Global Voice to Eastern Wisdom

Kambodia, 12 February 2009

Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya attended “Giving Global Voice to Eastern Wisdom,” a Hindu-Buddhist Summit organized by the Global Peace Initiative of Women. The Summit was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and was co-chaired by Sangha Raja Bour Kry of the Kingdom of Cambodia and Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Shantamrita with buddhist monks

The stated aim of the Summit was to invite the voices of Hinduism and Buddhism to play a larger role in the ongoing global religious dialogue, so that the values and principles of the Eastern traditions can help guide the world community to a more peaceful and sustainable way of life.

The Summit was attended by dozens of representatives of both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, as well as all the other world’s faiths, hailing from many nations including India, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Uganda, USA, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, among others.

Br. Shantamrita was invited to speak on the subject, “Bringing Eastern Wisdom to the World Forum.” Having served as Amma’s disciple for nearly 20 years, Br. Shantamrita  spoke  in light of his own direct experiences while bringing the unique perspectives, deeply held values and profound insights of Amma and her Ashram to the table of religious leaders and representatives gathered in Phnom Penh.

In his remarks, Br. Shantamrita pointed out that most pressing issues of our time arise from various forms of imbalance, and that the wholistic, integrated worldview of Hinduism and Buddhism makes them uniquely positioned to effectively address these issues and restore balance to society. In answer to the question of how to ensure that the voices of Hinduism and Buddhism are heard in the world’s discourse, Br. Shantamrita pointed out this discourse plays out mainly in the fields of knowledge-based industry. Thus he advocated a course of creating and strengthening mainstream institutions in the fields of education, academics, publications and mass media, so that Hindus and Buddhists can play a more active role in how they are defined by the world at large.

– Das

View photos here.

Ancient Wisdom in Today’s World

Guam, 29 January 2009
Br.Shantamrita Chaitanya spoke at the University of Guam on the topic “Ancient Wisdom Applied in Today’s World.”

He said “there is a whole wisdom tradition that really exists all over the world that we should not consider irrelevant. There are many different ways of looking at ancient wisdom, spiritually, from a yogic perspective, and also in an academic perspective. In the modern world, we have become so specialized and knowledge is so compartmentalized that we often miss the big picture.”


The lecture was attended by people from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. Brahmachari Shantamrita, who is currenly looking after the Amma’s ashram in Japan,  said that he hoped his lecture would inspire people to revise their outlook.

– Nath

Thanks for fulfilling the dream

19 December 2006, Amritapuri

“Nowhere in the world, has another NGO built such a bridge like Amrita Setu. On behalf of the people and the Panchyat Committee of Alappad, we thank the Mata Amritanandamayi Math for this noble gift. When the Tsunami occurred in 2004 there was only a bridge to the south in Panikkarukadavu which connected us to the mainland, but the Tsunami hit worst in the northern area of Alappad Panchyat at Srayikkad, Azheekal, and Parayakadavu. There, the only way to escape to the mainland was via water. Amrita Setu provides a new evacuation route that will help to allay the fears of the people in this area. Amrita Setu is a blessing from Amma to the Alappad region.”
– Mr. Rajadas, President Alappad Grama Panchyat

* * * * * * * *

“The Amrita Setu bridge, which will be inaugurated by His Excellency, Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, is very useful for the people. The concept of a bridge has long been a dream of this area. The Kulasekharapuram Grama Panchyat Committee Members thank Mata Amritanandamayi and the officials of the Math for fulfilling this dream.”
– Srimati Jagadamma, President Kulasekharapuram Grama Panchyat

New bridge, new hopes

19 December 2006, Amritapuri

Long before the towers of Amritapuri were constructed, in fact, as long as one can remember, ferrys have been taking villagers back and forth across the backwaters separating the Alappad island from the Mainland.  The small wooden boats, capable of holding about a score of people, have been operated by a number of village men – some of whom have been doing so for many years.  Holding a 15-foot tall bamboo pole, the oarsmen steer the boats lazily across the backwaters, taking about three to four minutes from shore to shore.

Stephen (61) and Bhargavan (73) have been working the backwaters for many years.  Both have been grateful for the livelihood that the visitors to Amritapuri have provided them.   “It is because of Amma and the fares paid by visitors to the Ashram that I have been able to feed my family,” Stephen noted.   He was also a recipient of one of the homes built by the Ashram before the Tsunami as a part of the Amrita Kuteeram program.  “One of my family members is also receiving a pension from the Ashram.”  With a twinkle in his eyes, Stephen also recalled the few times when he ferried Amma across the backwaters.

The tsunami has changed everyone’s life.  With Amrita Setu towering above their small boats, it most certainly will dramatically affect their livelihoods.  Even so, all the oarsmen agree that the bridge is necessary. ‘Amma has built this bridge to save the villagers,’ noted Stephen, who along with Bhargavan, was there when the tsunami struck.  Bhargavan still has nightmares – he had just taken a group of people across the backwaters and was tying his boat up when the waters rushed in.  The two of them immediately became part of the rescue team – spending hours ferrying the villagers from the island across to the mainland to safety.  Stephen noted that he must have made at least 27 trips.  “It was during this time that I saw Amma’s amazing ability to help in such a calamity.”

Sanu Lal (aka Podimon) has been the operator of the Ashram motor boat for the past 8 years.    During the tsunami, he also helped with the relief efforts.  In the days and months afterwards, he worked around the clock- helping to bring workers, supplies, and food from the mainland to the various points along the backwaters where homes were being built.  At times, he even slept on the boat. “I believe that it was my punya (merit) that gave me this opportunity to help serve others. But now with the bridge, it will be easy for the students to get back and forth from school.”

Tomorrow, Amma will give each a financial compensation package which will help the oarsmen establish a new means of livelihood.  With the gift, Stephen, Bhargavan, and the others hope to realize their dream of offering visitors and tourists tours of the backwaters.  Even so, there may still be people who elect to choose the ferries just to get from one side to the other simply for the experience.   Rising high above the backwaters, the Amrita Setu bridge is bringing new hopes to both the oarsmen and the people of Alappad.


Ashram Tsunami documentary wins award

29th October 2006 — Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA

The Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s documentary “Pray & Serve: Amma’s Response to the Tsunami” won the Filmmaker’s Award at the prestigious Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in Arkansas, USA.

The film was screened on 28th October and the award was presented the following night.

This Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is now in its 15th year, having begun in 1992. The 2006 festival was attended by some 12,000 people. The audience for Pray & Serve was visibly moved by the film’s portrayal of Amma’s compassionate response to the infamous disaster.
hotspring award for pray and serve


Amma to deliver address at Interfaith Center

30 April 2006 — Amritapuri

Amma left the Ashram early this morning for New York, America. Amma will deliver an address at the Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY) on intra-religious understanding and collaboration, especially in relation to her experiences in the wake of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

ICNY is a secular non-profit educational organization with the goal of creating understanding and respect among different religious groups. It was founded by the Very Reverend James Parks Morton shortly after his retirement from the post of Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, in 1997. Reverend Morton has been ICNY’s president ever since.

Amma will deliver the speech on May 2nd at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan.


Happy Birthday,!

14 April 2006

It’s hard to believe, but is having another birthday! It was six years ago this Vishu that the Mothersite first appeared on the Internet.

Upon waking up or entering the office, people throughout the world immediately log on to The site is currently receiving more than 100,000 visitors every day, and some people have told us that they bought their computer simply to be able to avail themselves of the site. Nothing makes our hearts feel warmer. Spreading the glory of our Amma and helping our brothers and sisters who cannot be with Amma physically to keep abreast of everything going on around her are our only aims.

Baby elephant Ram coming to the Ashram in 2000… Amma’s satsangs and jokes… her dances on Onam… Amma’s addresses at the UN… the tsunami and Amma’s visits to the relief camps… the worldwide yatras… her recent celebration of Holi…

The fact that we were able to share such precious moments with all of you means so much to us. The truth is Amma’s personality is so rich and multifaceted that it is impossible to capture it fully. To whatever extent we have succeeded we owe to Her Grace alone.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have helped foster over the years–writers, designers, programmers, those who have provided technical support and advice, those who have written comments via email  and those who’ve caught our mistakes. We truly thank you for your loving service to Amma.

We are also happy to tell you that a site in Malayalam, Amma’s mother tongue, will soon be launched. Those of you who know the language will finally be able to regularly read Amma’s words in their full spirit and punch!

We pray for Amma’s grace and your continued support.

@ Her Lotus Feet
The Web Team

For 6000 euros, could you hatch an egg?

5 December 2005 – Amritapuri

“If someone were to say to you, ‘I will give you 6,000 euros if you can hatch this egg for me right now,’ would you be able to do it?” Amma asked. “Or what if they were to give you a flower bud and then tell you that they will give you such and such amount of money if you could make it blossom?”

Amma was making the point that Self-realization cannot be given; it has to come from a gradual blossoming of the heart due to effort on the part of the seeker and Guru’s grace. It cannot be forced.

“When we first started teaching IAM Meditation some people suggested that we should charge for it, because in today’s world only when you charge do people feel that they are getting something of value,” Amma said. “If you give something for free, people don’t have that feeling. But charging would be like adding water to milk. When someone sells milk, they often add water in order to make more profit. If the business aspect enters into it, it becomes diluted. When a mother breastfeeds her child, she does so only out of her love. In this way, Amma didn’t want to charge anything for IAM Meditation.”

Amma went on to explain how in some places people are charging 2000 dollars for a mantra or 6000 euros for “realization.”

“If you take an unripe fruit and press it and hit it, it will start to appear soft and ripe, but still when you eat it, it won’t be sweet,” Amma explained. “The man at the fruit-stand may benefit from it when he gets the money, but the person who buys it doesn’t get anything of value.”

Amma went on to say that in India the tradition exists where one offers something when they meet a Mahatma or a Guru, but that it should spring forth from the reverence in their heart. Amma then gave the example of how in the Upanishads it says that one should make offerings of samit, the special types of woods needed for fueling sacrificial fires. Samit is symbolic of our attachments and shows our desire for the Guru to help us go beyond these and become free.

This was one point among many that Amma was making in order to illustrate just how necessary it is for us to understand not only the essence of spirituality, but the logic behind it, as well as the manifold facets of our tradition. People who truly understand the role meditation plays in spiritual life, the concept behind offerings, and the nature of Self-realization, can never be misled by such conman and spiritual entrepreneurs.

But, alas, Amma lamented, “Ninety-eight percent of people don’t understand the principles of Sanatana Dharma.”

Other traditional practices that Amma shed light upon included why we light oil lamps before the deity in temples, why we light firecrackers during festivals, the value of Prasad, and the benefits of chanting the Vedas.

Amma also went into detail regarding the symbolism behind the forms of various Hindu gods, specifically God in the form of the elephant, Lord Ganesha, and God in the form of the monkey, Hanuman.

“These particular forms of worship arose out of the sankalpa of the Rishis,” Amma said. “So there is a particular meaning behind each and every one. If you understand Hanuman’s reverence for Sri Rama–his attitude of surrender, love and friendship–then you understand the principle that a person who cultivates these bhavas can become God. Also, just as a normal monkey jumps from one branch to another, our mind jumps over continents, even up into outer space. It can go from here to the moon in just one second.” Amma’s point was that, just like Hanuman, a human being who properly tames and trains his or her mind can come to realize their oneness with God.

Amma then explained some of the symbolism behind the form of Lord Ganesha. “The elephant’s trunk can pick up the smallest of things,” Amma said. “Like when Amma gives Ram or Lakshmi [the two Ashram elephants] a biscuit and they drop a small piece, the trunk can reach down and pick up even that. At the same time, it can also lift the heaviest of logs.”

Amma explained that this is symbolic of the need of a spiritual aspirant to cultivate an intellect capable of understanding both the gross and the subtle. Amma also said that the fact that Ganesha’s ears are wide open represents sraddha [attentive awareness] and receptivity.

“There are many deep hidden principals within these forms,” Amma said. “If we don’t understand these things, we will easily lose faith.”

Amma told every one how a human fetus goes through a stage where it looks like a monkey, and that evolution theory says that human beings have evolved from the monkey. “In the past 2000 years no one has seen a monkey turn into a human being, yet still we believe this. We cannot accept the scriptures which say that by worshipping a monkey-god you can actually become God.”

In response to such skepticism, Amma told everyone about something she had come across during her 2004 European Tour.

“In Ireland, Amma was at a devotee’s house, and there were all these paintings there. When I looked at them, they seemed very obscure. It looked like someone had just slapped some colours up with a broom. There were random points here and there. When I asked Lakshmi [Amma’s attendant], she explained to me that this black spot means this, and this line means that… Nobody would say that the painter is an idiot. In fact, those who recognize their artistry are respected as great intellectuals. Nobody asks questions like, ‘When so many poor people are starving, how can you spend so much on these paintings?’ The pictures were worth 200,000 or half-a-million or even one million dollars. They were so expensive that they had to have security cameras and personnel there to protect them. So if you can understand the obscure symbolism behind the complicated paintings, then why can’t you understand the symbolism behind Ganesha and Hanuman?


Amma’s birthday is bigger than onam

26 September 2005 — Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, Kerala

Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of Ravi and his wife Ammini Amma, as they stood in front of the new house that Amma’s Ashram had built from them. This is in Azhikkal, where the tsunami devoured 86 lives, including two of Ravi and Ammini Amma’s grandchildren.

Standing before her new home, Ammini Amma recalled how the events unfolded after the disaster took place last December. “Amma sent medicine and doctors to the sick and injured. Serious cases were referred to AIMS [the Ashram’s super-specialty hospital in Ernakulam]. This was followed up with pension for ladies,” Ammini Amma said.

“For four months, Amma fed us, providing food to our doorstep,” said Ravi. “Most importantly, Amma built a house for us so that we could rebuild our lives. For us, Amma’s birthday is a bigger celebration than Onam. We will be with Amma, partaking in Amma’s anna-danam [prasad meal]. Now for us, everything is only Amma. This is one of the happiest moments of our lives.”

On 27 September, the Ashram will distribute keys to 550 houses to families who lost their homes in the tsunami.

Another couple from Alappad Panchayat who will be receiving a free tsunami-relief house from the Ashram is Baby and his wife, whose house is adjacent to the entrance of the Amritapuri Ashram. After recounting the gruesome event and Amma’s healing touch thereafter, Baby says, “It is impossible to conceive that any organisation would do as much as Amma has done for us. I don’t have words to express the gratitude that our family has for the benevolence of Amma during these trying times.” Baby added that, as he lost his brother in the tsunami and his wife injured her leg–which has yet to completely heal—the experience would have been unbearable, but for the phenomenal efforts of the Ashram.

Echoing similar sentiments was Sudhi, another recipient of one of the Ashram’s tsunami-relief houses. She said that only Amma’s Ashram was willing to put in the necessary effort for the necessary duration of time to build homes and lend a permanent helping hand to the people in distress.