Photo updates on 26th – Amritavarsham 63

Photo updates of the program held on 25th and 26th in connection with Amritavarhsam 63 celebrations



Mr Prakash Javadekar inaugurated OceanNet

26 Sep 2016, Amritapuri – Amritavasham 63 Celebrations

OceanNet is an Amrita University project offering internet connectivity for fishermen at sea to help them stay safe and provides connectivity up to 60 km -45 kilometres beyond the range of cell-phone towers.  Each boat’s coordinates, speed, course is tracked on a land-based server. SOS calls are also supported. The system will be a Godsend for commercial fishermen who regularly spend five to seven consecutive days outside the Internet range.

Amrita OceanNet will put an end to the frustrations associated with the inability to communicate one’s location and physical-emotional conditions to relatives while at sea. Through this government authorities will be able to disseminate disaster-warning messages to all the fishing vessels.

Dr. Maneesha Sudheer, Director of Amrita Centre for Wireless Networks & Applications said the idea for Amrita OceanNet came directly from Amma. In 2010, a fishing boat in the Arabian Sea collided with a ship. Several people were injured and killed; some were never found. Saddened by this disaster, Amma asked Dr. Maneesha to develop a system to communicate, in real-time, the alerts, disaster warnings, etc. to the fishing vessels.

Amrita OceanNet comprises an onshore base-station with Internet connectivity that boosts Internet signals. This boosted signal is then captured by fishing vessels that are equipped with a low-cost Amrita OceanNet receiver-broadcaster system. In turn, these Amrita OceanNet-equipped vessels also become broadcasters. In this way, the Internet signal — through multiple boat-to-boat hops — can extend 60 km beyond the shoreline. A Wi-Fi network is provided aboard the fishing vessel to which the fishermen connect using their smart phones.

Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of HRD while inaugurating Amrita OceanNet, in the presence of Amma, spoke Live using Ocean Net to Dhanesh, who was at that time on his boat in the Arabian Sea . Javadekar said: “Hello Dhanesh, you are 60 kms away in the ocean, but you are very close to Amma’s heart and you will always be protected by Amma”.

“Amma has brought a great service to the fisherman and the country through Ocean Net, who could not connect with anybody, once they ventured into the seas. In fact now our fishermen will become our Coast Guards, and can even inform our real Coast Guards about any suspicious movements or threats from the enemy coming to attack our country through the high seas.

“God creates, in ages, a guru like Amma,and we are here to get her blessings. Today I am blessed since I am participating in a very noble cause” said the Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.



Try to make our circle of compassion larger and more expansive

14 September 2016 — Onam Celebrations at Amritapuri Ashram

(Amma’s message on the occasion of Onam festival)

Amma is extremely happy to see all of you have gathered here to celebrate Thiruvonam with Amma. It shows the bond you have with Amma. May this bond and love be always there between all of you as well. It is said that the relative of a devotee is another devotee alone. It is this message of unity and love that Thiruvonam brings to us.

Onam presents a role model of the relationship between the government and the governed. Mahabali desired nothing but the welfare of his subjects. His people, too, loved their king. The festival of Onam presents the bond between them—their unity, love and equality—before our eyes. How should rulers be? How should citizens be? Onam presents a perfect ideal of this, which is essential in today’s world.

Onam is the celebration of human relationships. It is the time when relationships among family members, friends and relatives get strengthened. We live in an age where all human bonds have become weak. Husbands and wives are becoming estranged from one another. Mother-child relationships, father-child relationships, teacher-student relationships and relationships between neighbours are all becoming weaker. Onam comes to us bearing the message of reviving these relationships and strengthening them. Onam becomes Onam only when this is achieved.

However, Onam is not a celebration of human relationships alone. It is also a celebration of the bond between Nature and humankind. Beyond that, it is also a celebration of the bond between God and humanity. What sets Onam apart from other celebrations is its completeness. Onam is a festival that includes all aspects of life. Children, women, young people, and the elderly all have their respective roles in the festival. The celebration is relevant at the family level as well as at the societal level. Similarly, it also impacts our immediate surrounds, Nature as a whole, as well as our own bodies and minds. Onam is also the festival of cultural values and art forms.

Moreover, Onam is the story of the transformation that came over Emperor Mahabali. Although a righteous king, Bali took great pride in his own abilities and good qualities. When his guru, Sukracharya, warned him that Vamana—the dwarf boy who stood before him—was in reality Lord Vishnu, a battle ensued within him. Either adhere to truth and lose his all his name and position or try to safeguard his name and position by turning his back on truth. Mahabali chose the former path. It was the path of renunciation.

In the end, when the dwarf Vamana grew in size and measured the earth and the heavens in two strides, Mahabali’s pride crumbled to pieces. In order to keep his word and uphold the truth, he surrendered his own self. However, that defeat became his success. It is Nature’s infallible law that he who renounces everything achieves everything. Mahabali became like gold that has been purified by fire. He rose to becoming purnam—whole—and attained immortal fame.

The battle that arose in Mahabali’s heart takes place within every human being as the battle between good and evil, the battle between positive and negative emotions, the battle between selfishness and selflessness. Those who choose the path of righteousness are fortunate. Mahabali’s story is a message to the modern man who prides himself on his own abilities, yet staggers without answers when faced with life’s challenges.

Mahabali was an asura—a member of a race of demons. Prahlada was also an asura. Vibhishana was a rakshasa—a different type of demon. Regardless all three became perfect beings. This proves that goodness exists within all of us, and if we try, we can awaken it.

Today we judge people as great or otherwise based on the wealth they possess or their fame or position in society. Once these are lost, their “greatness” is also lost. This is the law of the world. But this is not true in spirituality. One becomes great only when one loses their identity with “I” and “mine” and the resulting attachments. This is when man becomes God. When Mahabali surrendered everything to the omnipresent Vishnu Consciousness, he transcended the boundaries of “I” and “mine” and attained the Supreme. This is the principle behind the story.

Discernment is the “switch” that turns on the light of knowledge.

Mahabali’s reign marked a golden era where people didn’t tell lies and there was no deceit or slander. However, today, the situation is the complete opposite. The age we live in seems to have only one slogan, “My own happiness! My own gain!” This attitude will only lead us to darkness and sorrow. There is a belief that King Mahabali visits his subjects on Thiruvonam and enquires about their welfare. The real principle behind this belief is that we should awaken from our stupor of selfishness and view the world around us through the eyes of Mahabali. It is the little acts of love and respect that we show towards our fellow beings that fill our lives with joy. When each one of us thinks what we can do to make others happy, then naturally our hearts will fill with joy. This was all Mahabali really wished for. He just wanted to his subjects experience peace, prosperity, happiness and contentment. He never wished anything for himself. Mahabali’s vision for his subjects was like a mahatma’s vision for the world as a whole. It was a vision devoid of selfishness.

There is a lesson to be learned from each and every experience in life. But we need sraddha and viveka—attentiveness and discernment—to be able to recognise the lessons life is trying to teach us. Discernment is the “switch” that turns on the light of knowledge. Those with discernment are able to understand the message behind each positive and negative experience in life and accept everything that comes their way with a smile.

For Onam we have the tradition of wearing new clothes. Along with that, let us adopt the tradition of making new decisions that are for social good. Children, you enjoy traditional Onam songs and games for Onam. Make this joy permanent by learning to live a life founded on spiritual principles. For Onam, we compete to make the largest and most beautiful pookkalams. At the same time, let us also make a floral design in our heart using flowers of love, flowers of patience, flowers of self-sacrifice and flowers of humility. Let us try to make our circle of compassion larger and more expansive. If we do this, we can make life itself a huge Onam celebration.

-Excerpts from Amma’s Thiruvonam Message


Tender Coconut, Tender Heart: A Lifetime With Amma

Sati, an elderly woman who lives just north of the Ashram, comes regularly for darshan. She never comes empty-handed. Each time, Sati brings a tender coconut to offer to Amma, often along with a piece of cake or some homemade food.


Sati has a beautiful relationship with Amma. At more than 70 years old, she has known Amma since they were both children, and witnessed firsthand Amma’s childhood leelas, including the time Amma lay on top of a six-foot banyan plant, and the time she transformed water into milk and panchamritam.

When Sati brings the coconut to Amma, she lies on Amma’s lap, pleading with Amma to drink the coconut milk, making sure that Amma finishes completely. Sati won’t allow anyone to touch her, or take the coconut away from Amma’s hand. Sometimes Sati feeds Amma herself.

But Sati brings more than food to Amma – lying in Amma’s lap, she sings to Amma – compositions of her own making. Every night before she goes to bed, Sati composes these lines for Amma. Here is one such verse:

സ്നേഹത്തിൽ നിന്നുദിക്കുന്നു – അമ്മ
സ്നേഹത്താൽ വൃദ്ധി തേടുന്നു
സ്നേഹതം താൻ ശക്തി ജഗത്തിൽ – അമ്മ
സ്വയം സ്നേഹം താൻ ആനന്ദമാർക്കും

Rises from love – Amma
With love she grows
Love is the power in the world
Amma is love and bliss for everyone

Listen to Sati singing these lines…


Amma has helped Sati on several occasions throughout her life. When Sati was pregnant for the fourth time, Amma personally took Sati to the hospital in Chavara.

Sati is one of the rare villagers who has always understood Amma’s greatness. Her pure love and faith is something one needs to see with one’s own eyes. If you are around, watch her next time when she offers her coconut to Amma.



God is there in everyone. But in Amma, it is there more – Mar Chrysostom

14 August 2016, Amritapuri

Revered His Grace Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Metropolitan—affectionately known as ‘Thirumeni’—is turning 100 years old next April.


This year, Thirumeni is traveling the length and breadth of India, meeting and interviewing 100 celebrities. Renowned Malayalam film director Blessy is documenting his efforts – the film will be released during Thirumeni’s 100th birthday celebrations.

As part of his tour, Thirumeni came to meet our Amma and they had a private meeting, in which they shared their visions and methods for the betterment of society. Even at 99 years old, Thirumeni displays a sharp and clear-thinking mind. He is very clearly a wise, down-to-earth man, full of humor and laughter, and with a loving and open mind. Amma and Thirumeni discussed various means of helping the poor, including building houses, giving medical care and offering education. They agreed that it was very important to be careful in selecting the right recipients, who are truly needy. Thirumeni lauded Amma’s method of cross-checking the background of those who opt for free treatments at Amrita Hospital, to verify their level of need.


During their meeting, Blessy, the documentary filmmaker, posed a question to Thirumeni. “Why do you say Amma is God?” Sitting with Amma, Thirumeni explained simply, “God is there in everyone. But in Amma, it is there more.”

Thirumeni has been coming to meet Amma regularly since 2008 {news}. As he took leave, Amma blessed Thirumeni, saying “Each time you come here, I pray that you may have a long and healthy life.”





Sri Krishna Jayanthi at Amritapuri

24 Aug 2016, Amritapuri
The festivities began at 7:30 in the morning with a special procession from the Ashram’s cowshed to the front steps of the Kali Temple where the Go Puja was performed showing reverence to all cows. A large number of Ashramites, devotees and visitors took part in the procession and puja, singing Krishna bhajans, clapping hands and dancing. The cows were beautifully decorated as were the children living at Amritapuri who were all dressed up like little Krishnas and gopis!

In the afternoon, after the procession from Kuzhithura Sri Krishna Temple, everyone gathered in front of the Kali Temple, where Amma joined at approximately 4.30pm. She had been giving darshan from 11am till 3pm. Taking her seat on the steps of the Temple, Amma watched children play Uriyadi – a game where they try to break a pot of clay with a stick in remembrance of Krishna’s escapades of stealing pots of butter. First the little children tried their luck, followed by those a bit bigger, then by Amrita University students. Amma watched the fun, laughing often and pointing out the most adorable scenes. As the games were ending, Amma sang two joyful Krishna songs (Radhe Govinda Gopi Gopala, Narayana Narayana jaya Govind hare) for a long time, waving her arms with joy and looking at the sky.


After the games, Mother immediately headed to the main hall for the evening bhajans filled with Krishna bhajans. Dinner followed, and everyone was excited with anticipation of the special program that was still in store for the day. At about 11:30pm, Amma returned to the beautifully decorated stage where a reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam was taking place, along with the special Balagopala Puja honouring the birth of Krishna. The stage was decorated with many beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands and trays of flowers.

At the stroke of midnight, Amma started singing special Krishna bhajans. She sang Agatanayi Agatani, and two others, clapping her hands, smiling and creating a lively and playful atmosphere. Amma then delivered her message {news} which included a beautiful presentation of the essence of Krishna’s life, teachings and practical guidance for our lives and struggles.
After the address, Amma sang 2 more bhajans, asking all those present to stand and wave their arms in joy to the tune of ‘Bolo bolo gokula pala’. She then led everyone in chanting Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu – the prayer for universal peace. At around 1:30am, Amma began distributing sweet payasam Prasad. She handed a cup of the blessed gift to every single person. At 2:10am, after making sure that everyone had received Prasad, she headed back to her room … one more Sri Krishna Jayanthi with Amma to cherish for years to come.

– Kannadi




Perform your duties wholeheartedly with an attitude of surrender and detachment

25 August 2016 — Amritapuri

When we think about Lord Krishna, what are the first thoughts that enter our mind? Different people will answer in different ways. This is because Lord Krishna won’t allow himself to be confined within our limited thoughts and ideas. But one thing is clear: Everything about Krishna is sweet, alluring and beautiful.


We often talk about the many facets and roles of Lord Krishna. An unparalleled protector of dharma, a skilled political strategist, advisor of the great Bhagavad-Gita, an unbeatable warrior… These are some of them. But Krishna—who, indeed, was all of these—was also love incarnate, the giver of love. The magnetism of his love enticed not just the gopis and gopas, but all of creation as well. Nature herself was charmed by the sweet notes of his bamboo flute.

The Supreme Truth is beyond thought and word. However, when the Supreme assumes a human form, accepting all the shortcomings and limitations inherent in such, and comes into our midst, we are provided with an opportunity to tangibly touch the Supreme, to know it. Not only Sri Krishna’s words, but his every movement, his every look and mood, conveyed the fullness of spiritual wisdom. His very presence was a spiritual experience. Every action of his illustrated the principles expounded in the Vedic scriptures.

It is impossible to explain the sweetness of honey with words, but just tasting a drop of honey will give us the experience of that sweetness. Similarly, in the presence of an avatara, the Supreme Truth is revealed and shines forth. Doubts turn into faith, faith turns into knowledge, and knowledge expands into experience. Avataras do not take birth and live on earth like ordinary people. They continue to live forever in human hearts as the very culture of the society into which they manifested—as the very guiding light of the world.

Their guidance stands true for all time, all countries and all people. Lord Krishna’s teachings are just as relevant today as they were 5,000 years ago. The Krishna-influence pervades and pulses in all planes of Indian culture and in the daily life of its people. Our literature, music and art are enlivened by his touch.

Lord Krishna’s life is full of paradoxes. The eternally free Lord was born in a prison. He played all the pranks and mischief of a capricious child, but also accomplished great feats beyond human capacity. He was crowned king and became the lord of the world, and yet he surrendered in defeat before the devotion of his devotees. He was an extraordinary grhasthashrami [householder], yet he maintained the pure chastity of a sannyasi.

On the occasion of the royal rajasuya yaga conducted by Yudhishthira, in the august presence of rishis and kings, Lord Krishna let Yudhishthira wash his feet as the guest of honour. Yet, the Lord was washing the feet of the other guests a short while later.

“Do what you do with complete involvement, yet remain detached”—this was Sri Krishna’s way. It is like a person lowering a bucket into a well to draw out water. Even though the bucket is immersed in the water, the bucket is firmly in the person’s hand. Even though one may be in the world, one is not bound by it. A boat does not sink because it is in the water. It sinks when the water is in the boat. Even though Sri Krishna lived in the world, he was never bound by anything.

As Arjuna’s charioteer Sri Krishna advised the Gita. He gave Arjuna his vishvarupa darsahan—the vision of his universal form. Yet, the very next moment, we see him as a charioteer, attending to Arjuna’s horses. Who else but the Lord could hold things so seemingly opposite in the palm of his hand?

A person who has worked as an officer may not be willing to work as errand boy. He may protest, “How can an officer like me do such menial work?” Sri Krishna became a child when he was amongst children. He became a youth in the company of the young. He danced with the gopis and became their friend. When his friends were hungry, he stole butter from the gopis houses to feed them. In fact, the gopis wanted Sri Krishna to steal the butter from their houses! Hence, through this lila he was able to kill two birds with one stone. One cannot find a mahatma who played as many roles as him.

Karma and the result – what to do?

Through his own life, the Lord illustrated the greatness of any type of work. No other spiritual teacher has expounded the value of action as much as Lord Krishna:

“O Arjuna, I stand to gain nothing in all the three worlds, yet I am continuously engaged in action. At least for the welfare of the world, do action. Perform your action with no desire of its results.”

Some people ask if this means that we should work without expecting to be paid. No, it does not. When we sow a seed, it may sprout or it may not. We may sow seeds at the right time. We may dig bore-wells and make sure that the crops get enough water. Regardless, if there is a flood just before the harvest, everything will be lost. Many people commit suicide when their actions don’t bear the expected fruit. But if one is prepared to face both kinds of results—failure and success—then one won’t fall to such extremes. Krishna’s advice is very relevant here. There is no point losing ourselves in grief. We only have the right to put in effort. The results are not in our control. Thus we should accept whatever comes to us as the fruit of our actions. His advice was to live in the world while understanding its nature. Through this, we develop the capacity to view things from a distance.

Usually, people work to fulfil their selfish desires. However, when we perform an action even for a short while without expecting anything in return, it purifies our mind. It is difficult to live selflessly. What makes us selfish are our desires. Amma does not say that it is wrong to have desires. Because many of us lack spiritual understanding, it is impossible to live without desires. We will desire food when hungry; there is nothing wrong in that. We may want money for our livelihood; that is not wrong. It is only when our desires become too many and we become ready to exploit others in order to satisfy them that desires become problematic.

If we incorporate the attitude “I am just an instrument in God’s hands,” then the burden of karma will fall away from us entirely. Only when a pen is in someone’s hands can it write letters. It does not write on its own. So too it is with a paintbrush. It does not paint on its own. Someone has to hold it to paint. We have to be like a pen or a brush in the hands of the Divine.

The Lord always wore a peacock feather on his head. What is its meaning? It means that the Lord carried all the world’s responsibilities and actions as if the were as light as a feather.

Krishna taught Arjuna that behind every action is God’s power. If we abandon the feeling of doership and surrender to being an instrument in God’s hands, that divine power will flow through us. If we become like a pipe attached to the tank, all the water in the tank can be used for the sake of many through us. When we become a zero, we truly become a hero. Whatever we want will become possible, and we will be freed from all anxiety and fear. The Lord called this capacity as karmasu kaushalam—“dexterity in action.” This is one of the most important teachings the Lord gave the world.

There are similarities and differences between the earth and Lord Krishna. The earth attracts everyone and so does Sri Krishna. However, while the earth pulls everyone down, Sri Krishna draws one and all up to the heavens. “Perform your duties wholeheartedly with an attitude of surrender and detachment. Be happy, smiling and enthusiastic in life like a child.” This was Sri Krishna’s message.

The birth of Sri Krishna

In reality baby Krishna should take birth in our hearts. It is not enough if we have faith in the doctor and take the medicines as prescribed by him. We need to follow the diet he prescribes as well. Only then will we fully regain our health. Similarly, to overcome the disease of birth and death, we have to follow certain yamas and niyamas—do’s and don’ts. Only then will the divine love or Sri Krishna take birth in our heart. May the light of the divine presence grow in your hearts, eliminating any darkness within. May this light overflow towards the whole of creation. May divine grace bless my children.

– Excerpts from Amma’s 2016 Krishna Jayanti Satsang


Independence day with Amma

India’s Independence day celebrated at the Ashram with great enthusiasm. Little children gave small flags to Amma and the AYUDH group gave a big flag around mindnight at the end of darshan. Amma did pranams and waved the flag with lot of love and respect.



15th August 2016


The Vasana Box

26 Jul 2016, Amritapuri
Usually, when we give gifts to someone, it is as an expression of our love towards them, or to celebrate a certain occasion. When we give gifts, we try to give someone something that they do not have. However, when we give gifts to a Mahatma, it is considered an offering. Offerings such as food, clothes, etc. are like the son gifting his father using his father’s own credit card; we are simply offering items which the Guru already owns. In the case of a Mahatma, who possesses the knowledge of the Self, what can we possibly give? The only thing we can offer that they do not already own, is the gift of our Vasanas (tendencies).


And that is exactly what a devotee presented to Amma the other day in Amritapuri. When Amma came to the stage for bhajans, there was a red box kept on her peetham. She took that box, and read the box’s label aloud. It was inscribed, “the Vasana box.” Amma opened the box and started taking the contents out one by one. Inside the box were slips of paper, as well as clothing and other objects with notes attached. On each slip of paper or note, a different feeling and emotion was written on it. One note said “laziness.” The next: “anger.” There were more: “lust,” “depression,” “greed,” – the list went on. Rivalry. Jealousy. Hatred. Money. Taking them out of the box, she read them out one by one. Her face lit up with an innocent smile – the happiness of a child receiving a gift on her birthday. For the rest of us to receive gifts with such delight, it would have had to have been a box of diamonds.

As it turned out, the ashram resident who created this box and offered it to Amma, had been listening regularly to Amma’s manasa puja instructions, wherein Amma says that we have to offer everything at the feet of the Lord. It was this instruction that inspired him to offer his vasanas to Amma.

It was a beautiful moment, and it showed us what truly makes the Guru happy: to see a disciple conquering his/her vasanas, and moving forward along the spiritual path.

– Sakshi


Students will feel and learn about living ‘rich in heart’ under Amma’s guidance

18-20 July,  Tokyo, Japan – America – Canada – Japan Yatra 2016

After her extensive tour of North America and Canada, Amma reached Tokyo the capital of Japan. Amma’s programs were held for 3 days in Tokyo at Belle Salee Shibuya Garden Hall.

Student Volunteers from the Japanese student organization IVUSA have been actively participating in MAM’s free housing project. Every year group of students from IVUSA come to India and physically participate in the construction of free houses.  Mr. Shimomura Makoto, Director of IVUSA came to welcome Amma and express his gratitude to Amma.

“Now 3,300 students of Kyusyu university are involved in our volunteer activities. Our first meeting with Amma was 1998. We came to know about Her housing project in South India and happily participated in the construction. Also, we were involved in Amma’s housing project for the Gujarat earth quake and Tsunami housing projects in South India. It is true that Japan became very rich in material aspects. Now, students are feeling and learning about living ‘rich in heart’ under Amma’s guidance and instruction. We want to continue putting Amma’s Indian activities central in our activities. I express my congrats from bottom of heart to all of Amma’s charity activities.”

Amma led the devotees in prayer for world peace, meditation, bhajans and satsang.

This years Gurupurnima was also celebrated here. Amma gave a message on this occasion {news}. Swamiji did Amma’s Gurupada puja and chanting of 108 names. Amma gave prasad to all present. She was also interacting with the ashram centers via a webcast.

Inspiring Pink

During Darshan, Amma received a young man Taka Aki. He is very special.

Due to birth complications, Taka Aki was afflicted with a severe case of cerebral paralysis. Intellectually he is just like any one else, but he has very limited control over his muscles and is thus constrained to a wheelchair and has difficulty even speaking. Back in 2006, during his university studies, he joined one of their regular trips to India to volunteer with Embracing the World building houses for people in need. This has been a dream of Taka Aki’s since he first met Amma in 2003. But due to his condition, traveling to India always seemed unrealistic to him. In Tokyo, he moves about freely using a motorized wheelchair and communicates via computer. But if he came to India he knew he would have to leave these supports behind, and he did not want to be a burden for others. For two years, Taka Aki told himself that traveling to India was simply not in the cards. However, in his final year as a university student, he decided he had to try.

Taka Aki getting Amma’s darshan

The first day onsite in the Indian village of Nagapattinam was no different than any other at a construction site in India—extremely hot with lots of heavy manual labor. There was nothing that Taka Aki could do. His wheelchair even got a flat tire and he had to be pushed and carried along the dirt roads and over the thorny bushes. He simply sat in the shade, watching everyone else and longing for an opportunity to serve. {news}

Then the next day someone suggested that maybe he could paint. He was thrilled by the idea and immediately agreed to try. Soon, a few people carried him onto a scaffolding, taped a paintbrush in his hand (he is unable to grip things), and he was ready to go. Someone guided his hand into the paint bucket and then, with great effort, he moved the brush back and forth along the wall. Paint was flying everywhere, spraying anyone within range, but no one seemed to mind or even moved out of the way. The scene was too inspiring to leave. A small crowd began to gather, and tears came to many people’s eyes. One of the site supervisors was visibly touched and, with his hands over his heart, said, “This is real service.”

Taka Aki spent the next several hours painting. Every so often the scaffolding would be shifted so that he could reach another section, and different people took turns supporting him on the scaffolding and helping him to dip his brush. Throughout the day the other students continually shouted encouragement. By the time the sun began to set, the house had been transformed from the lifeless gray of cement to the inspiring pink of the horizon.