22 Feb, Kozhikode – Bharata Yatra 2017
By the time we reached Kozhikode it was 2pm, nine hours into our twenty hour journey. The hot air was rushing in through the bus windows, and our only reprise from the sweltering humidity of the South Indian sun was the occasional moment of sleep. Our stomachs were grumbling. We figured we’d stop for lunch soon, but, at the same time, we’d been telling ourselves that since noon. When the buses pulled to the side of the highway in a bustling part of town, word began to spread that Amma would serve us our lunch.
Suddenly, the bus grew alive with excitement. We popped our heads out the windows in search of a large clearing or empty parking lot where we might have our lunch, but nothing in sight seemed capable of hosting a crowd our size.
The bus doors opened and we scampered along the side of the highway to a small dirt road that ran along the edge of a banana plantation. At the bottom of the road lie a humble house with a large patio shaded by a simple metal awning. The space was unlike any we had stopped at before, it was very compact and retained all the artifacts of a private residence.
Everyone hovered about, waiting to see where Amma’s peetham would be placed. When it was finally carried to one end of the patio, the entire space quickly filled in with devotees sitting shoulder to shoulder.
By the time Amma arrived, some had crawled through the bushes, looking for any spot that would put them closer to Mother.
After a brief meditation, Amma began to pass out the prasad. The small space was alive with excitement as the plates made their way through the crowd. Once we all had our food in hand, Amma began to reminisce, “Amma first came to this house in 1985.” She recounted the story of her visit and the family that hosted her. It was there, in that small house, that Amma had, had her first program outside the ashram. Until then, Amma had not thought of leaving the ashram, but seeing the financial burden her children were taking to visit her, she felt compelled to travel to them. Her visit there lasted seven days. The first day two thousand people came to receive darshan, and each day thereafter the number of people increased. Chandrahasan, the owner of the house, provided meals for everyone that came. In addition to giving darshan, there were bhajans and Harikatha. In remembrance of her visit, Chandrahasan turned the house into a puja room, and on the first Sunday of every month they recite the Sahasranama, give out 1500kg of rice, hold a satsang, and provide twenty girls with the fees for their educational studies.
Amma then began recounting how Chandrahasan met Amma in 1984 and immediately became enthralled with her. He purchased the first Tempo for the ashram, as well as the land for the Kali temple. Amma mentioned that Chandrahasan was a contractor, and that he is currently in Delhi with his son, overseeing the construction of Amma’s new hospital coming up there.
That first visit was a fond memory for Amma, and it was evident that the house held a special significance for her. She said that she returned to that house every year in order to hold a program there, and Chandrahasan has meticulously kept track of the number of days Amma has stayed there–now fifty-four in total.
Amma reminded that a spiritual person must be like a river, both outside and inside, giving love and peace to all, flowing without attachment all along.
Upon hearing this story, the small house took on new meaning for us. It was filled with memories of Amma, and its humble size reminded us all of our guru’s humble origins.
We finished our meal and headed back up to the road for the eleven hours of travel ahead with a revived spirit, thinking of the incredible ways in which the past and present overlap. Two thousand people in such a small house must have seemed like a massive crowd all those years ago, and yet, now, the tour group alone was too large for that tiny space.
We boarded the buses and headed off to Mangalore, the lingering rapture of Chandrahasan’s house and Amma’s stories carrying us through our long journey.