Amma in Winterthur, Switzerland

October 9-11, Winterthur, Switzerland

After the long journey from Berlin, Amma arrived in Winterthur, Switzerland. She was welcomed by the sounds of a devotee playing an ‘alphorn’ (a traditional instrument used in the Alpine regions of Europe). After taking a moment to appreciate the music, Amma passed between rows of devotees that had lined Amma’s path as she entered the Eulachhallen, happy to get a glimpse of Amma even before the official programs would begin the following day. But rather than just getting a touch of Amma’s hand and a smile, Amma decided to offer them much more. Amma asked one of the local coordinators if all the devotees there had eaten dinner yet, as it was already night time. As soon as the coordinator said no one had eaten yet, Amma immediately asked where the food was and said she would serve dinner to all. Everyone then followed Amma into the dining hall and were served a prasad dinner by Amma. While eating Amma shared stories and jokes with the devotees and once all had finished eating, led everyone in singing Bandalo. Since the bhajan session was so spontaneous there were no instruments around so Amma improvised and grabbed a bucket and a spoon and began playing the beat of the song. Following her lead the Swamis then also picked up plates and utensils and added to the music. So even before the official programs actually began, Amma treated all those present to prasad, satsang and bhajan.


A devotee welcomes Amma to Switzerland with music from an alphorn

For the next three days devotees from all parts of Switzerland and the neighboring european countries poured into the program venue. Amma’s satsangs were translated into English, French, German and Tamil reflecting the diversity present in the hall.


Prayer for World Peace

During the programs the well known Swiss singer-songwriter, Tinu Heiniger came to perform for Amma. He was fortunate enough to meet Amma 25 years ago on one of Amma’s first world tours and has over the course of his career dedicated many songs to Amma. He recently released his 15th album and also a new book “Mueterland“ in which he describes his experiences with Amma. He also regularly holds benefit concerts for Embracing the World and has often dedicated the proceeds of his albums to Amma’s charities as well.


Singer-songwriter, Tinu Heiniger performs for Amma

Beyond the walls of Berlin

October 5-7, Berlin, Germany
For many, the city of Berlin brings to mind division and a wall that separated a generation of people living in the same city.  But the wall has long since come down and every year the people of Germany celebrate their unity with a special holiday.  So it was only fitting that Amma would arrive for her first visit to the city of Berlin on a day celebrating unity and togetherness.

With Amma, large crowd praying for world peace @ Berlin

Before her first public program Amma found time to sit with all the local devotees that had worked so hard to organize this program.  She served them a prasad dinner, shared stories and jokes and sang bhajans.

Over the next 3 days, large crowds filled the Velodrom, famous for its steel roof construction- with a diameter of 142 meters, it has Europe’s largest steel roof.  All the berliners came for their first chance hear Amma’s bhajans, listen to her satsang and receive her darshan.  Because of its proxmity to many neighboring countries, there were also large groups on hand from Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia and Hungary.

During the programs Amma was also welcomed by several local dignitaries including the well known german actor Stipe Erceg, who officially launched the InDeed Campaign in Germany; renowned artist Rebecca Horn {news} and the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indian Embassy in Germany, Mr Ajit Gupte.

Even the well known ‘Berliner bear’ a symbolic figure of the city came to welcome Amma and receive her darshan

Amma being welcomed to Berlin by Ajit Gupte, Deputy Chief, Indian Embassy in Germany

Amma gave darshan till the early hours of Monday morning and then travelled south to her next stop on the european tour-Winterthur, Switzerland.

Tirumeni visits Amma to offer his best wishes

25 Sep 2012, Amritapuri

Revered Philipose Mar Chrysostom Thirumeni, visited Amritapuri to offer his best wishes for Amma’s Birthday. He met Amma and spend more than 20 minutes with her. Tirumeni who is 95 years old has been coming to Amma since 2008. {news}. Has been a bishop for 59 years in the Marthoma church.

Amma was very delighted by the bishop’s expansive outlook. “Nowadays everyone is becoming more and more narrow. Not everyone has such an expansive vision. Thirumeni’s expansive mind is a blessing. I am very happy about it” Amma said.

Blissful Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations

08 Sep 2012, Amritapuri
The celebrations to mark Krishna’s Birthday began early in the morning. Children were dressed up as Krishnas and the gopis; some painting their faces and skin all in blue to be a perfect physical copy of the Lord of Vrindavan. A large number of ashramites, devotees and visitors took part in a special procession that started from Kuzhithura Krishna temple, singing Krishna bhajans, clapping hands and dancing. Smiles and happy greetings on all faces!

Amma came down for darshan earlier than usual since there was such a large crowd on hand for the festivities. Then a little before 4.30 pm Amma came to the front of the main temple building where large crowds had gathered eagerly. Although the weather had been unseasonably rainy, the sun came out for the day. Amma watched the children and youngsters play, Uriyadi, with great excitement, trying their luck at breaking swinging pots of water, a game reminiscent of Krishna’s escapades stealing pots of butter. With bursting enthusiasm, Amma sang Krishna bhajans, adding to the level of excitement for the young pot breakers. The balconies of the all the accommodation buildings were full of devotees enjoying the colorful scene from high above.

Directly after the games concluded everyone proceeded to the evening bhajans in the big auditorium led by Amma. The bhajans delighted everyone present till around 8:30pm. Soon after the bhajans ended there were a several dances and cultural performances put on by devotees and students of Amrita University. But there was still more to come. After the performances, a video of Amma’s message for the occasion, was played on the screens {news}. When the message ended, Amma came back to the stage which was now adorned with beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands, trays of flowers and a large painting of Amma as Krishna. With the added divine presence of Amma, the scene was extraordinarily beautiful. The reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam started along with a special puja honoring the birth of Lord Krishna.

At the stroke of midnight, bells and screams of joy announced the advent of the fervently awaited divine moment: the glorious time of Krishna’s birth! Amma immediately started a special Krishna bhajan session with ‘Agatanayi Aganayi Vishnu Devan,’ clapping her hands and beaming with a smile.

As soon as the midnight bhajans session ended, Amma asked everyone to stand up and forget all their worries and dance with her. Amma also stood up and just as she had done a few days before on Onam.  She stood facing the hundreds of gopis and gopas who filled the big auditorium, she enchanted the hearts of all with an enchanting and divinely graceful dance while singing two beautiful bhajans- Bolo Bolo Gokula Bala and Tananna Tananna. Everyone in the hall stood and danced with her, swaying left and right, jumping with joy and clapping hands.

As the dancing and singing ended, Amma moved to the edge of the stage where a large table was set up in front of her, and for the next hour or so, she offered glasses of delicious payasam to all those present. It was nearing 2am when she retired to her room, leaving a lifetime memory in the hearts of all.

Another blissful festive day at Amritapuri, Amma’s international Gurukulam…

– Kannadi

Scriptures becomes alive in the presence of the Guru

Guru Purnima Celebrations

3 July, Chicago, Japan-America Yatra 2012
The auspicious Guru Purnima celebrations were held in Amma’s new Chicago Ashram.
The celebrations took place after a long day of darshan, with Swami Amritaswaroopananda leading the worship of the Guru’s feet.


Amma spoke to the devotees about the importance of the Guru disciple relationship. “A disciple with awareness, devotion and self surrender, will continuously receive the Guru’s message and guidance, no matter where they are.  Once we find a true Master, the scriptures are reborn. The Vedas and Upanishads are repeated. When we find such a Master our search ends there. All we need to do is to live in their presence and try to imbibe their sacrifice into our own lives.

“In reality, there is no new message to deliver about spirituality. ‘Everything is God, there is nothing else but God.’ This is the only message. This is the single message in the Upanishads, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Puranas. When we say that there are 108 Upanishads, we should understand that it is actually, 108 different ways of conveying the same message.

12purnima“Amma’s only desire is for Her children to be happy. Happiness is within everyone, but we are not able to experience it. This is because of our likes and dislikes. We are in the grip of our ego and because of this we hold on to our likes and dislikes. In order to break away from the ego, we need the help of a Satguru. Amma’s goal is to give her children this strength and love. If we let go of our likes and dislikes, we will become fit vessels to receive the Guru’s ever flowing grace. We can become freed from our mind and become a blessing to the entire world.

“Today, each of you should take some kind of vow. Sharing with others, taking only what we need, this is spirituality in practice. Every night we should contemplate, “What good did I do today? Did I hurt anyone? Did I get angry with anyone? How can I prevent myself from making this mistake tomorrow?” In case we have done something good, we should think, “How can I do better tomorrow? How can I speak even kinder words tomorrow? Can I help someone? Can I donate 10 minutes of my time to the poor or needy?” When we contemplate like this, our entire life becomes filled with light. When we have light within, no darkness can affect us.

“All your actions and duties should be filled with the sweetness of love. It is that sweetness that transforms ordinary action into Guru Seva, or service to the Guru. Devoid of the sweetness of love, action is mere labor. Action that is performed only for material growth is also mere labor. However, action that is performed to develop love within and attain spiritual growth is Guru Seva. Such actions are worship of the Inner Self. That, indeed, is true devotion. This is the key to open the doors to our True Self. The purpose of this human birth is to know God, or our true Self.

“Each and every living being in nature is part of the Guru’s body. Loving and serving such a Satguru is the path to reach our true Self. It is the key to open the doors to our soul. It is the way, it is the goal, it is the path. May all Amma’s children awaken and rise in this love, may we all become lamps of love shedding light to the whole world. May grace bless us all.”

After the message, prasad was given out to all devotees by Amma herself. Celebrations ended on a high note with Amma singing Bandalo and Hari Narayana for the overjoyed surprise of the devotees.

Amma, we love you always

Governor of Illinois inaugurates MA center – Chicago

30 June, Elburn, Illinois, Chicago – 2012 America Yatra

governor1The Governor of the State of Illinois, Patrick Quinn, inaugurated M.A. Center Chicago, a new branch of the Mata Amritanandamayi Center today. The center is located on a 141-acre property in Elburn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

Governor Quinn said, “I think it is so important that our state of Illinois is a home to an M.A. Center. And it is a high honor for me, as Governor to declare, this day, the opening of the M.A. Center of Chicago.”

Governor Quinn praised Amma’s worldwide humanitarian service, saying, “I wanted to be here tonight to honor one of our world’s humanitarian leaders. It is especially important that we understand that feeding the hungry and taking care of those who are poor is a mission that all of us have. A great leader of our country, Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, ‘Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ And I think all of us have learned, from the example and life of Amma, a life of service—a very important way of life indeed.”

Governor Quinn praised the value of Amma’s darshan, saying, “There’s a reason she is called the Hugging Saint: she knows how to reach out and hug everyday people. And I think that is so, so important.”

Governor Quinn concluded his address by presenting Amma with a plaque applauding her works as a spiritual leader and humanitarian. He then extended an open invitation to Amma to stay whenever she wanted in the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, Illinois, specifically offering Amma rest in an antique bed that belonged to former American president, and Illinois native, Abraham Lincoln.

“Amma we love you today. We will love you always. And thank you very much,” Governor Quinn said.

The inauguration took place during the first night of five days of programs conducted by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) in Elburn. Amma has been coming to the Chicago area every year since 1986.

Other dignitaries to grace the dais and address the gathering included the mayor of Elburn, David Anderson, and Kane County Board Member, Drew Frasz

Melting pot of Los Angeles

15- 19 Los Angeles, American Yatra 2012

Los Angeles is a megalopolis–it spreads for miles and miles in all directions; in one of those directions it engulfs Hollywood, Mecca to budding stars and starlets.  So is it any surprise that at Amma’s LA program, the second night retreat program included theatrical shows?

As Amma was giving darshan to the huge number of people coming for her blessings, first a humorous stage play was enacted, complete with semi-bollywood dance numbers. The play could have been passed off as a comedy of manners, with mistaken identities and impersonations–but it was more than that. It was a play about love. About what we mistake for love, and how we recognize love when it is real, and how our expectations and prejudices can stand in the way of real love.  When all the mix-ups were sorted out, led by quotes from Amma, everyone in the play had found someone she or he really could love.

LA is a city of diversity–people from all over the world come to this “melting pot”, so it was fitting that as the evening’s program continued, other cultures were represented.  Mexico, not a hundred miles away from LA, was represented by a man singing traditional Mariachi songs, accompanied by women dressed in long Mexican skirts and hand-embroidered blouses.
An African-American man, sometimes drumming, singing, and occasionally dancing himself, led a group of women in traditional African dance. This exploded, by the end, in an invitation to all in the room to join in–and little children, teens, adults, staff members, elderly people–everyone who felt like it–joined in!

The last presentation for the night was in stark contrast to the preceding loud and rousing events: softly the strains of a harp, accompanied by a softly played tabla, settled the room down. Classical Indian music provided a gentle and peaceful setting for Amma’s ongoing hugging.
The second day of every retreat featured a special outdoor meditation with Amma, followed by a question/ answer session. At the end, Amma led everyone present in singing and playing pattycake together, before she herself served dinner to all. There were special treats at the end: papadoms for the children, and ice cream mixed with crumbled papadoms for all.

Most of the road journey from Los Angeles to New Mexico was through the deserts of the South-West.  Amma decided to break up the journey and stop for a picnic with the group in the middle of the desert.  For most of the day temperatures had soared to over 100 degrees; fortunately by the time Amma sat with the group, as the sun was setting it cooled off and everyone was able to enjoy a memorable dinner time with Amma.


The family reunion at San Ramon

Jun 6- 13 San Ramon, CA – 2012 America Yatra

San Ramon is home to Amma’s first American ashram.  While there are always new faces, there are also always lots of familiar faces. Children whom Amma fed their first solid food have grown up now and are coming to her for their weddings–or even for their own children’s Annaprasham (first rice)! The eight days’ programs in San Ramon are like a large family reunion.


One thing families often do when they get together is sing, and Amma’s big family is no different.  At the end of the second full day of darshan, in fact, even before darshan ended, Amma decided to sing.  This was a special treat, for on the full days, when Amma begins darshan at 11 in the morning and doesn’t stop, darshan continues usually until at least ten or so–and that means no formal bhajan program.  The swamis do come and sing at the ordinary bhajan time–but people don’t get to hear Amma sing.  This particular day, however, when “bhajan time” came along, Amma decided to participate–even as she continued hugging people.  She sang five songs, ranging from lively songs like Gopiyarkal, with moments of laughter, to the moving, more solemn strains of Kodannu Koti–sometimes apparently forgetting to let go of whoever was in her lap for whole minutes at a time.

When there’s a family reunion, thoughts naturally turn to those in the family who have not been able to gather.  When Amma finished the first of the two Devi Bhavas in San Ramon, she reached out to the ‘missing’ family members. Having tossed a special handful of petals their way (via the web cast connection to Amritapuri and several other centers), she continued the connection when she was about to leave the hall.  Stopping to gaze lovingly at the faces of children half-way around the world, but as close as the webcast screen on the laptop held for her, she offered words and waves and kisses.

Another thing that happens at family reunions is eating!  If there are snacks, they are shared–and sure enough, when people brought Amma special treats during darshan (from fresh vegetables to home-made vadas to sweets), she would take a bite and then gesture that the rest should be shared around as far as it could be stretched. Like a good mother, she took thought for all her children, not just those nearby; time and again she indicated that the people on the balconies, who might expect to miss out, must be included; dutifully, someone would arrive on the balcony with a bit of Toblerone chocolate, or a palm full of vada crumbs, and offer them even to those who hadn’t seen what had gone on, but had felt wistful upon hearing the laughter.

The second night of a retreat is the night Amma, having answered her children’s questions as the day moved from warm and sunny afternoon to cool and shadowed evening, leads the crowd from the open field into the mandap, where she serves a plate of prasad to each one, and then sits with the children, to each of whom she gives a papadom.  A few years ago, Amma surprised everyone after the papadom procession by suddenly reaching her hands into the big bowl with a few papadoms remaining, and breaking them all into small pieces–doing with food what all little children want to do, but mostly are told not to! That wasn’t all: she then added ice cream, and mushed the crumbled papadoms and ice cream all together!  This has become a tradition since that first time, and now someone stands ready with a BIG mixing bowl of ice cream, and extra papadoms are on hand–because of course everyone will want a taste of this prasad when Amma gestures for it to be offered around!


What was different this time was every parent’s nightmare–the worry of every parent who has tried to teach the little ones proper table manners: at least one child was watching, learning, and imitating this normally ‘unacceptable’ behavior!

Sitting right next to Amma was a small child. This child watched intently–and with perhaps some surprise–as Amma crumbled papadoms into her dish, and even more intently as she accepted the second bowl of ice cream and poured it into the papadom and ice cream mixture, and stirred.  Fascinated and inspired, the child did as any good disciple would, and tried to follow the Guru’s example. She turned to the place beside her, took up a second ice cream dish, poured the remains into her own dish, and began stirring!

Amma left the hall as her big bowls of crunchy ice cream were passed around; dessert for all at the San Ramon family reunion.


It’s an honor and blessing to be in her presence – Bishop Gregory

May 31 – Jun 3 Seattle — Japan America Yatra 2012

After a 12 hour flight from Japan and Amma landed in Seattle to conduct four days of program at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

Large crowds showed up for the public day and also for the retreat, where Amma was officially welcomed by the Right Reverand Gregory Rickel, Bishop and spiritual head of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington. Accompanied by his wife and son, the bishop garlanded Amma. Speaking on the occasion he said “Our intent was to stay the whole evening, but due to the Vigil* for the shooting victims set at St. Mark’s Cathedral we had to greet Amma, receive our hug, and then make our way to (the Cathedral). Still, we were able to be briefed on the tremendous work this amazing woman has been doing in her native India, but even more throughout the world. It’s an honor and blessing to be in her presence.”

Blessing to be in her presence

"It's an honor and blessing to be in her presence" - Bishop Gregory Rickel

These two spiritual leaders had been drawn together on a more than formal level. The Bishop is particularly committed to interfaith dialogue, and is a strong advocate of environmental concerns and social justice issues, especially homelessness.

Amma, in the same spirit, reaches out to people of all spiritual and religious traditions around the world, encouraging people to deepen their own faiths and discover the shared truths of all the great religions. Her Amala Bharatham Campaign for a clean India and the worldwide GreenFriends organization both focus on Mother Earth. In the area of social justice, Amma has outreach to widows, orphans, and those so desperate as to turn to suicide. And the over 50,000 homes Embracing the World has built for the poor testify to her concern for homelessness.

At the end of the meditation following the arati on this night, Amma asked everyone to pray for the five victims, and for a lessening of violence, and for world peace.

Devotees enthusiastically participated in the day’s program and the 3-day retreat which included Satsang, Bhajans and a Puja for world peace and harmony.

After Seattle Amma left for California where another 8 days of program are to be held at her Ashram.

* Two days earlier a killing spree in Seattle had resulted in the deaths of four victims and their slayer. At the end of May there have been 21 such deaths–equaling the total for last year. The Bishop supposed to lead a prayer vigil for the victims, was scheduled for Friday evening at St. Mark’s Cathedral.

Shaken by Love, Dancing in Joy

May 27 -29  Tokyo, Japan — 2012 Japan – America Yatra

Indian Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Mr. and Mrs. Sanjay Panda  welcomed Amma and said that this was his first meeting with her and he will cherish Amma’s embrace for the rest of his life. He lauded Amma’s vast humanitarian achievements and sought Amma’s blessings for the well-being of the people of Japan and the whole world.

The Tokyo programs were held in Shinagawa-ku, a very central area. People in the thousands thronged the hall for Amma’s darshan each day.

During a function, Amma distributed saplings to the young generation. These trees are indigenous to the disaster area in the northeast and will be planted in the coastal areas to restore the vegetation and prevent erosion and damage from future such disasters. She also  blesseed GreenFriends’ 10 Habits, a guide line towards living in harmony with nature.

There was a unique puppet show “Hachiouji Kuruma Ningyo”  for Amma which was well appreciated by all.   The Puppeteer explained that this was a 175-year old Japanese tradition offered as a prayer to the Divine for a bountiful harvest and prosperity.

On the second day at the end of the evening program, Amma danced to the tune of ‘Ayar Kula Kuzhanthey’, a new Tamil bhajan. This is the first time the Tokyo witnessed Amma dancing. It was so beautiful and spontaneous that it  took  all Japanese people by complete surprise.

The Japanese people expressed their joy and appreciation for Amma by performing a  group dance to a bhajan song “thi thi tara”  (Amrita Vahini). Br. Shantamrita, who takes care of the Japan activities, joined the dance. It was a heartwarming sight to see  Amma’s Japanese children hold hands and dance like they were one big family.

A group of Japan tsunami relief workers from the Amma Center came for darshan. Amma showered each one of them with love and affection and gave them a touching group darshan, too.

The Japanese people watched Amma leave the hall with tear filled eyes and waited  in line for Her loving last touch as She passed each and every one of them.

Amma then flew to North America to meet her children there in Seattle, Washington.

– Tulasi