Shankaracharya’s arrest is painful: Amma

20 November 2004 — San Ramon, California, USA

“It was painful to learn about the arrest of the Kanchi Acharya. It seems like a dream. And may it be nothing more than that…”

“Through generations, these Rishis, beginning from Adi Shankaracharya, have been preserving in pristine form the great treasure of the Vedas, handed over to us by the sages. There should not be any weakening of this lineage. If that were to happen, it would be like putting salt into the milk of knowledge bestowed upon us by Mother Veda.

“There may be differences of opinion within the community. In the name of Adi Shankaracharya and the great tradition of the Vedas, we should go beyond such differences and move forward in unity. Otherwise, the divisions will only intensify, giving rise to more trouble.”


click here for Malayalam.pdf

Stories of the old days

18 & 23 November 2004 — Amritapuri

Acchan’s Satsang to Ashram Residents

As Amma often laments, the elderly are not valued in today’s world. In fact, they are most often pushed away as a nuisance. In truth, their wealth is in their years, the vast amount of knowledge they have acquired during their long lives—knowledge borne out of their personal experiences and reflections, as well as all they have witnessed. What they’ve lived, the younger generations can learn only through books, often written by those who weren’t even there. Thus, to respect one’s elders is to respect knowledge itself.

Twice this past week, someone who’s witnessed more of Amma’s life than almost anyone else made his way to the bhajan hall to give satsang to the hundreds of ashramites assembled there: Suganandan Acchan, Amma’s father.

Accompanied by his wife, Damayanti Amma, Acchan sat for more than one hour each day, telling story after story—some of which were as many as 45 years old—to his riveted audience. Towards the end of his second satsang, several brahmacharis and brahmacharinis were even asking him questions in hopes of learning of events long past about which they’ve always longed to know.

Even though some of the stories have been recorded in books published by the Ashram, hearing them from Acchan’s perspective always proved fascinating and entertaining. And often, he would reveal details not provided in the books.

For example, many have read the story of Amma’s pilgrimage to Madurai and Kanyakumari in the early 1980s. The tales of Her visiting the Meenakshi Temple and visiting the avadhutas Mayi-Amma and Nayanar Swami are well known. But how they came to life coming from Acchan’s mouth!

The avadhut Nayanar Swami lived in a small village in Tamil Nadu on the way to Kanyakumari. Though abiding in his oneness with God, he was like a mad man in his ways—not bathing, urinating in the same place he slept, speaking mainly in a language no one could understand. Acchan told how the group sat in the hut around the swami. Amma sat on the swami’s right and the devotee who had brought them there on his left. Suddenly, the swami grabbed the glasses of the devotee to his left and flung them across the room. He was known to act in unexpected ways—even striking a blow or spitting. Everyone assembled in front of Acchan laughed as he confessed, “I, too, was wearing specks and, not wanting to lose them or receive any beatings, I quietly moved to the back of the hut.”

Similar was Acchan’s telling of the visit to the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. The temple, which is more than 2,000 years old, sees thousands of pilgrims coming every day to have the darshan of Meenakshi Devi. Thus, there was a large crowd assembled around the stone image of the goddess in the temple. As Acchan recollected, as soon as Amma saw the murti, She entered a divine mood. Her body became stiff like a board. After some time, it began to vibrate intensely. Then, suddenly, Amma began to dance. It created a real stir, and soon many of the pilgrims gathered around. When the pujari in the sanctum sanctorum saw the commotion, Acchan said, he seemed to immediately recognise that the girl was not a regular devotee, but an embodiment of the Divine Mother. He immediately removed one of the garlands from around the Meenakshi murti, came out of the inner temple and placed it around Amma’s neck. The whole scene was almost too much for Acchan, who told everyone that he resolved then and there not to bring Amma to anymore temples.

Other stories included those of various attacks on Amma by rationalists in the early days and experiences that helped Acchan to understand that Amma’s body is not at all like an ordinary human one. He also explained why Amma chose the spot in Kodungallor as the ground for the Ashram’s first Brahmasthanam Temple.

To end, Acchan shared with everyone something he had written for Amma, something that he, as the sole one whose fate it is in Amma’s leela to play the role of Her father, has the license to compose—a lullaby.


Vrischikam onnu, vriksham onnu

16 November 2005 — Kerala

Mass scale sapling planting by AYUDH

AYUDH, the youth wing of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, and GreenFriends, the Ashram’s environmental group, jointly organized a programme of planting 100,000 trees across the state of Kerala on November 16 to coincide with the first of the Malayalam month of Vrischikam. The programme is named as Vrischikam Onnu, Vriksham Onnu—literally meaning, “1st of Vrischikam, One Tree.” The programme is part of the nation-wide forestry programme undertaken by GreenFriends.

Observance of customs, vows and rituals: Amma says

Acharas are Necessary for a Sadhak’s Progress

“Acharas (observance of customs) are necessary for a sadhak’s (spiritual aspirant) progress. Just as there is a way to act in front of a policemen, there is also a way to conduct oneself before a Guru, elders or in a temple or holy place. Customs will instil a sense of humility and obedience in a sadhak, which will be an asset in his or her spiritual life.”

“Acharas should be observed as long as we live in the world. Even a person who has reached the non-dual state and is beyond purity and impurity or dos and don’ts, will not negate achara even though nothing affects him. Ordinary people cannot ascend without achara. Whether or not we observe achara, Brahman has nothing to gain. But for us to grow, we need to observe achara. Nothing affects those who have reached there. Dharma (righteousness) will decay if achara is not honoured. Acharas will be useful for mental purity.”


“When everything is pervaded by God, which thing is not to be worshiped?”

“Whatever you are engaged in, you should only be thinking of God. This is the purpose of rituals. Rituals will help foster good habits, and there will be order in life. Still, we should go beyond rituals; we should not be bound to them until the day we die.”

“Rituals and other ceremonies will help to cleanse and purify the mind. Through rituals and other religious observances, the mind, filled with all kinds of evil thoughts, will become good and virtuous. When that is gained, don’t stop; proceed and transcend that as well. If you attach yourself to the good and virtuous, these again will become habits and consequently vasanas.”

Question: “Mother, are rituals like formal worship necessary? Is it not enough if one does mental worship?”

Amma: “Will hunger be appeased if you merely think of food? Don’t you have to eat? In the beginning stages of spiritual life, puja and other ritualistic practices are necessary. They are one way to purify the wandering mind. The wandering nature of the mind can be controlled by keeping it engaged in the remembrance of God or Guru. While cleaning the puja room and puja articles, picking the flowers and making a garland and while doing the puja, the mind will always be thinking of the Lord’s worship. This one thought will replace the many disconnected thoughts of the mind and give a sense of quietude. A fixed place, time and materials for worship are needed at the beginning. Through constant practice, one will reach a stage where one can perform mental worship at all times and places, but this is very subtle and is possible only after the mind has become subtle through concentration and devotion. After this, one will be able to perform every action as a worship of the Lord.”

“Don’t face south when you light the oil lamps. Also, when you light the wicks of a lamp, do it clockwise round the lamp, just as you do pradakshina (circumambulation) in the temple.”

“The performer (of the ritual) should become the offering. The attitude should be, ‘O Lord, here, by offering this ingredient, I offer all my attachments to you. O Lord, now by offering this ingredient, I offer all my aversions to you. I burn all these in this fire of knowledge. Take this and purify me.’ This is the right attitude.”

“We have to acquire the necessary prerequisites of purity and mental maturity before we can enter into the realm of the Supreme Truth, and that is what we gain through rituals. Once that maturity and purity is attained, we are ready to dive into the ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss), and then there is no more need for action or rituals. While engaged in any action, or while performing rituals, we should keep in mind that Self-knowledge is the ultimate goal.”

“The Vedic rituals, and the mantras which form a part of them, purify the atmosphere and benefit mankind. Of course they do much good, but they can’t be compared to the immeasurable benefit humanity receives from a person who has attained realisation. No matter how important and valuable the rituals are, the practitioner should strive to go beyond them and to experience the ultimate Truth within. That is the very purpose of religion: to realise that there is no god or goddess existing separately from our own innermost Self.


“The atmosphere will be more polluted on certain days such as the eleventh day of the lunar month and the day of the full moon. It is to escape from this pollution that vows are observed on these days. Importance should be given to sadhana (spiritual practices) on these particular days because on such days our mind can become more concentrated. Just as there are planets outside, there are subtle planets surrounding each organ of our body, whose movements are similar to the movements of the planets going around the sun. More concentration can be gained when these subtle planets reach a certain state of vibration. Only fruit should be eaten on these particular days since they are less affected by the atmospheric pollution due to their having skin. The polluting effect will be greater on grains and vegetables. In addition, you should remain silent on these days. If you talk more, you breathe the polluted atmospheric air more. Mental control will increase when you lessen food and concentration will increase.”