Amma in Amdavad

10 March, Amdavad, Gujarat – Bharata Yatra 2011

The next stop on Amma’s 2011 Bharata Yatra was the capital of Gujarat, Amdavad. Amma held a public program at the Educational Society Ground in the evening of March 10th.
During the program Amma extended several of the ashram’s charitable projects to the region.  Scholarships were distributed to more than 50 local students as part of the Vidyamritam project and many of the local Amrita Vidyalayam students were given handkerchiefs as part of the Amala Bharatam Campaign.

Several dignitaries were on hand to officially welcome Amma to Gujarat, including: Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, S.J. Mukhopadhyay; Additional Chief Secretary, R.M. Patel; Principal Secretary, K Kailash Nathan; and Joint Commissioner of Police, Mohan Jha.
Members of the Sikh community of Ahmedabad presented Amma with Saropa (the highest honor from sikh community) in recognition for her outstanding contributions to humanity throughout the world.

 

As she has been doing everywhere else on this tour, Amma lead the Manasa puja for the first time in the local language, this time in Gujarati. At the end of the puja the crowd enthusiastically applauded showing their appreciation for Amma’s efforts to communicate with them in their own language.

 

During the darshan the local Amrita Vidyalayam students and teachers performed a variety of both modern and traditional dances. But the dancing didn’t end with the formal performances. Near the end of the the darshan several local women spontaneously filled the stage and performed a lively Garbha dance for Amma.  Spirits then remained high as Amma ended the darshan by singing  Mayaji and Pukare Mayya.

Amma and the tour group arrived in Amdavad a day before the scheduled program there. That evening before the program day, Amma delighted everyone by asking for dinner to be served at the roof of the school building. It became like one of the usual tour ‘chai stops’ with Amma giving satsang and asking everyone to reflect more on the topic she had brought up few days before about  performing one’s dharma and responsibilities in the materialistic world while keeping a loving and compassionate attitude. A few people came up with their views, then Amma sang upbeat bhajans along with everyone.

– Kannadi

Role of temples changed in today’s world

11 March 2011, Fiji

Br. Shantamrita addressed the crowd of 100 or so local Indo-Fijians on the topic of “the Role of Temples in Today’s World”. The program was held at Siva Mandir which is one of the oldest temples in Fiji.

In the talk, Br. Shantamrita recognized that these days many people often find it difficult to make time even for many important things in life and that there are so many comforts and attractions in today’s world, constantly fighting for our attention. At the same time, he emphasized that people experience a lot of stress and tension in their lives. In this context and with the audience’s participation, he addressed questions such as what is the age-old role of temples changed in today’s world and how should we understand the significance of temples in relation to the changing world around us? The local people were fascinated by the topic and could relate to it well.
The talk was followed by bhajans together the members of the Amma Fiji Satsang Group as well as distribution of prasad.

Amma in Mumbai

6, 7 March, Nerul, Navi Mumbai – Bharata Yatra 2011

The 6th and 7th of March were this year’s special two days for Mumbai to receive and enjoy Amma’s loving presence.

Like each year, devotees flocked to the Nerul ashram, located on the Brahmagiri Hill, to meet Amma and receive her blessings. Amongst the dignitaries were Maharashtra’s Governor N. Shankaranarayanan, Justice S. Radhakrishnan, actress Vidya Balan, as well as top industrialists, businessmen and stars from the entertainment and movie sectors.

After his meeting with Amma, the Governor fully gave his support to the Amala Bharatam Campaign and added that “Amma does not belong to a particular place or particular society, she is the mother of all humanity.”

Amma’s visit to Mumbai coincided with International Women’s Day. Speaking the media on the occasion actress Vidya Balan had the following to say about Amma:
“I was eight when I first met her. To me, Amma is Love Incarnate, the Universal Mother. It’s the utter unconditionality of her hug — lepers, millionaires, film stars, the poor and the unwashed — all get the exact same warm, motherly embrace. Just imagine, 30 million have felt it across the world in the last 30 years. It’s unbelievable and for that split second, all barriers are gone. She doesn’t say pray to me, she says I’ll pray for you. Who does that today? She doesn’t want you to convert, but her quintessential message is, unselfish love alone can change the world, whatever your religious call. “

In her satsang, Amma spoke about the need to develop values along with the integration of the scientific development of today’s modern world. Amma said that a life based on values and dharma is spirituality itself.

On the occasion, Amma launched the Amala Bharatam Campaign (ABC) in Mumbai. Handkerchiefs were distributed to students and youngsters to help educate them about public health and hygiene. All the young people coming for darshan were also given handkerchiefs. The programs also included the distribution of Vidyamritam Scholarships, part of the Math’s Farmers Suicide Relief Program.

But the highlight of this year’s programs was Amma conducting herself the Manasa Puja in Hindi! Devotees and all the people present were deeply touched and inspired when hearing Amma address them in their native language. This brought her even closer to their hearts.

At the end of darshan Amma sang Hari Narayana and Mere Mujhe Me to the delight of all the devotees.

– Kannadi

Amma in Pune

3 – 4 March, Pune, Maharashtra – Bharata Yatra 2011

Amma’s programs in Pune were full of local flavor – Amma sang many bhajans in Marathi; some original and some classic bhajans that had been translated from the original Malayalam so that they could more easily touch the devotees’s hearts. However the devotees seemed most touched by Amma’s efforts to speak to them in a language they could understand. When she began the Manasa Puja in Hindi, saying, “Peeth bilkul seedha rakh te huye ankhen bandh karen,” or “Sit with your spine straight, and close your eyes,” the crowd broke into applause and cheers before settling down into the guided meditation, which Amma led entirely in Hindi.

 

As part of the first evening’s public program, more than 25 widows and other disadvantaged women, as well as an elderly blind man, were enrolled in the Amrita Nidhi Lifetime Pension program.

After receiving the pension, some of the recipients shared their thoughts. Ms. Pawar Vijaya Suresh commented, “I am very poor. I am not able to work. Now that I am getting this pension, I will be able to afford to eat two meals a day.” Ms. Kantabai More shared, “Nobody is there to look after me, so I have been staying with my daughter. This pension will really help me.” The blind man, Mr. Deepak Mhaske told a heart-wrenching story: “I used to have a job, but 12 years ago some acid splashed into my eyes in the factory where I worked and I lost my vision. My wife works as a housemaid but she doesn’t earn much. We have one son, studying in the 8th grade. This pension will help us to pay his expenses and keep him in school.” And Ms. Anandmaa Prakash Raj said, “I just want to thank Amma for giving me this pension. And to receive it in person—for so many years I have been waiting for Amma’s darshan. Now I am finally happy.”

The Amrita Nidhi program is currently providing more than 50,000 widows and disabled people with lifetime pensions, with a goal to ultimately provide 100,000 pensions throughout India.

The 3rd of March was Sivaratri, and the Pune devotees were delighted to have Amma there to celebrate the festival day with them.
Amma reminded the devotees in her satsang that “God is always within us, awake all the time. But because we are in deep sleep, we are not able to feel His presence within. Sivaratri is a day when at least once in a year we try to sacrifice sleep and food and try to keep our minds focussed on the Lord. But keeping vigil the whole night just does not mean keeping the eyes open. We need to develop awareness in every thought, word and deed. Through this awareness, ignorance disappears. Darkness is not a thing that can be removed. When you bring in light, it disappears automatically. In a similar way, as awareness deepens, ignorance has to disappear.”

Amma sang several Siva bhajans during the evening bhajan session before starting the darshan, and for the rest of the night and on into the morning the swamis and later Western devotees sang different renditions of Om Namah Sivaya.

Amma launched launched the Amala Bharatam Campaign in Pune as part of her program, calling on all those present to take it upon themselves to make India clean and beautiful again and distributing to handkerchief to all the students of Amrita Vidyalayam and all other children attending the program as well. The students enthusiastically answered the call, and they could be seen not only on the program ground but also in the surrounding area, picking up trash and sweeping the streets with smiling faces.

The following dignitaries shared the dais with Amma during her programs in Pune: Pune Collector Sri. Chandrakanth Dalvi; Sri. Yogesh Bahal, Mayor of Pimpri Chinchwad; Dr. P Vijay Bhatkar, Chairman, ETH Research Labs; Professor Viswanath Karad, Director, MIT – Pune; and Sri. Laxman Jagtap, MLA. Many other politicians, educationalists, entrepreneurs and scientists came to meet Amma during her two days in Pune.

At the end of the program, Amma sang the new Punjabi bhajan, Mere Mujhe Me to the delight of all.

– Kannadi

Swami Ramakrishna to visit China

Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri will be visiting Shanghai, China for two days, 12 & 13 March. He will give a talk, bhajans and will conduct an IAM meditation class. Talks will be in English and translated into Chinese.

Venue: Raja Yoga, Xujiahui, 3rd floor, No 88, Xingeng Road, Xu Hui District.
Bus 864/42/Metro Line1
contact: reservations@iamcn.org
web www.iamcn.org

Amma in Hyderabad

27 – 28 February , Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh – Bharata Yatra 2011

Amma’s return to Hyderabad was marked by a significant expansion of her ongoing humanitarian projects—shortly after her first evening program began, a seemingly never-ending line of children flowed across the stage, standing in line patiently to receive a hug and a kiss from Amma, and another gift as well—a scholarship check. But in fact the children on the stage were representative of a crowd too massive to accommodate on stage during the evening program; waiting in the wings were more than 1,000 children who would receive checks that night, away from the spotlight but under the loving care and watchful eye of Amma’s volunteers. Each of the children would receive Amma’s darshan during the course of the evening, and they left the grounds of Amma’s ashram clutching their memory of their personal moments with Amma in one hand, and a ticket to a brighter future in the other.

Anita, who is currently studying the 8th standard has been a beneficiary of the Vidyamritam program for the past 3 years. She expressed her gratitude to Amma and told how with her scholarship she can buy books and pay her school fees. She shared how her parents are very poor and without this scholarship would not be able to complete her studies. She hopes one day to become an IAS (India Administrative Services) officer and wants to be able to help people like Amma does.

Mahesh, another recipient of a Vidyamritam scholarship, shared that both his parents died and he lives with his grandparents. He said, “I am very grateful and i am able to study because of this scholarship. I hope Amma is able to help more kids like me.”

Amma also took the occasion to launch the Amala Bharatam Campaign in Hyderabad, and each of the students of Amrita Vidyalayam school here received handkerchiefs which they were encouraged to use instead of spitting on the ground. The students, and the entire assembled crowd, received a personal demonstration from Amma on how she envisions using the handkerchief in a sanitary and sustained fashion, carefully folding it over after use.

After her satsang, Amma personally led the manasa puja in Telugu, and sang quite a few bhajans in Telugu as well—to the delight of the devotees of Hyderabad.

In the evening, during the darshan, the children of Amrita Vidyalayam put on various cultural performances. In addition, a group of tribal performers from Bhadrachalam staged a koya dance. Also, Sri. Samala Venu, renowned magician and hypnotist, performed some magic tricks to the delight of onlookers. Having dedicated his performance to Amma, he appeared to magically transform a long black shawl into brightly colored shawl bearing all the hues of the rainbow. Mr Venu, said that this represented the same magic trick Amma performs on each person who comes to her, transforming the darkness of their sorrow into a rainbow of peace and bliss.

The following dignitaries shared the dais with Amma: Sri. Chandravadhan, IAS Officer and Commissioner, Ayush; Minister for Textiles Sri. Shankar Rao; Former Minister Sri. Govardhan Reddy; and Smt. Ritha Chandrachud, Operations Head of the renowned Dr. Reddy’s Hospital.

Also on this occasion, Swami Purnamritanandaji’s book, Unforgettable Memories, was released in Telugu under the name Amrita Smrutulu.

At the end of the last darshan Amma led everyone in a joyous rendition of Devi Devi Devi in Telugu.

– Kannadi