rakhi

Tying rakhi to Guru

Today is ‪RakshaBandhan‬ – a day when brothers and sisters and celebrate and honor their bond between each other by tying the traditional rakhi bracelet around each others’ wrists. In this way, the sister expresses her love for her brother, and her brother pledges to look after her in all circumstances. But the tying of a rakhi is not confined to a brother and sister but to Guru too. Many devotees celebrate Raksha Bandhan at Amritapuri today by tying a rakhi bracelet around Amma’s wrist — Amma lovingly obliges each request.

rakhi

onam message

Create an empire of happiness

Onam is a Time of Joy, Love, Kinship & Devotion

August 28th 2015 — Amritapuri Ashram

The following has been extracted from Amma’s Onam message.

Onam is a festival of unity and sharing. A festival takes place when our heart overflows. Onam is a time when joy, love, kinship and devotion overflow. The breeze of Onam starts caressing us as soon as the Malayalam month of Chingam starts. In fact, people begin to feel joy even in the final days of Karkitakam. The rays of the sun start piercing the clouds in the sky. Flowers everywhere start smiling. Butterflies start flitting about. There is only joy everywhere. Here, we share that joy and love with others. Happiness increases when we share it with others.

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All of us rejoice when the month of Karkitakam ends and Chingam begins. Karkitakam is a time of spiritual practice and austerities when we stay home and worship God. While the earth bathes in the monsoon, Keralites bathe in the Ganga of Wisdom that is the Ramayana. Sometimes, without thinking we may curse the rains of Karkitakam, but we must never forget that it is only because of the torrential rains of Karkitakam that we have the flowers and harvests of Chingam. Moreover, it is the month of rain that helps us to appreciate the following beauty of Nature. This shows us that behind every celebration lies a period of sacrifice and austerity.

All of us are experiencing our own little pains and sorrows in life. Nevertheless, amidst all these, we still usher in Onam with joy. How is it possible? Happiness is a decision. If we so decide, we can create an empire of happiness. This is because happiness is our true nature. The lamp of happiness is ever aflame in our hearts. We must take care not to block this light with the closed curtain of our desires.

 

Happiness is a decision. If we so decide, we can create an empire of happiness. This is because happiness is our true nature. – AMMA

 

At present, climatic patterns are changing. It is becoming hotter. There is less rain. The seasons are becoming erratic. In order to live in harmony with Nature, one should love all beings. One must uphold dharma. Dharma used to be the very heart of Onam. Our estrangement from our culture of dharma is the reason for all these irregularities. In the past, people were content with what they received. They were able to find contentment in small things. This is the very message of Onam—the message of sacrifice, simplicity and charity.

The story of Mahabali is also a tale of sacrifice and austerity. It is only because of Mahabali’s self-sacrifice and surrender that he is still remembered today. Each year, we welcome him along with the Lord. Even though Onam actually is the day when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vamana, we think of Mahabali more than the Lord. This reveals the greatness of devotion and sacrifice. However, initially, there were flaws in Mahabali. He thought all of his accomplishments were exclusively due to his effort. Having such an attitude is like allowing salt to fall into milk; it ruins any sweetness. It is the Lord’s duty to save His devotee from such a predicament. In the end, Mahabali was discerning enough to realize his folly. With this realization came total surrender. His life also teaches us that we must realize our own follies and strive to correct ourselves.

After he had surrendered everything, all that Mahabali asked the Lord was that he be able to see his subjects happy. Mahabali’s love was not confined to words. He did not have any selfish ulterior motive. Such love is very rare in the world today. Many speak loving words but their intentions are impure.

We have heard it sung that during the time of King Mahabali’s reign, all people were considered equal, but that equality was not merely external. It indicates an internal equality—an equal vision that comes from knowledge. External circumstances will constantly change. Happiness will alternate with sorrow. We should try to cultivate an attitude of equanimity and acceptance.

As Onam approaches, we usually see the liquor sales soaring. The Kerala Government’s ban on liquor is a good step. However, this ban will only become effective and complete when there is an internal change in man.

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In olden days, Onam itself was our intoxication. However, today, so many people get drunk on Onam that they consider that to be the bliss of Onam. People in Kerala annually consume more liquour than those in any other state. Alcohol is destroying our health as well as our relationships. If the person drinking is from a poor family, the family is financially ruined.

Onam celebrates the memory of a past golden age. We also have the hope that such a golden age will return in the future. However, what happens when we get into the celebratory mood of Onam? We forget both the past and the future and live completely in the moment. In fact, life exists only in the present moment. The present moment is our only wealth. We should strive to properly utilize it, with awareness and alertness. Whenever we do this, the spirit of Onam will immediately awaken within us. Any memories of the past we have should awaken only positivity in the present. This means that we should try to remember only positive things people have done for us. Remember how they may have encouraged us or helped us. Try to draw energy from such memories and live in the present moment. What is essential is to make the present moment meaningful. If we do this, our life will naturally be filled with new sprouts, flower buds, blossoms and fruits. Happiness and prosperity will pervade. The spirit of Onam will be there for us every day.

Onam is a symbol of external and internal beauty. Happiness and beauty will be present only in a mind that is devoid of negative emotions. Therefore, may the shadow of negative emotions such as hatred and sorrow leave our minds. Instead, let our minds be filled with the golden light of love and happiness. Let the dark clouds of poverty and conflict lift, and let the world awaken to a new dawn of peace and prosperity. In this way, let the true message of Onam spread all across the world. May Onam be continuously celebrated in the mind of humanity. May the Paramatman, shower grace for this to happen.

Vegetable-Amma

Organic Vegetables for Onam

27 Aug 2015, Amritapuri

For many years now, Amma has been encouraging all her followers around the world to grow their own organic vegetables, both for personal health and for a healthy planet. Today, Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis and other residents of Amritapuri presented Amma organic vegetables they have lovingly cultivated by hand for use in tomorrow’s massive traditional ‪Onam‬ meal, which Amma will personally serve to each of the many thousands of people who have come from all over India and around the world to celebrate Onam at their spiritual home.

amma-vegetable

vavubali

Homage to the ancestors – more than a thanks giving

14 August 2015, Amritapuri

A mass ceremony was conducted at Amritapuri this morning. Vavu Bali, as it is locally known, is a traditional ritual where oblations are offered to departed ancestors. The ceremony is performed on Amavasi (new moon) in the Hindu month of Karkidaka.

vavubali

About 1500 devotees personally participated in this special Yagna, joined by thousands of others present at the ashram. Swami Turyamritananda lit the lamp to start the event, and various ceremonies were performed simultaneously in the Ashram’s Main Bhajan Hall and the Kali Temple, by Brahmacharis Tapasyamrita Chaitanya, Gurudas Chaitanya, and Shraddhamrita Chaitanya.

During the pujas, sweet rice was offered to all the departed souls, including forefathers and friends, as well as to animals and trees, along with the chanting of sacred mantras and prayers.

Step by step puja instructions were translated simultaneously into different international languages, allowing devotees from various parts of the world to participate.

After the conclusion of the ceremonies, the participants walked in a procession towards the shore to personally consign their offerings to the ocean. In this action, the fish in the ocean are also fed. Tharpanam, a ritualistic offering with water was also performed for the devatas (deities), rishis, and ancestors.

The ceremonies started at 7am and went on till around noon.

 

 

Later in the day, after the meditation session with Amma, one of the international devotees thanked all those who helped to conduct the Vavu Bali ceremony. In response Amma said, “We always have a thought of only getting, never of giving to others. We grew up because our parents have been giving to us. Now whatever we may give, we cannot repay for what they have given us. Through this ritual, we are showing our respect, out gratitude, towards our departed ancestors. Giving verbal thanks only remains as words, and doesn’t get translated into action. By partaking in this ritual, we are performing action – spending some time for others, spending some money for them, and chanting mantras. We therefore get purified, creating positive vibrations.

The people who have died might have taken a new birth or attained moksha. Even the remote villagers get their mail properly if the address is correct. You are even able to call him by dialing the correct mobile number. Or if the email id is correct, it will reach him wherever he is. Similarly, if your sankalpa is pure, when making offerings towards departed souls, the result will reach him/her even if he has taken another birth. In addition, we also get the benefit of the mantras and the good actions we do.

Actually, we have to show our gratitude to our parents when they are alive. This ritual is part of Sanatana Dharma, which believes in the rebirth. Whether you believe in this or not, whether they are reborn or not, we get a punya (merit) for the actions we do.

vavubali

For each action there are two types of results. Drushta Phalam and Adrusthta Phalam – the seen and the unseen results. When we feed a hungry orphan, we feel the joy when we see him enjoying the food we have offered – that is drushta phalam. The result is visible. By giving food we get some punya – merit. That is the unseen result, adrusthta phalam. If you are a sadhak, all that you are doing is done selflessly, the whole world will benefit.”

Stating the example of some of the ashramites, Amma concluded, “If there is a Sannyasi in a family, three generations before and four generations in the future will receive the merit of his Sannyas.”

– Kannadi

Amma in DC

Amma in Washington DC

5-6 July, Washington DC – America Yatra 2015

Amma held two days of programs in Washington DC., the Capital of the United States. Devotees from around the region who had been waiting for almost a year came to the Marriott Gateway Hotel in Crystal City, Arlington, just across the Potomac River from the National Mall, where the Washington Monument, US Capitol, and White House are located.

 

Amma sang bhajans, gave satsang, and led the gathered crowd in a prayer for world peace and harmony. While Amma was giving darshan, local devotees sang bhajans and performed traditional Indian dances.

chicago

Amma has taught us simplicity, humility and service

1-3 July, Chicago, IL – America Yatra 2015
Amma held three days of programs in her Chicago Ashram. This was Amma’s fourth annual visit to M. A. Center, Chicago.

The Chicago Ashram has seen many changes in the past year. The storage hall next to the main hall has been turned into the main dining area with seating outside. Many saplings had also been planted on the property.
The weather remained unusually cool, with days in the 70s and evenings in the mid-low 50s.

 

Mrs. Mazher Ahment and Mr. Hamid Ahmend, senior officials of Kane County, Illinois (where the Ashram is located) welcomed Amma on behalf of all citizens. Years ago, they had invited Amma to speak at the Parliament of World Religions in 1993{news} in Chicago. Mr. Raja Krishnamoorthi, former State Treasurer of Illinois, and candidate for US Congress, and Mr. Sunil Puri were also present.

Mr.Kakshman Agadi, Founder, President, and CEO of MedGyn Products, Inc., and trustee of the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, addressed the gathered crowd: “Today I am really blessed to be with Amma. For me, Amma is an incarnation of goddess Shakti. Mother Shakti has come to us on earth in the form of Mata Amritanandamayi…..Amma has taught us simplicity, humility and service. Her key observation on integral connection between religion and science are treasures that each of us and all generations to come must carry in our hearts. … Amma’s religion is love which supersedes all religions on this earth.”

Ron Gottsegen, President of M. A. Centers, spoke to the gathered crowd. Thanking Amma and everyone for their support, he went on to announce the future plans for the Center which Amma has approved and blessed. These include a school, additional housing, assisted living for elders, as well as the building of a Yajna Shala Temple. He also said that the old farm stand on the property will be reopened to sell organic products and ayurvedic herbs. The goal is to, “create a sustaining community where we can live, grow our own food, and use it as an opportunity to teach others to become self sustaining.”

At the end of the first day, Amma sang two bhajans before leaving the hall.

At the start of the second morning program, Amma was treated to a heartwarming classical flute concerto. Later, the local satsang and children of Amrita Balakendra put on many performances. Children from the Minnesota Satsang also chanted the12th chapter of Gita.

Later, as Amma was leaving the hall, the local satsang joyfully sang ‘Narayana Narayana Jay Jay Govinda Hare….” Rising to her feet, Amma began clapping her hands from side to side, keeping time with the beat. Everyone joined in as she slowly walked off the stage.

– Tulasi

niagara falls

Amma, you are truly a change maker

17-20 July, Toronto, Canada – American Yatra 2015

Amma concluded her 2015 North American tour with one public program and a retreat at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto, Canada. People came from all over Canada to attend the programs.

Following Amma’s message of helping those in need, the Amma Foundation of Canada, in conjunction with the Peel Children’s Aid Foundation, provided bursaries to three students in Canada to attend University.

Welcoming Amma to Toronto, Dr. Usha George, Dean of the Faculty of Community Services at Ryerson University, said “I am most impressed by the creative and innovative use of the technology to address the social issues in various villages, in Kerala and the surrounding country side. By restoring respect and dignity to local villagers you are transforming life with love, empathy and compassion. Amma, you are truly a change maker.”

During the retreat, there were many cultural performances by Amma’s children. Members of Amma’s AYUDH youth group performed an impeccably-choreographed traditional Indian dance praising Lord Shiva, accompanied by musicians and singers. Later, three young devotees presented a sign-language version of the bhajan ‘Wondrous Goddess, Precious Goddess.’ Amma and the crowd were delighted by the heart-warming performance.

On her way to Toronto, Amma stopped at Niagara Falls along with the Tour Staff . There, she served dinner to everyone, and led the staff in meditation for world peace.

boston

Amma in Boston

9-10 July, Boston, MA – America Yatra 2015 Amma held two days of programs at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel in Marlborough, MA. Devotees came from all around New England to receive Amma’s embrace, listen to Amma’s satsang and to hear her sing hajans. Amma also led the crowd in a guided meditation for world peace, where we imagined white flower petals showering down from the sky on all areas of nature while chanting ‘Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu.’

 

new york 2015

Amma in New York

12-14 July, New York, NY – America Yatra 2015
Amma held three days of programs at the Jacob Javits Convention Center located on the Hudson River in New York City. This was Amma’s third visit to Javits.

The first day saw huge crowds coming for Amma’s embrace. The day-long program started at 11am and went straight through until 12:55am. Amma had been sitting for almost 14 hours!

On the third evening, towards the end of Devi Bhava, in what has become an annual tradition, the famous rap singer, Doug-E Fresh entertained the crowd with his trademark ‘beat-box’ singing. Devi Bhava ended at 10:01am the next day.

– Kannadi

gurupurnima blessing

Guru is the embodiment of the Scriptures

15-gurupurnima

31 July 2015, Amritapuri

Gurupurnima was celebrated with much devotion and enthusiasm at Amritapuri today. Many devotees came from different parts of India and the world to be with the Guru.

Amma’s Padapuja was performed by Swami Amritaswarupanda with the chanting of Guru Gita and 108 Names. All the swamis garlanded Amma, Amma showered blessings upon every one.

 

gurupurnima blessings

Amma addressed the overflowing hall on the significance of the principle of the Guru. The following remarks are excerpted from her address:
“The Guru tattwa (Guru principle) is eternal. Gurus lived these ideals in their lives. The disciples observed this and tried to live those ideals in their lives as well. God and the Guru are one. However, the Guru principle that elevates the soul to the state of liberation is beyond the divine principle. There is nothing whatsoever that the Guru needs to gain or do. He guides the disciple out of compassion alone.


“The disciple has innumerable weaknesses and tendencies. It takes boundless patience to lead such a disciple. Sacrifice and austerity are ever ablaze in the Guru’s life. Every word from such Gurus is scripture. Their very life is scripture. They are also the ones who impart vitality to the scriptures.

“Spirituality starts with compassion and ends in compassion. When we put a stone in a pond, ripples radiate from the stone and touch the shore. They then come back and reach the center. It begins with the center and ends with the center- the bindu. This central point is Love. ”

After the talk, Amma sang the bhajans, “Sakala Kala Devate Saraswati Devi,” and “Guruvadi vani sun lo” and at the end asked every one to dance to the last bhajan “Bolo Bolo sab mil bolo Om Namah shivaya.” She then led the assembled crowd in a silent prayer for world peace. After that, Amma started giving darshan till 10.43 pm.

Earlier, before Amma’s padapuja,  Swami Amritaswarupananda addressed the gathering, spoke about Amma’s greatness as the Guru.