19 Feb 2003, En route to Hyderabad
A long journey in the hot plains led us to a cool evening chai-stop at a quiet temple yard by the road. The setting sun made his presence felt by brightly outlining the cloud that hid him.
Amma sat amidst Her children facing the temple water-tank. Soon She exclaimed, “Look! Sandhya!” meaning the crimson west at dusk. One of Her children called Her attention to the rising full moon in the eastern sky. Satsang followed with Amma’s question: “How can one focus on God even amidst noise and din?” This was related to the comments of some who said they found it difficult to meditate during Amma’s Brahmasthanam festivals, with so many people around. One person said he tried to see everything as Amma and that that helped him in the absence of quiet meditation. Another said he would go on trying to feel Amma’s presence within while doing seva. Amma then gave an answer of Her own, elaborating on the answers of others: She said that the vibrations at the Brahmasthanam festivals are so charged with spiritual energy, due to the mass Lalita Sahasranama archanas chanted each day as well as the intense prayers of the devotees, that just breathing the air at the festivals is beneficial.
She also said that performing seva is highly elevating even if one doesn’t feel it to be so. Further She stressed the need for discrimination in every thought, word, and deed of a spiritual aspirant. After the satsang Amma sang bhajans in Telugu, the mother tongue of Andhra Pradesh.
Everywhere She goes, Amma reaches out to local people in many ways, like singing bhajans in their language. The people respond to Amma in their own way as well. In Hyderabad, devotees brought Her colourful glass bangles as offerings. They glittered around Her dark wrists as She continued hugging Her children. The picturesque temple on the hilltop witnessed great festivity that lasted deep into the night on both evening programmes in Hyderabad.
Five hours Northwest from Hyderabad, another dream came true: an evening with Amma on the Godavari riverbed! Godavari, a highly evocative name. The name of the holy river finds mention in the ancient scriptures. Under the massive bridge flowed the Godavari along her grassy bank. The yonder forest seemed home to hundreds of cranes and other birds. Under the clear sky, with the westerly sun settling down, sat Amma’s children around Her chair, themselves of different colours but all dressed in white. As the dusk covered us over, Amma walked into our midst like the full moon.
Even as She sat, satsang began: “Which are the qualities necessary for one to develop devotion? Are they sufficient for one to reach the goal?” She wanted Her children to respond. Brahmacharis and brahmacharinis responded. One explained the six necessary qualities: shama (control of mind); dama (control of sense organs); titiksha (enduring all sorrow and suffering without complaint); uparathi (withdrawal); shraddha (faith in scriptures and Guru’s words and diligence in thought, word, and deed); and samadhan (equanimity of mind). Another put these in a larger context: a sadhak needs viveka (discrimination); vairagya (detachment); the six aforementioned qualities, and mumukshutwa (a burning desire for liberation). Another took a non-Vedantic perspective, focusing on the importance of love for Guru and God. All stressed the importance of faithful obedience to the Master as the greatest prerequisite for any form of sadhana. “The Guru’s words are the ultimate,” said one. “The Guru’s words are scripture.”
Amma integrated all these answers, saying that love is the first prerequisite. If one has love for God or Guru, all these qualities will follow. Without love, none of them can be cultivated. To cultivate these qualities, one should never lose sight of discrimination, which comes from an attitude of surrender to the Beloved. Amma also spoke about the need for control of the senses, especially of the tongue, both in talking needlessly as well as eating tasty food. Restraint practised in regard to the tongue would surely help one to progress spiritually.
Then Amma wanted Her children to tell jokes. As She has often said, She always wants to see the faces of Her children smiling and joyful.
Amma was unmindful of the hordes of insects around Her. But how could She, for whom everything is nothing but Her own Self, be bothered? Then it was time for singing bhajans. One was an expression of the sorrow of the gopis when Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura. Amma had a brahmachari translate the meaning of the song into English before She sang; Her children from around the world tuned into the melody and the mood as the singing went on.
The star-studded sky overhead, Her nose-stud brighter than the stars, Her eyes which put to shame even the brightest diamond. And Her complexion, merging with darkness of the ether. Was there any reason one had to close one’s eyes to meditate on Mother Kali?
Amma walked ahead of us to the buses on the main road. Glow worms decorated the country path. Amma stood at the tar road where it crossed the path until the last of Her children had gotten safely across.
Then Amma stood on the footboard of Her camper. She took a lamp into Her hands and shone it out across us. Love poured out of Her eyes. Then She signalled us to go to our buses. But none of us, mesmerized by Her charm, stirred. Only after Amma went inside the camper and closed the door did we turn and head for the buses.
Once again the train of ashram vehicles moved out onto the road. The bright moon overhead seemed to keep pace with us till we reached the city of Nagpur, where Amma has been given the honour of being the Guest of Maharashtra State.