Unscrewing our laziness

8 Feb, Kannur, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2013

If one looks at the schedule of Amma’s Brahmastanam programs, one might think that they all follow the same pattern and are rather identical. However, if one takes a closer look, one can see that Amma makes sure that each one of these festivals has a special flavor added to them. Some are more sweet, some more spicy and others rather intoxicating. Just like how there can be no identical flowers in God’s creation, each temple festival unfolds as a unique and beautiful mandala of love that stays as an unforgettable experience in the memories of local devotees and Amma’s tour group alike.

During the first program day in Kannur,  {news} Amma remarked that she couldn’t see the people sitting in the back of the venue and that they couldn’t see her. She then asked for this area of the hall to be raised, so that Amma and the devotees could see each other. This meant, not for the next year when Amma would visit Kannur, but for the program the following day! Being a weekend, this seemed like a “mission impossible”. However, if Amma said so – there must be a way. So the brahmacharis whom Amma had deployed with the work contemplated several options: To raise the area with sand would require 300 truckloads to be delivered immediately – impossible! Then someone had the idea to bring in benches from Amma’s schools nearby and place them tightly next to each other in order to create a platform. But after calculating this, this option was also unrealistic: 1500 benches would be required – much more than available from all of Amma’s Amrita Vidyalayams close by. Next idea: place a smaller number of benches with gaps in between and then cover them with sheets of plywood – this option seemed doable! Immediately a plywood company was contacted – in the middle of the night – and asked for help. Given the urgency of the matter, the company diverted two truckloads of plywood, which were actually intended for another customer, to the Brahmastanam temple site with no delay. Later on, those sheets could be used for construction at the University, Amritapuri Campus.  During the next ten hours of intensive work the benches were placed across the whole back area of the venue and the plywood sheets were screwed on top – success! The platform created in this way was about one meter high and allowed devotees a direct view of Amma on the stage the next day.

At 10 pm as Amma’s darshan continued, Amma decided that it was time for the platforms to be dismantled and that all her children should help with the seva.

An announcement was made in Malayalam and English and soon the whole back side of the darshan hall was buzzing with activity: the young and old, male and female, Indian and Western children all joined in the task, full of enthusiasm. It looked like someone had stirred up a nest of ants dressed in white, carrying things here, there, and everywhere!

Since only one drill was available, the work-flow had to be arranged in a very efficient way, allowing a smooth and quick dismantling. The task was beautifully choreographed: Each plywood sheet was fixed with four screws to the benches, which took 12 seconds to unscrew. While the drill was still in action people were already holding on to the benches underneath, ready to pull them out as soon as they became loose. The unscrewed plywood was immediately lifted and piled up close by.

Screws and sheets were literally flying through the air. The whole thing seemed like someone was pressing the fast-forward button on a DVD player. But despite the intense heat, moisture and dust, happy faces could be seen everywhere. To add more sweetness to the experience, Amma soon sent a whole lot of unniappams to be distributed as prasad amongst the hard-working devotees. With incredible speed, skill and joy the work that would normally have taken a whole day was completed in less than one hour. Just one word of Amma had been enough to bring all of us into action, accomplishing the task full of dedication, love and the feeling of oneness.

The magic of Amma always works, no matter where and under which circumstances. But what the divine master really aims for is not just to make us unscrew the plywood, but to unscrew our laziness; not just to dismantle the platforms made of benches and sheets, but to take apart the structure of our ego, which consists of our likes and dislikes. Nowhere can one experience a master at work as in Ammas presence. Like this, Amma turned the Kannur Brahmastanam festival into yet another opportunity for her children to put into practice her teaching of selfless service. As Amma says, “My children, it is better to wear away then to rust away.”

– Nath