Christmas Eve

24 Dec 2003, Amritapuri

Amma has said, “The Lord comes not once a year, but every moment. This Christmas Eve saw Amma, as in every moment, immersed in the spirit of giving … darshan. While She was doing so, some devotees began decorating a tree that lives in the garden in front of Amma’s house. When Amma finally came out of the temple it was night, and this tree had been transformed into a Christmas tree, lovingly draped in paper garlands, colourful Christmas lights and crowned with a star.

Towards the end of darshan, a lady devotee came to Amma and complained that her sandals had been ?tolen’ from in front of the temple . Amma then sent a brahmachari to find a plastic bag. When it was brought, Amma tried to fit a pair of sandals into the bag, but the bag was too small, and She made the brahmachari go find a larger bag. He returned with a new bag, and this time the sandals fit perfectly.

Amma then said that from now on, plastic bags should be given for devotees to put their footwear in, which they can then keep with them in their shoulder bags, thereby improving the situation in three ways; it will prevent them from being stolen or misplaced; there will no longer be any need for two people to guard the shoe-rack, saving that much man-power for other work; and finally there will no longer be any need for a shoe-rack at all, saving that much space for something more important!

Thus, as many mothers around the world were spending Christmas Eve wrapping gifts for their children, our Divine Mother, with characteristic humility, was busy wrapping our sandals, even while wrapping us in Her arms… the symbolism of all this is almost too poignant …
Christmas Day, 2003

India has always welcomed other faiths, and Kerala in particular is said to have been home to some of the earliest Christians, and preserves India’s largest Christian population to this day. Christmas is always an extra special day for both western and Indian Christians to receive darshan from Amma. Many consider Amma to be an embodiment of the same divinity that was born as Jesus Christ.

Amma’s children offered a Christmas performance while Amma gave darshan. There was a lively electronic keyboard performance, adding to the jovial atmosphere; an operatic serenade by one of the ashram residents, who is a professionally trained opera singer; and dances by both western and Indian children.

Children from one of Amma’s orphanages presented traditional Indian dances in full costume, their innocence endearing themselves to one and all. Later, some of Amma’s western children also offered a simple and elegant dance. All of the performances received a hearty applause by Amma Herself, who would pause the darshan line just long enough to clap and smile with approval and happiness.

In Amma’s Amritapuri ashram, all religions and their essential teachings are respected and supported. Amma truly honours all spiritual traditions in the most direct and meaningful way ” by encouraging the followers each to go deeper into their own faith, and become embodiments of the universal divine qualities that all religions hold sacred. Love, compassion, peace, wisdom, selflessness – these qualities all lie within us, and are in fact our true nature.

Amma has often said that many are prepared to die for their religion, but few are prepared to live by its principles. Amma is patiently guiding us all to the living Truth common to all spiritual traditions, and in so doing, to an everlasting Unity, for Truth is One …

And, as embodiments of this Truth, we are One.

Merry Christmas from Amritapuri!

Heaven on Earth

25 December 2003,Amritapuri

It was after midnight on the morning of 21 December as seven busloads of Amma’s weary children returned to Amritapuri from the Kozhikode tour. One of the first things to greet everyone as they entered the ashram’s back gate was a humble manger scene near the western canteen. The sight offered our tired bodies fresh spirit. From one celebration to another, life with Amma is a never-ending festival!

During this week’s question and answer satsang, Amma asked Her western children to explain the true significance behind Christmas celebrations. Many beautiful responses came pouring forth. One devotee expressed that she felt that the true essence of Christmas has been lost these days, saying that too much importance is given to external things like spending money on food, clothes and decorations.

“The real essence of Christmas this devotee continued, “has to do with a child born 2,000 years ago named Jesus, who became the Christ, and who took a body like the rest of us except that, like Amma, He was born knowing who He was: the all-knowing and universal Divine Energy. Like a good shepherd, He came looking for all of His lost sheep, and just like Amma, He came to wake us up to the awareness of our true Nature! The teachings of Jesus can guide us from unreality to reality. He was the same divine energy that has now incarnated as Amma.

Another devotee approached Amma very humbly and full of devotion, saying, “The birth of the baby Jesus represents the birth of the divine child within our hearts. Just as Jesus was born in the darkest part of the year, He is also born in the darkest part of our hearts, but He brings us Light. We nourish Him with Amma’s Satsangs and Love, and this Light gives us discrimination, enabling us to rid ourselves of our anger and other negativities.She ended by prayerfully and tearfully saying, “Thank you, Amma, thank you …

One western man came forward and told a story from his childhood. “Once, when I was a boy he said, “I bought a small ceramic choirboy as a Christmas gift for my mother. However as I was returning home, I stopped to join a snowball fight with some other boys. As I put my bag down, the choirboy was shattered. When I got home and realized this, I cried and cried. But my father very patiently helped me to glue the pieces back together and apply fresh paint. When I gave it to my mother, she was so happy!

And he added, “I just received an email from my mother telling me that she had just put the same choirboy onto the mantle. So, Christmas always makes me think of this choirboy.He then began to express how grateful he is to Amma, but became so emotional that he couldn’t continue speaking.

Amma replied that She liked all the answers that Her western children gave, and that this devotee’s story of the choirboy was a good one, showing that what he was really trying to give to his mother was his heart. Amma recollected the words of Jesus, “Love thy neighbour as thyself, and explained that only when you see others as your own true self will real love flow towards the whole of Creation.

Elaborating, Amma said, “All are joined by the thread of love. Love knows no barriers, such as caste, creed, religion or nation. We are all like different beads joined by the thread of love. Love has no boundaries. Love is the essence of all religions. The awareness level is very low in all of us at present, and festivals like Christmas must help us to regain this awareness. Such occasions have to be used to rekindle love within us.

“Awareness is needed for this. We have to wake up. To realize one’s true nature, the Divine within us, we have to transcend the ego, and this comes through surrender towards God. As you become more and more humble, you become more and more receptive to God’s grace. The attitude that ‘I am just a mere instruments in God’s hands’, that it is God’s strength and not my own that does everything, should always be maintained.

Kozhikode is Amma’s Brindavan

20 December 2003, Kozhikode, Kerala

Like a mini-Amritavarsham50, the crowds, as many anticipated, were indeed the biggest today, turning out in full force for Amma’s final Kozhikode darshan programme. Over 12,000 men’s darshan tokens were distributed for the evening programme alone, and over 18,000 were given for the women, with lines winding all the way out onto the road beyond then ashram gates. Amma will hug over 30,000 people before finally standing to leave, which by the looks of it will undoubtedly be well into late tomorrow morning, if not afternoon.

The ashram grounds are a teeming sea. Walking from the darshan hall to the dining hall is an arduous pilgrimage! The local devotees doing seva, distinguishable by the badges on their chests, have their hands full, and their dedication and effort is admirable.

Many have come for the special Sani (Saturn) Puja, which Amma personally led this evening. The 108 names were chanted while, sitting before oil lamps, everyone performed the puja .

In Vedic astrology, Sani is considered a malefic planet that can trigger difficulties for those who fall under his influence. This mass puja is performed in order to create positive vibrations that will offset any negative influence that may have accrued due to Sani’s harsh gaze.   Amma has said that a spiritual aspirant who has surrendered to a Satguru need not worry any longer about planetary effects. But, She has also qualified this by saying that it doesn’t hurt if you have some forewarning of a change in the weather, so you can take the necessary precautions. If you know it’s going to rain, you have the chance to grab an umbrella. In the same way, these pujas serve as a general umbrella that can mitigate harmful planetary effects.

With tens of thousands here today, the collective positive mental current is sure to have its effect. Amma has given the following example to illustrate this. If one has only a single 10-watt bulb, it may be difficult to read by, but if one brings in thousands of 10-watt bulbs, reading won’t be any trouble at all. Like this, mass pujas can have wider and more powerful effects than individual rituals.

The crowd sat absorbed as Amma guided them through the puja’s steps, and as the 108 Names of Shani were chanted, everyone responded with “Om Shivashaktyaikya-rupinyai Namah”. The darshan hall twinkled with what seemed a million little stars, as each of the over 5,000 within its perimeter waved their arati flame.

The puja ended as everyone stood and turned clockwise in place, again chanting the sacred mantra. This represents the circumambulation of our own heart, the seat of the Self “the Atman” which is identical to God, the Absolute Brahman, and to which all worship is truly offered, though the forms may vary.

Through this simple but sacred observance, Amma has brought the highest wisdom down to the most understandable form, which even a child can understand… which is a good thing, considering we’re all children in the presence of Amma.

Like a river, receiving all, whether they come to drink or bathe, or even walk past, ignoring Her grace “Amma simply flows. Kozhikode stands as yet another testament to this, as Amma flows into the hearts of the local devotees tonight, one last eternal time … until next year.

21 December 2003,Kozhikode, Kerala

It’s 8:15 am. The sun is well into the sky and Amma has hugged well over 30,000 people in the last 12 hours. Amma has just stepped through the foyer curtain outside of Her room. Children are already there, waiting to offer their final pranams before Amma leaves their midst. It will be some time yet before Amma has hugged Her last Kozhikode child, and heads back to Amritapuri.

Meanwhile, Amma’s ashram children finish washing the cooking pots and dismantling the various stalls and service areas. Supplies have to be inventoried and buses reloaded. Sleep has to wait for the 10-hour road trip ahead. These opportunities to serve are no doubt trying, and require a real spirit of renunciation … however, no one complains. No one even feels like complaining! How does one explain to others how serving the Guru is such an inexpressible joy and blessing? One must simply grow into such an understanding; it cannot be conveyed through words.

Amma has shown through Her own example how real selflessness overrides any sense of strain or exhaustion, and actually fills one with boundless energy “the energy of Divine Love.

Which is why Amma’s smile is ever present, and Her arms ever reaching out to us, Her beloved children. Amma is the very love She radiates.

Kozhikode Chronicles

19 December 2003, Kozhikode

Over the past three days the atmosphere at the Kozhikode ashram has become as if super-charged. The five daily archanas, the special pujas in the brahmasthanam temple and the general devotional enthusiasm of the crowds has generated a palpable spiritual energy. This day saw the biggest crowd so far for this program. New shelter had to be erected adjacent to the already huge darshan hall, which was specially constructed for the programmes. It’s expected that tomorrow, the final darshan programme, will see even larger crowds.

Among the masses are to be found devotees form all age groups, all of whom form an integral part of the ashram community. Most are here serving Amma in some capacity. Some shared a few of their personal experiences with Amma:

DevakiAmma from Kalurti,Vegetable-peeling seva
I’ve been seeing Amma for over 20 years. The first time was in a house here in Kozhikode. I didn’t have any special experience the first time, but I had a deep desire to keep seeing Amma as much as possible. I simply want to serve Amma. I receive medication through Amma’s ashram, and so I also want to give something to Amma.

Rema Rajkumar – 58, Prasad-packing seva
I met Amma 11 years ago, at the first Kozhikode Brahmasthanam Festival. After that first darshan I had many dreams of Amma that always made me long to see Her more. I’m serving because it’s Amma’s upadesh (teaching). I’m willing to serve in any way. We come and serve because Amma Herself comes to us in Kozhikode. It’s a supernatural power Amma has. Amma has the power to heal everything. Amma was born to heal everything, to solve all the world’s problems. So we come to see Amma. With Amma, there is no difference between India and America or Europe, or any other country. Amma is the same everywhere. We’re all Her children; we’re all one.

Velayudhan Nair, Matruvani Subscription Seva
I met Amma in 1999, in Vallickavu. My sister, who lives here in Kozhikode, was a devotee, and she began telling me about Amma’s boundless love and compassion. So I went to see Her, and have been going to see Her regularly ever since. I received mantra from Amma that first day, without even asking for one. Amma just gave it to me. After that I stopped all my bad habits, like coffee and tea. Before meeting Amma, I only had then concept of visiting temples. But, after seeing Amma the first time, I realised that Amma was the real God. I had so many sorrows, but Amma healed them all.

Once while having darshan, I told Amma that I have been suffering from a heart illness. Amma told me to go at once to AIMS for a check up. The doctors there found that my condition had become very bad, and recommended immediate heart surgery. Now I have a pacemaker in my chest. Amma saved my life.When I saw Amma next, She asked me how my health was. I told Her that I was better, and that I wanted to do seva at AIMS. Amma told me to work in the juice stall.

Amma is everything Guru, Mother, Devi. She’s the Universal Mother. In the future I want to live in Amritapuri.

Amrita Vidyalayam students Reshma, age 15; Kavya, 16; Nandini, 16; Labeeba, 16; and Sowparnika, 16, also shared their experiences.

Sowparnika: Today was my first darshan, just a few minutes ago. Before meeting Amma, I didn’t really believe in all these things, but after Amma’s darshan, I feel different. Something changed inside me. I feel very happy!

Nandini: I first met Amma when I was in the 6 th standard, but it wasn’t until my 8 th std. that I really began to feel Amma’s greatness. Once we (the students) went to Vallickavu. It was a Devi Bhava day, but we had to leave early.

Reshma: We told Amma that we were sad to not get to stay for Amma’s Bhava darshan, and Amma said that She too was sad that we were leaving. So, Amma grabbed a handful of chocolate kisses and gave them to us! But then during Amritavarsham50 , we all got to sit near Amma. So we were happy!

Kavya: We like going to Amma’s Amrita Vidyalayam. It’s not like other schools. Not just the education, but also the culture and the atmosphere, the faculty and the students – it’s all much better.

Labeeba: We’re so lucky to have so much contact with Amma.

Amma hugged almost 20,000 people tonight, giving darshan until 6 am … but Amma’s day wasn’t over yet. Many important matters still required Her personal supervision, and it was 8:30 am before She was able to finally get some rest. However, it was brief respite. Amma was back again in the hall by 11 am, as mysteriously fresh as ever, for morning bhajans, satsang and darshan. Just like the day before, She stayed until almost 5 pm, and returned yet again less than two hours later, to sing bhajans, give satsang and receive Her children into Her arms throughout the night, and into the next day …

Displaying such tireless dedication to Her children, Amma has won the hearts of millions, and inspired them to cultivate a dedication to selfless service in their own lives. How can this but bring a significant transformation to the world?

The Wealth of the Poor

18 December 2003,Kozhikode,Kerala

Many of the devotees in Kozhikode are very simple people. Rural villagers and tribal people come for Amma’s darshan, saving what little money they have just to travel here.

Kozhikode is yet another example of how Amma is touching the lowest substratum of society with Her infinite compassion and all-embracing Love, raising them up, reminding them of their inherent dignity and worth. In so doing, Amma is revitalizing India from its very foundation, since the poorest of any country tend also to be that country’s backbone, performing all of the laborious jobs that others can afford to pay them to do.

With Her inspiring and practical satsangs on spiritual truths and practices, and through Her elevating and otherworldly bhajans, Amma is teaching the highest spiritual wisdom to everyone, regardless of education or economic status, in the simplest and most effective manner ” through Her flawless and enchanting example.

This is not to say that all of the devotees in Kozhikode are underprivileged. As always, one finds a mixture: average middle-class families, students and young professionals, as well as the wealthy and VIP’s such as high government officials or prominent businesspeople. All come for Amma’s blessings. As a consequence, Amma is reaching all points along the social spectrum, and the goodwill of those devotees with more material means insures that through time and the growth of compassion and generosity, a true social equilibrium can be met. The seeds of love and dharma that Amma is planting in everyone’s hearts will eventually flower and restore true balance to society.

Thus, at all of Amma’s darshan programmes one finds the wealthiest waiting shoulder to shoulder in line with the poorest. All are equal in Amma’s eyes, and the shared expression of love and longing on everyone’s faces for their cherished turn in Amma’s arms even makes Amma’s children resemble one another in a certain subtle way … just like true brothers and sisters.

Witnessing all of this, one cannot but be humbled both by Amma’s dedication to the spiritual growth of Her children everywhere and all walks of life, and in turn by Her children’s simple faith and willingness to grow. It’s further proof that to mature spiritually, one doesn’t necessarily need to become well versed in high philosophy or engage in rigorous austerities. One need only expand the heart and love with a selfless innocence. When this is done, all true spiritual wealth is showered upon the devotee.

As Amma Herself has instructed, “Purify your heart. See God in all things and love all beings. You don’t have to do anything else; you will be given everything you need.

Whatever their material standing, the blessed devotees of Kozhikode are spiritually among the richest.

Amma’s Brindavan

15 December 2003,Amritapuri

A lone butterfly danced happily on Her garland as Amma stood gazing at Her children in all Her divine magnificence. Thus the first Devi Bhava in Amritapuri since early September came to a close this morning at 11:30 am. Yesterday morning Amma began giving darshan at 9:45 am, and stayed until 2:15 pm. With only a couple of hours break, Amma was back on stage again by 4:45 yesterday evening for Devi Bhava, and, as over 18,000 darshan tokens had been distributed, didn’t return to Her room until today, a quarter after noon – a total of 25 hours of service to Her children in a 24 hour day!

As usual, most ashram residents had stayed up all night with Amma. Most anticipated a day of rest and recuperation before making the 10-hour road trip on Tuesday to Kozhikode, where Amma will conduct four days of public darshan programs. However, life with Amma is everything but predictable, and in this case the anticipation most had for a leisurely day off was to be traded for a chance to practice some renunciation.

Shortly after lunch (or breakfast, depending on how you view it), word started making its way through the ashram grapevine that the buses might be leaving that very night (Monday) itself! By 3 pm it was official. Many ran to quickly do laundry in order to catch the last drying rays of the sun, and others got what little sleep they could before we packed up and set out. Just after midnight, when the seven large tour buses had finally been fully loaded with people, luggage and supplies, the ashram caravan headed north.

Five hours later we stopped in Kodungalloor to rest at one of Amma’s Amrita Vidyalayam schools. Although the sun arose just after everyone had finished unloading the buses and laid down for sleep, by 9 am almost all were up again, preparing for the next leg of the journey. After a late breakfast we reloaded the buses, and after a light early lunch were on the road again.

It’s truly amazing how vigorous one manages to remain when in the service of Amma, even with little rest and erratic food and sleep schedules. Despite the difficulties, all one sees are smiles.

Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, Kozhikode, Kerala
It’s been a year since the devotees of Kozhikode (Calicut) received the blessing of Amma’s darshan, and many couldn’t wait until the first public program tomorrow. Amma arrived at the Kozhikode ashram at 6:43 pm, and so many of Her children were waiting for Her that it almost felt like a program was already in full swing!

Kozhikode has become famous among Amma’s Indian tours for the innocent and enthusiastic devotion that the local devotees have for Amma, and for this reason is sometimes referred to as “Amma’s Brindavan”. Due to this fervor of bhakti, many attendees have regularly described this as the most “intense” program in India. The bhajans are exceptionally powerful and the throngs that invariably turn out for Amma’s darshan seem to cry out as if in a single voice, “Amma, Amma, Amma!”

Amma responds to their guileless hearts by showering them with an especially radiant affection, and there is a profound lesson here for those with eyes to see. Amma’s way of reflecting Her children’s hearts reminds one of Sri Krishna’s words in the Bhagavad Gita, “As My devotees approach Me, so do I receive them.”… and so does Amma receive us.

Wednesday, 17 December, 2003 – Kozhikode, Kerala
The first day’s program in Kozhikode began at 5:15 am with one of the five archanas that are to take place each day, as part of the brahmasthanam festival that is happening in tandem with the public darshan programs. Amma installed a brahmasthanam temple on the ashram grounds 11 years ago, which is maintained by the ashram priests who conduct pujas throughout the year. Amma’s annual visit marks the commemoration of this temple’s installation, and special planetary pujas are performed for the masses, primarily to Saturn, Mars and Rahu.

Amma came out for the morning program at 11:00 am to lead bhajans, followed by archana, satsang and then darshan. The darshan hall, constructed specially for the program, was filled to overflowing, as was expected. The morning program didn’t end until about 5 pm. Amma returned again for bhajans, satsang and darshan by 7:30, and gave darshan until 4:30 am … 15 hours total darshan time – a slow day, by Amma’s standards.

… but it was still just the first day.

Ram and Lakshmi

11 December 2003,Amritapuri

As bhajans ended this evening and Amma left the stage, there was a race of eager devotees to Amma’s house. Amma almost always feeds Ram at the base of Her steps after bhajans, and with this morning’s arrival of Lakshmi, tonight’s elephant feeding promised to be a double feature.

Ram was brought in first to the cordoned patio area to receive his prasad from Amma. As usual he put on a show, periodically bowing to Amma, playing tug-of-war with the brahmacharis, trumpeting aloud and spraying devotees with water. Ram has grown to love the limelight!

But, we all must to learn how to share. Ram was soon led out, and his new sister Lakshmi brought in. She too received prasad from Amma, and just as during her morning introduction, she was as calm and composed as ever – a true lady! Amma again playfully asked her if she had seen Ram yet, and showered her with affection. After Lakshmi enjoyed Amma all to herself for some time, Ram was brought back in, to share the bounty of Amma’s love (and sweets!).

Together they stood before Amma, trunks reaching and waving, mouths open in what seems quite like a smile, and appearing perfectly comfortable with one another.

Amma had fun feeding Ram, then Lakshmi, and Ram again, and then Lakshmi again, back and forth, trying to keep up with her two greedy young elephant children. — right, left, right, left — just like She was giving darshan. Lakshmi was eating faster than Ram, and when Ram would become a bit too insistent, Amma, smiling out of the corner of Her eye, would pay closer attention to Lakshmi just to make Ram jealous!

At one point, this elicited a loud, trumpeted objection from Ram, to which Lakshmi responded with a louder roar, bringing a surprised and amused expression to Amma’s face and delighting the crowd!

Amma said to Ram,now you can tell all your stories to Lakshmi. And Lakshmi can do the same with you.Then Amma told Ram to give his hand to Lakshmi, at which point he met her trunk with his and they intertwined, sharing a curious and friendly sniff. Then, in a display of obvious affection, Ram and Lakshmi gently touched their foreheads together, and lingered for a moment that way. Amma was clapping happily. A little later, Ram went in search of sweets, sneaking his trunk into Lakshmi’s mouth. Lakshmi returned the favour, and for a moment the two were one.

Divine homecoming

3 December 2003,Amritapuri

It was a morning abuzz with activity in Amritapuri. Actually, the entire week was busy, but this morning especially. Duties ranged from sweeping the sand to cleaning Amma’s house from top to bottom. The construction of a new water treatment system was finished just the night before and various last minute touches were being made here and there throughout the ashram, generally beautifying the grounds all to make it worthy of receiving our most Beautiful Amma. For almost two months Amma’s ashram residents have been relying on brief email updates about Amma from those fortunate enough to be on tour with Her, but today we have our own update to share: Amma has come home!

It’s true that Amma claims no home other than our heart, yet there is something very poignant about Amma’s Amritapuri homecomings. The atmosphere was drenched in a quiet devotional fervour, and there is a sweet longing in everyone’s eyes, whose indrawn expressions indicate private inner communion. Many ashramites working in the branch ashrams throughout India to offer their pranams to Amma, making it a divine family reunion. Though meditative, spirits are high it’s a festival day!

At about a quarter to noon, the ashram bell rang out thrice, and our souls collectively resounded – Amma had arrived. There was a general flurry as thousands scurried for a good spot to catch sight of Her.

Amma’s camper van turned onto the ashram grounds, and stopped near Ram the elephant’s stable first. Playfully tugging the shirt collar of the brahmachari that was driving, Amma sat Herself down in the driver’s seat so She could feed Ram through the window. With laughter, everyone delighted in the familiar but ever-fresh interplay between the young elephant and the Mother he clearly adores. Amma then went back into the camper and opened the side door. As the camper made its way through the ashram grounds, Amma stood in its doorway with Her hand outstretched to touch those She passed.

he time was exactly 11:51:48 a.m. when Amma’s camper finally stopped in front of Her house. Though midday, it was dawn in the hearts of Amma’s ashram children gathered around to receive Her, and the sunshine pouring out camper door seemed to rival that in the sky. Our minds reflected its divine light like many moons.

The sea of bodies parted as Amma made Her way towards Her stairway, pausing here and there to share a few words, a smile, a glance. Pada puja was performed, the arati flame was waved and garlands were offered, all with a deep reverence. Amma then moved slowly up the stairway, walking backward so that with an unbroken gaze She could, shower Her children with Her inconceivable affection. Eyes glistened with tears and the occasional yearning cry of Amma! was heard. Finally, as Amma reached the top of the stairs, the occasional cry of Amma became a chorus, as Amma raised Her folded hands in a salutation that was returned by all, and brought them Her heart, offering it to us.

Is there any gift greater than this?

Amma visits Holland

9 November 2003,Holland

For the third year in a row, our beloved Amma graced Holland with Her Presence. On the first day, the crowds started to get in line as early as 8 a.m., and by 9 a.m. the hall was already filled with people. It was the first sign that last year’s record of almost 10,000 visitors would be easily broken. On that first morning, numbers had already gone up to 2,000.

Mother appeared fresh and radiant at 10 in the morning, as if She had just returned from a 6-week holiday instead of an intense European tour. That first morning Holland’s major television channel completed a portrait of one of Amma’s Dutch followers by filming him in Mother’s loving arms. The news program was shown that very night, and also featured stories on Amritavarsham50 and the speech of Yolanda King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, who describes Amma as ‘the real thing’ who made her ‘feel fulfilled in a way she had not experienced before’.

In the back of the hall, the Belgian devotees had built a life-size Amrita Kuteeram house, inside of which were displayed photographs and information was given on Amma’s world-renowned housing scheme. Children performed a little play based on the real-life experiences of the slum inhabitants in Hyderabad, India, who are now benefiting from the renovation of their neighborhood through Amma’s grace. Many visitors were so inspired they subscribed to monthly donations for the project.

During the evening programs, Amma surprised everyone by singing two bhajans in perfectly understandable Dutch. They were Ishwar Tumi Daya Karo and Ananta Mami that had been translated by Lakshmi Akka, Mother’s Dutch personal assistant for over 16 years. It brought tears of joy to the eyes of the people, bringing Mother even closer to the hearts of all present and making their devotion flow even easier, as Mother sang with the innocence of a child the last lines: ” Zonder mijn God, waar kan ik heen?” (Without my Lord, where can I go?). Loud applause followed the songs.

On the last day, Amma’s Devi Bhava coincided with a lunar eclipse. Crowds walked between this wondrous miracle of nature, and the miracle that was taking place inside the hall where the Mother of the Universe was hugging almost 5,000 people. When Amma finally got up to shower us all with rose petals it was well over ten o’clock in the morning.

This is the same woman

11 – 12, October 2003,Helsinki,Finland

Amma’s visit to Helsinki, Finland, was the talk of the whole country, as thousands gathered for Her darshan at the Cable Hall. It was Amma’s fifth visit to this beautiful Scandinavian country.

On the morning of the first day’s programme, the Bishop of the Orthodox Church in Helsinki, Rev. Ambrosius, met Amma and got Her darshan. Rev. Ambrosius told Amma that he had visited the Orthodox Church in Kerala 10 years ago. He was happy to see how Amma received each and every person who came to Her with the same love and compassion; he was also pleased by the hug that Amma gave him.

The Cabinet Minister of Cultural Affairs in Finland, Ms. Tanja Karpela, also came to meet Amma during the first evening programme. She was full of bliss after Amma’s darshan, and was very impressed by the charitable activities that the ashram was carrying out worldwide.

Amma’s visit to Finland was reported on the Finnish TV’s main news and in the national newspapers, Helsingin Sanomat and Iltalehti, which have very wide circulation in this country.

During Amma’s visit, the translation of Judith Cornell’s biography of Amma into Finnish was also released.

The evening darshan during the second day went on until 5:00 am the next day. That afternoon, as Amma was entering the airport to board the plane for Barcelona, She was received by an airport officer who had a pen with Amma’s photo in his pocket. When asked, he said that he had really wanted to see Amma, but because of his official duties, he couldn’t make it for the programmes. His friend had given the pen as a souvenir and he cherished the gift. His face was beaming with a smile as he received Amma’s hug.

As Amma entered the aircraft, many of the passengers were reading the newspapers carrying big reports of Amma’s programmes. Seeing Amma, some of the passengers exclaimed, “This is the same woman.”