Rise Arjuna: Awake, Arise and Seize the Future

15 June 2013, Tabanan, Bali
The Youth Forum is dedicated to the empowerment of youth in Tabanan, a regency of Bali had a program with Swami Purnamritananda. The theme of the event which Swami graced was “Rise Arjuna: Awake, Arise and Seize the Future”.


Surpi, who organized the event, said in her opening speech that the youth worried about their future and wanted guidance and inspiration. Surpi described Amma as “Active Spirituality”, spirituality that does valuable work. She told the youth how lucky they were to have Swamiji, Amma’s disciple, amidst them, to share his valuable thoughts of Amma’s teachings with them.

Color the World with Love

Our World Our Vision Our Future

The ninth European AYUDH Youth Initiative  was conducted from July13th – 20th, 2013 at MA Center Germany, Brombachtal. More than 200 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 participated in the week long camp. For the first time participants from Greece, Denmark and Lebanon took part in the initiative, making it a total of 21 nationalities present.  The initiative included youth from: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, UK, Ireland, Greece, Slovenia, Poland, India, Singapore, USA, Canada, and Lebanon.

“Our World -Our Vision- Our Future” was the theme for this year’s camp. The participants were invited to reflect upon their ambitions and dreams. Interactive talks and workshops by renowned personalities from the fields of spirituality, politics, music, dance, theatre, and media inspired the youth to define their personal vision and take practical steps to reach their goals.

Inspiring talks

Kirty Matabadal, the current Youth Ambassador to the UN (Netherlands) addressed the conference. The feedback that she had collected from the AYUDH participants last year was included in her speech which she gave in front of the UN General Assembly in New York on 8th Oct 2012. This time she challenged participants to debate about the future of the planet in regards to food security: “Today there are 7 billion people on this planet. We produce food for 12 billion people, 1 billion is facing starvation and 1,5 billion are obese. Where do we go wrong?” The answers by the youth ranged from sustainable education for children, awareness campaigns to localized food production. These ideas will be presented at the conference ‘Eat2Feed’ with the Dutch Foreign Minister, organized on World Food Day 2013.

Jani Toivola, a Member of Parliament from Finland, shared his experiences of growing up as a person with African roots in a society that was almost exclusively fair-skinned. Jani told about the misunderstandings, discrimination and fear he faced as a child. Through self-acceptance and tolerance he gained the strength to overcome these obstacles and become a successful actor and later politician in Finland. As a member of parliament Jani today campaigns for minority and immigrant rights, youth employment and development aid.

Laura Schneider, an actress and singer from Germany reminded the youth that our vision of success should not only include our personal gain: “I reached my goal of being an actress….”  she said, “but what really matters is the intention behind your vision. If you’re intention is ‘me, me, me’ – I am not sure about that. But if you’re intention is for the benefits of all beings – miracles are going to happen. Doors are going to open. My life is a living proof that is possible.”

A completely different angle on following one’s vision was given by Aart Huijg (Netherlands), who cycled 34,000 kilometers from the North- to the South Pole: “I took the decision to take this 620 day long trip simply for one reason – because I knew that I could! I knew that anything was possible if only I believed in myself.” Aart faced many adverse situations, physical exhaustion and survived on just 5 Euro per day – enough to eat, but not enough to pay for a smartphone!

Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya encouraged the youth to become responsible leaders, practicing the three “R”s: Respect for Self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all our actions. Br. Shubamrita stressed the importance of Compassionate Leadership in the present times to bring about a change in the world. The best example for which is our beloved Amma. He said, “It is easy to keep discussing for days together about the present condition of the world and blame everybody for it. But Amma has a different approach. She does not just talk about it but tries to do something about it. She also tries to make everyone ask himself or herself, ‘What I am doing to make the situation better?’”

Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya outlined how an optimistic vision of life can greatly enhance our level of happiness, contentment and health. Her talk was interspersed with interesting anecdotes and inspiring videos.


15 workshops

In the afternoons participants could choose between a diverse range of workshops: Finding flow in everyday life (psychology), story-telling & improv-theatre, youth-IAM meditation, yoga & chanting, tai chi & healthy nutrition, singing, improv-dance, 5-rhythms-dance, communicating with the horses, building a labyrinth, and artwork.

The photography workshop collected thousands of stunning photos. One workshop group built a labyrinth out of sand and stone in the garden of MA Center. The labyrinth, which was designed after the model of the ancient labyrinth of Chartres, France, has been used in many ancient cultures around the world as a tool for finding one’s personal vision and path in life.

An exclusive harp playing workshop was led by Christina Tourin, an internationally renowned harp player and pioneer in harp-therapy. The workshop participants gave a concert at the local old age home, sharing the gift of music with the elderly residents. Christina Tourin also gifted two harps to participants of her workshop, who will continue the visits of old-age homes in Portugal and Austria.


Building a barefoot-path

As every year, AYUDH also wants to make a contribution to the local surroundings. Therefore one workshop group built a barefoot path in the garden of the social care-center in Michelstadt. The bare-footpath is made up with natural materials and is open to people of all ages to train their sense of touch. Stephan Kelbert, the Mayor of Michelstadt, praised the youth’s contribution and hard work while inaugurating it on July 19th.

Sustainability campaign in schools

At least one youth from every nation participated in the In-Deed workshop, which trained them as coaches in sustainable development. Once the youth are back in their home countries they will visit schools and child-care centers to teach the children how to save water, grow their own organic food and protect biodiversity. Upon completing the school visits, participants will be awarded with the “Youth Pass”, a certificate by the European Commission for Education and Culture. “Youth Pass” certifies non-formal learning in the youth field and is acknowledged as part of the professional career of the youth throughout Europe.

Turning the vision within

Sessions of meditation, yoga, tai chi and bhajans, were held everyday and allowed the youth to turn their vision within and integrate the diverse impressions of the day. After dinner, the youth were invited to take part in interactive sessions led by Br. Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita to reflect upon their values, personal strengths and the impact they want to have in the world. The brilliant and very mature comments sparked a lively dialogue and ended the day in a reflective mode.


The youth undertook a huge group-art-project to literally “color the world with love.” The continents of the world were cut out in wooden pieces, which were then colored with the handprints of each and every participant. In the end, a unique mosaic of colors and shapes were created – a testimony of the youth’s willingness to work with their hands and hearts towards creating a beautiful and colorful world.

Summer festival

The grand conclusion of the week was a summer festival on the eve of Friday 19th July, during which each workshop presented the results of their group work. The diverse range of presentations gave an impressive demonstration of AYUDH’s talent and creativity.

After the show, everyone proceeded to the inauguration of the labyrinth at MA Center. Under the light of the rising moon the youth enjoyed an exclusive classical concert with harp, flute and soprano. In this mystical atmosphere 300 candles were lit, which were then carried by the youth to a nearby lake, where they were set afloat onto the water. During the procession the youth sang the prayer “Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” – praying for all beings in creation to be peaceful and happy.

– Dass



AYUDH Youth Exchange USA 2012: The Joy of Giving

11-12 August 2012, MA Center, Washington DC
The third annual East Coast AYUDH Youth Exchange, held in M.A. Center in Washington D.C. Thirty four youth from around the United States to come together for this year’s theme of ‘The Joy of Giving’ fostered a transformative weekend of discussion, selfless service, and prayer.



As the sun rose on the horizon, participants began the first day preparing lunch for a local shelter in Bethesda, Maryland.  Everyone’s personal touch added to the splendor of the scrumptious meal. Thereafter a hike alongside the exquisite Potomac River at the nearby Great Falls Park posed a time for connection with nature.   Inward reflection as well as conversation and getting to know one another passed the hour.

During the afternoon’s question and answer session, Br. Dayamrita touched upon an array of topics.  Inquires varied from basic techniques for overcoming stage fright to more complex issues of karmic unfolding during adverse circumstances.  Learning to keep a balance in all endeavors was a central theme.  Participants then shared personal experiences.  Exchanging thoughts and ideas revitalized the group to continue their charitable work.  Creativity came to life as participants each created their unique AYUDH shirt using spray paint.  In the evening, a heart-stirring bhajan session concluded the day with remembrance of the divine.  Musical talent filled the room as Sonia Patel sang ‘Every One in the World,’ an English song highlighting Amma’s dream for a peaceful world.   Interactive theater games ended the long day on a light-hearted note.

The following morning’s activities began with a thought-provoking discussion led by Br. Dayamrita.  Approaches to dealing with societal pressures affecting today’s youth were considered.  Participants debated on how to live in the world as members of society whilst holding on to spiritual values.   After the bhajan class  the group divided into several smaller ones, each composed a paragraph around this year’s theme for AYUDH.  What resulted was a melodious, multilingual conglomeration of voices, instruments, and styles centralized around ‘The Joy of Giving’.

As a finale to the retreat, all traveled to the Potomac Valley Nursing and Wellness Center to perform for the elderly residents. The group had prepared a collection of songs and dances.  As faces filled with smiles, participants shared their numerous talents.  Raju Mishra performed a Bollywood fusion dance.   Tom Marino choreographed an AYUDH group song.  One resident was inspired to participate by singing the 1934 classic, ‘Blue Moon’ for everyone.   As some were fighting to hold back their tears, others joyously joined in the celebration  – with goals set and hearts opened.


The Joy of Giving

AYUDH Europe’s 8th Youth Initiative, 15 – 21 July 2012, MA Center, Germany

The 8th European AYUDH Youth Initiative was an unique gathering where participants came from all parts of the continent and even from far off countries like Japan, Ukraine and the United States – 200 youth from 15 countries – came together at the MA Center Germany. The theme of this year was ‘The Joy of Giving.’ The youth focused on how they can use their personal talents and potential for the benefit of society and the environment. Each youth chose one workshop for the duration of the whole week. The workshops were designed to help the youth deepen their understanding of the three main topics of the initiative: ‘Give to Yourself’, ‘Give to Society’ and ‘Give to Nature.’

Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique for Youth taught the participants the simple yet effective meditation technique that can help them to be more balanced, focused and creative in their studies, work and personal life.

A psychology workshop introduced the ‘Flow’ phenomena, which helps one to be more efficient, happy and relaxed in one’s work.

The singing, dancing and artwork workshops offered the chance to explore and express creative potential. All songs were written and composed by the participants themselves, ranging from Rap to Jazz to folk music. In two acting workshops the youth developed their improvisation & storytelling skills, while also learning about the discipline of acting.

Practical activities and the insight of a great workshop leader introduced the permaculture group to an alternative sustainable way to work with nature
A body work workshop introduced youth to simple and effective techniques for increased relaxation.

Motivational Talks
Each day a renowned speaker inspired the youth with motivational talks, using examples from their own lives. The speakers included Kirsi Ranto, pop-singer from Finland, Krisztina Peremartoni, who was the lead actress of the Hungarian National Theatre for 25 years, who talked to the participants of how singing and acting can also be used to help society and stressed on how much a refined character is important in remaining successful. Kirty Matabadal, UN Ambassador for Youth from the Netherlands shared her aspirations, tasks and responsibilities as UN ambassador with the youth.

The camp also had a very special visit from world-renowned German artist Rebecca Horn. Accompanied by Hayden Chisholm, a musician and composer from New Zealand, the evening began with the screening of the film made by her titled ‘Moon Mirror Journey’. The youngsters experienced the palpable atmosphere created by each piece, including ‘Jungle of Light’, the installation dedicated to Amma. In her speech, Rebecca Horn encouraged the youth to go back to their roots, value their cultural heritage and spread their love in society.

The talks by Br. Shubamrita on ‘Giving to Society’ and Bri. Dipamrita on ‘Giving to Nature’ highlighted on how everybody has the potential to create change in the world and in the restoring harmony between human beings and nature – in big and small ways.

Walk for Education
On the third day of the retreat, the youth took part in a charity walk ‘Walk for Education’ in the picturesque city of Michelstadt.

Back home, each participant had worked for raising awareness and funds for the walk, directed towards helping ‘Embracing the World’ in their educational projects for children. To support the youth in their cause and inform the public, the local bank “Volksbank Odenwald” hosted a one month video and photo exhibition about the educational initiatives of “Embracing the World”.

Along the way, the youth visited an old age home and spent a few hours with the residents there. Some young people visited room-bound elderly people and distributed some gifts hand-made by the participants. The Portuguese group played and sang for the elderly people in their rooms. Afterwards, Spanish TV comedian Antonio Jose Garcia del Valle entertained the residents and youth with a medley of popular songs and skits, bringing both tears and laughter to everyone’s face.

Dil Se De
On the penultimate day afternoon, the youngsters shared the ‘Joy of Giving’ through a multi-cultural youth street theatre performance. All topics explored during the week like benefits of meditation, protecting Mother Nature, conserving water and energy, relaxation techniques, etc, were translated into music, dance and drama. The performance culminated in a 200 strong dance troupe to this year’s theme song ‘Dil Se De’ [video]. Passers-by were impressed by the young people’s talents and sincere concern for environmental and social issues.

Candle Ceremony
Artist Gabriele von Lutzau, visited the M.A. Center to inaugurate a cast of the peace dove carved during the previous year. Each participant joined in the universal peace prayer ‘Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu’ and carried a candle to the nearby lake and gently placed it on the waters. It was a beautiful sight to see the 200 lighted candles, floating on the surface of water, with the atmosphere reverberating with the chants for world peace. The serene atmosphere created by the candle ceremony continued into a special exclusive concert with Kirsi Ranto and Antonio Jose Garcia del Valle. Other AYUDH participants shared their musical talents and an overwhelming feeling of pure joy was experienced by all.

On the final day, the Mayor of Brombachtal, Mr. Willi Kredel thanked the youth for travelling to the local region and mentioned how inspired he is by all that AYUDH does. As in previous years, the event was supported by the ‘Youth in Action’ programme of the EU and the city of Michelstadt.

Throughout the week, the youth had drafted follow-up ‘Joy of Giving’ projects for implementation in their home countries. Each young person left for home with their hearts filled with fulfillment, happiness and enthusiasm to continue ‘Giving,’ which is such an important part of Amma’s life and teachings.


AYUDH participates in inter-religious peace prayer

12 September 2011 – Munich

AYUDH was invited by the catholic church to co-facilitate the inter-religious peace prayer. They also joined dialogue-groups to discuss ways to peace within a multicultural society. The youth read out from Amma’s teachings, sang the bhajan “Everyone in the world” and prayed “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.”


In a church centre in the Munich neighbourhood Haidhausen, about 120 representatives of various religions came together at an inter-religious youth meeting and collective prayer for peace.

Through the International Peace Meeting, the hosts, the congregation Sant´Egidio and the archdiocese of Munich and Freising discussed topics about living together with different religions and cultures.


Before the communal peace prayer, the individual religions prayed in accordance to their respective traditions, lit a peace candle together and placed flowers in a vase to create a colorful bouquet. Afterwards, the participants met for a dialogue where representatives of the different religions shared their own views and perspectives on ways of being in the world in respect to peace.

“In everyday religion, normally we don’t meet like this, rather everyone prays in their own way. This meeting offered the opportunity to get a taste of the different traditions, to discover what they have in common, and to remove prejudices. The building blocks of religion should be used to build bridges rather than walls” commented a participant, Nath Hirsch from AYUDH

– Das

Reaching new heights by AYUDH of USA

August 12-14, 2011 M.A. Center, Washington, DC.

Under the guidance of Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya, forty youth came together for the second annual AYUDH East Coast Youth Exchange for the theme ‘Reaching New Heights’. The zealous youth from across the United States and Canada gathered at the picturesque ashram to share ideas, pray together, and join hands in performing selfless service.


The participants arose early the first morning to cook and serve lunch for the Bethesda Cares shelter in Maryland. Apart from the joy of partaking in teamwork to churn out a meal within an hour, some participants remarked that it was their first time serving at a shelter, and it was a transformative experience. “It was eye-opening to see firsthand how others appreciated so dearly what many of us take for granted every day,” commented Amit Sookdeo.


In a question-and-answer session with Br. Dayamrita, participants learned how to handle stress, especially with demanding academic curricula.

One of the retreat’s highlights was the screening of Bag-It, a documentary highlighting the gross waste of plastic and the subsequent effects on our ecosystems. Inspired by AYUDH members’ service projects around the world, the Amrita University students’ efforts to clean roadside trash in India, and Amma’s message that “Nature is our Mother,” the participants each pledged to make one change in their lives. The pledges ranged from carrying reusable bags to the grocery store to growing plants in one’s backyard, stopping the personal purchase of plastic water bottles to serving at a homeless shelter twice a month, and even recommending a composting system for one’s college dining hall to wasting less water on a daily basis.

“Even though we pledged to do simple things like grow plants in our house or be more conscious about the environment, these little actions will add up in the end and we will see genuine change,” said Jaya Vallis.

The rain cleared up the evening, as AYUDH members swam in the Ashram’s pool, played tennis and basketball, enjoyed a slip-and-slide, and roasted marshmallows in a bonfire.

The following day, participants were treated to a lively bhajan class on the song “Akhilandeshwari Ambe,” involving a conglomeration of instruments, music styles, a rap, and singing variations between boys and girls. AYUDH had a satsang with Swami Amritaswarupananda via webcast from Amritapuri, who gave the camp members a guide to reach new heights and embrace what he coined the Law of Grace. He also spoke of how love is a product of Amma’s grace, the elimination of emotional distress, and the three C’s: Calmness, Cheerfulness, and Confidence.


The final event of the retreat was one that had many participants fighting back tears. AYUDH had the opportunity to do a one-hour performance before the elderly residents of the Potomac Valley Nursing and Wellness Center. Titled “East Meets West,” the performance had a medley of songs and dances, such as “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Hari Pancha, “Kal Ho Na Ho” by Amritesh Thoppil, “My Favorite Things” on saxophone by Karthik Krishnan, and a Wushu martial arts demonstration by Poorna Sreekumar.

Several AYUDH members from DC choreographed and performed a fusion dance with raas, bhangra, Bollywood, and hip-hop, followed by an interactive “Lean on Me” led by Tom Marino for which all of AYUDH and many of the Center’s residents sang along. Throughout the entire set, several residents in the front row displayed their enthusiasm by clapping and laughing aloud at the jokes. The most memorable part was a spontaneous, heartwarming rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Fran, a care home resident who sung in her church choir from the age of two.

Said Tom Marino, “This lesson was made tangible at our visit to the nursing home: At first I was nervous and doubtful. Through Grace, the three C’s gradually replaced my distress. The result was love, which had saturated the entire hall and is still present in my heart.” After spending some time with the residents who expressed their appreciation for the performance and after promising to come back soon, AYUDH members wheeled residents back to their rooms and returned to the DC Ashram, invigorated and touched by the bliss received in performing seva.


– KaliDas

Youth reach new heights together

From 24 – 31 July 2011 the M.A Centre, Germany, hosted the 7th International Youth Initiative Reaching New Heights – The Power of Youth to Change the World, a multinational youth programme that welcomed 180 youth from 20 countries in Europe and beyond.

Reaching New Heights focused on eight main challenges faced by youth in today’s society: lack of self-confidence, depression and suicide, addictions and substance abuse, erosion of culture and values, violence, poverty and unemployment, lack of perspective and meaning, family and social crises and environmental challenges. Each country group chose one specific challenge to deal with during the initiative.

For six months prior to the camp, each country group chose one specific challenge to work with. Based on scientific research, discussions, and interviews with affected youth they produced a short video clip which was presented at the beginning of the camp.

Four ‘Powers’ were then identified to deal with these problems: the power of confidence, the power of commitment, the power of creativity and the power of community. Tackling the eight challenges through these four powers thus leads to eight corresponding goals, referred to during the camp as the ‘Youth Development Goals’: Confidence, Understanding, Health, Tolerance, Nature, Culture, Progress, and Vision.

The four powers were dealt with through talks and discussions during the camp. The power of confidence was discussed by Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya, who highlighted the importance of developing self-confidence as a tool for personal empowerment and suggested ways in which to achieve an increased sense of self-worth and integrity and ways to surmount obstacles in life.

The power of commitment was discussed by Hollywood actress and former world champion kick-boxer and boxer Lucia Rijker who shared with the youth how commitment, dedication and determination had helped her achieve new heights in the fields of athletics and acting.

The power of creativity was discussed by the German artist Gabriele von Lutzau*, who emphasized the importance of creativity, originality and self-expression and suggested ways in which youth can uncap their own imaginative and innovative powers in order to bring change in their personal lives and the lives of others. In her talk she shared with the youth how she could turn scars into stars by using her art as a tool to come out of the traumatic experiences she had gone through.

The power of community was discussed by Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya who highlighted the importance of belonging to, and contributing to, a value based community in order to develop the character and value system of youth.

Making the initiative relevant to the youth themselves, the local community, and the wider society three large-scale projects were organised in close collaboration with the city of Michelstadt.

The first of these projects was the landscaping and garden project, which involved renovating and reshaping the park area of Heilig-Kreuz in Michelstadt, a town close by the M.A. Center Germany. Youth who participated in this workshop helped to re-design the area by plating greenery, repairing the broken bridge, cleaning the riverbeds and pathways and refurbishing the signs.

The second project was the creation of an artistic monument, lead by students from the woodcrafts school of Michelstadt. Participants designed a monument which was placed in the renovated park area at Heilig-Kreuz at the end of the camp. It stands as a symbol of the eight Youth Development Goals. The central pole of the monument carries a dove – universal symbol for peace and hope, made by Gabriele von Lutzau.

The third and largest project was a Musical presented on the last evening of the week in the Theater-Hall “Odenwaldhalle” in Michelstadt. Speaking on the occassion, the Mayor of Michelstadt, Stephan Kelber said: “In the name of all the people of the Odenwald region, of 17,000 people, I can say that we are very happy to have you all here in this town. We are proud indeed that you are here, and we feel a bit like the center of the world this evening.”

For six months the Ayudh groups from all over Europe had been writing songs, creating theatre scenes, dance choreographies and video documentaries which would exemplify the challenges they dealt with and show possible solutions to the audience. During the youth camp at M.A. Center Germany these individual scenes were put together into one performance. In workshops the youth took care of all aspects of the show: costumes, props, choir, stage construction, painting the backdrop, light, sound and video projection. Within just one week the youth created an amazing performance – a true example of the collective power of youth to inspire, create and reach new heights together. At the end of the performance, the hall echoed with the chants – “Mata Rani ki Jai”. Even with the intense activities during the week, the youngsters did not miss the chanting, meditation and yoga/tai chi sessions. Through the dedicated work of many volunteers and through the sincerity, joy and enthusiasm each person brought to the initiative, the 7th annual retreat was a complete success.

The event was supported by the “Youth in Action” programme of the European Commission for Education and Culture, the state of Hessen, the city of Michelstadt, the European Year of Volunteering, and the UN’s International Year of Youth.

– Nath


*Gabriele von Lutzau, who was also the patron of the initiative, had earned the “Bundesverdienstkreuz”, the German order of honor, for her outstanding role in rescuing passengers during the hijacking of a passenger aircraft by terrorists in 1977. As a stewardess on the kidnapped flight she had played a crucial role in the rescue operation and had shown enormous courage and compassion despite the life-threatening circumstances she was in.

Conserving the present, celebrating the future

Celebrating Earth Day in Delhi

22 April 2011

It was in the background of one of the worst natural disasters – the earthquake and tsunami in Japan – that this year’s Earth day arrived on the 22nd of April. This calamity of unprecedented magnitude lent added relevance and significance to this year’s Earth Day. Ayudh Delhi felt that it was high time that awareness about ever deteriorating environmental condition should be brought home to all, so as to save Earth, our ONLY home. Hence, replicating the activity undertaken during Earth Day last year, another awareness campaign about the state of our Earth and the various ways in which each individual can bring about improvement in environment was done.

The venue for this awareness campaign was Dilli Haat at INA on Aurobindo Marg, a place known as a confluence of various cultural traditions and handicrafts from different parts of the country. A large crowd of knowledgeable and passionate visitors coupled with the ambience of the place and the idea itself contributed to a truly memorable and rewarding evening.

The state of our earth was put across in the shape of a dry and barren tree atop a famished earth. People were asked to contribute their ideas, which could liven up this dying earth. The ideas were pinned up to the tree in the form of green leaves. People came in droves to contribute their ideas and suggestions. Within a few hours itself, the tree which had looked so barren in the beginning was fluttering with the green leaves of hope.

Another initiative was to get a signed commitment from the people to take up at least one of the three very simple acts to bring about a significant improvement in environmental condition. The commitments were “To save Water”, “To switch off electricity when not required” and “To turn off the engines of vehicles when at the red lights”. The response was seen to be believed. The Big Banner hosting these 3 commitments ran out of space for people to sign on in no time. People assured us that the commitment that they have done here is meant to be followed in true letter and spirit.

If the above two activities were well received, the crown jewel was the Tulsi distribution. As an extension of the Tulsi distribution done at the time of Amma’s visit to Delhi in mid-March this year, Ayudh distributed around 1000 tulsi saplings free of cost to the visitors at Dilli Haat. People were really happy to get the sapling. They assured us that they would take good care of it and nourish it with all their love and warmth. Hence it was another step in Amma’s vision of the plantation drive, in which Amma wants people to take up the responsibility to plant saplings and nurture them.

The significant lesson these activities brought home to us was that people clearly understood the deteriorating environmental condition that we are in right now, and voluntary initiatives to spread the message to save the Earth would be wholeheartedly welcomed. Obviously, there is need is to organize such initiatives so that like- minded people can come together and get to know that there are many who share their concern and that they are not alone in the fight to save the nature. This in turn would give them hope to continue their efforts at making the world a better place to live in.

– Dass

Washington AYUDH youth exchange

The inaugural AYUDH East Coast Youth Exchange was held from August 14-15 at the M.A. Center in Washington, DC. Led by Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya, the retreat brought together over 30 youth from around the United States for a weekend of activities revolving around the theme of “Embracing Life.”

The exchange commenced with a live webcast with Swami Amritaswarupananda in Amritapuri, who gave the attendees inspirational advice on how to embrace life as Amma’s children. Enthused, the AYUDH members cooked and served a 9-course meal for Mother’s Kitchen and participated in a park restoration project, as a way of loving and serving the world and Nature.

Ajay Ganapathy, who came to the retreat from Atlanta, commented, “This was the first time I prepared and served food at a shelter. At first, I was apprehensive about actually meeting and greeting the people at the shelter, but I saw that the people were happy to see me. I found that I was happy to see them as well, and that they were not out to judge me or hurt me as I had perceived. In a psychological way, they had served me as much as I had served them. As a person who is generally slow to trust others, this gesture of compassion got rid of my fear of meeting new people, and removed the cynical bent I held toward interpersonal relationships.”

That evening, after a lively bhajan set featuring AYUDH singers and musicians, a handful of attendees put on an amazing talent show with a variety of acts, including photography, Bharatanatyam, breakdancing, poetry, a capella, Indian classical singing, Jazz, and a vivacious rendition of “Lean on Me.”

One of the weekend’s highlights was Br. Ramanand’s bhajan class for “Meri Jhoppidi De,” which intertwined the talents of several AYUDH members. From guitar solos to girls vs. boys, classical Indian notes to a clarinet interlude, an alap and a spontaneous rap solo, each and every participant rejoiced in the song and the escalating tempo. Satya Valis quickly threw together a rhyming rap, playing on the meaning of the song. “No desire for the name/ no desire for fame/ I show no shame/ my love for Him’s like one and the same/ so I chant His name/ Oh Rama Oh Rama!”

To culminate a weekend of “Embracing Life,” retreatants tied a string around each of their wrists to symbolize one specific promise made to each other and to themselves to become more active AYUDH members and better individuals, so that, guided by Amma’s Love, they may be able to create a bright and sustainable future for their brothers and sisters around the world.


Experience week for the youth

24th to August 1st, la Ferme du Plessis, Paris
GreenFriends-Europe held the “Experience Week”, in which 80 youth from all over the world invested themselves fully into an ecological project for the whole week. These projects were designed to encourage a learning-by-doing process. The Experience Week was awarded by the UNESCO the status of official project of the “Decade for Education on Sustainable Development”.

The participants of the “Experience Week” could choose from three different projects managed by youth themselves. The goal of these projects was to go deep into a concrete ecological realisation and develop self-confidence as part of a team. Many complementary activities were proposed so that the projects could really nourish the artistic and philosophical needs of the participants.

The first project was the construction of a traditional dovecote. Dovecotes are an important part of the French heritage because pigeon’s excreta are a perfect natural fertilizer. This project was the opportunity to remove the pigeons living in the main tower of the site, which will be renovated in the coming years. Youth learnt eco-building techniques with local materials: a traditional wood frame with professional carpenters, straw and clay techniques for the walls and the pigeonholes.

The second project was the continuation of the Seeds of Life project at la Ferme du Plessis that had been launched a few months ago. A new mandala garden aims at helping the French Center attain self-reliance regarding the use of seeds for the organic gardens. The participants were involved in the first seed harvests, which are both very technical and meticulous. A storage room has been started and will offer a seed bank to the Center, which will also be used for traditional seeds from the surroundings of the Center, as Amma had asked for. Many artistic workshops could help the participants develop an intimate understanding of plants and seeds.

The third project was to build an astronomy observatory on a small hill. A lot of different workshops were offered: stone carving for a solar cadran, mosaic work, building a wall with lime… The biggest part of the hard team work was in the construction of a wall with old tyres, in order to maintain the hill but also to create a new half-circular space to watch the sun set in the morning. Astronomy observations were offered during 3 nights, providing the youth with the opportunity to discover the magic of the stars.

Above all, this gathering marked a unique opportunity for youngsters with shared values and a common vision for a sustainable future to meet, exchange and inspire each other to work with their hearts and hands for the betterment of society.

– Dev