New songs, ancient teachings

Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi’s Bharata Yatra 2007

6 March — the dry bed of the Tungabhadra River, near NH-7, Andhra Pradesh

This time of the year, many of India’s rivers have run dry. And until the rains come in June, they will remain that way—vast no man’s lands of sand and cracked earth, pointlessly winding towards the sea. The Tungabhadra is one such currently un-mighty river. And Tuesday it served as the ideal place for Amma and the 425 disciples and devotees travelling along with her to stop for a few hours on their way from Bangalore to Hyderabad.
Amma making chai

Amma’s camper had been slightly ahead of the Ashram buses, and when everyone reached the riverbed, Amma was already seated on a on a mat in its middle. A small fire pit had been set up using rocks for a border and sticks for fuel. Amma was heating the water for everyone’s chai. As everyone approached, they gathered around Amma in a circle. The sun was setting in the west—its red glow illuminating the lorries and buses rolling by on the bridge above. The massive, completely exposed foundation towers supporting the bridge looked surreal from down on the river bed. The sounds of traffic mixed with the sounds of nature.

In order to get the fire going, Amma began to blow on it. Afterwards, she told one of the brahmacharinis sitting near her a piece of advice from her childhood: “When you blow on the fire, imagine that you are blowing on Devi’s feet and chant your mantra.”

As the water heated over the fire, Amma began singing bhajans in Telugu, Hindi and Punjabi—languages of places Amma would soon be giving darshan. In each place Amma visits, she always sings a few songs in the local language—whether its Tamil, German, Japanese or Swahili.

As with all the bhajans Amma sings, each contained a teaching, and two of the new songs enumerated the importance of shifting one’s focus from the sense objects to the root source of the bliss that one seems to draw from their attainment.

In the first bhajan, written in Telugu, Amma asked the bee, the cataka bird 1 and the swan, if the things they longer for—honey, rain and cool waters—would ever truly fulfil them. Amma sang:

makaranda madhurya muna – telenduku
malletotta cerenu bhramaramu
prema mudhuryamuna telenduku – amma
otiki ceranu numanam – edi
bhramaramu telusuko madhuramu

“The bumble bee has reached the lily garden to taste the sweet honey.
Similarly, my mind has reached the lap of my Mother in order to taste her divine love.
Oh, bumble bee, do you really know sweetness?”

The other song, written in Hindi, focused more directly on the perils associated with indiscriminately pursuing the fulfilment of one’s desires. As such, it directly addressed the mind, saying: Mana re seekh prabhu ka hona—”Oh, mind, learn to become the Lord’s.” Before singing the song, Amma commented that the words were particularly profound.

“Oh, mind, learn to become the Lord’s.
With Ganga waters of tears that overflow from the eyes,
ever wash the Lord’s feet.

“Regardless of how many sense objects you have accumulated,
not one has ever been of any use to you.
Each and every thing you considered dear
has caused you anguish.
You have wasted your entire life acquiring.
Now learn to lose.

“Your desires have now become a burden;
they are drawing lines of sorrow.
Why do you cry in bondage,
when it was you yourself who architected all your boundaries?
Where will you find liberation,
if you don’t stop sowing the seeds of action?”

In the bhajan’s final verse, Amma offered a way out of the seemingly inescapable and never-ending cycle of desire and action:

“See all actions in this world as His.
Meditate upon Him in all actions.
He is the one who creates and the one who destroys.
Time and space are His.”

And then finally came the fruit of such a vision:

“Each moment in this life is sahaja samaadhi 2.
Where then is waking and sleeping?”

By the time Amma finished singing, the chai was ready, the sun had set and everything was dark. Amma got back into her camper and continued heading north to Hyderabad. How fortunate everyone was to have her as their guide.


1A mythological bird that will only drink rainwater as it falls from the cloud.

2Total, natural and effortless absorption in the supreme truth that everything inside and out is nothing but pure blissful consciousness—regardless of whether one is sleeping, dreaming, walking or talking.