24 December 2000, Amritapuri
Just before Christmas, Mother gave darshan to about 15,000 people a day in Calicut in northern Kerala, virtually around the clock for four days and nights. The programme ended early in the morning on December 24th. Without getting any rest after that marathon, Mother got into the car for the day-long journey back to Amritapuri. The next morning, she joined her children for a Christmas Day gathering in the temple. Mother sat on her cot, as she does several mornings a week for satsang-but something was different this time: beside her someone had placed a small, brightly decorated Christmas tree and a little angel doll!
Mother began by asking her Western children to explain the message of Jesus Christ. This led to a discussion about the meaning of loving one’s neighbour and of loving God with all one’s heart, mind and soul. Mother stressed how important yet difficult it is to truly live by those values, and not just talk about them
Near the end of the discussion, one of the Indian ashramites, who was once a Christian nun, spoke about Amma, saying that Amma herself is a living example of the self-sacrifice and compassion that Jesus taught and demonstrated in his life and death. Mother laughed in a self-effacing, innocent way. She said that she simply wants to serve everyone.
This was an echo of Mother’s response to a question put to her when she addressed the United Nations in August. At that time, a reporter asked her, “If you were to become the leader of the world, what would you like to do?” Unhesitatingly, Mother replied: “I would become the sweeper of the world, and clean the minds of the people!”
Mother often sings a bhajan expressing her desire to be “the servant of the servants of God.” Jesus said, “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.” Amma says that to truly love her is to see the Divine in every being and to be loving and compassionate towards all. These eternal Truths, reflected in all spiritual traditions, emerged with a special beauty and clarity during this Christmas morning in Amritapuri.
India may be primarily a Hindu nation, but one of the marks of Hinduism is its understanding that God, who has created so many different types of people, has also provided them with many different paths. So it is no great wonder that in a small village in South Kerala, “Silent Night, Holy Night” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” were heard ringing out over the palms swaying gently in the Arabian Sea breeze on Christmas night.
Mother smiled softly, listening to the Christmas carols sung by the Western ashramites and several hundred visitors from all over the world. A Christmas play about the birth of Christ provided great delight and moments of laughter (with Mother practically leaping from her chair in delight from time to time): For example, one little angel found himself still out on the apron of the stage after the great doors rolled shut, and he struggled there, tiny as he was, trying to pry them apart and slip back inside!
After the programme huge trays of Christmas cake were carried into the temple. Mother asked how many pieces there were: “Two thousand,” came the answer. “Western children, come!” She called out, and all those for whom Christmas was a long tradition were the first to receive the prasad from her hands. Plenty of the cake remained, and everyone present received a piece directly from Mother.
To end the evening, Mother asked Swami Amritaswarupananda to say a few words about Christmas. He said that the real meaning of Christ and Christmas is love and celebration, just what Mother’s children were now experiencing in Mother’s presence. Swamiji expressed his faith in and devotion to Amma in these deeply moving words:
I don’t think there is any difference between Christ and Amma. For me, God is infinite and his manifestations are also infinite. And God is not a miser, he is not a repetitive bore. Therefore, if we expect a Christ with a cross, a Krishna with a flute in our midst, we will be disappointed; because Christ is here in the form of Amma, Krishna is here in the form of Amma and Buddha is here in the form of Amma. So living with Amma, falling in love with Amma, is Christmas. This IS Christmas.