Unity brings peace

31 December 2002, Amritapuri

On Tuesdays, Amma meditates with the residents in the old temple. Then She answers questions posed by the residents. Ever the embodiment of humility, Amma sometimes says that She feels Her answers are not complete, and that She would like Her children to say something in addition. Today, Amma asked Her children to share resolutions or vows they would like to take for the coming year.

One resident responded with a prayer that world peace would finally dawn in 2003.

Amma replied, “For world peace to come, unity is needed. Unity is the substratum of world peace. By the light of one zero-watt bulb, even one student cannot study. But if 25 bulbs are connected together in a series, even 2000 people can sit together and they can all read by that light. This is the importance of unity. Once there is unity, all differences will cease to exist and there will be world peace.”

Teaching by example

27 December 2002, Amritapuri

As the numbers of devotees that come for Amma’s daily darshan grow, Her darshan stretches on later into the afternoon and evening. Tonight, Amma didn’t finish giving darshan until 6:30 p.m. While Amma often comes for bhajans by 7, last night many wondered if She would be able to come at all. After all, it was already so late, and She would have to go to Her room at least to change clothes, if not bathe, eat something, etc. Or so the thinking went.

As usual, the crowd spilling out behind the temple, waiting for Amma to come down had left a path open for Her to walk to Her room. But when Amma reached the base of the spiral stairs, rather than take the path prepared for Her, She said only, “OK,” and made Her way through the crowd and directly to the bhajan hall. Everyone rushed to join Her. Rather than take the time to freshen up, Amma came for bhajans earlier than She usually does. Sitting up on the stage, Her sari rumpled and stained by the day’s darshan, Amma was more beautiful than ever, more so for the beauty of the lesson She was so pointedly teaching us by Her example.

Christmas 2002

24 Dec 2002,Amritapuri

As is the tradition on Christmas Eve at Amritapuri, dramas, comedies, songs and dances were performed by residents and visitors alike. Amma blessed the performers and the audience with Her presence throughout the evening. By the time She blessed the Christmas cake and went up to Her room, it was already Christmas.

Amma’s visit to Kozhikode – 2002

20-21 Dec 2002 – Kozhikode

As always, Amma’s Kozhikode programmes are burgeoning with life and love–just like Amma Herself. Somehow, Amma found time to give a press conference in Her room, even though darshan had finished only at 4 am and She had to be back out to begin the day’s programme by 11 the same morning.

Here you will also see the crowd, which is growing larger with each passing day, and photos of devotees participating in this evening’s Mars puja. At Amma’s Brahmasthanam festivals, Mars is propitiated in a mass puja in order to alleviate suffering that can arise when a person’s life is under the influence of this planet. (Amma teaches that it is not the planet which causes the suffering, but our own past karma which bears fruit during these periods. However, by performing the Mars puja with faith and devotion we can ease the suffering experienced during these times.)

Here you can also young students of Amma’s Amrita Vidyalayam, onsite at the Kozhikode ashram, singing bhajans in earnest as Amma gives darshan before them.

On the afternoon of the last day of Amma’s programmes in Kozhikode, the queue of devotees waiting for Amma’s darshan coils tightly back and forth across the ashram grounds before stretching all the way to the highway, nearly a kilometer away. These devotees have been waiting patiently under the sun for many hours, and will have to wait many more–up to 16 hours for two seconds in Amma’s arms. Mothers wait with their children. Whole families wait together, representing three generations. Some wait by themselves–alone but for their thousands of spiritual brothers and sisters, each one waiting to see their Amma. Volunteers work tirelessly up and down the queue, offering water and providing whatever assistance they can to those in the queue. The waiting devotees show only patience, forbearance, and faith. We have seen individuals with qualities such as these, but have we ever seen a crowd endowed with this same spirit? Though each one will only spend a moment in Amma’s arms, it is clear that Amma is with them even now, and will remain with them after She physically leaves Kozhikode tomorrow morning.

Looking at the throngs of Amma’s children, it is impossible to imagine that before She leaves in the morning, She will embrace each one–all 17,000 of them. And yet She will. How could a mother do otherwise?

This evening Amma conducted a mass Sani (Saturn) puja, in which some 5,000 devotees participated. Amma has said that pujas conducted in a large group such as this are many times more beneficial than pujas conducted in small groups or alone—for the individual and the world. During the puja, devotees offer drops of water into a clay pot, while imagining that they are offering all their sorrows to the Lord. After the puja, devotees carry the pot on their heads to the Brahmasthanam temple, where the water is poured over the murti inside. In this way, through Amma’s Grace, the water acts as a medium to help the devotee’s worries and cares to reach the Lord’s feet.

Recently, Amma mentioned that we all need patience, for there will be queues even in heaven. Here in the heaven that is Amma’s presence at Her Kozhikode ashram, there is quite a queue indeed. So let us all try to develop the attitude of surrender–offering our sorrows and problems to Amma. Let us also try to cultivate patience and forgiveness, no matter how much we are jostled around in life.

I am eating love

18 Dec 2002. Kozhikode

Amma arrived in Kozhikode (formerly Calicut), Kerala yesterday. The programmes here draw bigger crowds than nearly anywhere in the world. Amma will give darshan day and night for four days. She will likely embrace more than 50, 000 people, around one every three seconds.

And yet each one will know that She has taken all the time She could, and each one will feel seen, and heard, and held by his or her own Mother. And Amma will find the time to whisper a few words of comfort to each, something to let each one know that She has never left them and never will.

Here in Kozhikode, when the darshan programmes approach dawn each morning, and Amma may not even find time to sleep or eat, we are reminded of what Amma said once when someone asked Her if She had eaten.”I am eating love,” She said.

This marks the tenth anniversary of the consecration of the Brahmasthanam temple in Kozhikode.

Lakshmi’s wedding

15 December 2002, Amritapuri

A long time resident of Amma’s orphanage gets married
“I had always been troubled by the fear that being born the child of a beggar woman, I would have to spend my life begging in the streets, or in still worse conditions…


“As we slowly moved closer to Amma, my mind was throbbing. Would Amma give me a new life? Would She console this unwanted one, who was so hated by everybody? If Amma forsakes me, where will I go?

“As I reached Her lap, Amma whispered affectionately, with a sweetness of love I had never heard before: ‘My pearl… my darling daughter… do not worry… isn’t Amma with you?’ I burst into tears. I had been condemned by society’s callous judgement even before I could stand on my own; but now I wanted to shout again and again: “I am no longer an orphan, no longer a beggar!” – from Lakshmi’s story, Matruvani August 2001

Today was a very special day for Lakshmi, who grew up in Amma’s orphanage from the age of about 12 (born in poverty, she doesn’t know her exact age). Today, Lakshmi entered into wedlock at Amritapuri. The very same Amma who had taught her the alphabet when she first came to the orphanage performed the wedding ceremony. But first, Lakshmi spent time in Amma’s room, a daughter alone with her Mother on the morning of the big day. After the wedding, Amma received Lakshmi and her husband into Her lap.


Amma is also providing a new home for Lakshmi and her husband, Mr. Ambu, who works at AIMS. Not only that, She is giving them a good start with a savings account which will help them to be financially secure.

Who says she is an orphan?

The medicine of Amma’s words

10 December 2002, Amritapuri

Amrita Lahari

A young spiritual aspirant approached Amma with a long face. “Amma, I am depressed and I don’t feel like living,” he told Her. “I want to die.”

Amma replied strongly, but it was strength that the boy needed. “You are selfish,” Amma began. “You feel that you will get happiness by dying. At the same time, you don’t want to face the pressures or challenging situations that arise in life. But a spiritual aspirant should be selfless and live for others, and he should also be strong like a diamond within. People spend so much money trying to bring a person back to life. God has given you life. You don’t have the right to destroy it. Live selflessly and find strength within your Self.”

We can all find strength in the medicine of Amma’s words, especially in our darkest moments. Yet we need only remember that the Light of lights is looking after us, illuminating the way ahead, and the only thing for us is to keep taking steps toward Her.

The light in the darkness

28November 2002, Kochi

Amma returns to India and is welcomed by devotees and the media alike.

Amma returned from Her European and American Tour today. Upon Her arrival in Kochi, She took part in a press conference organised in the context of Her winning the Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence. Amma answered questions for about half an hour.

Amma told the assembled reporters that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi had dedicated their lives to humanity. Amma said that we need more people like them and that She would be happy if more people dedicated their lives to the service of humanity like King and Gandhi.

In response to a question regarding violence in India, Amma said that although we may be in the midst of darkness, we all have a light within. We can use that light to see the path, to walk. Talk alone is not enough. We must act. We are all links in a chain. We are not isolated islands. Don’t expect the other person to change before you yourself change. You have to change first and then inevitably the others will change too.

Another journalist asked about the differences Amma sees between people of India and the Western countries. Amma said that in the West people are self-reliant and can stand on their own feet. She said that the Indians need to cultivate this quality, this self-sufficiency. She said that on the other hand Indian society is rich in love and that we shouldn’t lose that. She also warned against blindly mimicking aspects of Western culture that don’t suit us.

Another question was about the decline in the quality of family life and morality in India. Amma said, these days in a family of three, the family members are like three islands. This trend is increasing day by day. In the next 10 years, the situation could worsen to such an extent that parents may have to book a place in old age homes to secure their futures — they won’t be able to depend on their children. Amma then said that the media should work for the establishment of dharma. “Media also has an important role in maintaining the culture, so you have to do your part.”

In response to a question about what Indian parents can do to protect their children from sexual exploitation, Amma said parents must begin educating their children about these issues, as is done in the West, otherwise the children will fall easy victim to sexual deviants.

Amma also said that the gap between mothers and children is increasing because of the mothers’ need to work and contribute to the family income. They are not able to spend much time with their children and therefore the proper bonding between mother and child doesn’t take place. If motherly love and guidance are not given at the right age, then the children become wayward. Amma went on to tell a story illustrating the present condition of society: one mother was always tense because her daughter wouldn’t tell her anything about things that she did; another mother was always tense because her daughter told her everything about the things she did. Amma said that mothers need to understand their children. It is due to this lack of understanding that the gap between mother and children is increasing.

After the press conference, Amma continued on Her way to Amritapuri, where Her ashram children were waiting to see Her after Her two-month absence. Amma spent some time with them talking and cracking jokes; smiling at all who had assembled there. She then went up to Her room, only to appear a few minutes later at Her window. Darkness had set in, the sun had set by then. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on Amma —the light in the darkness.

The Awakening of Universal Motherhood

The Awakening of Universal Motherhood

An Address given by Amma on the occasion of the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, at Palais des Nations, Geneva, on October 7th, 2002.

Women and men are equal in Amma’s eyes. Amma wants to honestly express Her views on this very subject. These observations don’t necessarily apply to everyone, but they do apply to the majority of people.

At present, most women are asleep. Women have to wake up and arise! This is one of the most urgent needs of the age. Not only women living in underdeveloped countries need to wake up — this applies to women all over the world. Women in countries where materialism is predominant should awaken to spirituality. And women in countries where they are forced to remain inside the narrow walls of religious tradition should awaken to modern thinking. It has been widely believed that women and the cultures in which they live will awaken through education and material development. But time has taught us that this concept is too limited. Only when women imbibe the eternal wisdom of spirituality, along with modern education, will the power within them awaken — and they will rise to action.

Who should awaken woman? What obstructs her awakening? In truth, no external power can possibly obstruct woman or her innate qualities of motherhood — qualities such as love, empathy, and patience. It is she, and she alone, who has to awaken herself. A woman’s mind is the only real barrier that prevents this from happening. The rules and superstitious beliefs that degrade women continue to prevail in most countries. The primitive customs invented by men in the past to exploit and to subjugate women remain alive to this day. Women and their minds have become entangled in the cobwebs of those customs. Even today, woman is caught in the illusory net of the nightmare she has experienced for so long. The memory of the horrors perpetrated against women throughout history runs very deep. Women have been hypnotized by their own minds. Women have to help themselves in order to extricate themselves from that magnetic field. This is the only way.



Look at an elephant. It can uproot even huge trees with its trunk. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries with all its might to break the rope. But isn’t strong enough to do so. Realizing its efforts are of no use, it finally gives up and stops struggling. Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make the slightest attempt to break free.

This is what is happening to women. The infinite potential inherent in men and women is the same. If women really want to, it won’t be difficult to break the shackles — the rules and conditioning that society has imposed on them. The greatest strength of women lies in their innate motherhood, in their creative, life-giving power. And this power can help women to bring about a far more significant change in society than men could ever accomplish.

The antiquated, crippling concepts devised in the past are blocking women from reaching spiritual heights. Those are the shadows that still haunt women, evoking fear and distrust within. Women should let go of their fear and distrust. They are illusions. The limitations women think they have are not real. Women need to muster the strength to overcome those imagined limitations. They already possess this power; it is right here! And once that power has been evoked, no one will be able to stop the forward march of women in every area of life.

Men normally believe in muscle power. On a superficial level they look upon women as their mothers, wives, and sisters. But there is no need to hide the fact that, on a deeper level, men still have a great deal of resistance when it comes to properly understanding, accepting, and recognizing women and the feminine aspect of life.



Amma remembers a story…

In a village there was a woman who found immense happiness in doing selfless service as service to God. The religious leaders of the village chose her as one of their priests. She was the first appointed woman priest in the area, and the male priests didn’t like it one bit. But her great compassion, humility, and wisdom were appreciated by the villagers. This caused a lot of jealousy among the male priests. One day all the priests were invited to a religious gathering on an island. It took three hours to reach the island by boat. As the priests boarded the boat they discovered, to their dismay, that the woman priest was already seated inside. They muttered among themselves, “What a pain! She refuses to leave us alone!” The boat set off. But an hour later the engine suddenly died and the boat came to a standstill. The captain exclaimed, “Oh, no! We are stuck! I forgot to fill the tank!” Nobody knew what to do. There was no other boat in sight. At this point the woman priest stood up and said, “Don’t worry, brothers! I’ll go and fetch some more fuel.” Having said this, she stepped out of the boat and walked away across the water. The priests watched with great astonishment, but were quick to remark, “Look at her! She doesn’t even know how to swim!”

This is the attitude of men in general. It lies in their nature to belittle and condemn the achievements of women.



Women are not decorations or objects meant to be controlled by men. Men have forced women to become like potted plants, stunting their freedom and development. Women were not created for the enjoyment of men. Men try to make women into tape recorders, which they like to control, to stop and start, fast forward and rewind, according to their whims and fancies, instead of allowing the women to grow. Men consider themselves superior to women, both physically and intellectually. The arrogance of men’s mistaken attitude — that women cannot survive in society without depending on men — is obvious in everything that men do. For example, even in the materially developed countries, women are pushed back when it comes to sharing political power with men. It is interesting to see that, compared to developed countries, developing countries are far ahead in providing opportunities for women to rise in politics. But, except for a few who can be counted on one’s fingers, how many women can be seen in the arena of world politics? Is it this way because women are incapable, or is it due to the arrogance of men?

The right circumstances and support of others will certainly help women to awaken and arise. But this alone is not enough unless they draw inspiration from those circumstances and find strength within themselves. Real power and strength don’t come from the outside; they are to be found within. And courage is an attribute of the mind; it is not a quality of the body.

Women have to find their courage. They have the power to fight against the social rules that prevent their progress. This is Amma’s own experience. Until recently women were not allowed to worship in the inner sanctum of a temple; nor could women consecrate a temple, perform Vedic rituals or chant Vedic mantras. But Amma is encouraging and appointing women to do these things. And it is Amma who performs the consecration ceremony in all the temples that we build. There were many who protested against women doing these things, because for generations all those ceremonies and rituals had been performed only by men. To those who questioned what we were doing, Amma explained that we are worshipping a God who is beyond all differences, who does not differentiate between male and female. As it turns out, the majority of people have supported this revolutionary move. Those prohibitions against women were never actually a part of ancient Hindu tradition. They were in all likelihood invented later by men who belonged to the higher classes of society, in order to exploit and oppress women.

India has a rich heritage of giving due reverence and respect to women. In ancient India, the terms that were used by a husband when talking about his wife were, “the one who leads the husband through life,” “the one who guides her husband on the path of righteousness,” and “the one who walks the path of righteousness along with her husband.” These terms imply that women enjoyed the same status as men, or perhaps an even higher one. In fact, women were considered the embodiments of power. In India, the Supreme was never worshipped only in Its masculine aspect. It is worshipped in Its feminine aspects as Mother, as Goddess and as Creater-Sustainer-Destroyer. In India, Saraswati is worshipped as the Goddess of Wisdom and Learning; Lakshmi is the Goddess of Prosperity; and Durga is the Goddess of Strength and Power. The same power is worshipped as Santana-Lakshmi for progeny, as Bhagya-Lakshmi for prosperity, and in various other aspects. The exalted tradition of worshipping women as one’s own mother and as the mother of the universe is unique to India. Indians regard all of nature as their mother.

It is commonly believed that the religion that gives least status to women is Islam. But the Koran speaks of qualities such as compassion and wisdom, and of God’s essential nature, as feminine.

In Christianity, the Supreme Being is worshipped exclusively as the Father in Heaven, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The feminine aspect of God is not so widely recognized. Christ considered men and women equal. Also, the Bible refers to the immaculate conception of Christ through Virgin Mary.



For Christ, Krishna, and Buddha to be born, a woman was needed. In order to incarnate, God needed a woman, who went through all the pain and hardship of pregnancy and giving birth. A man was not capable of this. Yet no one considers the injustice of women being ruled by men.

No true religion discriminates against women. Those who have realised God do not see men and women differently; the God-realised souls have equal vision. If there exists any rule that oppresses women, it must have arisen from the selfishness of men; it cannot be God’s decree.

Which eye is more important, the left or the right? Both are equally important. It is the same with the status of men and women in society. Both should be aware of their unique responsibilities, or dharma. Men and women have to support one another. Only in this way can we maintain the harmony of the world. When men and women become powers that complement each other, and move together with a sense of cooperation and mutual respect, they will attain perfection. In reality, men are a part of women. Every child first lies in the mother’s womb, as a part of the woman’s very being. As far as a birth is concerned, a man’s only role is to offer his seed. For him it is only a moment of pleasure; for the woman it is nine months of austerities. It is the woman who receives, conceives and makes that life a part of her being. She creates the most conducive atmosphere for that life to grow within her and then gives birth to that life. Women are essentially mothers, the creators of life. There is a hidden longing in all men to be re-enfolded by the unconditional love of a mother. This is one of the subtle reasons for the attraction that men feel towards women — because a man is born out of a woman.

No one can question the reality of motherhood — that men are created from women. Yet those who refuse to come out of the cocoon of their narrow minds will never be able to understand. You cannot explain light to those who know only darkness. Giving birth is the one thing a woman can claim exclusively as her own. With this power within her, she can influence the entire world. The principle of motherhood is as vast and powerful as the universe.

“Is God a man or a woman?” The answer to that question is that God is neither male nor female — God is “That.” But if you insist on God having a gender, then God is more female than male, because the masculine is contained within the feminine.

Anyone — woman or man — who has the courage to overcome the limitations of the mind can attain the state of universal motherhood. The qualities of motherhood are a woman’s birthright. The love of awakened motherhood is a love and compassion felt not only towards one’s own children, but towards all people, animals and plants, rocks and rivers — a love extended to all of nature, to all beings. Indeed, to a woman in whom the state of true motherhood has awakened, all creatures are her children. This love, this motherhood, is Divine Love — and that is God.

Half of the world’s population is comprised of women. It is a great loss when women are denied the freedom to come forward, and when they are denied the high status that should be theirs in society. When women are denied this, society loses their potential contribution. In the world, there are more women than men. Thus it follows that, based on the principles of democracy and majority, women deserve much more freedom and respect than they enjoy. When women are made weak, their children become weak as well. In this way, a whole generation loses its strength and vitality. Only when women are accorded the honour they deserve, can we create a world of light and awareness.

Women can perform all tasks just as well as men — perhaps even better. Women are not inferior to men on the basis of intellectual power or ability. Women have the willpower and creative energy to do any type of work. Whatever the form of action, women can attain extraordinary heights, and this is true especially on the spiritual path. Women have the purity of mind and intellectual capacity to achieve this. But, whatever they undertake, the beginning should be positive. If the beginning is good, the middle and the end will automatically be good, provided one has patience, faith, and love. Wrong beginnings set on a faulty foundation are one reason that women lose out so much in life. It isn’t only that women should share equal status with men in society; the problem is that women are given a bad start in life, due to wrong understanding and lack of proper awareness. So, women are trying to reach the end without the benefit of having the beginning.

If we want to learn to read the Roman alphabet, we have to begin with ABC, not with XYZ. And what is the ABC of women? What is the very fibre of a woman’s being, her existence? It is her inborn qualities, the essential principles of motherhood. Whatever area of work a woman chooses, she shouldn’t forget these virtues that God or Nature has graciously bestowed on her. A woman should perform all her actions being firmly rooted in the very ground of these qualities.

Just as ABC is the beginning of the alphabet, the quality of “motherhood” is the foundation of a woman. She shouldn’t leave out that crucial part of herself before she moves on to other levels. There are many powers in women that are generally not found in men. A woman has the ability to divide herself into many. Contrary to men, women have the capacity to do several things at the same time. Even if she has to divide herself, and do many different things simultaneously, a woman is gifted with the ability to carry out all actions with great beauty and perfection. Even in her role as a mother, a woman is able to bring forth many different facets of her being — she has to be warm and tender, strong and protective, and a strict disciplinarian. Rarely do we see this kind of confluence of qualities in men. So, in fact, women have a greater responsibility than men in society. Women hold the reins of integrity and unity in the family and in society.

A man’s mind easily becomes identified with his thoughts and actions. Male energy can be compared to stagnant water; it doesn’t flow. The mind and intellect of a man usually get stuck in the work that he does. It is difficult for men to shift their minds from one focus to another. Because of this, the professional life and family life of many men become intertwined. Most men cannot separate the two. Women, on the other hand, have an inborn capacity to do this. It is a deep-rooted tendency of a man to bring his professional persona home and behave accordingly in his relationship with his wife and children. Most women know how to keep their family life and professional life separate.

Feminine energy, or a woman’s energy, is fluid like a river. This makes it easy for a woman to be a mother, a wife, and a good friend who provides her husband with confidence. She has the special gift to be the guide and advisor of the entire family. Women who have jobs are more than capable of succeeding in that as well.

The power of a woman’s innate motherhood helps her to find a deep sense of peace and harmony within herself. This enables her to reflect and react at the same time; whereas a man tends to reflect less and react more. A woman can listen to the sorrows of other people and respond with compassion; but, still, when faced with a challenge, she can rise to the situation and react as strongly as any man.

In today’s world, everything is being contaminated and made unnatural. In this environment, woman should take extra care that her qualities of motherhood — her essential nature as a woman — don’t become contaminated and distorted. Yet, whether you are a woman or a man, your real humanity will come to light only when the feminine and masculine qualities within you are balanced.


There is a man in the unconscious of a woman, and a woman in the unconscious of a man. This truth dawned in the meditation of the great saints and seers eons ago. This is what the Ardhanariswara (half God and half Goddess) concept in the Hindu faith signifies.

Men have also suffered greatly as a result of the exile of the feminine principle from the world. Because of the oppression of women and the suppression of the feminine aspect within men, men’s lives have become fragmented, often painful. Men, too, have to awaken to their feminine qualities. They have to develop empathy and understanding in their attitude towards women, and in the way they relate to the world.

Statistics show that men — not women — commit by far most of the crime and killing in this world. Only love, compassion, and patience — the fundamental qualities of women — can lessen the intrinsically aggressive, overactive tendencies of men. Similarly, there are women who need the qualities of men, so that their goodness and purity don’t immobilize them. Today when competition and anger are the norm everywhere, it is the patience and tolerance of women that create the harmony that exists in the world.

Women are the power and the very foundation of our existence in the world. When women lose touch with their real selves, the harmony of the world ceases to exist, and destruction sets in. It is therefore crucial that women everywhere make every effort to rediscover their fundamental nature, for only then can we save this world. What today’s world really needs is cooperation between men and women, based on a firm sense of unity in the family and society. Wars and conflicts, all the suffering and lack of peace in the present-day world, will certainly lessen to a great extent if women and men begin to cooperate and support each other. Unless harmony is restored between the masculine and the feminine, between men and women, peace will continue to be no more than a distant dream.

There are two types of language in the world: the language of the intellect and the language of the heart. The language of the dry, rational intellect likes to argue and attack. Aggression is its nature. It is purely masculine, devoid of love or any sense of relatedness. It says, “Not only am I right and you are wrong, but I have to prove this at all costs so that you will yield to me.” Controlling others and making them puppets that dance according to their tune is typical of those who speak this language. They try to force their ideas on others; their hearts are closed; they rarely consider anyone else’s feelings. Their only consideration is their own ego and their hollow idea of victory.

The language of the heart, the language of love, which is related to the feminine principle, is quite different. Those who speak this language do not care about their ego. They have no interest in proving that they are right or that anyone else is wrong. They are deeply concerned about their fellow beings and wish to help, support, and uplift others. In their presence transformation simply happens. They are the givers of tangible hope and of light in this world. Those who approach them are reborn. When such people speak it is not to lecture, impress or to argue — it is a true communion of hearts.

Real love has nothing to do with lust or self-centredness. In real love, you are not important; the other is important. In love, the other is not your instrument to fulfil your selfish desires; you are an instrument of the Divine with the intention of doing good in the world. Love does not sacrifice others; love gives joyfully of itself. Love is selfless — but not the enforced selflessness of women being pushed into the background, treated as objects. In real love, you do not feel worthless; on the contrary, you expand and become one with everything — all-encompassing, ever blissful.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, it is the language of the intellect that prevails, not the language of the heart. The representatives of lust and selfishness — not of love — dominate the world. The ancient teachings of the sages have been distorted to fit within the narrow frames of men’s selfish desires. The concept of love has been distorted. This is why the world is filled with conflicts, violence, and war.

A feminine heart and a masculine intellect should unite and operate as one entity. This is the way to resolve conflicts, violence, and war.

Woman is the creator of the human race. She is the first Guru, the first guide and mentor of humanity. Think of the tremendous forces, either positive or negative, that one human being can unleash into the world. Each one of us has a far-reaching effect on others, whether we are aware of it or not. The responsibility of a mother, when it comes to influencing and inspiring her children, cannot be underestimated.

There is much truth in the saying that there is a strong woman behind every successful man. Wherever you see happy, peaceful individuals; wherever you see children endowed with noble qualities and good dispositions; wherever you see men who have immense strength when faced with failure and adverse situations; wherever you see people who possess a great measure of understanding, sympathy, love, and compassion towards the suffering, and who give of themselves to others — you will usually find a great mother who has inspired them to become what they are.

Mothers are the ones who are most able to sow the seeds of love, universal kinship, and patience in the minds of human beings. There is a special bond between a mother and child. The mother’s inner qualities are transmitted to the child even through her breast milk. The mother understands the heart of her child; she pours her love into the child, teaches him or her the positive lessons of life, and corrects the child’s mistakes. A child’s mind is like a freshly cemented floor. The impressions made in the fresh cement will remain there. The good thoughts and positive values we cultivate in our children will stay with them forever. It is easy to mould a child’s character when he or she is very young, and much more difficult to do so when the child grows up.

Once, when Amma was giving darshan in India, a youth came up to her. He lived in a part of the country that was ravaged by terrorism. Because of the frequent killings and lootings, the people in that area were suffering a great deal. He told Amma that he was the leader of a group of youngsters who were doing a lot of social work in that area. He prayed to Amma, “Please give those terrorists, who are so full of hatred and violence, the right understanding. And for all those who have faced so many atrocities and have suffered so much, please fill their hearts with the spirit of forgiveness. Otherwise, the situation will only deteriorate, and there will be no end to the violence.”

Amma was so glad to hear his prayer for peace and forgiveness. When Amma asked him what made him choose a life of social work, he said, “My mother was the inspiration behind this. My childhood days were dark and terrifying. When I was six years old, I watched with my own eyes as my peace-loving father was brutally murdered by terrorists. My life was shattered. I was filled with hatred, and all I wanted was revenge. But my mother changed my attitude. Whenever I would tell her that I was going to avenge my father’s death one day, she would say, ‘Son, will your father come back to life if you kill those people? Look at your grandmother, how sad she always is. Look at me, how difficult it is to make both ends meet without your father. And just look at yourself, how sad you are, not having your father with you. Would you want more mothers and children to suffer as we do? The intensity of this pain would be the same for them. Try to forgive your father’s killers for their terrible deeds, and spread the message of love and universal kinship instead.’ When I grew up, people tried to get me to join different terrorist outfits to avenge my father’s death. But the seeds of forgiveness sown by my mother had borne fruit, and I refused. I gave some of the youngsters the same advice that my mother had given me. This changed the hearts of many people who have since joined me in serving others.”

The love and compassion, rather than hatred, that this boy chose to pour into the world, stemmed from the wellspring of love in his mother. It is thus, through the influence she has on her child, that a mother influences the future of the world. A woman who has awakened her “motherhood” brings heaven to earth wherever she is. Only women can create a peaceful, happy world. And so it is that the hand that rocks the cradle of the babe is the same hand that holds up the lamp, shedding light upon the world.

Men should never hinder a woman’s progress towards her rightful position in society. They should come to understand that the full contribution of women to the world is vitally important. Men should move out of her path; nay, they should prepare her path, to make her forward movement smoother.

A woman, on her part, should think of what she can give to society, rather than what she can take. This attitude will certainly help her to progress. It should be underscored that a woman doesn’t need to receive or to take anything from anyone. She simply needs to awaken. Then she will be able to contribute whatever she wishes to give to society, and she will gain everything she needs.

Rather than becoming rusty, living out their lives inside the four walls of the kitchen, women should come out and share with others what they have to give, and fulfil their goals in life. Just as a complete electrical circuit depends on the presence of both positive and negative energies, life flowing in all its fullness depends on the presence and contribution of women as well as of men. Only when women and men complement and support each other will their inner blossoming take place.

In general, today’s women are living in a world fashioned by and for men. Women have no need of that world; they should establish their own identities, and thus recreate society. But they should remember the real meaning of freedom. It is not a license to live and behave any way one likes, regardless of the consequences for others; it doesn’t mean that wives and mothers should run away from their family responsibilities. A woman’s freedom and rising has to begin within herself. Also, for shakti, or pure power, to awaken and arise in a woman, she first has to become aware of her own weaknesses. She can then overcome those weaknesses through her willpower, selfless service, and spiritual practice.

In the process of striving to regain their rightful position in society, women should never lose their essential nature. This tendency can be seen in many countries, and will never help women to achieve true freedom. It is impossible to attain real freedom by imitating men. If women themselves turn their backs on the feminine principle, this will culminate in the utter failure of women and society. Then the problems of the world will not be resolved, but only aggravated. If women reject their feminine qualities and try to become like men, cultivating only masculine qualities, the imbalance in the world will only become greater. This is not the need of the age. The real need is for women to contribute all they can to society by developing their universal motherhood, as well as their “masculine” qualities.

In a sense, women are responsible for narrowing their own world. By giving undue importance to attire and external beauty, women are inadvertently selling themselves into the ideas that men have of women. Women have a duty to the world and to themselves. They should assume equal responsibility in the cause of social advancement.

As long as women — like the grown elephant tied with a thin rope to a sapling — don’t begin to break the rope and uproot the tree, they are, in a way, themselves responsible for creating their own narrow world. The more a woman identifies with her inner motherhood, the more she awakens to that shakti, or pure power. When women develop this power within themselves, the world will begin to listen to their voices more and more.

There are many individuals and organizations, like the UN, who are supporting the progress of women, and Amma would like to salute them all. This conference is an opportunity for us to build on that foundation. Amma would like to share a few suggestions, and to ask that each one of us ponder what we can do:

1. It is high time to amend the social and religious systems that were formulated in the past. Not only have many rules and practices become obsolete — they actually block the progress of today’s women. Religious traditions are significant. They shouldn’t be discarded completely. Nevertheless, religious leaders should make every effort to guide their followers back to the true essence of spirituality, and in light of this, condemn all types of injustice towards women. Religious leaders should publicly speak out against all forms of oppression and violence against women.

2. The UN should maintain a presence in war zones and areas of communal strife specifically to provide safe havens for women and children.

3. All religions and nations should condemn such shameful practices as female foeticide and infanticide.

4. Child labour should be abolished.

5. The UN should work to eliminate the dowry system. Religious leaders should come forward to discourage this undesirable practice.

6. The UN and leaders of every nation should intensify their efforts to stop child trafficking and the sexual exploitation of young girls. The legal consequences of such behaviour should be effective deterrents.

7. The number of rapes taking place all over the world is astounding. And the fact that in some countries it is the victims of rape who are punished is incomprehensible. Can we merely stand by and watch this? There should be a concerted, international effort to educate young men, with the aim of putting an end to rape.

8. The dignity of women is assailed by advertisements that treat them as sex objects. We should not tolerate this exploitation.

9. Religious leaders should encourage their followers to make selfless service an integral part of their lives.

10. A lack of education and poverty are major reasons for the setbacks that many women face today. The UN and leaders of every nation should initiate special projects for the education of women and the eradication of poverty among women.

The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is the attitude of the mind. It is love — and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, “I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.” Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion towards everyone is as much part of their being as breathing.

The forthcoming age should be dedicated to awakening universal motherhood. Women everywhere have to actualise the qualities of motherhood within themselves. This is the only way to realize our dream of peace and harmony. And it can be done! It is entirely up to us. Let us remember that real leadership is not to dominate or to control, but to serve others with love and compassion, and to inspire women and men alike through the example of our lives.

Amma would like to thank all those involved in organizing this summit. Amma deeply honours your efforts to bring peace to this world. May the seeds of peace we are planting here today bear fruit for all.

Om Namah Shivaya.

The Gandhi-King award acceptance speech in Geneva

Amma’s Acceptance Speech after Receiving the Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence in Geneva 2002

Salutations to all of you who are verily the embodiments of supreme love.
This award is in the name of two great beings, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. May it be an encouragement and inspiration to those who desire and work for world peace. May their efforts gain in strength and vitality. Amma accepts this award on behalf of such individuals, and prays that there may be even more individuals dedicated to the cause of world peace.

Amma’s life has been dedicated to the welfare of humanity, so She has does not make any special claims.

Mahatma Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King dreamt of a world where people saw each other as humans, disregarding differences in colour. Amma would like to offer Her vision of the future in remembrance of these two beings.

Amma envisions a society in which men and women work in equal partnership, like the two wings of a bird, thus helping the world progress.

Dr. King was as brave as a lion. But his heart was as soft as a flower. To reclaim love and equality in society, he had to forfeit his very life in the fight with his own country.

Gandhiji believed in practice, not preaching. His life was dedicated to peace and harmony. He could have become Prime Minister or President of India. But he was not interested in position or honours. Even on the day when India gained independence, Gandhiji did not participate in the celebrations. He was visiting the places stricken by communal violence and pacifying the people there.

You can awaken only one who is sleeping, not one who is pretending to be asleep. Today, most people are pretending to be asleep. They must awake, arise and act; only then can their dreams be fulfilled. All of us dream of a tomorrow that is filled with peace and happiness. May we develop the self-confidence and ability to realise this dream. Let us begin working towards this goal with faith and surrender from now onwards.