The dance of Nataraja: Shivaratri in Pune

27 February, Sivaratri — Nigdi, Pune, Maharashtra –Bharata Yatra 2006

The Shivaratri {news} celebrations were in full swing. Amma’s Pune devotees and the devotees and disciples accompanying Amma on her tour had been singing bhajans in the Pune Ashram darshan hall since 6:00 p.m. The energy level was high, as bhajan after bhajan were being offered to Lord Shiva. Would Amma come and join them in the nightlong celebration? It was the question on everyone’s mind.

Then, at 10 to midnight—in the middle of one brahmachari’s ecstatic rendition of “Shankara Shiva Shankara,” Amma suddenly appeared. Of course, everyone rose to their feet, and Amma walked into their midst.

Would Amma sing bhajans with them? No, she would dance.

Amma took to the stage, which was already decorated for the next morning’s darshan, and said, “Dance, trying to see yourself as your ishta-devata [beloved deity].”

Someone then handed Amma a pair of kai-manis [hand cymbals], and then Swamis began to sing to the accompaniment of tabala and harmonium.

Bolo bolo sab mil bolo ‘Om namah Shivaya’
Bolo bolo sab mil bolo ‘Om namah Shivaya’
Jut jata me Ganga-dhari
Trisula-dhari damaru bhajave

The tempo was fast, and Amma moved briskly, stepping side to side to the beat. Her eyes were closed, and even though she wasn’t mic-ed, those close to the stage could clearly hear her voice. It truly was an ecstatic dance, full of energy. Surely many thought of Nataraja doing his dance of destruction at the end of a cycle of creation1.

At one point, Swamiji stopped the song, but Amma kept dancing—the ring of her kaimani, the sound of her footsteps and the clapping of the devotees were her only music. Almost right away, Swamiji and the harmonium and tabala, of course, started up again. Amma danced for a little while longer, and then when she was finished she sat down on the floor in meditation.

Amma remained like that for some time, and then stood up and began distributing pieces of apple to all the devotees.

For the Pune devotees observing the traditional Shivaratri vow of no food and no sleep, Amma’s appearance was an inspiration, replenishing their strength and sharpening their focus. For those travelling with Amma, it was also a treat—seeing Amma in Shiva Bhava. But in terms of tapas [austerities], almost every night on the India Tour is a Shivaratri.

—Kannadi

*Every object—whether it be an animal, a plant, a human being, a world, a universe or a thought—undergoes the process of creation, sustenance and destruction at every moment. Lord Shiva represents the destruction principle. In the Puranas, the end of a cycle of creation is mythologized by Nataraja (a name for Lord Shiva meaning “the King of Dance”) doing his dance of destruction. Death of a flower-bud is the birth of a flower. Death of flower is the birth of its seed.

Amma returns cash prize, asks to start scholarship

Bharata Yatra 2006

27 February 2006 — Nigdi, 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 {news}.

Amma had not been able to come to Pune to receive the award at that time, so Swami Amritaswarupananda accepted it on her behalf. However, on the first night of Amma’s programmes in Pune, the WPC came forward to present the award to Amma directly.

Prize Committee members Dr. Vishwanath D. Karad, the renowned educationalist and director of Maharashtra Institute of Technology, and Padmashree Dr. Vijay P. Bhatkar, the renowned computer scientist, presented Amma with the citation of honour, an idol of Sant Jnaneshwara and a cash prize of Rs. 500,000. However, Amma did not accept the cash prize, saying from the dais that the money should be put in the bank and the interest used to create scholarships for poor children. “It was given for peace, and peace is in serving the needy,” said Amma.

Both Dr. Karad and Dr. Bhatkar addressed the gathering. Dr. Bhatkar said that when the Peace Prize Committee—which also included Padma Vibhushan Dr. Raghunath A. Mashelkar (chairman), Padma Vibhushan Dr. Mohan Dhariya and Advocate Bhaskarrao E. Avhad—began discussing candidates for the award, they decided, “No other person has done so much for world peace than our own Amma.”

“Amma often says that the Creator and the entire creation are one, and through the message of love—transcending the barriers of nations, language, casts, creeds, colours—she has embraced the entire humanity, the entire world. And this peace prize should be conferred on Amma,” Bhatkar further explained.

Amma then distributed certificates of enrolment to 10 or so new beneficiaries of the Ashram’s Amrita Nidhi lifetime free pension programme. This was symbolic of how the programme has been extended to an additional 1000 beneficiaries in the Pune. The new enrolees also received their first three-month pension onstage.

Smt. Mangalatai Kadam, the Mayor of Pimpri Chawad, was also present for the programme.

The formal programme was followed by Amma’s satsang, her leading of the devotees in meditation, manasa puja and bhajans, as well as darshan.

–Kannadi

 

Grace along that lost highway

27 February, Pandarpur, Maharashtra, en route to Pune from Shegaon — Bharata Yatra 2006

“May your far-reaching eyes—which are only slightly open like a blue lotus just beginning to bloom—bathe even a worthless, far-removed one like me in your grace. Just as the cooling rays of the moon fall equally on the mansion and the wilderness, it will incur you no loss, O Shive, but this person will indeed become blessed.” —Soundarya Lahari, 57

Amma left the lunch-stop in Pandarpur and continued on towards Pune. But after driving just a couple of kilometres, her car came upon a drunkard, stumbling along the middle of the road. Amma told the brahmachari driving to stop. The man did not even appear able to see. He walk passed by Amma’s car, swaying this way and that. And then, as he passed the Ashram vehicle stopped behind Amma’s, he bounced against it, giving it a good whack. He then continued on.

Amma allowed her driver to resume the journey, but after five metres or so, she again told him to stop. She then opened her door, stepped out onto the road and called to one of the brahmacharis riding in the car behind: “He is fully drunk. Go and get him off the road. Make sure he sits down somewhere. Find the villagers and entrust his care to them.” Without haste, the brahmachari got back in the car, turned around and sped off to fulfill Amma’s wish.

To Amma, nothing and no one is insignificant. Her compassion is like an ocean, rushing forward to touch the feet of whoever is blessed enough to stand before her.

—Kannadi

A Lunch-stop eye surgery

27 February, Pandarpur, Maharashtra, en route to Pune from Shegaon Bharata Yatra 2006

ajnana timirandhasya
jnananjana salakaya
cakshurunmeelitam yena
tasmai sree gurave namah — Guru Gita

If one approaches a Guru, earnestly seeking to understand the nature of his mind, the Guru’s knowledge will flow forth and clarity will come. In fact, the Guru Gita  says the words of a True Master are like the instrument of an eye surgeon dipped in the ointment of knowledge. If one wants to remove the cataract of ignorance, all one needs to do is to lie without flinching and allow the surgeon to do his work.

On the way from Shegaon to Pune, Amma stopped for lunch in Pandarpur. There, in a field on top of a small hill, one of the devotees travelling with Amma came forth with a question, and a classic surgery took place.

“Amma, when we are facing very strong attachment—something we are so identified with that we can’t get rid of it—what is the proper attitude?” the man asked. “Should we try to fight to get rid of it? Or is it like a fruit that is not ripe enough to drop and the proper attitude is to wait a little longer until it matures and drops on its own?”

Amma said, “If your desire is intense and you try to suppress it, it will only return with more power. Even after we experience once or twice or three times, still the desire will keep coming back, so we shouldn’t think that it will be satiated through indulging.”

Giving the example of the vasana [tendency] for partnership, Amma said, “Even at the age of 100, it will not go, and even if one gets married, he or she may still become attracted to other people. At some point we must try to cultivate vairagya [dispassion].”

Amma then explained how the bliss, pleasure and sense of satisfaction we get from the various objects and attainments of the world, in fact, comes from within. “If you eat 10 chocolates, the joy you get from the 10th chocolate is not equal to the joy you get from the first,” Amma said. “If the bliss had been in the object, then each piece should have been able to give you the same amount of bliss. But it is not; the bliss is within; the bliss is within the mind. You have to understand the nature of the world and the nature of your mind and from that viveka [discriminative thinking] will arise. At one point, you must draw back.”

The man was not satisfied with Amma’s answer. In fact, he had a very specific desire in his mind. “What about an attachment that is related to a lifestyle that is supposedly incorrect?” he asked. “I want to do something, and supposedly I want to do it because it is a vasana. I am confused. I don’t know what I should do?”

“What is it, son?” Amma asked.

“Amma, last year I sent you a letter. I told you that I was going to sail my boat from America to India, and this is a plan that I’ve had for many, many years. And you replied to my letter and you said, ‘Don’t go.'”

Amma’s opinion had apparently changed. In English she said, “Okay, you try, you try.”

The man however did not accept Amma’s reversal of stance so readily: “No, in your letter you said, ‘No, don’t do it, something’s going to happen.'”

Amma then explained to him that at that particular time she had felt it was not a good period for him to travel.

Then the man made a confession. “Anyway, I was still going to do it,” he said. “I was still going to move the boat a little bit. And somehow I met another master, and he told me the same thing. He said, ‘Don’t do it! Never! Give it up in this life!’ And he said it was linked to a past-life karma, and he told me about the past life in the 15th century and blah blah blah.

Amma’s response: “Blah blah blah.”

All the 400 or so people seated around Amma burst into laughter. And Amma herself was unable to hold back her smile for long.

When the laughter died down, Amma asked him how long it would take to sail from America to India.

“Between two months and 10 years.”

Again, the peaceful hillside erupted in laughter.

“Has someone done this before?” Amma asked him. “It’s not like just going on a ship; many factors are involved.”

The man told Amma that, yes, many people have made similar voyages, adding that he had been living on the sea for the past 20 years.

Amma saw a clear shot at the cataract and moved in swiftly. “Even after being on the sea for 20 years, this desire has not been exhausted,” she pointed out. “So maybe you can pray to God, ‘In the next life make me a dolphin!'”

Explosion of laughter.

Amma continued: “If you don’t fear death, if you have the strength to face any circumstance, then no problem. But you should study about the different obstacles you may face when crossing into the territorial waters of various countries. In some places, if you don’t have the proper papers, they may put you in jail. You have to study all the different aspects, and then if the desire is still there you can go.”

The man was confused. “So Amma is saying that the vasana may finish by doing it?”

Again came the laughter, but the man protested. “No, because the point is to get rid of the vasana. That’s what I want.”

Seeing his earnest desire for help, Amma’s compassion flowed forth: “No. By fulfilling a vasana, it can never be exhausted. The dispassion that results is only smashana vairagya [cremation-ground dispassion]—like when one’s beloved wife dies, he may say I am never going to remarry, but within six months he marries again.”

Amma then told the man that if his desire was really strong though, it was okay, he could make the trip. But Amma did wonder what he thought was so special about the voyage. She asked him as much, and he confessed that, in fact, he did not know.

Amma then told him that during the journey he should constantly watch his mind and reflect. She told him to break the trip into legs, and then to do one section and see how his mind was reacting. Similarly, the second leg and third leg. “Each time you finish one leg, watch the mind. See if the desire to continue still persists. If you want to continue, go ahead. But after you’ve finished the third leg, if the desire still remains, you should realize that it is never going to go. At that point, please stop.”

It was striking advice that clearly could be applied to many desire-driven activities outside of sailing.

Still, the man had one final question: “Wouldn’t it be better to just pray about it, rather than experience it?”

“The goal should be very clear,” Amma said. “You should have an intense desire within you for transformation. You shouldn’t be like the man who drives his car into a ditch and then takes out his asana [meditation cushion] and starts praying, ‘O Almighty Lord, please get my car out of this ditch.’ Your prayer should not be like that. You should actually try to push the vehicle out of the ditch as you pray.”

To conclude, Amma made perhaps the most penetrating comment of the afternoon: “The effort you are putting forth for the voyage could be better utilized for helping the poor—buying them food, clothing and looking after their education. Look and see if your desire to sail isn’t just the naughtiness of the mind.”

As they walked back to the buses, many of Amma’s children were talking about the conversation. Amma—the True Master that she is—had not only clarified the man’s doubts, she had also triggered the general inquiry: “How many similar ‘voyages by sea’ do I have in my life?”

—Sakshi

Amma arrives at her Pune Ashram

26 February, Bharata Yatra 2006 — Nigdi, Pune, Maharashtra

After travelling for two days from Nagpur, Amma reached her ashram in Nigdi, Pune last night around 1 a.m. She was greeted by a group of devotees chanting “Om Amriteshwaryai Namah.” Amma spent some time with them, inquiring about their health, families and lives in general before going to her room. Amma will conduct Brahmasthanam Festival programmes at the ashram on the 27th and 28th. She will then travel on to Mumbai.

—Tulasi

A night at Gajanan Maharaj temple

26 February, Shegaon, Buldana, Maharashtra –Bharata Yatra 2006

The drive from Nagpur to Pune is 800 km. Even though the roads are decent, the drive would take a minimum of 20 continuous hours. So Amma decided to break the journey in two, accepting the overnight hospitality of the Sri Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan in Shegaon.

Sri Gajanan Maharaj was an avaduta* who appeared in the village of Shegaon in 1878 and inspired the people there with his miracles, kindness, advaitic teachings and acts of renunciation. Maharaj predicted the day of his own maha-samadhi** two years in advance, shedding his mortal frame in 1910. The sansthan [organization] was set up in Maharaj’s lifetime itself, with the mission of serving the world, seeing everyone as embodiments of God. Today, the sansthan runs a broad range of social-welfare programmes, including the provision of water to remote villages, disaster-relief, values-based education, free medical care, as well as loving treatment to those who come to the samadhi temple of Maharaj.

Amma arrived at the temple after dusk on the 25th, and she was welcomed by a large group of Maharaj’s devotees, who chanted mantras and performed padapuja. Amma spent some time giving darshan and then went to the roof of the temple so as to be able to see the thousands who had gathered.

A classical Hindustani duo of shehnai and chaugada was performing for Amma, and Amma simply stood there for some time, taking in the sights and sounds, including the banana plants used to decorate the temple in her honour and a pundit dressed as Tukaram giving a poetic discourse on the saint’s abhang [teachings in verse] on Guru bhakti. As the pundit would recite the verses, the devotees would respond with the joyous ringing of hand cyambals and the crying of “Vithala Vithala Vithala.”

*****

The next morning at 4:30, Amma came down to the temple proper. The regular worship by the devotees was in full swing. The various chambers of the temple were abuzz with the ecstatic cries of horns, drums, cymbals and human voices. It was a world of devotion without end, for even when the temple closes at night, the many devotees who have travelled to the temple sit outside singing and chanting. Everyone was lost in the adoration of God. Some cried out to Lord Vithala, others chanted the Vishnu Sahasranama, others sat in meditation or prayer or studied from books of Maharaj’s teachings. The queues to Maharaj’s samadhi shrine and to the Sita-Rama-Lakshman murti were both full.

The head of the sansthan guided Amma to Maharaj’s samadhi shrine first. Amma walked down into the underground chamber and reverently offered flowers. Amma was then lead to the Sita-Rama-Lakshman murti temple, to the Radha-Krishna shrine and then to the ananta jyoti, the immortal flame lit by Maharaj himself.

The temple authorities then took Amma to various rooms in the temple, including the area where they prepare the thousands of laddus needed every day for prasad, the area where they offer meals to the devotees and a room for meditation.

As Amma followed the temple authorities around the temple, at one point her attention was became fixed an old blind man participating in a bhajan to Lord Vithala. Peacefully sitting amongst his fellow devotees, he clapped along and called out “Vithala… Vithala… Vithala… Vithala….”

Amma was later taken to Ananada Sagaram, a huge temple-garden managed by the sansthan in the name of peace and universal harmony.

*****

Spending time in Shegaon village and the temple, one clearly see the impact of Sri Gajanan Maharaj in the sevaks and villagers. The loving, reverential and impeccable manner in which the sevaks serve the devotees touched the hearts of Amma’s devotees and disciples.

Upon leaving, Amma spoke to the head of the sansthan. “I bow down to your attitude of service,” she said. “I see your Guru in you.”

—Kannadi

* An avaduta is a realized being who cares not for social norms, such as the wearing of clothing. Their actions are often incomprehensible, and as such they are often mistaken as insane.

** Maha-samadhi is the wilful death during one-pointed meditation of a realized being.

The yatra that’s not a yatra

18 February  — Kalyan Durga, Andhra Pradesh, off SH, en route to Hyderabad from Davanagere -Bharata Yatra 2006

Leaving Karwar and heading inland to Davanagere, the lush coconut groves and backwater inlets of the coast are left behind. The highway leads through forests–dense, deep and dark. Then, moving on to Hyderabad, this too begins to fade.

The trees thin, the air becomes drier and open spaces lay claim to the land. There are long stretches of dusty red earth, cacti and solemn hills–piles of massive brown rocks. Occasionally, a boulder bigger than a house sits, precarious and surreal, on some ridge just above the highway.

In such terrain, it’s not easy to find shade for 400 people to have lunch in. But eventually it was done–an ancient tamarind tree with branches stretching far and wide. Sitting in a chair at the tree’s foot, Amma began serving lunch. When everyone had taken their prasad, Amma asked if there were any questions. An ashramite from America stood up and asked if Amma could tell him what the best way was for one to use the tour in order to gain maximum spiritual benefit.

“If the mind is travelling it’s travel, but if it is not it’s not,” Amma said.

“Wherever you are, every action should be with the remembrance of God. This yatra is a chance to serve others. Everyone in the world does not get a chance to serve others. It is grace that has given you this opportunity.”

Amma then explained that the desire to serve others is not a form of attachment, but compassion. It comes when we are able to see our self in others and see their pain, suffering and sorrow as our own.

Even though the sun reflects in 100 pots, there is only one sun.

Amma told the ashramites to try to think of the needs of the devotees who come for her darshan. She gave the example of how they can try to help them find shade and water when the programmes run long into the next day, as in Karwar or Mangalore. “For a farmer, standing in the hot noon sun may be no problem,” Amma said. “But one who has high or low blood pressure can even faint.”

Another observance that can help purify one’s mind during the tour, Amma said, is staying awake through the night in order to serve others. “If a dear friend or relative of ours is sick, we will keep awake to be with them and make sure they are not lacking any thing,” Amma said. “Similarly we should we serve the devotees.”

Amma said she knew how difficult it was for the ashramites and devotees travelling with her to regularly do meditation and archana on the tour because of how little sleep they were getting. But she said that they should try to do what they could in the time available between programmes, and in general they should chant their mantras as much as possible throughout the day.

“On the bus, it is difficult not to fall asleep,” Amma said. “But chant the sahasranama [archana] or your mantra. You may fall asleep after a hundred mantras, but that’s okay. When you wake up, resume where you left off. Again you may fall asleep, and again you should pick up where you left off. This way, even when you are sleeping, your mind will be fixed on God.” [related story]

From the standpoint of creation, our life span is maybe 80 seconds, if we are lucky. We spend 20 seconds here, 20 seconds there, and then before we know it we are gone. When one understands the transient nature of life, then he can enjoy it properly–like a short outing among friends. “Life is like a picnic,” Amma said. “It is meant to be a celebration.”

When one travels for pleasure, the mind revels in the constantly refreshed sense-objects. For such a person, travel is just what the word implies–a journey through an ever-changing progression of landscapes, people, tastes, sights and sounds. But those who are on a true spiritual pilgrimage are not distracted by such things. No matter the city, the highway or the programme venue, the Guru is the focus, the Inner Self is the focus, the changeless substratum of the changing landscape is the focus. For such a one, the yatra is not a yatra.

—Sakshi

Singing to the tala of the sea

14 February  — Dhareshwar Beach, 80 km south of Karwar, Karnataka –Bharata Yatra 2006

From Mangalore to Karwar, it’s a straight shot. Both towns are on the Arabian Sea. Just get on NH 17 and head north. At a distance of 270 kilometres, with a decent road, it’s one of the shortest trips of the tour—six hours of driving, maximum. Darshan in Mangalore had gone till noon and afterwards Amma hadn’t taken any rest. So no one expected her to stop along the way. But an hour and a half south of Karwar, the caravan of nine buses suddenly pulled over to the side of the highway.

Everyone got down. The moon had yet to rise, and as such it was very dark. There was a small amount of confusion, but word spread soon enough: Walk down that tiny village road to the west. Amma is there waiting.

The walk was quite long—more than a kilometre—and the ambiguity of the destination made it seem even longer. If those accompanying Amma found it mysterious, imagine the perspective of the people who lived there: 8:30 at night and, out of nowhere, 400 people—all dressed in white, half of whom are foreigners—begin some sort of procession past your front yard.

They headed straight west, passing farmers’ fields and huts, the occasional chai stand or man leading a cow.

Then with the sound of waves breaking on the shore, the mystery unravelled: Ah, yes, the ocean! We are right on the coast!

And soon enough, everyone could see Amma. She was sitting there on the beach facing the sea, a small portable light illumining her form and that of the handful of brahmacharis seated around her. Soon a circle formed around Amma, everyone sitting down in the soft, cool sand.

When all her children were assembled, Amma picked up a tambourine and began singing out to the sea: Amma baramma namma taye baram ma…(Mother, please come. Oh, our Mother, please come.)

Having completed seven days of programmes in four cities in the first 10 days of the tour alone, everyone was content to just sit and stare at Amma as she sang.

Slowly the moon, round and full, began rising through the trees in the east. Any tension accrued from the road slowly drained out of everyone into the sand as they breathed in the cool salty air.

Suddenly a man from Germany sitting a few feet from Amma’s right jumped up in panic. Everyone quickly turned to see what was the matter. But the laughter was only a second away: “Oh, Amma, it was only a crab!”

“Don’t catch it,” Amma said in English. “Just let him be.”

Then Amma began singing Kannada versions of “Karunamayi Devi,” “Amme Nin Rupam” and “Ishwar Tum Hi Daya Karo,” and a few other new bhajans as well. Song after song, Amma sang out towards the sea, accompanied by the tāla of the waves breaking on the shore. Everyone sat still, simply rapt in the sounds and the sights of the night.

— Kannadi

Was Dhareshwar calling Amma?

14 February 2006 — Dhareshwar Beach, Karnataka

From the limited perspective of man, the actions of an Enlightened One are both unpredictable and unfathomable. One minute they may seem to follow logic. The next, they may behave as if mad. Sometimes they seem to act out of habit, and then out of the blue they smash all expectations. But in fact, whereas the forces that drive man are multifarious and complex, the driving force of a mahatma is simple: compassion.

Still, during Amma’s Bharata Yatras, Amma is invariably drawn to various places. Sometimes it’s a specific river, house or temple, others a particular auto-parts factory {news} or dusty truck-stop {news}. We can speculate as to why Amma chooses certain places over others, but the answer remains with Amma alone.

Once when someone asked Amma why she seemed to take every opportunity possible to visit the Bhavani River in Tamil Nadu. Amma said that while Amma sees everything as pure consciousness, there are certain places to which she is for some reason drawn: “There are certain places, like this one, towards which Amma has always felt a strong pull. The subtle beings in this place call Amma and yearn to have her with them.” {read more}

The love of a mahatma is infinite and pure and showers down equally upon one and all, but sometimes the yearning of a particular heart, the selfless actions of a particular person or the merit one has earned from past lives draws them in a given direction. Many times in the past, it has been revealed that when Amma stops in some seemingly odd location some devout soul has been there praying for her darshan.

On the way to Karwar, Amma’s camper and a few other cars had pulled a little ahead of the nine-bus caravan. Then, just before sunset, Amma suddenly asked that they pull over and inquire if there was a nice beach somewhere nearby. As Amma was speaking through her camper’s side-window, a stray dog suddenly wandered on the scene, wagging its tail.

“Poor thing, it is hungry,” Amma said. “Give him some food.”

Swamiji brought some sweets, which Amma then took into her hands, rolled into three balls and handed back to Swamiji. Swamiji then went to place them on the ground, but Amma stopped him, “No, no, no!” she said. “Give it on a plate.”

So Swamiji then placed the balls on a plate and set it down before the dog, which quickly ate the prasad.

The dog then remained there by the side of Amma’s camper, simply staring and wagging its tail.

“It’s not enough,” Amma said. “It is still hungry. What else can we give?”

Swamiji told Amma that there was some payasam [sweet rice pudding] in one of the other vehicles. Amma told him to get it.

Swamiji handed the payasam to Amma, and she poured it onto the plate. Swamiji then set the plate before the dog. When Swamiji was about to remove the plate, Amma again stopped him. “No, it’s not finished,” Amma said, referring to a few grains of rice remaining on the plate. “Make sure it eats it all.”

Swamiji then held the plate out for the dog who licked up the remaining grains of prasad.

Why had Amma been so concerned with this specific street dog? And why had she been so particular that he be fed on a plate and that he finish every last piece? Everyone was left with the feeling that there was something more to it than what met the eye. But only Amma knows.

Soon, someone came with word that a nice beach by the name of Dhareshwar1 was accessible through a small village road a kilometre or so back. So Amma and everyone else turned around and headed to the beach.

When they reached the beach, the villagers somehow immediately knew it was Amma. They immediately gathered around her camper. Amma came out and sat down in a chair, facing the sea. She then called all the children for darshan—about 200 of them.

When one girl named Megha came into Amma’s arms, she all but collapsed. Tears were streaming down her face. When Amma finished holding her, Amma asked her to sit by her side as she embraced the rest of the villagers.

Through her tears, the girl who is studying in the 11th standard explained that she had been praying for days that Amma would somehow come to her village.

Soon the rest of the people travelling with Amma arrived at the beach. They formed a circle around her, and Amma began singing bhajans {news}. For the next couple hours, Megha remained at Amma’s side, tears flowing from her eyes.

While Amma was singing bhajans, a few men from the village approached Swamiji. “It’s such a blessing that Amma has come to our village!” they said. “We don’t know what we have done to deserve such an auspicious thing.”

They might not know, but Amma knows.

—Kannadi