If Amma ruled the world, She would be a sweeper, cleaning everyone’s mind

The Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations, 30 August 2000

The day after the summit, Amma’s press conference provided one of the most magical moments of the Summit. One of the journalists asked Amma what She would do if She ruled the world. Amma laughed and responded, “I would be the sweeper.” The journalist looked at Her quizzically, and Amma explained with a laugh, “I would sweep everyone’s mind clean.”

Amma went from the press conference in to a sound studio where PBS (Public Broadcasting System) filmed an interview for an upcoming documentary. Her eyes sparkled and Her smile melted the interviewers.

Amma indicated that there needs to be a reawakening of Motherhood in society, that children are more naturally attached to the Mother than the Father, and the responsibility for the moulding of a future generation lies with the Mother. She went on to say that this is both an opportunity and a challenge – women must learn to develop their nurturing self and their patience. Women must also spend more time with their children, for peace in the future is predicated on proper upbringing of children today.

Amma also provided an insight into Her own childhood experiences that were instrumental in awakening the God consciousness within Her, even at a very young age. Despite the fact that She grew up in a very small village that had no spiritual inclinations, Her spiritual awakening came from observing the abject plight of the suffering poor. She told how She went to collect the tapioca husks for the cows and as She went from house to house, She observed that often people had nothing to eat and were starving because their food came from the ocean and if there was no catch that day, they didn’t eat that day. She also observed the lack of real love between the family members. This caused Amma to reflect on the meaning of real love and what the origin of suffering was. This contemplation combined with compassionate efforts to help the villagers awakened the consciousness of the Divine in Amma.

Amma was asked by Her entourage about the advisability of waiting to sign the release for the PBS interview until knowing how the interview would be used, but when they asked Amma to let them read the release first, She responded, “It’s OK, it’s OK.” A person present said that she felt tears well up in her eyes as she worried that Amma was “giving Herself away,” but Amma put Her arms around her outside in the hall afterwards, and said, “Don’t worry daughter. It’s an offering.”

The BBC (British Broadasting Company) journalist also wanted time with Amma, so she came to the suite and taped Amma’s responses to a variety of questions as Swamiji translated.

The Real Change Must Happen Within

(Amma’s address on ‘the role of religion in conflict transformation’, at the Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations, 29th August, 2000)

“Salutations to all gathered here, who are verily the embodiments of love and the Supreme Self.

We have stepped into the new Millennium with great hopes and expectations of change. But though the numbers denoting the year are different, essentially nothing else has changed. The real change must happen within us. For only when conflict and negativity are removed from within, can we play a truly constructive role in establishing peace. With the goal of peace in mind, the invaluable efforts of the United Nations to bring nations together, thereby creating peace and harmony, merit heartfelt praise.

The very words ‘nation’ and ‘religion’ imply division and diversity. This diversity may seem to create obstacles in fostering peace, happiness and prosperity in the world. Yet, in reality, it is this diversity that brings richness and beauty to the world and to human life-just as a bouquet made of flowers of a variety of colours is more beautiful than a bouquet of flowers that are exactly the same.

There is one Truth that shines through all of creation. Rivers and mountains, plants and animals, the sun, the moon and the stars, you and I – all are expressions of this one Reality. It is by assimilating this truth in our lives, and thus gaining a deeper understanding, that we can discover the inherent beauty in this diversity. When we work together as a global family, not merely belonging to a particular race, religion or nation, peace and happiness will once again prevail on this earth which is drenched with the tears of division and conflict.

As I travel around the world, people come to me and share their sorrows. Some have told me that a husband, wife, or child had been killed in a religious clash. Sometimes it was a fight between Hindus and Muslims, other times between Hindus and Christians or between Christians and Muslims. It’s so painful to hear. The reason for the fighting is that people are not going into the depth of their religion. Our ties to a religion, society, or country should not make us forget our basic human values.

No one is an isolated island; we are all links in the great chain of life. Just as the right hand reaches out to aid the left hand when it is injured, the ability to feel the sufferings of all beings as our own, and an intense yearning to comfort them, should awaken within us.

We are living in an era in which science and modern communication have turned the world into one small community, reducing the barriers of time and space. The latest developments in the field of telecommunications keep us informed instantaneously of events occurring in any part of the world. Events in one part of the globe affect the entire planet to a greater or lesser extent. Although the world has become closer through technology, we have not drawn closer in our hearts.

For example, members of a family, though physically close, are often like isolated islands. Today, we are capable of destroying the earth in an instant. But we also have the innate capacity to create heaven on earth. The future of humanity depends on the choice we make.

Societies and nations are comprised of individuals. If we look back through history, we can see that all conflicts originate from conflict within the individual. Where lies the origin of conflict? It is the lack of awareness of our true nature, the one living power within us, of which we are all a part. The role of spirituality, true religion, is to awaken this awareness and to help us develop such qualities as love, empathy, tolerance, patience and humility.

Religion is the science of the mind. Today we are able to air-condition the external world, but we have yet to learn how to air-condition the mind. We are trying to clone human beings, but we do not attempt to create within ourselves a perfect, loving and peaceful human being. An important role of religion is this purification process.

Today we are aware of the need to protect our environment, and this, of course, is essential. Yet, we are seldom concerned with the pollution that negative thoughts and actions create in the atmosphere and in the consciousness of humanity. The inner pollution of the mind is in many ways more lethal than chemical pollution, for it has the power to destroy humanity at any time. We therefore need to purify our mental environment.

Though the founders of all religions realised and practiced the noblest ideals in their lives, many followers have failed to live up to them. Instead of focusing on the essence of religious principles of love and compassion, we focus on the external rituals and traditions, which vary from religion to religion. That is how these religions, which were originally meant to foster peace and a sense of unity among us, became instrumental in spreading war and conflict. This does not negate the importance of religious disciplines and traditions. Indeed, they have their own significance. They are necessary for our spiritual development. But we must remember, these traditions are the means to the goal and not the goal itself.

Suppose a person has to cross a river by boat. Upon reaching the other shore, he has to leave the boat and move onward. If he insists on clinging to the boat, his progress will be hampered. Similarly, we have to give more importance to the goal of religion and not be overly attached to the means. We should remember that religion is meant for humanity, and not humanity for religion.

To solve the complex and controversial issues such as religious freedom, conversion, and fanaticism, the religious leaders must come together in dialogue with open hearts in order to arrive at mutually acceptable, practical solutions.

However, for such discussions to be fruitful, we must first plant the seeds of love, peace and patience within ourselves. To achieve lasting peace, we must strive to rid ourselves of hatred and hostility. The key to world peace is within every individual residing on this planet. Just as each member of a household shares the responsibility of safeguarding the home, each one of us shares the responsibility of world peace.

The leaders of three religions-A, B and C-decided to convene a meeting to bring about peace. God was so pleased with their efforts that he sent an angel to them during the meeting. The angel asked the leaders what they wished. The leader of religion A said, “Religion B is responsible for all the problems. So please wipe them off the face of the earth!” The leader of religion B said, “Religion A is the cause of all our troubles. You have to reduce them to ashes!” By now the angel was disappointed. The angel turned expectantly to the leader of Religion C. With an expression of grave humility, C’s leader said, “I wish nothing for myself. It will be enough if you merely grant the prayers of my two colleagues!”

Peace is not just the absence of war and conflict; it goes well beyond that. Peace must be fostered within the individual, within the family and within society. Simply transferring the world’s nuclear weapons to a museum will not in itself bring about world peace. The nuclear weapons of the mind must first be eliminated.

All the great religions have infinite wisdom and beauty to share. Instead of trying to increase the number of followers, religions should create an environment in which one may wisely accept the noble ideals of any religion. Tomorrow’s world will be shaped by today’s children. In their tender minds, it is easy to cultivate universal human values. If you walk through a field of soft, green grass a few times, you will quickly make a path. Whereas, it takes countless trips to forge a trail on a rocky hillside. The teaching of universal spiritual principles and human values should be a standard part of the general education, not only the responsibility of the family. This should not be delayed any further, for if there is delay, the future generations will be lost to the world.

We cannot lose sight of the essential needs of people, for until these needs are met, it is impossible for anyone to aspire to higher states of awareness and understanding. If, in any part of the world, people are dying of hunger or suffering in poverty, it is a matter of shame for all nations. Based on the religious ideal of universal brotherhood, all nations that are in a position to help should share their material wealth and resources. There is enough for the survival of all living beings on this earth, yet not enough to satisfy the greed of a few.

Lending a helping hand to a neglected soul, feeding the hungry, a compassionate smile towards the sad and dejected-this is the real language of religion. We should invoke God’s compassion in our own hearts and hands. Living only for oneself is not life, but death.

Some may say that the world will remain the same no matter how hard we try to change it. Striving for world peace is as useless as trying to straighten a dog’s curly tail. However much one may try to straighten it, the tail will immediately curl back. Yet, through constant effort, we will build our muscles even if the tail doesn’t become straight. In the same way, regardless of whether we fail or succeed in bringing about world peace, we, ourselves, will change for the better. Even if there is no visible change, the change in us will eventually effect change in the world. Furthermore, whatever harmony exists in the world today is a result of such a force. We must learn from the past, or we will repeat our mistakes. Those who have harmed others in the past should now engage in positive actions to uplift the victims of their past oppression. These principles apply to governments as well as to individuals. Each nation should foster an atmosphere of forgiveness, openness, friendship, trust, help and support to heal old wounds. In order to heal the wounds, broken relationships should be stitched with the thread of love. For this, more than intellectual knowledge, we should have awareness about our oneness. Let us focus on what we can give to others-not on what we can get for ourselves. Only then, can we bring about a total transformation in our global family. Thus, by living the ideals of religion, we transcend our narrow-mindedness, and our lives will become offerings to the world.

The following are some of the globally recognized problem areas in which the UN should strengthen their efforts:

1) In God’s creation, men and women are equal. But over the centuries, the sad condition of women has not significantly improved. Women, who give birth to humankind, should be assured an equal role in society.

2) Millions of people are suffering from AIDS, which continues to spread like wildfire. This disease must be brought under control.

3) Let the UN lead the transformation from a world of conflict to one of peace by training a group of youth in community service. These young emissaries, serving selflessly throughout the world, will inspire people to cultivate universal spiritual and human values. What cannot be achieved through bloodshed, can be achieved through love.

4) Terrorism and violence against human beings in the name of any religion should be condemned at the international level and the appropriate strong action should be taken.

Love is the only medicine that can heal the wounds of the world. Just as the body needs food to grow, the soul needs love to unfold. Love is more nourishing than breast milk is for a baby. Love is the very foundation, beauty and fulfilment of life. Where love exists, there cannot be conflict of any kind; peace alone will reign.

May the light of love and peace shine within our hearts. Let us all become messengers of universal peace-illuminating the hearts of everyone, dispelling the darkness of hatred and conflict that has overshadowed today’s world. Let us all awaken to a new tomorrow, filled with universal love and brotherhood. Is this not the goal and dream of the United Nations? May the Supreme Power bestow grace upon us that we may realise this noble prayer.

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu. Om Shantih Shantih Shantih”.

For the first time Malayalam in UN General Assembly Hall

The Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations, 29 August 2000

Tuesday 29 August

The second day of the conference started with an opening statement by Bawa Jain , the Secretary General of the ‘Millennium World Peace Summit’, an inaugural address by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi A. Annan, and brief remarks by Ted Turner, Honorary Chairperson.

And then it was time for the 30 main religious leaders to address the audience. Many of the speeches were longer than anticipated, and Amma’s speech was rescheduled to about 3:00pm, after lunch. The break didn’t allow enough time to return to the hotel, and Amma didn’t want to go to the luncheon for the speakers, so She sat on a chair in the hallway between the General Assembly and the Security Council while 10-15 devotees sat at Her feet and the occasional person stopped by for a hug. Despite the delayed speech and no lunch, Amma radiated peace and happiness.

The Japanese chairperson for Amma’s session introduced Her, and Amma stepped onto the step-stool that allowed Her to reach the microphone. The audience clapped as Amma said a prayer and began Her speech. Video cameras rolled, light bulbs flashed. They laughed at Her story of the leaders of three religions-A, B and C- who decided to convene a meeting to bring about peace. And the audience applauded Amma’s nuclear weapons reference: “Simply transferring the world’s nuclear weapons to a museum will not in itself bring about world peace. The nuclear weapons of the mind must first be eliminated.”

Swamiji, who was in a booth high above the main floor, was wearing headphones to listen to Mother as he read the English translation. It was impossible to say the English as rapidly as Amma said the Malayalam. Some of the points had to be skipped in the English translation. The audience fell in love. And as quickly as She started, it was over.

For the first time Malayalam in UN General Assembly Hall

In most cases at the recent UN Summit, you could tell at a glance who was a delegate, and what religion she or he represented: Christian cardinals were in black and crimson; Hindu swamis were in orange; Tibetan lamas were in yellow and red; Jewish Rabbis were in black, and wore skull caps; Jains wore white, and had small masks covering their mouths. But in Amma’s case, some had to be forgiven for mistakenly approaching Swami Amritaswaroopananda Puri or Swamini Krishnamrita Prana, thinking they were the VIPs–their orange robes clearly marked them as sannyasins.

Mother’s simple, plain white sari, with no insignia of rank or religion, was the exception in this chamber of colourful and imaginative dress. As always, she looked like any ordinary Indian woman, and her unpretentious bearing and manner were perfect disguises for the powerhouse she actually is.

The moment Amma walked purposefully to the podium, and turned to address the assembly, her dynanamic Presence corrected any misimpressions that might have lodged among the religious leaders gathered there. With a voice full of strength and tenderness, with words bearing wisdom and humour, with a manner both confident and humble, Amma spoke, stressing that there can be no peace without if there is not peace within.

For the first time in the UN’s fifty-five year history, the language was Malayalam was heard in the General Assembly Hall !

The Millennium World Peace Summit Prayer for Peace at United Nations

The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations

Monday 28 August, 2000 – New York

Departure for the U.N. headquarters was scheduled in Mid-afternoon, but a delay in the arrival of the U.N. cars meant Amma had to wait in the lobby of the hotel for 15 minutes. Immediately, a line formed, and Amma was giving darshan!

Upon reaching the U.N. building, children from many different cultures dressed in native costumes greeted the participants and their parties. The Summit began at 3:45pm.

The General Assembly is a rather grand room with earphones at each chair so speeches can be heard in the five official languages of the Security Council. Japanese and Korean were also added for the Peace Summit.

The opening ceremonies of the ‘Millennium World Peace Summit’ included prayers from the worlds preeminent religious leaders. When the Secretary General of the Summit, Mr. Bawa Jain, requested Mother to grace the assembly with Her prayers, Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri and Swamini Krishnamrita Prana accompanied Mother to the podium. Swamiji said, ‘The Holy Mother will be chanting two prayers.
The meaning of the first one is, “Oh, Lord, lead us from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality”.
The second prayer means, “May all beings in this world and all the other worlds be happy and peaceful.”‘
Amma then chanted the prayers in Sanskrit.

‘Asatomaa Sat Gamaya
Tamasomaa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityormaa Amritam Gamaya
Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti’

‘Lokhah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu’

I never felt any difference. Just like I am talking to you, I was talking to them

Returning Home after the Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations

Finally, the day was almost over, but the excitement was just beginning. Amma had asked to change everyone’s flights from the following night to that night. The entire group would be returning to the Ashram one day earlier than scheduled. The devotees had been told of the change, and more than 200 people came to the Newark Airport. Amma jumped out of the car, went around the terminal building to a bench outside… to give darshan! At one point She left to the ticket counter to ‘check in’, and then came back outside to complete the darshan. And then, all too soon, it was time for Amma to walk down the concourse to Her plane.

Friday, 1st September

When Amma’s plane landed at the Cochin Airport, local news reporters were awaiting Her arrival from the U.N. Summit in New York.

Q: How did you feel speaking in Malayalam to a foreign audience (this is the first time that someone is speaking in malayalam in the U.N. General Assembly)?

AMMA: I never felt any difference. Just like I am talking to you, I was talking to them.

Q [by a woman reporter]: We are happy that Amma spoke up for women while She was at the U.N.

AMMA: In many nations, women are oppressed; they don’t even have the basic freedoms of life. In God’s creation, women and men are equal. They should have equal freedom. In the West, women are coping with oppression by acting like men – they cut their hair, smoke cigarettes and drink – thinking that this will make them equal to men in society. But men are also unhappy with their lot in life, and try to become more like women. But both are reaching nowhere. Women should invoke the positive masculine qualities and men should invoke feminine qualities. Every individual should have both courage and compassion. Women give birth to men. Because she’s a creator, if she loses patience, the harmony of the world will be lost. Now Indians have started imitating the West. Amma is happy if Indian women gain the courage of Western women, but still maintain their motherly qualities. If the heart is lost, the culture is lost.

Villagers Reception

Enroute from the airport to Amritapuri, Amma was received by thousands of people as Her car inched along the roads full of well-wishers. In the local villages and along the seaside road to the Ashram, every household irrespective of their religion or caste honoured Amma in the traditional way – by lighting oil lamps, burning incense and waving camphor in front of their homes. Many offered garlands to Her and showered Her with flowers. Enthusiastic cheers and firecrackers announced Her progress. Amma spent almost four hours driving the last seven kilometers, taking time to give prasad to everyone she passed. The enthusiasm and joy of the crowd reflected the pride they felt in what they thought of as an invaluable contribution to presenting the glory of their ancient culture in front of the world. The respect and honour that Amma received from such an august world body also added to their joy.

Ram’s arrival

On May 15th, 2000, a baby elephant, the gift of a devotee, arrived in Amritapuri. The little one had traveled for 5 days by ship and truck from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where he was born. He was just 15 months old. His mother from Bihar and father from Kerala worked in the forests. According to the experts, Ram is perfectly formed. There are 18 signs which define a good elephant. Ram already has fifteen of these and as he grows the last 3 should appear.

Ram steps out of truck, released from the confines of the truck and despite his leg chain he ran along the path to the ashram where he received a welcome bath and met his new family.

Indian Hindu temples traditionally keep elephants because they are said to have a positive influence on the divine power that permeates the temple environment. To welcome the special newcomer a ceremonial puja was arranged on the steps of the temple.

The ashram residents crowded into every corner to watch and wait for Amma who was expected to arrive at 1 p.m. to name the baby and give him his first ashram food.

The ashram astrologer performed the rite of consecration of the food. He then blessed the baby, who after his bath was now draped in a bright red cloth. He received the tripundra markings and wearing a bright brass bell waited just outside the ashram gates.

Amma arrived fresh and radiant despite having given Devi Bhava to 10,000 people the previous night until 8am in the morning.

The little one entered the ashram amidst a throng of excited residents. He walked sedately and with dignity, directly to Amma.

Amma showered the baby with flowers of blessing and fed him with bananas. Amma stood close to his side and called into his ear, Ram, Ram, Ram… Then to everyone’s delight, seeing how free the little one was with Amma. As She was lovingly feeding him bananas one by one, he snatched the whole bunch from Her hands, and as She gave him a huge ball of jaggery, he threw it on the ground, not recognizing it as sweet ball!

Amma shared with the donors the joy of the new arrival. Ram was then taken to his shelter for rest. Ram is  just 4 feet high and really really endearing.

Mother and the Moon at Bhavani river

23 April, Bhavani, Tamil Nadu — Bharata Yatra 2000

The sacred Bhavani River is usually a favourite stop for Mother and Her children during the drive back home from Chennai. It was past 2:00 a.m. when the buses reached the Bhavani — probably the only time the steps leading down to the river aren’t overcrowded with worshippers of all kinds.


The gentle breeze after a mild drizzle was a welcome relief from the scorching heat of Madras. The night was calm. The river was flowing with a rhythmic sway. Just in the other side of the river, we could see the lights of trucks plying on the highway. The rising moon was reflecting on the water. It was an atmosphere conducing an introspective frame of mind. Just a small group of people could be seen sitting in the silent night. A group of people surrounding someone… yes, She was there! With Her gaze fixed on the sky and Her arms outstretched as if to embrace the moon’s soft glow. All others were looking at Amma. Well, how could anyone gaze at the moon for long when Amma’s face was shining even more brightly? Amma began singing. Softly the voices of Her children joined in; Mother would sing a line, and the children around Her would repeat it.

Bramarame manasa bramarame
Suddha madhu teti alayunnu talarunnu nee bramarame

O’ mind that hovers like the bumble bee
searching in vain you tarry for nectar pure…

Trees in full bloom on the banks of the river devotion
dwell in bliss untouched by sorrow!
Do not tarry any longer, do not weep O mind,
Mother will one day come to dwell in your heart so pure.

The wise, with their sense of discrimination
remove all sorrow of attachment,
merge you… submerge unto you
offering all sorrows at your altar!

When O Mother , when will you come…
Is it only when all my abilities get shattered.
No Mother, do not delay any more,
Won’t you shower thy compassion on me…
there is no refuge for me, but you!

And there, in the glow of the moon, those sitting close could see tears flowing softly down Amma’s cheeks. An anguish to save Her children from the scorching heat of samsara. Amma and the moon had turned that night into a unique and unforgettable experience.