Amma, the Living Upanishad
The Upanishads are the most revered texts of Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Wisdom, which represents the essence of popular Hinduism. The most sublime philosophy concerning the nature of Reality is expressed in these Upanishads. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word Upanishad is “to sit down near” or “to sit totally (with complete Shraddha/attention) near the Master”. The word indicates the manner in which the truth was imparted by the teacher to disciples who sat at his or her feet. In those days the disciples lived with their teacher, in a small forest hermitage. It was by living as a family, serving each others needs, and those of their master, that the students’ character evolved.
These Upanishads are in the form of question and answer sessions between the student and the teacher. The Upanishads differ in style and the manner of approach, depending on the teacher and the backgrounds and receptivity of the students. The main theme is always the same – the exploration of the nature of the Ultimate Reality and the essence of everything perceived.
Deep bonds of love existed between the students and their teachers. With great humility and an ardent quest for truth, the students would put their questions. The teacher, a seer, (a knower of the Ultimate Reality) would then lead the student out of his or her ignorance.
This ancient tradition continues in Amritapuri. Amma regularly sits for meditation surrounded by all the ashram residents.
Afterwards She receives questions, and with great insight expounds the theme of the questioner, throwing light on its hidden aspects. The questions are written down first and then given to Her.
Amma answers these in Her inimitable manner. No matter what part of the world the questioner comes from, Amma’s earthy language and simple examples taken from day to day life, quells all doubts and often makes Her children laugh.
Sometimes, Amma turns the tables on the residents. With utmost humility, Amma will say that She feels Her answers to be incomplete. She then asks Her children to add to what She has said.