Amrita Self Help Groups inaugurated Mandapam

20 September 2008 — Mandapam, Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu

Amrita Self Help Groups were inaugurated at Mandapam, Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu at a function held at Raja Maha

l. The program was held in conjuncture with celebrations for Amma’s 55th birthday. Swami Paramananda of Ramakrishna Tapovanam helped distribute certificates to the members of the newly formed groups.

Swami Ramakrishna’s visit to Philippines

13- 14 Sep 2008, Manila

Swami Ramakrishnananda visited Manila, the capital of the Philippines from 13 -14 Sep 2008. He conducted satsangs and bhajans at the Hindu Temple. Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya conducted IAM technique meditation classes. He also visited one of Manila’s worst slums and distributed rice packets to the slum residents. Hundreds received the rice packets and a hot meal. He was accompanied by Senator Jamby Senator Jamby Madrigal and Mayor Alfredo Lim. It was mostly young mothers with their small children. Many of the women were also pregnant. Drug use (glue-sniffing) is rampant among even the pre-teen children.
Mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim, who has made one of his primary goals to clean up the city of drugs and graft. He is eager to collaborate with Amma’s NGO to achieve these goals. He thanked Swamiji for coming all the way from India to help the poor of his country.

Look at the photos here.

Invitation of Amma’s 55th Birthday

Blessed Self,

We are very happy to invite you to the 55th Birthday Celebrations of Her Holiness Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi—to be held at Amritapuri Ashram, on Saturday, the 27th of September.

Fifty-five glorious years! Through her life of all-embracing love, compassion and selfless service, Amma is reaching out to millions all across the world, filling them with inspiration and providing them direction.

Out of their gratitude, thousands upon thousands—from India and abroad—make the annual pilgrimage to Amritapuri to celebrate the anniversary of Amma’s birth in her presence. On this auspicious occasion, it is our heartfelt wish that you come and celebrate along with us.

In Amma’s Service,
Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri
Vice-Chairman, Board of Trustees

Programme Schedule

26th September  2008 (at the Ashram)

  • Amma’s Bhajan – 6.30 p.m
  • Music Night Organized by AmritaTV – 9.00 p.m
  • Cultural Performances by Students of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham & Amrita Vidyalayam

27th September 2008 ( at the Unviersity campus)

  • Sri Guru Padapuja – 8.30 a.m
  • Amma’s Birthday Address – 9.00 a.m

Public Function

  • Awarding of Amrita Keerti Puraskar
  • Release of new Ashram Publications
  • Distribution of Free Clothing to the Poor
  • Free Marriage Ceremony for Impoverished Couples

This will be followed by Amma’s Darshan and several cultural programmes through out the day.

All are welcome.


Temporary Shelters Inaugurated in Bihar

16 September 2008 — Bowanipur, Purnia District, Bihar

The Mata Amritanandamayi Math completed the construction of its first relief camp for victims of the Bihar flood today. The inauguration was conducted in the presence of the Minister for Labour Avdesh Narain Singh, District Magistrate C. Sridhar and Superintendent of Police Sri. B. Meena. The camp will serve as temporary shelter for approximately 500 flood victims until permanent housing can be completed for them. The camps include kitchens and bathrooms. The total area of the three shelters constructed is 6000 sq. foot.


After lighting the lamp, the Minister of Labour addressed the gathering. “When the tsunami left thousands dead and lakhs of people homeless across the country, M.A.M was in the forefront of relief work and subsequently rehabilitated thousands of people by building several thousand houses in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and other places,” he said. “So when a similar calamity occurred in Bihar, we invited them and they immediately arrived with their medical team and started their medical services. Within a short time, they have put up these temporary shelters.”

The minister then added: “The people of M.A.M are working day and night to serve the flood affected. In fact I wonder if they are even sleeping at night. We are very thankful to the Math for accepting our appeal and rushing to help us in time of need.”

The District Magistrate similarly praised the Math for its service, mentioning that this project was the first time the Bihar Government has teamed up with an NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] to setup such a relief camp after the floods. He said that he was certain that it would work out well.

The program concluded with the Minister of Labour cutting the ribbon to the entrance of one of the shelters.

Upon the program’s conclusion, the flood victims promptly moved into their new temporary shelters. Dinner was then served.



Onam: A Symbol of Happiness & Contentment

12 September 2008 — Amritapuri

With the coming of Tiru Onam, thousands of people came to Amritapuri in order to celebrate. The bhajan hall was filled with smiling people dressed in new clothes. The feeling of celebration was in the air.


Amma came to the dais to the sounds of panchavadyam around 11:00 am. After offering her pranams to all assembled, she began her Onam satsang. “Onam—the symbol of happiness and contentment—has come once again,” Amma said. “We can clearly see the impact of modern life on our Onam celebrations. Even so, the sankalpa [divine resolve] that Onam should be a time of forgetting everything and rejoicing endures. It is for this reason that Onam continues to be the festival most dear to the hearts of Malayalis.”


Amma said that the message of Onam was the importance of approaching everything with an open mind. Amma said this message was especially important today because currently everywhere one looks there is hostile aggression, competition, hatred and selfishness everywhere we look.

“Perhaps there is no other festival like this in the entire world,” Amma said, looking down at all the devotees. “During Onam, irrespective of age, everyone becomes like a child. Another message Onam carries is that ‘Innocence is the substratum of happiness.’ Onam is the time when the child’s heart innate in everyone awakens and expresses itself.”

Amma then spoke about true leadership, saying that it lay in putting the comfort and needs of others before yourself. “There is nothing wrong with becoming a king and ruling, but one should be able to serve people selflessly with the attitude of a servant,” she said. As examples of such leaders, Amma mentioned Sri Krishna, Sri Rama and other mahatmas. She added that Mahabali was also able to become such an expansive ruler, because he converted his demonic qualities into divine ones and always put the Lord before him.


Amma then explained the significance of Mahabali offering his head as the final place for Lord Vishnu to place his feet. “The seat of the ego is the head; the centre of love, the heart,” Amma said. “When the feet of Vishnu are placed upon our head, the heart overflows with divine love. The ego is driven down into the netherworld. Then one becomes humbler than the humblest. The way Mahabali ruled his kingdom was by keeping the Lord before him. His acceptance of the feet of the Lord on his head is symbolic of his surrender to the Lord’s will—bowing down before him. This is the reason why his kingdom was the abode of peace, equality and prosperity.”

Amma ended her Onam satsang by stressing the importance of putting the spiritual teachings into action and expressing them in our lives: “Let us become able to grow mentally, to create a little space for others in our hearts, and adjust to them as our fellow travellers. May celebrations like Onam help us to achieve this goal.”

Amma then celebrated the occasion by singing a “Hari Bol Hari Bol” and dancing to “Bolo Bolo Gokula Bala.” When this was finished, she called all the thousands of devotees forward to receive a plate of Onasadhya—the traditional Onam feast—directly from her hands including Ram and Lakshmi, the ashram elephants.


Amma to Provide Rs. 20 Million in Relief to Bihar

10 September 2008 — Amritapuri

Ashram announced today that it will provide two-crore rupees (3,13,596 € *) in flood-relief work in Bihar today.

Teams of doctors, brahmacharis and other volunteers are already working, treating more than 500 patients a day. Construction of temporary shelters for those made homeless by the floods is now underway. Forty lakhs (62,720€ ) worth of medicines have been provided, as well as food, clothing and other necessities.

And an ambulance and Telemedicine Medical Van are currently in route via rail and should reach the region shortly.


*Conversion of Indian rupees into Euros based on the 10 September 2008 exchange rate of one Euro  to 63.78 Indian rupees.


President Awards Ashram for Fighting Illiteracy

8 September 2008 — New Delhi, India

The Mata Amritanandamayi Math [MAM] was presented with a 2008 NLM-UNESCO Award for Adult Literacy. The award was given in recognition of MAM’s outstanding contribution to the Adult Education Program Jan Shikshan Sansthan [JSS] in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. The award was presented at a function in New Delhi by Her Excellency the President of India, Pratibha Devasingh Patil, to Swami Jnanamritananda Puri, the chairman of JSS Sivakasi.


When poor children are forced to discontinue their educations in order to work, they never learn to read or write. One of the triumphs of JSS Sivakasi has been its ability to couple literacy education with vocational-training.

JSS Sivakasi offers training in everything from tailoring and candlestick-making to driving and mechanics. In 2008 alone, MAM trained more than 2,500 people through JSS Sivakasi and helped them to start profitable careers with their newly acquired skills.

JSS was started by the Government of India in 1967. Currently there are 221 JSS programs throughout India. MAM not only runs JSS Sivakasi, but also the JSS in Idukki, Kerala. The Sivakasi JSS was begun in 2003.

NLM [National Literacy Movement] and UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisationl] have been presenting the award annually for several years in order to encourage institutions working in the field of literacy and adult education to keep up their good work.



MAM Mobilizing for Bihar flood relief

8 September 2008 — AIMS Hospital, Cochin, Kerala

The current situation is one of mobilization. Inspired to act by Amma, students, ashramites and medical staff at AIMS are working around the clock in order to bring relief to the millions of Biharis, who have been rendered homeless and helpless due to the state’s massive flooding.


At AIMS Hospital in Cochin, medical students, staff and doctors have donated 500 good sets of clothing and more is coming in all the time. A group of 10 students spent last night sorting and packing the clothing and medicine. One of the medial student, who is doing his internship said “ we all want to go to Bihar to assist further with the relief work”.

AIMS hospital is sending a lot of medicine, which includes 20,000 painkiller tablets, 10,000 units of blood-pressure medicine and 150 litres of cough syrup. In response to request by the Ashram-doctors already in Bihar, AIMS is also sending medicines to fight instances of fungus, skin infections and scabies.

Along with the medicines, an ambulance and EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] team is being sent, as well as AIMS’ Mobile Tele-Medicine Unit.

The ambulance is fully equipped with defibrillator, monitors, ventilators, syringe pump, infusion pump and pulse-oximetre.

The Mobile Tele-Medicine Unit has an ECG [electro-cardio-gram], X-ray machine and pathology and bio-chemistry labs. Radiology and lab technicians will also being sent. Furthermore, the Unit has the capability to send ultra-sound echo doppler images through satellite to AIMS, so that the entire pool of specialty doctors at AIMS can be consulted when necessary. The satellite connection is being provided through ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization].


“In addition we are carrying defibrillator, ECG, patient monitor, ventillator, syringe pump, infusion pumps, pulse oximeter. we are prepared to set up an entire general hospital and Intensive Care Unit,” says Dr. Raghavendra, a brahmachari serving at AIMS.

Everything is ready to go tomorrow via a special emergency train from Cochin to Patna with four coaches—two for the van one for relief materials and one for 40 volunteers which includes a team of construction workers to build temporary sheds there.



Ashram begins Bihar flood relief

4 September 2008 —Bihar, India

Currently 50 percent of Bihar is underwater. The UN has stated that at least one million people have been rendered homeless; others say the figure is as high as five million. The death toll is currently around 75, but medical experts fear epidemics due to contaminated water. Cases of Typhoid, Malaria and Cholera have been reported. The Prime Minister has declared it a “national calamity.”


According to the World Health Organization, 1,850 villages, inhabited by 3.3 million people, have been flooded

The flooding began on August 18, when the Kosi River broke free of a man made embankment in neighboring Nepal.

According to the World Health Organization, 1,850 villages, inhabited by 3.3 million people, have been flooded. More than 600,000 people have been evacuated so far, but as many as hundreds of thousands still remain on rooftops or isolated high ground. Bihar’s Ministry of Agriculture has reported that crop damage is said to be at 1.5 billion rupees ($36 million U.S.) and rising. In the worst-hit areas, like Saharsa, only tree-tops are visible above the waterline.


Hundreds of thousands have nothing but the clothes they are wearing—no food to eat and no means to cook it even if they did. Water is everywhere, but none is potable.

Amma has sent several teams comprising brahmacharis, brahmacharinis, doctors and nurses to the region. AIMS Hospital’s Mobile Medical Unit {news} and an ambulance will be reaching the region soon. The Mobile Medical Unit is as large as a city bus and contains facilities for X-ray and ECG as well as a pathology lab which can connect via satellite to AIMS. A lot of medicine is also being procured for the treatment.

The Ashram’s flood-relief headquarters is being established in the Purnia District. The current plan is to begin by constructing 20 temporary shelters one of which will serve as a temporary hospital.