20 December 2003, Kozhikode, Kerala
Like a mini-Amritavarsham50, the crowds, as many anticipated, were indeed the biggest today, turning out in full force for Amma’s final Kozhikode darshan programme. Over 12,000 men’s darshan tokens were distributed for the evening programme alone, and over 18,000 were given for the women, with lines winding all the way out onto the road beyond then ashram gates. Amma will hug over 30,000 people before finally standing to leave, which by the looks of it will undoubtedly be well into late tomorrow morning, if not afternoon.
The ashram grounds are a teeming sea. Walking from the darshan hall to the dining hall is an arduous pilgrimage! The local devotees doing seva, distinguishable by the badges on their chests, have their hands full, and their dedication and effort is admirable.
Many have come for the special Sani (Saturn) Puja, which Amma personally led this evening. The 108 names were chanted while, sitting before oil lamps, everyone performed the puja .
In Vedic astrology, Sani is considered a malefic planet that can trigger difficulties for those who fall under his influence. This mass puja is performed in order to create positive vibrations that will offset any negative influence that may have accrued due to Sani’s harsh gaze. Amma has said that a spiritual aspirant who has surrendered to a Satguru need not worry any longer about planetary effects. But, She has also qualified this by saying that it doesn’t hurt if you have some forewarning of a change in the weather, so you can take the necessary precautions. If you know it’s going to rain, you have the chance to grab an umbrella. In the same way, these pujas serve as a general umbrella that can mitigate harmful planetary effects.
With tens of thousands here today, the collective positive mental current is sure to have its effect. Amma has given the following example to illustrate this. If one has only a single 10-watt bulb, it may be difficult to read by, but if one brings in thousands of 10-watt bulbs, reading won’t be any trouble at all. Like this, mass pujas can have wider and more powerful effects than individual rituals.
The crowd sat absorbed as Amma guided them through the puja’s steps, and as the 108 Names of Shani were chanted, everyone responded with “Om Shivashaktyaikya-rupinyai Namah”. The darshan hall twinkled with what seemed a million little stars, as each of the over 5,000 within its perimeter waved their arati flame.
The puja ended as everyone stood and turned clockwise in place, again chanting the sacred mantra. This represents the circumambulation of our own heart, the seat of the Self “the Atman” which is identical to God, the Absolute Brahman, and to which all worship is truly offered, though the forms may vary.
Through this simple but sacred observance, Amma has brought the highest wisdom down to the most understandable form, which even a child can understand… which is a good thing, considering we’re all children in the presence of Amma.
Like a river, receiving all, whether they come to drink or bathe, or even walk past, ignoring Her grace “Amma simply flows. Kozhikode stands as yet another testament to this, as Amma flows into the hearts of the local devotees tonight, one last eternal time … until next year.
21 December 2003,Kozhikode, Kerala
It’s 8:15 am. The sun is well into the sky and Amma has hugged well over 30,000 people in the last 12 hours. Amma has just stepped through the foyer curtain outside of Her room. Children are already there, waiting to offer their final pranams before Amma leaves their midst. It will be some time yet before Amma has hugged Her last Kozhikode child, and heads back to Amritapuri.
Meanwhile, Amma’s ashram children finish washing the cooking pots and dismantling the various stalls and service areas. Supplies have to be inventoried and buses reloaded. Sleep has to wait for the 10-hour road trip ahead. These opportunities to serve are no doubt trying, and require a real spirit of renunciation … however, no one complains. No one even feels like complaining! How does one explain to others how serving the Guru is such an inexpressible joy and blessing? One must simply grow into such an understanding; it cannot be conveyed through words.
Amma has shown through Her own example how real selflessness overrides any sense of strain or exhaustion, and actually fills one with boundless energy “the energy of Divine Love.
Which is why Amma’s smile is ever present, and Her arms ever reaching out to us, Her beloved children. Amma is the very love She radiates.