Tales of Tsunami -2

Ashramites and devotees share their experiences of the tsunami in Amritapuri.
Christiane Gude, Germany

“I was standing with Amma on the balcony of the temple, taken aback to see how fast the ashram grounds were filling up with water. I work with pictures professionally and had the opportunity to take some. Watching Amma instructing and the water rising, I thought ‘What’s the us of taking pictures if my camera will be taken by the ocean soon anyway?’ I was not afraid at all, rather fascinated to experience the feelings of how nothing belongs to me. And if now was my time to finally get to swim with Amma—so be it. Jai Ma!”

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Sivani Banchio, Italy

“As the water was rising and Amma—herself in the water—was directing everyone to climb to higher floors, I was thinking how unfortunate it was that my mother had chosen this time to come all the way from Italy to visit me in India. I had hoped for a smooth and peaceful time for her, but things were otherwise…

“However I soon realized that my mother was in fact receiving a precious blessing—to participate in the around-the-clock veggie-chopping at the relief camp, to witness the Ashram boats continuously dispatching enough food to feed 10,000 evacuees, to see the villagers being given shelter, clothing and solace, and most of all to experience what it feels like to be part of a bigger family, one that knows no boundaries of culture, religion or colour, where all are the darling children of one Mother.

“And today, I am thinking how unfortunate it is that my mother had to return to Italy before Amma made Her pledge to dedicate 23.3 million dollars towards the reconstruction of Southern India—to construct temporary shelters, donate land, repurchase household items and secure the future of orphans…

“For us who live with Amma throughout the year, this is an occasion to realise how little we know Her, how little we have understood Her limitless compassion, how utterly impossible it is to gauge the depth of Her immense heart that melts with love for every being of this vast world.

“I have only one prayer, that we may all grow and become as she would like us to be: selfless, dedicated and pure—just a tiny bit like her.”

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Akshay, Germany

“I was in the kitchen, when it hit. The water level rose very fast. There was no time to move anything. Soon around 150 kg of cooked rice was floating in dark-brown water. One large pot containing some rice just started floating, as if it were a ship!

“As soon as the people were across, Amma started telling us to send food. All the cooked food and veggies we loaded in handcarts—quite hard to push them through the mud to the boat jetty, but we had lots of volunteers. The good news was that, as Amma had called for Devi Bhava, there was already enough lunch for all the devotees, ashramites and the first wave of evacuees from the village.

“It was difficult squeezing the really big pots on to the boats. In all we took more than 100 pots and 5,000 plates. Kunji was made for dinner, but it wasn’t until 1 a.m. that the kitchen was fully operational. That was just early enough that we could cook uppumav and curry for the evacuees’ breakfast. From then on, it just carried on like that—three meals a day, working around the clock. Finally we made some shifts, so we could get at least some rest.”

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Prana Morton, USA

“I was blessed to next to Amma in the temple when the water came. Everyone spontaneously came close to Her. Never before have I felt her pull us so close. I found courage in her unshakable strength.”

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Harsha Makhijani, Mumbai

“Amma has always said that the very next moment is not in our hands, but until the 26th December I had never had a near-death experience. When the water from the sea came and flooded the whole Ashram, we all experienced the grace of the Guru’s umbrella, and not one person was hurt.

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Kevala Imanishi, Japan

When the tsunami hit the Ashram, I heard loud and strange sounds, including screaming. I jumped from my room. Then I saw that the wave from the Arabian Sea had just come and covered the ashram grounds. It had happened so suddenly. I remember thinking, ‘Before the power of Nature, we are so helpless.’

“After that, we took refuge at Amma’s college near the Ashram. I feel like this was an actual case of taking refuge in Amma. We all survived by Amma’s grace. There is no eternal thing except for God—so we have to take refuge in God.”

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