One World, One Home – AYUDH’s 12th European Youth Summit

AYUDH’s 12th annual European Youth Summit “One World. One Home” took place from 16th-24th July at the MA Center in Brombachtal near Frankfurt, Germany. Playing host to 300 young people from over 27 countries, the summit provided a unique platform for personal development, intercultural dialogue and creative expression. Each day was dedicated to a different aspect of home: diversity, inclusion, connection, equality, self-transformation, sustainability, peace and a shared vision.

AYUDH holds that personal transformation lies at the heart of real change – in the world, and in us. In addition to the cultural, social, political and ecological perspectives, we also considered a spiritual dimension when addressing each daily topic of the summit. The teachings of our most beloved Amma formed an important part of this reflection.

Interactive Reflection Sessions

Each day had an extended interactive reflection sessions centred around inspirational and motivational talks from guest speakers.

Gopi Kallayil, Chief Brand Evangelist at Google opened the week with a lively session on moving from the internet to the inner-net, sharing techniques with the youth to balance their outer responsibilities while nurturing their inner lives. Offering practical tips such as focusing on the essential, doing one thing at a time, making gratitude lists and scheduling appointments with oneself, he also led morning yoga classes that he pioneered at Google’s headquarters.

Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya, one of the mentors of AYUDH Europe, talked to the youth about diversity and interdependence, the need to avoid harsh judgements, be more forgiving and broaden one’s understanding. “What we need is not judgment, what we need is understanding – which requires patience and love. As it grows, you include more and more people in your life. Inclusion is a mindset: the realization that everyone has something to contribute to the world and each person matters.”

Swami Amritaswarupananda, Vice Chairman of Mata Amritanandamayi Math, spoke about home as a place for self-transformation. He emphasized the need to move from a results-oriented society to an action-oriented society, to focus on good actions and to cultivate empathy. He shared a two-step process to develop one’s inner capacities: love yourself and accept others. He reiterated Amma’s message of compassion as the first step, and the last step, towards achieving the goal of self-transformation. “Pure love, pure compassion,” he said, “unites us all and creates the home we look for in the world.”

Empowering Youth through Gender Equality

On the day themed “Home as a place of equality”, AYUDH hosted a dynamic panel discussion Speakers included Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya, Head of the Amma Center in France; Kristina Lunz, Mercator Fellow and Advisor to UN Women Germany; Lucia Rijker, world champion kickboxer and motivational coach; Vanessa Anyoti, Program Coordinator, YWCA Tanzania; Mandy Michaeli, Co-Executive Director of Israeli Gay Youth and Anja Stiefel, Swiss Olympic medallist.


One Humanity Symposium

“One Humanity”, a high-level symposium held at the historic Kloster Eberbach monastery in Eltville Am Rhein, Germany. Bringing together leading voices in the fields of politics, diplomacy, activism, spirituality and education.

In his keynote address, Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri urged leaders to listen to young people. “These young minds,” he said, “are the answer for all the challenges our world, our planet Earth, is facing today.” Bjørn Ihler, a young activist who survived the Utøya massacre, related his moving and powerful experience of confronting his attacker and his personal journey to forgiveness. He expressed appreciation for Amma’s message of love, saying, “I think we need to start here and build on what Amma does, to build rituals of love to counteract the politics of hate and fear that currently drive the world.”

Anne Brasseur, the official ambassador of the No Hate Speech Movement and former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, presented the rationale behind the No Hate campaign to protect European values.



AYUDH’s popular multicultural festival ‘OdenWorld’ returned on the final night of the summit, showcasing the talent, creativity and cultural diversity of AYUDH participants right in the heart of Odenwald.The show included performances by the award-winning Israeli band The Ultras; Polish rapper Spinache; Finnish singer Kirsi Ranto, award-winning hip-hop dance troupe Diamond Breakers and the AYUDH band, led by Bruno Steffen, Marcus Bodenmann and Ekkehard Sassenhausen, as well as performances by AYUDH participants.


One of the highlights of AYUDH’s European Youth Summits are the extensive number of diverse workshops which are offered to foster personal growth and transformation as well as offering practical training in leadership, change-making, mindfulness and sustainability. This year, AYUDH offered the largest selection of workshops to date, including Tai Chi, Acro Yoga, Integrated Amrita Meditation, Martial Arts and Movement workshops, Permaculture, Urban Gardening and Sustainability training, Drafting a Declaration and Lobbying for Impact, Documentary Filmmaking, Leadership and Public Speaking Skills, Rap, Singing, Drumming, and Irish dance, among many others. Workshop leaders and participants performed creative presentations of what they had learned during the ‘OdenWorld’ celebration on the final night of the summit.

“It is my first experience with AYUDH. The people here are wonderful, everyone is very open, friendly, respectful towards each other, and open-minded. I also really like the spiritual part: there’s more to life than what we see.” – ­Eva, 21, Netherlands

“AYUDH is a really good thing because it’s somewhere that everybody can find their place.” – ­Anaëlle, 20, France

“AYUDH has taught me that if there is one thing I can do to change the world, it is being nice to people. If everybody thinks about what they can give to others, the world would be a far better place.” – Caolan, 17, Ireland

AYUDH’s 12th European Youth Summit was carried out by M.A. Center Germany – Seminarzentrum Hof Herrenberg e.V., which was supported by the Council of Europe’s European Youth Foundation, SAP and Kloster Eberbach Foundation. The summit was carried out in partnership with the United Nations Inter-Agency-Network on Youth Development, the No Hate Speech Movement, the Lebenshilfe e.V. Offenburg and the German municipalities of Brombachtal and Michelstadt.




Vavu Bali, paying homage to ancestors

2 Aug 2016, Amritapuri

2000 participants from around the globe gathered in Amritapuri to pay homage to their ancestors by participating in the Karkidaka Vavu Bali ritual.

Vavu Bali is a Hindu custom where a special puja is performed on riverbanks and beaches on the no moon (Amavasya) that falls during the month of Karkitakam – the last month of the Malayalam calendar (July-August). During the ritual, participants wear a sacred ring (pavithram) made of dharba (a grass) and make an offering of sesame seeds, cheroola (a herb), cooked rice, and water placed on a banana leaf into a nearby body of water.

Brahmacharis from the Ashram led the instructions in many local and foreign languages. The first part of the ritual was performed in the Main Hall in the Ashram, after which participants gathered at the beach to offer the items on the banana leaf to the ocean.

Everyone expressed their gratitude towards their departed ancestors, and prayed for their wellbeing and spiritual progress.

This ceremony is considered as a part of Pitru Yajna (sacrifice for parents) – one of the Pancha-mahayagnas (5 sacrifices) all Hindus has to perform as part of a Dharmic life.




AYUDH participates in Human Rights Council Youth Forum at the UN

On 10 June 2016, seven AYUDH members from Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Spain joined around 120 young leaders from all over the world gathered at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in a historic moment: For the first time, youth had the chance to formally voice their opinion in regard to different human rights issues by developing a series of recommendations. The declaration developed by the youth was presented during the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to UN Member States. The HRC is one of the most important international mechanisms for promoting and protecting human rights from all over the world. The HRC Youth Forum gave young leaders access to a platform that allowed them to discuss key human rights issues of importance.


The participants divided into different working groups representing some of the themes covered during the 32nd session of the HRC. The workshops covered a wide range of topics including Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV, Migration, Employment, Entrepreneurship & Economic Empowerment, Gender & Diversity, Innovation & Education, Countering Violent Extremism and Youth as Agents of Change. Each participant actively contributed by providing inputs for the final outcome document with recommendations on how young people wish to engage with the HRC. The final declaration was developed in collaboration with AYUDH and presented to the HRC.


As a result of these activities, the first steps towards a youth HRC platform will be established at the UN in Geneva.



International Yoga day at Amritapuri Ashram

21 Jun 2016, Amritapuri

The main hall in the Ashram was full this morning as a Yoga classes were conducted to celebrate the day. More than 1000 participated in this yoga celebration, including children, youth and old aged.



National level trainers camp for AYUDH and IAM

A national level trainers camp was held in Amritapuri from Dec. 25th – 31st, 2015.  Participants from all over India came to become teachers of the Integrated Amrita Meditation (IAM) Technique and Amrita Yoga.  Individuals also learned how to lead youth groups and hold events under the Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara (AYUDH) umbrella.


Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri inaugurated the camp and encouraged the trainees to lead spiritually centered lives and to carry forward the message of Sanatana Dharma with the light of Amma’s teachings.

The trainees were exposed to inspiring talks by senior monks of the Ashram. The talks, held in English, Malayalam, and Hindi, included topics such as The Importance of the Guru, Sanatana Dharma, and How to Have a Healthy Life with Natural Remedies. The sessions also focused on how science and spiritually can work hand in hand.

Dr. Vandana Balakrishnan, from the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), gave insights into her scientific research done on the positive effects of Integrated Amrita Meditation.

A camp participant, Ranjana (from Uttarakhand) said, “I do not know how Amma managed to bring me here from the far flung Himalayas to the other end of the country. I now only want to become Her instrument.”

“I feel blessed to be part of this camp. I hope to regularly practice what I have learnt here and also be able to teach it to others,” said Nilesh (from Pune).

At the conclusion of the camp, participants shared their inspirations and thoughts on how they will now carry the light of IAM, Amrita Yoga and AYUDH, to all corners of the country.

– Dass

Gita festival in Bali

November 26th, 2015, Bali, Indonesia

Swami Purnamritananda led a Bhagavad Gita event in Badung Regency in Bali.

Swamiji was welcomed by Prabhu Darmayasa from the Paramadhama Ashram, and Senator Arya Wedakarna.

There were talks on the Gita, cultural performances, and singing.
Attendees also chanted the 12th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, after which everyone participated in a meditation session held at the beach. Swami’s beautiful flute music filled the air as the sun set during the meditation.

The event also included the signing of a declaration recommending that all a copy of the Bhagavad Gita be placed in each hotel room in Bali and that the Gita become part of the standard school curriculum.




Bali International Interfaith Youth Program

22 November 2015 , Dinas Pendidikan Pemuda dan Olahraga Hall, Renon, Denpasar

Swami Poornamritananda was invited as a guest speaker at the Bali International Interfaith Youth Program 2015. This was the 3rd interfaith program held in Bali. Representatives from many religions spoke on this occassion. Bali is well known for its religious tolerance and is known as the Island of the Gods and the Island of Tolerance.



Seed of Happiness from Amma’s teachings on Japan’s National Cultural Day

3 November 2015, Tokyo

On the occassion of Japan’s National Cultural Day, a special lecture was held in Tokyo Women’s Plaza, located in the central area of metropolitan city. Swami Poornamritananda addressed the gathering on the theme “How to Attain a Peaceful State of Mind – a Seed of Happiness from Amma’s Teachings”. About 300 people gathered to listen to the lecture.

The Woman’s Plaza is known as a pioneering institution for supporting women and has been a base for cooperation between Tokyo’s government and citizens to realize a peaceful gender-equality society.



Programme in Kanazawa Buddhist Temple

30 Oct 2015, Ishikawa
The public program in Ishikawa Prefecture was held in the Koya-san Shingon-shu Daiohji Temple. The temple was originally built 1300 years ago, and was restored in 1745 after a damaging fire.

The program started with a Buddhist Sutra chanted by the female head monk. Swami Poornamritananda gave a spiritual talk about Buddha and Amma. At the end, participants asked passionate questions which were warmly answered by Swamiji. Attendees also participated in a meditation accompanied by Swamiji’s peaceful flute playing.




Vijaya Raksha: A movement for Respecting women on Navaratri

Students of Amrita University are using this year’s Navaratri festival to launch an initiative designed to make respect for women‬ and girls‬ both cool and a matter of personal pride. Named as Vijaya Raksha, started with the blessings of Amma, the campaign aims to bring a social change through a religious festival. It is initiated by the Vedanta Club of Amrita University, Bangalore, India, to bring awareness throughout the country using Navaratri as a platform. Vijaya Raksha is also about educating the next generation and creating awareness in each one of us about the divinity of Motherhood.

The mythology and culture of this land is so intrinsically woven around women that every element of it reflects the divinity and power in her. But, just as a tiger’s beauty is its own enemy, a woman’s treasured characteristics like love, compassion and piety are mistaken as her weaknesses. She is mistaken for the weaker section of the society. The result is what we see today— abuse and oppression of women. We have to change this. We are by her; we are for her.

As the campaign’s founders declared, “People worship the Goddess in the temple for 9 days, but the same people abuse the walking goddesses on the street. We have to change this. This is possible only if we start seeing the goddess in every woman”. They call this the “Respect Women Challenge” and have called on both students and other males nationwide to take the challenge and invite their friends and family to do the same.

Looking at the pictures of Vijayaraksha, Amma, who is on her Europe Yatra, currently in Paris, seeing the students efforts and enthusiasm, commented that “for so long in history it was men who were the breadwinners and protectors and thus it is in their genes to think that they alone are the doers and the protectors, etc. And so a change will not happen overnight. But at least these young men are trying. And women should also acknowledge their efforts and acknowledge that they are genetically predisposed in this way and therefore when they make efforts it should be appreciated.”

You may recollect that during Amma’s sadhana leela, she used to run towards little girls and hug them seeing them as Divine Mother. In her deep anguish of separation from the Divine Mother she would sometimes cry and scream aloud. Eventually they, too, came to understand that she was crying to see Devi. During these uncontrollable outbursts, one of her younger sisters would stand before her, assuming the pose of Devi, wearing a sari and cascading hair. In great joy, she would run to embrace her. If she should notice any girl when she was in this mood, she would run to her enthralled. Embracing and kissing her, she saw only Devi in all.



How to do
A man/boy who pledges to take up the vow of Vijaya Raksha should approach a woman/girl whom they are not familiar with and tie a raksha (a red thread) around her wrist. Do this with an attitude of respect. Then touch her feet and thank her for her contribution to society and her role in protecting humanity. Motherhood is the greatest blessing God has given her. He should acknowledge seeing God in her and should seek her blessings. Respect her Motherhood. He should also make her aware of the reason behind this movement. Do it on all 9 days of Navaratri.

Vijaya Raksha slogans
|| स्त्री रक्षा सृष्टि रक्षा ||Stree Raksha Srusthi RakshaProtection of women is protection of Nature
|| देवी रक्षा धर्म रक्षा || Devi Raksha Dharma RakshaProtection of Devi is protection of Dharma
|| मात्रुरक्षा मानव रक्षा ||Matru Raksha Manava RakshaProtection of Mother is protection of Humanity
|| विजयरक्षा विश्वरक्षा ||Vijayaraksha VishwarakshaVijayaraksha is for the protection of the world

Learn more at www.vijayaraksha.org, www.facebook.com/Vijayaraksha