The mystery of death: Why is it a secret?

21 December 2005 — auto-parts factory and repair facility, just off NH45, Pondicherry

About halfway to Chennai from Nagapattinam, one of the vehicles in Amma’s caravan began showing signs of engine trouble. It was also past time for lunch. So when the caravan passed by a large auto-parts factory and engine-repair facility, Amma instructed everyone to pull over and inquire if the group could have its lunch there.

To everyone’s surprise, the factory was owned by one of Amma’s devotees who had actually come for Amma’s darshan the night before in Nagapattinam. During his darshan he had asked Amma to come visit his home on her way to Chennai. However, Amma had told him that such a visit was impossible, as there was no time.

You can imagine the surprise of the devotee when his employees called him and told him that Amma had suddenly appeared at his place of business! He immediately gathered his wife and two daughters, and 10 minutes later they were all sitting at Amma’s feet with the rest of Amma’s disciples and devotees.

After giving everyone prasad in the form of curd rice and curry, one of Amma’s brahmacharinis began to tell a story. It was the lead-in tale of  Kathopanishad, the Vedic teaching delivered by Yama Dharmaraja, the Lord of Death, to a young Brahmin boy.

Almost verse by verse, the brahmacharini related the story of how Nachiketas came to leave the earthly plane and visit Lord Death in his abode. She explained how, in fact, when the boy reached there, Death was not home and how Nachiketas had to wait three days for him to return. For each day he was forced to wait, Death granted Nachiketas a boon.

For his first boon, Nachiketas asked that his father accept him upon his return to the earthly plane. For his second boon, he asked Yama to teach him a fire ritual that when correctly performed would take one to heaven. And for his third boon, he said, “What happens after death? Is there a soul surviving death, or is it total annihilation?”

Death told him, “Please, I will give you anything you desire: heavenly damsels, gold, sons, cattle. Ask me anything but this.”

To which Nachiketas responded, “Keep your damsels and long life, all I want to know is this secret.”

Finally, impressed by the Nachiketas dispassion, Death began imparting his precious secret.

But at this point, the brahmacharini stopped the story, saying that she could not proceed further as, like Lord Death had said, the knowledge was a secret.

This is where Amma came in.

Amma said that the Vedantic teachings regarding the ultimate reality are not given out to just anyone. Only upon being convinced of the mental maturity of the student will the Guru begin to undertake such a teaching. If Vedanta is taught to one who is not mature enough, it will be wasted or could even result in harm.

In order to illustrate this point, Amma told two stories.

The first one involved a disciple who’d recently been taught that everything in creation in truth is nothing other than Brahman, the pure eternal unlimited consciousness that pervades all of creation. Elated with his new knowledge, the disciple walked around continually reminding himself that everything he saw was Brahman. In the midst of his revelry, he heard someone shout, “Everyone run! A mad dog is coming!” However, the disciple did not react. “If everything is Brahman, then this dog too is Brahman only,” he told himself. “What is the point of getting out of the way?” No sooner had he finished his thought than the mad dog appeared on the scene. It promptly ran up to the disciple and bit him. Later, the Guru stood at the disciple’s side, tending to his wounds. “When everyone was telling you a mad dog was coming, why didn’t you run?” the Guru asked. The disciple told him his reasoning. The Guru quickly rebuffed him: “If you could see the mad dog as Brahman, why didn’t you see the person who was telling you to run as Brahman also?”

Amma then told everyone that the scriptures say there are three types of disciples: the uttama adhikari, the madhya adhikari and the adhama adhikari the top, the middle and the lowest.

Amma’s second story went like this: Once upon a time, there was a great Vedantic scholar whose prized possession was a parrot that he’d taught to chant all of the Vedas. One day while walking through the forest, this scholar was attacked by a ferocious lion. At the last possible second before the lion fell upon the scholar, a forest-dwelling hunter suddenly appeared and shot the lion dead. The scholar told the hunter that he now owed him his very life and as such he wanted to give him something—his prized parrot.

The hunter and the scholar then parted. But it wasn’t long before the scholar began lamenting having given his parrot away. It was such a rare and valuable possession. He simply could not stop thinking about the parrot and wondering how it was faring with its new owner.

After a few months, the scholar again was walking through the forest. There, he once again happened to cross paths with the hunter. He was elated. “How is my parrot?” he asked, hoping to get him back. The hunter just smiled and rubbed his belly: “Oh, he made an excellent meal!”

Amma said that if Vedanta is taught to someone who is not mature enough to understand, he will only use the knowledge as to his level of understanding.

“A mother gives breast milk to her baby, not meat,” Amma said. “Similarly, such knowledge should be imparted only to those who are mature enough to receive it.

Amma also said that in today’s world many people go around repeating, “I am Brahman, I am Brahman,’ but they have no such experience. Amma compared such foolishness to licking the word “honey” written on a piece of paper and expecting to get sweetness from it. Similarly, she said, “A picture of a cow won’t eat any grass or give us any milk.”

In today’s world, it is common to come across people who misinterpret Vedanta and—consciously or subconsciously—twist the philosophy in order to fulfill their selfish desires. Instead of acting according to the principles of the philosophy, they use the philosophy to justify their actions. As Amma often says, we should not leave Vedanta confined to the pages of books. We need to live Vedanta, letting the philosophy shine forth in all of our actions.


Would a mother trick her children?

16 December 2005 — Amritapuri

Devi is the Goddess, the Divine Mother of the Universe. But in puranas, hymns and other devotional works she is also spoken of as maya, the illusory power. For example in the Lalita Sahasranama, the 716th mantra is Om mayayai namah.1 On the one hand we are presented with Devi the Divine Mother, full of love and compassion, ever ready to wipe our tears and come to the rescue of her children. And on the other, she is the symbol of maya, through which mankind is all but helplessly ensnared.

It is only natural for this to bring some confusion, and so it did to a young Israeli woman living Amritapuri: “Amma, will you please explain to me the concept of Devi as maya, or delusion? If Devi is maya, and maya is illusion, why do we worship her? Why would Devi cast illusion upon mankind? Doesn’t she want us to know the real truth behind the universe?”

Amma said, “In the Lalita Sahasranama, the first mantra itself is Om sri matre namah2. Devi is the Mother of the Universe, and as such she is very attached to her children. Would such a mother ever create illusion to delude her children?”

Amma then explained that when we call something maya, it does not mean that it does not exist. It means that it is changing. “If today you depend upon things that change, you will have sorrow tomorrow,” Amma said. “Today’s criminal may become tomorrow’s saint. Today’s good friend may become tomorrow’s foe. Our mind is also changing. We may like someone today, dislike him tomorrow. This is the nature of the mind.”

To explain just how quickly the mind tends to fluctuate, Amma narrated a story about Karna, the mighty Kaurava warrior of the Mahabharata. Karna was famous for his charitable nature. He was known throughout the land for his willingness to help anyone who came to him in need. One day a poor man came to his chamber and asked him for some money. Karna immediately reached out with his left hand, grabbed some nearby gold coins and handed them to the man. After the man had left, someone questioned Karna as to why he had used his left hand to give the coins3. Karna responded, “I did it on purpose because I know very well that change is the mind’s very nature. It is even possible that in the time it would have taken me to switch the coins from my left hand to my right that my mind could have changed and I would have decided to not give him any money.”

“In one second the mind may change,” Amma said. “The mind is the foundation for all this maya. The body is ever changing; the mind is ever changing. If you hold on to them and the objects of this world as your sources of support, it will only lead to sorrow. Only hold on to the eternal.”

“The cow eats the grass. It then becomes milk and manure. The manure then becomes food for plants. Similarly, everything in this universe is constantly changing.”

Amma then explained how when we spend our life in pursuit of transient objects, the only result is our utter exhaustion. “Such a life becomes like trying to win the 100-meter dash with a huge weight hanging around the neck.”

“As we are deluded by the world, we are not able to experience bliss,” Amma said. “In deep-sleep, we experience bliss. It is only because of that peace that a person is able to run around and be normal the next day. If he doesn’t get it, he will simply go insane.”

Amma explained how we are able to experience this bliss in deep sleep only because during that time the mind has gone into a dormant state. In deep sleep there is no division and no sense of limitation; everything has resolved into seed form. Amma added that only when the duality imposed by the mind is transcended is one able to experience the bliss of the unlimited Self. Amma explained how when one finally transcends the limitations of the mind and realizes the inherent oneness of all creation, they will never again experience anger or hatred. They will only know peace, love and happiness.

To illustrate, Amma offered the example of two children playing with dolls. Eventually the children begin to fight, each one wanting a certain doll for itself. No matter how much the parents try, they are unable to prevent the children from fighting over the dolls. But eventually the children become tired and fall asleep. When they succumb to sleep, the dolls they are holding fall from their grasp, and they sleep side-by-side without any problem.

“The mind is the creator of maya and the creator of the world,” Amma said.

“People refer to nature as ‘Mother Nature,'” Amma said. “This is because we cannot live without water, and we cannot live without trees because they give us oxygen. Not only that, the roots of trees purify the water. Our biological mother keeps us on her lap for only a couple of years, but Mother Nature keeps us on her lap for our entire life.”

Amma then went on to explain the panca-matas [five mothers] as indicated in the scriptures: Bhu Mata [Mother Earth], Desha Mata [Mother Land], Go Mata [Mother Cow], Deha Mata, [biological mother] and Veda Mata [Mother Knowledge]. “The Earth is the Mother,” Amma said. “So is the cow; she gives 10 times more than she takes. The tree gives 100 times more. Even if you say the body is mithya [of a transient nature], only if there is body can one realize the Self; thus, we also worship the biological mother. If you have awareness, purity of mind and intellect, the body will benefit you. Desha Mata, one’s motherland, is there also. And then Veda Mata–regardless of how much wealth you have, if you are devoid of knowledge, you will not be happy. We are dependent on all these.

“Devi is not maya. Actually she gives 100 times back what you give her.”

Amma then went on to speak from the highest standpoint, wherein all duality, along with all such dual concepts as “mother and child,” “Guru and disciple,” and “knower and known” are proven to not even exist and only the birthless, deathless, blissful non-dual consciousness remains: “If you say that, ‘Everything is maya,’ then the Divine Mother also is maya. But maya is our creation. Happiness and sorrow are our creation. Maya is our mind. Maya really means ‘that which is not.'” Amma then reiterated that in fact Devi is no different from Brahman: “Devi is the Truth behind the creation.”

“When the baby cries due to hunger, we put pacifier in its mouth and then it will keep quiet. This is what we are doing. Don’t depend on the pacifier. It won’t appease your hunger. The pacifier principle is maya. See the rope as a rope. If you see it as a snake, you will be afraid4. If you understand the scriptures, you can move about freely without any fear.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1 “Om. I prostrate to she who is maya.”

2 “Om. I prostrate to she who is the auspicious mother.”

3 In India, one only uses the right hand when giving gifts.

4 In the Vedantic example of the snake and the rope, a man in the semi-dark mistakes a rope on the ground for a snake. It is only because of his ignorance of the rope’s true nature, that the mind is able to project the snake concept onto it. The rope is a symbol of our true nature: the limitless, blissful and non-dual “I.” The snake symbolizes our erroneous concept of being limited and finite. The idea is that it is only due to our ignorance of our true nature that the mind is able to project its concept of being limited and finite upon us.

Helping the students to fully blossom

9 December 2005 — Amritapuri

Amma holds discussions with U.S. professors

When the professors from the United States took their seats, the first thing Amma asked them was if they were tired. Indeed, they had been on a whirlwind schedule: first to Delhi where they signed the MoU regarding the Indo-US e-Learning initiative, then to the Coimbatore campus of Amrita University where they participated in the initiative’s launch with the President of India  and then to Amritapuri for an audience with Amma. After a few hours, most of them would again be on a plane ride back to their respective U.S. cities.

Eleven professors out of the 20 who are participating in the e-Learning initiative made the trip to Amritapuri. They were from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, the University of the California at San Diego, the University of North Dakota, the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Purdue University.

Once everyone was settled, it was Amma who began asking the questions. “What are your expectations for this project?” Amma asked. “In what way should students start developing? What are the areas in which you think we are lacking?” Amma told the professors that, as they were now familiar with higher education in both the U.S. and in India, they were in a unique position to help India fine-tune its institutions.

“All of us have the capacity to contribute to society,” Amma then told the professors. “All of you have tremendous intellectual capacities. In India there are a lot of people with talent, but because they don’t receive the proper opportunities, these talents are never able to really blossom. If they were to have access to the right opportunities, surely their talents would blossom and they would really benefit the world. This is the case not only in India, but also in villages in places like Africa and Bangladesh. Amma doesn’t want to change the villages into cities, but if these people get the necessary help, they can become more creative, and that creativity can be used to help the world.”

Dr. Anderson Smith, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies & Academic Affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology, commented that he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm he saw in the students during his visit. “If I could just take some of the enthusiasm for learning that I saw in the students who were asking the president questions and bottle that up and bring it back to my students in the United States, I think we would see that a lot of them would want to come to India also.”

Amma agreed and added, “However, there is not much freedom here. Students are like pictures restricted to their frames. So they are not able to express their talents. Especially in the field of research, if we can give them the right working environment, they can accomplish so much. But India has been lagging in that.”

Amma then cited the example of an Indian Noble Prize winner who said that in India, his talents were only appreciated after he went to the West and won the prize. Before then, he had been unable to attract any funding or recognition. Amma said, “I am not blaming the government, but the system has to change so that the children can express their talents and creativity.”

Dr. Santosh Kumar Seelan, an Indian-born professor teaching at the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota, agreed with Amma. “I think Einstein said it best. He said, ‘I think it is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.’ The one statistic which is very glaring is that for the last 105 years, approximately 315 Noble Prizes have been handed out, but India’s share is only maybe a handful. This points to the fact that we are educating within the framework very well but we are not properly kindling curiosity and creativity in our youth. In this obsession to offer good formal education, we seem to be paying a price that may be to high.”

“It’s not only in the field of science,” Amma responded. “It is in sports and the arts as well. People feel a lot of suppression here. They feel they are not able to do all that they really can.”

To further illustrate, Amma told the professors about Dr. L. Ganeshan, who is currently serving at the Cancer Institute at AIMS, the Ashram’s charitable hospital in Cochin. Amma said that Dr. Ganeshan had always wanted to do research in India, but because he found that the proper research opportunities were unavailable to him here, he ended up working at Oxford. When he later discovered that AIMS provided such opportunities, he left his position at Oxford and immediately returned to his motherland.

Dr. Greg Weisenstein, the Vice President and Provost of the University of North Dakota, sought Amma’s wisdom regarding ways to establish and maintain ethics in society. “We have tremendous concern with respect to the development of a society where people care about people and the environment in which they live,” he said. “What’s the role of our leaders, our educational system and our families in developing ethics with children and across our society? How can we do a better job of developing a highly ethical society?”

Amma told him that before any leaders could hope to awaken ethics in society, they would first have to awaken these ethics in themselves. “It is easy to wake up someone who is sleeping, but impossible to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep,” Amma said. “Only when they awaken themselves can they awaken others. Love and peace are the real foundation. Educators have to focus on how to develop these qualities in our children. If we really reflect on the situation today, we will see that in a family of three, each lives like an isolated island. There is no heart-to-heart communication. Thus we lose the awareness that we are really links on the same chain. Our actions have an affect on others. Families and educators have a very important role to play in developing this awareness.”

Amma said that we have to start educating our children in values from a very young age. This can be done by introducing books into our syllabi that teach them the importance of values. “Put it in a way that will interest them,” Amma said, suggesting the use of stories about people who have lived such values in their lives.

“Our education standards have reached the sky, but our values have descended to hell (Patala),” Amma said. “It is like the condition of an airplane that has gone beyond the earth’s gravitational pull and has become lost in space. Similarly, we have lost touch with our values and have therefore lost touch with ourselves. These values have to be taught in school itself. In every subject possible, a little emphasis should be given to the education of the heart–not religious studies, but spiritual values.”

Georgia Tech’s Dr. Smith then brought up the issue of religion trying to impose restrictions on science. “My own opinion is that science in the United States is under the greatest attack that it’s ever faced, and it comes from religion,” he said. “This debate has nothing to do with values or ethics in the science classroom, but with respect to a particular brand of religious dogma that some want to have placed in the classroom, and I would just like to hear your comments on this.”

Amma said that the people attacking science were blindly following their religions. “They are not applying their religion in a practical way. Don’t teach religion in the classroom. Teach the essence of religion–spirituality. Religion is like the finger pointing at the fruit, saying that if you eat that fruit you will become immortal. But instead of going for the fruit, we are holding onto the finger and we miss spirituality, which is the essence. Spirituality means values. If we teach spirituality there won’t be a problem.”

In defence of certain types of scientific research that some religious institutions are trying to prohibit, Amma gave the example of how when someone undergoes chemo- or radiotherapy, many good cells die along with the cancerous ones. Amma also said that there are diseases today that are killing more people than wars. Therefore certain kinds of experiments are beneficial and should be allowed to continue because they benefit humanity by saving many lives. “Amma feels the people attacking science are not really understanding the import of the scriptures.”

Soon, it was time for the professors to depart for their flights back to the United States. But before they left, they each came for Amma’s darshan. A few even asked her to sign books of her teachings which they had received.

The overall feeling was one of great enthusiasm for the e-Learning collaboration. The U.S. professors will begin lecturing from Amrita University in early 2006; their classes will be transmitted via ISRO’s EduSat satellite, creating virtual classrooms in hundreds of universities across India.

After the meeting, Dr. Rosalyn Pertzborn, the Director of the Office of Space Science Education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said that Amma had confirmed many of her feelings regarding education. “This gathering has been a confirmation of values which I have strongly felt, but had not been comfortable expressing back home,” she said. “Now, after coming here, I feel I have the confidence to express these opinions, and I am looking forward to coming back to India to teach under this project.”


For 6000 euros, could you hatch an egg?

5 December 2005 – Amritapuri

“If someone were to say to you, ‘I will give you 6,000 euros if you can hatch this egg for me right now,’ would you be able to do it?” Amma asked. “Or what if they were to give you a flower bud and then tell you that they will give you such and such amount of money if you could make it blossom?”

Amma was making the point that Self-realization cannot be given; it has to come from a gradual blossoming of the heart due to effort on the part of the seeker and Guru’s grace. It cannot be forced.

“When we first started teaching IAM Meditation some people suggested that we should charge for it, because in today’s world only when you charge do people feel that they are getting something of value,” Amma said. “If you give something for free, people don’t have that feeling. But charging would be like adding water to milk. When someone sells milk, they often add water in order to make more profit. If the business aspect enters into it, it becomes diluted. When a mother breastfeeds her child, she does so only out of her love. In this way, Amma didn’t want to charge anything for IAM Meditation.”

Amma went on to explain how in some places people are charging 2000 dollars for a mantra or 6000 euros for “realization.”

“If you take an unripe fruit and press it and hit it, it will start to appear soft and ripe, but still when you eat it, it won’t be sweet,” Amma explained. “The man at the fruit-stand may benefit from it when he gets the money, but the person who buys it doesn’t get anything of value.”

Amma went on to say that in India the tradition exists where one offers something when they meet a Mahatma or a Guru, but that it should spring forth from the reverence in their heart. Amma then gave the example of how in the Upanishads it says that one should make offerings of samit, the special types of woods needed for fueling sacrificial fires. Samit is symbolic of our attachments and shows our desire for the Guru to help us go beyond these and become free.

This was one point among many that Amma was making in order to illustrate just how necessary it is for us to understand not only the essence of spirituality, but the logic behind it, as well as the manifold facets of our tradition. People who truly understand the role meditation plays in spiritual life, the concept behind offerings, and the nature of Self-realization, can never be misled by such conman and spiritual entrepreneurs.

But, alas, Amma lamented, “Ninety-eight percent of people don’t understand the principles of Sanatana Dharma.”

Other traditional practices that Amma shed light upon included why we light oil lamps before the deity in temples, why we light firecrackers during festivals, the value of Prasad, and the benefits of chanting the Vedas.

Amma also went into detail regarding the symbolism behind the forms of various Hindu gods, specifically God in the form of the elephant, Lord Ganesha, and God in the form of the monkey, Hanuman.

“These particular forms of worship arose out of the sankalpa of the Rishis,” Amma said. “So there is a particular meaning behind each and every one. If you understand Hanuman’s reverence for Sri Rama–his attitude of surrender, love and friendship–then you understand the principle that a person who cultivates these bhavas can become God. Also, just as a normal monkey jumps from one branch to another, our mind jumps over continents, even up into outer space. It can go from here to the moon in just one second.” Amma’s point was that, just like Hanuman, a human being who properly tames and trains his or her mind can come to realize their oneness with God.

Amma then explained some of the symbolism behind the form of Lord Ganesha. “The elephant’s trunk can pick up the smallest of things,” Amma said. “Like when Amma gives Ram or Lakshmi [the two Ashram elephants] a biscuit and they drop a small piece, the trunk can reach down and pick up even that. At the same time, it can also lift the heaviest of logs.”

Amma explained that this is symbolic of the need of a spiritual aspirant to cultivate an intellect capable of understanding both the gross and the subtle. Amma also said that the fact that Ganesha’s ears are wide open represents sraddha [attentive awareness] and receptivity.

“There are many deep hidden principals within these forms,” Amma said. “If we don’t understand these things, we will easily lose faith.”

Amma told every one how a human fetus goes through a stage where it looks like a monkey, and that evolution theory says that human beings have evolved from the monkey. “In the past 2000 years no one has seen a monkey turn into a human being, yet still we believe this. We cannot accept the scriptures which say that by worshipping a monkey-god you can actually become God.”

In response to such skepticism, Amma told everyone about something she had come across during her 2004 European Tour.

“In Ireland, Amma was at a devotee’s house, and there were all these paintings there. When I looked at them, they seemed very obscure. It looked like someone had just slapped some colours up with a broom. There were random points here and there. When I asked Lakshmi [Amma’s attendant], she explained to me that this black spot means this, and this line means that… Nobody would say that the painter is an idiot. In fact, those who recognize their artistry are respected as great intellectuals. Nobody asks questions like, ‘When so many poor people are starving, how can you spend so much on these paintings?’ The pictures were worth 200,000 or half-a-million or even one million dollars. They were so expensive that they had to have security cameras and personnel there to protect them. So if you can understand the obscure symbolism behind the complicated paintings, then why can’t you understand the symbolism behind Ganesha and Hanuman?


Time freezes in the snow with Amma

1 December 2005 — Kirchbrombach, Odenwald, Germany

After two months of touring Europe and America, Amma was finally on her way back to Amritapuri. But as Amma’s return trip home included a one-night stop in Germany, she was able to stop at the same horse ranch in Odenwald that she had visited two months earlier . The horse ranch is owned by Amma’s devotees and has been regularly used to house Ashram retreats.

The morning after her arrival, Amma emerged from her room just before dawn. The air was -5 degrees Celsius, and everything was covered with snow. Despite the weather, Amma said she wanted to see the horses, just as she had done on her previous visit to the ranch in October.

The devotees then led Amma to the stables where she proceeded to visit each and every horse, offering them prasad of carrots and bread. As Amma went from stable to stable, one of Amma’s devotees from France noticed that there was an empty stable up ahead. Quickly formulating his plan, he secretly went ahead and closed himself inside the stall. When Amma reached that stable, she was surprised to see not a horse but one of her human children instead. Everyone had a good laugh and Amma fed the devotee the same prasad she was giving the horses.

When the laughter died down, Amma asked all of those around her to observe the discipline of the horses. “See how obedient they are in front of their trainer,” Amma said. “A true disciple should have a similar attitude and obedience and always follow the Guru’s advice.”

When Amma was finished feeding all the horses, she came outside to find two white horses waiting for her in the corral. The scene was magical: the white horses walking through the white snow and Amma in her white sari moving forward to caress them.

In between feeding the horses, Amma picked up handfuls of snow and playfully examined it in her hands.

Just like everything else, time seemed to have frozen. But eventually the pale winter sun began to rise on the horizon. It was time to go the rest of the way back home to India.


It is a pleasure to honour Amma

26 November 2005, Michigan

At the beginning of the evening program, Michigan State Senator Gilda Jacobs honoured Amma with a citation that was read aloud: “Let it be known, that it is a pleasure, indeed, to honour Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known worldwide as Amma, for her service and dedication to humanity.

Presenting the honour, she continued reading, “For one week in November of 2005, Michigan will have the distinct privilege of adopting Amma as one of its own. Thousands of people will flock to Ann Arbor to meet and spend time with this tireless advocate of peace, unity and understanding.

“Amma’s community efforts have impacted the lives of millions of people. Her sacrifice and service have opened the hearts and calmed the minds, inspiring others to serve selflessly in their communities,” Ms. Jacobs quoted from the citation.

“In 2003, the Boston Globe said this of Amma: ‘A Hindu, she does not attempt to convert people of other religions. There are Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists in her crowds. If she has a dogma, it is simple: Love and serve one another.'”

Ms Jacobs further read, “Indeed, Amma’s contributions to charity seem to be without limit. In Michigan, she has been involved in Mother’s Kitchen, providing meals to the homeless; Circle of Love, a network providing assistance to the sick and disabled; Arbor Hospice; Freedom House; Habitat for Humanity and more.”

Upon finishing, Ms. Jacobs said, “In special tribute, therefore, this document is signed and dedicated to offer praise and appreciation to Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. May she know of our highest esteem for her contributions to a better world.” The citation was signed by the Governor of Michigan, Ms. Jennifer Granholm.


Come to know who you really are

16 November 2005 — Dublin International Airport, Ireland

The sun had not yet risen when Amma entered the Dublin Airport, but several of Amma’s devotees from Ireland were there waiting. They wanted to see her once more before her departure for America. The two days Amma had spent giving darshan in Dublin had not been enough. The sadness showed on their faces. In fact, dozens of Amma’s children from throughout Europe had come to see Amma off–some of whom had been traveling with Amma for the past six weeks. The look in their eyes was the same as that in the eyes of Amma’s Irish children: six weeks… it had not been enough.

Amma still had some time before she had to board her flight, so she sat down on one of the chairs in the airport’s waiting area. Her children sat at her feet. One lady from London, sitting directly in front of Amma, could not control her tears. When Amma saw her eyes filling, she pretended to be shocked, perhaps trying to get the lady to smile. For some time, everyone was silent. The feelings were beyond words, so Amma just gazed out at everyone, her reflection shining in each of her children’s eyes.

It was an Irish woman who spoke up. “Now that Amma is going way, what can we, Amma’s children do, to keep feeling close to Amma, to keep Amma in our heart, even when she is physically away from us?”

“Put in efforts to know who you really are,” Amma said. “When we look into a mirror, we do so to try to become someone else. But we need to look into our Self to see who we truly are. If we can come to know who we truly are, then we will always be with Amma.

“In the past there have been many problems in this country. Amma prays that no more come in the future. All of you should try to live in unity. The sun shines down, and its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water. The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun. Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves in all people. It is Amma’s prayer that you all succeed in this.”

The question had been about Amma’s Irish children, but Amma’s answer applied to her children from all over Europe, from all over the world. Only when we realize that our Self and Amma’s Self and the Self of all of humanity are one and the same, we will go beyond all suffering, all sorrow, all repulsion,  and all delusion.


We want to thank you

5 – 7 November 2005 – Barcelona, Spain

On the shores of the Mediterranean, a sea of humanity gathered at the Mar Bella Sports Centre in Barcelona over the past three days.  The crowds were so large that each day the morning darshan lasted until 5pm and then when Amma would return just 2 hours later for the evening programmes, she would again sit until 4 or 5 in the morning.

On the first night of the programmes, Amma was officially welcomed to Spain by the Honourable Indian Ambassador, Smt. Suryakanthi Tripathi.  The ambassador flew in from Madrid, the Spanish capital, for the occasion and was overwhelmed by the crowd that had come to attend Amma’s programme.

After the official welcome by the ambassador, a young American ashramite that used to live in Spain spoke to the more than 5000 people gathered in the hall.  He reminded everyone that 2 years ago Amma made a quick but memorable visit to Barcelona to give the Keynote Address at The Parliament of the World’s Religions which in fact took place just down the beach from the darshan hall.

The ashramite explained that even though Amma was in Barcelona for less than 24 hours to attend the Parliament, she was able to leave such a lasting memory with thousands of people in attendance because of how much she was able to offer her children in such a short time; by not only speaking, but by also giving darshan and serving food to all those in attendance.

Each day because the evening darshan stretched into the wee hours of the morning, several groups of local devotees had the chance to perform for Amma.  Most of them were of the traditional bhajan variety, but there were a few that were quite eclectic.  Devotees shared their unique musical talents, that included ‘throat singing’ and playing such instruments as a nose flute, saw, didgeridoo, etc.  One such group wanted to find a quiet place to warm up before taking the stage to perform for Amma and ended up in the kitchen tent.  What started out as a improvisational tune up, turned into a lively dance party as all the kitchen sevaites started to move their feet and prepare the food to the beat of the music.

On the final morning of Amma’s visit to Barcelona, a delegation of Tibetan Lamas from, ‘Casa del Tibet’ came for darshan. One of them offered these words: “In today’s world in which we are living, we need to have a closer communication between all philosophies and religions.  We have to come together more and unite.  This is what is missing in the modern world…I am hoping and wishing for a long life for Amma and that she continues doing her work to bring about peace and happiness in this world…We want to thank you for all this work you are doing.”



Amma in Toulon 2005

Amma visited Toulon, France from 4-6 November 2005

Bishop Vigile, Brother Martin and Sister Anne came from Monastere St. Michel du Var, an orthodox Christian monastery near Salernes, to have Amma’s darshan. Brother Martin said that he believes Amma is here to restore peace, love and other motherly qualities to mankind.