Onam reminds us to become ‘One’

2 September 2009 – Amritapuri

“We all need to become one—this is the message Onam gives us,” Amma said in her annual Onam satsang. “It is from ‘one’ that we have all come, and it is back into that ‘one’ that we all must merge. This is the supreme goal of all of our lives. However, in our hectic schedules, we have forgotten this. The Upanishads say that forgetfulness is death. The message of many of our festivals is to remove this veil of forgetfulness. The festival that best reminds us of the message of oneness is Onam.”

The entire Amritapuri Darshan Hall was full of families of devotees who’d come to spend the Kerala holiday with Amma.

As part of her talk, Amma presented a unique interpretation of the Onam legend, taking the dwarf Vamana as the guru. “At a point in time during the maha-yaga—the great offering—that is life, God himself comes before us in the form of the guru and begs for alms,” Amma explained. “The guru humbly asks us for just three paces of land. ‘In the limitless kingdom of your mind, just give me a tiny place to sit,’ he says. If we wholeheartedly offer him this, then what happens? The very person whom we thought to be just an insignificant little fellow reveals his ishvara bhava—his total identification with God. The attitude ‘I’m so great!’ then disappears, and the awareness dawns that, before the guru, we are utterly insignificant. The head, which we egoistically held up so high, spontaneously bows down before the guru. Then what? In no time at all, thoughts of God completely consume our mind. We begin to see everything as God. We understand that everything is dependent upon God.”

Amma also explained how the tree swings traditional set up during Onam make for a good metaphor for life, demonstrating how after every rise there is a fall. “No matter how high we rise, we eventually have to come back down,” Amma said. “When we see everything in life as a game, we will be equally joyous when falling as we are when rising. If we can fully understand this—if we can see life as swinging on a swing—we will never fall apart when failure comes our way.”

After her satsang, Amma led everyone in a few bhajans and then personally handed all 10,000 people a plate of Ona-sadhya—the traditional Onam meal.