Amma and Tumban, the ashram dog

There have been many unusual animals in the annals of Amritapuri. Amma’s sadhana days featured many helpful creatures such as: the eagle that dropped food before her when she was meditating; the dog that brought untouched food packets to her in his mouth; the cow that would break its ropes to give her milk. Many other unusual denizens of the animal kingdom have shown up in Amritapuri over the years. Temple going peacocks, bhajan going crows, friendly serpents, young elephants, a couple of monkeys, veggie burger loving eagles, unusual rats, various cats and dogs.

For years, a red dog named Kaiser protected the ashram from all unsavory characters whether two legged or four legged. Woe to the person who crossed the ashram boundary drunk or with ill intent. In a crowd of thousands Kaiser would trot straight to that person and stand before them barking and barring their way.


After Kaiser’s demise, there was a vacancy in this position for a couple of years. One day, a young multi-coloured dog who had been around for sometime, showed up in front of Amma during a cremation ceremony. He drew Amma’s attention, so she called him to her. He immediately obliged and came to sit right next to her. She was told that his name was Tumban (meaning “Abundance”), and started to use it when calling him. Since then he came into the limelight. He became the designated official ashram dog and was given a collar*, baths and flea powder.

Tumban takes his duties seriously and he patrols the ashram boundaries as Kaiser had done, apprehending questionable characters-whether animal or human and meeting vehicles arriving in the middle of the night. When visitors arrive at the ashram, late night, Tumban greets them, and walks with them to the accommodation office, then to the assigned building. He just stops short of carrying the luggage…

Tumban often shows up at the beach for meditation and lies in front of Amma, motionless, paws stretched forward on the sand in a kind of pranam or prayer. Sometimes Amma will ask him if he came to meditate and invite him to come closer. Thus, he began to “meditate” on the peetham next to Amma. He even had his own asana -the small piece of material for sitting.


Often, during darshan, Tumban comes to Amma: she greets him and feeds him. He’ll then lie there next to her for a while. Amazingly, Tumban never accepts any food from anyone except Amma herself or the person assigned for feeding him… His favorite food? Chappatis with butter!

Tumban definitely enjoys a very special relation with Amma. When darshan ends and Amma stands up, one can see him rushing towards her in the midst of the crowds to accompany her to her room.  He is said to get jealous if Amma showers more attention on the little kids that get next to her too…

One night at bhajan, Tumban appeared on the ramp below the stage. He walked back and forth in front of Amma wagging his tail. Finally, he stopped in front of her and looked at her expectantly, his tail oscillating rapidly. She smiled at him, and motioned him to come on stage. In one graceful leap, he landed at her feet and curled up. Amma told everyone how well behaved and correct his behavior was. He had waited for an invitation before presuming to come on stage!

When Swamiji placed Amma’s songbook on the music stand next to him, Tumban lost his composure and looking around, jumped back off the stage. Everyone groaned. It had been so cute to see him there.

Later in the bhajan, Tumban returned, jumped back up and took his place. This time he stayed for the rest of bhajans. In fact, he didn’t even move during arathi. He was not disturbed by the revolving flame. When Amma showered flower petals on the brahmachari doing the arati, a few petals fell on him, and he remained curled up at Amma’s feet. The light of the flame was flickering on his smooth coat. Was he awake or in the midst of a beautiful dream? When arathi is done to Amma, in a sense, it is also done to the One, to all Creation. Although one does not normally do arathi to dogs, it seemed totally right to watch this other form of creation receiving arathi along with Amma!

Tumban is an ideal ashramite, combining sincerity and regularity to the spiritual routine of the ashram, obedience and devotion to the Guru. He comes regularly to morning archana, alternating between the women’s side and the men’s side, as the groups do archana separately. He unfailingly attends the Upanishad classes and Ramayana discussions in the temple; participates in the meditation every Tuesday, and sometimes even goes up for his Prasad lunch. Tumban also attends the webcasts of Amma’s Devi Bhava when she is on tour! He has been supplied with his own asana for all these occasions. Amma has praised Tumban for being detached and devoted to the ashram and ashram dharma.


A brahmachari related how on Onam day, for some reason, Tumban wouldn’t allow a devotee to perform the padapuja on stage. He simply lied down in front of Amma, in complete pranam, blocked the devotee way by repeatedly stretching his body before the puja items, refusing to leave the place… But, when Amma asked him to move aside, Tumban immediately obeyed!

One day, a bigger dog showed up in the big hall for archana. He refused to give any attention to Tumban’s barking, and was lying down on a bunch of asanas close to the stage… Tumban was very alarmed, but was scared to face the stronger and bold invader. He must have thought well of the best tactic to follow to chase him away and soon he was ready for action: he quietly trolled towards the dog, reached him and peed in his ear (!)… before running away, obviously satisfied with his deed. This was enough to ruin the invader’s plans of feeling home, so he left the hall a bit dazzled by what had just happened to him… He was back next day, did the same thing, received the same special Tumban treatment, and never returned again!

There are too many stories about Tumban to recount in one post. Many ashram residents have their little stories with him, like coming to greet you and cuddle if you were away for a while and just returned, waking you up by scratching on your door, if you are a regular archana person and one day fail to be in your usual place on time, etc.

Some enjoy wondering about Tumban’s background, his past life, what he had done to achieve such an envious position in the ashram, etc. But our job is not to worry about who Tumban IS, but to find out who WE are! That is the reason and goal for our human birth, and even animals are willing to give us a boost on our quest and inspire us with their relationship with Amma.

— Sakshi

*in general, dogs are discouraged at the ashram due to fear of disease and the problems they have created in the crowds.

Conscious Living

Br. Shantamrita presented a Conscious Living Workshop in the capital of the Fiji Islands, Suva on Saturday March 12 to an enthusiastic group of people. In the three-hour workshop held at the Pacific Theological College, Br. Shantamrita examined the obstacles in life that prevent us from reaching our full potential in spiritual and worldly matters such as self-doubt, negativity, ignorance, and lack of awareness, and offered practical solutions to overcome these obstacles. He also led the participants through the principles for self-transformation through awareness. The workshop had group discussion on certain issues and also finished with a question and answer session. All the participants were extremely satisfied with the workshop.

Finding a balance with life and work

10 March 2011, Fiji
Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya carried out a workshop for United Nations staff based in capital Suva, Fiji, entitled “Achieving a Work Life Balance: A holistic approach” at the UN’s request. The workshop was held at the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre’s office on March 10, and the participants were from a range of United Nations agencies in Suva, including the Director of the Pacific Centre.

Shantamrita introduced concepts and techniques aiming to improve not only the abilities of the UN staff to manage complex projects, but also their ability to deal with the multiple demands of their personal lives in order to achieve a holistic success. Seeing life as a whole rather than divided in to personal and professional, and both the workplace and the home as places to grow spiritually and professionally was a theme that UN staff found refreshing in the interactive workshop. The participants commented that they felt better equipped to deal with stress, handle personal and professional demands, and grow spiritually and in their careers.

Ammas visit to Singapore, Reunion, Mauritius & Kenya

Amma to visit Singapore, Reunion, Mauritius and Kenya from March 22 Singapore – March 22-24

Marina Bay Sands, Expo & Convention Centre, Hall E, Basement 2, No 10, bay Front Avenue, S 018956


Reunion – March 27-30
27 March, Sunday 2011
10h00 : Amma Ashram – Maison de l’Inde – Camp du Gol in Saint-Louis
19h30 : Amma Ashram – Maison de l’Inde – Camp du Gol in Saint-Louis

28 March, Monday 2011
10h00 : Amma Ashram – Maison de l’Inde – Camp du Gol in Saint-Louis
19h30 : Amma Ashram – Maison de l’Inde – Camp du Gol in Saint-Louis

29 March, Tuesday 2011
10h00 : Amma Ashram – Maison de l’Inde – Camp du Gol in Saint-Louis
19h30 : Salle Candin – ZAC Foucherolles – Moufia in Saint-Denis

30 March, Wednesday 2011
10h00 : Salle Candin – ZAC Foucherolles – Moufia in Saint-Denis
19h30 : Devi Bhava Darshan at la Salle Candin – ZAC Foucherolles – Moufia in Saint-Denis

Mauritius – April 1 -2
Mata Amritanandamayi Centre, St. Jean Road, Quatre Bornes, Mauritius, Ph: 4662718, 7531253 Website:


Kenya – April 5 – 6

on April 5th
Inauguration of Amrita Childrens Home @ Athi River, Kenya


Public program on April 6th, 2pm onwards
Oshwal Centre, on ring road, opp Namumat Ukay, Kenya
Contact: Tel +[254 753] 888991/2/3/4


Painting colours of Love in Delhi

16 – 17 March, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi – Bharata yatra 2011

Delhi, the capital of India, is the last stop of Amma’s programs in North India this year.
The Brahmasthanam temple in Vasant Kunj at the Delhi branch-ashram, was inaugurated by Amma back in 1995. Since then, She has graced the capital with her presence almost every year holding annual festive celebrations.

During Her visit, and as she has done everywhere else on this tour, Amma extended the ashram’s charitable activities. This included the distribution of Vidyamritam scholarships, the distribution of handkerchiefs for students and children as part of the Amala Bharatam Campaign in Delhi, and the blessing by Amma of Tulasi saplings as part of the AYUDH activities in the capital.

Like in the previous Hindi speaking cities part of the tour, Amma pleased the devotees by leading the Manasa Puja in the local language… A precious additional generous gift that she now grants the devotees of each place that she visits in India, bringing more happiness to their fulfilled hearts.

Lot of important dignitaries from different walks of life got a chance to meet Amma and receive her blessings.

On the evening program of the 16th, Shri Satyanand Misra, Chief Information Officer of the Central Information Commision (CIC), and Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, attended the functions, garlanded Amma and gave brief speeches. Dr Pachauri is the Chief Executive of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) and Chairman of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme); he said in his speech:”A few months back I had the privilege of having God Amma’s Darshan. And the one thing that struck me is that she exudes Love. You just have to look at her when she hugs with her arms around you and whispers blessings in your ears, you know this is a fountain of love. And I think in this world today, this is one commodity that is missing and which we have to discover because it is within ourselves. If we have love for each other, if we have love for Mother Earth, if we have love for all loving beings, then there would be no basis for conflict at all. And I think all of us would bask in the blessing that Amma’s simple life is. Because she is truly such an enormous fountain of energy and love and compassion. I think if all of us were to get even a fraction of it within our own beings, there would have been only joy in the whole world. I am very much indebted to Amma and I thank her. I also pay my respect to her. I would also like to say that whatever little I could do with her inspiration, I would strive my best to accomplish it.”

On the evening program of the 17th, students from the Amrita Vidyalayam, Delhi, delighted the crowd with various performances. Around 5:45am, as darshan was ending, all those present gathered around Amma waiting for the special delight that she was about to offer: For the next 45 minutes, with the microphone in Her hands Amma led 2 ‘upbeat’ bhajans – ‘Hari Narayana’ in Hindi, ‘Bandalo bandalo’ in Kannada, guiding everyone into rounds of clapping, dancing, and “Jai!”-replies to her “Matarani Ki!”-calls… As Amma was swaying back and forth with hand gestures, the group also moved in the same rhythm as if in a boat race. The whole hall was vibrating with full of energy, as Amma’s loving eyes were continuously scanning across the hall, with a compassionate look and a bewitching smile on her face. Then Amma asked every one to pray for the world peace, especially for the victims of the Japan disaster, leading all in chanting of  ‘Loka Samasthah sukhino Bhavanthu’ mantra.



‘Holi has come, I have filled up the water pistol’ … singing the song The “Ayee he Holi” – Amma started smearing colour powder on the face of the children standing around her. As the tempo of the song increased, Amma sprayed color powders around. Every one was ecstatic. The Delhi devotees will surely paint their hearts with these colours for a long time.

After the programs in Delhi, Amma left for Singapore-Mauritius-Reunion-Kenya tour, while most of the tour group will head back to Amritapuri, and eagerly wait, yet again, for Amma’s return there.

— Kannadi

Prayer circles for Japan


Since first day after the earthquake in Japan, there were prayer circles for the victims every day. Daily after the evening bhajans, all have been chanting 108 ‘Lokah Samastha’ mantra sitting around the map of Japan with lamps lit around it.

The world awaits true leaders in Fiji

Amma’s message has been spread to the South Pacific through a visit to the Fiji Islands by Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya from March 7 to 14, 2011 to conduct a series of seminars on Practical Spirituality.

Br. Shantamrita’s first program on March 9 was at the prestigious Fiji National University in the capital Suva where he spoke to diverse audience of indigenous Fijians, Indo-Fijians, expatriates, students, and professor’s on the topic of “The World Awaits True Leaders”. Based on Amma’s teachings Br. Shantamrita explained how true leaders speak through their actions, guiding and inspiring others with their love and selflessness and how such leaders, like Amma, can bring about tremendous transformation, even in today’s world. Touching on such topics, Br. Shantamrita discussed how we can invoke our latent leadership qualities and become the change that we seek in society. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session.

The next day Shantamrita taught meditation to a group of enthusiastic participants at a private house in Suva. The session was held on the house verandah surrounded by a lush tropical garden creating a relaxing atmosphere for all. Many of the participants commented how peaceful and inspired they felt by the session.

Further sessions were held during the week, including a training session for United Nations’ staff, a satsang at a large Hindu temple, a conscious living workshop, and an introduction to meditation for children at a national park just outside of Suva.



Practical Vedanta, lessons on the go for busy people

A very touching element in Amma’s tours in India is the amazing fact that she still insists on traveling by road herself and to stay with the caravan of buses that travel along. The 1-day journeys from one city to another sometimes take 20 hours, the distance to cover is sometimes over 600 km; but Amma keeps it as an unwavering rule to stick to the vehicles transporting the around 500 members of the tour.

Why does she do that? Simple…
…to offer all her disciples and devotees the unforgettable memories of bhajans, satsangs, dinner moments on the side of the road, when the engines are put to rest and the drivers can recuperate from their arduous task of carrying the ‘mobile mini-ashram’ throughout the land of India.

…to make sure that all is fine and everyone is coping well with the hard and long traveling, as the buses cut across rural areas, cities, small towns and villages, crossing the borders from state to state.
…to remain close-by in case one of the buses encounters a mechanical problem or losses its way…
Couldn’t Amma simply travel on her own, reaching ahead of time and allow herself some resting hours before her next program? Shouldn’t Amma simply take a train or a flight to the next destination and avoid the added discomforts of bouncing on the Indian roads? It is painful to think about these added tapas that Amma is imposing on her body, but for Amma, these tours are spiritual pilgrimages (yatras) that she fully treats as such in every detail, applying the dharma of pilgrimage firstly on herself!


Could we imagine her not acting in this way, not forsaking her own comforts in order to please her ‘children’ and make them spiritually benefit from her presence?

Yes, the most precious and endearing moments for all those taking part in these tours are, when after long hours of day-time driving, and as the sun is setting and the atmosphere is cooling down, Amma picks a place by the side of the road and makes the group stop and rest for 2 or 3 hours… before the caravan proceeds for more long hours on the road to reach the final destination in the early hours of the next day’s morning…
Amma meditates with everyone, practices bhajans in the local language of the area that she is reaching next, serves dinner and tea, asks about everyone’s wellbeing, opens discussions about some spiritual topic that she chooses, asks some to share inspiring stories and cheerful jokes, or lead bhajans with everyone singing along enthusiastically…
In the last two stops, Amma’s question for everyone was related to performing one’s dharma and responsibilities in the ‘material’ world while keeping a loving and compassionate attitude. Making everyone reflect on the subject, people discuss about it in small groups and some get the chance to share their views in Amma’s presence… Slowly, after each one’s input, and often brief comments from Amma, she is leading us all closer to the best blend in this practical spiritual subject.


In Her last satsang Amma said, that people usually find excuses for not finding time for spiritual practices: Long working hours that consume all the day’s time and energy; preparing for a marriage; preparing for the first birth in the family; having a second child; then another child… How can they find time to care for wife or a child, when they complained that they don’t have time even when they were bachelors! It seemed that all their time was fully booked, but how could they find time for their wife and their children” Amma asked? With only one child you were complaining that there is no time. Then when you have a second child, you find time for that child too. Now your complaint is that you have 2 children and don’t have any time. But when a 3rd child comes into the family, you find time to care for that baby too. Amma wondered how is it possible. Then she said in her own typical simple but so profound and so practical way: We should treat society as another child in our family!! Then you will be able to care for others, show love and compassion. In Sanatana Dharma the creation and the creator are not two but one, like a wave and the ocean” Amma explained sitting on the roof of Amrita Vidyalayam building in Amdavad. All reflected on the wisdom and practicality of Vedanta and digest the subtle teachings while they were having the dinner Prasad served by Amma in the cold night under the moon light sky.
– Sakshi

Showers of Love in Jaipur

13 March, Jaipur, Rajasthan- Bharata Yatra 2011

Amma held a one day public program in Jaipur, Rajasthan at the grounds of the Tagore International School. On a cool evening Amma extended her warmth and compassion to the people of Rajasthan by extending her charitable projects to those in need. As part of the Vidyamritam program several local youth were given scholarships for their education and handkerchiefs as part of the Amala Bharatam Campaign.

Several dignitaries were on hand to officially welcome Amma to Jaipur. Brij Kishore Sharma, Minister for Transport; Raj Kumar, Minister for Health; Jaipur Mayor Jyoti Khandelwal; Suresh Mishra, the local MLA.

While welcoming Amma to Jaipur, the Mayor shared her own experience with Amma, “I met Amma last time when she visited and I am thankful to her. When Amma last came we were suffering from a severe drought locally. On that occasion, Amma asked me what my desire is. I told Amma we need good rains. After her visit it has been raining all year much more than usual almost from then until just last month. If Amma keeps visiting this city I am sure we will never suffer from a scarcity of water again.”
The Mayor also added, “Amma is not only awakening the god consciousness in us…. She is like a mother who teaches a child all aspects needed for one’s blossoming. She guides us on the spiritual path and the same time teaches us how to preserve water, rainwater harvesting, ways to protect nature, etc.

Mayor Jyoti Khandelwal continued, “During tonight’s program, Amma has requested us not to litter, spit or urinate in public. Amma’s request, we take as a command and I will try my best to make Jaipur a clean city; and Amma will be proud to say in her next visit that these are the children that took my requests to heart and executed what I asked them to do. I also take this opportunity to as an individual and as a part of the administration to say that we will contribute in whatever way possible. And I pray before Amma that Amma will help us make Jaipur into a world class city that not only is glorious in culture, infrastructure, technology, but also knows the way to rehabilitate the poor and maintain cleanliness and hygiene of the highest standards. I strongly believe that when we obey Amma’s commands can we become befitting for her grace.”

During bhajans Amma sang a song in Marwari, the local language of Rajasthan. After the bhajans Amma lead the Manasa puja in Hindi.

During the early morning hours an Archana was chanted for the benefit of the victims of the recent Japanese tsunami.

At the end of Darshan Amma sang Hari Narayana & Mere Muj-me bhajans to the delight of the devotees of Jaipur

— Kannadi