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We want to bring glory to our village: Dagara girls

25 Mar, Amdavad, Gujarat – Bharata Yatra 2015

During the public programme in Amdavad, in Amma’s presence, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt. Anandiben Patel, handed over certificates of encouragement to eight young women, acknowledging their completion of the 10th standard exams conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).

The recognition is notable since it marks the successful continuation of Amma’s humanitarian work in Gujarat. The Dagara village in Bhuj, where the girls are from, is one of three villages rebuilt by Ashram after the devastating earthquake in 2001 {news}. Ever since, the community has been receiving Amma’s continuous support for its overall development.

Recently, Dagara became one of 40 villages in 20 states to participate in an educational scheme of Amrita University which uses tablet-based education to tutor both children and adults . Previously, the village school only went up to 8th grade, but with the new computer-based education, students can now remain in the village and complete their studies up to 10th grade, allowing them to pursue a profession that will further support their families and aid in the development of the community. Up until recently, because of safety concerns, parents would not allow their daughters to leave the village for higher studies beyond 8th grade.

Meera, one of the graduates and mother to a two-year old child, enrolled in the programme after a gap of eight years from school. She had been eager to take up her studies again to attain a BEd (Bachelor of Education) Teachers Certificate. Meera said, “I want to be a teacher so that I can reach out to those who are deprived and help them move ahead in life.”

Shanti, another graduate, had resumed studies after a gap of two years. She now wants to become a nurse and serve in her community. The successful completion of the 10th standard will help her reach that goal.

The girls said, “We have classes every day from 2pm to 7 pm, with no holidays. We love to study and don’t feel bored at all . All our families are farmers. It is our dream to bring glory to our village by introducing new professions. Thank you Amma, for helping us achieve that goal.”

Present at the function was also Veji Ben, the Maths, English, and Science teacher for the students. She herself became the first girl in Dagara to complete a +2 (pre-university) degree, staying at her uncle’s house in the next village to attend the university there. Now she is proud to congratulate the first batch of female students from her own village who would otherwise not have had the same opportunity she had. “Most of the students want to take up arts. For science they will need a lab and other facilities,” says Veji Ben.

The girls presented a Kutch dance dressed in traditional costumes for Amma.

After they had spent the whole night at the venue with Amma, the girls remarked, “We had known about Amma since she rebuilt our village. But now that we see her we don’t want to leave her presence, we want to live with her.”

This is just one of many stories of how Amma’s sustained humanitarian outreach transforms entire communities and empowers a new generation to uplift not only their own families, but society as a whole.

– Sundar

15delhi-64

Amma meets PM Narendra Modi, offers to help in Namami Gange project

28 Mar, 2015 – New Delhi

Amma today called on the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at his residence and blessed him.

Sri Mata Amritanandamayi showed keen interest in Namami Gange. The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to her for her great contribution to the Swachha Bharat Abhiyan and requested her to initiate a toilet construction project in the villages of five states of Ganga river basin, to which she agreed.

amma-modi

source: www.narendramodi.in

 

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Garba dance at the school garden

24 March, Amdavad, Gujarat- Bharata Yatra 2015

As soon as Amma finished giving darshan at 5.40 in the morning of 24th in Mumbai, Amma and the tour group immediately started to drive towards Amdavad for her next program.

Upon reaching the Amrita Vidyalayam, Amdavad at 10.20 pm, Amma sat in the beautiful grassy courtyard of the school, surrounded both by her Gujarati devotees and tour group. After a meditation session and prasad dinner, Amma sang Gujarati bhajans. As it is the very nature of Gujaratis, one by one, the devotees started to get up to dance and clap to the music. Young and old alike, parents with they little babies on their shoulders, joined in a joyful celebration. Soon, Amma’s international children also got up and rejoiced in copying some of the traditional Garba dance moves.

What started as a small picnic soon turned into a turning mandala of dance in the garden of the school. Colourful Gujarati costumes and faces of all nationalities whirled in the blinking decoration-lights of the buildings.

Neighbours looking down from their windows and balconies were surely wondering at the scene, marvelling at Amma’s wonder to bring about such a cheerful celebration in the middle of the night, uniting hearts from all nationalities and walks of life.

– Sundar

15mumbai-14

Amma in Mumbai

22-23 March, Nerul, Navi Mumbai, Maharashta – Bharata Yatra 2015

For two days Amma held the Brahmastanam festival in Mumbai.

As Amma reached her Nerul ashram on the evening of March 21st, she was welcomed by the local devotees with tears of joy in their eyes. As it has become a tradition on this tour, Amma spent the first evening in her ashram serving food and singing bhajans – this time A-i Bhavani and Tandana Tandana, two up-beat bhajans which made the crowd cheer and celebrate with Amma.

 

In the conversation that followed between Amma and the devotees, one devotee asked the question: “Amma, your needs are very little. We, on the contrary, never seem to be getting enough, we are never satisfied. How can we overcome our desires? “
Amma replied: “The reason that you are always craving more and more is due to ignorance. Awareness is the light which dissolves the desires.”

Especially the first day of programme in Mumbai saw an unprecedented crowd, overflowing to the streets surrounding the ashram.

 

During the public program, Amma distributed Amrita Nidhi pensions and Vidyamritam scholarships to deserving children.

AmritaSeRVe programme has reached out to several villages in Maharashtra, empowering the tribal women of the villages through vocational training programmes to earn their own livelihood. One group of such women from the Rensai tribal village came and proudly presented their handmade malas to Amma. By selling these, they can sustain themselves and their families with a steady income. They also presented a traditional dance for Amma.

Always joyful and ready to serve, the AYUDH Mumbai group was very active and helped in all areas of work throughout the programme.

Many dignitaries came to pay their tribute to Amma and seek her blessings, amongst them were Vidya Balan, film actor; Anjali Menon, film director; Nikhil Sinha, one of the directors of ‘Devonki Dev Mahadev'; and Sudha Chandran, the TV / film actress.

One of the cultural highlights of the programme were the joyful and uplifting bhajans of Shailendra. The whole crowd was clapping and singing along to his heart-stirring tunes.

Both days Amma held Satsang, Bhajans, Manasa puja in Hindi language and darshan.

One of the largest brahamstanam programmes on this tour came to an end, with Amma singing “Guruvadi vani sun lo” – a Punjabi bhajan, leaving behind many fond memories in the hearts of the devotees of Mumbai.

– Sundar

 

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Be the master of gadgets

19-20 March, Pune, Maharashtra – Bharata Yatra 2015
It had been two years since Amma visited the city last, so the devotees were eagerly awaiting Ammas arrival at Pune for a Brahmastanam Festival.

Earlier, on the way from Hyderabad to Pune, Amma stopped at a the Umarga Dattatreya temple, to serve dinner and sing bhajans with everyone. In this beautiful and profoundly spiritual surroundings one of Ammas international children took the opportunity to ask Amma whether she could reveal some more details about the ashram that has presumably existed hundreds of years ago in the same place where Amritapuri is located now. Amma replied that this ashram had been a place of intense spiritual quest, where many people attained samadhi. Amma continued to say that even in the early days of the ashram Amma had foretold that the land belonging to 46 families surrounding the Kalari temple will ultimately be part of the ashram premises.

The tour group reached the Pune ashram on 18th March at 06:30 in the morning, after a 17 hour bus ride from Hyderabad. That same evening, Amma served prasad dinner to all tour staff and local devotees, answered their questions and sang joyful bhajans.

Amma also distributed Vidayamritam scholarships, providing free education to deserving children and Amrita Nidhi pensions to impoverished widows.

To the delight of the devotees, Amma led the Manasa Puja in Hindi and sang many new Marathi Bhajans.

Pune is known for its rich cultural and spiritual heritage – many renowned artists offered their musical renditions to Amma: Sanjay Garud, disciple of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the famous hindustani singer, presented soul-stirring devotional bhajans, called Abhangwani

Deepak Bhanuse delighted the crowd with a flute recital and a traditional Bhajan group sang the Marathi style Haripath.

A disciple of Briju Maharaj, Pandit Nandkishor Kapote presented Kathak, a classical dance form of North India.

Amma is well known to for her ability to convey the most profound teachings to people of any age. During darshan, 8-year old Pahi asked Amma: “When I watch TV, I see the political leaders arguing and fighting a lot. How can people who argue so much lead a country?”
Amma replied: “My child, discussion is very important. Meeting should be a meeting of hearts, not just of the intellect. Through discussion we can learn new ideas, acquire knowledge and rectify our misconceptions. However, the ideas and opinions we share should not be an expression of our egos. If you can learn and imbibe this art of leading a productive discussion, you will benefit greatly when you grow up.”

Next, it was the girls grandfathers turn for darshan. He complained to Amma that Pahi has been using the tablet computer for too many hours. Even Pahi herself admitted to Amma that she was addicted to the gadget.
To this, Amma gave the following advice: “You should use the tablet and not let the tablet use you. Don’t allow this gadget to be your master. Learn how to make proper use of technology and use it for your own benefit and the benefit of others.”

Dr. Vijay Bhatkar, Chairman Board of Governance IIT Delhi, one of India’s leading technological institutes came for Amma’s darshan. He said: “I was tremendously inspired by Ammas vision, from her project announcements during Amritavarsham60, to encourage college students to work in India’s villages after their graduation. We are committed to implement this vision and have asked all IITs in India to encourage their graduates to dedicate at least one or two years in a village and to develop something useful for them and empower these villages. It has become a trend that students go abroad in search of a job after they obtaining a degree. We want to change that.”

March 21st marked the New Year for many parts of India. Celebrating this Gudi Paduva – the name of the New Year in Maharashtra – many devotees turned their darshan into a celebration of an auspicious start to the New Year – singing and dancing with lamps in their hands as they approached Amma for blessings.

Towards the end of darshan, one devotee dressed Amma up as Sant Tukaram, one of the famous saints of Maharashtra, wearing a shawl and white turban.

As Amma finally concluded darshan at 4:30 am, she asked everyone close by which Marathi bhajan they would like to hear. After a short debate, the clear winner was ‘A-i Bhavani’, which Amma sang to the joy of all those present.

The very name of the city Pune means punya nagari – meritorious city. Clearly, the devotees of Pune were showered with an abundance of blessings as a response to the loving welcome and pure devotion they expressed towards Amma.

– Kannadi

 

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God is nothing more than the embodiment of all noble qualities

Heading out from Bengaluru, Amma and the tour group continued traveling north to Hyderabad, once part of Andhra Pradesh, and now part of the new state of Telangana. This will be Amma’s first visit to the new state.

On the way to Hyderabad, Amma stopped with the tour group on the grounds of a factory that happened to be just off the side of the highway. For years the owner of the factory had been watching Amma’s weekly talks on the local language television channel, but he had never had the chance to meet Amma in person. So imagine his surprise when he saw Amma and her tour group pull unexpectedly onto his property!

For the next few hours Amma sat with everyone in the group as well as the delighted factory owner and his family, singing bhajans and leading a discussion about the preservation of Mother Nature. Amma reminded everyone that in the days of our ancestors there was no need for environmental education because all of nature was seen as part of the creator. They had the vision to know that creator and creation were one and the same and not different from each other.

Amma and the tour group finally arrived at her beautiful Hyderabad ashram at 4am the following morning after a full day and night of travel.

Later that day, Amma met one the city’s highest ranking law enforcement officers. A lower ranking officer accompanying him also had a chance to meet Amma for the first time. The officer expressed to Amma he does not believe in God, but instead, believes in goodness. Upon hearing this, Amma told him that she really liked his openness, and to her God is nothing more than the embodiment of all noble qualities. She told the officer that if he or anyone else is able to live in accordance with goodness and values, that is enough.

Over the next two days of programs, Amma delighted all the locals by leading the Manasa Puja in Telegu and singing many Telegu bhajans along with satsang and meditation sessions.

Amma expanded the Vidyamritam program of educational scholarships with 1,000 new beneficiaries. These included 65 students from the AmritaCREATE centers from the villages of Kodur in Telengana and Gudipaticheruvu in Seemandhra.

Students from the Kodur center performed their native Kolattam dance with jingling cymbals on sticks.

Amrita Vidyalayam students also presented different cultural programs.

At the end of the final day of programs, finishing darshan at 3.30 am, as Amma was leaving the hall, Amma stopped by a man in the crowd who had come to offer her a packet of incense and camphor. Amma asked him if he had been drinking. Embarrassed, the man replied, ‘Yes.’ Amma then told the man that God doesn’t need any material offerings – what is actually needed is the purity of thought, action, and deed.

Amma concluded the programs by singing ‘Guruvadi Vani Sun Lo’ which means ‘Listen to the Words of the Masters.’

– Sundar

 

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Amma in Bangalore

11-12 March, 2015 – Bangalore, Karnataka

Amma arrived to Bangalore by mid-night, after a stop at Sri Rangapattinam, in the evening to the warm welcome of hundreds of devotees, including many students of Amrita University.

The following evening, Amma served prasad to a hall full of devotees and students. Amma sang for all gathered. Everyone present was brimming over with happiness.

Students of the Veda Gurukulam,  welcomed Amma to the stage with Vedic chanting.

Nyayamurti Y Bhaskar Rao, the Loka Yuta Chief, and SK Patil, Hon. Minister for Irrigation helped distribute pensions and scholarships to needy women and children.

Many cultural programs were staged by Amrita Vidyalayam and Amrita University Bangalore students. A highlight of the last evening was an elaborate dramatization of the Ramayana by the Amrita University students of the Bangalore campus. The costumes, acting and original music were superb. Ravana’s ten heads were creatively portrayed by ten students standing together. The students staged this epic in an epic way!

The Bangalore program is special because of the incredible active participation of hundreds of students from Amrita University. The students were seen in every corner of the program site. Unloading the sound system truck, answering questions at the ‘May I Help You Desk’, giving out water to the devotees, setting up the hall, and helping direct seating, the students tirelessly served wherever they were needed.

One student was washing dishes early morning by the snacks canteen. Later in the evening the same boy was there still washing dishes. He was asked “Don’t you have a replacement? You have been here all day!” He replied enthusiastically “I cannot leave, it is my duty—I am the supervisor!” Such was the dedication of the students volunteering their time and effort to serve the devotees at Amma’s Bangalore program.

At the finish of the last evening’s darshan, Amma treated everyone present to a new Hindi song ‘Aaye he sare jaha yaha..’
The devotees cried “Mata Rani Ki Jai!!!” as Amma, smiling at all, stood up from her darshan seat, concluding this year’s Bangalore program.

As Amma walked back to her room, the student group surprised her by asking to have a photograph, standing on her steps. And Amma humbly obliged.

– Sundar

2015 mysore distribution

A Hug from Amma I will never forget it

7-8 March, Mysore, Karnataka – Bharata Yatra 2015

From the Tanur programme, Amma drove straight to Mysore in Karnataka. A big crowd, mostly students of Amrita University, Mysore, welcomed Amma. Amma led a meditation, sang bhajans and served prasad to the crowd of students and devotees. Amma was given Holi colors and she continued playing Holi, to the delight of all present.

Just as Amma left the stage, it started raining heavily, which is very unusual for this time of year.

The program site was set up by the Mysore ashram, the Amrita Vidyalayam, and Amrita University as all three share the same campus.

The hall was full when Amma came to the stage the following day. Amma gave out Amrita Nidhi pensions and Vidyamritam student scholarships. Amma also presented certificates to disadvantaged women who had successfully completed an Ammachi Labs sponsored vocational training course.

Amma conducted the manasa puja in the Kannada language, and when she finished the devotees clapped happily! She also sang many new Kannada bhajans.

Many young people from all over the world, who had never met Amma, came from nearby yoga schools to attend the three hour program and receive Amma’s darshan. According to the international greeting team stationed at the entrance to the program, the young people could not contain their joy after having had their first darshan with Amma.

One young man from New York said, “Thank you so much for helping me, it was a beautiful experience receiving a hug from Amma. I will never forget it, and I will come to see Amma when she comes to the US!”

The Amrita Vidyalayam and University students presented different cultural program on both days of the program.

Amrita University’s Mysore campus students, in the recent months, have won awards in state and national level competitions in a wide variety of academic and extracurricular subjects. Amma took time out to pose for a group photo during her darshan.

Amma concluded the last darshan by singing to the devotees. The students and devotees sang and danced to Amma’s ecstatic bhajans.

– Sundar

 

2015 Tanur welcome

A Holi in Tanur

5 March, Tanur, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2015

Amma drove directly to the Tanur ashram from Kozhikode program. The ashram is situated in an idyllic spot in the countryside where cows are raised. The devotees enthusiastically joined in to serve the prasad with Amma. Amma sang bhajans with them, one of which has a traditional style; “Elo, Elo.” The devotees, smiling ear to ear, clapped and danced along.

This is Amma’s second visit to Tanur, the program held at the Amrita Vidyalayam compound.
It is traditional to hold a procession as part of a religious festival and the devotees dressed as gods and godesses paraded through the town in honor of Amma’s visit. The costumes employed a folk art style, Teyyam, wherein the participants make their faces and body up and also hold a painted wooden background. The end result was a very convincing Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi.

Fireworks were set off and hundreds of devotees holding balloons released them into the air as Amma arrived on the stage.

Amma was welcomed onto the stage by the minister Anil Kumar, the local MLA Abdurahman Randathani and the famous chenda (drum) player, Mattannoor Shankara Kutty.

Amma offered lifelong pensions to poor women, and Vidyamritam scholarships for poor children. She also distributed vegetable seeds to encourage devotees to grow their own organic food.

Throughout the programme, students from different Amrita Vidyalayam schools presented cultural programs of dance, music and drama.

Even though Amma would arrive only at 6:00 in the evening, thousands had already arrived before 2:00 pm. They sat in their seats throughout the night, quietly and patiently waiting for their turn to receive Amma’s darshan.

It was noteworthy that all the students from the area had major exams on the following day. Usually parents will never take their children out the day before an exam, to avoid the children being tired and not being able to perform at their best. But the opposite was true at Amma’s program that day. Children and their parents would not miss Amma’s darshan and they came despite the exams the next day. Amma gave each child during their darshan a chocolate heart. It was highly unusual that Amma gives out chocolate hearts to so many, and in fact they ran out of the chocolate prasad! Many children asked for Amma’s blessings for their studies, and one could be sure that Amma blessed each of the children’s efforts and aspirations.

Sadhana Rana, from Mumbai, had flown down to specifically attend the Tanur program because she wanted to celebrate Holi with Amma. “I never miss celebrating Holi with Amma. I could not do that, I just had to come,” she said. “I hope Amma will play Holi with us!”

And her wish came true. At the end of darshan the following morning, Sadhana brought the colored powders and the water pistol and Amma lovingly threw the colors to all around. She gently applied the colors on the faces of the lucky childen next to the peetham and a few lucky adults! All the while Amma sang “Aiye Holi!”

It was a beautiful conclusion to Amma’s Tanur program. After nearly 16 hrs being continuously on the stage, when she left, she had painted the hearts of all those who came with Love.

Happy Holi to all.

– Sundar

2015 kozhikode manikkyam

Only our bodies are staying here, our hearts are always with you

2-3 March, Kozhikode, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2015

Hundreds of the Kozhikode devotees were lined up holding brass trays of flowers and puja lamps when the tour group arrived at the ashram at 5:30 in the evening. Amma was not expected to arrive until 7:30 pm. The Kozhikode devotees who were lined up five or six deep, along the path to the stage were not deterred by the long wait. They were fixed to their spot, anticipating the happy moment on Amma’s arrival they would be able to catch their first glimpse of Amma.

As word of Amma’s car approaching the chanting of “Om Amriteswaryai Namah” by the devotees reached a fevered pitch as Amma stepped out of the car.

Amma walked through the hall accepting, one by one, flowers offered by the devotees. The devotees moved towards Amma, their devotion overflowing with uncontrollable cries of “Amma!”

Amma went to sit directly on the small stage, where she began to sing bhajans followed by meditation. She then distributed prasad plates to one and all, smiling at all sitting before her. It was past 9:30 pm when Amma climbed the steps to her room. She looked through the curtains from the balcony overlooking the hall and smiled beatifically at the devotees down below. The devotees swayed to and fro as one, with hands pressed together in prayer, gazing up at Amma, calling her name.

Amma threw flowers petals down and the devotees’ arms outstretched to catch the blessed petals. Amma stretched her arms as if to embrace the whole group and brought her hands to Her heart; as if sweeping all the devotees to reside in her Infinite love.

Among the distinguished guests the following day who came to welcome Amma were the king of Kozhikode, Samutiri Raja, and the renowned Malayalam writer, P. Valsala.

Amma distributed vegetable seeds to emphasize the importance of cultivating personal organic vegetable gardens. Amma expressed that she was very happy to see Amrita Vidyalayam students bringing produce they had grown in their schools.

A group of youths from neighboring villages stood with Amma on the stage and recited a pledge promising to never drink alcohol or take any intoxicants, and to make their village alcohol-free.

Amma distributed Amrita University’s certificates to 17 tribal children from Attapadi for completing an eLiteracy & Health Awareness course. {news}

Amma also received another very special guest: a Guinness Book of World’s Records record holder for being the world’s smallest cow, Manikyam was brought for Amma’s darshan. Manikyam is a Vechoor cow, an endangered breed native to Kerala. Amma playfully held out a banana in front of Manikyam and as she tried to bite the banana, Amma held it just a little further away so the cow had to reach again and again. For several years, Amma has been encouraging the protection of the Vechoor and other endangered breeds of cows by having them bred and raised in Amritapuri.

Aikyam, a four year old devotee from France, has had an intense devotion towards Amma ever since he was a baby. Already at two years old, whenever the arati was being performed in front of Amma, from his mother’s arms, he would wave an imaginary arati plate and ring an imaginary bell to the Arati bhajan. At three he began to exhibit extraordinary musical talent singing Amma’s bhajans…

Now he was leaving with his parents from Kozhikode that night. He was very sad, and was crying during Amma’s program. Before leaving, Aikyam wrote Amma a letter: “France is not my home; my home is in India. My heart is here in India with Amma, and only my body is going to France.”

At the end of darshan Amma sang the new bhajan ‘Mariyamma’. The devotees poured their hearts out to Amma in this bhakti packed call and response bhajan.

As Amma left Kozhikode after two days of programs Aikyam’s feeling could be seen in the eyes of the devotees as they gazed upon Amma for a final time. “Only our bodies are staying here, Amma… our hearts are always with you.”

– Sundar