284 houses more to Tsunami victims

27 August 2006 — Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu

In the past two days, the Ashram has handed over a  284 houses more to tsunami victims in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu–120 in Pandagassaalai (a hamlet in Pattinacherry Village) and 164 in Akarapettai.

Swami Ramakrishnananda handed over the keys of the homes to the district collector of Nagapattinam, Tenkasi S. Jawahar, who in turn distributed them to the beneficiaries.

Is there logic in devotion?

25 August 2006 — Amritapuri

Amma was singing “You Have Come to Sacrifice,” a relatively new bhajan written by her attendant, Brahmacharini Lakshmi. Written in English and tuned in a Western style, the song is quite different than a traditional raga-based bhajan. When it was finished, Swami Amritaswarupananda—who sits to Amma’s left during bhajans, singing along with her—expressed his doubts about the song to Amma, saying that it seemed to have “neither a head nor a tail.” There was a bit of a smirk on his face.

Suddenly, Amma spoke into the microphone, addressing the hundreds of brahmacharins and devotees seated before her: “In devotion, there is no logic, is there?” Amma then asked everyone who agreed with the statement to raise their hand.

Amma then mentioned two famous example of how devotion being without logic: Poonthanam and Kannapan.

Bhajans continued on.

The next day, Amma came for meditation and a question-and-answer session with the ashramites. The first question came from one of the brahmacharis: “Yesterday, during bhajans Amma said there was no logic in devotion. But in the past Amma has said that true devotion is real logic. Which is correct?”

Amma said that in order to understand how both statements are true, one needed to understand the context in which each statement was made. She then told everyone how Swamiji had poked a little fun at Bri. Lakshmi’s song the night before.

“When there is reason, one cannot relish Love to the full extent,” Amma said. “A scientist cannot separate sugar from white sand, but an ant can easily do so. Similarly, the heart is needed just as much as the intellect.”

Amma then gave the example of the traditional bhajan “Madhuraasthakam,” wherein every aspect—the lips, the face, the smile, the way of walking, etc—of Lord Krishna are described as “sweet.”

“When you have love for something in your heart, you will always see every aspect of it as beautiful,” Amma said. “But if you have hatred for something, even if it is beautiful you will feel aversion towards it.”

Amma then fully told the examples she had merely mentioned the night before during bhajans. The first was the famous Kerala poet Poonthanam.

Poonthanam had written a Sanskrit poem describing Sri Krishna, but before offering it to the Lord he wanted to make sure it didn’t have any grammar mistakes in it, so he took it to Bhattatirippadu, a famous scholar. When Bhattatirippadu read Poonthanam’s poem, he burst out laughing, for due to a mistake in grammar, Poonthanam had referred to Sri Krishna as Mara Prabhu [“the Lord of Wood”] instead of Amara Prabhu [“The Lord of Nectar”], which he had intended. Bhattatirippadu scolded Poonthanam, telling him that if he didn’t know basic grammar he had no business writing poetry, much less poetry to the Lord. But while the pundit was making fun of the poem, a voice suddenly came out of nowhere, “Poonthanam, don’t worry. I am both the Mara Prabhu and Amara Prabhu.”

Amma then told everyone the story of Kannapan, a tribal hunter who worshipped a Shiva lingam in a forest temple. Kannapan had no knowledge about the do’s and don’ts associated with temple worship. Each night, he would come to the temple and bath the Shiva lingam with water that he’d carried in his mouth, offer it flowers he’d already used to decorate his own air and then offer it some roasted meat. Each morning, the Brahmin priest who tended to the temple would awake to find the evidence of Kannapan’s puja scattered around the lingam and would become upset. He prayed to Lord Shiva and asked him to reveal to him the person that was polluting the temple. Lord Shiva told the priest that it was his closest devotee, Kannapan. The priest was upset. “I thought I was your closest devotee,” he said to the Lord. “Why do you do you consider him so highly?” The Lord told the priest to come in the night and that he would reveal the reason to him.

That night, the priest did as Lord Shiva had instructed. Soon enough, he saw Kannapan approach the temple grounds. When Kannapan saw the traditional offering of bilva1 leaves at the foot of the Shiva Lingam, he was obviously upset. “Who left these dirty leaves her?” he asked out loud. Kannapan then quickly brushed them away and pulled flowers from his matted locks and offered them to the Lord. Next he bathed the lingam with water from his mouth and offered it a roasted animal.

Then something astonishing happened. One of the eyes drawn on the Shiva Lingam began to bleed. Seeing this, Kannapan immediately took some herbs from his sack and pressed them against the eye in an attempt to stop the bleeding. But it did not work. What Kannapan did next, the priest could not believe. He removed an arrow from his quiver, poked out his own eye and pressed it to the eye drawn on the Shiva lingam. Instantly, Lord Shiva’s eye stopped bleeding. Kannapan dance with delight. But then the second eye of the Lord began bleeding. Kannapan was about to poke out his second eye, when he realized that if he did so he would be blind and therefore be unable to see where to put the eye. So he placed his big toe on the lingam’s eye so that he would know where to place his eye after he plucked it out. Just before Kannapan was about to pluck out his second eye, Lord Shiva appeared before him, stopped him and blessed him. Shiva said to the priest, “All the people come here begging for sight, but only Kannapan came to give me sight.”

Amma said that a true devotee will have sacrifice like Kannapan. Amma said that this does not mean that we need to pluck out our eye for the blessing of the Lord, but that we should have the attitude of offering up our ego to the divine.

Amma, then gave yet another example—that of a baby who is trying to say “Daddy.” Regardless of how many nonsensical words the baby may say, the father doesn’t mind because he knows the child’s heart. Amma said that it is the same with God and the devotee.

Taking the example closer to home, Amma gave the example of how when one of the American ashramite tries to speak to her in Malayalam, he frequently utters many bad words and rude expression by mistake. “Amma sees his heart in the words,” Amma said. “Amma doesn’t take it any other way.”

“In love one goes beyond all logic,” Amma reiterated. “Nothing can hinder true love.”

Next Amma addressed why she has said that true devotion is real logic. Amma said that, currently, most people believe the world to be permanent and all their so-called logical actions are based upon that erroneous assumption. “The world is transient,” Amma said. “God is the only permanent thing.” Pursuing the transient as if it were permanent, this is illogical. Devotion is an expression of our love for the permanent; therefore it is the real logic.


Medical help to Surat flood victims

25 August 2006 — Surat, Gujarat

Between August 17th and August 25th, brahmachari-doctors Ram Mohan and Chandrasekhar have seen to some 3,000 patients as part of the Ashram’s flood-relief work in Surat. Today, their work has concluded and they are returning to Amritapuri. During the past week they treated patients and distrubuted medicine in Rampura, Katagav, Lal Darvacha, Ichapore, Nanpura, Daboli, Singanpore, Amroli, Rander and Bhadpore Village.

18 August 2006 — Surat, Gujarat

Due to last week’s monsoon rains, the city of Surat in Gujarat was completely flooded. For four days, 90 percent of the city was completely immersed, with low-laying areas collecting water as deep as two-storeys. More than 300 people were killed.

Amma immediately sent two brahmachari-doctors to the region. AIMS, the Ashram’s Super Specialty Hospital, also sent two nurses. The brahmachari-doctors took with them medicines worth 14 lakh for distribution. They are being further assisted by Amma’s devotees living in Surat.

“The first day itself we tended to 500 people and distributed four-lakh in medicines. The second day we tended to 400 people,” says Br. Chandrasekhar, one of the doctors. “We mainly were treating people for communicable diseases, gastro-intestinitis and skin infections. Luckily, so far there have been no epidemics.”

Most of the water has receded, but the city is covered with slush and mud. Communication networks and power supply continue to be down in many areas, and people still have difficulty obtaining, food water and other essentials. Many people lost their medicines in the flood as well.

Using ambulances supplied by the government, the brahmachari-doctors are tending to all four areas in each of the city’s eight zones. Br. Chandrasekhar says that some of the worst-hit places they have been to so far include Rampura, Katagav and areas near the Tapi River such as Daboli.

“When Amma’s devotees in Surat called her at the Ashram, Amma said that she would do whatever was possible in terms of medicine, rehabilitation and reassurance,” says Br. Chandrasekhar.


Devotees teach meditation in U.S. prison

24 August 2006 — Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Since 2003, devotee Steve Schmidt has been spending his weekends teaching Amma’s IAM Meditation Technique™ {news } to groups of devotees throughout America, mostly in devotees’ houses. Two months ago, however he entered a completely different teaching environment: the Santa Fe Juvenile Detention Home in New Mexico.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” says Schmidt, a 60-year-old lawyer who has been a close devotee of Amma since 1987. ‘I mean these kids are part of a secured facility. They have all been sentenced by the Federal Court and have the potential to be in the facility until they are 21. But when we walked in the room on the first day, all of them were dressed in sweat pants, sitting in a circle on yoga mats. They looked like they were really ready for it.”

Currently 25 detainees are enrolled in the program. Every week, Schmidt and his teaching mates, Jonathon Crews and Scott Voorhees, spend one hour guiding them through the technique and answering any of their questions.

“It’s exciting to be able to do this,” says Crews, a practicing therapist and long-time devotee of Amma. “These are kids who obviously got off on the wrong track. But as they are still young, they have a much higher capacity for rehabilitation than adult prisoners.”

Schmidt agrees, “I see this as an opportunity to put a positive force in these kids’ lives, an opportunity to make a difference in their lives and to possible turn their lives around. They still have their whole lives ahead of them.”

Two groups of inmates are being taught the technique: the secured wing and the unsecured wing. Schmidt says the average age of the kids taking the class is 17, and that the majority of them are Native Americans.

Schmidt says that the detention-home authorities have been extremely open and cooperative: “The man coordinating this on the detention home’s part told us that he thought the whole thing was very valuable. He told me, ‘They need all the help they can get.'”

Schmidt explains that currently the detainees have extremely regimented schedules in order to keep them busy. “As soon as they wake up, they go to breakfast,” he says. “But the detention-home authorities are considering adjusting and making time for the kids who learn IAM to meditate before they eat.”

Recalling the first session back in June, Schmidt says the effect of the meditation on the kids was palpable. He says, “After we finished with the meditation the second time, there was a quiet that pervaded the whole atmosphere.”

Teaching-mate Crews felt agrees: “Yes, they got so quiet. The first time we chanted ‘Om,’ there was a lot of goofing around and chuckling, but when we chanted it to conclude the class, they were really focused.”

Schmidt says that the juvenile detainees claim improved energy and peace of mind since regularly practicing IAM.

–Kali Charan

Three great teachings India gave to the world

Past Mid-night, 14 August 2006,  Amritapuri.
Amma’s message on 60th India’s Independence Day
“Seeing the impressive cultural presentations staged by these  children (students of Amrita University) Amma forgot everything. It is the proof to the fact that we have not lost our culture. Amma bows down to all of you.

It has been 59 years since India achieved her independence.  All over India this occasion is being celebrated. It is a festival for us. But a festival which has become essentially external.  Amma prays that these celebrations become an expression of the bliss felt when one experiences complete freedom within.

Children, on this occasion, it would be good if we were to ask ourselves a question: ‘Before we attained independence in 1947 or even after, have we ever experienced true freedom?’
Today, other than the parades and the hoisting of the flags, the Independence Day celebrations have lost their Indian flavour, the unique touch of Indian culture.  People often celebrate Independence Day by getting drunk and dancing in the streets and having parties.

External independence is definitely of great value, but it is dependent on time and place. Therefore we should understand when, where and how to use it.  If we don’t have this awareness, then external independence can lead us to danger.  We have to follow a middle path for everything.  For example, food is essential to sustain the body, but if we overeat we will become ill.  Likewise we need to control our thoughts also.  Uncontrolled thoughts may lead to mental illness.  Therefore freedom from unnecessary thoughts is very important.There are no schools of thought or philosophies that have not been explored in India. However our greatest misfortune is that we have failed to make practical use of this knowledge.  And therefore even though we attained independence on the 15th of August 1947, our minds and intellects are still enslaved and in chains.

At times we still blame the invaders who once ruled over us.  That is meaningless. Our greatest fault is that we ourselves have failed to respect our own culture. Rectifying this mistake and putting into practice the words of the Rishis in our daily lives, we should take advantage of modern education and make material progress.
But what is our state today?  We have forgotten our duty towards our country and have become selfish and overindulgent.
India has given three great teachings to the world:
‘If we protect dharma, dharma will protect us. It will protect the whole world.’ This is the first teaching.

‘Whatever action we undertake, it should be done for the benefit of the whole world.  It should be done as an offering to God.’  This mental attitude of selfless offering should be underlying all our actions. That is the second teaching. 

‘Everything is an expression of the one Atman. No one is separate from us.  God pervades all of creation.’  This is the third teaching.

If we are able to imbibe these teachings in our lives, it will bring about an end to all wars.  Peace and contentment will spread throughout the world.  We will be able to experience supreme peace and bliss in our lives.  We will become a source of light to all others.”

– excerpts from Amma’s speech in Amritapuri after cultural performances by the students of Amrita University on the eve of India’s 60th Independence Day.

Independence day celebration

14 Aug, 2006, Amritapuri.

The evening of India’s 60th Independence Day was celebrated at Amritapuri with multimedia cultural performances and a Bharatmata Puja by students from Amrita Universities –Engineering, Medicine, Ayurveda, Biotech, and Arts & Sciences schools. Amma joined the students and Ashram residents in the main hall. The performances focused on the various religions that form the spiritual and cultural fabric of India; Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism.

A huge map of India outlined with flowers and small lamps was drawn on the floor of the main hall. During the Bharatmata Puja, students lit lamps at holy sites across India associated with each religion. On stage, students reenacted historical scenes while a large screen showed additional images. The song ‘Vande Maataram’ played in the background throughout the evening.

In addition to the religious theme, patriotic dances were performed and songs were sung by the students. At one point, over 60 students joined together to sing Vande Maataram.

A group of students offered the national flag of India which Amma waved over her head while the slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!” echoed throughout the hall. After the performances had finished, Later, Amma then addressed the gathering asking them to imbibe the culture and spirit of India (read text of speech)

It’s truly a great feeling to celebrate freedom with one who is totally free.


Swami Ramakrishanada to China & South America

13 Auggust 2006, Amritapuri

Swami Ramakrishananda Puri will be visiting China and South America to conduct satsangs and bhajans.

the programe details are:


Hong Kong
September 7th and 8th @ 7:00pm
Hindu Valley Hindu Temple
1 Wong Nei Chung Road, Hong Kong

September 9th @ 6:00pm
Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, 7A Kennedy Road, Central, Hong Kong

contact info:
phone: Pradeep: 2459-2179 or 6201-0512
M. Arunachalam: 2523-5377 or 9365-5081
September 10th and 11th @ 7:00pm
Namaste Yoga Shala
1400 Beijing Xi Lu, House 29
Intersection of Tongren Lu

contact info:
phone: Anashwara: 86-139-1788-1785
South America

Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 23

9:30 am – 1:30 pm – IAM Course
4:30 pm – Bhajans, Meditation & Satsang

Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 24

9:30 am – 5:00 pm – IAM Course
Jean-Yves Mounier 11-4807-6789 or 911-5311-5097 or
Dr. Domar Singh Madariya: 11-4781-3448, 11-4552-8675 or 54-11-4781-3448 or
Ariel: 54-11-4813-0170 or 54-11-1554-528200
Website: www.centroamrita.com
Santiago, Chile,

Tuesday 26th of September 8pm-11pm
Avenida VITACURA #8751(entre las Tranqueras y Padre Hurtado).
Contact info:  Phone: 09.2307490

Sao Paulo, Brasil, September 29 & 30

Location – Instituto de Engenharia – Av. Dr. Dante Pazzenese, 120.
Contact: Wilton, 11.5543.4088
Email: amma-sp@ammabrasil.org

Rio De Janiero, Brasil, October 2

Location: AABB – Av. Borges de Medeiros, 829 Lagoa. At 19:30 ( 7:30pm )
Contact: Rishika, 21.2226.6782
Email: amma-rio@ammabrasil.org

Araruama, Brasil, October 3

Templo de Meditation Amrita – Rua Simonides N. A. Filho, 296 – Fonte Limpa. At 19:30 ( 7:30pm ).
Contact: Aradhana 22.2665.2064
Email: temploamrita@ammabrasil.org

Serve just one hour a day

10 August 2006 — Amritapuri

Amma says that if everyone in the world were to spend just one hour a day in selfless service, we could change the face of the earth. Students attending classes at Amrita University have been taking Amma’s words to heart, and recently they started a collective called Amrita Sanjeevani, with the intention of raising money to sponsor the education of a student from an impoverished family.

It all began earlier this year when some Amrita students asked Amma what they could do to help her humanitarian projects. Amma said, “Children, first you need to study, but if you want to help you can. Do something creative, but spend no more than one hour a day on it. Devote the rest of your time to your studies.” Amma then suggested that maybe the students could make something beautiful out of waste material and sell it.

The initiative grew rapidly, and currently nearly 50 students are participating in the daily “serve-an-hour” seva.

One thing the Amrita Sanjeevani participants are doing is making incense stands from waste paper that they collect from the Ashram’s printing press. “We add water and rice-powder and turn it into pulp, and then from that we make little incense stands, which we then decorate,” explains 18-year-old Balaji, a first-year technical student. “We come together every afternoon to do this. We also make friendship bands and little jewellery boxes and greeting cards, which we sell during Amma’s darshan programs.”

Twenty-two-year-old Sri Lekha helps make the friendship bands. “Today we sold almost 60 bands!” she says. “Making them is fun in itself, but knowing that we can help one student in this way makes it feel even better! Today [August 7th] is International Friendship Day, so everybody is buying them.” The students sold even more bands on Raksha Bandan [August 9th], the day in India when sisters tie bracelets around their brothers’ wrists, for their protection and friendship.

Although Amrita Sanjeevani has inspired a new wave of service from the Amrita University students, the students in fact have been helping with Ashram seva projects all along. For example, after the 2004 tsunami, many students helped with the Ashram’s tsunami-relief project {news}.

“We spent most of our Saturdays and Sundays carrying building materials and digging foundations,” {news} says third-year computer student Arati.

In fact, Arati knows for herself what it is like to be unable to afford a college education. She was only able to attend higher studies by taking a bank loan. “My parents did not have the money to pay for my college education,” she says, “but when I asked Amma if I could attend the computer college, Amma told me that she would take care of it. Amma is my great love every since I met her almost 10 years ago. I hope that when I graduate I can give something back. Amma gave me this opportunity, so I know that she will also help me find a job. Then I can pay back the bank loan and also give some money to Amma’s projects.”

Arati says she has had many inspiring moments helping with the Ashram’s seva projects. “Right after the tsunami, Amma asked us to go to the villages to play with the children because they were so tense and in shock,” she says. “It was Deepavali {news—> Celebrating Deepavali}, so we went with lights and candles. In the beginning the children were afraid, but soon we were all singing and dancing and hugging. It was so beautiful to be able to do something from the heart during that time of suffering.”

Pravin Kumar continues: “Our motto is ‘Pray with your heart, serve with your hands.'”

Says Kartika, “Our goal is to raise Rs. 350,000. For each year of the four-year curriculum, a student needs to pay for tuition and for room and board. Then there is money for the school uniform, laboratory costs and, of course, some pocket money. We want to raise enough to pay this entire amount for at least one student!”

The students say that they are happy that they chose to attend Amrita University for it inculcates both discipline and moral values. “One cannot become a good human being just by reading textbooks. Getting involved in seva is very important and also very satisfying and great fun!” says Arati.

Since Amma returned from her U.S. Tour, the students have been selling their handicrafts on both sides of the darshan hall. With nearly 150 items sold and more than Rs. 20,000 raised in just two days, the student are well on their way to fulfilling their goal.


Arise! Awake! and seek the Enlightened One!

6 August 2006 — Amritapuri

It was way past little Dev’s bedtime… but darshan was far from over. Wanting to see Amma one last time before he went to bed, the little Swiss-German boy decided he would wait by the stairs to Amma’s room. She had to come there eventually. But after some time, he just became too sleepy, so he laid down on the side of Amma’s staircase and fell asleep…

By the time Amma finished, it was past 11 p.m. She had been giving darshan continuously for the last 13 hours. But the smile was still on Amma’s face as she slowly made her through the crowd of devotees from the darshan hall to her room. Taking a few steps up the stairs, what did Amma see? Little Dev, of course, fast asleep.

With a loving and mischievous smile on her face, Amma took the string from a rakhi bracelet a devotee had recently tied around her wrist and gently began to insert it into Dev’s nostril. From the depth of his slumber, he stirred and tried to brush away whatever it was that was disturbing him. Amma repeated her play, and again the boy brushed the string away with his hand. The next time, he opened his eyes a little, and then went back to sleep.

The devotees watching from the foot of the stairs could not suppress their laughter.

Amma tried one more time, poking the rakhi into Dev’s nose. This time, it worked. He opened one eye and then slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position. It was only then that he looked over and saw Amma gazing at him. Watching his face, one could sense him slowly remembering where and how he had fallen asleep.

The cute smile that crept across Dev’s face was instantly reflected in the faces of the hundreds of devotees and ashramites who had been watching the leela for the past ten minutes.

Amma looked deeply into the boy’s eyes, rubbed his chest and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. She then walked to her room.

Waiting for Amma is never a waste. Sleeping for Amma can be a boon.