Amma in Kolkota

20 -21 March, Kolkata, West Bengal — Bharata Yatra 2010

Amma’s Brahmasthanam festival was held in Kolkata on 20th and 21st March 2010. During these two days, Amma gave darshan, sang bhajans and gave satsang twice daily translated into the local language, Bengali. A highlight was Amma singing many Bengali bhajans and conducting herself, some steps of the Manasa puja, in Bengali too.

Functions were also held during the two days during which 50 free pensions were given to poor and impoverished people as part of the Amrta Nidhi pension program, and keys were handed over to the new owners of the 275 completed houses from the Amrita Kuteeram Project, Amma’s free housing project, who were victims of natural disasters.

After handing over the keys for the Amrita Kuteeram project, Partha Chatterjee, leader of the opposition in West Bengal gave an address in which he said: “In Amma, I find the highest level of humanity, services for the down trodden, healthcare,  education, food, shelter and disaster relief. This is what attracts me to Amma.”

Rajendra Kumar, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal, said: “Amma gives us wonderful advice in simple language. She says we need to develop universal love. Loving our own family and relatives is not enough. We should extend it to our neighbors,  to our country and to the whole world.”

– Dev

A tribute to Sugunacchan

Documentary on Amma’s Father, Sugunacchan, produced and aired by Amrita TV as a tribute to his memory, after he passed away on 22nd March 2010.
It is a 27 minute tribute which includes beautiful scenes of Acchan with Amma and his wife Damayanti; as well as testimonials from Swamis and his children.

part 1/3

part 2/3

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Thank you Acchan

Amma was in Kolkata when her father, Sri. Sugunanandan Idamannel (Sugunacchan) passed away Monday morning (22 March 2010). From that morning itself, his relatives and the ashramites who had not gone on tour with Amma began chanting archana and holding vigil around his body, which had been decorated with flower garlands and placed in a glass case at the hospital. Word spread quickly, and his relatives, members of the community and, increasingly, Amma’s devotees, began coming to offer flowers and to pay their respects. Each person circumambulated his body and prostrated at his feet before joining those seated in their prayers. The crowd of well-wishers spilled out of the room, into the corridor, onto the hospital veranda and filled the grounds in front of the hospital.

The next morning, Amma arrived and went to meet Sugunacchan’s other children and their families, where she also circumambulated Acchan’s body and consoled the distraught relatives. She sat in prayer while the ashramites continued chanting archana. After some time, she walked in procession behind the body as it was carried to his home and placed in the center of the house’s main hall. There, Amma asked the ashramites to begin chanting the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which is traditionally chanted after death and prior to cremation. This chanting continued unbroken for the next 36 hours, as devotees and well-wishers flowed through the front doors of the house to circumambulate Sugunacchan’s body and pay their respects. For much of the time, Amma also sat. Many cried openly in Amma’s arms. Even for those who did not know him personally, it felt a great loss. Many expressed that they felt they could never repay their debt of gratitude to the man who had helped bring into the world the form of Sudhamani Idamannel, the girl who would grow up to be seen as the mother of millions. Amma herself was never distraught. At the same time, she seemed equally at home fulfilling her dharma as the daughter of Sugunacchan, as she is serving as mother, guru, guide, and leader.

On Wednesday afternoon (24 March 2010), Sugunacchan’s body was brought out in front of the house, to better allow for the countless people who had come to offer their respects. For several hours that evening, a seemingly endless line of people flowed past Acchan’s body. The mood throughout was serious but not heavy. His passing received the honor and accord it deserved, and each aspect of the ritual observances seemed fitting and perfectly performed. Then, too, was the awareness that here was a man who had nothing to regret. As one onlooker put it, “What more could you ask from a life?”

At 8:00 p.m., Amma stood and circumambulated his body, kissing and blessing him. His body was carried by his sons and grandsons, as well as the senior sannyasis of the Math, to the cremation ground, led by his eldest surviving son, Sri. Suresh. After performing all the customary rites, the flames of the funeral pyre were lit, and Sri. Sugunanandan Idamannel’s body was offered back to the elements.

On the day following the cremation, the 25th March, a ceremonial function of collecting the ashes (sanjayana) was held in Amma’s presence, lead by Amma’s elder brother Suresh. As per the tradition some of the ashes will be kept for spreading in spiritual locations accross India. The remaining ashes were carried on that same day to the Amritapuri ocean by the family’s male members and the swamis.

Traditional ceremonies and observations will take place successively during next 16 days, until 8th April.

Ceremonies were also held at each of Amma’s centers around the world, and letters, emails and phone calls poured into Amritapuri. One message seemed to best sum up the general sentiment among all of Amma’s devotees around the world:

“Prayers and gratitude for your incredible contribution to humanity… you gave us our precious Amma. For this, you will be remembered forever.”

— Kanandi

Sugunacchans body is cremated

Amritapuri, 23 Mar 2010
The body of Sugunanandan, father of Mata Amritanandamayi, who died on Monday (22 Mar 2010), was cremated on the premises of his Edamannel house near the Amritapuri ashram on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Suresh Kumar, the eldest son of Sugunanandan, lit the pyre. Thousands of people including devotees, Sanyasins of various ashrams, political and community leaders paid their last respects to the departed father of Amma.
Amma, who returned from Kolkata on Tuesday morning, was sitting by the side of the body along with her mother Damayanthi, sisters and brothers and sanyasins. Ashramites have been chanting 8th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita repeatedly round the clock.

Ministers C Divakaran, N K Premachandran, Kadannappally Ramachandran, Opposition leader Oommen Chandy, Congress leaders V M Sudheeran and G Karthikeyan, Kerala Congress leader K M Mani and SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappalli Natesan were among those who paid their last respects to Sugunanandan.Union ministers A K Antony and Vayalar Ravi, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, Ministers G Sudhakaran and S Sarma and CPM State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan were among those who sent condolence messages.

Ammas father passed away

06-achan-garland

22 March 2010, Amritapuri

Mr. Sugunanandan Edamannel, Amma’s father—Sugunacchan, passed away this morning at 10:30 a.m. due to cardiac arrest at his residence in Amritapuri.

Sugunacchan was like the pillar of the Ashram.  He loved the ashramites as if they were his own children and saw Amma as his Guru and God.

Acchan* was a man of great will power, who would always follow his word, and a firm believer in the principle of contentment. It was Acchan’s policy to always give if someone asked, without reservation. Many people in the village used to seek his assistance and advice.

He was a natural leader and was respected by all—as a businessman, as a builder of fishing boats, and as a human being. He continued working into his 80s.

It is well documented that it took time for Acchan to accept that his daughter was a Jnani. In response to the odd and often rebellious behavior Amma would demonstrate in her youth, Acchan would often reprimand her as any father would. At times, he would spank Amma. A few years back, a devotee who had read about such incidents scolded Acchan for his attempts at disciplining Amma. Acchan replied, “Didn’t Yashoda tied up Krishna? Didn’t Rama’s mother send him to the forest? Why? Because nobody told them that their child was God. Similarly, nobody told me that my child is God.”

Acchan was a treasure trove of stories about the divine plays of Amma’s life, many of which are not as of yet recorded in any books. In the past several years, Acchan regularly took special occasions, such as Guru Purnima, to tell such stories to ashram residents and visitors. In 2004, during one such talk, he told of a family pilgrimage to the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. Acchan said that as soon as Amma saw the murti, she entered a divine mood. Soon, Amma began to dance. It created a real stir, and soon many people gathered around. When the pujari in the sanctum sanctorum saw the commotion, Acchan said, he seemed to immediately recognize that this young girl was not a regular devotee, but an embodiment of the Divine Mother. He immediately removed one of the garlands from Meenakshi Devi, came out of the inner temple and placed it around Amma’s neck. The whole scene was almost too much for Acchan, who told everyone that he resolved then and there not to bring Amma to temples any more.

Didn’t Yashoda tied up Krishna? Didn’t Rama’s mother send him to the forest? Why? Because nobody told them that their child was God. Similarly, nobody told me that my child is God. – Sugunanandan

In 2007, on Guru Purnima, Acchan again addressed the ashram residents. “I am happy seeing all this,” he said, reflecting on his lifetime of witnessing the purana of Amma’s life unfold. “Damayanti Amma and I consider it a great fortune that we have been able to witness all this.”

With Suganacchan’s passing, the world lost a man who was a direct and intimate witness to the miracle of Amma’s early years.

Acchan suffered a heart attack in 2005 and he was under medication. In 2009 he was fitted with a pacemaker and was placed under regular medical supervision. A brahmachari had been serving as a 24-hour attendant for him for the past couple of years.

Acchan is survived by his wife, Damayanti Amma (75),  and eight children.

–Kannadi

* Acchan means father

Kozhukkattas in Kolkatta

19 March, Kolkata, W Bengal – Bharata Yatra 2010

Amma and the tour group reached the Kolkata Brahmasthanam temple after a few hours drive from Durgapur. Immediately after the buses reached, Amma had called the whole tour group to the roof of the Kolkata Ashram building. Amma had set up huge pots to make rice batter and had started to roll rice flour for making kozhukkatta 1. Amma had expressed that she personally wanted to spend more time with her children, make food for them and see their smiles.

Soon the whole lot of around 500 people crowded around Amma. To catch glimpses of Amma, some crowded a shaky metal staircase that led to the top roof, many perched on the roof at various corners looking at Amma below, few others even hung on precariously to the supports built for clothes-strings that are used to hang wet clothes.

Amma used one large pot to put some flour and started kneading it with some water. She took some salt in her hands and after mixing it with water sprayed the water on the dough and then kneaded. Amma seemed very agile as she made the small balls of dough and almost all the balls were of similar dimensions. Amma took some jaggery added coconut scrapings and handing out a plate of the same indicated that others could help her filling the inside of the kozhukkatta with the sweet jaggery. To everyone who came forward to do the filling, Amma would ask “Did you wash your hands well?” Amma had made the balls and others were asked to fill in the jaggery inside. Many hands kept filling the jaggery into the kozhukkatta as Amma would roll out the rice balls.

kozhukkatta were made in batches. As each batch of kozhukkatta was being passed from Amma’s side, applauds were heard indicating the celebration. Although Amma spoke in jokes and there was laughter as the making process was on, Amma’s actions seemed a beautiful reminder of how one should effectively do action. Amma started counting the kozhukkattas made. Around 800 kozhukkattas were made in four batches. After counting that there would be sufficient, Amma started cleaning the dough pot. She started scrapping the little pieces that stuck on the plate, rolling them with her hands and then added water twice to remove small pieces stuck on the plate. Amma mentioned that while she was young, her mother Damayantiyamma, would tell her “It is not we who created the food, then what right do we have to waste it?” if even a single grain of rice would fall out during rice de-husking . Mentioning this, Amma cleaned remaining flour that was sticking to the utensil and rolled the last kozhukkatta ball.

Soon after, Amma cleaned her hands and started singing Bhajans to thrill everyone around. Swamis took a seat next to her, followed by musicians who squeezed in since no one wanted to move away from Amma. Local devotees too joined the celebration. Amma sang a few Bengali bhajans, one Malayalam bhajan and a fast Marathi ‘Ayi Bhavani’. As the tempo of ‘Ayi Bhavani’ increased, Amma started salutations “Mata Rani ki” and the whole crowd replied with a “Jai” and this went on for some time and then came many “Maha Kali ki”. As the song was getting on higher and higher, Amma started ululation that was followed by many who followed her doing the same. Amma chanted “Kali Kali Kali” to the joy of the whole crowd.

In this Kali-Ghat2, Amma wanted to sweeten the lifes of many children who had come to her in their own ways seeking peace and refuge. With Master’s Grace working on the dough representing our life, spirituality as the core jaggery, even our life becomes a joyful experience. Isn’t that what she wants to see?

— Sakshi

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1 kozhukkatta (also known as modakam) is a delicious sweet-dish made of rice flour with sweetened coconut-jaggery filling. It is known to be Lord Ganesha’s favourite food item.
2 Kali Ghat was the old name of Kolkata

Amma in Durgapur

18 March, Durgapur, West Bengal — Bharata yatra 2010

Amma’s program in Durgapur was after few many years since the last program in 2004. The whole city seemed colored with posters announcing Amma’s arrival. Durgapur is one of the industrial cities of Indian state of West Bengal known for its steel industries.    Amma had driven for more than 2 days from Delhi before reaching Durgapur.

Amma was welcomed on the stage by ululation by devotees wearing tradition Bengali clothes. The public program started with the distribution of 50 Vidyamritam scholarships to poor students.

Amma’s satsang was translated into Bengali, the local language. Some steps of the Manasapuja Amma did in Bengali. Many bhajans were sung in Bengali too.

Amrita Vidyalayam students performed several cultural programs including dances, yoga shows and musical performances.
The Darshan went on until 4 am in the morning. Just before Amma got up from her seat, she sang some bhajans leaving the excited crowds almost dancing on their feet.

– Das

MA Centre, Germany receives UN Award

On 17 March, 2010, Cologne, Germany
The National Committee of the UN-Decade “Education for Sustainable Development” awarded M.A. Center Germany as an official UNESCO Decade Project.

The award is given to institutions and communities that provide a positive example to the local community by operating according to the principles of sustainable living.

M.A.Center Germany received the award for its holistic approach to sustainability in all areas of life.

The centre uses primarily organic and regional foods, and further seeks self-sufficiency in the use of energy and water. Cisterns are already in use and other eco-friendly technologies like photovoltaic, solar-heating and wood-chip-heating systems are scheduled.

For the conversion and construction of buildings, ecological materials are used and the principles of a passive house are implemented, which means that due to advanced insulation no additional heating is required, even during the cold winters.

The centre offers retreats on conscious living, meditation, organic cultivation of vegetable and herbs as well as yoga and art workshops.

Since 2006, the centre has been organizing Youth Retreats to convey the principles of sustainability to the younger generation. These retreats are sponsored by the European Union’s “Youth in Action” program.

During the award ceremony, Prof. Gerhard de Haan, chairman of the National Committee for the Implementation of the UN Decade in Germany said: “The Decade projects do good work. They impart knowledge and skills of sustainable development to our society; teach the idea of sustainability to a larger range of people.”

The UN Decade on Education of Sustainable Development is an international education initiative. The states of the United Nations have committed themselves to learn in the years 2005 to 2014 the concept of “sustainability”. The German Commission of the UNESCO coordinates the activities of the UN Decade in Germany together with the Federal Ministry of Education.

– Dev

Japanese students help Raichur housing project

10 March 2010, Raichur, Karnataka

Sixty students from Japan’s IVUSA (International Volunteer University Student Association)   came from Tokyo to join Amma’s house construction project at Raichur in Karnataka.

They stayed for more than a week and started spending their days in hot sun helping the construction of the houses. Temperature touched above 42 degrees and many of the students and accompanying bramhacharis fell sick. Amma had sent them umbrella-hats to ward off effects of excessive heat.

Most of the students enjoied working at the construction site during this short visit. They even spent time with the local villagers and children, celebrating the Holi festival at the nearby village. During their free-time, they trekked to visit a Shiva temple atop a closeby hill.

As they arrived  in Mumbai and later in Delhi after their assignment,  all of them met Amma before returning back to their country.

When asked what they had to say about their visit, Yukie said “Incredible India!”.

– Tulasi

Amma in Bodh Gaya

17 March, Bodh Gaya, Bihar – Bharata Yatra 2010
On her way from Delhi to Durgapur, Amma and the travelling group stopped for an overnight rest at Bodh Gaya, the holy place where  Buddha attained enlightenment.

Amma stayed at the  Mahabodhi Society of India  monastery. She was hosted by the monks of the monastery to whom she gave darshan and satsang to their greatest delight. Answering  their questions Amma advised them to be steadfast in their practice, stressing on the necessity to maintain faith and a strong conviction when facing challenging circumstances.

Bhanteji Veri P Seewalee Thera, the Secretary of the  Mahabodhi Society invited Amma to visit the Bodhi Tree in the premises of Mahabodhi Mahavihara temple. Accepting their prayer, Amma paid a visit to the place before proceeding to Durgapur.

The Bodhi Tree is the peepal tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment 2500 years ago. The present tree is grafted from the original one that is no more.

– Kannadi