A pilgrimage across the land revelling in light

4 January 2007 — Amritapuri

It began a few days ago, but today it is fully on. The brahmacharis who work in the bookstall are loading up all of their wares—pictures of Amma in all sizes, books… Loudspeaker after loudspeaker is being pulled out of the Sound System supply room… thousands of metal plates are being removed from the Kitchen Store and stuffed into burlap sacks. Everything has to be dusted off, sorted out and loaded into the Ashram lorries.

The supplies have been packed away for more than seven months, but now it is once again their time. In fact, for the next several months, Amma is going to be, more often than not, on the road. Tomorrow, half the Ashram will be packed up, put on wheels and driven almost 400 kilometres north to Kozhikode—the first stop of Bharata Yatra 2007.

Yatra is Sanskrit (and Malayalam) for “journey” or “pilgrimage.” Bharat is India’s true name—not the one given to it by invaders struggling to pronounce the Sanskrit word for a particular river. 1 Bharat means “to revel in light.”2 The Land Revelling in Light. In India’s scriptures, light is synonymous with knowledge, as both light and knowledge reveal things previously unknown. Bharat was a land of wisdom: physics, chemistry, medicine, astrology, mathematics… But Bharat’s wisdom does not stop there. It’s pinacle was and is Self Knowledge, the knowledge that illumines and reveals one’s true nature.

Tomorrow, the pilgrimage throughout Bharat begins once again—first Kozhikode and then Kodungallur. Ten days later, the second leg starts—Coimbatore, Trichy, Chennai, Nagapattanam, Madurai, Rameswaram, Kanyakumari and Trivandrum. Surely there is more to come, but it has yet to be scheduled.

Indeed, Bharat is the Land Revelling in Light. Innumerable spiritual masters have taken birth and realized the Truth in this land. The soil itself is rich with the fruit of their tapas [austerities]—from Kanyakumari in the south, to the Himalaya and the Ganga in the North, to Assam in the east and Gujarat in the West3. Never forget the source of that light. The source is the mahatmas themselves. It is they who have made the holy places holy. It is they who are shining knowledge across the land. Amma’s 2007 Bharata Yatra is about to begin, banishing the shadows of ignorance like the rays of the sun, rising the land up to glory of its name.

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1The word “India” is derived from the River Indus and the valley around it. When foreign invaders came to India, they found a thriving Vedic civilization there, beginning with the valley surrounding the Sindhu River. However, they could not pronounce the letter “s” properly, and thus the Sindhu River became the “Indu River” to the invaders (possibly Alexander the Great’s Greek army in 325 B.C.E). From this, Indu came “India.” Later, when the Islamic invaders arrived, they called the Sindhu River the “Hindu” River, because the Sanskrit sound “s” converts to “h” in the Parsee language. Thus the people became known as “Hindus.”

2The roots of the Sanskrit word bharat are bha (light) and rat (delight, revel, immersed).

3In fact, this reflects the boundaries of present-day Bharat only. Originally, Bharat included all of present-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet.