Observance of customs, vows and rituals: Amma says

Acharas are Necessary for a Sadhak’s Progress

“Acharas (observance of customs) are necessary for a sadhak’s (spiritual aspirant) progress. Just as there is a way to act in front of a policemen, there is also a way to conduct oneself before a Guru, elders or in a temple or holy place. Customs will instil a sense of humility and obedience in a sadhak, which will be an asset in his or her spiritual life.”

“Acharas should be observed as long as we live in the world. Even a person who has reached the non-dual state and is beyond purity and impurity or dos and don’ts, will not negate achara even though nothing affects him. Ordinary people cannot ascend without achara. Whether or not we observe achara, Brahman has nothing to gain. But for us to grow, we need to observe achara. Nothing affects those who have reached there. Dharma (righteousness) will decay if achara is not honoured. Acharas will be useful for mental purity.”


“When everything is pervaded by God, which thing is not to be worshiped?”

“Whatever you are engaged in, you should only be thinking of God. This is the purpose of rituals. Rituals will help foster good habits, and there will be order in life. Still, we should go beyond rituals; we should not be bound to them until the day we die.”

“Rituals and other ceremonies will help to cleanse and purify the mind. Through rituals and other religious observances, the mind, filled with all kinds of evil thoughts, will become good and virtuous. When that is gained, don’t stop; proceed and transcend that as well. If you attach yourself to the good and virtuous, these again will become habits and consequently vasanas.”

Question: “Mother, are rituals like formal worship necessary? Is it not enough if one does mental worship?”

Amma: “Will hunger be appeased if you merely think of food? Don’t you have to eat? In the beginning stages of spiritual life, puja and other ritualistic practices are necessary. They are one way to purify the wandering mind. The wandering nature of the mind can be controlled by keeping it engaged in the remembrance of God or Guru. While cleaning the puja room and puja articles, picking the flowers and making a garland and while doing the puja, the mind will always be thinking of the Lord’s worship. This one thought will replace the many disconnected thoughts of the mind and give a sense of quietude. A fixed place, time and materials for worship are needed at the beginning. Through constant practice, one will reach a stage where one can perform mental worship at all times and places, but this is very subtle and is possible only after the mind has become subtle through concentration and devotion. After this, one will be able to perform every action as a worship of the Lord.”

“Don’t face south when you light the oil lamps. Also, when you light the wicks of a lamp, do it clockwise round the lamp, just as you do pradakshina (circumambulation) in the temple.”

“The performer (of the ritual) should become the offering. The attitude should be, ‘O Lord, here, by offering this ingredient, I offer all my attachments to you. O Lord, now by offering this ingredient, I offer all my aversions to you. I burn all these in this fire of knowledge. Take this and purify me.’ This is the right attitude.”

“We have to acquire the necessary prerequisites of purity and mental maturity before we can enter into the realm of the Supreme Truth, and that is what we gain through rituals. Once that maturity and purity is attained, we are ready to dive into the ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss), and then there is no more need for action or rituals. While engaged in any action, or while performing rituals, we should keep in mind that Self-knowledge is the ultimate goal.”

“The Vedic rituals, and the mantras which form a part of them, purify the atmosphere and benefit mankind. Of course they do much good, but they can’t be compared to the immeasurable benefit humanity receives from a person who has attained realisation. No matter how important and valuable the rituals are, the practitioner should strive to go beyond them and to experience the ultimate Truth within. That is the very purpose of religion: to realise that there is no god or goddess existing separately from our own innermost Self.


“The atmosphere will be more polluted on certain days such as the eleventh day of the lunar month and the day of the full moon. It is to escape from this pollution that vows are observed on these days. Importance should be given to sadhana (spiritual practices) on these particular days because on such days our mind can become more concentrated. Just as there are planets outside, there are subtle planets surrounding each organ of our body, whose movements are similar to the movements of the planets going around the sun. More concentration can be gained when these subtle planets reach a certain state of vibration. Only fruit should be eaten on these particular days since they are less affected by the atmospheric pollution due to their having skin. The polluting effect will be greater on grains and vegetables. In addition, you should remain silent on these days. If you talk more, you breathe the polluted atmospheric air more. Mental control will increase when you lessen food and concentration will increase.”