Roadside miracles on the way to Hyderabad

Bharata Yatra 2004

Tuesday, 24 February 2004 — On the road to Hyderabad

Amma serving lunch

Roadside temples, small family farms, creeks just off the beaten path—traveling with Amma proves few stretches of Indian highway to be more than a stone’s throw from some secret beauty. So it was Tuesday when the six buses accompanying Amma on Her North Indian Tour suddenly pulled off to the side of Karnataka’s interstate. A few minutes later and everyone was walking through a large and very wooded dairy farm, the sound of dry leaves crunching under their feet.

Amma was seated in the middle of a clearing, but it wasn’t long before that clearing was filled—300 or so of Amma’s disciples and devotees making it their dining hall for the afternoon. With their rigorous schedule of late nights, early mornings, long rides and what feels like a constant loading and unloading of buses, there in the woods many took their fist relaxed breath in weeks—a sigh borne out of being away from massive crowds, a sigh of unwinding. More than anything said, that seemed to be the feeling—a mother and her children content in sitting side by side.

Usually Amma distributes the lunch, but this time She asked the brahmacharis to do it. The 15th chapter of the Gita was chanted, and Amma asked everyone to begin eating. After some time, someone handed Amma a packet of biscuits. Amma looked at everyone around Her. “How can I distribute one packet of biscuits to 300 people?” She asked.

Amma serving biscuits

Then from the handbags of Amma’s householder children, one packet came forward, then another, and another—soon the silence of the woods was completely undone by the noise of crinkling plastic. Amma opened each package and began breaking the cookies into small pieces with Her hands. She filled two or three metal lunch plates this way, and then had them passed around so that everyone could partake of Her prasad .

After Amma was sure everyone had received a piece, She asked if anyone had any jokes, stories or questions. One of Amma’s daughters spoke up. She said how upon seeing Amma go from having no biscuits, to having one packet of biscuits to having enough biscuits to feed everyone had reminded her of two stories: Jesus feeding thousands with enough for just a few, and a legend where a village of starving people was fed through everyone donating one vegetable to a community pot. “So I am left wondering what is the nature of miracles?” she asked. “Is it that something impossible really happens or is it what takes place when we collectively are inspired to give?”

“You cannot create anything that does not already exist in the creation,” Amma said from Her chair. “The greatest miracle is having a mind inclined to share with others.”

Is that not what we have seen with Amma on this tour and throughout Her life? In Kannur, Talassery, Mangalore, Bangalore, Davanagere—what is it that Amma been doing if not sharing? The only difference between Amma’s sharing and ours is that what Amma has to share is Infinite, and so is the amount of time Amma is willing to give in sharing it. And what does Amma expect in return—nothing but our pain and sorrow.

When we are eating, Amma is sharing. When we are sleeping, Amma is sharing. When we are working, joking and playing, Amma is sharing. As Amma says, “a Mahatma’s every breath is for the benefit of the world.” These lunch stops Amma spends with Her children—in truth are they not simply another manifestation of Amma’s desire to share?

Suddenly one of Amma’s devotees called out. He had found something and held it out on his hand to show Amma: a magnificent insect with a body that looked identical to a stick. It was quite large, perhaps seven inches long. Of course, Amma allowed it to crawl onto Her hand. It sat there rather peacefully, its long antennae ticking back and forth.
Amma looking at the bug.

How can we say, but perhaps this was Amma’s second lesson on miracles—in God’s creation, they are all around us—in bugs, birds and trees, in the all-pervading beauty we so often overlook as we drive down the road. It only takes a Master like Amma to draw it to our attention.