The Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations, 29 August 2000
Tuesday 29 August
The second day of the conference started with an opening statement by Bawa Jain , the Secretary General of the ‘Millennium World Peace Summit’, an inaugural address by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi A. Annan, and brief remarks by Ted Turner, Honorary Chairperson.
And then it was time for the 30 main religious leaders to address the audience. Many of the speeches were longer than anticipated, and Amma’s speech was rescheduled to about 3:00 pm, after lunch. The break didn’t allow enough time to return to the hotel, and Amma didn’t want to go to the luncheon for the speakers, so She sat on a chair in the hallway between the General Assembly and the Security Council while 10-15 devotees sat at Her feet and the occasional person stopped by for a hug. Despite the delayed speech and no lunch, Amma radiated peace and happiness.
The Japanese chairperson for Amma’s session introduced Her, and Amma stepped onto the step-stool that allowed Her to reach the microphone. The audience clapped as Amma said a prayer and began Her speech. Video cameras rolled, light bulbs flashed. They laughed at Her story of the leaders of three religions-A, B and C- who decided to convene a meeting to bring about peace. And the audience applauded Amma’s nuclear weapons reference: “Simply transferring the world’s nuclear weapons to a museum will not in itself bring about world peace. The nuclear weapons of the mind must first be eliminated.”
Swamiji, who was in a booth high above the main floor, was wearing headphones to listen to Mother as he read the English translation. It was impossible to say the English as rapidly as Amma said the Malayalam. Some of the points had to be skipped in the English translation. The audience fell in love. And as quickly as She started, it was over.
For the first time Malayalam in UN General Assembly Hall
In most cases at the recent UN Summit, you could tell at a glance who was a delegate, and what religion she or he represented: Christian cardinals were in black and crimson; Hindu swamis were in orange; Tibetan lamas were in yellow and red; Jewish Rabbis were in black, and wore skull caps; Jains wore white, and had small masks covering their mouths. But in Amma’s case, some had to be forgiven for mistakenly approaching Swami Amritaswaroopananda Puri or Swamini Krishnamrita Prana, thinking they were the VIPs–their orange robes clearly marked them as sannyasins.
Mother’s simple, plain white sari, with no insignia of rank or religion, was the exception in this chamber of the colourful and imaginative dress. As always, she looked like any ordinary Indian woman, and her unpretentious bearing and manner were perfect disguises for the powerhouse she actually is.
The moment Amma walked purposefully to the podium and turned to address the assembly, her dynamic presence corrected any misimpressions that might have lodged among the religious leaders gathered there. With a voice full of strength and tenderness, with words bearing wisdom and humour, with a manner both confident and humble, Amma spoke, stressing that there can be no peace without if there is no peace within.
For the first time in the UN’s fifty-five year history, the language was Malayalam was heard in the General Assembly Hall!