A song of mourning

28 December 2004 — Relief Centre, Amrita University, Amritapuri Campus

The sun had set. Two kilometres up the river in Azhikkal, the villagers had just set flame to 42 bodies. In the relief camp set up by the Ashram, the only sound was that of crickets.

From the college, Amma walked silently to the field behind the building and sat down, facing the backwaters. She closed her eyes. Soon many of ashramites were seated around her in meditation.

A little after 7:00, a harmonium was brought, as was a simple microphone and amplifier. Through its tiny speaker, Amma began to sing a sad-sounding prayer for happiness.

Amma’s voice was the only amplified sound, so it alone was carried out into the night. Her tampura, the drone of the crickets.

Could they hear her? Those who would never see their husbands again… those who would never see their wives… those who would never touch their children again… never know their mothers and father? In that darkness, was her voice some how holding them—perhaps even without them even knowing it?

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu…
lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu…
lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu…

Amma sang this refrain for almost 15 minutes straight. Each time the gravity of the line seemed to increase. Each time the devastation of the past three days seemed more inescapable.

Clearly many ashramites were thinking back to just the week before when Amma had twice sung this very song—both times ending in tears.

When the song was over, Amma sang a few more bhajans, then led everyone in a short meditation and announced She was returning to the Ashram.

With the turning of the moment, the destruction was over, and the rebuilding had begun.


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