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Change is the nature of life: Amma in Devakottai

23 Feb, Devakottai, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Yatra 2016

The journey from Chennai to Devakottai was extremely long and took all day and night. Despite the arduous drive, Amma still took the time to stop with the group for an evening picnic along the way. It was a beautiful scene to sit under the moonlight and share a meal with Amma. Before everyone ate, she explained the importance of adjusting to the situations and respecting others as the embodiment of god. Amma added that its not enough to love and have devotion, but that one has to be compassionate to all beings around them. After sharing this wonderful teaching and dinner, everyone sang a few bhajans before continuing the journey.

For the very first time, Amma held an evening program in Devakottai. Twenty four years ago she had visited the nearby town of Karaikkudi.

On this night a huge crowd awaited Amma’s arrival at the N.S.M.V.P.S School grounds. Amma was welcomed to city by Rtd Supreme Court Chief Justice AR Lakshmana, Railway Board Chairman & BJP General Secretary H Raja and Swami Atmananda of Sharada Niketan Ashram.

During his welcome speech AR Lakshmana said, “This is a very important day for each of us. Though I have participated in many religious functions, I have never seen such a massive turnout anywhere else.

Swami Atmanada said, “Amma in the incarnate of the divine mother Sarada Devi. Amma in the form of the mother is blessing the entire world. Amma sees every being in herself and herself in all beings. This is supreme spiritual state.”

 

And BJP General Secretary H. Raja added, “Every nation has it’s own character…and spirituality is the character of Bharath. Amma spreads the message of Sanatana Dharma throughout this world. Wherever people undergo suffering, she reaches out and graces them.”

As Amma began her talk, a beautiful full moon rose above the venue. Speaking on the occasion Amma said “Change is the nature of life. Every day we witness how good and bad things happen in people’s lives without any prior warning. Life can be compared to a game. Just as in a game it is often hard to predict what will happen until the very end, so too it is with life. The arrangements are constantly shifting. Until victory is attained, the player must make his moves with care and attentiveness because even the smallest deviation in focus can result in failure.”

The massive crowd were all fed dinner and then patiently waited all through the night with faith and devotion for their chance to meet Amma. Many could be seen sleeping at the venue on the bare ground until it was their turn for a hug.

Amma finally finished the darshan close at 9.41 am the following morning, upon which the tour group packed up and headed for Madurai for the next stop on the tour.

Devakottai is known for a unique Siva temple that is without an idol.  In the inner shrine there is only a peetham, (no Siva lingam and no Nandi) the concept being that the presiding deity is supposed to be one’s own self in the place of the idol.  This truly vedantic temple helps instruct people that one should go beyond all forms and realize their true self.

-Kannadi

 

 

 

 

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Be thankful – Amma at Musical Chennai

20-21 Feb, Chennai, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Ystra 2016

After the public program in Puducherry, Amma held a two day Brahmasthanam festival in Chennai. During the two days, Amma gave darshan, sang bhajans and gave satsang. She also led the Manasapuja, instructing all in the local Tamil language.

Speaking on the occasion, she said, “Be thankful for what you get and show gratitude. Human beings survive because of thousands upon thousands of aspects of nature that constantly and selflessly serve and support them. We are indebted to many subtle and obvious parts of nature. When this awareness dawns within, it becomes easy to appreciate everything during each breath we take.”

Chennai is home to many famous musicians and during Amma’s visit a one incredible performance was followed by an equally incredible performance as Amma gave darshan. These were highlighted by Mrudangam maestro Karaikkudi Mani who offered a Jugalbandi accompanied by Bala Sai on Flute, UP Raja on Mandolin and N Guruprasd on Ghatam; famous violinst Kumari Kanyakumari, who offered her tributes with the accompaniment of the superb Mrudamgam by Patri Sateesh Kumar; and Sri Ram, an upcoming young artist, who presented a Carnatic fusion on Keytar.

Karaikkudi Mani and team performing Jugalbandi

Famous singers like Gayathri Girish, Gayatri Venkataraghavan, Dr R Ganesh, Nityasree Mahadevan and Ananth Vaidyanathan also offered Carnatic vocal performances for Amma during darshan.

In between all the amazing music, there was still time for the local Amrita Vidyalayam students to also present different cultural programs.

At end of darshan on the 2nd day Amma sang two bhajans and even though it was already very late in the night, Amma still was in the mood to spend some more time with the local people. Amma asked one of the ashram kids, whose favorite hobby is to make up stories to trick people when he is bored, to share his latest tale of trickery with everyone. He explained how he raised a question to his mother on the previous bus journey asking her to tell him the long version of how her grandparent’s died. His mother thought this was an odd request but he assured her he would explain his intentions after the story was over. When his mother finished he told her his sole intention of asking this was for her to be occupied speaking while he could quickly eat all the bag of chips he didn’t want to share with her.

Next Amma asked another young ashram boy to tell a joke to everyone. This boy rambled on and on telling an elaborate joke. His excitement and animation in delivering the joke made it very hard to follow the point of the story…so by the time he finished it was unclear what the actual punchline was. Amma ended the joke for him by telling everyone that the fact that no one actually understood the joke but laughed throughout…was the joke.

The combination of Amma’s presence, her love, her laughter, the incredible musical performances helped make the Chennai program a very memorable one.

-Kannadi

 

 

 

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Failure comes from losing self-confidence: Amma in Puducherry

18 Feb – Puducherry – Bharata Yatra 2016

The next program on Amma’s 2016 Bharata Yatra was a one day public program in Puducherry. The program was held in the Tagore college grounds where Amma was welcomed by a huge crowd.

 

Officially welcoming Amma to the state Puducherry the MLA Namashivayam said, “Whenever natural calamites strike any part of the globe, we see Amma reaching out to offer help. Amma sits in the same place and blesses everyone whether they are rich or poor. We may not be able to see God directly, but we can see God in Amma’s form.

Another MLA, Vishweshwaran added, that “Amma shows us that love and spirituality are beyond the barriers of nationality. Spirituality is the powerful weapon that protects the culture and heritage of our motherland. When we see Amma, we get the feeling that this land will arise and become a super power.”

Earlier in the day, several more dignitaries including the Chief Minister of Puducherry, Rangaswami and the French consulate Philippe Janvier Kamiyama and his wife, came to meet Amma seeking her blessings.

During her address to the gathering, Amma said, “Setbacks do not make someone a failure, only losing self confidence does. We should always remember that while fate will drag a lazy person through tough times, it will always make way for a hardworking person to pass. Acquiring spiritual knowledge is the only way to obtain the proper perspective about life and the mental strength to face difficulties.”

Setbacks do not make someone a failure, only losing self confidence does. – Amma

During darshan time, the world famous Padmashree Vikku Vinayakam, who is also a Grammy award winner, came with his disciples and offered a Ghatam-Kanjira-Mridangam-Mukharshang-Vocal Jugalbandi performance to Amma. The thunderous performance completely wowed the crowd.

Throughout the night Amrita Vidyalayam students of Puducherry presented different cultural programs. The local Amrita Vidyalayam school, which is just two years old, has made such an impact in the local community that all the speakers and officials who came to the program expressed their great appreciation for the school.

 

Amma finished darshan at 9:19am the morning after the program began, after meeting all those who patiently waited.

– Kannadi

 

 

 

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Compassion is Amma’s own: Amma in Trichy

16 Feb – Trichy, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Yatra 2016

The next stop on Amma’s Bharata Yatra was in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) where Amma held an all night public program at the National College Grounds. Amma was welcomed to the city by Mayor Charubala, and the Union Cabinet Shipping Minister Pon Radhakrishnan.

Priests welcoming Amma with Vedic chants and Poornakumbham

Welcoming Amma to the stage the Mayor said “Compassion is Amma’s own. We’ve all thronged here in search of that compassion. When She hugs us, that compassion spreads to us as well. With that compassion within us, may we go out and try to spread it through love, compassion and culture to all of society, thus rejuvenating it!”

Addressing the massive crowd assembled to have Amma’s darshan she said “Along with external success we need inner victory too. Inner victory is the victory over mind and all its weaknesses.”​ The crowd was very silent and were patiently waiting till the end as Amma lead them in bhajans, manasa puja and meditation, — instructing all in their own Tamil language.​

Amma had visited Trichy earlier in 2007 {news}.

Aerial shot of Trichy program site and the city from Drone

During darshan, a boy of about 10 yrs old came to Amma asking for a boon. (a wish to be granted) He said, “I want a boon. I want to be the king of the world.” To which Amma beamingly replied, “If you become the king of your mind, then you can become the king of the universe.” But the child was not able to get the point and was insisting that she must give the boon right now.
Taking him on to her lap, Amma said, “You are already the king, but you don’t know it yet. Its enough if you just realize it.”

Throughout the night local Amrita Vidyalayam students presented a variety of cultural programs and Amma gave darshan to the massive crowd untill 10.07 am the following morning.

related link: Read the legends of Trichy

-Kannadi

 

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“No one can stop fate” – Amma in Kovai

13-14 Feb – Kovai, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Yatra 2016

Amma held a two day Brahmasthanam festival in Kovai. This Brahmasthanam was installed by Amma in 2001.

Upon her arrival from Amritapuri, Amma had an informal meeting with all the local devotees where she sang and distributed dinner to everyone. Then she asked someone to share a thought or a joke, and a local school teacher narrated a story from her own experience. She explained that while teaching a value classes for children in the 3rd grade, a student asked, ‘Why Kamsa didnt put Devaki and Vasudeva in two separate rooms, since he knew that their child would eventually kill him?”

The teacher answered her student that, Kamsa was not wise enough, he was arrogant and ignorant.. But Amma said that answer was not right and added that we must teach the child that no one can stop fate. If it is meant to happen, it will happen…no one can stop it, is the answer that the teacher should have given her student.

After the distribution of prasad Amma called a tour group member from Mexico and asked him to dance. He replied he would dance if Amma sings for him–so to the delight of everyone Amma sang and he danced.

During the two days of programs, Amma gave satsang, sang bhajans and gave darshan. During her address she explained in detail four issues that we are facing in today’s society “education that disregard values, sophistication that disregards culture, development that disregards nature and lifestyle that disregards health.”

All throughout the programs many student volunteers from the local Amrita Vidyalayam as well as the Amrita University campus could be seen in action. In addition to their seva the students offered different cultural programs.

At the end of the final program, well past midnight, after embracing the final people coming for darshan, Amma delighted everyone with two more bhajans, sending everyone home with full hearts.

– Kannadi

 

 

 

15-nothing-insignificant

Nothing is insignificant

For Amma, every person matters, and no one’s problem is too small for her attention. Despite giving darshan to thousands of people, guiding the ashram residents in both spiritual and practical matters, and personally guiding the many humanitarian projects of Embracing the World, Amma still finds time to listen to three little girls explain their sides of the story after a spat: it’s difficult to say who hit whom first, and after hearing them out, Amma makes clear that’s not the important point. Rather, Amma gently admonishes all three of them, while showering love and affection on them each in turn. To the girl who wished to be called “Chechi” (a respectful term for “older sister”) Amma gently explains that respect needs to be earned, not demanded. She also teaches them about the importance of being truthful, and de-escalates the conflict by offering to mediate future disagreements as soon as they arise. Watch the video to see Amma interact with each of these girls as if she has all the time in the world.

 

 

 

This incident happened in the last week of August 2015 at Amritapuri.

chazheekal

Unity, mutual love and selfless are the strength of any organization

29 Jan 2016, Cheriyazheekkal, Alappad

Amma was invited to inaugurate the 100th anniversary celebrations of “Arayavamsha Paripalana Yogam”, an organization which was founded to uplift the fishing community in the local area of Alappad.  A special function was held on this occasion, just a few kilometers down the coast from the ashram.

Amma was welcomed to the event with firecrackers, Vedic chants,‘ talappoli’ and ‘poorna kumbham‘. Upon her arrival Amma visited the local temple, offered ‘dakshina‘ and did arati to the murthi (idol in the shrine).

From the temple Amma walked to the programme site, passing long lines of ladies who were standing on both sides of her path, holding lamps and flowers. Upon arriving on the stage, the Panchayat President Rajapriyan welcomed Amma, saying “We are proud that after Veda Vyasa, who also came from a community of fishermen, Amma has come to help the world. With pride I say that we are living with Amma. Earlier, we didn’t recognize her divinity. It took time for us to understand. The one who was born here as Sudhamani has grown to become Krishna, Devi and now as the consciousness which embraces the whole world.”

“Today she is with us. Even when the tsunami tragedy took place, Amma went without sleep and food and worked for us, stood by our side. It was like in the Bhagavatam, when Indra attacked Gokulam with heavy rain and Krishna lifted Govardana hill and kept himself awake for 7 days to save everyone from the deluge.”

“Surely we have grown out of this ignorance now and have come closer to the truth. We know that Amma is always with us.” His words were welcomed by the crowd with thunderous applause.

Amma inaugurated the function by lighting the lamp amidst Vedic chanting.
Speaking on this historic occasion, Amma said, “Today,  this organization celebrates 100 years of giving direction to the material and cultural growth of the people in this area. Amma is overjoyed that she is able to take part in this historic occasion. This is a celebration of unity and sharing. Amma prays that this unity amongst her children endures forever. The strength of a structure is not just the bricks. It is the cement that holds them together that makes the structure solid and secure. In a similar way, the strength of any organization is in the unity, mutual love, and selfless actions of its members. That is our wealth. All of you should take care to preserve this mutal love and unity.”

Amma also shared some of her childhood experiences with the crowd in the overflowing auditorium, recollecting the dharmic ways of life of the previous generation and the need of preserving those values. She concluded the program by leading a manasa puja and prayer for peace.

The warm welcome Amma received at this gathering called to mind the reception she received after returning from addressing the United Nations Millennium Summit {news}, where Amma’s address represented the first time Malayalam had been broadcast in the General Assembly Hall {news}.  Then as now, the villagers expressed their pride at their connection to Amma who had grown up in their midst. It took Amma four hours that day to drive the last seven kilometers to the Ashram, with each household having lit a lamp to welcome her home. {news} And then as now, it was clear that the people of the fishing community of Alappad have taken Amma into their hearts and count her as their very own Amma.

-Kannadi

 

 

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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 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 Tantri (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