26 February 2001, reaching Mananthavadi Ashram
It was shortly after seven in the evening; the sun had just set-or had it just risen on the little mountain town of Mananthavadi? Perhaps it had risen, to judge by the shine in the eyes of the thousands who had gathered on the grounds of the new Amrita Vidyalayam (another of Amma’s many schools throughout India). They were there to greet Amma, who had not visited Mananthavadi since three years. And Amma was there to install the new Brahmasthanam Temple, and bless thousands of Her children through Her satsang, bhajans, meditation and darshan.
As Her car slowly inched up the incline towards the hilltop school, the crowds surged towards it, stretching arms in hopes of a touch from the Amma. They started throwing flowers on the car, calling out “Amma! Amma!.” There were police and volunteers lining the route to control the crowd, but nothing could contain the eager masses, all wanting at least a glimpse of Amma.
At last Her vehicle stopped, the ceremonial red umbrella was raised high, and Mother emerged from the car, greeted by more flower petals and more calls from Her excited children. She moved only a little way forward before She was bedecked with several brilliant yellow garlands, and an arati was performed to greet Her.
As She climbed the steps onto the school’s lower level veranda…and up more steps, bit by bit, She turned to gaze long and lovingly at the thousands below. Men and women stretched their hands, as if with just a little more stretching they could touch Her Hands. She gazed around, smiled, pulled to Her shoulder the head of one devotee who had burst into tears, laughed, looked deeply…and suddenly, with Her Hands raised above Her Head saluting the Divine whom She perceives in each person, She closed Her Eyes for a long time. Where was She? What prayer was She making? Only She knows. But Mananthavadi surely was being blessed on this remarkable night.