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It is the need of every Indian that Ganga remains clean

In the wake of Amma’s 100-crore (US$15 million) donation to Namami Gange, the Indian Government’s Swachh Bharat & Ganga Cleaning Project, Amma has answered many questions about the donation, the project itself, and her views on the issue surrounding the project. From the press meet at Amritapuri Ashram on September 11, 2015.

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Amma at the press conference

 

We started Cleaning India program in 2010
Question: You have given 100 crores [$15 million US] today. And you are going to give another Rs. 100 crores on your birthday for facilitating toilet construction in Kerala. Your feat is indeed commendable because industry has not given a single penny for this noble cause of building toilets. But I just want to know whether your Math or anybody from your Math will try to ensure that so much money that you have donated, is properly used and not misused for something else—because you can never be sure of Government. (Inder Sahni, Delhi Bureau chief of Gujarat Samachar.)

Amma: When Amma came to know about the Swachh Bharath and Clean Ganga project that the Government of India has decided to take up, Amma was very delighted. This is in line with the Amala Bharatham Campaign (Clean India Campaign) that we [the Mata Amritanandamayi Math] started much earlier in the year 2010. Amma met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year in Delhi to discuss on these lines {news}.

Surely, the matter does not end here just by donating the amount.

The Government has allowed us to survey as well as oversee whether the toilets are actually getting constructed in the specified areas. The Government has provided us with the detailed list of the all beneficiaries and their addresses. Also the Government. has agreed to provide us with all the necessary records and documents, which will allow us to evaluate the progress. A team consisting some of our people from Kerala as well as Delhi had visited these specified areas in Varanasi, Chhattisgarh etc., where they met and interacted with local sarpanchs [Head of five-village clusters]. Our teams will continue to visit these places and ensure that the people are getting benefitted. We are also going to educate the people on the use of toilets.

Bring back the golden days of Bharat

Question: Amma, you have done such a big work by donating Rs. 100 crores. When Prime Minister Narendra Modiji started the Swachh Bharat and Namami Gange project, he had appealed the industrialists as well, to donate for this noble cause. But no one ever donated so far. You have taken the initiative and the first step. What is your message for those industrialists who have the money and can make a contribution? (Sanjay Rai, National Bureau chief of Aaj Hindi Dainik, Varanasi)

Ganga in Haridwar

Ganga in Haridwar

Amma: Amma cannot command or ask anybody to act in certain way. Every one of us should feel for this cause from within, and help in whatever way we can. It will be good if everyone comes together for this cause. If big industries join in this project, a lot can be done. Not just the Clean Ganga project, there are various other kinds of pollution across India which need attention. If the industries get involved at state level to reduce these different kinds of pollution, there is a lot that can be achieved. However, Amma cannot force her words onto anyone. Amma can only request everyone to come together and work in unison to bring back the golden days of Bharat.

 

Genuine as well as hypocrites

Question: Amma, you do a lot of social work and you have a good image in public. But while working in the field of television, we come across a lot of news about some controversial babas also. This gives rise to various doubts in the hearts of the common people. Is there a way by which we can remove this gap between the real saints and the people, by removing these pretentious and hypocritical babas? (Sandeep Sonwalkar, Delhi, India TV)

A: The fact is that in every field of work, there are both the genuine ones as well as the hypocrites. People should carefully discern.

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Ghats of Ganga

 

Everyone should feel for this cause

Question: Very frequently, various saints have been starting initiatives to clean Ganga, but it is the first time that such a substantial financial aid has been provided by a religious trust. Even saints do not have any dearth of money. And you have taken a first step. Would you like to appeal anything to the rest of saints or say something to them for coming forward for this cause? (Pawan Nara, Delhi, Zee News)

Amma: If Amma says anything to them, it will be like ordering them to act in a certain way. Everyone should feel for this cause from within and help in whatever way they can. The act of giving should be spontaneous. It cannot be forced.

 

We all have to come together to make the dream come true
Question: Many a times this question keeps coming up—whether Narendra Modiji is actually doing something or not. Today you have given Rs. 100 crores to the government, but do you think you have given it in the right hands? Because some political parties accuse Modiji of only talking in air. Do you really feel that this Rs. 100 crore that you have donated will be used appropriately? What is your perception? By giving this Rs. 100 crore, what is the message you are trying to give? (Reporter from North India)

Amma & India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Amma & India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Amma: People are free to say whatever they want. Why should Amma comment on that? Everyone has their own opinion. But will it be right for Amma to not act and respond to the need just because certain people have certain opinions or say something? Amma will do whatever is necessary on her part. Everyone has freedom in our country to tell their opinion. But that does not mean that we keep sitting, doing nothing. We must lend a helping hand.

Our ashram has the entire data of the list of beneficiaries who need toilets, their names, their addresses, the amenities they currently have and do not have, and this list has been verified also by our team. Our people have been on the ground and checked these details ourselves. In future also, Government will provide us the necessary records and the ashram will continue to monitor the progress of this project and ensure that the money is handled well. Amma believes that this money will reach its intended beneficiaries.

Amma prays that the Prime Minister’s plans and dreams to take this country forward come true. Just like all of us have a dream that India should rise and regain its golden era, he also has desire for India’s progress. Any of us can dream of Greater India, but if we want that dream to come true, then we all have to come together and unite. Only when we also join hands together is the dream of Greater India going to come true.

 

Contribute from Ashram side in every possible way
Question: For Ganga cleaning, lot of initiatives have been going on for past many years and a large amount of money has also been spent on those initiatives. But you have not donated such a big amount for this cause in past. So, what is so special about this time that you have decided to come forward and donate such a big amount? Is there anything that has increased your faith or anything else in particular that has made you come forward this time? (Nirmal Pathak, Delhi, Hindustan Newspaper)

Amma: It is not that Amma did not have faith in anybody earlier because of which Amma did not take this project in hand. In fact, Amma started Amala Bharatham Campaign (Clean India Campaign) in 2010, and since then Amma has been keeping a tab on similar such projects in India. Until then, we were not so informed about these projects. Recently, when Amma heard about Prime Minister’s project related to Namami Gange and the vision he has to take the country forward by this initiative, Amma felt that we should contribute from the ashram side in every possible way. Moreover, the financial situation of the [Mata Amritanandamayi] Math did not permit us to contribute in this initiative earlier.

 

All states need to come together
Question: I have two small questions. Firstly, we all know that you have donated Rs. 100 crores to Government of India for Clean Ganga project. But the state governments of the five states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal) through which the Ganga flows, also have a very big responsibility in the Clean Ganga Project. So, are you also planning to meet the chief ministers of these states in this regard and request them to take this Clean Ganga project forward, with full fervor? Secondly, my question is that in addition to the pollution problem of Ganga, there is another problem related to its flow. Many dams are being built upon Ganga River in Uttarakhand, due to which the Ganga water is being stopped. This is affecting the hallmark of Ganga River. So, would you like that the Government does not proceed further with the dam-related work on Ganga River in Uttarakhand, so that Ganga can retain its non-stop flow? (Hari Krishna, Dainik Jagran newspaper)

ganga aerial view

Satellite view of Ganga

Amma: Amma cannot order any minister to act in a certain way, but if there is any problem in their respective state, and Amma can do something about it, then Amma will surely meet them and offer whatever Amma can do to help.

Regarding the dams, it is a sensitive and complex issue because farmers also need water to grow food for the country, and these farmers are benefitting from these dams. We cannot ignore their needs either. We will need to understand the actual need of the people and then act accordingly. But one thing is for sure: All states need to come together and help in taking the Ganga-cleaning initiative forward.

 

It is the need of every Indian
Question: For last 30 years, Ganga is being cleaned. More than Rs. 30,000 crore has been spent on cleaning Ganga. Whenever the Government is summoned in the highest court of the country to discuss this case, the court says that, with the speed at the which the cleaning is actually happening, it is unlikely that even the current generation will be able to see clean Ganga. Amma, do you feel that the speed at which the cleaning work is happening, the current generation will ever be able to see the continuous flow of Ganga in its pure form? Is there any such hope? (North India Reporter)

burning ghats

Cremation at the Ghats

Amma: Amma would say that if this project has to become successful, then it is necessary that not just the Government, but everyone else (including industry as well as people) also should come forward and take part. This will require a lot of effort—for example, construction of treatment plants for the industrial waste rather than letting it directly into the Ganga, the right kind of sanitation facilities, some industries may even need to be relocated. So, everyone from in society needs to come together and have a single vision for cleaning Ganga. Only then will this work move forward with full speed. It will not happen if the Government alone is wishing for it. People too need to come forward and contribute in every possible way. All the state governments will need to work hand in hand. Of course, we can all put in our effort, but there are many other factors which affect the outcome of our efforts. For example, a person may be driving very carefully but the person coming from the other side may be reckless and this may lead to an accident. For all the factors to be favorable, God’s grace is necessary. The result of the efforts is not dependent on one single person.

When there were floods in Karnataka, Amma made new houses for those who lost their houses. Many other people and organizations came forward to offer their help in the relief-and-rehabilitation process. However, as soon the limelight of the media faded away, these people and organizations stepped back. But Amma’s ashram continued to construct as many houses possible for the needy, without worrying about the media limelight. However, as soon it became a news that only Amma is continuing to build houses while others have stepped back. This became a prestige issue for some, and soon it became like a competition, wherein everyone started coming forward and help.

Only if we are all ready to put our efforts together, can we conceive of cleaning Ganga becoming a reality. Some of us may feel that this is a Government project. But if we want this dream to come true, then we all need to move forward together, including the press and the media. This is not just the need of a Government or the Prime Minister. We need to realize that this is our need–it is the need of every Indian that Ganga remains clean. It is impossible with the efforts of a single individual. Everyone will have to unite and come together. Only then will this project be successful.

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Amma at the press confrence

Amma’s focus is on Dharma
Question: Just constructing toilets on the banks of Ganga River may not be enough to clean Ganga completely. There are lot of factories on the banks of Ganga that are releasing contaminated industrial waste into the Ganga. It is important to stop that, and this requires another major initiative. Has Amma spoken to the Government about any initiative in this direction as well? Another thing is that it looks like you are trying to get cozy with the BJP. Is it so? (Reporter, Mumbai, DNA newspaper)

Amma: Amma’s focus is only on dharma [righteousness], irrespective of any Government. Amma wants dharma to be established.

During the discussion with Prime Minister in March, this topic regarding factories releasing waste in Ganga River was also discussed. Amma had also expressed her concern about the factory waste, sewage and other wastewater, which is being released in Ganga. The factory residue that flow into the Ganga is a major concern and should be stopped. Some factories will need to be relocated, and some people will also need to be rehabilitated. All of these issues were taken up and seriously discussed during that meeting with Prime Minister.

Amma had also proposed a plan for removing the human waste like skeletons, bones etc., which need to be removed using boats that can go underwater. These boats can locate the places where these skeletons have been deposited and then remove them. In addition to the suggestions regarding the setup of various treatment plants, Amma had also suggested that the Government should take initiative to provide subsidies to the factories in order for them to be able to relocate easily. Otherwise it is like an elephant taking bath and then immediately throwing dust on its back. It will be a big waste of money and resources. Only after first stopping the corpses being thrown into the Ganga, establishing the treatment plants, building toilets etc., we should clean the Ganga of all the bones and other human waste. Otherwise, Ganga will again become contaminated.

 

Stop this unwanted practice
Question: There is a custom of releasing half burnt dead bodies in various places like Kashi, through which Ganga flows. Being a spiritual leader, it will be of great service if you can give a message to the people (to stop doing this). (Delhi coordinator, Janmabhoomi)

ganga-deadbody

Taking deadbody off Ganga

Amma: The topic of throwing corpses into Ganga, which further contaminates the Ganga, was discussed in detail with the Prime Minister in March of this year. It was a long discussion in which the Prime Minister promised that his next efforts will be to stop this unwanted tradition of throwing dead bodies into the Ganga.

In olden days, people used to think it was a good idea to let the dead body become the food for the fish. Our ancestors and older generations believed it to be like making an offering to the Ganga. Also they believed that one would attain moksha [liberation] and higher states of consciousness by offering one’s body to Ganga River. So, there is both the actual idea rooted in compassion, as well as the belief of attaining moksha. In fact, the chemicals that ooze into the soil from decomposing bodies can be even more harmful. Anyhow, this releasing of corpses into the Ganga has become somewhat of a primitive kind of ceremony, and that should be controlled and stopped. The Government is also looking into this matter. The Prime Minister is also taking this matter very seriously. He has told Amma that he will take the necessary steps to somehow stop this unwanted practice. Prime Minister Modi is planning to construct crematoriums on the banks of the Ganga River.

 

Namami Gange

Sunrise at Ganga

100Cr for Clenaing Ganag

Amma donates 100 Crore for ‘Namami Gange’ cleaning Ganga project

$30 Million in Donations to Toilet-Building Project Across India

11 September 2015, Amritapuri – Amma today presented Sri. Arun Jaitley, India’s Hon. Minister of Finance, a cheque for Rs. 100 crore (US$15 million) for the construction of toilets in the poorest villages surrounding the Ganga River, as part of Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) and Namami Gange (Clean Ganges) projects – efforts to end the life-threatening diseases affecting millions of Indian citizens stemming from contaminated water sources, caused by widespread open defecation. A second Rs. 100 crore (US$15 million) phase of the project is due to be announced later in the month, during Amma’s birthday celebrations.

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In giving the donation, Amma remarked: “Water, a symbol of life, is one of the five elements of nature that the Indian culture deeply reveres. Though the lives of millions of Indians today depends on the Ganga, this sacred river has only 25% of the original water left – the rest is sewage and factory waste. The unhygienic conditions prevalent in villages on the river banks cause diseases like cholera and diarrhea as people drink water from the river. Being a person born and brought up in a coastal village, I have personally seen people suffering from the scarcity of clean drinking water.”

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“In my view, compassionate service to the poor is real worship,” said Amma. “A harmonious blend of selfless service, while providing the necessary awareness, is true compassion. This project will provide much-needed amenities to those who truly need them. Along with construction, education is also required. The villagers need to be taught that open defecation leads to water and soil pollution, which further contaminates food and leads to many types of parasitic infections. In our organization’s experience with toilet construction for the poor, creating this awareness is essential. Otherwise, despite having the proper facilities, they may not use them.”

Aside from the donation, Amma’s organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, will also be providing such education.

In accepting the donation on behalf of the Government, Sri. Arun Jaitley commented: “This 100-crore donation coming from Amma has more than the material relevance of 100 crores. 100 crores itself is a substantial amount to come from one institution. But more important than 100 crores is when a saint of the relevance of Amma takes a step in this direction, it sends a message across the world—not merely in India—that everyone who is committed to this great cause should contribute to it. … Therefore this gigantic step that Amma has taken today is both a material and also a symbolic message to everyone across the world who is concerned about the Ganga that, “This is my campaign and therefore every poor person on the banks of the Ganga must have a toilet so that we can keep the environment clean and the pollutants of the households don’t get into the Ganga itself.”

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The art of giving

Sri. Jaitley also spoke about Amma’s significance for India as a nation and the world as a whole. “Amma has come to symbolize spiritualism, philanthropy, service to the poor and the art of giving. The institutions started by her blessings have changed the medical and educational landscape of many regions by rendering yeoman service, such as AIMS [Amrita Hospital] at Kochi and the world-class Amrita University with its 18,000 students. Amma’s message of love and affection have made millions of devotees from all around the world contribute towards the larger interests of society.”

Prime Minister Modi and Amma first discussed the Clean Ganges Project during Amma’s visit to Delhi in March 2015 {news}. At that time the Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to Amma for her environmental initiatives, which are in alignment with his Clean India Project, the country’s largest environmental and cleanliness drive to date, which includes the goal of providing sanitary toilets to more than 60 million homes by 2019. Present figures show nearly 600 million people in India have no access to sanitary toilets – a major cause of disease and further societal problems.

Amma’s Ashram has been directly addressing the issue of open defecation and the lack of proper sanitation facilities by training women to build their own toilets and bathrooms. Along with the sustainable technical and vocational skills, women are also being given awareness on the importance of hygiene, sanitation, proper toilet use, repair and maintenance. The initiative was successfully piloted in Odisha {news} in September 2014, and has since expanded to villages in 17 states across India.

Amma launched the all-India Amala Bharatham – Clean India, Beautiful India – Campaign in 2010. Through the programme, {news} thousands of clean-up drives in public areas across India have already been conducted. Volunteers also work to spread awareness in schools and to the general public regarding the proper way to dispose of trash and the importance of not spitting or urinating in public. These efforts have included the distribution of more than one million handkerchiefs to school children to stop spitting, as well as a massive annual cleaning of the world-famous Sabarimala pilgrimage site and Pampa River.

baby krishna and amma

Amritapuri has become Vrindavan on Sri Krishna Jayanthi

SriKrishna Jayanthi

5 September 2015 – Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations at Amritapuri

On the heels of a wonderful Onam celebration, just a week later the ashram was again in a festive mood for Krishna Jayanti. The day’s celebrations started at 7.30am with a cow procession from the kitchen area towards the front steps of the Kali Temple. A GoPuja (cow worship ritual) was performed there to the ashram cows, all adorned in beautiful colors. They were also offered fruits by devotees and children dressed like little Krishnas & Gopis.

As it was a Saturday, Amma came out to the main hall to give regular darshan at 11am. She finished early though in order to join the special traditional Uriyadi games in front of the Kali Temple.

A procession, singing the name of the Lord, coming from Sri Krishna  temple at Kuzhithura joined the celebrations in front of the Kali temple at the Ashram.  Amma enjoyed watching the children and youngsters dance & try their luck to break swinging pots, reminiscent of little Krishna’s escapades stealing pots of butter. This was followed by joyful Krishna bhajans led by Amma, surrounded by all the little Krishna’s of Amritapuri.

Straight from bhajans on the steps of the temple, at 6.30pm Amma joined the daily evening bhajans session in the main hall, till 8pm.

At 11:30pm, Amma came back to the hall to listen to the traditional reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The stage was adorned with beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands, trays of flowers, and the hall was filled with devotees and ashramites. While the Bhagavatam was being read, a special puja honoring the birth of Lord Krishna was also taking place on the stage.

At the stroke of midnight, bells announced the advent of the divine moment: Lord Krishna’s birth! Amma sang one bhajan before her message for the occasion was shown on the big screen {Read Amma’s Message full}.  Speaking on the occassion she said: “Even though it has been 5,000 years since the Lord incarnated on earth, his presence continues to shine in the culture and everyday life of the people of our land. The magnetism of the Lord’s leelas and the relevance of his teachings have not diminished with time. Through his life, Sri Krishna revealed the infinite power of the universe in all its completeness. This is the reason we hail him as a purna avatara—a full incarnation. ” {Read Amma’s Message full }.

After the message, Amma led a special Krishna bhajan session. She asked people to stand, clap their hands and dance forgetting all their worries. The hall swayed with Amma as she was singing in joy.

Later, Amma gave a prasad of payasam to all those present, bringing a sweet end to the day’s festivities at almost 2am in the morning.

– Sundar

 

 

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It is to make humankind understand truth that God incarnates in human form

6 September 2015 – Amritapuri
from Amma’s Sri Krishna Jayanthi message

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At the mere thought of Lord Sri Krishna, we feel an overwhelming joy arise within us. Even though it has been 5,000 years since the Lord incarnated on earth, his presence continues to shine in the culture and everyday life of the people of our land. The magnetism of the Lord’s leelas and the relevance of his teachings have not diminished with time. Through his life, Sri Krishna revealed the infinite power of the universe in all its completeness. This is the reason we hail him as a purna avatara—a full incarnation.

The literal meaning of the name Krishna is “he who ploughs.” The Lord is he who uproots the weeds of impurities from the human mind. Another meaning of for Krishna is “he who attracts all.” Krishna drew to himself not just the gopis, but all of humankind, as well as the birds, mammals, plants, trees, stones, thorns and everything else in nature.

In response to the maternal devotion of his mother Yashoda, the Lord became a mischievous child. In response to the romantic devotion of the gopis, the Lord became the divine dancer who played his flute and danced the ­rasa-leela. In response to the devoted friendship of Arjuna, the Lord took up a whip and became a charioteer. Even though Krishna knew he would be humiliated, he went to the Kaurava court as an emissary of peace.

At the sacred fire ritual of the Rajasuya Yajna, Lord Krishna—being the chosen deity—received the worship of all the assembled kings. Later, at the ensuing feast, he showed no hesitation in clearing the soiled leaf-plates of those who had eaten. Even when he was falsely accused by his own subjects of stealing the precious Syamantaka gemstone, he remained calm and eventually proved the truth. He alternated between different roles seamlessly, with the deftness of a seasoned actor, yet never lost site of his true nature.

Whatever was his dharma at the present moment he carried that out without letting personal pride, happiness, shyness or difficulty obstruct him.

The goal of any avatara is to lead humankind to its higher self. When we attain our essence, which is hidden within us, we become dear to the Lord. This is the symbolism behind the Lord’s love for butter—which is the essence of milk. When the higher love for the Lord takes us beyond our petty likes and dislikes, then our mind becomes pure, and we become dear to the Lord. This is how the Lord becomes chitta-chora—the stealer of the mind.

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Have vision, turn inward, Truth will shine within

In reality, we are not separate from the Lord. He is our own essential nature. We see the whole world with our eyes, yet we cannot see our own eyes. Such is our current state. If we can make our vision, which is currently focused on the external world, turn inward, then that Supreme Truth will shine forth within us. Otherwise, we will continue searching for happiness and peace in the external world like the musk deer that blindly pursues the smell of musk, not realizing that the fragrance is coming from its own body.

For the Vedantin, the Lord is the perfect role model. To understand practical Vedanta, one should study the life of Lord Krishna. He did not seek any anything for himself. Whatever others needed, he gave. He loved everyone, but was attached to no one.

Some may ask, “Why do we need to love the Lord, who is not attached to anyone?” The Lord did not see anyone as different from him. That is what he revealed to Arjuna through the vision of his cosmic form—that he is in everyone and everything and everyone is in him. Attachment comes only when you see the other person as different from you. The reason he was not attached to anything is because in his worldview there was nothing other than him.

Smile & Equanimity

The greatest message the Lord gave the world was his never-diminishing smile. Whether it was when the he incarnated on earth, when he taught the Gita, or when he watched his own Yadava clan fight and destroy themselves, his smile never wavered. His smile was the smile that rises from mental equanimity.

Equanimity of mind is being able to face opposite circumstances with the same attitude. External circumstances will keep changing. Fortune and hardship will also alternate. We should consciously cultivate the attitude of total acceptance with regards to everything. If we can do that, then peace and joy will always be there in our life.

The Mahabharata and the Bhagavatam present so many challenging incidents that took place in Krishna’s life. Regardless, the smile never faded from his face. Our lives are like the pendulum of a clock; they constantly swing from hardship to fortune, and fortune to hardship. When the pendulum swings to one side, it doesn’t remain there for long. It is just gaining enough momentum to swing back the other. Keeping this in mind, when we experience fortune or comfort in life, we must remember that it is only momentary. Hardships will soon return. We need to bring the pendulum of our lives to a standstill—a point of equilibrium. When we understand the scriptures, we will be able to keep ourselves in this point of equilibrium, like the needle of a balanced scale.

The Avatar

The manifestation of an avatara is like the full moon rising on a new-moon night. Their beauty and influence an avatara has upon the world is beyond comparison. All planes of human life are touched and nourished by their presence. We see this in all fullness in Lord Krishna. The avatara of Lord Krishna was ordinary, yet extraordinary. He was human, yet divine. He was completeness itself.

It is to make humankind understand this supreme truth that God incarnates in human form. Only if God incarnates in human form can we begin to grasp this truth. Just as a policeman disguises himself as a criminal to catch criminals, the Lord joyfully plays his divine leelas with us in order to uplift us. He comes down to each person’s individual level to uplift them.

From the moment that he was born into Kamsa’s prison, to the moment he was killed by the hunter’s arrow, every action Krishna performed was sweet, attractive and aimed at cleaning the human world of its impurities. The prison that the Lord was born into symbolizes the prison of desires that is currently binding our hearts. If we cultivate awareness of the Lord’s presence in our heart, we will be able to release ourselves from all the bonds that imprison us. May the baby Krishna forever play in our hearts. May the wisdom of his words continue to enlighten our path every day.

The above is extracted from Amma’s 2015 Krishna Jayanti message.

onam prasad

Onam celebrations at Amritapuri 2015

28 Aug 2015, Amritapuri – Onam Celebrations

Every year Onam is a time for great celebration here in Amritapuri and this year was no exception. Early in the morning the hall was full of people in anticipation for the day’s festivities. They didnt have to wait long as Amma arrived on the stage before 10am and gave her Onam message to a packed crowd.

Speaking to the assembled devotees Amma said “All of us are experiencing our own little pains and sorrows in life. Nevertheless, amidst all these, we still usher in Onam with joy. How is it possible? Happiness is a decision. If we so decide, we can create an empire of happiness. This is because happiness is our true nature. The lamp of happiness is ever aflame in our hearts. We must take care not to block this light with the closed curtain of our desires.” {read more}

At the of her talk Amma lead the hall through a joyous rendition of Bandalo Bandalo and asked everyone to clap their hands with those around them.

Then Amma served a special onasadya meal to all the thousands of people in the ashram which took several hours. All ate in the hall together as one big family…even the biggest of ashram resident. As it has become a yearly tradition, Amma served Lakshmi the elephant the large portion of Onam prasad.

Later in the evening after bhajans, Amma came back to the hall to participate in the cultural programs. A huge variety of performances delighted the hall performed by ashram children, residents, westerners and brahmacharis. All finally reached a crescendo when around midnight Amma led everyone in singing – La Le Lale La Le. The whole hall was cheering, singing, and swaying with the music to bring an end to amazing day.

-Kannadi

chair cleaning Amma

Opportunity to serve is like winning a lottery

1 Sep 2015, Amritapuri

Chair Cleaning Seva

Normally when Amma arrives on the stage for bhajans, she immediately starts singing. But today she made the following announcement before she started, “A lot of the chairs in the hall need to be cleaned. Everyone should try to clean two chairs.”

 

So all throughout bhajans everyone kept in the mind the need to make themselves available for that seva later…at some point…maybe tomorrow…maybe the next day…but no one thought that for Amma, action goes along with words and right away!

As soon as bhajans were over, on her way to her room, Amma walked straight to the stacks of unused chairs at the back of the hall and started on her own to take the chairs down individually and pass them on to whoever was nearby. It took time for everyone to understand what was happening and what they were supposed to do with the chairs. But soon enough, buckets with water and soap showed up at the scene and were passed on. Following Amma’s lead, the seva started and quickly took over the whole hall! After taking down the chairs from the stacks, Amma took a bucket, a brush and soap and started scrubbing a chair. She stayed focused on the work, while she gave directions to the hundreds of devotees, students and Ashram residents who joined in.

The work went on well past midnight, filling up almost all the hall with chair cleaning. Everyone joined in, including small children and the elderly as well, singing bhajans to keep the enthusiasm and good spirits up. During the previous day’s satsang Amma was saying that we should never miss any opportunity to serve; that it is like winning the lottery. So how fortunate were all of us to be given such a memorable opportunity to serve and be happy, offered by Amma!

-Kannadi

 

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rakhi

Tying rakhi to Guru

Today is ‪RakshaBandhan‬ – a day when brothers and sisters and celebrate and honor their bond between each other by tying the traditional rakhi bracelet around each others’ wrists. In this way, the sister expresses her love for her brother, and her brother pledges to look after her in all circumstances. But the tying of a rakhi is not confined to a brother and sister but to Guru too. Many devotees celebrate Raksha Bandhan at Amritapuri today by tying a rakhi bracelet around Amma’s wrist — Amma lovingly obliges each request.

rakhi

onam message

Create an empire of happiness

Onam is a Time of Joy, Love, Kinship & Devotion

August 28th 2015 — Amritapuri Ashram

The following has been extracted from Amma’s Onam message.

Onam is a festival of unity and sharing. A festival takes place when our heart overflows. Onam is a time when joy, love, kinship and devotion overflow. The breeze of Onam starts caressing us as soon as the Malayalam month of Chingam starts. In fact, people begin to feel joy even in the final days of Karkitakam. The rays of the sun start piercing the clouds in the sky. Flowers everywhere start smiling. Butterflies start flitting about. There is only joy everywhere. Here, we share that joy and love with others. Happiness increases when we share it with others.

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All of us rejoice when the month of Karkitakam ends and Chingam begins. Karkitakam is a time of spiritual practice and austerities when we stay home and worship God. While the earth bathes in the monsoon, Keralites bathe in the Ganga of Wisdom that is the Ramayana. Sometimes, without thinking we may curse the rains of Karkitakam, but we must never forget that it is only because of the torrential rains of Karkitakam that we have the flowers and harvests of Chingam. Moreover, it is the month of rain that helps us to appreciate the following beauty of Nature. This shows us that behind every celebration lies a period of sacrifice and austerity.

All of us are experiencing our own little pains and sorrows in life. Nevertheless, amidst all these, we still usher in Onam with joy. How is it possible? Happiness is a decision. If we so decide, we can create an empire of happiness. This is because happiness is our true nature. The lamp of happiness is ever aflame in our hearts. We must take care not to block this light with the closed curtain of our desires.

 

Happiness is a decision. If we so decide, we can create an empire of happiness. This is because happiness is our true nature. – AMMA

At present, climatic patterns are changing. It is becoming hotter. There is less rain. The seasons are becoming erratic. In order to live in harmony with Nature, one should love all beings. One must uphold dharma. Dharma used to be the very heart of Onam. Our estrangement from our culture of dharma is the reason for all these irregularities. In the past, people were content with what they received. They were able to find contentment in small things. This is the very message of Onam—the message of sacrifice, simplicity and charity.

The story of Mahabali is also a tale of sacrifice and austerity. It is only because of Mahabali’s self-sacrifice and surrender that he is still remembered today. Each year, we welcome him along with the Lord. Even though Onam actually is the day when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vamana, we think of Mahabali more than the Lord. This reveals the greatness of devotion and sacrifice. However, initially, there were flaws in Mahabali. He thought all of his accomplishments were exclusively due to his effort. Having such an attitude is like allowing salt to fall into milk; it ruins any sweetness. It is the Lord’s duty to save His devotee from such a predicament. In the end, Mahabali was discerning enough to realize his folly. With this realization came total surrender. His life also teaches us that we must realize our own follies and strive to correct ourselves.

After he had surrendered everything, all that Mahabali asked the Lord was that he be able to see his subjects happy. Mahabali’s love was not confined to words. He did not have any selfish ulterior motive. Such love is very rare in the world today. Many speak loving words but their intentions are impure.

We have heard it sung that during the time of King Mahabali’s reign, all people were considered equal, but that equality was not merely external. It indicates an internal equality—an equal vision that comes from knowledge. External circumstances will constantly change. Happiness will alternate with sorrow. We should try to cultivate an attitude of equanimity and acceptance.

As Onam approaches, we usually see the liquor sales soaring. The Kerala Government’s ban on liquor is a good step. However, this ban will only become effective and complete when there is an internal change in man.

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In olden days, Onam itself was our intoxication. However, today, so many people get drunk on Onam that they consider that to be the bliss of Onam. People in Kerala annually consume more liquour than those in any other state. Alcohol is destroying our health as well as our relationships. If the person drinking is from a poor family, the family is financially ruined.

Onam celebrates the memory of a past golden age. We also have the hope that such a golden age will return in the future. However, what happens when we get into the celebratory mood of Onam? We forget both the past and the future and live completely in the moment. In fact, life exists only in the present moment. The present moment is our only wealth. We should strive to properly utilize it, with awareness and alertness. Whenever we do this, the spirit of Onam will immediately awaken within us. Any memories of the past we have should awaken only positivity in the present. This means that we should try to remember only positive things people have done for us. Remember how they may have encouraged us or helped us. Try to draw energy from such memories and live in the present moment. What is essential is to make the present moment meaningful. If we do this, our life will naturally be filled with new sprouts, flower buds, blossoms and fruits. Happiness and prosperity will pervade. The spirit of Onam will be there for us every day.

Onam is a symbol of external and internal beauty. Happiness and beauty will be present only in a mind that is devoid of negative emotions. Therefore, may the shadow of negative emotions such as hatred and sorrow leave our minds. Instead, let our minds be filled with the golden light of love and happiness. Let the dark clouds of poverty and conflict lift, and let the world awaken to a new dawn of peace and prosperity. In this way, let the true message of Onam spread all across the world. May Onam be continuously celebrated in the mind of humanity. May the Paramatman, shower grace for this to happen.

Vegetable-Amma

Organic Vegetables for Onam

27 Aug 2015, Amritapuri

For many years now, Amma has been encouraging all her followers around the world to grow their own organic vegetables, both for personal health and for a healthy planet. Today, Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis and other residents of Amritapuri presented Amma organic vegetables they have lovingly cultivated by hand for use in tomorrow’s massive traditional ‪Onam‬ meal, which Amma will personally serve to each of the many thousands of people who have come from all over India and around the world to celebrate Onam at their spiritual home.

amma-vegetable

vavubali

Homage to the ancestors – more than a thanks giving

14 August 2015, Amritapuri

A mass ceremony was conducted at Amritapuri this morning. Vavu Bali, as it is locally known, is a traditional ritual where oblations are offered to departed ancestors. The ceremony is performed on Amavasi (new moon) in the Hindu month of Karkidaka.

vavubali

About 1500 devotees personally participated in this special Yagna, joined by thousands of others present at the ashram. Swami Turyamritananda lit the lamp to start the event, and various ceremonies were performed simultaneously in the Ashram’s Main Bhajan Hall and the Kali Temple, by Brahmacharis Tapasyamrita Chaitanya, Gurudas Chaitanya, and Shraddhamrita Chaitanya.

During the pujas, sweet rice was offered to all the departed souls, including forefathers and friends, as well as to animals and trees, along with the chanting of sacred mantras and prayers.

Step by step puja instructions were translated simultaneously into different international languages, allowing devotees from various parts of the world to participate.

After the conclusion of the ceremonies, the participants walked in a procession towards the shore to personally consign their offerings to the ocean. In this action, the fish in the ocean are also fed. Tharpanam, a ritualistic offering with water was also performed for the devatas (deities), rishis, and ancestors.

The ceremonies started at 7am and went on till around noon.

 

 

Later in the day, after the meditation session with Amma, one of the international devotees thanked all those who helped to conduct the Vavu Bali ceremony. In response Amma said, “We always have a thought of only getting, never of giving to others. We grew up because our parents have been giving to us. Now whatever we may give, we cannot repay for what they have given us. Through this ritual, we are showing our respect, out gratitude, towards our departed ancestors. Giving verbal thanks only remains as words, and doesn’t get translated into action. By partaking in this ritual, we are performing action – spending some time for others, spending some money for them, and chanting mantras. We therefore get purified, creating positive vibrations.

The people who have died might have taken a new birth or attained moksha. Even the remote villagers get their mail properly if the address is correct. You are even able to call him by dialing the correct mobile number. Or if the email id is correct, it will reach him wherever he is. Similarly, if your sankalpa is pure, when making offerings towards departed souls, the result will reach him/her even if he has taken another birth. In addition, we also get the benefit of the mantras and the good actions we do.

Actually, we have to show our gratitude to our parents when they are alive. This ritual is part of Sanatana Dharma, which believes in the rebirth. Whether you believe in this or not, whether they are reborn or not, we get a punya (merit) for the actions we do.

vavubali

For each action there are two types of results. Drushta Phalam and Adrusthta Phalam – the seen and the unseen results. When we feed a hungry orphan, we feel the joy when we see him enjoying the food we have offered – that is drushta phalam. The result is visible. By giving food we get some punya – merit. That is the unseen result, adrusthta phalam. If you are a sadhak, all that you are doing is done selflessly, the whole world will benefit.”

Stating the example of some of the ashramites, Amma concluded, “If there is a Sannyasi in a family, three generations before and four generations in the future will receive the merit of his Sannyas.”

– Kannadi