Let Krishna’s undying smile be an inspiration to us

“Speaking about Lord Krishna is a difficult because he transcends thought and word. Lord Krishna is that truth, unable to explain which, thoughts and words return defeated. He is pure knowledge, pure bliss, pure love and the embodiment of dharma—yet he is beyond all this as well.

“Lord Krishna lived 5,000 years ago, but his message and work have equal importance in the present and the future. The reason is that Lord Krishna’s life and words teach us practical things. Through his life, Bhagavan Krishna showed us how man can practice spiritual values in his daily life even while immersed in worldly actions. In Ambadi, in Vrindavan and in several other places, he performed many miracles. If we keep those aside, Lord Krishna’s life contains the same events as the life of an ordinary man. Yet there was a huge difference: Lord Krishna was able to face all the circumstances in his life with a smile. Whether the circumstances were favourable or unfavourable, his smile—the mark of complete contentment—never left his face. His smile proclaimed to the world that his birth and life were completely blissful. Since the day he was born, the smile never left his face—not even in the battlefield.

“Krishna’s form, his words, his plays and actions left devotees absorbed in bliss. There is no greater power, no greater miracle, than love. In fact, Krishna’s greatest miracle was not lifting the Govardhana mountain; it was the love he created in the hearts of the Gopis. Because, the Gopis were simple, illiterate, village girls who had no exposure to scriptural knowledge. All they had was their innocent love for Krishna. They thought of Krishna as being the only truth, the only eternal companion, their only true wealth, their everything. Their wealth was Krishna, their truth was Krishna, their sole relative was Krishna, their self was Krishna… When they abandoned their husbands and children to follow Krishna, he told them to return to their household duties. The Gopis asked him then, “We have reached you, to attain whom all the karmas (duties) of the world are performed. So, what significance do our duties have in our lives when we have attained you?” This is the attitude the Gopis had towards Bhagavan Krishna—the attitude of love for love’s own sake.

“Lord Krishna entered this world with a smile and left the world with a smile. As for us, we come into the world crying and leave it crying and making others cry. We should prepare to leave the world with a smile. Life should be like a hotel that we enter with a smile, enjoy the stay and exit with a smile. When a person living in a rented home builds a house, he leaves for his own home gladly. He will not leave unhappily; he will leave with a smile because he is leaving for his own house. Similarly, death is an unexpected guest who can arrive at any moment, beckoning us. We should be able to leave at any moment with a smile, with the awareness that we are going to our true home. The body is like a rented home that we will be asked to vacate at any moment. We should stay in it, but at the same time put efforts to build our real home. Then we can leave with a smile.

“Let Krishna’s undying smile be an inspiration to us all. May love for God flow from my children’s hearts like gentle moonlight. May that infant Krishna be born and play in all hearts at all times. Let us imagine a world like that. We see children laughing, running and playing around us. In the same way, let us imagine all the people of the world forgetting every care, laughing, running and playing like children. Let us pray for this and strive towards its fulfilment. Just as Krishna and the Gopis of Vrindavan laughed and played and lived merrily, forgetting everything else, may my children’s hearts be filled with playfulness, love and happiness. May grace bless my children.”
– Excerpt from Amma’s Krishna Jayanthi Message, 08 Sep 2012, Amritapuri

Blissful Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations

08 Sep 2012, Amritapuri
The celebrations to mark Krishna’s Birthday began early in the morning. Children were dressed up as Krishnas and the gopis; some painting their faces and skin all in blue to be a perfect physical copy of the Lord of Vrindavan. A large number of ashramites, devotees and visitors took part in a special procession that started from Kuzhithura Krishna temple, singing Krishna bhajans, clapping hands and dancing. Smiles and happy greetings on all faces!

Amma came down for darshan earlier than usual since there was such a large crowd on hand for the festivities. Then a little before 4.30 pm Amma came to the front of the main temple building where large crowds had gathered eagerly. Although the weather had been unseasonably rainy, the sun came out for the day. Amma watched the children and youngsters play, Uriyadi, with great excitement, trying their luck at breaking swinging pots of water, a game reminiscent of Krishna’s escapades stealing pots of butter. With bursting enthusiasm, Amma sang Krishna bhajans, adding to the level of excitement for the young pot breakers. The balconies of the all the accommodation buildings were full of devotees enjoying the colorful scene from high above.

Directly after the games concluded everyone proceeded to the evening bhajans in the big auditorium led by Amma. The bhajans delighted everyone present till around 8:30pm. Soon after the bhajans ended there were a several dances and cultural performances put on by devotees and students of Amrita University. But there was still more to come. After the performances, a video of Amma’s message for the occasion, was played on the screens {news}. When the message ended, Amma came back to the stage which was now adorned with beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands, trays of flowers and a large painting of Amma as Krishna. With the added divine presence of Amma, the scene was extraordinarily beautiful. The reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam started along with a special puja honoring the birth of Lord Krishna.

At the stroke of midnight, bells and screams of joy announced the advent of the fervently awaited divine moment: the glorious time of Krishna’s birth! Amma immediately started a special Krishna bhajan session with ‘Agatanayi Aganayi Vishnu Devan,’ clapping her hands and beaming with a smile.

As soon as the midnight bhajans session ended, Amma asked everyone to stand up and forget all their worries and dance with her. Amma also stood up and just as she had done a few days before on Onam.  She stood facing the hundreds of gopis and gopas who filled the big auditorium, she enchanted the hearts of all with an enchanting and divinely graceful dance while singing two beautiful bhajans- Bolo Bolo Gokula Bala and Tananna Tananna. Everyone in the hall stood and danced with her, swaying left and right, jumping with joy and clapping hands.

As the dancing and singing ended, Amma moved to the edge of the stage where a large table was set up in front of her, and for the next hour or so, she offered glasses of delicious payasam to all those present. It was nearing 2am when she retired to her room, leaving a lifetime memory in the hearts of all.

Another blissful festive day at Amritapuri, Amma’s international Gurukulam…

– Kannadi

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Class room on wheels ‘MOVE’ from Amrita to empower women

Amrita University is ushering a new era for the empowerment of socially and economically weaker sections of women in India by taking computer aided vocational training courses to villages using technology aided mobile vehicles called MoVE (Mobile Vocational Education).

A MoVE unit is a fully functioning classroom-on-wheels, equipped with latest computer and communication technology. The unit typically contains 20 computers, through which students are trained in vocational skills using the haptic technology. It employs WiFi and a local and central database to monitor and assess student performance. Also, A-VIEW has been embedded into MoVE providing students instant access to experts in their field of study, for real-time, online interaction.

 
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A mobile class room has several advantages over a regular class room such as reusable infrastructure, reduced operating costs and increase in outreach. A MoVE unit is sustained by solar energy. The technologies used to deliver classes are intuitive and are designed to teach those even with rudimentary literacy.

In the first phase of deployment, vocational training through MoVE will be made available to 3,000 women that cover areas of Chavara and Panmana in Kollam District, Kerala. The courses taught during the initial phase of deployment are fabric painting and assistant plumbing.

 

 

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AYUDH Youth Exchange USA 2012: The Joy of Giving

11-12 August 2012, MA Center, Washington DC
The third annual East Coast AYUDH Youth Exchange, held in M.A. Center in Washington D.C. Thirty four youth from around the United States to come together for this year’s theme of ‘The Joy of Giving’ fostered a transformative weekend of discussion, selfless service, and prayer.

 
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As the sun rose on the horizon, participants began the first day preparing lunch for a local shelter in Bethesda, Maryland.  Everyone’s personal touch added to the splendor of the scrumptious meal. Thereafter a hike alongside the exquisite Potomac River at the nearby Great Falls Park posed a time for connection with nature.   Inward reflection as well as conversation and getting to know one another passed the hour.

During the afternoon’s question and answer session, Br. Dayamrita touched upon an array of topics.  Inquires varied from basic techniques for overcoming stage fright to more complex issues of karmic unfolding during adverse circumstances.  Learning to keep a balance in all endeavors was a central theme.  Participants then shared personal experiences.  Exchanging thoughts and ideas revitalized the group to continue their charitable work.  Creativity came to life as participants each created their unique AYUDH shirt using spray paint.  In the evening, a heart-stirring bhajan session concluded the day with remembrance of the divine.  Musical talent filled the room as Sonia Patel sang ‘Every One in the World,’ an English song highlighting Amma’s dream for a peaceful world.   Interactive theater games ended the long day on a light-hearted note.

The following morning’s activities began with a thought-provoking discussion led by Br. Dayamrita.  Approaches to dealing with societal pressures affecting today’s youth were considered.  Participants debated on how to live in the world as members of society whilst holding on to spiritual values.   After the bhajan class  the group divided into several smaller ones, each composed a paragraph around this year’s theme for AYUDH.  What resulted was a melodious, multilingual conglomeration of voices, instruments, and styles centralized around ‘The Joy of Giving’.

As a finale to the retreat, all traveled to the Potomac Valley Nursing and Wellness Center to perform for the elderly residents. The group had prepared a collection of songs and dances.  As faces filled with smiles, participants shared their numerous talents.  Raju Mishra performed a Bollywood fusion dance.   Tom Marino choreographed an AYUDH group song.  One resident was inspired to participate by singing the 1934 classic, ‘Blue Moon’ for everyone.   As some were fighting to hold back their tears, others joyously joined in the celebration  – with goals set and hearts opened.

 

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Green initiative launched in St. Petersburg

Inspired by Amma’s words that “each and every person on this planet should play their part in restoring harmony to Nature”, the group of Amma’s devotees from St. Petersburg, Russia, has launched a green initiative to help the local botanical garden.

Established in 1714, the garden is home to 7.5 thousand kinds of plants from all over the world. It is also a rare green spot in the midst of a big city where its residents can get some fresh air and relax. The garden however does not get enough funding from the State to take care of its vast territory.

Amma’s devotees saw this as an opportunity to serve the society and at the same time to strengthen their bond with Mother Nature. Activities that have already been undertaken include raking up fallen leaves, cultivating the soil, weeding the plants, etc.

Working in the beautiful surroundings of the Botanical Garden, the volunteers feel joy and a sense of fulfillment, restoring harmony both outside and inside. Just as Amma says, “This relationship with Nature will give us a new vitality.”

A memorable day of joy & blessings

29 August 2012, Amritapuri

Onam is a very special celebration day in Amritapuri. Amma’s generosity and love are displayed on this occasion in deeply touching and utterly charming ways.
It was a very rainy day, and everyone expected Amma to come to the stage at around 9:30am, but she surprised everyone by showing up to the stage at 8:50am. With a beaming smile of love and joy, perfect expression of the Onam moods, she delivered her Onam message, which was displayed simultaneously on screens in English for the non-Malayalam speakers. The hall was fully packed with thousands of devotees.

After her talk {news} Amma asked everyone to stand up and put all their worries aside and dance and sing in joy together.  She then led everyone in dancing to Bolo Bolo and Tannana Tannane. After singing and dancing all sat with Amma for a few minutes in meditation.

After the meditation, Amma gave darshan for a bit more than one hour, allowing the Ona-Sadhya to be brought to the stage and ready to be served.  Big heaps of plates were brought to both sides of the stage, as well as several large pots containing all the different items making up the prasad lunch. Using both her hands, Amma was sliding the plates into the hands of the devotees coming up the ramp from both sides. Alert and fully focused on the faces of all coming up to her, she acknowledged each one’s presence with a gentle smile, or a look, or a gesture or a word.  The plates passing continued for over 2 hours, until everyone, including all the ashram residents were served.

While food was being served, the hall, was full of people enjoying their Onam lunch.  A small army of volunteers were directing traffic, allowing groups of people in turns to sit on the tables and chairs and enjoy their sumptuous Onam meal, while others with buckets filled with extra rice and curry made sure that everyone had as much as they wanted. Smiles and joy were on every face, as “Happy Onam” greetings were shared with cheerfulness.

As Amma was finishing the distribution of Prasad to all, Lakshmi, the young female elephant of the ashram was brought to the side of the hall. Amma reached to Lashmi, tapped her and caressed her trunk lovingly, while exchanging words with the mahout, inquiring about Lakshmi’s well being. For the next 10 minutes or so, Amma fed Lakshmi handfuls of paysam balls, banana chips, jaggary sweets, papadam, rice and curry. Lakshmi enjoyed every single feeding. Amma would lift her hand up, waive the food and place it gently deep into Lakshmi’s mouth who would answer with a happy swing of the trunk. Full of compassion and playfulness, Amma would hide handfuls of prasad behind her back, as Lakshmi, indulging in the play, would bring her trunk behind Amma’s back searching for the special treat. At the end, a big bucket of water was brought forward, as the giggling devotees standing in front of Lakshmi while pushing backwards. They knew what was to come. After drinking some, Laksmi filled her trunk with water and splashed it towards the joyfully screaming crowds in front of her.

It was way past 3pm, when Amma left to her room, leaving thousands of happy human hearts and a one special elephant heart relishing on what they had received and enjoyed.
Amma then returned to the hall for bhajans at 6.30pm. After the bhajans Amma came to the hall for the final time to enjoy the cultural performances. All groups participated: little children, youth, adult women, brahmacharis… Indians and westerners… all had something to offer with happy songs, colors, love and inspiration.

It was close to 11pm when the performances ended, but Amma wanted to sing one more bhajan. Amma led everyone in singing Bandalo climaxing with fervent “Mata Rani Ki’s” and “Jay’s”.
Thus concluded a memorable Onam at Amritapuri. A day to remember and cherish! Amma’s joy and generosity offered to all in abundance!

– Kannadi