kumbh mela

Amma at Maha Kumbh Mela

16 Jan, Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, Uttarpradesh – Bharata Yatra 2013

After her programs in Delhi {news}, Amma and the tour group travelled more than 1500km over three days to the next stop on the tour in Calcutta. On the first day, Amma travelled by road with the group passing through Vrindavan and ending a long day of driving in Fatehpur. When the group arrived late at night Amma sat and had dinner with everyone. The next day the group would be passing through Allahabad, where the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela is currently being held. This Maha Kumbh happens one every 12 years. The local organizers who were hosting Amma and the group in Fatehpur invited Amma to come to Kumbh Mela. Amma then asked her children who were all sitting around to raise their hands if they were interested to go to Kumbh Mela. Almost all raised their hands.

Amma asked the devotees to explain about the significance of Kumbh Mela. The Maha Kumbh Mela is believed to be the largest religious gathering on earth. A lot of Sadhus and Mahatmas grace the occassion with their presence. The event is expected to attract more than 100 million people over 55 days.

Ganga is love, pure love. No one will ask how a mother’s milk tastes; its pure. – Amma

To everyone’s surprise, Amma told the group she would like to stop there the next day. So early the next morning the group left at 5am and headed out to Sangam. Just after 8:30am all 10 tour buses and the rest of the ashram vehicles arrived to the Mela and got down for a morning bath at the Triveni Sangam. Before arriving to the river banks Amma took a walk around the Sangam (the temporary tent metropolis set up to house all the pilgrims). The news spread quickly that Amma was there and people started coming for Amma’s darshan.

Amma entered the chilly waters of the Ganga with the rest of the group and led everyone in chanting the Gayatri mantra several times and then immersing themselves completely under water. Then all the tour group lined up one by one in the water and slowly moved towards Amma. When they reached her, she dunked each person under water and all popped up very quickly a few feet away after the icy bath with a big laugh and smile on their face.
After everyone’s refreshing bath all re-boarded the buses and continued the journey onwards to Calcutta.

This is the first time Amma is visiting a Kumbh Mela festival.

There were several reporters and live TV channels stationed in Kubh Mela. One of these reporters approached Amma and asked what she felt after her bath. Amma said “Ganga is love, pure love. No one will ask how a mother’s milk tastes; its pure.”

 

– Kannadi

Amma in New Delhi

13 – 14 January, New Delh, Bharata Yatra 2013

After the programs ended early in the morning in Mumbai, Amma flew the same day to Delhi. The next day after arriving, Amma served prasad to all the local devotees at Amrita Vidyalayam. She also sang bhajans and shared jokes to the delight of all the locals.

The next day Amma addressed the Swami Vivekananda 150th Birthday celebrations {news} at Siri Fort. The following day, Amma visited Old Delhi and just in front of the Red Fort she participated with other dignitaries to flag off of the Shobayatra {news}.

During the 4 days stay at Delhi, Amma met The President of India Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Also Amma met with several dignitaries, including LK Adwani, Motilal Vora, AK Antony, Bhupendar Sing Hooda, India’s best known photographer Raghu Rai, Sonal Mansing, Dr Ram Avatar Sharma, and many other government officials.

Amma also held two days of public programs in the Delhi Ashram. Amma usually comes to Delhi a few months later in the year, so this year it was very cold, in the middle of Indian winter. The morning program, which included Amma’s satsang, bhajans and darshan continued till after midnight on both days.

At the end of the program on the second day Amma sang ‘Ela Pula Elo’, a Kerala folksong while everyone clapped along and danced all their worries away.

-Kannadi

amma at redfort

Amma graces the Vivekananda procession at Red Fort

12 Jan, Red Fort, New Delhi – Bharata Yatra 2013

Early in the morning of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday, at a gathering of more than fifteen thousand, Amma arrived to a special venue erected just in front of the famous and historic Red Fort in the heart of Delhi. Amma shared the dais with many of the same dignitaries and Swamis that participated in the program the evening before in Siri Fort {news}. With the dramatic backdrop of the Fort and India’s tri-colour flag flying high above, Amma’s message was read in Hindi by Br. Shubamrita.

All had assembled at the Red Fort to flag off a procession celebrating the birth of Swami Vivekananda. Hundreds of children dressed as Swami Vivekananda led the procession and before the started, they came to Amma seeking her blessings.

-Kannadi

vivekananda speech

Re-awaken values, transform internally

150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda

11 January, Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi – Bharata Yatra 2013 Amma inaugurated the Swami Vivekananda Sarda Shati Samaroh, the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi. In her speech, Amma said “We have learned to fly like birds and swim like fish, but we have forgotten to how to walk and live like human beings. Today we have knowledge, but no awareness. We have information, but no discriminative thinking.”

Addressing the gathering of political leaders, religious leaders and other prominent figures in Delhi society, Amma stressed the need for India to live their lives based on the traditional values of which Swami Vivekananda was an embodiment: “In truth, many of the challenges faced by Sanatana Dharma have been self-created. We can blame others and point out the impact of globalization, foreign rule and other factors—and, perhaps, they can be blamed to a certain extent—but they are not the primary cause. The primary cause is our carelessness: we have failed to cherish and protect the invaluable wealth that is this culture.”

Furthermore Amma said that only a reawakening of values would avert future incidents like the one that took place recently in Delhi: “When our children are young and impressionable, mothers need to firmly tell their daughters, ‘You should be courageous. Never let anyone push you down. You should develop strength of heart.’ Similarly parents should teach their sons both the need to protect and to respect women. These days many men are like one-way roads; they need to become like highways, allowing women to also move forward alongside them. The government can change as many laws as it wants and make sentences for sex-offenders as strong as it wants, but unless we raise our children with these values, no real change will ever take place.”

Reflecting on Swami Vivekananda’s legacy, Amma said: “Even after another 150 years, the life and message of Swami Vivekananda will continue to carry the same significance as they do now. His life and his message will continue to inspire people because Swami Vivekananda was an individual whose character was a perfect blend of mental purity and vitality. His words have the power to awaken the spiritual potential inherent in humankind, the power to set it ablaze, and the power to raise those flames to the intensity of a forest fire. If Swami Vivekananda’s words are contemplated upon, they can help inspire a peaceful yet powerful spiritual revolution. Not an external revolution but an internal one—a transformation based on values.”

Amma shared the dais with many other great spiritual personalities and sadhus, including, Dr. Pranav Pandya, the head of the Gayatri Parivar; Acharya Lokesh Muni, a Jain Monk; Swami Ritambarananda of Sri Narayana Dharma Samgh; Swami Nikhilananda of Chinmaya Mission, and Mohan Bhagat. The other dignitaries also addressed the audience, giving inspiring speeches drawing from the life of Swami Vivekananda.

Before the program, Amma was welcomed to the venue by the organizers and many dignitaries had a chance to meet Amma before coming to the dais.

The program was officially started with Shanti mantra – Om Sahanavavatu. Amma was then introduced to the gathering by P Parameswaran, the director of Bharateeya Vichara Kendra. P Parameswaran addressed the crowd borrowing from Vivekananda’s words, ‘Bharat Jago, Viswa Jagavo’ – ‘Awake India, Enlighten the World’ expressing that this is the aim of these year long celebrations.

Amma addressed the audience in Malayalam and then she paused every few minutes to allow Swamiji to translate Amma’s words into English. Amma’s speech concluded to a thunderous standing ovation and before leaving the venue Amma briefly gave darshan some guests on hand, including LK Advani, and Nithin Gadkari.

The next day early morning Amma arrived at the Redfort to flag off the procession {news}. Amma is the president of this Samaroah, which will have programs throughout the country during the entire year.

-Kannadi

 

Amma in Mumbai

Jan 7-8, Mumbai, Maharasthra – Bharata Yatra 2013

After the Pune programs, Amma travelled to her ashram in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. There she held two days of programs on the 7th and 8th of January.  A large crowd of devotees were on hand waiting to welcome Amma back to Mumbai.

During the first evening program Amma was officially welcomed to the dais by Bollywood actor Chandrachur Singh, State Minister Ganesh Naik, former justice of Maharasthra high court, Radhakrishnan, amongst others.  With the help of the dignitaries on hand, Amma then distributed 100 pensions as part of the Amrita Nidhi program to local women in need. Then 100 scholarships as part of the Vidyamritam program to local children.

At the end of darshan on the last evening, Amma sang Tannana Tannane and another Kerala folk song. After the programs in Mumbai Amma continued on to Delhi for the next programs on the tour.

You are Able to do All Things

Christmas Eve 2012 in Amritapuri was celebrated in full style. All around the Ashram one encounters sights and sounds reflective of the Holiday Season. At the base of Amma’s home, a beautifully decorated Xmas tree stands filled with festive ornaments, including a small Nativity scene, and the staircase leading up to Her room is adorned with holiday symbols. Around 10pm, Amma arrived to a packed main hall to watch a cast of 150+ from all around the globe perform in a play called ‘God is Able’.

The curtains opened to a preacher proclaiming to his flock that God is Able to do All Things. The play then went on to demonstrate this truth through three separate stories. The first was the story of how God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Hebrews to pass without harm as they were being chased by Pharaoh and his army. The second story also came from the Bible: a young woman, suffering from a paralyzing affliction, is healed simply by touching Jesus’ robe. The last scene focused on a young homeless boy who had stolen bread to feed his hungry friends. He was brought to trial, but the charges were dropped by a sudden change of heart by the shop owner. In all cases, faith that God is Able to do all things carried the main characters through their trials and tribulations.

The performance was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work by dozens of devotees – writing the script, scoring the music, designing and making the costumes, making the props and scenery – as well as weeks of rehearsals. Their efforts resulted in a beautiful and heart warming performance which ended with the cast singing a rapturous tune calling out to God:

Amma we stand here
in need of a blessing.
We know we are not worthy
of all you have to give.
But as God incarnate
as true compassion,
You are Able to do All Things.

Afterwards Amma gave her Xmas message. She said: “We do not know who will come knocking on our doors in search of our compassion, love and kindness. But if our mind is ruled by ego and selfishness, we will shut our doors and deny even the son of God a place to be born. Who knows on whom we are shutting our doors of compassion? Perhaps that person is destined to be our saviour in the future. On the other hand, whenever we become humble, whenever we find a place in our heart for others, there Jesus Christ is born.”

“The star and tinsel of Christmas, the cake we cut and distribute, and the gifts we exchange enhance the festivity and beauty of the occasion. But all these are external customs. All these do not make Christmas complete. What we have to do is to build a home for Christ in our hearts, with our prayers as its pillars, the sacrifice we practice as its roof. We have to make the bed of the Lord with our compassion. The food we prepare for him should be Love,” Amma reminded all. Her message was displayed on large screens in seven languages [English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Finnish, and Russian].

Amma then brought down the house with ecstatic singing. Many were on their feet dancing – Indians and Westerners alike. While Amma herself didn’t dance, her hands were clapping and arms moving with so much bliss and energy. It went on for about 1/2 hour, after which Amma led all in chanting Lokah Samastha Sukinau Bhavantu before blessing the Xmas cake which was distributed to all.

–Sri

Engage others with respect, understanding and acceptance

Amma addressing United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

29-30 Nov 2012, Shanghai, China

“When we engage others with respect, understanding and acceptance, then we will be able to communicate at the level of the heart” said Amma in her address at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ (UNAOC) Regional Consultations for Asia-South Pacific, being held in Shanghai.

 

Amma, the only spiritual leader invited to the conference, gave her speech on the subject of “Coexistence and Engagement Between Cultures.”
Amma explained how globalization has affected our coexistence both positively and negatively, emphasizing that “coexistence is possible only when culture and modernisation are in balance.” She warned that “efforts at coexistence fail when we claim ‘We are all one,’ but we disrespect each other’s ancient customs and traditions.” Proceeding to offer solutions, as well, Amma spoke, “we have to acknowledge the fact that even though we are one in essence, externally, we are different,” then she urged the assembly to respect diversity — “An awareness of the need for coexistence amidst diversity is the only way to alleviate the suffering of others.”

Supporting her points with practical examples and suggestions based on decades of humanitarian work in culturally diverse regions, Amma invited everyone to contribute to the global conversation on coexistence by setting an example of respect and tolerance.
Amma also called for a balance of rights and respect. saying that “when we engage others with respect, understanding and acceptance, then we will be able to communicate at the level of the heart.”

Amma brought her speech to a conclusion by focusing on the power of love. “For the past 40 years, I have been communicating with people of all languages, races, colors, castes and religions, from the very poorest to the rich and famous, through the language of Love. There are no barriers for love. I have full faith in the transformational power of Love to unite all hearts.”

“Our focus today should neither be on dependence nor on non-dependence, but on interdependence. This is because the human race, the animal and plant kingdoms and the whole universe are all interdependent.

“Reverence and respect are rare qualities in today’s world, leaving us with a society lacking in proper maturity. Education, acquisition of knowledge, science and technology may help us advance to unimaginable levels, but if the result is a mentally and emotionally immature generation with no sense of discrimination, it would be truly catastrophic.”

“Respect the Earth, nature and all our fellow living beings. Realise that we truly need to acknowledge the differences between race, religion, color and creed. When we approach others with respect that is firmly established in a deep understanding and acceptance of all our differences, then we will be able to communicate at the level of the heart” Amma concluded.

Amma was speaking in her native tongue Malayalam, and it was simultaneously translated into English.

The Shanghai event, titled “Harmony Through Diversity and Dialogue”, is jointly organized by the UNAOC and the UN Association of China.

 

More than 150 delegates from throughout Asia and the South Pacific- representing governments, academia, corporations, NGOs and cultural organizations – are taking part in the two-day Shanghai Consultations. The Guest of Honor was Cui Tiankai, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other dignitaries participating were Jean-Christophe Bas, Senior Advisor, Strategic Development and Partnerships UNAOC; Ambassador Chen Jian, President of the UN Association of China; Tu Guangshao, Vice Mayor of Shanghai Municipal Government; and Jorge Sampaio, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and former President of Portugal.

This was Amma’s first  visit to China. She has addressed United Nations at it’s International Celebrations for the 50th Anniversary in New York, the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the UN in Geneva, the Summit of the Global Peace Initiative of Women in Jaipur, twice at the Parliament of World’s Religions, and as well as at many other international platforms.

Transform this world into heaven

27 Sep 2012, Amritapuri

Amma’s 59th Birthday Celebrations

At 9:00 a.m., Amma arrived at the stage at Amrita University Campus, flanked by gracefully dancing students from Amrita University dressed in traditional Mohiniyattam finery, to the accompaniment of Panchavadyam.

The Sri Guru Pada Puja ceremony was conducted by Amma’s senior disciples and led by Swami Amritaswarupananda.

Addressing the huge gathering Amma said “Amma doesn’t see this as a day of celebration. This should be a day when the gaps between human hearts close a little. This should be a day when one person is able to remove the sorrows of another, a day when the hands of one person stretch out to help another. We shouldn’t reserve this attitude just for today; it should extend and come to pervade our entire life. Amma’s happiness is in seeing my children’s lives becoming the carriers of this message.”

“We live in an age wherein despite immense scientific and technological advancements, we are witnessing the disintegration of many other important aspects of our lives. Therefore our focus today should neither be on dependence nor non-dependence, but on interdependence. This is because humans, animals, plants, the earth, the sky, the atmosphere, the sun, the moon and all the planets are all interdependent.”
“Man is a part of nature. We have come from nature. The human body is comprised of the five natural elements. Forever forbearing and forgiving us, the earth remains as our constant support. The sun gives us light. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is poisonous to us, and release oxygen. Rivers and lakes give us fresh water to quench our thirst. Air provides us with our life-breath. In spite of all this, man, who has evolved from the five elements, fails to acknowledge their importance.

“Just having a respectful approach to everything can bring about a huge transformation in our society and in the world. To rise triumphantly in life, we should begin from the bottom. To build a tall tower that stretches to the sky, we should start by building a solid foundation down in the earth. It is humility that makes us rise high. It is respect that gives one real power.
“We should live our life in a manner that is helpful to both ourselves as well as to others. God has given lightening just a few moments of existence. So too a rainbow. Some flowers blossom just for a single day. The full moon lasts only till sunrise. A butterfly lives for only a few days. However during their short existence, they give so much beauty and happiness to the world. Amma prays that we learn from their example and try to use our lives to make this world an even more beautiful place. Let us color our lips with words of truth. Let us trace our eyes with the anjana (‘kajal’ or traditional eyeliner) of compassion. Let us adorn our hands with the henna of good deeds. Let us bless our minds with the sweetness of humility. Let us fill our hearts with the light of love for God and all of God’s creation. Like this, may we transform this world into heaven” Amma concluded.

Afterwards a series of charitable programs were launched by different dignitaries.

It’s an honor and blessing to be in her presence – Bishop Gregory

May 31 – Jun 3 Seattle — Japan America Yatra 2012

After a 12 hour flight from Japan and Amma landed in Seattle to conduct four days of program at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

Large crowds showed up for the public day and also for the retreat, where Amma was officially welcomed by the Right Reverand Gregory Rickel, Bishop and spiritual head of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington. Accompanied by his wife and son, the bishop garlanded Amma. Speaking on the occasion he said “Our intent was to stay the whole evening, but due to the Vigil* for the shooting victims set at St. Mark’s Cathedral we had to greet Amma, receive our hug, and then make our way to (the Cathedral). Still, we were able to be briefed on the tremendous work this amazing woman has been doing in her native India, but even more throughout the world. It’s an honor and blessing to be in her presence.”

Blessing to be in her presence

"It's an honor and blessing to be in her presence" - Bishop Gregory Rickel

These two spiritual leaders had been drawn together on a more than formal level. The Bishop is particularly committed to interfaith dialogue, and is a strong advocate of environmental concerns and social justice issues, especially homelessness.

Amma, in the same spirit, reaches out to people of all spiritual and religious traditions around the world, encouraging people to deepen their own faiths and discover the shared truths of all the great religions. Her Amala Bharatham Campaign for a clean India and the worldwide GreenFriends organization both focus on Mother Earth. In the area of social justice, Amma has outreach to widows, orphans, and those so desperate as to turn to suicide. And the over 50,000 homes Embracing the World has built for the poor testify to her concern for homelessness.

At the end of the meditation following the arati on this night, Amma asked everyone to pray for the five victims, and for a lessening of violence, and for world peace.

Devotees enthusiastically participated in the day’s program and the 3-day retreat which included Satsang, Bhajans and a Puja for world peace and harmony.

After Seattle Amma left for California where another 8 days of program are to be held at her Ashram.

* Two days earlier a killing spree in Seattle had resulted in the deaths of four victims and their slayer. At the end of May there have been 21 such deaths–equaling the total for last year. The Bishop supposed to lead a prayer vigil for the victims, was scheduled for Friday evening at St. Mark’s Cathedral.