The heart is not in the sandals

23 August 2005 , Amritapuri

As always on Tuesdays, this week all the ashramites gathered for a day of meditation, followed by an opportunity to ask Amma questions and to receive a plate of prasad directly from her hands.

When everyone had received prasad, a devotee approached Amma, telling her that she had just scolded another lady because she had approached Amma while wearing her sandals. The woman told Amma that she had sternly told the lady that one should never approach the Guru wearing shoes or sandals, but that one should come barefoot and humble. She asked Amma if what she had said was correct, and if she was in the right to have scolded the woman.

Amma’s response was quick: “The heart is not in the sandals.”

As always, Amma’s focus was on the attitude, not the act. It is better to approach the Guru with humility and a pure heart while wearing one’s sandals than to approach barefoot and full of pride.

After Amma’s answer, Amma and those immediately around her broke into laughter. But, as there was no microphone, no one else knew why they were laughing.

Soon, the group around Amma shared the story with the circle of people directly behind them. Of course, they too began to laugh. Then the circle of people directly behind them wanted to know what was so funny, so they also were told. In this way, the laughter gradually spread, like a single slow-moving shockwave, throughout the temple. By the time the story reached the very back of the hall–setting off a final burst of laughter–several minutes had passed. So Amma asked what they were laughing at. When she heard the reason, of course, she fell into laughter once again.

—Sakshi

The dawning of Vedic culture in India

16 August 2005 — Amritapuri

“It is impossible to say exactly when Vedic culture began,” Amma told the devotees and disciples gathered for Tuesday’s meditation and question-and-answer session. “The Vedas are anadi [without beginning]; they were there even before the beginning of the human race. The Vedas are said to be isvara nisvasam–the exhalation of God. We don’t even know who discovered them. To say exactly when the Vedas came into existence is difficult.”

Amma was responding to two questions by a Western devotee regarding the origin of the Vedic culture: When did the Vedas come into existence and where did the culture associated with them come from?

“The time of the Vedas cannot be stated,” Amma continued. “Amma cannot produce any proof for this. It is like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. It is beyond words. When the British were ruling India, they burned all the pramana granthas [validating texts] to ashes. And what they wrote in their place is what is being taught to the children today.”

As to where the Vedic culture took birth, Amma said that it is from India alone and not, as some scholars claim, brought to India by foreigners from over the Himalayan passes.

Amma then lamented the acceptance by many scholars and laymen that the Vedas were written some 5,000 years ago, and that that they and the Indian culture–including the Sanskrit language–were brought to India by nomadic tribes.

“There is no logic in that,” Amma said. “In India, Sanskrit is a spoken language. No other country has been using Sanskrit as a spoken language. Now, it is being taken by other countries and taught there. But it is spoken only in India. If nomads from another country had come to India and introduced the language, it should also have been a spoken language in their country of origin. That is not the case. Sanskrit is India’s. You will not find the knowledge of the Vedas in other countries or languages.”

Amma then recounted a popular legend that is a testament to the Vedic culture’s origin in India. The story has it that Alexander of Macedonia, who invaded India in 326 B.C., was asked by Aristotle, the general’s preceptor, to bring him back a yogi when he returned, as Aristotle wished to study from one. The legend implies that as long as 2,300 years ago, India was renowned as a source of rare and great wisdom.

Amma said that there is a lot of miseducation in Vedic studies due to the way that the Vedas are being taught today. Traditionally, the Vedas and their teachings were taught in a gurukula system, orally passed down through the guru-disciple parampara [lineage]. Now, that tradition is all but lost, and the vast majority of Vedic scholars have gained their knowledge through textbooks in translation, motivated by academic curiosity rather than a thirst for the Truth.

Amma gave a telling example of this miseducation: the interpretation of the Sanskrit word “pashu.” The most common meaning, indeed, is “cow,” but the word also has many other meanings including “ego.” So, in some Vedic rituals it says to sacrifice a “pashu”; although the correct meaning is to end your identification with the limited sense of “I,” in most Western universities it is being taken as to kill a cow.

Many of these mistakes originated with Max Müller, a German philologist and Orientalist who translated the Rg Veda, the major Upanishads and wrote various works on Hindu culture–without once having visited India. As Müller was the first person to translate much of the Vedic literature into English, his texts became the primary source of reference.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that Indians today are accepting these fallacies as fact, Amma said. Even though Mahatmas are correcting these misconceptions and pointing out the real meaning of the scriptural statements, most people are not able to accept what the Mahatmas are saying as the real truth. Instead, they cling to the belief that whatever they were taught in school—from textbooks based on the writings of Müller and other Western scholars—must be correct. Amma said that one of the reasons for this is that as the Indian people were living in slavery under the British for nearly 200 years, they have developed the attitude to accept whatever the West says.

Amma then told a story to illustrate the condition of India: Once a king ate some payasam [sweet rice pudding] and, not wanting his subjects to have any, told all of them that it was bitter. All the subjects, out of respect for the king, did not even taste the payasam, accepting its bitterness as a fact. But there was one smart fellow in the court, and he said, “I like bitter payasam,” and took all of it.

The story is symbolic of how certain forces have been able to trick the majority of people into forfeiting the Vedic culture that is their birthright. However, even so, the truly inquisitive seekers of knowledge have pushed forward anyway, found out the sweetness of India’s spiritual tradition for themselves and embraced it.

But Amma said some of the blame also falls on Indian people themselves; that there were some Indian pundits who sold the knowledge contained in the Vedas to foreigners just to make money, often helping them to misinterpret or pretending to know the meanings when they really did not. This was the beginning of the proliferation of misinformation. “In this way, too many of India’s precious things were lost,” Amma said.

“Westerners are very keen to come and explore and investigate the origin of the knowledge, but Indians are not interested in this,” Amma said, adding that, seeing the knowledge’s value, Westerners take it back to their own countries and patent it, but that the Indians never see its value. Amma then wondered aloud: “All our books have commentaries written by Westerners. Indians haven’t written that much. Why is it like this?”

–KaliCharan

Teaching values: an untraditional way, from children to parents

Today, the father of a child enrolled in Amrita vidyalayam —Mangalore came forward for Amma’s darshan; his eyes were filled with tears. It was difficult for him to hold back his emotions. And as soon as he fell into Amma’s arms, he began to tell her his story.

One day last week, he was invited to his son’s school to take part in a programme that all of Amma’s schools have been participating in for several years now. In order to help instill respect and love in children for their parents, the ashram schools organise mass pujas, wherein the children ceremonially wash their parents feet. The traditional puja is based on the verse in the Taittiriya Upanishad that says, “Matru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Acharya devo bhava, Atithi devo bhava,” [Let you be one who worships mother, father, teachers and guests as God.]

The man looked up into Amma’s eyes. “When my son began to wash my feet, I asked myself, ‘Who am I to be worshipped like this? I am not worthy of such a thing.'” He then told Amma that in all his life he had not once touched his parent’s feet, much less perform padapuja to them.

But then, the man told Amma, when he returned home, he felt so inspired from his child’s actions that the next time he saw his own mother he quickly fell at her feet in reverence for all she had done for him throughout his life.

“When I touched my mother’s feet, she couldn’t believe it,” the man said. “Now, for the first time in 36 years I am respecting and loving my mother. Only when I bowed down to her did I come to know her value. My mother then, with love and affection, blessed me, saying, ‘Whatever bad feelings I may have held towards you are nullified by this.'”

The man then thanked Amma profusely for helping to re-establish traditional values in the coming generation. “Amma, you have taught me the greatness of motherhood. I will be indebted to you always. You are the Maha-Taye—the mother of all.”

—Kannadi
15 August 2005 — Amritapuri

A celebration of true freedom

15 August 2005 — Independence Day at Amritapuri

Celebrating the freedom of India is not cheap sabre-rattling nationalism. As India and Sanatana Dharma cannot be separated, India’s Independence Day is in fact a celebration of the nation’s cultural heritage—a celebration of the countless mahatmas that have taken birth on its soil, of dharma, compassion and the practicing of non-violence, of the ideal of living one’s life as an offering to all of humanity. It is a celebration of the Truth that unifies all of creation, of spirituality itself.

So it was very fitting that at Amritapuri, the 58th anniversary of India’s independence began with a puja to Bharat Mata—Mother India. Performed by students from Amrita University for India’s mahatmas, sacred scriptures, freedom fighters and future, the puja took place in the bhajan hall, using small clay oil lamps to define the geographic boundaries of India. The students then went on to present short plays and classical and modern dances before Amma.

When it was almost midnight, the students offered Amma the Indian flag, which she accepted and, standing up, waved high in the air. Amma waving the flag—with its ochre-coloured stripe representing the ideal of renunciation, its white stripe representing the path to truth, and its green stripe representing life—drew cheers and applause from the thousands of students and devotees who had assembled for the celebration.

When the programmes ended, Amma addressed the students, telling them that she was so happy that they had gone out to plant trees along the coastline and to help with the tsunami rehabilitation construction. “It is this attitude of service that Amma desires from you,” Amma said. “Amma is not able to express her appreciation in words, but she bows down to the selfless attitude in your hearts.”

Amma then spoke about the current situation in India, in Kerala and in the world.

“In our efforts to achieve many great things, we are losing what we had,” Amma said, referring to how modern life is seeing society sacrifice love, family and dharma for its pursuit of materialistic gains. “The values that make our country ‘Bharat’ are wasting away.

“In terms of development, our small state of Kerala is far behind, but in terms of accidents, suicides and rapes, it is number one. In colleges these days, drunkenness and intoxication are the in-thing. Kerala is also in the front in terms of diabetes and heart disease. The ponds, pure water and sacred groves for which Kerala was once famous, today exist only in stories. Many of our art forms are also disappearing. When Swami Vivekananda visited Kerala [1892], he compared it to an insane asylum. He said it because of the extreme segregation practiced here in the name of caste. But now our insanity has two more dimensions—lust and the craze for money.”

Amma then spoke about “freedom” in the modern world, saying how during her 18 years of world tours she has witnessed so many things in the West that are considered taboo in India. For examples, Amma said that in the West people are free to change the colour of their hair to any one they like; they are also free to change their boyfriends or girlfriends every week; they are free to divorce at any time they like; boys are free to marry boys and girls are free to marry girls; men can even become women, and women can even become men. “They have so much freedom,” Amma said, “but they still are not happy.”

“What is freedom?” Amma then asked. “Where do such liberties take us? We have to cultivate freedom within—only then can we make this world beautiful, inside and out. The real freedom is inside.” Amma reminded the young students that the ability to retain our equanimity of mind in all circumstances is what is needed to be successful in life.

Amma continued: “On Independence Day, we praise Gandhiji up to the heavens, but the values such as truth and ahimsa [non-violence], which he cherished more than his own life, we are neglecting in almost every field. He was not speaking these ideals; he was living them.

“When will we experience freedom? Only when we are able to experience the pain of others, only when our hearts are throbbing to console others when they are in pain. Only then will India be truly independent.”

Amma then told the students that everyone has a responsibility to the world, which has supported and nurtured us, allowing us to reach our current state. “The Earth is our mother,” Amma said. “Nature is our mother. We should not forget our duty towards our mother. We should not fail to lend an ear to the cries of our brothers and sisters. Even if you are not able to give them money or employment, give them a smile, a loving word and a compassionate look. This will make your life and theirs blessed. What we have taken from life does not determine life’s value, but what we have given. If we are able to remove the sorrow of another being—even for a second—we are blessed.”

Amma ended her talk by asking the student to take a vow to a life of service. She asked them to plant saplings, saying how it is such a blessing to do so, because trees outlive us and will provide fruits and shade to the coming generations. She also implored young people in general to give the money they are using for cigarettes and intoxicants to charities, such as orphanages and old-age homes, where it can be used to buy clothes and medicine. “If everyone does like this, there won’t be poverty in this country.”

When Amma went to her room, everyone lined up along her pathway. The devotees—both from India and from the West—held small Indian flags in their hands. They waved their flags at Amma—one who is absolutely free, independent in the deepest sense of the word.

-Sakshi

Elephants and innocence

4 August 2005, Amritapuri

This evening, when Amma reached Her room after bhajans, Ram and Lakshmi, the ashram’s two young elephants, were waiting eagerly for Her. It had been more than two months since they last got prasad from Amma.

Both were chained. Previously, only Ram used to be chained. But now, Lakshmi, who used to be sweet and docile, had started showing some antics of her own. That’s why their trainers had no choice but to chain both of them. They had also been strictly warned not to splash water and not to kiss!

Wagging Her fingers at them, Amma chided them: “Aren’t you two ashamed of yourselves? You are still so naughty after all that I’ve told you! Did you know that everyone in the world now knows how mischievous the two of you are. Even a little girl from America knows about the two of you. She even wrote a letter to you, requesting both of you to be obedient! Rama, will you be obedient? Will you be a good boy?”

Hearing Amma’s words, Ram and Lakshmi nodded their heads, as if they had understood everything that Amma had said.

Read the story below to find out about who wrote the letter to Ram and Lakshmi and why.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

June 25, Los Angeles

“Amma, did you take them shopping?” the little girl asked.

Why did everyone nearby laugh at this simple question?

Because “them” refers to the two elephants—Ram and Lakshmi—living at Amma’s ashram in India!

Ram and Lakshmi seem to have a special fascination for little Amrita. A lasting fascination, because even last year, they were the subject of her conversation with Amma. Actually, Ram was her first interest:

She asked Amma, “How is Ram?”

And Amma gave her new information:

“There are two elephants now Ram and Lakshmi.”

The little girl’s mind worked quickly:

“When will the baby come?”

Laughter all around, and Amma set her straight, explaining that there won’t be a baby elephant, for, being ashramites, these two are brahmacharins, celibates.

More laughter.

And that is how it has gone this year too—every time little Amrita comes to Amma, she wants to know more about the elephants, and obligingly Amma tells her.

Amma told her about a misadventure a few months ago, just after the two elephants had their playtime with Amma after bhajans. Most evenings after bhajans, Amma finds the two of them waiting at the foot of the steps up to her room, and stops to feed them biscuits, payasam and bananas! She lets them show their tricks—they can pranam, garland her, search for sweets in her closed fist when she hides it behind her back, spray trunkfuls of water on the crowds standing to watch, and entertwine their trunks when she tells them ‘Kiss!’

This particular night, there were not enough mahouts, elephant trainers, with Ram and Lakshmi, so some brahmacharis were doing the “security” job, controlling the elephants while they were with Amma, and then leading them back to their quarters. But like schoolkids when their teacher is away, Ram and Lakshmi took advantage of the absence of their regular mahouts—and broke free! It was the dinner hour, and when two elephants appeared—loose—in the dining hall crowded with visitors and residents, what havoc broke loose! People screamed and headed for “high ground”—the balconies of the hostels, the spiral steps on the temple building—even Amma’s steps! For those who didn’t realize it was the elephants causing the panic, the immediate interpretation of the chaos was: TSUNAMI! The sounds of people screaming, the running for higher safety—all too well remembered. Amma—just like for the real tsunami—stayed on the scene, telling people where to go for safety, reassuring them, and directing the recapture of the renegades.

In the end Ram and Lakshmi were led back to their proper places. Nobody was hurt, the only damage was a few broken flower pots and some overturned rice plates. All was again calm, and there was lots of laughter.

So Amma told Amrita the story of the naughty elephants, and like a good sister, Amrita must have done some thinking about their behavior, and what she might do to help them.

Devi Bhava night in Los Angeles, Amrita came with her solution: a card addressed to Ram and Lakshmi, which she handed Amma. Upon learning what Amrita had written, Amma immediately said, “Send this home to Amritapuri. Tell Dhyanamrita to read the letter to Ram and Lakshmi.”

The letter says:

“Ram & Lakshmi, I love you very much. Please listen to Amma. Behave well. I will see you two in Amritapuri. Love, Amrita”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When someone comes to Amma with such simple, childlike innocence, watch Amma’s face closely, and you’ll see her eyes sparkle and you’ll detect love radiating in her smile.

Can we recapture what so many of us left behind so many years ago—that fresh simplicity? Maybe watching those who’ve never lost it—like Amrita, and like Amma—will help.

Boston 2005

Awaken, children!

24 July 2005, Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

An elderly lady from Amritapuri was waiting at the gate for her flight from Boston to Toronto. She was traveling as part of Amma’s U.S. tour. As the night before she had been up all night for Amma’s Devi Bhava darshan, she was quite sleepy. As she waited for her boarding call, she decided to chant her archana, the Sri Lalita Sahasranama [The Thousand Names of the Divine Mother]. However, before she could finish, her eyes closed and she fell into a deep sleep–the archana book open on her lap.

Amma was taking the same flight. After checking in, she and the swamis made their way to the gate. When Amma saw her daughter from the Ashram, she immediately walked over to where she was. Standing over her, Amma gently stroked the top of the lady’s head. She then looked down at the open archana book laying open on the lady’s lap. “There,” Amma said, pointing to a line in the middle of the open page. “She stopped at this mantra.” It is good that she fell asleep while chanting. Now, as she is sleeping, her mind and thoughts are still on the mantra.”

Then slowly the woman started to stir. Slowly her eyes opened. As she was still half asleep, it took a moment, but then she realised what was happening. “Amma!” was all she could manage to say.

– Sakshi

Tsunami kids take classes

1 May 2005 — Amritapuri

Amritapuri was flooded once again, but this time the ashramites were not waist deep in seawater, but in children. Approximately 4,000 children from the villages around the Ashram spent the five days from April 25th to 29th at Amritapuri, taking free classes in Spoken English, Sanskrit and Yoga. The children—who are currently in the middle of their two-month summer vacation—also attended classes by the Ashram sannyasins and had not one, but three, question-and-answer sessions with Amma. They also attended Amma’s evening bhajan sessions.

So many rounds of applause! One for each time Amma came and left the big hall, one for each time Amma finished each bhajan, many times after Amma would finish answering a question… The thunderous clapping and wild cheering wasn’t exactly traditional but one cannot say it was inappropriate—after all, who if not Amma has been their hero? For the past four months, She has literally fed them, clothed them, put a roof over their heads, given them medicine, counseling, school supplies… But these things are all just natural extensions of what Amma is really giving them, the one thing that only She is in position to give—pure, selfless love. As one 12-year-old boy named Kannan said during the question-and-answer session on the last day of the camp, “We lost everything in the tsunami. And then Amma gave us everything back. In addition to that, we also got Amma. Amma is the real wealth.” Of course, this itself prompted another round of applause from the children.

The question-and-answer sessions with Amma were—for both the children and the ashramites—the highlight of the five days. For the children, it was a chance to clear their doubts and gain insight into many of the traditions of their culture. For the ashramites, it was a time to once again be touched by the utter freedom, innocence and enthusiasm with which children interact with Amma. No matter what the question, Amma’s words hit the mark.

For example, one afternoon one of the children told Amma that they had heard that idols in some temples over the years are slowly growing. “Is this possible?” she wanted to know.

“God is a wonder,” Amma said. “Anything is possible in God’s creation. The idols may grow, but what about you? Have you grown? Have you changed? What is the point in looking at the change of the idol? It is you who have to change.”

Another child asked Amma what Her real name was. “I also inquired into this,” Amma said. “I don’t have a name. People call me by different names.”

Another child then picked up the microphone and continued along the same line as the previous questioner. “Amma, what is your mother’s name?”

Amma’s answer revealed the expansiveness of Her vision, how She sees all of creation as a manifestation of the Creator: “My foster mother’s name is Damayanti, but for me the earth is my mother, the sea is my mother, the sky is my mother, plants are my mother, the cow is my mother, animals are my mother. The very building in which we are sitting is also my mother.”

Then a small girl came forward, “Amma, they say you have divine powers. Is it true?”

“What do you mean by divine powers?” Amma asked.

“That whatever Amma says will come true, that people who couldn’t have children, they got children from you…”

“Ask the devotees,” Amma said at first, not wanting to speak about Herself. “I prefer to be a small child, a beginner. Everybody wants to become the king of the village, and then they all fight. You have to become the king within.” Amma added that the potential to accomplish such things is there in every one of us, but that it is up to us to invoke it. The children cheered, greeting Amma’s answer with applause.

When talking to the children about the Upanishadic mantra, matr devo bhava pitr devo bhava acharya devo bhava atithi devo bhava [See mother, father, teacher and guest as God.], Amma told the children that it is essential in life that they receive the blessings of their parents. “We should touch their feet everyday,” Amma told them. “Don’t be ashamed. Our parents are working hard for our upbringing. When we touch their feet, something of their heart—grace—will flow to us.”

The classes in Spoken English, Sanskrit and Yoga were held throughout the day in virtually ever location in the Ashram in which it was possible to assemble 50 or more children—in the main hall, in the temple, in the dormitories… Everywhere one went, some class was going on.

The idea of the camp was to help the children to recover from the trauma of the tsunami by strengthening their rooting in their own culture and other knowledge that will serve them well in life. “By offering them new windows of knowledge and giving them something to focus on, the children’s minds are stimulated in positive ways. They are able to forget what they have lost and to focus on something else,” said one of the camp’s organizers.

These are not the first efforts of the Ashram’s along these lines. It has offered psychological counselling to tsunami-affected children since the first week after the disaster, and in March it started offering free swimming lessons to such children with the aim of helping them overcome their newly developed fear of water.

The Yoga classes were taught in the early morning—before breakfast—in two large groups in the bhajan hall. They were conducted by teachers from the Patanjali Yoga Vidya Peetham. The classes taught a progression of yogic asanas, Vedic chanting and seated meditation. Observing the children, one could clearly see their interest and curiosity had been stirred, and as the camp progressed one could see them enthusiastically assuming well-formed asanas and hear their voices confidently enunciating the mantras. “Look at their faces, the concentration they are getting,” one brahmachari commented. “They are getting a taste of the mental peace and joy that comes from a good yoga practice.” The Ashram plans to offer a more in-depth yoga course for the children that express interest, in the near future.

The English and Sanskrit classes were held in smaller groups and were conducted by teachers from the Ashram’s Amrita Vidyalayam school system and the Viswa Samskrita Pratishtan, respectively. The classes involved songs and other interactive methods of teaching. The idea being to get the children speaking and understanding basic English and Sanskrit as soon as possible. By the end of the week, many of the children could be found trying out their new English skills with some of Amma’s devotees and ashramites from the West—even some of those from Finland and Italy, who didn’t speak English.

When the camp was over, and the certificates of participation had been distributed, many of the children simply did not want to leave. “When their parents came to collect them, some of them said, ‘No, I am not going,'” said one of Amma’s senior brahmacharis. “A few of them even asked Amma and, with Amma’s and their parents’ permission, they are going to stay at the Ashram until school starts up again.”

“In a way, it’s hard to imagine,” the brahmachari reflected. “Twenty-five years ago, some of these villagers literally were throwing stones at Amma, thinking her to be just some crazy girl…. Now, they are sending their children to Her for education.”

With a love as true as Amma’s, anything is possible.

—Sakshi

The place where speech ends

12 April 2005 en route to Amritapuri from Trissur

In this land of caste rivalries,
Where caste is worshipped and the worshippers reap the thorns of sorrow,
Even today when people revel in the thorns reaped from castes,
My Amma is that love which transcends all these boundaries.

ജാതിക്കുശുമ്പിന്‍റെ നാടാണു ജാതിയെ പൂജിച്ചു പൂജിച്ചു മുള്ളുവാരി
ഇന്നുമാമുള്ളില്‍ മദിക്കുന്ന ജാതിയെ വെല്ലുന്ന സ്നേഹമാണെന്‍റെയമ്മ
Amma says the heart is the needle that sews the world together. Such is the thread of Amma’s love. It cares nothing for caste, creed, social status or politics… It simply comes like the monsoon—nothing can escape it.

During the Trissur Brahmasthanam Festival, Amma was invited by two of Kerala’s communities to bless them on Her return to Amritapuri—the Nambootiri Brahmins of the Brahmasvam Math and the Ezhavas who come together under the Math of Sri Narayana Guru. In one way it was nothing new, but in another was the perfect illustration of the enormity of Amma’s embrace.

Once they’ve fallen into Amma’s arms, who doesn’t feel Her to be the Mother? Amma has devotees in virtually every country in the world. People of all political parties sing her praise. Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims—all can be found at Her Ashram. Recently in Sri Lanka, soldiers of two warring armies came for Her darshan, peacefully side by side.

“It is difficult for Amma to speak something to you who are at the place where speech ends,” Amma said that day to the Brahmins at the Brahmasvam Math.

It is hard to say the exact meaning of Amma’s words. But clearly She was making a reference to the Vedic rks that are taught and chanted within the math’s walls—the beginning less-endless cosmic vibrations perceived and given voice by the Rishis millennia ago.

The Vedas point to that which is beyond sound, that which is beyond space, beyond creation. They point to the center of existence, the place where the Master is ever established, the place where the flimsy differences that comprise this world fail to effect a ripple. This is what people of all castes, creeds, faiths, political parties and countries touch during their moments in Amma’s arms. And this is why all are able to come together as Her children.

As the final suktam of Rg Veda says: “May mankind be of one mind. May it have a common goal. May all hearts be united in love. And with the mind and the goal being one, may all of us live in happiness.”

—Kannadi

Amma is a role model for the world

9 April 2005 — Trissur Ashram

Tomorrow Amma will install and consecrate the murti for Her 18th Brahmasthanam Temple. But tonight She handed house keys over to 10 of the Trissur District’s poor. The keys are representative of 100 houses the Ashram is constructing here as part of its Amrita Kuteeram project to build 100,000 free houses for the poor across the country. For Amma building houses for the poor and building temples for God are equally sacred. As Sri. Therambil Ramakrishnan, the honourable speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Kerala put it, “Amma has proved that manava seva is Madhava seva-“serving mankind is serving God.'”

Sri. Ramakrishnan, who handed over the keys blessed by Amma to the poor, was speaking as part of the Trissur Brahmasthanam Festival’s inauguration. In his speech, he said that Amma is the spiritual ambassador of the eternal culture of Bharat. “Amma is a living legend of motherly love,” he said. “Amma’s humanitarian activities are a model for the world to follow. In reaching out to the tsunami victims—helping them and consoling them—in an area where the government has failed, Amma has been successful. What no government has been able to do, Amma is doing.”

“In this dark world someone has lit a candle,” Sri. Ramakrishnan concluded, “Instead of complaining about the darkness, follow the light.”

-Sakshi