Prana pratishta in Bangalore

14 Feb 2003,Bangalore

At 8:30 am today, Amma installed the murthi (idol) at Her newest Brahmasthanam Temple. Gongs, bells, traditional panchavadyam drums and horns accompanied the continuous chanting of the mantra “Om Sivasaktyaikya Rupinyai Namah” by the thousands of devotees present. The scene was similar to that of two days ago, when Amma performed the Kalasha Sthapana, only magnified several times over by the presence of a greater number of devotees and a greater sense of anticipation and mystery. Today, Amma was going to perform a miracle.

She was going to breathe life, breathe Divinity, into an inanimate stone. As devotees pressed in on all sides for a glimpse of Amma meditating inside the temple, the atmosphere fairly pulsed with anticipation. Even Nature seemed to be searching for the best view: as they always do at Amma’s temple consecrations, eagles circled overhead as the murthi was carried to the temple from the nearby homa kunda.

After the brahmacharis carried the four-hundred pound stone inside the temple, the doors were shut to all but Amma’s senior most disciples and a Her senior pujaris, who remained inside with Her. The rest of us could only close our eyes and imagine the miracle taking place inside: Amma embracing the murthi and, just by Her breath, installing the Divine therein.

After Amma performed the Prana Pratishta, the four doors of the temple were opened and Amma performed abhisheka (ritual bathing) to the murthi, using water from kalashas presented to Her by representatives from all four ashramas (stages of life according to the Vedas), including one sannyasi, eight brahmacharis, and more than twenty grihastas (householders) and vanaprastas*. Several Westerners also presented kalashas to Amma containing water for abhisheka.

Finally She performed arati to the murthi and prostrated before it, Her newest signpost on the path to God.

In Her satsang after the installation, Amma said, “Some may ask, ‘In this age of science, why are temples necessary?’

“Amma feels that temples are necessary to propagate culture and educate people about the importance of dharma. Temples are like mirrors which show the dirt on our faces. But just by looking into a mirror, we will not become clean. We need to put forth effort. Even a little effort from our part will attract God’s boundless grace.

“Remember that the real pratishta should take place in our hearts. Our hearts should be filled with love for God. We should be able to see God everywhere.”

Swami Amritaswarupanandaji also spoke to the assembled devotees in a satsang shortly after the consecration.

He said, “The term prana pratishta is very significant. Only a Divine Being such as Amma can do it. It is the process of giving life, Divine Light to the idol just by breathing into it. Amma’s prana, Her vital force is the vishwa shakti, the universal energy. The idol was only a stone until 8:00 this morning. But just after 9:00, once the doors were open, once Amma had imbued Her vital force into the idol, it was transformed. Amma transformed it into a center of Divine Power in one moment. This is a great miracle. But was this consecration only outside? No. By performing the prana pratishta our most beloved Amma was giving us a higher message. Through Her action, She was telling us, “Children, be a seed. Prepare yourself to be reborn as a child. Just as the unattended rock became divine by the touch of Amma’s sacred hands, children, be prepared to take a new birth. When the seed goes beneath the soil, the earth will take care of the seed. Fall into the earth, my children.

“But remember the stone had to have immense patience. There was a lot of chiselling, shaping, moulding and remoulding. And it was always patient, all the way until 9 am this morning. Likewise, we too have to be patient. Amma is tirelessly working, day in and day out, reshaping and remoulding, and we don’t know it, because we are sleeping, dreaming. Then, 9 am arrives. The stone attained liberation at 9 am and we too will attain it one day. That blissful moment will come. What is the catalyst for this transformation? It is Amma’s love. It is Amma’s love that transforms us. But just as the stone, we must have patience.”

Including the temple in Bangalore, Amma has consecrated 16 Brahmasthanam temples, both within India and abroad. This is the second Brahmasthanam temple in Karnataka, after Mysore.

* vanaprasta is the stage which comes after one’s children are grown, when one renounces all worldly responsibilities and retires to a solitary place or an ashram to perform spiritual practises and focus one’s life on God

Kalasha sthapana in Bangalore

12 Feb 2003,Bangalore

At 8:30 this morning Amma performed the Kalasha Sthapana for Her newest Brahmasthanam Temple, installing the stupika at the apex of the temple’s roof.

Gongs, bells, traditional panchavadyam drums and horns accompanied the continuous chanting of the mantra “Om Sivasaktyaikya Rupinyai Namah” (Salutations to the One who is the union of Shiva and Shakti) as Amma performed the ceremony. Throngs of devotees spilled out from the temple on all sides, palms joined and eyes upturned. Amma frequently looked to them as well, turning to all four sides with each piece of the stupika held high before installing it, and also to shower flowers and consecrated water at intervals.

The stupika consists of three brass bowls set vertically on a central spike, each smaller than the one below it. Amma filled each bowl with navdhanya (nine types of food grains) before placing the next one, and atop the third and smallest She placed a sculpted point.

Watching the proceedings, one was touched with a profound sense of the sanctity of this morning’s ceremony. What an infinitely rare and precious gift to witness a Divine Incarnation consecrating a new temple. Thousands of years ago, Lord Rama consecrated the Siva temple at Rameswaram. What was it like to be there? It was like this.

When She was finished, the stupika shined brilliantly in the sun, imbued with Amma’s shakti and sankalpa (divine resolve), a sparkling gem in the sky that will shine through the ages, pointing to Amma’s message of Unity in diversity, of Oneness inherent in the apparent duality of the world.

Anandavady

9 Feb 2003,Mananthavady

Amma calls it Anandavady, the Blissful Garden. Not without reason. Mananthavady is a town among the hills of the southern tip of the Western Ghats. The ghats are known for their precious forests and beauty. Amma’s Brahmasthanam Temple, built atop one of the hills, is visible from a distance in all directions. The annual three-day program attracts huge crowds from nearby towns and villages. Here, Amma’s children are mainly economically disadvantaged but exceptionally rich at heart. Most of them are workers on tea- and coffee plantations, some of them have small holdings themselves. Living in proximity to nature probably has made them sweetly receptive to spiritual satsangs. I say this because though they are not exposed to spiritual disciplines like the urban people, the people of Mananthavady are exceptionally receptive to Amma’s satsangs.

In Her Anandavady, Amma, the Mother of Bliss, becomes the Mother of the Woods, Vanadevi as well. She is received with fanfare consisting of traditional as well as popular local festivity. In Her Anandavady Amma, as usual, never tires of receiving garlands as offerings of love. In addition to the garlands made of flowers commonly used all over the land—such as rose, jasmine, marigolds, hibiscus, basil leaves—Amma is offered garlands made of any flower that blooms on the slopes or in the valleys, flowers small and big, flowers of all possible shapes and hues and shades! In the jungle I would have passed by them, calling them flowers on the bushy fence. But people here are very artistic; they make colourful garlands out of scented leaves and wild flowers. Just as the bouquet made of different flowers is more beautiful than the one made of a single kind, these malas have a beauty of their own.

Worshippers of Devi offer malas made of fifty-four or one hundred and eight lemons. It is not unfamiliar to Amma’s children to see Her accepting such a mala just as She does a flower garland, unmindful of its weight. Here in Mananthavady, the farmers are fond of making malas out of their agricultural produce: malas of cardamom, of cloves, pepper, coffee seeds. Oh, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see malas of bananas, jackfruits or coconuts!

The silent valleys around here are a home for perennial ponds where white, pink and blue lotuses bloom. They make their way to adorn Amma’s peetham. The thin pure air on which, after sunset, settles fog, fills with the song of bulbuls and other singing birds sitting on treetops. So much of Nature and Her bounty around

Amma make Her verily the fairy—nay,the Devi of the woods. After the three-day festival, Amma and Her train of buses glided down the slopes into the bamboo groves in the plateau. In Her eight-week North Indian Tour, Amma will be covering all the major natural zones of the vast country.

In the hills of northern Kerala

8 Feb 2003,Mananthavady

The first stop of Amma’s 2003 North Indian Tour was in Mananthavady, deep in the rolling tropical hills of Northern Kerala. The ashram itself is perched atop one such hill, with a view opening out into a forested valley, dotted with the lights of homes nestled among the trees. The area is home to the Adivasis, or tribal people of Kerala. In addition to the Amrita Vidyalayam at the Mananthavady ashram, M.A. Math is in the process of establishing 10 schools specifically geared towards these tribal children.

Even though the Adivasis haven’t studied any scriptures or previously learned anything about spirituality, they have tremendous faith in Amma and love for Her. After meeting Amma, whole villages have been transformed, giving up alcohol, improving hygienic standards, resolving differences peacefully. In many cases, these transformations happened quite literally overnight.

About the Adivasis, Amma issued a public statement in October 2001, quoted in The New Indian Express. In part, She said, ” ‘Adivasi’ means the people who have inhabited the land since time immemorial… The Adivasis have a lot of things to remind the present day person who runs after modernism. Haven’t our minds, trapped in modernism, lost the sanctity of the ancient? Though uneducated, the ‘Adivasi makkal’ are rich in simplicity of mind and heart. Is this not a great blessing?”

She also said, “We have lost and are losing many things which we will not be able to retrieve. In this situation, is it not our duty to protect the Adivasis who depend upon land and nature for survival?”

At the 2003 Mananthavady programmes, the Adivasis showed their love and appreciation for Amma by performing traditional tribal dances on the stage while Amma was giving darshan. As they danced with the grace and dignity of the ancient and obvious devotion for Amma, She turned to watch. The dance was also broadcast on TVs situated throughout the ashram, so that all the devotees present could enjoy it. As they prostrated before Amma upon the conclusion of their dance, Amma led the applause which echoed throughout the hall.

Witnessed and appreciated by both the Keralans of modern day and the “Western” devotees—who, in their diverse citizenships ranging from Japanese to French, from Russian to Canadian, could be said to represent the whole world—not to mention the Divine Mother Herself, one can be sure that, at least for now, the Adivasis have not been forgotten.

bhavani-17

What is special about the Bhavani river?

16 Jan 2003, Bhavani River, Tamil Nadu

We left Chennai at 8:30 in the morning heading towards Coimbatore, where this three-week South Indian tour would come to an end. At 1:30 PM our party, consisting of six buses and two smaller vehicles, stopped and waited for Amma to join us for lunch. At three, a message came from Mother asking us not to wait for Her, but to eat and proceed with our journey. Even though Mother was still far behind, it was unusual for Her to make Her children sad by not being with them. But this time, She could afford to do that; She had a special surprise in store. She said she would meet us later, and She did catch up with us around six PM. We had a very nice stop by the road during which She asked and answered questions, and then distributed laddus as dark was settling down. When Mother stood up and walked towards Her vehicle, She said: “Next stop Bhavani!” From the beginning of the tour no one had dared to think about the possibility of stopping by the magical Bhavani river. It would have been too sad for one to expect such a precious event and then have those expectations denied.

 

When we reached Bhavani Village, it was already nine in the evening and the place was busy with pilgrims finishing their poori dinners and moving in groups towards their sleeping places. As each bus arrived, everyone rushed towards the door, jumping off in small groups between parking manoeuvres and running towards Mother, who was already by the banks of Her daughter… the river Bhavani.

Soon every single one of the 400 devotees and disciples were gathered around the Moon… Amma’s beautiful round and shining face. Up in the clear sky was another luminous one —and in its full shape too. But was it just a reflection?

A question addressed to Mother broke the silence: “Can Mother tell us about Her special relationship with the Bhavani river? Often when You are swimming in another river, You will mention this place and say: ‘Bhavani is sad!’. We also know that over the years You have lost many rudrakshas and malas while bathing here. And it seems that You always make it a point to stop here whenever You happen to be nearby.”

What will She answer? everyone wondered while staring at the smiling Moon. Or rather: How much will She say? When Mother said: “Yes, yes…” meaning that She was willing to satisfy the inquisitive hunger of Her children, the old-timers knew that they were in for a special treat. And it was to be…

 

“Amma sees everything as consciousness. Nothing is inert for Her. She converses with rivers, mountains, and trees… Amma’s relationship with this river goes back for so many years. A special intimate relationship has built up over those years.”

Translated by Swamiji, Amma’s words were picked up like pearls by the ears and hearts of all around Her. How much more will She say? To satisfy the desires of all, She continued:

“There are certain places, like this one, towards which Amma has always felt a strong pull. The subtle beings in this place call Amma and yearn to have Her with them. Just like the devotees in Chennai would have been sad if Amma passed through the city without stopping to see them, the subtle beings here would be sad if Amma passed near here without stopping.”

“This is the merging point of three sacred rivers: Bhavani, Cauvery and Amrita.” Which Amrita exactly, one was tempted to ask. But how could anyone dare to interrupt the flow of That River? “This is a sacred place; it is a place of pilgrimage where many devotees and sadhaks have made offerings and done spiritual practices, and it has been visited and blessed by many mahatmas.”

Mother was silent now for a while, as if to allow everyone’s mind and heart to imbibe deeper, like a dry sponge, the rich flow of liquid gems that She had offered…

Mother went on, expounding on the significance of worshipping the Mother: “According to the scriptures, the symbol of the Mother is worshipped in five forms: Bhumata (Mother Earth); Gomata (the Mother Cow); Gangamata (Mother Ganges, representing all rivers); Dehamata (one’s biological mother); and Viswamata (the Universal Mother).” Here, betraying Her true identity, the speaker named Herself last, one’s mind was happy to note …
Giving the examples of Mother Cow and Mother Earth, Mother explained that they are worshipped because, receiving so little, they give humanity so much. A cow eats only grass and fodder, yet gives milk. She mentioned that in some cultures, the cow even gives its own life. About Mother Earth, She said that Mother takes nothing from humanity, and yet provides everything, no matter how much humanity may abuse Her.

 

Another question was put to Mother: “Amma, You just said that You actually communicate with subtle beings. Can you please tell us what they say to you?” Would She just answer by laughing or say still more? We waited eagerly….

Amma replied: “How can one be asked to reveal the content of one’s private conversations with others? What Amma can say is that subtle beings are just like living beings. They have their own happiness and sorrow. They seek peace, eternal happiness, knowledge and yearn for liberation.”

Silence prevailed again. It was as if us mortals wanted to allow our brothers and sisters the subtler ones to enjoy too, some exclusive times with Amma. Yes, they were happy too, enjoying the Moon’s magical light as much as we did. Was the other moon, up there, a bit jealous? Maybe it’s to please it now that Amma started to sing softly…

Bhavani the river, subtle beings seeking peace, the other moon up there and us mortals have one same Mother… That night, She brought happiness and magic to the hearts of all. Can a Mother neglect any of Her children?

– Sakshi

Geneva comes to Chennai

16 January 2003,Chennai

Throughout the four days of programmes in Chennai, Amma’s devotees there had been asking Her if they could see the video of Her speech in Geneva in the original Malayalam. Now it is the end of the last program in Chennai: five a.m. and darshan is over; people crowd near and onto the stage to bid Amma farewell for another year.

But Amma is not quite ready to leave: She stands, calls for a television and VCR, and the videocassette of Her Geneva speech, “The Awakening of Universal Motherhood”.

For the next thirty minutes, a stalwart young man balances a TV on his head so that Mother and all gathered on the stage can see it, and Geneva comes to Chennai.

Last October, when Mother first delivered this remarkable speech at the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, Her words were received with eagerness and enthusiasm by people from all parts of the world. They are not words applicable only to India; they call out to the hearts of women and men everywhere who yearn for a world in which all people are valued equally, and supported in their efforts to be the best they can be for the world—irrespective of gender.

More than half of the world’s population are 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.

And on this night, too, Her words were being cherished. Men and women alike listened enthusiastically as their Guru called upon women to awaken to their true potential, and upon men to not oppose but rather to support women as they move forward, gracing the world with their special gifts of patience, compassion and love.

Women are the power and the very foundation of our existence in the world. It is therefore crucial that women everywhere make every effort to rediscover their fundamental nature, for only then can we save this world.

In Geneva, while Mother spoke, people’s faces showed their responses: some were smiling, some were deeply reflecting, some were crying; it was the same in Chennai. See how the women were feeling:

And how about Mother? Sometimes there was a gaze of deep concentration; sometimes, Her face grew soft with Her unwavering compassion; sometimes, She showed the apologetic laughter of a mother who thinks she may have said something some child doesn’t like!

Amma stood throughout the showing of the video. At one point, someone asked Amma if She would like to sit. Amma replied, “No, it’s like the end of Devi Bhava.” Another devotee replied, “But Amma, you are not throwing flowers.” To which Amma replied, “I threw water.” (After feeding a baby and rinsing Her hand at the end of darshan, She had thrown drops of water onto a crowd of delighted devotees.)

As all listened to Her speech, Mother made comments—imagine this blessing of hearing a live commentary on the scriptures by their own Author!

Perhaps it was when She spoke of the shakti of women that Amma playfully demonstrated Her right arm muscle—made powerful through millions of repetitions of the motion of drawing a child close in Her motherly hug:

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.

The world is listening, more and more, to Amma’s voice. In Chennai, when the video had ended and at last the final program truly WAS over, it was a man’s voice that spontaneously led Her children in expressing their approval of the Mother and Guru they were feeling so proud of:

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Ki Jai!

Devotion & Discipline

12 Jan 2003,en route to Chennai

“Upanishad” means literally “to sit at the feet of” When one imagines the dialogues in the Upanishads, one can almost see the disciples seated humbly at the feet of the Master, gathered under a gigantic tree in full bloom. Such was the scene two days ago when, en route to Madras, Amma and Her entourage stopped by the side of the road under just such a flowering tree.

Amma served lunch to one and all before speaking about several spiritual topics. The following is excerpted from Her comments.

Though no questions were put to Her by the disciples, Amma, being not only our Master but our Mother, Herself asked a question. “What is real devotion?”

Amma’s children proposed various answers, including one Western devotee who humorously suggested, “When I look around, I feel that devotion is pure craziness.”

Amma answered thus:

“To love God, we need to develop the innocent heart of a child. This requires patience, enthusiasm, and optimistic faith. If you give a child a piece of charcoal and tell them it is gold, they will not hesitate to believe you. Even if a child becomes angry, he or she will immediately forgive and forget. One should try to cultivate the child’s attitude of living in the present, without accumulating the past or brooding about the future…

“All of you children sat down around Amma not caring about the sticks and stones and thorns on the ground. Though some of you may have fought for a seat close to Amma, you forget your differences quickly. This is an aspect of devotion that you should try to maintain at all times.”

About the do’s and don’ts of spiritual life, Amma referred to the tree that all were sitting under. “When this tree was a small plant, it could have been devoured by any passing animal. Now, it is so strong that you could even tie an elephant to it. It is only because this plant was protected as a sapling that it could grow to become the tree it is today. Similarly, we are beginners on the spiritual path. Therefore we need to follow the rules and regulations for our own protection.

“Some may ask if all these rules restrict our freedom. But real freedom needs maturity and discrimination. We should remember that while we have our desires, others also have their own. Our freedom should not impinge on another’s freedom. Imagine if a train which has been running on its tracks for so many years suddenly says, ‘Today, I want to be free. I don’t feel like running on the tracks anymore.’ This would cause a derailment, which would put an end to so many lives.”

Housing colony in Rameswaram

10 January 2003, Rameswaram

Amma’s programme at this legendary island off the eastern coast of India is being held at Her newly constructed housing colony here. Part of Amma’s Amrita Kuteeram project, keys to 108 new homes, were given to homeless families this evening in a special ceremony. Sri Vidya Sagar Rao, The Honourable Minister of State for Home Affairs, was on hand to give an inaugural address and to share with Amma in the presentation of the keys. In his speech, he noted that while 45 billion rupees of foreign fund comes through his office for various religious organisations charitable projects in India, Amma’s institution is the only one to ensure that the money reaches the lowest strata of the society completely.

Mata Amritanandamayi Math takes the credit for utilizing their foreign funds for the sake of the poor to the fullest effect.

The housing colony, Amritapuram, has a beautiful view of a Shiva temple said to have been consecrated by Sri Rama. In fact, Rameshwaram is home to many artifacts from Sri Rama’s life according the great epic Valmiki Ramayana, including the hill from which he surveyed Lanka before rescuing his beloved Sita from the rakshasa (demon) Ravana.

“Amma’s institution is the only one to ensure that the money reaches the lowest strata of the society completely.”

It is said that in order to reach Lanka, Sri Hanuman (a monkey, and the greatest devotee of Sri Rama) led a group of monkeys in carrying large stones into the sea to form a bridge across the water. Many of these stones can still be seen extending into the sea.

Today, the programme site bustled with activity as ashramites, visitors, and local volunteers all pitched in to put the finishing touches on the village, begun less than sixty days ago. They formed long chains to pass stones into a small pond that had filled in a construction ditch, recalling the devotion and vigour of Sri Rama’s monkeys as they built the bridge to Lanka.

Earlier this year, Amma’s initial goal of building 25,000 houses was surpassed. Her new goal for Amrita Kuteeram is to build and freely distribute 100,000 homes for the homeless over the next ten years. As an extension of Amma’s Amrita Nidhi project, 500 new pensions were also given this evening to destitute women in the impoverished Rameshwaram. Sri Pon Radhakrishnan, India’s Minister for Sports and Youth was on hand for the presentation.

Amma gave darshan to 12,000 people before the night was over.

What is she doing after darshan?

8 Jan 2003,Sivakasi

Do you ever wonder what Amma does after finishing darshan? In Sivakasi, after finishing darshan, Amma headed straight for Anbu Illam, Her care home for the elderly located there. She reached the place at 4.30. Even at that late hour, She took time to greet the residents who had been eagerly awaiting Her arrival.

They were all dressed in their finest clothes, as they were hoping for a group portrait with Amma. It must have been a blissful moment for the residents, who have come to Anbu Illam because they have no one at home to care for them, or because they have been neglected by their relatives, or simply out of their love and devotion for Amma and their desire to live out their golden years in a spiritual atmosphere.

But even after Amma met personally with each of the home’s residents, She did not see fit to retire to Her room. Her sari still stained from giving darshan to 10,000 people that night, She began visiting the resident’s rooms, tidying up here and there. Overall the rooms were well-kept, but Amma found one room that was not very clean. She scolded the man who is in charge of cleaning the resident’s rooms, saying that the residents have no one to look after them, and to look after them is service to God.

Amma then took up a broom, bucket, scrub brush and other cleaning supplies and spent nearly an hour showing the man exactly how the work should be done—brushing cobwebs out of the corners, dusting, mopping the floor, cleaning each bar on the safety screen over the windows, scrubbing clean the track in which the window slides. In the process, Amma cleaned this resident’s room until it shone with the love and care She had lavished upon it.

What does Amma do after giving darshan? Without taking even a moment’s rest, She goes on giving: loving, serving, teaching—always by example—working tirelessly for the upliftment of the whole world.

Only after travelling for several hours, stopping to serve lunch to Her children, giving satsang, singing bhajans, giving darshan to 10,000 people, attending to even the smallest details of the tour’s logistics, visiting Her care home and finally cleaning it, did Amma go to Her room. Except that by then, it was already morning, and another day had begun.

She is still smiling

8 Jan 2003,Sivakasi

Last night in Sivakasi, on Her way to the stage, Amma made Her way through the crowd with a brilliant smile; Her pure white sari shining just as brightly.

When She left the stage over nine hours later, the shoulder of her sari was stained a dark rust-red—the residue of Her children’s tears, bindis, make-up—left by the thousands of Her children who had spent a moment in Her arms. But while Her sari was stained, Her smile was still shining as brightly as it had so many hours before, when She first stepped from the car.

This is of course not limited to last night in Sivakasi; it is true whether Amma sits for six hours or twenty hours, whether She is Delhi or Dallas, Paris or Tokyo. And this is one of the things that anyone who watches Amma give darshan will surely notice: Her smile never leaves Her for long. She may shed tears, feeling the anguish of Her children as She listens to their sorrows.

Or Her face may take on a serious cast as She listens to a devotee explaining His or Her problems, and advises them on the best way to proceed. But Her smile will always return.

Even in the midst of scolding a brahmachari who failed to carry out his or her duty responsibly, or discussing spiritual topics or important details regarding the management of Her charitable activities, a smile will frequently steal across Her face. Even when She is being pushed and pulled from every direction as She makes Her way through throngs of devotees, one can see Her eyes lit by a genuine smile. Watching this, one feels that Her smile—the most obvious symbol of Her love, Her knowledge, and the bliss which is Her permanent home—is the substratum of all Her other moods.

“Love is the face of God. The smile that blossoms on an innocent face is the most beautiful thing in the world.” — Amma