Diminishing distances

Guru Purnima celebrations in Amritapuri

Guru Purnima in Amritapuri

10 July 2006, Amritapuri

Guru Purnima celebrations in Amritapuri

For many years now, residents of Amritapuri have been celebrating Guru Purnima in the Guru’s physical absence. This is because Amma is usually in the U.S. during that time of the year. Amma usually calls though, and hearing Her soulful voice is the day’s highlight for ashram residents. This year, there was something new: a ‘live’ web casting of Amma’s programs from Iowa.

That was why ashram residents began the morning archana half an hour earlier, at 4:30 a.m., so that they could be ready to watch the ‘live’ transmission. Everyone gathered around the huge screen that had been erected in the hall. At 5:30 a.m. sharp, Amma appeared on the screen, much to everyone’s joy. She was giving a satsang, which Swami Amritaswarupananda was translating. It was a poignant moment: the sight of Amma sharpened the pangs of separation; yet, the sense of exhilaration one felt at the sight of their beloved Amma talking, smiling, joking and laughing was palpable. More than once, Amma looked straight into the camera. The ashram residents couldn’t help but feel that She was looking at them.

After the satsang, Swamiji led the archana. As he called in Iowa, the ashram residents in Amritapuri responded joyfully with “Om Parashaktyai Namaha.” Truly, where there is technology, distance is diminished! This fact reminded Her children of one of Amma’s sayings: “Where there is love, distance is no barrier.”

The live transmission of the bhajans sung by the swamis infused devotional fervour in the hearts of all. The bhajans were followed by the Devi Bhava darshan, all of which was web cast ‘live.’ What an auspicious way to start the holy day!

Arati on Guru Purnima day 2006

At 8:30 a.m. in Amritapuri, Swami Turiyamritananda performed the guru paduka puja (worship of Amma’s sandals). During the paduka puja, ashram residents chanted Vedic mantras, including the Guru Stotram, Durga Suktam and Purusha Suktam. This was followed by bhajans, arati and the partaking of prasad. Later in the morning, everyone gathered to listen to satsangs by brahmacharis.


The web casting had not been interrupted in the meantime. Some sat in front of the screens, watching Amma giving darshan. In the afternoon, Amma’s Guru Purnima message (in Malayalam) was played. (had recorded it earlier). In the message, Amma mentioned how Krishna had left Vrindavan for good. “But where did He go from there?” Amma asked. “He went to the Vrindavan of our hearts, to the Yamuna River of Love, and there He will dance the rasa lila1 forever.” Amma exhorted Her children to remember this story, as it illustrates how the gopis, who had overflowing love and devotion towards the Lord, could achieve within a relatively short time what the rishis (seers) took thousands of years to attain.

The ashram residents also heard a satsang by Swamiji. In it, he mentioned that the relationship between a Guru and a disciple is the peak of love and devotion. He also explained the significance of worshipping the Guru’s feet or sandals: they represent the ultimate Truth, of which the Guru is an embodiment.

While giving darshan, Amma spent time speaking with both the brahmacharis and the brahmacharinis in India, occasionally pointing to various people on the computer screen, calling their names and sending them kisses.

When Amma finished giving Devi Bhava darshan, Swamiji performed pada puja. Though the ceremony was taking place across the Atlantic, all the ashram residents felt as if they were physically present with Amma. Everyone sang along with Swamiji as he intoned the Guru Stotram. And as Swamiji offered flower petals at Amma’s feet while chanting Amma’s Ashtottaram [108 names], all the ashram residents offered petals of their heart to Amma.

At the end of Devi Bhava, when Amma got up, Swamiji started singing ‘Amma, Amma, Taye.’ The joy of those in Amritapuri knew no bounds. It had been a long time since there was Devi Bhava darshan in Amritapuri. And to be blessed to witness it on Guru Purnima was, all felt, nothing but Amma’s divine grace.


1 An enchanting episode from the life of the gopis in which many Krishnas were manifested to dance with each of the gopis.