When compassion takes birth, Sri Krishna is born

 Sri Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations

21 August 2011, Amritapuri

At 4.50 am, on the Krishna Janmashtami day, the bhajan hall was echoing with the mantras of Lalita Sahasranama. The adjacent Kalari, filled with white smoke from the Homa Kunda. The celebrations of Lord Krishna’s birth had begun in the charged atmosphere of Amritapuri ashram.

To celebrate Krishna Jayanti with Amma, devotees poured into Amritapuri from the different corners of India and abroad. Because it was Krishna Jayanti, there was a full day of activities planned: Amma came and gave Darshan to her children, till about 3.00 pm, then the Nagara Sankirtan procession started at 3.00, ending at about 4.00 pm, with hundreds of devotees, ashramites and dozens of young Krishnas and Radhas all dressed up to participate in the procession chanting with fervor the divine names of the Lord.

The open ground on the west side of the ashram was all set to host the anticipated “Uriyadi” (the traditional cowherds’ game of breaking curd-pots, reminiscent of Krishna’s childhood pranks of stealing butter and curd stored in pots hung from the ceilings of houses). Just as Amma came out heavy rain began to fall, but Amma wouldn’t let that dampen the spirit of the gathering, and spontaneously shifted the venue to the bhajan hall, with the main stage serving as the venue of Uriyadi.

Amma sat on the stage was surrounded by countless little Krishnas with as many of as possible trying to occupying Amma’s lap.

In between Amma’s concerned voice could be heard asking everyone to dry their heads from the rain, so they wouldn’t catch cold! And of course there was laughter all around when an infant Krishna in Amma’s arms, suddenly remembered its mother and started crying loudly. As the kids finished the “first stage” Uriyadi, and the rain had stopped, and Amma asked everyone to go back to the open grounds which was now totally muddy. No one seemed to care as they stood in the mud, in puddles, on the available chairs and tables and some even in the trees; their eyes all riveted on Amma. The grounds had become Vrindavan, full of fun, excitement, and enthusiastic bhajans all lead by Amma.

After the Uriyadi, Amma, was back again for the regular evening bhajans which began with, “Hare Krishna shaure, vibho vishva murte, mukunda murare, yashoda ke pyare” in praise of child Krishna. But the final act was yet to come! At about 11.30 at night, for the fourth time in the day, Amma, returned to the stage where the Bala Gopala Puja and the reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam were taking place.
At midnight, exactly at the time of Krishna’s birth, Amma delivered her message on the life and values of Krishna. Amma narrated the story of a Gopi named Neeraja’s who exemplified Krishna’s message, “When compassion takes birth in our heart, Sri Krishna is born within us.”

Then as she does for every Krishna Jayanti, in a very blissful mood Amma sang several Krishna bhajans and finally asked all the devotees to stand up, put aside all their inhibitions and worries, and forget everything, and dance in bliss and ecstasy. Amma then lead the bhajan ‘Hari Bol Hari Bol Hari Hari Bol,’ while the whole hall erupted in dance.

Then Amma distributed payasam to all the devotees. One could hear Amma repeatedly asking for devotees who hadn’t received the payasam to raise their hands. Only after making sure that every one of her children had received the payasam did she go back to her room. It was past 1.30am and another memorable moments were archived in the hearts of devotees.

– Tulasi

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Amma in Pune

3 – 4 March, Pune, Maharashtra – Bharata Yatra 2011

Amma’s programs in Pune were full of local flavor – Amma sang many bhajans in Marathi; some original and some classic bhajans that had been translated from the original Malayalam so that they could more easily touch the devotees’s hearts. However the devotees seemed most touched by Amma’s efforts to speak to them in a language they could understand. When she began the Manasa Puja in Hindi, saying, “Peeth bilkul seedha rakh te huye ankhen bandh karen,” or “Sit with your spine straight, and close your eyes,” the crowd broke into applause and cheers before settling down into the guided meditation, which Amma led entirely in Hindi.

 

As part of the first evening’s public program, more than 25 widows and other disadvantaged women, as well as an elderly blind man, were enrolled in the Amrita Nidhi Lifetime Pension program.

After receiving the pension, some of the recipients shared their thoughts. Ms. Pawar Vijaya Suresh commented, “I am very poor. I am not able to work. Now that I am getting this pension, I will be able to afford to eat two meals a day.” Ms. Kantabai More shared, “Nobody is there to look after me, so I have been staying with my daughter. This pension will really help me.” The blind man, Mr. Deepak Mhaske told a heart-wrenching story: “I used to have a job, but 12 years ago some acid splashed into my eyes in the factory where I worked and I lost my vision. My wife works as a housemaid but she doesn’t earn much. We have one son, studying in the 8th grade. This pension will help us to pay his expenses and keep him in school.” And Ms. Anandmaa Prakash Raj said, “I just want to thank Amma for giving me this pension. And to receive it in person—for so many years I have been waiting for Amma’s darshan. Now I am finally happy.”

The Amrita Nidhi program is currently providing more than 50,000 widows and disabled people with lifetime pensions, with a goal to ultimately provide 100,000 pensions throughout India.

The 3rd of March was Sivaratri, and the Pune devotees were delighted to have Amma there to celebrate the festival day with them.
Amma reminded the devotees in her satsang that “God is always within us, awake all the time. But because we are in deep sleep, we are not able to feel His presence within. Sivaratri is a day when at least once in a year we try to sacrifice sleep and food and try to keep our minds focussed on the Lord. But keeping vigil the whole night just does not mean keeping the eyes open. We need to develop awareness in every thought, word and deed. Through this awareness, ignorance disappears. Darkness is not a thing that can be removed. When you bring in light, it disappears automatically. In a similar way, as awareness deepens, ignorance has to disappear.”

Amma sang several Siva bhajans during the evening bhajan session before starting the darshan, and for the rest of the night and on into the morning the swamis and later Western devotees sang different renditions of Om Namah Sivaya.

Amma launched launched the Amala Bharatam Campaign in Pune as part of her program, calling on all those present to take it upon themselves to make India clean and beautiful again and distributing to handkerchief to all the students of Amrita Vidyalayam and all other children attending the program as well. The students enthusiastically answered the call, and they could be seen not only on the program ground but also in the surrounding area, picking up trash and sweeping the streets with smiling faces.

The following dignitaries shared the dais with Amma during her programs in Pune: Pune Collector Sri. Chandrakanth Dalvi; Sri. Yogesh Bahal, Mayor of Pimpri Chinchwad; Dr. P Vijay Bhatkar, Chairman, ETH Research Labs; Professor Viswanath Karad, Director, MIT – Pune; and Sri. Laxman Jagtap, MLA. Many other politicians, educationalists, entrepreneurs and scientists came to meet Amma during her two days in Pune.

At the end of the program, Amma sang the new Punjabi bhajan, Mere Mujhe Me to the delight of all.

– Kannadi

Love, light, compassion, fragrance and beauty fill your heart

Amritapuri, New Year eve 2011
The dawn of 2011 was celebrated in grandeur with Amma here at Amritapuri. In addition to Indian devotees, more than 1500 visitors from abroad had flown in to be with Amma for the new year. The evening hall was packed and every corner had people from various regions and languages. One family had even driven all the way across Europe and middle-east to reach Amritapuri by road. Immediately after evening bhajans, the hall was rearranged with Amma’s seat in the center. At 10, cultural programs commenced the celebrations. It was raining heavily outside.

Ganesha Vandana, a Bharat Natyam dance was the first of the performances. Student groups of Amrita University presented a skit on “Amala Bharatam”- Amma’s recent India clean-up initiative. A rap song, themed “Lokah Samasthah Sukino Bhavantu” was performed by Ayudh UK. The next dance was by Gauri, a tiny tot who enthralled the audience with her exquisite Bharata Natyam dance. After the performance, Amma took her on her lap and asked a few questions; the shy Gauri flashed a smile that lighted up everyone watching the scene. The last two performances included a symphony of English songs followed by a dance themed on Hanuman Chalisa.

It was 11:52pm and Amma started her satsang, “Rather than giving a message, Amma would like to pray for World peace and happiness”. Amma wished her children to always remain happy. “May love, light, compassion, fragrance and beauty fill your heart in this new year”, Amma concluded.

She sang the bhajan “Kushiyon ki bahar”, a song that talks of continued happiness in life, ending with the phrase “Om Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu – May all beings be happy”. As Amma chanted “Lokah Samastha”, the whole hall repeated it. As the chants continued, tears swelled in Amma’s eyes. Amma then asked all her children to forget everything and sing with joy and with a mood of celebration. As it finished, she raised her hands and hailed “Mata Rani ki” and whole hall resounded with a loud “Jai”. Amma’s raised hands were met with everyone raising theirs and the wave of open palms prayed for world peace and happiness.

Know yourself is the message of spirituality

(Excerpts from Amma’s Christmas message, 24 Dec 2010, Amritapuri)

“Whenever celebrations and holy days take place, Amma gives a message. However, in reality, these messages are not different; they are all one. Their essence is one. Although religions are many, spirituality has only one message. It is just that this message is presented in different ways.

“If you want to put it in phrase, this message is “Know yourself.” This is the supreme message. This message is not only relevant on the spiritual path. Regardless of our chosen field of action, if we want to attain results, we should first know our own sakti—our own power. We should know both our strengths and our weaknesses. This is one level of “knowing one’s self.” However to understand one’s self merely at the level of the mind is not the peak of self knowledge. For this, we need to go deeper. Because in knowing ourselves at the level of the mind, we neither come to perceive all of our strengths and weaknesses, nor are we able to completely transcend them. On the other hand, the message given to us by the scriptures is: “You are neither weak nor incapable. You are the source of unlimited power.” This is the supreme reality. Understanding this truth is the goal of life. This is the one message that the rishis and gurus have been giving to humankind in various ways according to the time in which they lived.

MAM ready to start cleaning efforts


Amritapuri, September 29th, 2010
Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) announced that, as part of its environmental cleaning efforts, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) is ready to start work immediately on constructing toilets and installing trash cans in government schools and along roads. Government schools that lack sufficient toilet facilities can apply to the MAM right away. However, along with the application, there should be official documentation from the government indicating that it has no objection. In order to build urinals along roads, there needs to be official government sanction.

The MAM is also considering steps that need to be taken in order to immediately install trash cans every two kilometres along roads. The MAM will also lead the efforts to mount awareness campaigns on keeping our highways and other roads clean and litter-free. Devotees, other individuals or organizations who are keen to participate in the cleaning efforts should contact the MAM, and a representative from the MAM will get in touch with them.

Amma also said that expert committees will be formed to study how best we can clean the highways from Trivandrum to Kasargode, and keep public places clean. “Our lack of cleanliness should never again become a cause for international embarrassment. We should consider the task of keeping our homes, environment and public places clean a sacred duty. Just as we eat and sleep, keeping our environment clean should become part of our daily lives. If we do not bathe every day, perspiration and dirt will make the body malodorous. Just as we bathe daily in order to keep our bodies clean, and just as we use perfumes, we should ensure that we maintain the cleanliness of our roads and public places, which are parts of our country’s body. All of us should take a vow to do this. If the people, government and other organizations work together, our sacred endeavour will certainly bear fruit,” said Amma.

Amma also said that similar efforts will be launched in Tamil Nadu before long.

– Kannadi

Globalization fails to connect our hearts and minds

27 Sep 2010, Amritapuri

Delivering her 57th Birthday Address, Amma spoke about how despite the connectivity created via globalization, the world is still suffering. “Where have we gone wrong?” Amma asked those assembled. “By connecting the external aspects, the entire world is being reduced to a small village. However we’ve failed to pay enough attention to uniting the inner aspects, to connecting all of our hearts and minds.” Amma also spoke on the importance of cultivating respect for Mother Nature, the perils of alcohol and drug abuse, the need for abidance in dharma, the role of meditation and many other topics.

At the conclusion of her address, Amma spoke about India’s problem with pollution and litter. She said, “India is an atomic power. India is scientifically and economically advancing. Many reports say India is poised to be the third largest power in the world by 2025. But in terms of cleanliness, we still are in diapers.” Amma then announced that MAM is ready to take responsibility for construction of toilets in government schools and public areas. Amma said that with the support of the state governments {news}, MAM would start this project in Kerala and then move on to other states throughout the country.

Amma said she wanted devotees to form committees to take responsibility for cleaning their locality, approximately one committee for every two kilometres. “A chain of such committees could really bring about a massive transformation,” she said. “These committees should ensure their localities have trashcans in various places as well as signs telling people not to throw trash on the roadside or to spit. The waste should be collected regularly and properly disposed of.” Amma also said she would like to provide one million reusable handkerchiefs to school children, requesting them to use these for spitting. She said that in this way many diseases could be prevented from spreading.” All with thunderous applause welcomed Amma’s speech.

Make your heart a Vrindavan

Sri Krishna Jayanti is the day when the consciousness that pervades the universe incarnated as Lord Krishna, the embodiment of beauty that had the power to attract all beings in creation. Perhaps Sri Krishna’s personality is the greatest that humankind has ever seen. His life and teachings were significant back then, are significant now and will remain so forever. Regardless of time or place, Sri Krishna’s life and teachings will always set an example for everyone, regardless of who they are or their culture. Even after a thousand years, nothing can take away from the glory and importance of Sri Krishna. In every sense of the word, Sri Krishna is a vishva-vidyalayam—an international university, as it were… a universal abode of knowledge. Sri Krishna shows us the way to completely accept the world, our allotted role in life and the various situations that arise. That is the reason why everyone takes so much inspiration from his life.

Moksha—eternal liberation from sorrow—is not something attained after death in some other world. It is something to be understood and experienced while living here in this world. Sri Krishna taught this principle through the example of his life.

Discontentment is the real poverty; contentment the real prosperity. This is one of the important teachings Lord Krishna taught to humankind. From the moment of his birth, till the time he ascended to heaven, his life saw one trial after another. However this had no effect on his happiness or contentment in anyway. The ever-smiling face of Sri Krishna was the indicator of his inner experience of perfect contentment.
An ordinary actor confines his performance to a small stage. But for Sri Krishna, the entire world was a stage. The various characters he played, with their various costumes, kept changing, but Sri Krishna excelled nonetheless, abiding firm in the awareness that “None of these roles are my true nature. I am the supreme consciousness.” In this way, he made his own life, as well as the lives of those around him, a celebration.

(Excerpts from Amma’s Sri Krishna Jayanthi message 2010, Amritapuri)

Onam is a call to reclaim our heritage

23 Aug 2010, Amritapuri
(Excerpts from Amma’s Onam message)

“When a Malayalee* hears the word ‘Onam,’ the experience is like the simultaneous advent of a thousand spring seasons in the heart. Wherever one may be in the world, Onam is an occasion when memories of one’s childhood—their home, their parents, their brothers, sisters and friends and the village fields in which they played—spontaneously spring forth. But along with reveling in fond memories of yesteryear, we also need to imbibe Onam’s invaluable message and implement it the present. Along with lessons of love, happiness and fraternity, Onam also reminds us to cultivate selfless devotion, a charitable nature, self-sacrifice, self-surrender and other such values.

Many regard Lord Vishnu as the one who pushed the righteous king Mahabali down into the netherworld. If this is correct, why would we welcome Lord Vishnu along with Mahabali on Tiru Onam? In reality, the Lord didn’t push Mahabali down; he lifted him up to perfection. Not only that, Tiru Onam is the day when the all-pervading Vishnu consciousness incarnated in the world as Vamana. On this day, we welcome both Mahabali and Lord Vishnu into our homes and hearts. This means welcoming devotion to God and love for all humankind. We should try to awaken an awareness of dharma and invoke God’s grace. If we want to attain success in life, these are essential. Mahabali’s story is of someone surrendering all his victories and failures and material gains to the Lord and becoming one with pure consciousness.

Celebrations like Onam help us to annually renew this love. Onam is a day when we can release ourselves from our self-created prisons of selfishness and take a breath of fresh air. It is this freedom that is the source of the happiness we experience during Onam.

The Onam of today is very different from the Onam we celebrated as children. The traditional Onam flowers, the butterflies and dragonflies that dance in the air, the banana-leaf plates and the pookalams—these are no longer essential aspects of Onam, like they were in the old days. Pounding the rice husks, children searching for flowers, exclamations of joy, children playing in fields and the traditional Onam games are becoming less and less common. The soil, the water and the earth that we have polluted add to our sorrows.

We, who have already discarded Sanskrit, are now beginning to discard our own mother tongue as well. Pure Malayalam and proper Malayalam grammar have been lost to us. Furthermore, a new generation is coming up that doesn’t even know how to read, write or pronounce our language properly. Their parents even take pride in this. Our traditional arts and sports, which bonded human hearts and uplifted people by helping them to remember God, are also fading away. The merging of hearts and the joy of sharing are also become less and less common.

In short, the Onam of the present-day Malayalee is an Onam without a soul. Still, Onam and its memories come, like a shower of rain in a desert, consoling us and awakening our hopes. But a tinge of sorrow also comes to our hearts. In fact, Onam is a call for us to return to a more natural and unpretentious way of life. It is a call to reclaim our heritage.

Just as plants and trees bring forth flowers from within, let us awaken the goodness inside of us. Let us maintain a space in our hearts for others. Let us bow down to the divine presence that pervades the earth and the sky. Thus, let us together try to make every day an Onam. Let my children have the strength for that. May grace bless everyone.”

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* Malayalee – one who speaks the language Malayalam

Embrace scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom

amma-doctorate_06These are selected quotes from the address of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi  upon receiving an Doctorate of Humane letters from State University of New York 25 May 2010.

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“Spiritual education is a training that helps us to truly understand ourselves. It gives us strength and helps us comprehend  the deeper realms of knowledge. It gives us the ability to face life’s challenges with courage and equanimity of mind.”

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“Education is not only to help us live a comfortable life of plenty. When our plans fall apart, when we face failure and loss, when we are knocked down, education should help us get back on our feet. Education should help us regain our mental  equipoise, self-confidence and positive attitude, so that we can continue forward.”

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“In fact, studying is a form of austerity. It’s a process, like the bud unfolding into the beautiful fragrance spreading flower.  Understanding this, we should approach our topic of study with love and patience.”

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“The world of knowledge is limitless; the possibilities are as vast as the universe. Therefore, before deciding whether a discovery is beneficial or detrimental, we need to contemplate with a meditative mind.”

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“When we are walking, if our mind suddenly tells our feet to stop, they will do so. When we are clapping, if our mind tells  our hands to stop, they will immediately become still. But if we tell our thoughts to stop, will they  listen? No. We need to  cultivate the same level of control over our mind as we have over our physical body. This is the goal of meditation.”

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amma-doctorate_05
“Few of us ever try to still the mind, but in reality, it is from the still mind that many wondrous discoveries and inventions  have taken birth.”

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“Knowledge is like a river. Its nature is to constantly flow. Wherever it can flow, it does so, nourishing culture. On the other  hand, the same knowledge, if devoid of values becomes a source of destruction for the world. When values and knowledge become one,there can be no more powerful instrument for the welfare of humankind. Today, physicists have even begun  investigating the possibility that the essential substratum of the manifest universe and the individual are one and the same.  We are standing on the threshold of a new era wherein material science and spirituality will move forward hand in hand.”
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“It is Amma’s prayer that we develop the expansive-mindedness to embrace both scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom. We can no longer afford to see these two streams of knowledge as flowing in opposite directions. In truth, they complement one another. If we merge these streams, we will find that we are able to create a mighty river—a river whose waters can remove suffering and spread life to all of humanity.”

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Inspire youth through dialogues not lectures

Amma inaugurates Vivekananda International Foundation

1 December 2009 — Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
On 1 December 2009, Amma inaugurated the Vivekananda International Foundation in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The foundation,  which is an independent non-partisan think-tank, will undertake solution-oriented research and studies through different activities. It also will participate in international, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

In her inaugural address, Amma defined Swami Vivekananda as “a great sannyasi who revolutionized and transformed the society, a perfect example of devotion to the guru, an elevated karma yogi and a brilliant orator.”

Amma endorsed Vivekananda’s vision and practice of spiritual life, saying, “According to Swami Vivekananda, spirituality was not merely a penance to be performed with closed eyes in a far away forest or cave. It was a way of living to be performed in this world, while living amongst all different types of people, and while facing all circumstances and challenges of life with courage and equanimity. He firmly believed that spirituality is the basis of life and the origin of power and intelligence.”
In her speech Amma touched on a wide range of topics, including the means of creating inter-religious harmony, the proper role of education in society, and the importance of taking pride in one’s motherland and national heritage. The main focus of her talk, however, was India’s youth—their needs and the role adults should play in helping them attain their full potential. Amma said: “How can young people develop spiritual values and qualities? How can we lead them on the right path? How can we use the strength of youth for the growth of society, the country, and the world? We should prepare the youth for self-unfoldment and personal development. For that, we should go to their level and understand them.”

Amma stated that India’s current primary needs are strength, vigor and bravery—inherent qualities of youth. “If our youth arise and act, they have the strength and vigor to create huge transformation in society,” she said. “Only through awakening the inner power dormant within us will there be true transformation and a permanent solution to the problems facing society. Strength is the most important thing needed for an individual or a country. When we realize that this resides in each and every one of us, true strength awakens within.”

Amma said it was not enough for parents to provide their children with money and luxuries, but that they needed to impart to them spiritual culture and values. “Even if a person buys the most expensive car and fills its tank with the highest grade petrol, a battery is needed in order to start the engine,” Amma said. “Similarly, regardless of much wealth and education the child receives, it is the love and cultural values received from the parents that help the child to handle any circumstances once he or she grows into adulthood, and to give and receive love.”

Amma also stressed the importance of imparting the spiritual teachings to youth in a language, manner and context with which they can relate. She said we should not lecture the youth about spirituality but rather create heartfelt dialogues wherein their questions and criticisms are patiently and lovingly considered. “We should approach them with compassion,” Amma said. “Such an approach will create a change within them. Above all, we should set examples that will inspire them.”

Amma said such dialogues are essential not only for imparting spiritual teachings to youth, but also for the fostering of inter-religious harmony. Problems arise when we say, ‘My religion alone is good and yours is bad.’ This is like saying, ‘My mother is perfect; your mother is a prostitute.’ When we hold discussions with the understanding that each person sees their mother as perfect, we will be able to truly communicate with others.”

Amma also stressed the importance of cultivating love and respect for one’s motherland and culture. As an example, she told an anecdote about Vivekananda, which took place upon his return to India after his first tour of the United States. Amma said, “It is said that he rolled in the sand and proclaimed through tears, ‘Even after visiting so many countries, I have never found a mother like mine.’ When he stayed in a five-star hotel, instead of sleeping on the fancy bed, he laid on the bare floor and shed tears remembering the poor and starving people in India. Many people who leave India come to feel, ‘Our birth mother’s rice gruel is tastier than our step mother’s sweet pudding.'”

Elaborating, Amma said, “The curse upon our society is ignorance regarding our traditions and the basic principle of spirituality. This needs to change. I have visited so many countries of the world including Australia, Africa and America and they all take pride in their heritage. But we here in India, neither have understanding nor pride of our culture. In fact, many people even deride it. Only if we lay a strong foundation can we erect a tall building. Similarly, only if we have knowledge and pride of our forefathers and history, can we create a lustrous present and future.”

Other dignitaries on the dais included former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah, who delivered the keynote address; Vivekananda International Foundation President P. Parameswaran, who delivered the presidential address; Vivekananda International Foundation Director Ajit Kumar Doval, welcoming address; and classical and playback singer Vani Jairam, who sang the program’s invocation prayers.

In his keynote address, which followed Amma’s benedictory address, M.N. Venkatachaliah praised Amma and her address. “Today we had this dose of ambrosia [from Amma],” he said. “She told us what adds flavor to life, and her interpretation of Vivekananda was perhaps the most inspirational and accurate. And her understanding and presentation was so remarkable that I think some of us who felt gloomy now feel that as yet that there is something that is good for the world. Someone once said, ‘As long as there are birds, flowers and children, everything will be all right with the world.’ But I say, ‘As long as there are birds, flowers and children—and Mata Amritanandamayi—everything will be all right with the world.'”

In his welcoming address, Ajit Kumar Doval also praised Amma, referring to her as “spirituality incarnate.” He said, “[Amma’s] abiding love for humanity and her all-pervading energy are in line with the great tradition of our spiritual leaders, who from time to time lead humanity and the destiny of this nation, providing a sense of continuity to our civilization—that civilization that constitutes the bedrock of our nationalism, of our identity, of our nation and its people.”

—Kannadi