Will Mother be welcome?

25-26 March 2002 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia

Malaysia is a Muslim nation; Mother’s religion, She has said over and over, is simply Love. But She comes from a Hindu culture, and most people naturally see Her as Hindu. So there was a question in some minds: would Muslim Malaysia welcome Amma? It’s true that every year some four hundred Malaysians have been coming to Singapore to see Mother. But no one (except maybe Mother) could be sure what the response would be when She reversed the pattern and went to Malaysia to see Her children there.

This month, after two days’ programs in Singapore, Mother travelled five hours north to Kuala Lumpur. Two hours before the program was to begin, the problem—if that’s what it was —was evident: the huge convention hall leased for the evening was not big enough. Already the auditorium and balcony were completely full, and the lobby was crammed; down on the street, the crowds were still gathering. The weather was hot, humid, difficult. And while the hall itself was air conditioned, the crowds and their energy of eagerness taxed the system considerably. It would be a hard night.

And how could Mother make Her way through this throng? No one had anticipated wall-to-wall people! About twenty minutes before Mother’s scheduled arrival time, crowd control volunteers saw to it that everyone outside had tokens, and began urging the waiting masses: “Please sit down-then everyone will be able to see!” Miracle: people DID sit! A narrow passageway was formed, and when Mother’s elevator reached the lobby, to the sounds of temple drums and horns She was able to move slowly through the hundreds not yet even inside the auditorium.

Their patience and orderliness were rewarded by Her pausing along the route, reaching out, smiling, blessing, touching.

The program itself was of the form of all Her programs: formal greetings for dignitaries, speeches of welcome and introduction, Mother’s satsang, bhajans-and at last darshan. And all this time, out in the foyer and down below on the streets, those who could neither see nor hear waited.

The hours rolled by, and still hundreds pressed against the metal barriers. An exit route from the stage end of the hall had to be devised since there was no space through which those who had darshan could move out. Now and then, the door in the metal screen separating the foyer from the auditorium would be raised halfway and a few people could enter. But for those outside this partition, it was mostly hours of waiting. Hoping. Calling out: “Let us in!” “We want to see the Mother!”

In the far back of this hallway there stood a small table with a photo of Mother. Apparently oblivious to the crush, the heat, the pressures of the mass of people swirling around them, in this small area a few people sat silent, still, meditating before a picture of the saint they had come to meet. Perhaps they met Her first inside.

As fast as possible—after all, there were over nine thousand tokens issued, and each person was to be embraced before Mother would leave-Mother was hugging, listening, whispering endearments, handing prasad, and reaching out for Her next new child. For new they were, most of them-and that they waited so long, in such conditions, was a testimony to their intuition and their faith.

The next morning’s program began barely four hours after Mother left the first night’s program. It was a work day, and in expectation of a smaller crowd, a smaller hall had been booked. And yes, it was a smaller crowd-a mere seven or eight thousand! Again, long before the hall opened, queues were forming outside; long after the gates opened, the queue remained-in fact, two hours after Mother began hugging Her new children, the line of men and women and children, many holding umbrellas for shade from the sun, still stretched for a good half a kilometre down the highway.

Inside the compound, the queue snaked around, zigzagged through the dining area, finally found its way into the ground floor waiting area (a tad cooler). Concerned for Her children out in the sweltering heat, Mother insisted that chairs be taken outside and that more of the people waiting be led upstairs to the cooler balcony area as soon as space there became available.

Again She had to give Her hugs and blessings as quickly as possible, lest time not permit any of those waiting to reach Her. She managed. With that uncanny ability She has, Mother gauged exactly how quickly She had to proceed, and finished the last darshan before four-a good thing, since the hall had to be cleared and cleaned before the next program (and the next crowd of thousands) at 7:30 that same evening.

It seems Mother was indeed welcome in Malaysia.

Amma blesses the three Villages in Bhuj


Sunday 10 March, 2002 , Gujarat
It was a hard time for Gujarat. A year after the devastating earthquake, the region was falling victim to communal riots. Amma was in Mumbai. She was scheduled to leave for the earthquake-struck region of Bhuj, in Western Gujarat, where She was to inaugurate the three villages that the M.A. M had reconstructed. But in order to reach there, She would have to travel through areas that had erupted in violence. Many people were discouraging Amma from making the trip—even the government’s Central Intelligence Bureau. But Amma would not be deterred. “I have decided to go, come what may, and those who fear for their lives don’t have to come.”

The programme was a huge success and no one was hurt. Later Amma commented that the thousands of villagers had been waiting to meet Amma for a long time. Since they had lost everything, they didn’t have enough money to visit Amma anywhere else. They also badly wanted Amma to bless their homes before they moved in.

When Amma did arrive, thousands came to have Her darshan—the men in their serious and weighty turbans, the women in their flowing rainbow-coloured dresses. This region was once travelled by Sri Krishna, and the people are still his devotees. Looking at them in their colourful attire, it was easy to imagine they were flocking to see the Lord. And they even arranged a horse-drawn chariot, like Krishna’s—in which to carry Amma to the darshan stage.

L K Advani applauds M A Math

av48keyAlso present for the occasion were Union Home Minister of India Sri. L.K. Advani, the Governor of Gujarat Sri. S.S. Bhandari and Chief Minister of Gujarat Sri. Narendra Modi. All three of the politicians helped symbolically handout the keys to the newly constructed homes. In his speech Advani applauded the MAM for its relief work.

Here it was also officially announced that the villagers and the state government had officially renamed the three villages after Amma. Modsar is now Amrita Nagar, Dagara is now Amritamayi Nagar, and Mokhana is Amritapur.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Advani lauded the Math, as the best among non governmental organizations, for its role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort after the earthquake. Gujarat Governor Shri S.S. Bhandari and the Chief Minster Shri Narendra Modi hailed the Mata Amritanandamayi Math for its massive rehabilitation work in the remote villages of Kutch district within a shortest period of 5 months and congratulated the villagers.

In the first phase, construction of nearly a thousand houses, primary health centre, school and also a high school and a vocational educational institute have been completed at a cost of Rs. 22 crore. In appreciation of the efforts of the Math to rehabilitate the villagers, Modsar village has been renamed Amrita Nagar, Dagara as Amritamayi Nagar, and Mokhana as Amritapur by the State Government.

Eighty University students from Japan were working as full time volunteers on site for the past three weeks. After the ceremony, Amma gave darshan to all the villagers. The darshan lasted upto 7 p.m. After the darshan Amma visited all the three villages.

Learning about the devastating earthquake that struck Gujarat on 26th Jan. 2001, Amma was grief-stricken on the colossal loss to life and property. Realizing that thousands of the affected would need immediate and expert medical attention, she arranged for a team of highly qualified and committed specialists and paramedical staff from the super speciality hospital. Amrita institute of Medical Science at Kochi to be airlifted for service in Gujarat. Amma has also directed that two well equipped ambulances with inbuilt operation theatres with a team of 100 people including students and staff of Amrita Institutes to leave for Gujarat.

A team of 12 doctors including neuro, orthopaedic , general surgeons moved out in the remotest villages in Bhuj and Anjar taluks in Kutch district. Within the first few days, they attended many complicated cases of fractures, head injuries, severe burns, neuro surgeries and other injuries. The other team got busy right away removing debris and dead bodies. The volunteers provided immediate and essential medical and food supplies to the helpless victims. The rescue operations were carried out in 15 villages. “It was bitterly cold and we were not familiar with the place. But it was the dedication of team that made it possible” says Br.Sadashiva Chaitanya recalling those days.

The unlucky lost their lives but for those who survived were left with nothing. The next step was to make sure that the thousands who survived were provided with a home and other basic amenities for their living.

Responding to a call by the Govt. of Gujarat for participating in the rehabilitation work, Amma decided to adopt three remote villages – Dagara, Modsar and Mokhana completely destroyed by natures fury and located far away from the highways.

The project envisaged construction of about 3000 houses each with a floor area of about 500 sq.ft. and providing facilities like schools, hospitals, dispensaries, community halls, roads, water supply and sewerage connections and providing electricity at an estimated cost of Rs. 40 crores.

The work of rebuilding homes for earthquake victims in Dagara, Modsar and Mokhana started in Aug. 2001. Internationally, renowned architect and town planner Shri. Balakrishna Doshi drew up the plans.

A team of Amma’s sannyasi disciples, brahmacharis and a team of 800 workers have been toiling day and night to ensure that people of these villages get their houses without any delay. The inhospitable conditions, lack of infrastructure did not deter the spirit of these people.

The presence of a large team of volunteers from the Ashram and the in-house construction team and their dedicated work resulted in cost savings and better quality of construction. In the 1st phase construction of about 1000 houses, school, primary health centre have been completed. The remaining construction activity in all the three villages is in progress.

The loving service of Amma’s children was a consoling and confronting experience to the hearts of the villagers whose lives had become full of sorrow, pain and bereavement.

World Mother, village Mother

10Mar 2002,Gujarat

Mother is a marvellous blend of the planned and the unpredictable. How could She travel the globe giving programs that need their times and places publicised if She lived only spontaneously? But how could all the surprises that so enrich our experience of Her occur if She lived only by schedules?

Like in Gujarat last month: the inauguration of the 3 villages Mother had rebuilt for earthquake victims was planned for the morning of the tenth of March.

State and national dignitaries were an integral part of the celebration, so of course there had to be a precise schedule: “Home Minister Advani will arrive at so-and-so o’clock,” and “The Chief Minister of Gujarat will speak from so-and-so to such-and-such a time.” And “Keys to the homes will be distributed at this time,” and “Mother’s satsang will occur at that time.” A carefully planned program, so that devotes would know when to come, the press could be on hand, security for the VIPs would be in place, and all would go smoothly.

And it did.

But that was only one part of the program.

Here’s what Mother’s incurable spontaneity allowed to happen:

Dusk was gathering, the last darshans were happening, and the train to take Mother and Her group from Bhuj back to Mumbai was due to leave in about an hour and a half. She stood, swept the huge tent area with Her gaze, gave a few last embraces, called out some final endearments to these new children of Hers, and left the stage. Her car was waiting, the police helped clear a path for Her, and She was inside, ready for the drive to the train station in Bhachau. But really, there was time for more than a drive to the station, there was about half an hour spare. She would not waste the time. No! The program had been held in one of the three villages She is reconstructing; now She wanted to make a whirlwind visit to the other two villages. The residents had hoped, no doubt prayed, that She would do this, but until the very last moment no one knew whether She would, whether time would permit, whether She would make that choice.

The cars sped off into the near-night. At the first village those who had managed to reach home ahead of Her had gathered to welcome Her. They were chanting what people all over the globe chant when Amma is approaching: “Om Amriteshwaryai Namaha”. The villagers had spread a white cloth for Her to walk upon, and set a chair on a small platform so that all might See Her. The men were gathered on either side of the walkway, the women behind Mother’s chair; all was orderly and smooth

The villagers garlanded Mother, gazed respectfully as She walked to Her seat, and joined in when She led them in chanting the prayer Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: “May all beings everywhere be happy.” It came forth loud and strong in the voices of people who a year ago were subsisting in piles of rubble, all that remained of their homes; people who today had met the Mother of their new homes.

Can it be that in less than ten minutes Mother had returned to Her car and was speeding towards the next village? Can it be that in these few minutes the prayers of these people had been answered? For it was a year ago that one of them had said, “If Mataji steps one foot into our village, we will be blessed.” They were blessed.)

The second village: dark had truly fallen. In the local tradition, women balancing large brass pots on their heads danced where Mother arrived. She emerged from the car, and wove Her way among Her eager new children as they crowded close, hoping to touch this One whom they had only heard about until today. She reached the porch of one of the newly constructed houses, stepped onto it so that She could look out towards the mass of Her children-and suddenly above Her small five-foot form there towered a strikingly lean man in flowing garb, crowned with a pure white turban. He leaned forward and placed in Mother’s welcoming hands not an armload of flowers, not a ceremonial stole, not a commemorative plaque…none of these things that come as part of a program.

Into the hands of the Mother he placed his tiny baby. Amma cradled close the small bundle of hope and life; She gazed softly down into the tiny face and pressed the child to Her heart. Smiling up at the father, She returned his baby. Mother sat down, then, cross-legged on the carpet spread there on the porch and immediately there stepped forth another man, offering Her his child. And another, then another. A mother came with her infant and placed him in the lap of the Mother of All.

What does it mean when a community loses all its homes — truly, all: nothing survived that quake and when every family suffers deaths and crippling injuries, and still children are conceived and new life happens? Last year, immediately after the quake, before repairs were even started, the strong and faith-filled people were telling us this: “God gave us prosperity for a long time; now He has taken it away. When he chooses, he will give it again.” Consider the will and faith of people who lose all and don’t despair, who suffer immensely and do not grow bitter.

Mother led them, too, in chanting — first Bhakti do Jagadambe” (Mother of the Universe, give me pure Love; bless me with devotion….) and then Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. Her hoarse voice — hoarse from all day long murmuring the Gujarati equivalents of “My son,” or “My darling daughter,” or “Mother is with you,” into thousands of ears-chanted: “Om,” and the villagers responded, “Om”. And then Her voice: “Lokah,” and theirs: “Lokah”. Hers: “Samastaha” and theirs: “Samastaha”- a father held his young son in his strong arms, and his big hands moved the boy’s tiny ones till the four hands were clasped together in prayer —”Sukhino” and the echo “Sukhino” — the little fellow’s hands stayed palm to palm and the father’s left hand supported the child while his right rested on his own heart — “Bhavantu” intoned the Mother, and “Bhavantu” repeated Her children. “May all beings everywhere be happy.”

This happened in Gujarat, rocked and ravaged a year ago by earthquake and this year, exactly at the time of Mother’s visit, by violent communal conflicts. On this dark night, on a simple porch in a newly rebuilt village, the people placed their smallest and newest babies in the lap of the Mother, entrusted their hopes and dreams to God, and joined the final chant for peace:

Om Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.

Mother rose, gesturing as if reluctant to leave, “Train,” She explained.

Her car sped off into the night, leaving behind three new villages, all blessed; Mataji had done even more than “step one foot” into each village.

When we give, we receive

6Mar 2002,Giving Prasad to Amma

When Amma gives darshan in India, each person is given a candy wrapped inside a packet of ash as prasad. This prasad is precious to the recipient, as it contains Amma’s sankalpa (resolve) and comes directly from Her hand to theirs. To receive prasad directly from a Mahatma is an opportunity that could take lifetimes to come about . Obviously the preparation and organisation of the prasad is an important, even sacred, task.

How the prasad gets to Amma’s hand and finally to the hand of the devotee is an interesting saga. It is also an example of how Amma is continually creating possibilities to serve Her with detachment, attention and devotion.

The first step is the purchasing of the raw materials: the sweets in sacks containing around 7,000 pieces of candy (one sack might only contain enough for one darshan session), the ash, the paper ash packets and, in certain states of India, kumkum and plastic packets for it are required. It is the responsibility of the devotees at each program site to fill the ash packets. They are filled with just the correct quantity of ash and closed with a staple or glue. Usually groups of ladies gather to fill the packets in assembly-line fashion while chanting their mantras.

Once Amma’s tour group arrives at a program site, it is the Westerners’ responsibility to organise the prasad for the darshan. This includes a team to roll the prasad into packets on the stage during darshan, someone to instruct the person about how to give prasad to Amma, someone to supervise the person giving to Amma, someone to time the person giving and someone to organise the queue of people Amma has called to give prasad to Her! All these duties are assigned to Westerners travelling on the tour, with the exception of the trainer, whom Amma wants to be able to speak the local language.

Rolling and timing prasad are arranged by sign-up sheet. As the space on stage near Amma is limited, people watch closely for the moment the sign-up sheet is posted to reserve a spot. Timing is the most coveted position, as the timer sits near Amma’s pitham and has a good view of the laughter and lila going on during darshan. Some people are particularly fond of making the rolls of ash and candy, as this is something Amma will touch and She knows very well who was chanting their mantra and rolling with attention.

The chance to give prasad to a Mahatma is the opportunity of a lifetime, perhaps many lifetimes. If a person misses the chance, he or she may never have the opportunity again

Westerners are able to give prasad consistently on tour, sometimes every day, depending on the number of local volunteers. Westerners usually start giving prasad at the beginning of darshan and then alternate with the local volunteers or other groups Amma has called.

Amma is always aware of who and how many are in the darshan queue. When darshan nears its end, She wants to be sure that everyone She has called to give Her prasad has received the chance. The chance to give prasad to a Mahatma is the opportunity of a lifetime, perhaps many lifetimes. If a person misses the chance, he or she may never have the opportunity again.

At the end of darshan in Mananthavadi, seven men remained in the prasad queue. On Her way off the stage, Amma took a piece of prasad from each man so as not to disappoint them. At the next program as darshan came to a close, She asked how many were left in the queue and told us to be sure that they gave prasad, reminding us that seven were left over in Mananthavadi. Such is Amma’s sweet attention to every detail and to each person.

People used to give prasad to Amma for as long as 10 minutes. Now they give from between three minutes and three seconds. The average time is one or two minutes. Some of the Westerners will ask how long the queue is or for how long we are giving and then decide if they will participate. Others never miss any chance to give prasad. One can recognise the time-oriented nature of the West by the analysis of whether the amount of time is “worth it.” Most of us were taught since childhood that time equals money! However, around Amma time takes on a different dimension. Amma stresses not to waste time and that time wasted can’t be regained, but when it comes to giving prasad, She knows that giving one piece of prasad is as valuable as giving for hours, if the attitude is right.

It seems that it’s not just that the prasad-giver is giving something to Amma, but that Amma is giving something to the prasad-giver. Sometimes it is something subtle or intangible that we may recognise later. Other times what Amma transmits is obvious. Many people have had their relationship with Amma transformed while giving prasad. Others have been healed of lifetime wounds. “I thought I wasn’t good enough or pure enough to give Amma prasad, but now I know I am good enough.” “I used to be afraid of Amma the way I was afraid of my biological mother, but after giving prasad to Amma. I’m not afraid anymore.” These are some of the comments I’ve heard by devotees after they’ve given prasad.

For many years Amma never called the volunteers at the Calicut Brahmasthanam, as there are around 1,500 of them. One year She called the vegetable-cutters only. She asked for the 100 cutters to give for one minute each. She eagerly watched for their arrival on the stage and, when they came, each lady was crying. Their lips were moving incessantly as they chanted their mantras. The ladies were obviously poor, as could be told by their dress and lack of jewellery. They were used to being on a low rung of social status in society, but that day Amma gave them a place of honour on the stage.

One lady came to give prasad and, after giving one piece, she began to pound her chest and cry. The supervisor was frightened and thought the lady was having a heart attack. Amma looked up at the supervisor, smiled and said, “Bhakti.” The lady was overwhelmed by devotion after giving but one piece of prasad. The lady managed to crawl off the stage and her place was taken by another vegetable-cutter. Amma looked at each one with such compassion that many observers had tears in their eyes. For these devotees there was no question of whether the amount of time to give prasad or the length of time to wait to give was “worth it.”

This was the beginning of Amma’s practice of calling all the local volunteers at every program site, even when there are as many as 1,500 of them. As the number of devotees grows and the size of the darshans increases, Amma has less time for each devotee, so She invents more ways to give devotees experiences with Her. This year on the North India Tour, in addition to the 300 people travelling with Her, Amma called at least 4,000 people to give prasad. And at each stop along the way, this touching display of Amma’s love and the devotees bhakti was replayed.

Return of Krishna Bhava

1 March 2002, Pune

For all of Amma’s devotees who are sad that they never got to witness Krishna Bhava (which Amma discontinued in 1985), there still is hope. In Pune, the bhava is briefly reborn.

For the past four or five years, each time Amma comes to Pune, one man – who believes Amma and Krishna are one – comes to Amma with a request: to dress Her as Krishna and feed Her butter, curd and milk. This year was no exception.

By this time, the Pune devotees have come to expect Amma’s Krishna Bhava, and near the end of darshan on the final night in the city, everyone was excitedly waiting for this rare occurrence.

Suddenly there was a cry from the crowd of “Radha Krishna Ki Jai! Radha Krishna Ki Jai!” There was the Krishna Amma devotee. Everyone on the small stage crammed in close around Amma as the man approached. First, he put a yellow shawl around Amma. Then He placed a small crown adorned with a peacock feather on top of Her head. By this time, the crowd had begun to sing the Krishna Arati, and its sweet melody filled the air. Next, he handed Amma a wooden flute and a wooden stick.

Behind him, dressed as gopis, the women of the man’s family came offering Amma three pots. Just like little child of Vrindavan, Amma cracked the three pots with Her stick and began devouring their contents of butter, curd, and milk. The prasad was quickly distributed, along with puffed rice, to all the devotees.

With Amma life is a celebration.

I don’t know how much longer I will live

Caught for second time coming

24 February 2002, Hyderabad

During the large public programmes on the North Indian Tour, some people try to sneak in more than one darshan in a day. But although the crowds sometimes reach more than 10,000, Amma’s memory never fails. Often She will call someone on their mischief, and She’s even been known to give a spanking.

One night in Hyderabad, the darshan line was moving quickly. Suddenly, as one elderly man approached Amma, She stopped the queue. “You are coming a second time!” She accused. “You came this morning.”

The old man looked down. “Amma, I’m sorry. But I am a heart patient, and I don’t know how much longer I will live. I’ve already had two attacks. So I want to get as much from Amma as I can, while I am still alive. I came in Mysore and Bangalore and in Davangere. I have come here, and I hope to see Amma in Calcutta.”

Amma laughed and looked around at one of the swamis assisting Her. Then She pulled the old man in close and gave him what he had come for, a second time.

– Dhyanji

The Bhajan game

21 February 2002
The bus trip from Davengere to Hyderabad: Night stop

Just when I thought I could not handle being on the bus one minute longer, we came to a stop. We were told we would be meeting Amma for chai. I quickly jumped to my feet — joy pulsing from my being, chanting “Amma! Amma!”

Amma walked from Her camper down into a field just off the road. She sat under the only small tree around. It was dusk. The moon barely could be seen above the eastern horizon; the burning, red sun was finishing its descent in the west. We all huddled around.

Amma proposed that we split into two groups – boys versus girls – and take turns leading bhajans. This may sound simple, however, Amma imposed one tricky condition to challenge us and keep us alert: each bhajan had to begin with the last word of the fourth line of the previous song! As it turned out, Amma led the girls and Swamiji led the boys. It was a lot fun, with bhajans in several languages being used to keep the game going. Amma and Swamiji easily kept us singing for more than an hour, fulfilling all the conditions, with only an occasional pause while we frantically deliberated over which song to sing next.

We spent the next hour answering spiritual questions proposed by Amma and Swamiji. Finally Amma went to Her camper to continue the journey to Hyderabad. We were all so absorbed in the devotional singing and in Amma’s satsang that we forgot all about our previous discomforts and inconveniences. Many of us even forgot about the TEA as well! This was supposed to have been a tea stop!

However, a few selfless brahmacharis had made the tea while we were enjoying the time with Amma. They were waiting at the edge of the gathering to serve us. With the warm tea inside our bellies and Amma’s words in our hearts, we boarded the buses.

A meeting with death at twilight hours

21 February 2002, On the way to Hyderabad – North India Tour

The sun had all but completely set. Glowing like embers, it hung just above the horizon. Amma emerged from Her camper.

She looked to the West and waved excitedly at the departing sun – seemingly overjoyed at having caught the last opportunity to say goodbye to a friend.

Amma then walked to the field’s lone tree, where Her children were waiting, and took Her seat. “The sun has set,” She said in Malayalam. To which one brahmachari softly replied, “Yes, but our sun has risen.”

“OK, OK,” Amma said, “Some closed-eye meditation. Some open….” With that, Amma’s eyes closed and the group sat in silence. Those who kept their eyes open saw Amma’s hands casually forming a mudra as they rested in Her lap.

After a while, Amma called Swamiji to come sit by Her side and told him to pose questions for Her children to answer. He soon asked a question about the Kathopanishad, wherein a young boy named Nachiketha travels to the lord of Death and asks, what happens after one dies. The Upanishad depicts Death as a great Master.Swamiji wanted to know why.

Several answers were offered before Amma began speaking at length. Indeed, under that small tree, it seemed the perfect setting for such teachings – the traditional location for the imparting of knowledge. As the Kathopanishad is one of the most known Upanishads, many great Masters have composed commentaries on it. Still Amma’s teaching was from an entirely different perspective and wholly fitting for the Mother of Compassion.

As Swamiji translated Amma’s words into English, recounting the story of Nachiketha’s journey, Amma seemed to be listening as rapt as a child hearing a fairy tale. At the same time, it seemed as if his words were bringing forth distant memories, perhaps of Her witnessing this drama firsthand ages ago.

The basic story of the Upanishad is that Nachiketha’s father is performing a sacrifice that requires him to give away all of his possessions. However, he is only giving away useless things – like old, sick and dry cows. Observing this improper action, Nachiketha, an intelligent boy, understands that his father is incurring sin instead of merit by such false charity. He pesters his father with the question, “To whom shall you give me?” To which his father replies at last, in anger, “I give you to death!” Being a good and obedient son, Nachiketha soon starts on his journey.

However, upon his arrival at the home of death, he finds that the Lord of Death -Yama – is not there. Naciketa waits for three days and nights without food or sleep. When Yama finally returns, he makes amends by offering Nachiketha three boons. Nachiketha’s first asks for appeasement of the anger of his father, then for the secret of attaining heaven and finally the ultimate question: “What happens after death? Is there a soul surviving death, or is it total annihilation?” After testing the quality of the disciple, Yama finally imparts the great teaching to him.

Sitting under the tree, Her children huddled around Her; Amma said that it was the compassionate heart of Nachiketha that made him a fit recipient of the ultimate knowledge. Amma said that when he challenged his father, he was doing so out of compassion. Nachiketha did not want his father to receive the negative karmic repercussions of giving things of no value in charity. In fact, a dried-up cow is only a burden for a poor man who receives it, as he has to feed the cow also in addition to his family.

Thus, the sacrifice, instead of bringing the merit was only adding up the demerit of false show of charity to his father. The second boon that Nachiketha asks is also not for himself, but for the society,which again shows his compassion towards his fellow beings. Amma said, “When you totally forget yourself in your act of compassion, that is the death of your ego. Then you become a true disciple.”

Swamiji then went on to explain that the meaning behind Yama not being home when Nachiketha comes calling is that if one bravely goes looking for death, they’ll find that death is not there.

At this time, one of the devotees began to ask another question. Amma said that was enough for the day – “One relishes the food most when it is just enough to satiate the hunger.”

It was now night and a long journey still lay ahead.

Laugh more!

20 February, Davangere to Hyderabad bus journey – Lunch stop

So far the trip from Davangere to Hyderabad has been our longest journey, approximately 24 hours. It was an exhausting journey, especially physically. The only thing that is keeping me from flying from city to city is the stops with Mother. These stops make the mental gymnastics and physical pain tolerable.

About five and a half hours into the 24-hour trip we stopped for lunch with Mother. She was waiting for us under a massive tree with branches that reached far out. It was able to comfortably shade all 400 of us. I was not there to see the mad rush of devotees racing to be the first to sit closest to Amma, but it became the first topic of discussion during our lunchtime satsang.

Swami Amritaswarupananda asked Amma “Is all the pushing and pulling out of love, or out of one’s ego to get the closest to you?” Mother answered Swamiji in Malayalam.  Westerners waited eagerly for Mother’s response to be translated into English.This was a question, which the majority of devotees wanted answered.

Swamiji translated Mother’s words saying “The girls would probably sit on mother if they could.” One brahmachari asked Mother if his pushing to always be by Amma’s side was inspired by devotion or ego. Mother then asked him to answer. He believed that if you go close to Amma just to sit and see Her, then it is not ego. Amma replied, “If it is out of love to get close to me then it is not ego.”

Amma then spoke about the true devotee’s love for the master. “If one loves a true master, this will mean sorrow. If we fall in love with the master it is like falling in love with the sun, or the moon. This is because the master does not belong to anyone. Due to our ego, we believe that Amma is only our own, and this will undoubtedly lead to sorrow on the outside, but inside it builds the fire of tapas (heat), which burns the ego. The master, or the Mahatma works with the seeker until his/her impurities are burned away.”

Amma continued saying, “When we fall in love with an Avatar we will go beyond the body consciousness. With this fire of love, we can cook sweet pudding to offer at the feet of the Supreme. However, the love we have for fleeting objects just keeps burning and no good comes of it. Outside love is attachment, internal love is detachment. Amma, however, is attached to Her children, but it is an internal attachment.”

Mother’s sweet words were followed by the chanting of the 15th Chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, which Amma always has us chant before eating. Then someone handed Mother a large plate of food, and She called us up individually to receive prasad.

After we all took Mother’s prasad, one of the ashram residents did some humorous impersonations of other fellow residents. Mother was roaring with laughter at how the girl was imitating the characteristics of each person.

All laughed so hard, even those she was imitating were laughing.

When the laughing subsided one person said she did not think it was nice to make fun of others like this. Mother responded by saying, “Laughter is good for our hearts. That daughter’s intentions were not to make fun of those people, but to make us all laugh. Seriousness is a disease, and we should try to leave it and allow our selves to laugh more. Laughter is good for the health. People have a 500 kg weight in their bellies that is almost impossible to move. Laughing the way we did — from our hearts — is the best way to open up.”

Amma visits the upcoming Engineering college – Bangalore

18 February, Bangalore , Karnataka – Bharata Yatra 2002

Amma visited the upcoming Engineering college at Bangalore, during Her visit to the city.

The college will offer courses in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, in Electronics and Telecommunications and in Computer Engineering.

The college will impart value based Education as a part of its curriculum similar to Amma’s other Engineering colleges at Coimbatore and Amritapuri.