13 July, Marlborough, Massachusetts — USA Yatra 2010
Amma was welcomed to her annual programs in the Boston area by esteemed members of the political, religious and educational community. Michael Johnson, a representative of the Pathways to Peace to the United Nations in New York was first to garland Amma. He was followed by Roman Catholic priest Dr. Francis X. Clooney, who is a professor of divinity and comparative theology at Harvard University, as well as the university’s Director for the Center of Study of World Religions. Another Harvard professor, Dr. Venkatesh Narayanamurti, the Dean of Engineering and Applied Physics, also garlanded Amma.
Michael Johnson, who has been instrumental in arranging the United Nation’s annual International Day of Peace, said that introducing Amma was the highest honor of his life. “There are really no words than can describe Amma,” he said. “She can only be experienced with a quiet mind and an open heart. And that’s what I hope to do this evening with you all.
“Human civilization has seen great souls come down to earth and help lift and guide humanity throughout the ages. We have seen many of them—both men and women. It is our great fortune that our mother, Amma, has come to earth to raise us during these dark times. So I am really, really, really grateful that she is here with us to inspire us and to raise us and to bless us.
“God also gave us a model in Amma, in her humanitarian work. Just seeing the video of all her work before I came up to speak was actually mind-blowing. The amazing work that Amma has been able to perform and inspire people to perform has been beautiful.
“I believe we are in a time of great awakening on planet earth. And it’s up to all of us, if we really want to honor our mother, Amma, is to amplify and amp up our own service to the world. And she has given us many, many different ways and vehicles to do that. So if we come together as one mind and one heart, our world will be raised into a higher level of consciousness so that we can all live in peace and love and harmony.”
Father Clooney gave a small sermon, extolling the virtues of Amma, comparing her to past saints and sages, including Jesus Christ. “Tonight we are here with Amrita Anandamayi Amma,” he said. “Even when we just mention this name—Amrita Anandamayi—perfect, complete in the bliss of the Imperishable—the Sanskrit scholars among us may first think on a philosophical level, perhaps turning to the Upanishads to probe the meaning of bliss and the Imperishable. We may eventually think of the undying spark within all beings and of a bliss grounded in the highest immortal reality. But we also know that this name—Amrita Anandamayi—tells us something more simple and immediate. We are invited to see how our guest—our host—is open to the undying spirit that blows where it will, in through and around the each of us tonight. With Amma, tonight, we learn to stop covering our light with a bushel basket and to share the bliss that is within us.”
Father Clooney also spoke of Amma’s humanitarian works: “Amma’s concrete and real works of mercy are known everywhere. Hers is a faith lived out in compassion, love realized in feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless. And so it should be. … True wisdom is not separate from compassion. This core insight gives life once and again, and it comes forth with great force when the message and messenger are one.
The final speaker, Dr. Venkatesh Narayanamurti, stressed upon Amma’s achievements as an educator. “Amma has been very recognized obviously for all of her humanitarian works after the great tsunami,” he said. “You saw what happened at the Andhra Pradesh floods. But, really, one thing that has not been mentioned: She cares deeply about education. She is the chancellor of Amrita University, which now is a very well-recognized university in India—ranked about 10th or 11th in research in all of India. I first met with her a few years ago, right at the Royal Park Best Western Hotel, in the room there, and the number of questions she asked me about education was very impressive. So, she knows a lot—as we all know. So I am genuinely honored.”