24 September 2000, Amritapuri
Amma’s last scheduled darshan at the ashram for the next two months. Crowds of devotees, eager to have Amma’s darshan before Her long absence, have been arriving in the ashram since the previous night.
By 11 a.m. the temple is packed to capacity. Amma comes at 11:15 a.m., bows to the waiting devotees, and proceeds to give darshan. What a darshan! Amma is blessing people at a fast pace in order to see Her each and every child. Even though each person gets but a few seconds, they leave Amma’s embrace comforted and spiritually uplifted. Hundreds of people, believing there would be Devi Bhava that night, continue to stream through the ashram gates throughout the morning and afternoon. They quickly enter the darshan queue when they realise that Devi Bhava is cancelled, and this is their only chance to see Amma before the tour.
The hours keep going by, 3, 4, and 5 o’clock. Normally, daytime darshan never goes past 5 p.m. and here it is now 6! Many of the residents are concerned because Amma hasn’t eaten anything all day. By the time Amma sees the last person, night has already fallen! It is 6:45 p.m. – past the time for bhajans (generally bhajans start at 6:30 p.m. and on most days Amma comes for the bhajans).
Many are relieved when the long darshan is over: Amma can finally return to Her room and have some food and rest. But Amma does not go. Much to everyone’s surprise, She declares that She will be leading the bhajans herself!
She takes Her seat in front of the microphones, pulls Her shawl over Her shoulder, where the tear stains of thousands of devotees have left their mark, and closes Her eyes in deep meditation. With eyes still closed, She begins to smile blissfully. A radiance emanates from Her. She reveals to us the exalted state She dwells in, which is unaffected by physical discomfort.
After bhajans are over, Amma walks to Her room. One devotee, who has yet to receive darshan, waits anxiously for Her. That devotee is Ram the elephant! Amma takes a handful of biscuits and holds the treats behind Her back or over Her head. Ram’s trunk searches for the biscuits. With this game, Amma makes Ram completely concentrate on Her. When the last of the biscuits or bananas disappear into Ram’s mouth, Amma starts up the stairs. Ram tries to follow, but does not get very far as his big body cannot fit in the narrow staircase! Even Ram cannot stand being separated from Amma!