23 May 2011, Amritpauri
Every year before the USA yatra, Amma holds a meeting for all the ashramites. This is the time of the year when she shares her vision on the working of the institutions, point out shortcomings, suggesting the modus operandi we need to pursue and tips on sadhana. This year also was not different.
The bell rang three times. Every one ran to the Kali temple. Within few miniutes Amma arrived through the balcony. She took the mic “All those who are looking after institutions, schools please stand up.” Scanning over the assembled, she said “Where are the others? Not all are here – I am going to mark them absent.” She sounded like a strict teacher.
She continued asking for the requirements concerning schools/institutions for the coming academic year. “You have to give me proper lists of requirements – with exact numbers of where you need it and its justfication. Even if you give me a list, I won’t give you straight away what you ask for. It has to be a clear detailed list. Otherwise if you are given without any proper justification, then there might not be proper accountability. You might waste and misuse. And you will come up with the same list again next year” said Amma with a smile. She was pointing out our need for awareness. “You should make enquiries about such things in other institutions also. What sort of user – computer ratios do they have? Teachers are supposed to be aware of and be thorough with what they are teaching. They should not have to rely only on computers.” Amma cautioned.
“You are all spiritual aspirants. We should have awareness in all that we do. Only then does karma become karma yoga. Strive to seek that awareness from me.” Amma started explaining about the subtle principles of spiritual life and its application.
“Discipline helps good thoughts and qualities to develop, which in turn leads to Shraddha or awareness in action. For one who has Shraddha, everything becomes Puja (worship). Nothing will be wasted, everything will be practical” Amma said.
“To control the mind, discipline is needed. We need to meditate, do japa, do seva. Only one who has a strong grounding in the Shastras (scriptures) can survive without this.”
“Meditate in the morning. Go for your seva after that. Read books and make notes. What is the use of showing light to a blind person! You have to awaken yourself. Only then will you have that yearning.”
Amma then started explaing how daily discipline can help us in our life quoting from her own life experiences.
“Because we had that sort of discipline during childhood – at dusk we would wash our hands and feet, light the lamp and pray. We would also place a pot of water in front of the lamp for God, so that God could wash his feet if he comes to our house! People had such innocent faith then. During prayers and bhajans, we would have to sit with folded hands as a mark of devotion and respect. Even now if I am not able to come for bhajans I sit with the tambura and sing bhajans in the room itself. Even when I had throat problems, I do still sing.”
Irrespective of the situation, you will be able to pursue your practice if you had an early discipline. To drive this point Amma quoted “When Damayanti Amma’s father died – she sat by the body and did Hari Nama Kirtanam1 – because as per her schedule it was time to do so. She used to chant the Hari Nama Kirtnam every morning.”
“During Archana, you can either chant or keep silence and imagine that you are doing an abhisheka2 with flowers to God, flowing from head to feet – that way you will be able to visualise the whole form. Archana – can be chanted together but should be in synchrony – with the same speed and shruthi3.” Amma pointed out.
Amma started explaing how practically we should live a spiritual life. “You can chant wherever you are. You can look at the sky as you travel and look into the skies and persieve the ‘Ishta devata’4 is moving with you. While travelling by road, you can imagine Devi driving in a chariot/car ahead of you. While cooking you can see Devi’s face in the fire as you blow. So you can do anything and everything anywhere with the remembrance of God.”
Intensity to know
“I am very sad when I do not see such an attitude in my children. You should have that intensity, but many of you seem to lack it. Most of you are like an ordinary bus. That goes so slow, stopping here and there again and again. Moreover, you keep on loading the bus with each and everything you see at every stop till the bus breaks down and you lose everything. Then you wait for the next bus.”
“Make a resolve; That we should reach a particular place by a particular time. It is only then that we will have the urgency to reach our destination. We should have the yearning and the Jijnasa- the desire to know” Amma inspired everyone.
Narrating the story of Kaikeyi and Manthara from Ramayana, “If within the mind, some gossip and slander finds root, God leaves, Devil will rule the mind.” Amma warned.
Center of Love
“Without a center you cannot draw a circle. Without that center of love, there won’t be fulfilment to life. That is what makes life full. Doing actions as an offering to God is karma yoga. Here, in the ashram you can do this very easily – you can think that you are doing it for Amma. Remember that Amma has offered herself to the world. Amma is always in Atma-bhava, in the state of Self. She is your Atma; She is not different from you. So if you do actions with that attitude, then it is the Self offering it to the Self.”
Attachment to the Guru
Explaing the attachment towards Guru, Amma said “Your attachment to Amma or God is like attachment to river Ganga. It will purify everything. Attachment to the world is like being attached to a dirty sewer. It will lead to many diseases.”
Cleaning the mind
Amma insisted on being selfless and performing action with that attitude. “Nishkama karma – selfless service will surely benefit us. It is like strewing seeds and moving on. You should not think that you have attained nothing, being in this spiritual path. For there is nothing to be attained. Everything is inside. We should be thinking on what we are able to do, what we are able to give to the society. That gives antahkarana shuddhi – purification of inner instruments. It is then that the gaps within us will be filled. If we do a business and lose, we lose everything. But here when you turn and look you will see a beautiful garden.”
Explaining that our spiritual investment will never go waste, but stay like gold and will benefit others, Amma said “When you pray or do japa or dhyana – it is like watering the root of a tree – you do not have to water all the leaves or flowers and such. Here in the ashram there are many brahmacharies from the same family – it is because there was a Sannyasi in their family earlier. Because of that, the samskara is still alive in their family.”
Quoting the stories of Upanishads where disciple offered himself to save the crops from flood, and the disciple boy who was asked to look after the cows, Amma said, “We should have an attitude of acceptance. We should not be perturbed when we lose position. Have the attitude of Saranagati5 to the Guru. It is invaluable.”
Selfessness is the key
Amma reinforced the attitude that we need to have as a sadhak. “When we do actions selflessly, our mind clears up the dirt and the dust, our ego, and we are able to see the Atma within. It is to clean the mind, that we are doing all this – to see our Selves. When the mind is clear, God will be revealed within.”
Amma was putting across the highest principles of spirituality and its practical execution in simple words. “We can serve everybody seeing God in all. That is Sanatana Dharma.” Amma concluded.
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1 – Hari Nama Kirtanam, Ezhuthachan’s poetic composition of vedantic principles which people used to chant everyday as a prayer. Consisting 66 stanzas, each stanza starts in a descending alphabetic order with a malayalam character.
2 – Abhisheka, also called Abhishekam, is the prayer ritual where one pours libations on the form of the deity being worshipped, amidst the chanting of mantras. Amma indicated the mental action of throwing a flower in prayerful obeisance with the flower falling from head to foot, so one can visualize the form.
3. Sruti commonly refers to musical pitch.
4. ‘Ishta Devata’ refers to one’s favourite form of worship.
5. Saranagati – Complete surrender.