19 January 2010 – Amritapuri
His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami – the 69th Sankaracharya1 of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, located in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu – visited Amritapuri Ashram today. The Kanchi Acharya met with Amma privately for 45 minutes before addressing the Amritapuri Ashram residents in the Main Hall for another 45 minutes. Upon his arrival in Amritapuri, he was welcomed with purna kumbham by Amma’s senior disciples Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, Swami Turiyamritananda Puri, and Swami Amritatmananda Puri, as well as the brahmacharis. There was also panchavadyam and talapoli in accordance with Kerala traditions.
In their private meeting, the Kanchi Acharya and Amma discussed Advaita and its practical application in society and day-to-day life. Amma gave him a rudraksha mala, which he immediately put around his neck.
Sitting aside Amma and addressing the ashram residents, he said, “Kerala is a holy land. It was in this land that pious Adi Shankaracharya took birth. Likewise, many mahatmas have incarnated in this land. Sri Narayana Guru and Chattambi Swamigal incarnated in this land of Kerala. In this Kali Yuga, Mata Amritanandamayi is amongst us… She is graciously guiding her devotees in the path of bhajans, devotion, and service.”
The Kanchi Acharya said that he had been waiting a long time to meet Amma. “For many years now, I have been eagerly waiting to visit this sacred place,” he said. “Today I got the chance.”
Addressing the ashram residents, the Kanchi Acharya said, “All of you are indeed blessed and virtuous.” He went on to stress the importance of devotion to God and selfless service to society, saying that they were essential aspects of the spiritual path, purifying the mind. “[God] resides in the hearts of all the beings and governs them,” he said. “Yet, his true nature remains a mystery to all beings. In order to realize his true nature, we need the attitude of service. The sutra: manava seva madhava seva – Service to man is service to God – becomes very relevant at that point. Doing service in a temple is important. Along with that, we need to love our fellow beings and serve them without any anger, hatred, or jealousy. Service doesn’t merely indicate distributing money or food. Considering others with the attitude of love by itself is a great service. As this love develops, most of the problems that our society and humanity face will vanish, and people can live in peace and happiness.”
Continuing, he said, “It is true that we need to serve the needy. The affluent sections don’t need our service, per se, but they love and care. If we develop noble virtues such as love, compassion, and devotion toward God, our life becomes complete. And the people around us will benefit as well.”
The Kanchi Acharya briefly stressed the importance of maintaining symbolic customs such as the application of sandal paste, kumkum, and vibhuti upon the forehead. He said that these markings help man remember God during their application and help others remember God when they see them. “So, along with our inner devotion, we also need to apply vibhuti or sandal paste to our forehead,” he said. “If we look at Amma, we see she is never without this.”
The Kanchi Acharya concluded by saying, “The Lord has incarnated many times, and he has come down in the form of many mahatmas. The Lord functions through them and serves society. Thus, God blesses us to evolve in our lives.”
When he finished his talk, Amma asked the ashram residents to sing the Adi Sankaracharya hymn “Mahishasura Mardini Stotram” and to chant “Purusha Suktam.”
Before leaving, he offered his full support to Amma and expressed his willingness to cooperate with the Mata Amritanandamayi Math in the future.
- parampara: [lineage] of the Kanchi Kamakoti Matham is traced back to Adi Sankaracharya, with the first ashram in-charge being Suresvaracharya Swami, one of Adi Sankara’s direct disciples. It is believed that Adi Sankaracharya spent his final years in Kanchipuram.