Divine homecoming

3 December 2003, Amritapuri

Amma feeding elephant Ram

It was a morning abuzz with activity in Amritapuri. Actually, the entire week was busy, but this morning especially. Duties ranged from sweeping the sand to cleaning Amma’s house from top to bottom. The construction of a new water treatment system was finished just the night before and various last minute touches were being made here and there throughout the ashram, generally beautifying the grounds all to make it worthy of receiving our most Beautiful Amma. For almost two months Amma’s ashram residents have been relying on brief email updates about Amma from those fortunate enough to be on tour with Her, but today we have our own update to share: Amma has come home!

It’s true that Amma claims no home other than our heart, yet there is something very poignant about Amma’s Amritapuri homecomings. The atmosphere was drenched in a quiet devotional fervor, and there is a sweet longing in everyone’s eyes, whose in-drawn expressions indicate private inner communion. Many ashramites working in the branch ashrams throughout India to offer their pranams to Amma, making it a divine family reunion. Though meditative, spirits are high it’s a festival day!

At about a quarter to noon, the ashram bell rang out thrice, and our souls collectively resounded – Amma had arrived. There was a general flurry as thousands scurried for a good spot to catch sight of Her.

Amma’s camper van turned onto the ashram grounds, and stopped near Ram the elephant’s stable first. Playfully tugging the shirt collar of the brahmachari that was driving, Amma sat Herself down in the driver’s seat so She could feed Ram through the window. With laughter, everyone delighted in the familiar but ever-fresh interplay between the young elephant and the Mother he clearly adores. Amma then went back into the camper and opened the side door. As the camper made its way through the ashram grounds, Amma stood in its doorway with Her hand outstretched to touch those She passed.

Amma with devotees

he time was exactly 11:51:48 a.m. when Amma’s camper finally stopped in front of Her house. Though midday, it was dawn in the hearts of Amma’s ashram children gathered around to receive Her, and the sunshine pouring out camper door seemed to rival that in the sky. Our minds reflected its divine light like many moons.

The sea of bodies parted as Amma made Her way towards Her stairway, pausing here and there to share a few words, a smile, a glance. Pada puja was performed, the arati flame was waved and garlands were offered, all with a deep reverence. Amma then moved slowly up the stairway, walking backward so that with an unbroken gaze She could, shower Her children with Her inconceivable affection. Eyes glistened with tears and the occasional yearning cry of Amma! was heard. Finally, as Amma reached the top of the stairs, the occasional cry of Amma became a chorus, as Amma raised Her folded hands in a salutation that was returned by all, and brought them Her heart, offering it to us.

Is there any gift greater than this?