20th Anniversary of Amma in the West

Amma meditating in Seattle, USA
Amma meditating with devotees in Seattle

3 June 2006 — Seattle, Washington, USA

When Amma’s plane touched down at SeaTac Airport in Seattle on May 31st, it marked the 20th year that Amma has come to the United States. As Swami Amritaswarupananda pointed out in one of his morning talks during Amma’s “Northwest Retreat,” a lot has changed in the past 20 years, but on a deeper level things have remained very much the same.

Swamiji recollected how 20 years ago, he and a few others conducted the pre-tour arrangements by traveling across America in an old, beat-up Volkswagen Microbus. “We slept in there, we cooked in there, we did our spiritual practices in there. For two months, that van was our home,” he said. Swamiji then joked that, in fact, the van inspired a lot of prayer—”prayer that it would start.”

“Miraculously, it ran smoothly all the way from California to Wisconsin, without the slightest mishap. But on the very day we arrived in Madison—which we had originally decided was to be the van’s final destination—it just broke down, right outside the house where we were going to stay. What else but Amma’s grace had brought us all the way there?”

Swamiji also recollected how the number of people who came to see Amma 20 years ago was a lot less than today—100 people, 50 people, 30 people. “Typically darshan was held in someone’s living room,” he said. “Sometimes Amma would give darshan while singing bhajans, keeping a single person on her lap for the duration of an entire song!”

“The Ashram and its network of humanitarian activities have obviously grown immensely,” Swamiji said. “But Amma herself remains changeless. So on a deeper level, nothing has changed at all.”

Brahmachari Dayamrita Chaitanya, the head of Amma’s ashram in San Ramon, also mentioned the anniversary in his Seattle talk. His announcement was met with a huge round of applause by all the devotees. Br. Dayamrita then asked everyone a question—a question that all of Amma’s devotees—whether from the East or the West—should ask themselves: “Amma has been coming here for 20 years now, but have we truly accepted what Amma has been trying to give us?”