Installation of Brahmasthanam Temple in Kannur

5 May, Kannur Brahmasthana Pratishta, Bharata Yatra 2011

There was an air of expectancy in the air as Amma was to consecrate the temple. The pujas had already started a few days prior to Amma’s arrival. On the 4th bimba shudhi and vaastu shuddhi was completed.

The morning of 5th Amma appeared in a yellow shawl, with a lotus mala and hair tied up. Amma’s eyes wore an other worldly expression as if She were gazing into things unknown and unseen by us. Amma ascended to the scaffold on top of the temple and meditated there for some time. As she opened her eyes and looked into the skies and all around her, it was as if she were invoking all of natures blessings. The pratishtha is a lesson in humility for us – Amma, the master, seeks the blessings of nature and of all the devotees before doing these ceremonies.

The sun was burning down as Amma did the Kalasha Pratishtha – the Pancha vadyam players reached a crescendo – fireworks resounded in the air, there was a continuos chant of Aum Shiva Shaktyaikya Roopinyai Namah mantra. Devotees overflowing the ashram premises stand in neighbouring properties to catch a glimpse of Amma as she placed each copper kalasha one on top of the other; she filled the kalashas with paddy. An eagle, said to be an auspicious sign, soared overhead, circling above the temple. After the pratishtha Amma did abhisheka, then after garlanding the kalashas Amma postrated to the Kalashas after arati.

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Amma entered the temple. The idol was carried in by brahmacharis. Amma sat on the side of the Shakti Peetham, facing East. Amma placed fully bloomed lotus flowers on the four corners of the peetham and then embraced the peetham infusing it with shakti. The doors were closed and the idol was installed after Amma infused it with her energy.

Amma said that her sankalpa in the pratishtha was world peace.

When the doors opened again at 12.38pm the expectant devotees craned forward, chanting mantras, seeking the first darshan of the Murthi. Some local devotees and ashramites carried pots with consecrated water to the temple. Amma did abhisheka to the newly installed idol with this sanctified water.

Amma went to each of the doors – bowing down to the devotees seeking their goodwill and then offered flowers to the vigraha. Four of the Swamis did arati simultaneously to the four deities. It was not only within the temple that Amma had installed God – a new faith and devotion seemed to have sprung up in the hearts of the devotees, as both Indians and Westerners jostled and reached out to get just one petal used by Amma for the puja or even a drop of the tirtham from the abhishekha.

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In the satsang Amma said that the temple is like a mirror – it is meant for us to see ourselves so that we can cleanse ourselves of the dirt on us. Amma says that the suffering we undergo is a result of our past actions. To rectify the situation we need to do good karmas. Pujas conducted in brahmasthanam temples help alleviate the negative effects of our karmas. So people are encouraged to do pujas for themselves. The four facets of the single idol – Shiva, Devi, Ganapati and Rahu/Kartikeya, members of one family, also shows unity in diversity – all names and forms representing but different aspects of the one reality. The temple also embodies the concept of the world or universal family – which is represented by the Shiva Kutumba.

This is the 21st Brahmasthanam consecrated by Amma. It will definitely serve as a beacon light of faith and hope to all who come here.

–Sakshi

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

Conscious Living

Br. Shantamrita presented a Conscious Living Workshop in the capital of the Fiji Islands, Suva on Saturday March 12 to an enthusiastic group of people. In the three-hour workshop held at the Pacific Theological College, Br. Shantamrita examined the obstacles in life that prevent us from reaching our full potential in spiritual and worldly matters such as self-doubt, negativity, ignorance, and lack of awareness, and offered practical solutions to overcome these obstacles. He also led the participants through the principles for self-transformation through awareness. The workshop had group discussion on certain issues and also finished with a question and answer session. All the participants were extremely satisfied with the workshop.

Finding a balance with life and work

10 March 2011, Fiji
Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya carried out a workshop for United Nations staff based in capital Suva, Fiji, entitled “Achieving a Work Life Balance: A holistic approach” at the UN’s request. The workshop was held at the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre’s office on March 10, and the participants were from a range of United Nations agencies in Suva, including the Director of the Pacific Centre.

Shantamrita introduced concepts and techniques aiming to improve not only the abilities of the UN staff to manage complex projects, but also their ability to deal with the multiple demands of their personal lives in order to achieve a holistic success. Seeing life as a whole rather than divided in to personal and professional, and both the workplace and the home as places to grow spiritually and professionally was a theme that UN staff found refreshing in the interactive workshop. The participants commented that they felt better equipped to deal with stress, handle personal and professional demands, and grow spiritually and in their careers.

The world awaits true leaders in Fiji

Amma’s message has been spread to the South Pacific through a visit to the Fiji Islands by Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya from March 7 to 14, 2011 to conduct a series of seminars on Practical Spirituality.

Br. Shantamrita’s first program on March 9 was at the prestigious Fiji National University in the capital Suva where he spoke to diverse audience of indigenous Fijians, Indo-Fijians, expatriates, students, and professor’s on the topic of “The World Awaits True Leaders”. Based on Amma’s teachings Br. Shantamrita explained how true leaders speak through their actions, guiding and inspiring others with their love and selflessness and how such leaders, like Amma, can bring about tremendous transformation, even in today’s world. Touching on such topics, Br. Shantamrita discussed how we can invoke our latent leadership qualities and become the change that we seek in society. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session.

The next day Shantamrita taught meditation to a group of enthusiastic participants at a private house in Suva. The session was held on the house verandah surrounded by a lush tropical garden creating a relaxing atmosphere for all. Many of the participants commented how peaceful and inspired they felt by the session.

Further sessions were held during the week, including a training session for United Nations’ staff, a satsang at a large Hindu temple, a conscious living workshop, and an introduction to meditation for children at a national park just outside of Suva.

 

 

Role of temples changed in today’s world

11 March 2011, Fiji

Br. Shantamrita addressed the crowd of 100 or so local Indo-Fijians on the topic of “the Role of Temples in Today’s World”. The program was held at Siva Mandir which is one of the oldest temples in Fiji.

In the talk, Br. Shantamrita recognized that these days many people often find it difficult to make time even for many important things in life and that there are so many comforts and attractions in today’s world, constantly fighting for our attention. At the same time, he emphasized that people experience a lot of stress and tension in their lives. In this context and with the audience’s participation, he addressed questions such as what is the age-old role of temples changed in today’s world and how should we understand the significance of temples in relation to the changing world around us? The local people were fascinated by the topic and could relate to it well.
The talk was followed by bhajans together the members of the Amma Fiji Satsang Group as well as distribution of prasad.

Dr. N.P. Unni to receive Amrita Keerti

23 Sep 2010, Amriapuri

On 27th September, the birthday of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Dr. N.P. Unni will be awarded the Amrita Keerti Puraskar for his vast and important contributions to the cultural, spiritual and philosophical literature of India. The award comprises a cash prize of Rs. 123,456, an idol of Saraswati Devi crafted by the artist Nambootiri and a Certificate of Commendation from the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM).

MAM first began presenting the Amrita Keerti Puraskar in 2001.

Dr. N.P. Unni, former Vice-Chancellor of the Sri Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, Kerala (1996 – 2000), has made vast and important contributions to the cultural, spiritual and philosophical literature of India. He has further contributed to the preservation of India’s culture through his role as professor and lecturer in various governmental and non-governmental educational institutions, including Sri Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kalady and the University of Kerala, among others.

Dr. Unni is currently the author of 38 books in English, including critical analyses and commentaries of Sanskrit drama, scriptures and kshetra tantra vidya, as well as translations of classical Sanskrit literature and commentary. He has also translated numerous upanishads and puranas into Malayalam. He has contributed more than 150 papers to Indological journals, etc., and as served as a PhD advisor and mentor to dozens of Indian and foreign scholars.

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.

-Dev

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