Values from Valimiki, Sadgamaya Summer Camp for children

10 May 2014, Amritapuri

Sadgamaya Summer Camp 2014, with the theme “Values from Valmiki,” was conducted  at Amritapuri, May 7 – 10, 2014. 2,000 students attended the camp.

Addressing the students, Amma said that “Even in failure there is a lesson to learn. Understand it and move forward. In fact, if we can cultivate faith, enthusiasm and patience, we will never really fail in life.” In an hour long session she also answered few questions from the students. {read more from Amma’s talk}.
Swamini Krishnamrita Prana inaugurated the three-day workshop for 10th standard students studying at Amrita Vidyalayams throughout Kerala. Addressing the gathering, she asked the children to understand the value of  Indian culture. “Imitating the West, we are following them blindly, forgetting our values,” she said.

Br. Dhyanamrita Chaitanya gave a presentation on Valmiki Ramayana—its importance and relevance, its influence on art, culture, literature, the puranas and history.

Dr. Somasekharan enlightened the students on the teachings that can be found through the various brotherly relationships in the Ramayana.

E.V. Menon enthralled the students with his oration on the characters of the Ramayana and what they represent.

Vidyasagar spoke about Hanuman, telling the students that everything they needed to be successful in life can be found in the example set by Hanuman.

Br. Sivamrita Chaitanya explained why Ravana—in spite of being a very great scholar, musician and powerful king—was still ultimately a failure in life, due to his lack of guru’s grace.

Dr. Lakshmi Sankar spoke about Sita, telling the students that they should try to imbibe her straightforwardness and adherence to dharma.

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri explained that Amma—a living personification of love, compassion and selflessness—is proof that such personalities as Rama and Sita existed.

The students also participated in various workshops including drama, painting, cartoon drawing, Vedic mathematics, recycling, gardening, etc. Yoga classes were also conducted by Bri Shobana and team.

After three days filled with workshops, classes, talks and group activities, the students went home with plenty of food for thought. It is our sincere wish that they will carry the values they discussed and contemplated during the Sadgamaya Summer Camp with them throughout their lives, and that these values will inform their decisions and actions as they grow into adulthood.

– Tulasi

AYUDH Portugal brings HOPE to care homes

During AYUDH’s 2013 youth summit in Germany “Our World, Our Vision, Our Future,” a group of young people were introduced to playing harp as a means of therapy. At the conclusion of the camp, two youth were awarded a harp with the idea that it would be used by them to play at care-homes in their country throughout the year. This is part of AYUDH’s new “HOPE—Harps of Peace” program, mentored by the world-renowned harpist and founder and director of the International Harp Therapy Program, Christina Tourin.

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In March 2014, members of AYUDH visited two care-homes for elderly people in the Lisbon area in order to brighten up their day with the soothing harp sounds and their youthful vibrancy. They brought the harp, as well as some other instruments, including a guitar, hang drum.

At one nursing home, the group spent time speaking with some elderly ladies, getting to know them and listening to their stories. They visited many bedridden people who often get only one or two visitors a year, playing music, singing and talking. In one house, they were attended the birthday party of a lady who just turned 101.

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One lady they visited had recently suffered a stroke. She could not move or talk. Blinking was her only means of communication. “As soon as she saw us, she opened her eyes wide, trying to see what all instruments we had brought,” recollects one of the AYUDH members. “As we played, she started moving her head, trying to somehow get up. Her mouth started to move a little and she made a little sound like, ‘Ah!’ It was an incredible moment for all of us! Even the staff of the care-home were amazed. We all felt such compassion and love in the room. Remembering it gives me a very warm feeling in my heart!”

– Dass

Amritakeerti Puraskar 2013 to Manoj Das and Turavoor Viswambharan

In conjunction with the 60th birthday celebrations of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, the 2013 Amritakeerti Puraskar National Award will be bestowed upon renowned English and Oriya writer Prof. Manoj Das.

The Kerala State Level award will be bestowed upon eminent writer, scholar and orator Prof. Thuravoor Viswambharan.

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Manoj Das

The announcement was made on 17th September 2013 by Amritakeerti Puraskar Committee Member Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Vice-Chairman of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM).

The awards—which have been awarded annually since 2001—to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of spirituality, philosophy, science or literature—come with a cash prize of Rs. 1,23,456, a statuette of Saraswati Devi created by renowned sculptor Namboodiri and a citation from MAM. Both men will be presented with their awards on September 27th, 2013, in Amritapuri, during Amritavarsham60: The 60th Birthday Celebrations of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

In the opinion of the Amritakeerti Puraskar Committee, Prof. Manoj Das is one of India’s greatest living English and Oriya writers, with more than 14 volumes of his work in the form being published over the years. A resident of the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry since 1963, a spiritual and mystical element flows as a strong undercurrent to Manoj Das’ writings.

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Turavoor Viswambharan

He is also an acclaimed novelist and poet, and has published travelogues, children’s books, written regular columns for various Indian newspapers and monthlies, and served as editor for esteemed journals. He also travelled to London and Edinburgh to do original research into Sri Aurobindo’s early work in the Indian freedom struggle, publishing them in the 1972 work Sri Aurobindo in the First Decade of the Century.

Prof. Manoj Das has previously been honoured with the President’s Padmasri Award in 2001. He has also been honoured with the Sri Aurobindo Puraskas (Kolkata), the Sahitya Akademi Award (1972), the Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award (twice), the Sarala Award, the Sahitya Bharati Award, the 1998 BAPASI (Book-sellers And Publishers Association of South India) Award as the best writer in English in South India, Rotary’s “For the Sake of Honours,” and India’s premier award for literature, the Saraswati Samman, as well as Utkal Ratna from Odisha’s oldest literary institution the Utkal Sahitya Samaj, among others.

In the opinion of the Amritakeerti Puraskar committee, Prof. Viswambharan’s critical evaluation of the Mahabharata in the light of world philosophy have helped spread Indian culture and solidify the epic’s place in the cannon of world literature.

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His book Bharata Darsanam Punarvayana presents the story and philosophy of the Mahabharata while at the same time providing a critical study and evaluation in the light of world philosophy.

Prof. Viswambharan has also presented lucid and compelling arguments as to why views presented by a slew of famous Indianologists—both from the West and from India itself—are flawed.

His discussion on the Mahabharata on the Amrita Television programme Bharata Darsanam now comprises more than 2,500 episodes.

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.

Art-project

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

 

Family Camp at the Amma Center, Switzerland

On a weekend in June, over twenty children and teenagers participated in the Family Camp 2013 of the Swiss Amma Center in Flaach.

The theme of the camp was “Man and Nature in Harmony” with a special emphasis on water.

The children and teenagers participated, according to their age, in different workshops centered on the five virtues: Truth, Peace, Love, Non-Violence and Right Action.

The two following days started with the Amrita-Yoga and IAM Meditation.

One of the many highlights of the weekend was the wonderful guided tour through the nature sanctuary “Thurauen” on Sunday morning, where everybody learned about the animals in the water and also had a lot of fun making their own boats made from materials found at the sanctuary: wood, reeds, etc.

In the afternoon there were theatre and painting workshops, an IAM Refresher course and games for the small children. The day ended a huge bonfire and the sending small hot air balloons into the moonlit night sky while everybody chanted “Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”.

On Monday the retreat came to an end with the children each promising to do one good deed a day, as well as with dancing and singing together and presenting the theatre scenes all children had prepared. During the whole camp the children also had bhajan class and led their own bhajan sessions each evening.

It was a wonderful weekend, where learning and fun were closely linked and where surely every child or teenager could return home with precious experiences in his heart.

World Hindu Summit 2013 Bali

Swami Purnamritananda participated in the  World Hindu Summit of 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. The agenda of the  World Hindu Summit of 2013 is to establish the World Hindu Parisad or Assembly, developing its constitution, structure, office bearers, etc. The highlight of the opening ceremony was a very grand performance put up by the Balinese, representing the story of how spiritual harmony amongst the various religions was achieved in Bali by the power of Trimurti.

Among the important guests that came to welcome were the Head of the Indonesian Hindu Parisad, Dr I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana; the Head of the Indonesian Ashram Association, Prabu Adi Purusa; the Head of the Bali Ashram Association, Acarya Yogananda; the Chairman of the World Hindu Summit, Professor Made Bhakta; and the Chairman of the World Hindu Summit Committee, Dr. Made Sad Guna.

Later Swami had a meeting with  Dr. Arya Wedakarna – Director of Sukarno Centre, Chancellor of Mahendradatta University.

 

May this award spread goodness and peace

27 Sep 2012, Amritapuri – 59th B’day Celebrations

As part of Amma’s 59th birthday celebrations, the 2012 Amrita Keerti Puraskar for excellence in Indian cultural literature was bestowed upon C. Radhakrishnan by P.J. Kurian, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, in Amma’s presence.

In his address  Kurien said, “Amma is the essence of Indian culture.  Amma gives unlimited love and compassion to the downtrodden and needy. Amma’s compassion transcends all national boundaries. That compassion flows like the Ganga. There are no boundaries of caste, religion or nation. She loves all of humankind as one. Amma’s inner power is divine. The love that she showers upon us is also divine. I pray that this compassion is able to flow constantly without any obstruction.”

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Accepting Amritakeerti award, C. Radhakrishnan said, “Seeing Amma’s compassion and love, people are naturally drawn to Amma. May her wellspring of compassion and love continue for ages. I have received many awards, but this is the first time I am receiving an award in the esteemed company of such great Sannyasis. This award is not mine; it is for translating the great text of the Bhagavad-Gita and novel about the father of Malayalam. These works spread goodness and peace. Perhaps that is what this award should be giving here.”

2012 Amritakeerti Puraskar to C.Radhakrishnan

In conjunction with the 59th birthday celebrations of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, the 2012 Amritakeerti Puraskar will be awarded to renowned writer and film director C. Radhakrishnan.

The award comes with a cash prize of Rs. 1,23,456, a statuette created by sculptor Namboodiri and a citation. C. Radhakrishnan will be presented the award on September 27th, 2011, in Amritapuri, during Amma’s birthday celebration.

Along with his lifetime contribution to Malayalam literature, MAM is specifically bestowing the award upon C. Radhakrishnan for his 2011 commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita—Geeta Darshanam [“The Vision of the Geeta”]. MAM would also like to specifically acknowledge his 2005 novel Theekkadal Kadanhu Thirumadhuram [“Churning the Ocean of Fire”], which tells the story of Thunjath Ezhuthacchan, the father of Malayalam.

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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.

 
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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.