1-2 Nov, Sandown Park, Esher, London – Europe Yatra 2019
Amma arrived in London after a long drive from Munich. Though it was past midnight, hundreds of her well-wishers had gathered to welcome Amma to the United Kingdom, their eyes bright with joy as Amma emerged from her vehicle.
The following morning, the first program was opened with a special event. Mr. Duncan Ross, Chief Data Officer of the Times Higher Education Rankings Agency had come to present Amma, in her role as Chancellor of Amrita University, with a certificate ranking Amrita University the #1 private university in India. In presenting the certificate, Mr. Ross said, “It gives me great pleasure to be able to present that certificate, because Amrita University is truly one of the leading universities in the world. But that only tells part of the story. And, the thing that most impresses me about Amrita University, under Chancellor Amma, is the very different way that it approaches knowledge and learning. There are many, many great universities in the world. And often these universities seek out knowledge and they have a beacon of knowledge, and they say to people, ‘Come to us, follow us. Here’s the knowledge that’s on this hill, over here’. And I think one of the things I’ve learned about Amrita University is that you don’t say ‘Follow us, come to us’. You say, ‘We will walk with you. We will take the light that is in everyone and work together to bring that knowledge and to bring that learning into the communities around the world.’
“Because it’s not enough for universities just to excel. They need to be part of society. They need to reach out to the peoples across the world. In these times where we see walls being put up, they need to be truly global, in giving us hope for the future of humanity within the universe. So once more, thank you very much Chancellor Amma for your excellent leadership.”
In the evening, Amma was welcomed to the United Kingdom by Lord Michael Hastings, member of the British Government’s Upper House of Parliament, Vice President of UNICEF and Global Head of Citizenship for KPMG, as well as by Lisa Faulkner, renowned actress, presenter and celebrity chef.
In his remarks, Lord Hastings reflected, “It’s a wonderful privilege to welcome you Amma, and as a part Indian as I am it’s a joy for me to see you here. And having read so much of your dedication, compassion, commitment, energy and persistence, it’s a pleasure for all of us to spend this evening in your presence.
“I firmly believe that embracing the opportunity of love gives all of us to transform others ultimately transforms us. If you want to gain life you need to give it away. If you hold tightly to life, you’ll lose it. And to give life away is to give away the best instincts of how God has made us. To be lovers of one another. Lovers and longers for truth, lovers of simplicity in the horrendous complexity, eager and keen for quiet moments when we can reflect on how our heart really beats.
“Amma you have come again, here, to exemplify that love. We all need to see love in physical form, in one another, in people who can encourage us, and those who can lead us… this simple expression that I am made whole when you are made whole. That when I love you receive, and you give back. This is richer than any mountain of gold or any gems, finer than any possessions, deeper and more meaningful than any holidays. More significant than anything stored in the bank.”
Ms. Faulkner reflected on the profound impact Amma has had on her own life: “This is only the 3rd year that I have received darshan, but my relationship with Amma feels like it transcends all time. For years I have been drawn to photographs of her, often asking people who this smiling woman was.
Even though it’s only been 3 years, it feels like I talk to Amma all the time. I carry her picture everywhere with me – as does my daughter. When I can’t sleep, when something is troubling me, I talk to Amma and I put her picture under my pillow. And you know what? I fall asleep, and I find the answers I was looking for. And I also share with her my joyous times, and my times of celebration…
“I felt that amazing connection to Mother Amma that you don’t have to be a mother to mother. To mother is a verb that transcends all gender, to mother is to love and to nurture unconditionally. Amma is that Love.”
In her own remarks, Amma spoke of the way love lies at the very core and fabric of our being, as well as the universe itself. “The more space we create in our heart for others, the more happiness and contentment we feel. The law of the universe, and of life, is selflessness. This is why selfish and egoistic people are unable to enjoy life wholeheartedly and be happy: because their behavior is out of tune with the law of the universe. Everything in this creation unfolds to the same tune and rhythm. Understanding this, when we align ourselves with this law, peace, happiness and prosperity automatically become ours.”
After completing the final evening darshan, which stretched into the following morning, Amma expressed a desire to stay back and help the volunteers with the clean-up. She explained that to them that she had a 1,300 kilometer drive to Marseilles, and a program starting the very next morning. As Amma’s vehicle pulled away for the journey, the volunteers’ hearts were full with the knowledge that they remained in Amma’s thoughts as they continued their tireless work.