Independence Day

14 Aug 2003,Amritapuri

It was late in the evening of 14th August, and Amritapuri witnessed a quiet metamorphosis, brought about by the engineering and computer students of the Amrita Institutions. At around 10 pm, as Amma led the chanting of Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, the youth started lighting lamps on the floor of the expansive Devi Bhava Hall in the Ashram. In a few minutes, what emerged was a string of lamps outlined as the map of India. As the lights of the diyas shimmered against the darkness of the night, pairs of boys and girls were also symbolically lighting more lamps within the map contours—to mark the location of major holy pilgrimages and holy rivers of India. Every time a lamp was lighted at a holy location a brief archana, was also performed. The whole scene done in the presence of the Universal Mother, Amma, was indeed an apt homage by the youth to Mother India on the eve of her Independence Day.

What made the occasion more memorable was Amma’s message to all her children assembled not only at Amritapuri, but all across the country where Her darling children were celebrating Independence Day.

In part, Amma said, “The social and cultural atmosphere of India is different from that of the West. Therefore when adopting western behaviors and attitudes, we should be careful. There are good aspects, which we can accept. By accepting these, we will become expansive. So what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected? That decision has to come from the cultural foundation within, which is hundreds of centuries old. If we adopt western ways impulsively, without exercising proper discrimination, we may find that we can’t truly assimilate it. In time, it may become a burden to us.

“In many countries, by the age of 18, 90% of young people either take loans or work to continue with their studies. They are not dependent on their parents. On the contrary, in India, if a son remains unmarried or unemployed even till the age of 40, his mother thinks that it is still her duty to labor hard to nurture her child. A mother does not hesitate to go hungry to feed her adult children.

How can a son or daughter begin to repay their debt to their mother who carried them in the womb for 10 months and gave birth to him or her after suffering so much? The child gives the mother so much trouble, not even allowing her to sleep through the night. But the mother bears all this with a smile, loving her child unconditionally.

Today we are not fulfilling our duties toward each other. We have even forgotten what they are. Honor your mother at least once. Bow down to your father. Remember, ours is a culture which once believed in the dictum, ‘Mother is God, Father is God, Teacher is God, Guest is God.’ How beautiful it would be if we could regain them. But today, in search of the new, values are being lost. Let the effort of my children be a remedy for this situation.”

After Amma’s message was read aloud, the students delivered a series of delightful dramas and dances. Finally, Amma led all present in singing the bhajan, “He Giridhara Gopala”. Her lilting voice transported Her children to a realm of love and longing for the Divine.