28th January, Bharata Yatra 2020
The 11th edition of the Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair was inaugurated by Amma at the Gurunanak college in Chennai on Tuesday.
This year’s events theme is “Revering Womanhood to Foster Women’s Honour”.
Dr Padma Subrahmanyam (Artiste & Scholar) Chairperson, Organising Committee; Rajalakshmi R (Business, Managing Trustee, IMCTF) Vice-Chairperson, Organising Committee; Sheela Rajendra (Dean & Director, PSBB Grp of Schools) Secretary, Reception Committee, were also sharing the stage with Amma.
The invocation “Maitreem bhajata” and the National song “Vande maataram” was beautifully rendered by Saindhavi Prakash Kumar, Suchitra Balasubramanian, Vidya Kalyanaraman and Vinaya Karthik Rajan.
Dr.Thangam Meganathan (Chairperson, Rajalakshmi Edu. Institutions) welcomed Amma to the program.
“No other country or civilization has professed the concept of revering womanhood as much as our rich Indian civilization. No other cultural system or practice has celebrated the woman force like the Indian heritage has. From times immemorial, feminine power was revered in India, not just in spiritual or philosophical terms, but in actual life too.” said J Rajalaskhmi, Vice Chairperson of the committee.
Speaking on the occassion Amma said: “For Amma, men and women are equal: both have been blessed by God and Nature with unique qualities and talents. For society to grow and flourish, the contributions of both men and women are equally needed at a foundational level. The fact that we are seeing more women participating in political, social and financial spheres today is a great relief.
“Womanhood is the underlying principle and essence of being a woman. Today, many men consider women to be just a body—mere flesh. Many of them have the attitude, “After all, meat has no life; it’s just meant to be eaten.” We have forgotten the greatness of motherhood.
“Usually we see the media referring to abused women as “victims” or “prey.” These words portray them as being helpless, weak and destitute. Even otherwise, many people believe women are weak, feeble and fickle. This belief should change. For this to happen, they should become aware of the power of womanhood and motherhood. They should acknowledge this power.
“Some men mistakenly believe that they are superior to and nobler than women and, hence, should be women’s master. Neither God nor Nature has a hand in this belief. There is no such law or distinction in Nature. Wherever we see the qualities of love and compassion, it is the tradition of Bharat to view that as an embodiment of the feminine. Thus, has come the concept of five mothers: deha-mata, desa-mata, bhu-mata, veda-mata and go-mata—our Birth Mother, Mother Nation, Mother Earth, Mother Veda and Mother Cow.
“Society has branded woman as helpless, weak and fickle and shackled her with this conditioning. But there is nothing a woman cannot do if she sets her mind to it. All that is needed is to create the right circumstance to awaken her inherent strength. In fact, if we look carefully, we can easily see the strength of womanhood and its powerful influence in all spheres—from family life to national governance.
“The strength of a woman is in her motherhood. Motherhood is a transforming power. It is a power that acts by understanding the heart of others. God has graced women with a divine boon—the womb—which makes compassion very natural for them. This inherent compassion that women have is extremely valuable. But it should be balanced with proper understanding. Otherwise, there is a chance that people will take undue advantage of this characteristic.
“Woman are not helpless and dependent like little kittens; they have the courage and strength to roar like lions. They are not candles that need to be lit by someone else; they are the self-effulgent sun. Men may have more muscle power than women. But women have one muscle that make them more powerful than men. They must strengthen that muscle. It is the muscle of the heart. If women try to compete with men by developing their physical muscle power, it will be like trying to rectify one mistake using another mistake. It will lead society nowhere. If women are given the right opportunity and freedom, they can break all shackles and rise.
“Amma’s ashram runs a humanitarian programme for empowering women called AmritaSREE, which has helped lakhs of women across the country. The ashram gives these women start-up capital and the skill set to start their own business. Many of the enrolled women have previously never received any education. Many were mistreated by their husbands, who would come home drunk and beat them. Many of them suffered from poverty—even having to sometimes resort to chewing betel-nut to stave off pangs of hunger when there was nothing at home to eat. After joining AmritaSREE, so many of them are thriving. Their businesses have become successful and they are now earning a decent living. Moreover, these women have come together and started helping other destitute and homeless women around them in various ways, even building homes for homeless families. Their husbands, some of whom used to beat them, now treat them with a newfound respect and dignity.
“The society created by men had become like a one-way road, along which only they could travel. But times have changed. Society has to become like a highway that provides equal opportunity for woman to travel as well. Men not only need to make way so women can overtake them when required, but also pave their way as well.
“Woman is the first guru of society. Hence, if mothers try, they can sow the seeds of our rich culture deep within their sons and daughters. Lessons that teach the importance of respecting girls and women will be imbibed naturally. If the right circumstances are created, our children will grow up to be ideal citizens. We will also be able to awaken a noble culture and character in them. Science says that it is a person’s genes that determines his behaviour. But Amma feels the environment in which one is raised has greater influence.
“Today it seems like the only thing women are thinking about is marching forward. It is true—they should definitely move forward. But it would be better if they were to occasionally stop and look back as well. Because right behind, following them, is a child. A little patience has to be developed by the mother for the sake of the child. A little space has to be created—not just in the womb but also in her heart.
“The strength, beauty and fragrance of our future society should be defined by today’s mothers. The mother’s milk not only nourishes the child’s body, it also develops the child’s mind, intellect and heart. In the same way, the life lessons and values imparted by the mother—the role-model—provide strength and courage the child will use in the future. Only when mothers awaken and strive for this will we witness the birth of a new age, filled with love, compassion and prosperity.
“Femininity and masculinity are internal qualities. They cannot be developed by merely changing clothing styles and mannerisms. For people who believe that “life is only meant for fulfilling emotional and physical desires,” the relationships between men and women are just for satisfying those needs. Men with such a mindset will not be able to love or respect anyone—let alone women. Such people can only love themselves. The Indian perspective of life does not revolve around the physical body; it is centred on the soul. To see God in everything, to perform our actions adhering to dharma, to see every relationship including the husband-wife relationship as a means to know God—this is the Indian perspective of life.
“The temple is the home of the idol. Similarly, the home of the inner divine consciousness is this body. This world is also a temple because God lives in this world. This is the Indian spiritual vision. Someone who has even a rudimentary understanding of this will not try to abuse or insult anyone, let alone women. They will be able to approach them only with an attitude of respect and reverence.
“Attempting to change the intrinsic nature of an object or a person spells danger. This is why—adapting attitudes and professions to the changing times—women should try to retain their intrinsic nature. If they do this, they will be able to rise to greater heights. They will be able to shine in all fields. They will not have to fight for respect and recognition. It will come to them naturally and spontaneously. A woman’s intrinsic and inherent energy and efficiency transcend man’s imagination. Motherliness, patience, forbearance and resilience are qualities that men can also cultivate. But in women, these qualities are inborn. If these qualities are widely recognised as requisite to successfully lead families, nations and institutions, then how can women be inferior to men?
“There was a golden period in India when people were able to see the connection between the individual and the society from a spiritual perspective. In Vedic and post-Vedic times, women were viewed with great respect and reverence. In those days, women had their rights, position, freedom and respect. In the following millennia, India was subjected to numerous external invasions and enslaved. These attacks on India’s sovereignty and its following subjugation took their toll on her citizens—not just externally, but also intellectually, emotionally and socially. There was an attempt to destroy our spiritual values, belief systems, customs, traditions and self-respect. Our basic identity, thinking capacity—even our individuality—were compromised. We became weak people, easily influenced and tempted. This changed our approach to our family and personal relationships as well as our ideas about women. Many of the deep wounds inflicted back then have never closed.
“Regardless, India is India. The ancient rishis imbued this soil with the special power and vision to reawaken and scale the heights once again. Nothing can destroy or rob us of this ability. Even so, we have to put in proper effort. We should continue trying to awaken those who are asleep. It may be impossible to awaken those pretending to be asleep. However, if the sleeping ones awaken, then those pretending to be asleep won’t be able to pretend much longer.
“When we start recognising the spiritual essence of our land and start behaving in accord with it, India will reawaken. Her lost greatness and prosperity will spontaneously return. Amma prays to the Paramatman for this return. Amma dreams of a golden time and society, where men and women receive equal respect and recognition. A golden time when women are not threatened or humiliated in the home, at work or on the streets. A golden time when not a single woman is illiterate. This is Amma’s dream.” Amma concluded.