IAM meditation at Sri Sankara College

16 September 2009 — Kanchipuram

kanchipuramBeginning in July 2009,  Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique (IAM Technique) began being taught at the Sri Sankara College of Arts & Science in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, a branch of the Sri Sankara Vishwa Mahavidyalaya, the university managed by Kanchi Kamakoti Math.

The first classes were taught on July 15 and 16. During that time, three batches of students—two batches of undergraduates and one of postgraduates—were taught.

“At the end of the first day, the students who attended the class were really enthralled by their experience,” said lead instructor Brahmachari Ajamrita Chaitanya. “One boy who attended the course said that when he was coming to the college that morning he was disturbed and full of tension. However, he said that after the IAM classes he felt real peace and mentally fresh. Another told me it was the first time in his life that he had experience real peace and bliss.”

After the completion of the classes, the principal was so impressed with the classes that he requested the brahmacharis to return and teach the remainder of the students. Thus, a second round of classes were taught on 15th and 16th of September. When these were completed, a third set of classes—this time, for teaching and non-teaching staff—was requested.

More classes will be scheduled at Kanchipuram soon.

– Tulasi

First IAM in Greece

The first Integrated Amrita Meditation courses conducted in Greece took place in September 2009.

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The courses took place on the beautiful island of Evia. After the courses satsangs were held in Athens where the participants  had the  opportunity to  learn more about Amma’s  teachings and learn some of Amma’s bhajans.

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– Tulasi

The 56th Birthday Celebrations of Amma

27 September 2009 — Amritapuri

Amma’s 56th birthday celebrations took place in Amritapuri on 27 September 2009. Devotees had been arriving at Amritapuri for the past week in order to celebrate the auspicious occasion in Amma’s presence. The programs took place in a tent erected just across the backwaters at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.

The morning began with the conducting of Maha-Ganapati Homa. This was followed by the chanting of the Sri Lalita Sahasranama Archana for world peace and happiness.  Afterwards  Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri arrived at the program grounds, where he gave satsang.

Amma arrived at the program grounds around 9.15, after taking a boat across the backwaters. Upon her arrival, Sri Guru Pada Puja was conducted by Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri. Amma was then garlanded by all of her senior sannyasins.

Amma delivered her annual birthday address. Amma said, “There are two important days in our life. The first is the day we are born. The second is the day we realise why we were born. But for many people this second day never comes. They live mechanically from the day they are born to the day they die. We will only be able to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of life when we realise its true purpose. Today, we are squandering our precious powers of thinking and discrimination on insignificant and impermanent things. Once we become caught in this cycle, it is very difficult to get out.” She also spoke about cultivating discrimination, the importance of compassion and the effects alcohol is having on modern society.

Upon the conclusion of Amma’s address, the 2009 Amrita Keerti Puraskar was bestowed upon Prof. K.V. Dev for his meritorious contributions to spiritual-philosophical literature. The award was presented by last year’s Amrita Keerti Puraskar recipient, Prof. Vasudevan Potti.

Next, the members of the Alappad Panchayat Karyogam offered purnakumbam to Amma to the playing of pancavadyam.

As part of its Amrita Sree self-help group program, the Ashram distributed 32 new sewing machines to women forming an Amrita Self-Help Group in Wayanad. These were officially given away by K.C. Venugopal, MP, Alappuzha.

Renowned tantric artist and editor-in-charge of Malayalam Manorama Weekly, K.A. Francis, offered a painting to Amma—titled, Matru Padam Lakshmi Padam.

Amma’s birthday saw the release of a number of new publications—some by MAM and by outside publisher. Mathrubhumi Press released ‘Amma Makkalodu’ by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. The first copy was given to Vellapallai Nateshan, General Secretary of SNDP Union, by K. Gopala Krishnan, former Chief Editor of Mathrubhumi.

MAM released three new books, plus a special Matruvani Birthday Supplement. The first book was Bhagavad-Gita: Garimayum Cila Santvanoktikalum by Swami Turiyamritananda Puri. The first copy was given to 2001 Amrita Keerti Puraskar Recipient Acarya Narendra Bhushan, by Prof. Vasudevan Potti.

The second book was Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri’s Atyantika Vijayam, a Malayalam translation of Ultimate Success. The first copy was given to K.C. Narayanan, Chief Editor of Bhasa Poshini, by P.K. Krishnadas, the Kerala State President of the Bhartiya Janata Party.

A new English book by Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, The Timeless Path, was also released. The first copy was given to C. Dinakaran by former MLA Rajan Babu. The first copy of the Matruvani Birthday Supplement was given to former central minister O. Rajagopal by Swami Pranavananda of Panmana Ashram.

Next, 56 people from the local area took a formal pledge before Amma to spread awareness regarding the dangers of drugs and alcohol. This was followed by a mass marriage for impoverished 56 couples, conducted by Amma, for which the Ashram bore all expanses in terms of dress, gold ornaments and food, etc.

Upon the conclusion of the marriages, Amma began giving darshan to one and all. Cultural programs were performed by students of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and Amrita Vidyalayams.

watch Padapuja photos from Amma’s 56th birthday celebration.

Vidyamritam extended

26 September 2009 – Amritapuri

The Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) provided another 2,000 scholarships to impoverished children today. The scholarships are part of the Vidyamritam program, through which 32,000 children throughout India are now receiving such aid. The function was held at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham campus in Amritapuri at 4:30 p.m.

Twenty-five scholarships were distributed by Sri. Vayalar Ravi, the Honourable Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, as were 25 by acclaimed Malayalam film-star Padmasree Mohanlal. These 50 students were symbolic of the 2,000 new beneficiaries. His Excellency R.S. Gavai, the Governor of Kerala, inaugurated the Vidyamrita Sangamam 2009 by lighting the lamp. Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi graced the function with her presence, giving darshan to each recipient.

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, MAM’s vice-chairman, welcomed the dignitaries. Addressing the gathering he said, “For Amma, removing the sorrows of others is as natural as drying the tears from her own eyes. The happiness of others, this is Amma’s happiness. The security of others, this is Amma’s security. The rest of others, this is Amma’s rest. This is Amma’s vision. And it is this vision that Amma’s life is dedicated to awakening in humankind.”

As an extension of Vidyamritam, MAM is conducting camps and programs for beneficiaries in order to help inculcate values and a sense of empowerment. One such program, Vidyamrita Sangamam 2009, was held at the Amritapuri Ashram on 25th and 26th September. MAM provided each of the children who participated in the event with a new set of clothing. The camp was the culmination of a state-wide arts competition. Prizes were distributed by the His Excellency the Governor. The first-prize winners in elocution, junior and senior levels, also spoke on the occasion.

Vidyamritam camp conducted for children concluded.

Vidyamritam: bagging prize, winning the heart

harithaThe series of competitions organized for Vidyamritam beneficiaries across Kerala culminated in the finals of the elocution competitions in the junior and senior category, held at the Pandal erected in the Engineering College grounds of Amritapuri campus.  Both categories saw eight participants each arguing vociferously on the need to preserve Mother Nature for a healthy future for mankind.  The topics for junior category was ” Nature, My Mother”, where Neethu T PIllai from Pathanamthitta bagged the first prize while the seniors were given a choice of topics between “Save Nature to Save Mankind” and “World Peace through Human Values”. Haritha K K from Malappuram won the first prize in that category by speaking on the former topic.

Mr. C. P Nair, former Chief Secretary for the Kerala Government and a judge for the event remarked “All the participants have a very refined accent and intonation.” Other judges were M. G Radhakrishnan, Assistant Editor, India Today magazine and P. Rajan, a veteran journalist. Mr. M. G Radhakrishnan advised the students its not enough to use good vocabulary but the need  to imbibe Amma’s style of speech. “Amma’s speaks on the stage like she is talking to a neighbour. It is so earthy. There is simplicity. Those words come from experience.”

Almost all the participants winded up their speech with special thanks to Amma for giving them a forum of this magnitude to express their oratorical skills.  The participants are all from rural villages of Kerala and many are travelling outside their villages for the first time in their lives. Mata Amritanandamayi Math had arranged a series of competitions including Essay Writing Service, Pencil Sketching, Poetry, Painting and Elocution. The finals for all competitions except elocution was conducted in the first phase held on September 6, 2009 which had around 2000 participants from all over Kerala painting, sketching and writing not only in an effort to win prizes but also for an opportunity to showcase their talents.

The prizes were distributed in a special function held on the eve of 26th.

Art competition for Vidyamritam recipients

21 September 2009 — Amritapuri

Approximately 10,000 children—ages nine to 16, from all over Kerala—will begin converging on Amritapuri in the evening of 24th September. They are coming to participate in a grand finale of cultural events that have been organized for the beneficiaries of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s (MAM) Vidyamritam scholarship program.

MAM started Vidyamritam in 2007 in order to provide scholarships to children from impoverished agricultural families throughout India. So far, 30,000 children have been enrolled in the program. Another 2,000 will be officially enrolled in Amritapuri on the 26th of September. The new batch of beneficiaries not only includes children from agricultural families, but also children with parents who have HIV/AIDS and orphans.

In fact, Vidyamritam offers more than scholarships. This academic year, beneficiaries have been encouraged to participate in a series of literary and cultural competitions. On September 6, 2009, 3,000 Vidyamritam beneficiaries took part in competitions held at 22 centres throughout Kerala. Events included poetry, elocution, painting and pencil sketching. The competitions were arranged by the volunteers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, MAM’s deemed university.

For junior students, the theme was “Nature, My Mother” and “Through loving and contented family life, one can achieve peace in society.” For senior students, it was “By protecting Nature, we protect mankind” and “World peace can be achieved by developing human values in individuals.” Students and their parents were bussed to and from the competition centres by MAM. Meals were provided, as were the necessary materials in order to compete. Each child was also given a pen, a pencil and a box of water colours.

The work of the top 25 or so competitors has been sent to eminent Malayalam writers and artists for selection of prize winners. The semi-finals and final round of elocution are slated for the 25th and 26th of September in Amritapuri. The judges for the finals are also eminent figures in Kerala’s literature scene.

Vidyamritam extended to include HIV/AIDS orphans

21 September 2009 – Amritapuri

On 26 September 2009, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) will provide another 2,000 scholarships to impoverished children. The scholarships are part of the Vidyamritam program {news}, through which 30,000 children throughout India are already receiving such aid.

Vidyamritam was launched by MAM in September 2007 in order to help fight ‘farmer suicide,’ an epidemic plaguing India with increasing frequency, as drought, crop failure and debt become more and more common. Experts say that at least 160,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997, with 17,500 incidents between 2002 and 2006. Perhaps one of the most shocking statistics is one reported in the Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra, wherein, in 2006, 1,044 suicides were reported in the agricultural community—that is one death every eight hours.

Through Vidyamritam, MAM will ultimately pay for the education of 100,000 children living below the poverty line. The 2,000 scholarships will expand the current number of scholarships to a total of 32,000. The latest batch of beneficiaries not only includes children who have lost parents to farmer suicide, but also children whose parents have HIV/AIDS or have been otherwise orphaned.

The children (ages 10 to 15) receive a quarterly stipend until they finish their education. MAM volunteers regularly verify the children are continuing their educations and that the funds are being used either for school fees or supplies.

Reports show that farmers in India are committing suicide over debts as small as $300 U.S. As such, the Vidyamritam scholarships help keep children in school without adding to their parents’ sense of financial burden. Only if the children of such families receive proper educations will their families be freed from total dependence on agriculture as a source of income.

Vidyamritam is a permanent humanitarian program of MAM, with new students taking over the scholarships of graduates.

Beneficiaries are from the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

As an extension of this project, MAM is conducting camps and programs for Vidyamritam beneficiaries in order to help inculcate values and a sense of empowerment. One such program—for 10,000 Vidyamritam beneficiaries—will be held at Amritapuri on 26 and 27 September.

Educational scholarships are also offered in Singapore {news} and  Nairobi {news}.