Onam connects us with eternity

7 September 2014 — Amritapuri Ashram

Extracted from Amma’s Onam satsang.

There are certain things in life towards which attraction never ends. These are the good things that awaken enthusiasm and freshness whenever we think about or experience them. For example, the sea. No matter how many times we look at the sea, we never feel it’s enough. There is an aspect of eternity in the sea. It’s the same with the sky. The bonds we feel with the place where we were born and towards Nature in general are also like this. We always see newness in them. It’s the same with the bond and attraction we feel towards Onam.


There is something in Onam that touches and awakens goodness and happiness in us. For a Malayali*, the mere thought of Onam awakens enthusiasm and feelings of celebration. Maybe we feel this attraction because of how intertwined Onam is with our eternal culture and Nature itself.

Certain aspects of Onam are unique. It is a chain that links together the past, the present and the future. We celebrate Onam to remember the good times that have been lost to antiquity—memories of an age when prosperity, equality and brotherhood prevailed. Onam also awakens expectations for the return of such an age in the future. Onam belongs to the present as well because when we celebrate it we forget everything and live in the here and now.

At the same time, Onam is not just an occasion to celebrate and enjoy. It’s also an occasion to remind us of the importance of certain values: the importance of sharing, of protecting Nature, of humility and self-sacrifice, the importance of surrendering ourselves to God, the importance of being charitable and of performing our actions in a spirit of yajna. These are some of what Onam teaches us. In fact, questions like “Did Mahabali really exist?” and “Was there even a Kerala in Mahabali’s time?” are not that relevant. The important things are the values and teachings that Onam conveys. Our celebration of Onam will only truly become meaningful when we put in effort to firmly imbibe these values in our life.

In our country, festivals are not mere occasions for celebrating and enjoying. They are means to help us transform every aspect of our personal and social lives into things that will advance us towards Self-realization. More than being for our enjoyment, their aim is to help us spread dharma, values and the remembrance of God in society. It’s painful for Amma when she sees how far people are straying from this goal. Worse yet, the tendency to use festivals like Onam as mere occasions to drink and make merry is increasing every year.

Even though Mahabali was a very good person, he had some shortcomings. His attitude was, “I’m a great emperor. I’m the ruler of the three worlds. No one does as much good as I do.” In reality, we do not have any power of our own. Mahabali did not understand that it is only because of divine grace that we are able to accomplish anything. Vamana asked Mahabali for three feet of land. Mahabali replied, “I’m the owner of the three worlds. Don’t ask me for such trivial things. Ask for anything, and it will be given to you.” This is the attitude many develop when they start gaining fame, position and prosperity in life. It’s not enough if we perform good actions; we have to do so humbly, without ego. Remember, even Olympic champions have to lower their heads when standing on the podium to receive their medals.

When someone writes a great book, can the pen claim any greatness? If a judge sentences someone to be hanged, is the pen responsible for the verdict? No, the pen is just an instrument. We should be aware that, similarly, we are all just instruments in God’s hands.


The Onam festival is an expression of unity. When everyone comes together to draw and decorate the pookkalams, to cook the feast, to take part in the Onam dances and games, all differences fade away. Unity is the pillar of progress and harmony in society. It is not enough if we are united on Onam. We need to be able to abide in such ideals throughout our lives. But what we see in today’s society is only selfishness and self-imposed segregation.

Onam is also a celebration that reminds us of our dharma towards Mother Nature. Not so long ago, the Onam pookkalams were decorated with so many varieties of flowers. Thumba, thechi, mandaram, hibiscus, jasmine and many other varieties of flowers could easily be found around many of the houses. But in recent times flowers are seen less and less. As such, we see people using colored powder, coconut flakes and sawdust to color their pookkalams. Soon, we may even see pookkalams made of plastic flowers. These may be colorful, but they will lack the beauty and fragrance of real flowers. In olden times, nearly every house had a swing. Now the tree on which the swing was tied has disappeared. Today, in order to sit on a swing, children have to go to a park. To prevent such situations, we have to put in dedicated effort with the spirit of unity.

Let us try our best and leave the rest to God’s will.

* Malayali – One who speaks Malayalam, the language of Kerala state.

War is our creation, not God’s

23 August 2014 — Amritapuri Ashram

On Friday, a devotee visiting the ashram from Berlin told Amma that when she is around Amma, she is aware of the spiritual truth that God is pervading everything. She said she draws a lot of strength from this understanding, but when she returns home, she gets overwhelmed by all the war, violence and disease she sees happening in the world. She asked Amma to tell her how to remain aware of God’s love and all-pervasiveness in these war-torn times. The following is extracted from Amma’s answer:


Amma: There is nothing new about war. It has been happening since the beginning of creation. But we must realize war is man’s creation, not God’s. God is patience, love and compassion. In God, there is no dvaita bhava [no feeling of something other than one’s self]. There is only love for all beings. It is because people lack the proper  understanding about God that there is war. We cannot blame God for something we created.

Once a drunk-driver caused a horrible accident. The police started to haul him away. The man protested, “Hey, why are you arresting me? I didn’t do anything. It was because of the petrol that my car lost control.” We shouldn’t be like this, blaming God for our actions.

As we take what we need in our daily life, we should remember all the innocent people suffering from the violence of war and terrorism–the children who have lost their parents, the parents who have lost their children, the maimed and injured… The pictures we see on the news of mothers crying over the dead bodies of the children are too much to bear. But we cannot bring back the dead. We can only pray that their souls find peace. The ones who really need our prayers are those left behind. Let us pray that they gain the peace and mental strength to move forward in life.

We cannot say what change we will be able to bring about, but we should try. Spiritual understanding is what is needed: Take only what you need, give the rest to help others and understand the nature of the world. Amma is trying to bring about this understanding in people. If you plant 100 seeds, maybe only two will sprout. If you plant 1,000, maybe 10. But that itself is a change–isn’t it?

Focus on a higher goal and overcome all attachments

15 August 2014 — Amritapuri Ashram

Yesterday, after meditation, Amma was asked a question about how to love without expectations like Amma does. The following is a short excerpt from Amma’s detailed answer.

Amma speaking

Amma: Human birth is meant for realizing our oneness with God. Yet, during the course of our life we develop so many attachments. These attachments give rise to expectations. And when those expectations are not fulfilled, sorrow, anger and the desire for revenge result.


When two people fall in love, they rarely understand each other’s hearts. They don’t understand that, just like they are, the other person is also seeking love. Really, both of them are like beggars, begging for love. They each desire love, yet neither of them is willing to give love. This leads to problems in the relationship, even divorce. Remember, they are not jnanis [knowers of the Self]. They have not studied the scriptures.

We should understand the nature of people and the objects of the world. For example, we know that if we touch fire, we will get burned. So, we are very careful when we handle fire. We should have similar awareness when it comes to relationships in life.


If we dedicate our life to a higher purpose, such as realizing God, then all attachments will wither away and fall off. God is a state wherein there is no duality. When there is only oneness, where is the scope for attachment or non attachment? The essence of Sanatana Dharma is to see Narayana in nara–to see God in all of humanity–and serve Him. You will also come to this state.

Multiple Dharmas, One Goal

18 July 2014 — Amritapuri, Satsang at the beach

Question: Amma, it is said there is only one dharma [duty]—to realize the Self. But I seem to have so many dharmas—family dharma, office dharma, social dharma… Is there really only one dharma?

Amma: For a spiritual person, the goal of life is to know the Self. Otherwise, what is the difference between a human being and a worm? A worm also eats, sleeps and procreates—doesn’t it? If the left hand is cut, the right hand soothes it, applies medicine and wraps it with a bandage. There is no sense of “other” there. A spiritual person moves like this in the world, seeing other’s pain and joy as their own. If a 1,000 pots of water are placed outside, the sun will reflect in each and every pot, but there still is only one sun. Similarly, a spiritual person understands that there is but one Self reflecting in each and every being.

Amma at the beach during satsang

Lower emotions may arise, but try to overcome them through effort and prayer. If you can do that, then your only dharma is spiritual liberation. Liberation is not something to be gained after death. It is something to be experienced even when you are alive.

A spiritual person understands the nature of the world, the nature of relationships and the nature of the mind. Even people who marry Miss Universe sometimes get divorced. When she got married, many suitors were sad. Then, when she is available again, they are happy. But the fellow who married her, he is happy once the divorce is finalized.

Once a man was visiting a mental hospital. One patient was sitting in his padded cell banging his head against the wall, repeating over and over again: boom-boom… boom-boom… boom-boom… The man asked doctor what was wrong with him. The doctor said, “Oh, he was in love with a woman named Boom-Boom, but she left him. Since then, he has been like this.” Towards the end of his visit, the man saw another patient who was also banging his head, saying boom-boom… boom-boom… boom-boom… The man asked, “Was he also jilted by a woman named Boom-Boom?” The doctor said, “No, this is the man that Boom-Boom ultimately married.”

So, happiness is not in the object. A spiritual person understands such truths.

Whatever dharmas you may have, whatever you may do for a living, your goal should be Self-knowledge and Self-realization. Strive for this. Be sure that your actions are never harmful to others.

Understand that everything is the Self and serve others. In order to purify the mind, selfless service is required. Then, grace will come to you. The impulse to help others is a higher state of mind. The beginning and end of spiritual life is compassion.

Have the attitude: “I am just an instrument; God is working through me. Whatever is needed will be provided by the Him.” Do all your actions—be it cleaning a gutter, taking care of your parents or social service—as worship. Accept everything that comes as God’s grace. In order to live like this, you must carry the flashlight of Self-awareness. In reality, nothing exist other than the Self.

IAM Meditation Technique in Moscow

The first IAM Technique course in Moscow took place on between May 17 and 18, 2014. A total of 57 people attended the two-day course.

Moscow residents had been waiting for this for a long time and the hall in the center of the city was fully packed. Everybody felt like being part of one big family.

At the end of the first day no one wanted to leave the hall. Most of the participants stayed there and sang bhajans for another hour and a half after the end of class. The course was led by Dayalu, one of Amma’s disciples, who has been residing in Amritapuri for more than 12 years.

The IAM Technique course aroused great interest among the local participants. They asked many questions to Dayalu and he gave detailed answers to all questions with patience and very good sense of humor. The participants received the information about Amma and her teachings with open hearts. The atmosphere of the workshop was very positive.

The first ever IAM course in Russia took place in 2011 in St. Petersburg.

Build a bridge of love and universal brotherhood

27 July 2014, Amritapuri

Minority Commission of the Govt. of India Member, Shri. Thykkuttathil Zakkeer met Amma today in Amritapuri along with his family during darshan. He offered to Amma a Ramadan gift of a plaque engraved with auspicious prayers from The Holy Quran along with sweets and fruits.

He also invited Amma to share her thoughts on the eve of Eid al-Fitr. Amma shared the following message in response to his request.

“Sacrifice, charity, compassion and knowledge – these are the values imparted by all mahatmas and scriptures. Prophet Muhammad and The Holy Quran ask us to follow these very principles. We have to take this message  into our heart. This does not mean just acquiring an intellectual understanding. Rather, we should translate these principles into action in our lives. In so doing, we will feel love and compassion for our fellow beings.

“The exchange of Ramadan gifts symbolizes both giving and receiving. Through this process of sharing, we build a bridge of love and universal brotherhood. That feeling of love and unity is something we should strive to maintain forever, throughout our lives.

“The sun doesn’t need the light of a candle. Likewise, God doesn’t need anything from us. Even so, for those who are suffering, let us go to their level, listen to their problems, strive to understand them, and console them. That is the best way to receive God’s grace. Like the moonlight of Ramadan, may our hearts also fill with the moonlight of love. May this love be the guiding factor for the whole world.”

– Tulasi

Ensure that the flowers that are our children bloom

17 June, Santa Fe, New Mexico — America Yatra 2014
Extracted from Amma’s question-and-answer session.

Question: Amma, your presence has brought fragrance to our lives. I would like to know: How do we bring your fragrance to the West, where the children are suffering so much due to drugs and violence? If Amma would say what it is to be done, we will take up the work with full sincerity to help bring up not only this state but the whole country.

amma satsang

Amma: You can make a difference if you really want to. It is human nature to imitate the people we look up to. This is why we see so many people imitating the fashion and looks of certain athletes and movie stars. Understanding this, everyone should try to become a good role model because, no matter who we are, there is definitely someone, somewhere, watching and imitating us. First and foremost, we must set a good example in our homes for our own children because people pick up almost all of their good and bad qualities from their home. So, parents must lay a strong foundation of values for their children by living those values themselves.

One thing you can do to help the youth is to form small groups and visit houses. Maybe you can visit 10 houses a day and counsel the children there. Talk to them, advise them, give them some spiritual teachings. Help them to recognise their weaknesses and to understand the potential consequences of their destructive behaviour. In this way, you can help the children cultivate awareness. A diabetic may take medicine, but if they keep eating sweets, their sugar level will still remain high. This shows us that dietary awareness is just as important as taking medicine, if not more so. So, we need to help children cultivate awareness of the potential consequences of destructive habits. They need the basic knowledge, but they also need awareness and good judgment.

Tribal children from places in Northern Kerala, like Attappadi, used to regularly be brought to study at our ashram’s boarding school in Parippally. We would take care of them and give them a proper education. But they would often steal small things, like cooking vessels, and then run away back to their tribal villages. They were used to spending their days wandering in the forests, picking flowers and fruits and climbing trees. They were not used to being educated formally in a classroom. Seeing this, Amma decided it would be better to set up small one-room classrooms in their forest villages. Let the kids come and go to these schools as they please. This way, these tribal children began to slowly develop a taste for education. They started to see its importance. Then they would gradually come to the school more and more and more. Ultimately, some of these children have even gone on to become engineers. So, it is possible to gradually create awareness and appreciation in children of things that they may initially not like but are, ultimately, for their own good. Like that, if you form small groups and visit houses and offer some spiritual education, it will definitely have a gradual effect.

Many children, when they are about 15, confess to Amma that their classmates and friends tell them that studying is a waste of time. They tell them to just make quick money stealing or selling drugs. And the youth present the ability to steal and sell drugs as if they were some great talent. This is what is being taught by the world today. So, we must cultivate awareness in our children. Our youth are like flower buds that are meant to one day bloom and spread fragrance to the world. Today, it is as if they are being eaten away by pests. If we don’t want these flowers to be totally destroyed, we must educate them and help them cultivate proper awareness.

Remember, we may not be able to make a monumental change in society, but if we can save even one child, it is a big thing. If only one flower blooms in a wasteland, at least that much beauty is created. If only one tree grows there, at least that much shade is provided. If we can make a change in just one out of 100 children, that is a great accomplishment, and it will have its impact on society. If at first you don’t see any change, don’t get diffident. It will have an effect. A change will come.

The remedy for sorrow

ammaqa11 June, Los Angeles, California – America Yatra 2014

Extracted from Amma’s answer to a question about the true meaning of the statement “no one is your own.”

Amma: When we say “no one is my own,” then “everyone is my own, everyone is an extension of my True Self” is also implied. If we place 100 pots of water out in the sun, we will see a reflection of the sun in each and every pot. But, in reality, there are not 100 suns; there is only one sun. Similarly, it is the one and same consciousness that is manifesting in all beings.

Why do the scriptures and gurus say that everything is one? Because they don’t want us to be sad or depressed, and they know that understanding this fact—which is the truth—will put an end to that sorrow. When we think that we are the limited body-mind complex, then it is only natural that we will be insecure and afraid. And from this insecurity, we will become dependent upon other people. This leads to attachment and sorrow. Our very existence becomes based upon the words and action of others. If they praise us, we soar up to the heavens in happiness. If they criticize us, we fall down to the floor in sorrow. Mahatmas want us to be free of such dependence, and they know that in order to go beyond it that understanding these spiritual truths is essential.

Once a king had a dream that he was a butterfly, blissfully flying here and there. When he awoke, he was confused. He kept asking himself, “Am I a king who dreamt he was a butterfly? Or a butterfly who is dreaming he is a king?” In his confusion, he went to a guru. And the guru said, “You are neither a butterfly nor a king. You are pure consciousness, pure awareness. It is within that awareness that is you that both experiences have taken place. The atma is the only truth. Both the butterfly and the king are dreams.”

Children, we must awaken to this understanding. Then we can see our oneness with others. We must see others as our own Self. That is the only way to overcome the sorrow we are currently experiencing. Amma knows this is not easy, but it is possible with constant practice. Just as we have learned to identify with this name, we need to learn to identify with our True Self.


Negotiating the Supermarket of the Mind

June 5, 2014 — San Ramon, California, USA

Extracted from Amma’s question-and-answer session in San Ramon

Question: I have a question about negative thoughts and emotions. I find myself wondering what the right attitude is and how to prevent negative thoughts and emotions from affecting my life and affecting others.


Amma: When you go into a supermarket, you see so many things—some you want and some you don’t. Regardless, you don’t hunt down the manager and interrogate him as to why he stocks things you’re not interested in buying. You just focus on what you came to buy. Similarly, when the various thoughts come, you need to be alert and aware and use your discrimination to decide which are helpful with respect to attaining your goal and which are not.

This effort, inquiry and discrimination must come from within. We must ask ourselves what is helpful and what is not. We cannot always ask the guru. If an egg is opened from the outside, it will be destroyed, but when it opens from within, new life is created.

Seeing everything as God is real puja bhava – Amma

15 May 2014 – Amritapuri

It was the day before Amma would leave on her two-month Japan-North America Tour. Amma was meeting all the ashramites in the Kali Temple for a final meeting. After addressing several administrative- and seva-related matters, Amma suddenly raised a question: “What is the relevance in doing puja?” Apparently, someone had made a comment that puja [ritualistic worship] was not necessary in an ashram where the focus is atma-vicara—contemplation on the Self.

Amma said, “When we are children, we learn what a parrot is by being referred to a picture. Once we learn, the picture is no longer required. Similarly, every learning process has multiple steps. So, puja is yet another way to focus on the universal consciousness.”

Amma then asked some brahmacharis who perform puja as a form of selfless service to speak from their experience. One of them said that Amma had always told him that it was the attitude with which he performed puja that was the most important thing. “Doing puja with the right attitude brings happiness to both the pujari and to the one who has requested the puja,” he said. “When we perform puja, we begin with samarpanam—where we dedicate the worship to the universal consciousness. When we perform puja in this manner, we find that stillness of mind is created. Even in ashrams solely devoted to studying Advaita, puja is accepted as a step to obtaining mental purity.”

“That’s correct,” Amma said. “Advaita is the foundation. “Even Sri Sankaracharya, who propounded Advaita, consecrated so many temples where puja was to be performed. He never rejected puja. The aim of puja is to help us gain control over our mind. Just like mantra japa, puja is also a way to put forth effort. If one says doing puja is against Advaita because it involves identification with doer-ship, then mantra japa is also against Advaita. With such logic, a so-called Advaitin cannot do japa or pray. Don’t all of those spiritual practices involve duality? Without duality, there can be neither guru nor disciple. There isn’t even any scope to contemplate “I am the Atma” because, in such contemplation, there still a limited individual thinking—isn’t it? Even in mananam [Vedantic reflection], there is duality.”

Amma then began speaking about the Brahmasthanam Temples built by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and consecrated by Amma. “The Brahmasthanam temples were constructed because devotees wanted to do something that would help reverse the decline of people maintaining puja rooms in their homes,” she said. “The idea is that they are places where devotees can gather, participate directly in the worship, hear some satsang, share food as prasad and provide opportunities for people to help the downtrodden—help poor village children get educations, provide care for neglected elderly… This is why Amma set up those temples. But don’t forget the foundation, which is that the puja is a means to gain mental purity.”

Amma then continued saying, “We need to see life itself as a form of puja. Live with that puja bhava—the attitude of seeing all your actions as worship and accepting all the experiences that come to you in life as prasad. Knowing that everyone and everything is a manifestation of the Atman, regardless of whether someone scolds you or praises you—that is verily Advaita. We need to cultivate the ability to accept everything as grace. Or cultivate the ability to see the negativities of others as reflections of our own flaws. Such attitudes are puja bhava. Ultimately, puja bhava is seeing the Self, or God, in everything. Even though initially this is difficult, gradually the feeling of oneness arises.

“A staircase is needed only until we reach the higher level. For Amma, there is nothing to reject; everything is accepted in love. Considering the feelings of others, spiritual aspirants should learn to love all, respect all, and feel everyone’s difficulties as their own. Some people do not have the good fortune to have sweetness in their lives. Understanding this, you should share the sweetness you’ve been fortunate to receive with others.

“Like the crow in the parable that could only drink the water in the fluted vase if it dropped rocks in it first, we should invoke god within with the required effort. Gaining control over our mind is the goal. All of the various forms of spiritual practices are means to achieve that common end. So, Amma cannot reject any of them. They were established by the rishis, and the rishis were not fools. Seeing God in all forms, they accepted all forms as appropriate means for helping the mind gain focus. If one looks into the depth of all the various spiritual practices—even just singing bhajans to oneself—you will see that they are not different from the Atma; they are, in fact, keys that open us up to that truth.”