accepting my poem and giving me this award, Amma has given me moksha. Now, why should I write?”

It was Kerala’s Honourable Chief Minister, Shri. Oommen Chandy, who handed the award to the renowned Malayalam poet and scholar.

Mahakavi Akkitham, 73, is one of today’s most revered Malayalam writers. He has received numerous awards since his works began to be regularly published in the early 1950s, including a 1973 Kendra Sahitya Academy Award for his poem “Balidarsanam” [“Vision of Bali”] and the Sanjayan Award for his 1952 poem “Irupatham Nottandinte Ithihasam” [“Epic of the 20th Century”]. In literary circles, many consider this work as the starting point of modernism in Malayalam poetry. In all, some 45 collections of his poems, plays and short stories have been published.

For his part, Akkitham considers his translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam as his life’s most valued work. It comprises 14,613 verses, running 2,400 printed pages. Srimad Bhagavatam is the composition of sage Veda Vyasa on the avatars of Lord Vishnu including the life of Sri Krishna.

As a member of the Yogakshema Sabha (Trissur), Akkitham has worked for social reforms among the Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala. He also has worked for the promotion of Vedic studies in association with the famous Vedic Study Centres at Thirunavaya, Kadavalloor and Trissur, including the proliferation of Vedic studies among non-Brahmins.

He has strongly spoken out against untouchability, participating in the Paliyam Sathyagraha fight against untouchability in 1947.

Akkitham was born and lives in Kumaranallur, Palakkad District, Kerala.

The Math first began presenting the Amritakeerthi Award in 2001 {news}.

We have forgotten the language of love and compassion

Monday, 27 September 2004

Amma’s 51st birthday message

Amma feels very sad when She sees the present state of the world. Everywhere we look we see pictures of bloodshed and people shedding tears. There is no compassion even towards children. How many innocent people are perishing in wars and terrorist attacks! It is said that in the olden days some sects practiced human sacrifices, but still they adhered to certain do’s and dont’s.  In the wars fought in the olden times, one was not supposed to attack an unarmed person, and war would not continue after sunset. Today, we have crossed all boundaries. We live in a time where ego and selfishness seem to rule the world.

The world now seems very sophisticated and civilized. But our culture and values are eroding. The world has become just like a beautifully wrapped box of chocolates—infested by worms. We are not ready to share anything and want everything to be our own: be it land, food or the water from rivers.

We are interested in learning more and more languages, which are the means to communicating with people from other parts of the country and the world. But we’ve completely forgotten the language of love and compassion, which, more than anything else, helps us to understand one another. These modern times are marked by a poverty of love. Love and compassion are supposed be our greatest wealth, but today we have lost them. Without wetting our hearts with the tears of love, there is no hope for us or for the world.

The root cause of all destruction is the ego. There are two kinds of egos that create suffering in the world. One is the ego of power and wealth. The second is the ego that believes, “My opinion alone is right. Everyone else is wrong. I will not tolerate anything else. My religion alone is true. The rest are all false. They are not needed here.” Unless these two types of egos are eradicated, there will be no peace in life. To listen patiently to others, to be eager to understand other people, to be expansive enough to accept even those who do not agree with us—all these are the signs of true culture. What the world needs today is such a culture.

We need to accept and imbibe the good wherever we see it. Most human beings have a hot head and a cold heart—a head heated with ego and a heart cold with selfishness. Thus we are full of arrogance and devoid of compassion. But what we need is exactly the opposite: a cool head and a warm heart—a heart warmed with love and compassion, and a head cooled with wisdom.

Our offices, houses, etc. are all equipped with good security systems so that thieves cannot easily break in. But what about our minds? The doors are wide open; thieves can walk in at any time and steal all of our wealth. Who are these thieves? Negative thoughts. Any negative thought can enter our mind at anytime and steal the wealth of peace from within.

To make the mind calm is the pathway to completeness. The problem with modern-day education is that it teaches us to think and to analyze but not how to stop thinking and be still. We also need to know how to stop. When you drive a vehicle, it is not enough if you know how to drive and change the gears; you also need to know how to stop.

Amma has heard that, in care homes for the elderly in Japan, robots are being used to take care of the residents. They are even programmed to give the residents their baths. If one were unable to stop these machines, just imagine the state. We know how to create desires, but we do not know how to overcome them. What spirituality teaches us is how to transcend the desires of the mind and to rediscover the inner stillness.

We have a lot of sorrows in life. One of the reasons for this is that we are afraid of them. There are two kinds of sorrow. The first kind comprises sorrow we’ve created through unnecessary thinking. The second kind comes from our indiscriminate actions. If we are able to develop the right attitude, we can drastically reduce the burden of our sorrows. We should never forget that after every night, there is a dawn. We should never lose our optimistic faith. Life is like a flow. If we are able to remain a witness to the flow, we will not be affected by anything. But if we are caught in the flow, we will experience sorrow.

Pain carries a hidden message. It suggests that a time for change has come. Take physical pain: Suppose we are holding a burning-hot plate but don’t feel any pain; before we realise it, our hand may become charred like a stick. It is the pain that tells us to immediately let go. It is the same with every kind of pain we experience. It is conveying to us something deeper—that it is time for change. What is this change that needs to take place? It is the cultivation of the right attitude towards life. It is becoming more expansive. All experiences provide lessons for us to learn. But the sad thing is that we continually fail to do so.

When we try to find our way in the ocean, we must guide ourselves using the light of the polestar, and not by that on the bow of the ship. Similarly, if we focus on the eternal, we will remain unaffected by the changing experiences of life.

All negativities arise from the ego alone—be it anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. Anger is like a virus that gets into a computer and destroys all the information stored therein. Similarly, when we get angry, it destroys our discrimination and peace of mind, and we lose all self-control. Anger is like a blackout. When the electricity goes off and we try to walk through a dark room, we might stumble on and break many things. Only when the power returns do we realise the damage we’ve caused. When we are angry, we are totally blind to the words we speak and the actions we perform. Only later do we realize our folly. We should never allow anger to become a habit.

Bad habits are like a cosy bed. They are easy to jump into, but difficult to get out of. To overcome them, we need to put forth constant effort.

God’s grace is like sunlight; it shines on all without discrimination. But to experience it, we must open our hearts. Good actions are the means to doing this.

We buy life-insurance policies because we know that death could come at any moment. But we live our lives as if we believe we will never die.

We give physical exercise to the body, but neglect the heart. The exercise for the heart is uplifting the destitute and the suffering. The beauty of our eyes is not in the collyrium, but in a compassion-filled glance. The beauty of our ears is not in our earrings, but in listening to the distressed. The beauty of our hands is not in our rings, but in our good actions.

We should have gratitude in life. We are indebted to the world and to all the beings in it. There is nothing in this world that hasn’t nourished our growth in one way or another, thus bringing us to our present state. This earth is our mother. Nature is our mother. We should not forget our dharma towards our mother. We should not turn a deaf ear to the cries of our brothers and sisters. We should try our best to relieve their suffering in whatever way we can. To be compassionate towards the poor, one does not need a lot of wealth or a very high position. A loving word, a compassionate look, a simple good deed—all these can bring light to their lives, as well as to our own. It is not what we gain, but what we are able to give, that determines the value of our life. If we have been able to give happiness to a soul—even for a minute—it makes our life blessed.

Love gives everything; there is no thought of receiving. Love has no complaints; it accepts all. Love removes all fears; it transforms all ugliness into beauty. Because love is the real refuge, it is the beauty of life. Love is the spring of life; it makes it ever new and fresh.

Love is the expression of the Self. It is the thread on which all beings are strung. When love awakens in a person, the divinity in him or her also awakens—for love is God; it is the manifestation of the divine.

In love, there are never two. We feel a river to have two banks only because of the water in between. If the water of the ego dries up, only oneness remains. When love awakens, the ego disappears. Then, human beings realize their oneness with each other. One realizes his or her oneness with the whole of creation. Divine love is knowledge, liberation and bliss. When we become filled with that divine love, we are able to see God in everything and that itself is the ultimate fulfillment.

May all the thoughts of my children be filled with love. May you all become the light of the world.

A roof for the roofless

Monday, 27 September 2004 — Amritapuri

Amma’s 51st birthday was a very special day for Kalidasi Paul from West Bengal. Hailing from India’s poorest of the poor, a meal was a daily struggle. Most days, she had to make do with just a handful of puffed rice and lots of water to appease her hunger. Impoverished and shelter less, Kalidasi had given up all hope. The idea of actually owning a house was unfathomable. And that is when her family was identified by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math for a free home under the Amritakuteeram free-housing project. On the 51st birthday of Amma, she could not hold back her tears when she was handed the keys to her new dwelling by Shri. Therambil Ramakrishnan, the Honourable Speaker of the Kerala Legislature in the divine presence of Amma.

In fact, Kalidasi is not alone. On that solemn day, some 5,000 destitute families were assigned homes in five states: Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

The free houses are part of 100,000 free houses Amma has vowed the Math to build and give away to India’s destitute homeless. So far, more than 30,000 such houses have been distributed across the country.

On hand for the distribution were some previous recipients of Amritakuteeram homes—villagers from Bhuj, whose homes had been leveled in the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. They had come all the way to express their gratitude to Amma, who had lifted them from the jaws of death and given them a reason to live when She had their villages rebuilt by the Math..

–Sushil

Amma has a desire

Amma’s Messages on 2004 International peace day

Tuesday, 21 September 2004—Amritapuri

We should not turn the world into a desert. We should not allow love and compassion to totally dry up. If that happens, the human race will cease to exist. This beautiful world will become a forest full of human animals. Seeing today’s situation, sometimes Amma wonders, “Is the number of those desiring peace and harmony decreasing?” Is humankind purposefully awakening its latent animalistic tendencies? Or is it simply helpless to prevent this descent? Whatever the cause may be, it would be a folly to rely on human effort alone—regardless of how great our efforts may be.
We should not hesitate to rely on God’s power. By “God’s power,” we do not mean something outside. It is within us. We need to awaken that power.

Today, the need for prayer and spiritual practices is greater than ever before. There are people who think, “What can my individual prayers possibly change?” We shouldn’t think this way. Through prayer, we are sowing the seeds of love. If just one flower were to blossom in the middle of a desert, at least it’s something. If a tree were to grow there, wouldn’t it at least provide some small amount of shade?

Terrorists, the violent and the warmongers—their love has run dry. They have no compassion. May the prayers of crores of people like us fill the atmosphere with love and compassion and thereby help bring about a change in their attitudes, at least to some extent.
What the world needs is not rogue elephants. They are selfish. They know only the language of killing and war cries—the language of ego. They do not know how to love or treat others with compassion. What we need today are loving and compassionate hearts. They are the strengths of society. Only through them will transformation take place.
The root cause of all destruction is the ego. There are two kinds of egos that create suffering in the world. One is the ego of power and wealth. The second one is the ego that believes, “My opinion alone is right. Everyone else is wrong. I will not tolerate anything else. My religion alone is true. The rest are all false. There are not needed here.” Unless these two types of egos are eradicated, there will not be peace in the world.

Only love can smoothen the warped minds of humankind. Therefore, we should find out ways to develop love and compassion within, and implement them. Otherwise, the situation will only worsen. May that not happen.

What we need is not imposed peace or the peace of the dead. Only when all human beings live according to their dharma will there be harmony in the world. Only when human beings are able to perceive and acknowledge the Self in each other can there be real peace.
Amma has a desire: Everyone in the world should be able to sleep without fear at least one night. Everyone should be able to eat to his or her fill at least for one day. There should be at least one day when hospitals see no one admitted due to violence.
By doing selfless service for at least one day, everyone—from little children to the very elderly—should help raise money for the poor and needy—even if by making toys.
It is Amma’s prayer that at least this small dream be realised.

Amma’s ashrams, satsang groups & institutes to join in world peace Prayer

16 September 2004 — Amritapuri

As Tuesday, the 21st of September draws nearer, Mata Amritanandamayi Math has begun to coordinate thousands of gatherings around the planet for world peace.

Amma’s hundreds of thousands of devotees from around the world will offer their day’s spiritual practices for the cause of world peace, and all of Amma’s satsang groups-from virtually every country in the world-will come together for a few hours to pray for the peace and happiness of all beings. Amma’s 50 Amritavidyalayam schools, the four campuses of Amrita University, the computer institutes, hospitals and branch ashrams will also observe the hallowed occasion.

Amma’s satsang groups and branch ashrams will chant Amma’s dhyana sloka and the Sri Lalita Sahasranama. At 12:00 noon, they will spend one minute in silent prayer. They will then light an oil lamp or candle and chant the mantra “om lokah samastah sukhino bhavanthu” 18 times. The gatherings will conclude with the chanting of “om shantih shantih shantih.”

Faculty and students of Amma’s educational institutions throughout India will join in the moment of silence followed by the chanting of “lokah samastah.” Pujaris at Amritapuri and the Math’s 18 Brahmasthanam Temples will conduct special homas for world peace and harmony.

At Amritapuri, Amma will join the ashram’s 2,000 residents for meditation, whereupon everyone will participate in the minute-long prayer. Amma will also give a short message about world peace. There will also be a special ceremony involving the banyan sapling from Amritavarsham50, which Amma and the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, watered with sacred waters from 191 nations.

To find out what is happening in your area, contact your nearest branch ashram or satsang group.