Amma awarded Sant Jnaneshwara World Peace Prize

31 January 2006 — Pune, Maharashtra

On 31 January 2006, Amma was awarded the “Philosopher Saint Sri Jnaneshwara World Peace Prize 2006″ by the World Peace Centre (WPC), a Pune-based organization focused on bringing together the forces of science, philosophy and religion for world peace The award was officially presented by Padma Vibhusan Nirmala Deshpande, Raja Sabha MP during a ceremony in Jnaneshwari Hall in Pune.

Swami Amritaswarupananda accepted the award on Amma’s behalf and read a message from Amma to all those present at the ceremony. In Amma’s message she talked about the greatness of Sant Jnaneshwara, the 11th century Maharashtra saint in who’s name the award has been created. Amma said, “Jnaneshwar was truly a mahatma, great in every respect. He was a mahayogi, mahabhakta and a mahajnani [a great yogi, devotee and knower of Truth].

He brought the message of spirituality to the common man with words that were as sweet as nectar. His life and words remain an inspiration for people not only in Maharashtra, but for seekers all over the world.”

She also spoke about the greatness of mahatmas in general, specifically how, from the pinnacle of knowledge where they reside, they humbly come down to man’s level in order to uplift him: “The principle of the Paramatma is comparable to the snow-capped Himalayas. Even though snow is essentially water, people cannot drink it or bathe in it. However, when the snow melts owing to the heat of the sun and flows down as the Ganges, it benefits all. Some drink from that holy water and quench their thirst. Some bathe in it. Some swim and enjoy playing in it. Mahatmas are like the Ganges. It is through the mahatmas that people are able to experience the presence and grace of God. In their presence, people are able take a deep drink of divine bliss. They listen to their advice and become enlightened. The life and actions of mahatmas uplift the dharma and samskara [spiritual culture] of society.”

The prize Committee included Padma Vibhushan Dr. Raghunath A. Mashelkar [chairman]; Dr. Vishwanath D. Karad, the renowned educationalist and director of Maharashtra Institute of Technology [executive chairman]; Padma Vibhushan Dr. Mohan Dhariya, former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India; Padmashree Dr. Vijay P. Bhatkar, the renowned computer scientist; and Advocate Bhaskarrao E. Avhad.

—Manu

Transcending time and space through love

8 – 10 January, Kozhikode, Kerala — Bharata Yatra 2006

They begin queuing up the day before Amma is to give darshan, and they spend the whole night there, entire families sleeping on the hard ground under the open sky. Most of them have been waiting all year for these three days—Amma’s annual visit to Kozhikode. Though the majority of them cannot afford to take time off from work to travel down to Amritapuri, their every day is lived in remembrance of Amma. For them, she is everything—their mother, their guru, their god, their very life.

Amma has been coming to Kozhikode (or Calicut, as it is also called) since 1985. And over the last 21 years she has forged an unbreakable bond with the people here.

Watching Amma give darshan, one may wonder as to how it has been possible for such a bond to have formed, as a typical pace of darshan in Kozhikode is one devotee per every two seconds—30 per minute, 1,800 people per hour. Brahmachari Vivekamrita Chaitanya, who has been in charge of Amma’s ashram in Kozhikode since 1995, feels he knows the reason: “In true bhakti [devotion], one goes beyond the limitations of time and space.”

“The bhakti of the devotees in Kozhikode is special because it manifests in their actions,” he says. “Take the example of the pandal [the temporary roofing that covers areas of the ashram to protect people from sun and rain during Amma’s programme]. The devotees have been coming here for the past one month and working on it themselves, weaving together the coconut-tree fronds by hand. They come whenever they have spare time. And whatever spare money they have they are contributing to Amma’s charities; whatever they can give, they are giving. Some devotees don’t even have enough money to even readily come to the [Kozhikode] ashram, but still they somehow find a way to get here in order to participate in the seva activities. There are even cases where, out of their love for Amma and their desire to somehow help her with her charitable projects, they have sold off the wife’s tãli [gold wedding necklace] and given the money to Amma.”

Amma herself has recently spoken about the bhakti of the Kozhikode devotees. After the tsunami of December 2004, when a reporter asked Amma how she was going to raise the billion rupees she had pledged to dedicate to tsunami relief, Amma spoke about the hard work of her devotees and how even the poor do what they can to support her efforts. She then specifically mentioned some devotees that work in a Kozhikode granite quarry and how upon receiving their weekly wages they dash off to make it to the post-office before it closes. Amma told the reporter that, when their boss asked them why they were in such a rush, they responded, “We want to post a percentage of our wages to Amma.”

When many see Amma giving darshan in Kozhikode, they cannot believe their eyes. It seems like total chaos—devotees being pushed into and pulled out of Amma’s arms at such a rate. Jan Kounen, the director of Darshan: The Embrace, the recently released documentary about Amma, once filmed Amma when she was going at such a speed. He said, “She is going so fast, so at first the eye doesn’t catch it; it just kind of looks disorganized, like a blur. It was too fast. So I decided to shoot her in slow motion. Only then I started to see: ‘No, it’s not like that; there is such grace and beauty there. Everything is so deliberate; it is like a ballet.'”

If one wants proof of Amma’s level of awareness and presence during such fast-paced darshans, one only needs to observe what happens when a devotee sneaks back into the darshan line for a second time. No sooner will that person fall into Amma’s arms, than will Amma grasp him by the shoulders and—in her own motherly way—scold him, saying, “Hey, you thief! You came twice!”

And if you watch the Kozhikode devotees as they exit the darshan queue, you will see the truth in their soft smiles and tear-filled eyes. Indeed, their bhakti—their pure hearts, pure actions and pure faith—has carried them beyond the confines of time and space, allowing them to experience Amma’s love so profoundly despite the shortness of their darshans. In truth, Amma’s grace is ever flowing towards all humanity, but perhaps the Kozhikode devotees have opened themselves up to receiving that grace a little more than the rest of us.

– Kannadi

The creator and the creation are not two: Amma in Kottakkal

6 January —Kottakkal, Malappuram District, Kerala — Bharata yatra 2006

By noon, the chairs were full, by 5:00, the grounds were full and by 7:00 the roads were all blocked. How many people came to see Amma in Kottakkal? When the crowds are this big, it is hard to say: 80,000? 90,000? 100,000? The only way you can really start to judge such a crowd is by comparing it to the crowds of Amma’s other big programmes.Bigger than Nagapattinam in 2005? Definitely. As big as Amma’s birthday in 2003? No. As big as Mangalore in 2004? Maybe.

“In Sanatana Dharma, the Creator and creation are not two,” Amma said in her satsang. It’s a point Amma almost always makes, but somehow when Amma says it just prior to embracing tens of thousands of people, it carries some extra impact. Amma doesn’t just make the statement, she demonstrates, dramatically, just how one she is with that truth.

Amma didn’t only embrace the people; they were fed as well. A temporary kitchen was erected next to the stage and everyone was served a free lunch and dinner.

The Ashram also took the occasion of Amma’s Kottakkal programme to add to its Amrita Nidhi pension programme—extending it by another 1,000 people, all from the Malappuram District.

Twenty or so of the beneficiaries came to the programme to receive the certificate of their enrolment in the programme and the first allotment of their supplementary income. Several of the women suffered from extreme deformities of the legs and had to be carried over to Amma. One girl—who had some disease that made her entire body as stiff as a board—beamed forth the biggest smile when Amma kissed her cheek.

Other beneficiaries included Gangadharan, a man whose property is about to be auctioned off by the bank due to his inability to repay Rs. 50,000 loan; Smt. Nafisa, who has no income and whose father suffers from debilitating asthma; Smt. Salina, who is studying home nursing but is having trouble making fees due to lack of money; and Bhushana, who is mentally retarded and yet has four children.

The pensions were officially distributed by Smt. Srilekha I.P.S., the Inspector General of Police of Central Kerala, and Sri. A.P. Anilkumar, the Honourable Cultural Minister of Kerala, and former Kerala minister Sri. Gangadharan. Also on the dais were Padmasri P.K. Varyar, the managing director of Kottakkal Arya Vaidyashala, and the Malayalam film-star Sri. Sriraman.

In Inspector General Srilekha’s speech, she said that in her world of cruel faces there is always one sweet smile to think of, the face of Amma. She also questioned—when the world keeps presenting various awards to Amma—why India has yet to award her its Bharata Ratna [the Jewel of India Award]. When she said this, everyone in applauded.

The two leading Malayalam daily newspapers—Malayalam Manorama and Matrubhumi—issued papers full of Amma’s programme photos. They came out just around midnight on the 7th. The entire front page of Malayalam Manorama was simply a gigantic picture of Amma’s face.

Today, Amma will travel on to her ashram in Kozhikode, her Vrindavan, a place where she regularly gives darshan to 25,000 to 30,000 people a day for three days. Only for one such as Amma, who abides in the truth of advaita—the fact that the Creator and the creation are not two—is such a thing possible.

*****

7 January 2006 —Kottakkal, Malappuram District, Kerala

The next day at 12:30 p.m.—18 and a half hours after Amma had come to the hall—the darshan token numbers were on 79,300, and the programme grounds were still full. As one brahmachari commented at that time, “It looks like the beginning of a programme, not the end!”

In the end, Amma finished at 1:30 p.m. A total of 90,000 darshan tokens had been distributed.

The massive programme was only possible due to the incredible amount of help that came at the hands of devotees—many old and some new. The official number of volunteers was 8,000, but this does not count the thousands of others who simply lent a hand out of their in-the-moment inspiration. These included approximately 100 Muslim youth, who went house-to-house, distributing leaflets about Amma and her visit to Kottakkal.

—Kannadi

 

“Imagine the sun rising in your heart”: 2006 begins in celebration

Midnight, 1 January 2006 —Amritapuri

When the clock struck midnight, Amma had been giving darshan for more than 13 hours. The New Year’s Eve dances and other cultural performances had taken place at Amma’s side. Darshan finished almost exactly with the beginning of 2006.

The thousands of devotees  from all over the world who had come to Amritapuri to celebrate broke into applause. Amma led everyone in prayer:

Bhakti ta, Jagadambe
Prema ta, Jagadambe
Vishvasam tannenne rakshikyu, Jagadambe

[Mother of the Universe, give me devotion. Mother, give me Love. Protect me, Mother, through giving me faith.]

Amma then led everyone in chanting Om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. For five-minutes straight, the bhajan hall was filled with the resonation of the divine mantra wishing for the happiness of the entire world.

In the silence created, Amma then led everyone in the following visualization: “Imagine the sun rising in your heart. Imagine all the flower buds blossoming into beautiful flowers. There are many butterflies blissfully flying about, drinking the nectar of the flowers. Now, imagine the hearts of all beings in the world becoming filled with love, peace and happiness.”

Then Amma gave a message to all her children, in which she reflected on all the tragedies of past and asked everyone to pray for those who died or suffered due to those tragedies.

“We are entering the New Year with the hope that this year will be different and much better,” Amma said. “We hope that this coming year will bring a new dawn—one wherein we will wake to the laughter of children and the chirping of birds, instead of to the crying of children and old people and the sound of gunfire. But there is no point in just hoping. Just by the turning of a number, nothing really changes. For the fulfillment of our hopes, effort should also be there.”

Amma then stood up, called for her kai-manis (hand bells) and—to the bhajan “Bhajore Bhajo Krishna Hare Ram”—blissfully danced.

“When you dance, try to lose yourself in it,” Amma said. “Imagine that the entire creation is blissfully joining you in the dance.”

And thus 2006 was begun in celebration.

—Kannadi

WATCH VIDEO : NEW YEAR CELEBRATION