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Compassion and Devotion, Jnana and Bhakti are not two

21 Jan, Kanichukulangara, Alappuzha, Kerala -Bharata Yatra 2016

After the wrapping up the five Brahmasthanam programs on the 2016 North Kerala tour, Amma travelled to Alappuzha. Amma came there upon the invitation of the Temple committee, to dedicate the newly constructed “Chuttambalam” of Kanichukulanghara Devi temple.

Amma dedicating ‘Chuttambalam’ of Kanichukulangara Devi Temple

The Kanichukulanghara temple was set up at the behest of Sree Narayana Guru and as per the temple records.  Narayana Guru visited and stayed in the temple along with his disciples. He had also trained Ezhava community members enabling them to perform poojas in the temples.

At 10:30am a sea of devotees were on hand to welcome Amma as she arrived to visit the temple. Upon entering the temple, she lit the lamp and dedicated the Chuttambalam amidst Vedic chants.

After visiting the temple Amma continued the program across the street in a large venue set up for the event. During the public public function SNDP General Secretary Vellappalli Natesan welcomed Amma to Kanichukulangara, “We are blessed to have darshan of two Devis’ today. Kanichukulangara Devi (the presiding deity of the temple) and Amritanandamayi Devi…who are one in the same. Amma has no cast, no religion, no racial discrimination. Her religion is Love.”

During the function Amma handed over keys to 10 houses newly built in Kanichukulangara area as part Amritakuteeram project.

On addressing the large crowd, which seemed to be the entire village, Amma said “Human beings need a job, money and basic comforts to live, but in today’s society, where selfishness reigns supreme, the greatest wealth we can gather within our hearts is devotion. Where there is bhakti, there is the real ‘meeting’. It is not a physical meeting, but a meeting where the Jivatman, the individual self, and Paramatman, the cosmic Self, unite.

“The real question is not whether God exists or not, but whether human beings have sorrow or not. Bhakti, or devotion, is the practical way of getting rid of sorrows. Bhakti is a practical science. Bhakti is not blind superstitious belief. It is this faith that removes darkness from our hearts. Not only does it help us unburden our heart, it also amplifies our sense of righteousness and inspires us to be compassionate towards the distressed. Devotion to God and compassion for the world are but two sides of the same coin. Jñana and Bhakti are not two; if Jñana is the fruit of a tree, Bhakti is the juice of that fruit.

“Temples are sacred places where God’s presence can be felt the most. But we should have the awareness that God’s presence is not limited to the sanctum of the temple. God is the all-pervading consciousness, which enlivens every being, sentient or insentient. It is only when we think and act with this knowledge that we will be able to experience God- consciousness within oneself. We should also be able to serve everyone, seeing the God within them. A heart devoid of compassion is like a closed parachute- it cannot save us.”

At night, the Trantri (temple priests) came to Amma while she is giving darshan and did a ‘shodasa upachara puja’ to Amma as they do daily to the deity in their temple. With all the mudras and steps of the Tantric puja, they did arati to Amma.

Amma also sang bhajans and gave darshan till the stroke of midnight thus concluding the first leg of Bharata Yatra 2016.

 
-Kannadi

 

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Amma in Kodungallur

18-19 Jan, Kodungallur, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2016

After programs in Kozhikode, Amma travelled to Kodungallur for the next two day Brahmasthanam festival on her 2016 North Kerala tour.

Kodungallur is home to the first Brahmasthanam Temple consecrated by Amma in 1988. Because Amma has been coming here for so many years, there are many devotees in this city that have special relationships with Amma going back over 30 years. Amma spent many tender moments reminiscing with each one, playing and joking with them.

During the two days of programs, Amma gave darshan, led bhajans and gave satsang.
Each day Amma was led to the stage by a Panchavadyam troupe and was received on the stage with chanting of Vedic Mantras.

As Amma gave darshan throughout the day two days, Amrita Vidyalayam students presented different cultural programs. Amongst the thousands of people who came to meet Amma over the two days one of the distinguished guests who came to meet Amma was Malayalam film director Major Ravi.

– Kannadi

 

 

 

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Development should go hand in hand with conservation of nature

15-16 Jan, Palakkad, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2016

The next stop on Amma’s Bharata Yatra 2016, was a two day Brahmasthanam festival in Palakkad.

During the two days of programs, Amma gave satsang, sang bhajans and led everyone in meditation.

During her talk, Amma urged people to respect and preserve nature, saying, “Development should go hand in hand with conservation of nature. Modern society is developing in a way that disregards nature. As a result, crops, fields, lakes, and ponds are polluted. Healthy food, pure water and clean air are like endangered species. Humankind is trampling nature indiscriminately, like a herd of elephants trampling through a grove. We have big challenges with waste disposal and households should learn the art of composting. Human beings today are causing environmental problems and harming the ozone layer. We must learnt to respect nature.”

Throughout the day, Amrita Vidyalayam students presented different cultural programs. One of the item was a Kathakali performance in which Amma’s life and teachings were presented.
Later a young ‘kalari’ troupe (traditional marital arts) staged a wonderful acrobatic demonstration which won the hearts of everyone present.

Well past midnight on the final day, after giving darshan all day, Amma rose and danced to the tune of Baduga music…ending the program on the sweetest of notes and filling everyone’s hearts.

-Kannadi

 

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Creativity in naming babies

During Amma’s recent program in Kannur, a family brought their baby for the Annaprasha ceremony, where Amma gives the child its first solid food. The father explained to Amma that his first child’s name is Amrit, the second child’s name is Ananda and the third and youngest one which was participating in the ceremony is Mayi. Put it all together and it becomes: AmritAnandaMayi. Amma had a good laugh at the creativity and devotion of the parents.

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(Kannur, Kerala, Bharata Yatra, 6 January 2016)

 

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Amma in Kozhikode

12-13 January, Kozhikode, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2016

Amma arrived to Kozhikode at 9:45pm from Mangalore for the next two day Brahmasthanam festival on the North Kerala tour.

She was received by the devotees chanting mantras, shouting of Mata Rani, and silent tears of love. Amma then served dinner to all those present.

During the first morning morning Amma extended the ashram’s charitable activities in the area by gifting deeds to land for 15 poor families to build their own houses.

Fifty Ayudh members were given ‘Nalpamara trees’ to be planted in public places and temples as part of the Green initiative called ‘Nalpamaram Natinnu Nalvaram.’

Abdul Rahman, who has planted 50 lakhs of fruit trees across the state in the last 25 years, came to receive Amma’s blessing and he presented some of the fruit trees to Amma.

On both days Amma gave satsang, bhajan and Darshan. During both days, different Amrita Vidyalayam students presented cultural programs.

 

Each day you could see long lines of devotees waiting for darshan with their families.

Many devotees in Kozhikode have special relationship with Amma. For example, one old innocent, sweet lady brought Amma some sweets and offered them during Darshan. Amma asked her where she got the money to buy the sweets. The lady replied she got it from her work as a sweeper. When Amma inquired how much the lady made each day, she told Amma she made 50 rupees (about $0.75 cents) a day…despite that she still decided to buy something to offer Amma. Amma spent some extra time with her, enjoying her innocent faith and devotion.

At the end of the second day Amma danced to the tune of baduga music, and also made several of the brahmacharis come up on stage and dance with her as well.

– Kannadi

 

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Acceptance is key to success: Amma in Mangaluru

09-10 Jan – Mangalore, Karnataka – Bharata Yatra 2016

The second stop on the Bharata Yatra was a two-day Brahmasthanam festival in Mangalore.

Amma was welcomed to the stage with traditional drumming, dancing and rows of girls wearing traditional attire and oil lamps.

Welcoming Amma to Mangalore

 

During the program, Vidyamritam scholarships were distributed to 51 deserving students and Amrita Nidhi financial aid was extended to thirty more needy. Purified drinking water filters and coloured dustbins were distributed to 10 government schools. Dedicated Amala Bharatam volunteers who have been working all these years since the launch of the project were honoured and were presented with a water filter for their family.

Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha member Nalin Kumar Kateel, MLA JR Lobo, Kannada Sahitya Parishat President Pradeep Kumar Kalkura and others were present to welcome Amma to Mangalore.
Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari D. Veerendra Heggade who came to honour Amma, in his address said, “People irrespective of caste, colour sect and religion come to Amma and she blesses them with her motherly care. The relationship of disciple and Guru is unique. Only the Guru can show the way to reach God. India has the unique tradition of guru-shishya system.”

In her address, Amma said “…people should think positively; anger, jealousy and pride make one sick. The world is full of problems. We should not only sympathise with those facing problems, but also work towards solving them. Sincere and selfless work towards society and mankind is the way to achieve salvation. Change is a part of life, we should be ready to accept any situation in life with a smile. Acceptance is key to success.”

 

During both days of darshan, different Amrita Vidyalayam schools from across Karnataka came and presented cultural programs which won the heart of many, especially the yoga demonstration by the students of Davangere.

On both days Amma delivered satsang, led the meditation in Kannada, sang bhajans and gave darshan.

On the final day, at the end of the program, Amma stood up and danced, the whole crowd also joined in, singing and swaying with her. The Mangalore devotees will always remember those beautiful moments forever in their hearts.

 

 

 

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Amma in Kannur

05-06 Jan, Kannur, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2016

Amma started off this year’s Bharata Yatra by visiting the North Kerala city of Kannur. During the two day Brahmasthanam festival, Amma gave satsang, sang bhajans and gave darshan.

Amma arrives at Kannur

In her satsang, Amma asked everyone to practice yoga everyday. She recommend people do at least Surya Namaskara (sun salutation sequence of yoga poses) daily. She also encouraged everyone to walk at least 30 minutes a day and stressed the importance of spending time in the evening sun (after 4pm) to help offset vitamin D deficiencies caused by working indoors and from being in air conditioned rooms and vehicles.

Stressing on the importance of service, Amma said “You do not need to be in a high position or wealthy in order to console the suffering. A loving word, a compassionate glance, a helping hand – that’s enough to help someone. We can also have empathy for them and feel their pain.

Amma reminded the assembled devotees, “It is not what we achieve in life materially, but what we give to the world is that reflects and gives value to our life”.

On the second day at the end of the darshan, Amma sang and danced to traditional Baduga music.

 

 

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Be Joyful, Alert, Smiling and Compassionate

January 1, 2016 — Amritapuri (An excerpt from Amma’s 2016 New Year’s Message)

Another new year is here. When a child is born into a family, it makes everyone happy, but at the same time, it also makes everyone alert. The parents will be careful that the child doesn’t fall down. They will make sure that its clothes and surroundings are clean and properly dusted. They will watch the child’s each and every movement. With each day of the child’s growth, the family is filled with joy and delight. They eagerly watch as the child attempts to stand up and walk.​They soon begin looking​expectantly forward for the child to speak. This is how we should welcome the new year—with joy and alertness, living its every moment completely.

When each new year is born, our heart becomes​ filled with hope that the future has good times in store for us and that things will change for the better. However, things may not always happen as we expect. We may have to face obstacles and hardships. Spirituality teaches us to face everything with a smile. For one who knows swimming, the sea waves are delightful. Whereas for one who cannot swim, the sea and its waves are terrifying; one might even drown. Similarly, what helps us face the ups and downs of life are proper knowledge and the proper attitude.​ ​The smile that blossoms on our lips is God’s signature on our face. We should not permit sorrow or anger to wipe it off. My children should always have the awareness to sustain that smile and have faith in God.​​

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Amma talking on New Year’s Eve

Looking back at the year gone by, there have been many traumatizing events. Extremely cruel terrorist attacks in different parts of the world that claimed numerous lives, the heart-breaking refugee crises, earthquakes, disastrous floods in Chennai were some of them. In Chennai, people went happily to bed at night, and by morning the water had risen and washed away everything they had. This is the nature of life. That doesn’t mean we should not put in any effort. We need to do everything possible to avert such natural tragedies.

However, even in the midst of disasters like the Chennai floods, there was a silver lining–the men and women who forgot themselves and risked their own lives to wipe the tears and save the lives of others. They thought beyond barriers of caste, religion, and nationality. They showed us that compassionate people have not become extinct–that ​the ​language of selfless service continues to be spoken here. This inspires us with hope. Let us pray that the lamp of compassion continues to burn brightly in the at least some human hearts.

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Amma talking on New Year’s Eve

Natural disasters like the floods in Chennai warn us about how alert we need to be when it comes to protecting Nature’s harmony. Today we are seriously worried about global warming and its effects. If global temperatures continue to increase, the result will be disastrous. The planet earth may continue to exist, but not a single member of the human race will survive. In December, the leaders of 195 countries signed an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference [COP 21] in Paris. Let us hope and pray that their efforts to solve global climate change are successful and that their decisions come to fruition.

If things continue to deteriorates they are, then by 2020 or 2022, the earth’s temperature will be soaring. We all know about the depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere and the ozone hole.

This year, let us put in more effort to plant trees and to do organic farming. It would be great if each household were to make their own compost. Even those who live in flats can collect the food waste in a separate container and make compost from it. They can also grow vegetables and trees in either buckets or plastic drums or pots.

Carpooling should be encouraged more. The numbers of vehicles on the road have increased, leading to more atmospheric pollution. If there are five people working in the same office, or in the same area, they can use one car instead of five. People can split the cost of the fuel. Thus, carpooling will help us to reduce our diesel expenses and reduce atmospheric pollution as well. It will also​ ​reduce the time it takes to reach our destination, as the number of vehicles on the road will decrease. Moreover, with the money saved, many poor people can be helped.

Normally we make a New Year’s resolution, but then, within a few days, we break it. For example, let’s say we made a resolution to stop smoking. First, we don’t inform anyone of our resolution because we think that it will be embarrassing if we cannot follow through. It is easy for this resolution to fail. Almost 99 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. On the other hand, if we had informed our friends and relatives of our decision, our chances of success would have been at least 10​ ​percent. If we also were to join an​ ​ex-smoker’s support group, our​ ​probability of success would leap even higher. Good company helps us to withstand the lure of temptations. Therefore, my children should try to cultivate good friendships

As far as spiritual aspirants are concerned, New Year’s is an opportunity to introspect, do some self-evaluation, and see how​ ​much further we have moved along the spiritual path. We have a long way to go and very little time remaining.

When compassion enters our actions, its waves begin to influence others as well. Such actions enable us to receive God’s grace. A mind that does not swell in arrogance at success, a mind that does not falter at failure, a mind that delights in giving, a mind that accepts criticism gracefully–we all should have such a mind. Those who have such a mind​ ​can never fail. And even if they do, those failures will not affect them within. The external situation may not always be favorable, but they will never internalize their disappointments or failures. They will be grateful towards everything in life. They will be true to their conscience.

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New Year celebrations at Amritapuri Ashram

Even the longest journey starts with the first small step. Let each of us welcome the New Year by starting to make small changes in our life. If each of us can do this–who knows–it may mark the beginning of a new age altogether! Let us surrender it to the Paramatman and move forward together with one mind towards a single goal.

Amma wishes all her children a very Happy New Year!​

 

New Year celebrations at Amritapuri 2016

1 January, 2016 – Amritapuri

Thousands of people filled the main hall in Amritapuri to welcome 2016 in the presence of our Divine Mother.

As darshan was finishing, a number of cultural performances entertained the gathered crowd who had come from all parts of India and the world. There were traditional Indian dances followed by a rap session praising Amma. A dozen or so young resident children danced to the Baduga dance bringing joy to all.

Darshan finished, and as midnight approached, Amma returned to the stage and led everyone in chanting Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu.

In her New Year’s address, Amma acknowledged the many tragic natural and man-made events of the past year and praised the response to the recent flooding in Chennai. She stressed the importance of caring for Mother Nature, giving examples of how we can all make an effort to help. Amma then expressed her hope and prayers for the success of efforts to solve global climate change as put forth during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this past November.

After her speech {news}, Amma sang “Kushiyom Ki Bahar” followed by “Bandalo Bandalo”. The contrast of the melancholy, yet hopeful tune of Kuishiyom Ki against the hand-clapping and uplifting melody of Bandalo gave hope and joy for the New Year.

Amma then stood up, and her peetham was moved back to make way as she danced to the traditional Baduga song. As she gracefully moved in time to the rhythmic beats, she playfully encouraged all to join in. A few devotees on stage joyfully started dancing, and Amma even tried to get a few small toddlers to participate. Everyone clapped their hands and danced in bliss.

As the music and dancing came to an end, payasam was distributed to everyone – with Amma herself pouring each glass. After enjoying the sweet prasad, Amma returned to her room, and everyone went to bed with a smile on their face.

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Indelible Footprints in the Heart: Amma’s 2015 Christmas Message

December 25, 2015 – Amritapuri Ashram

Christmas awakens vibration of goodness, hope and compassion in the human heart, just as the birth anniversaries of other great incarnations and realized beings do. This day reminds us of what it is that that the human heart should be comprised—not with selfishness and hatred, but with devotion to God and love towards our fellow beings. Our thoughts and actions should become so permeated with goodness that they come to illuminate the divinity that resides within us. Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Buddha and Jesus Christ lived on this earth thousands of years ago, but they have left their indelible footprints in human hearts. If we wish to reach the shores of everlasting peace and happiness, all we have to do is follow the path they showed us.

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Footprints imprinted upon the earth are soon to fade and disappear, but footprints formed in the heart remain. This is why we remember the lives of mahatmas long after they leave their physical bodies. Their lives and teachings are very practical; they serve to remind us about the purpose of human life. Their lives were not for themselves, but for the good of the world. When we remember their lives, it awakens our own innate goodness. It helps us to become compassionate towards our fellow beings; it helps us to overcome selfishness and anger. We find ourselves aspiring to become more loving. It prompts us to repent when we become angry—to pray for the ability to forgive.

One may ask, “Don’t we also remember people those who did evil deeds?” Yes, but when we think of them, we are not uplifted as we are when we remember those who were embodiments of goodness. Thinking of the lives of mahatmas is like visiting a perfume factory. Your clothes become fragrant without any effort. Dwelling upon the lives of the wicked, on the other hand, is like visiting a charcoal factory; our clothes become sooty even if we don’t touch the charcoal directly.

Throughout his life Jesus Christ demonstrated deep compassion and humility. Normally people respect others only if they belong to a reputed family. Otherwise they will not give them much respect. We see others through the lens of our ego. However, in spirituality, we accept others with out any preconceived notions. Wherever there is goodness, we need to accept it. That is what great masters teach us.
Not only that, Jesus did not live like a king, as many expected him to, but as one among the people, as the servant of all. Therefore, he was easily accessible to the poor and deprived. However high our status in life is, we should have the expansiveness to see everyone as equal. That, in fact, is an exalted state. If we cannot attain it, then at least we should be able to be able to view them without anger and hatred. We live in times when mutual brotherhood is lost and everyone is thinking of what one can grab from the other. It may be hard to see everyone as equal, but when we understand spirituality, we will be able to achieve this vision.

Currently, we depend on others for our happiness. Because of that dependency, we are losing the experience of true freedom. We miss the experience of knowing our True Self because of this attachment to the ego. No matter how hard we row a boat that is tied to the shore, it will not move forward one inch. Similarly if we want to move forward in spirituality, we need to renounce the notions of “I” and “mine.” We need to understand that we are just instruments in the hands of the Divine, and that it is the Divine power that is allowing us to do things.

We can control things only to some extent. Beyond that it is Divine grace that makes things happen. We need to put in efforts with an attitude of surrender. Even when we win a competition, we need to bend our head and bow down to receive the medal. Humility is the key that opens the heart.

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The goal of every mahatma’s life is to guide others to find the heaven within themselves. They show us that good actions bring us closer to God. Through his life, Jesus Christ taught the world that society rewards a spiritual seeker only with a crown of thorns. All mahatmas have had to face many challenges throughout their life, but because they had the experience of the Truth, nothing could stop them.

If you are a smoker, give your family the present of quitting smoking this Christmas. With the money that you save by giving up this habit, you can help a needy person. It also protects your health. If you are an alcoholic, get help to stop in the name of love for your family. The family will be so happy and your health will not deteriorate as well. If you are an overeater, stop eating excess food and start the habit of eating lesser portions of more nutritious food. This will make us less dull and improve our health.

Such presents that come out of sacrifice bring unending joy. Amma does not say that we should not send greeting cards and gifts or do other such things. It may give our loved ones fond memories. But the real gifts are the actions we do that truly benefit others. This is the right way to celebrate Christmas.

Celebrations like Christmas are also a wake-up call to those who do not know the goal of human life. From the point of view of the ancient sages of India, all are children of God. The guru’s voice wakes up the disciple who is in deep winter hibernation. What does the voice say? “This is the birth of a new age! You should be its creators. Hence, awake, arise! Joyfully shoulder the bundle of sacrifice and surrender! This bundle is not a burden. Rather, it will give us wings to fly high into the world of the soul, the True Self.”

May the spirit of Christmas inspire my children to fly high into the world of peace and joy. May grace bless you always.