28 November 2002, Kochi
Amma returns to India and is welcomed by devotees and the media alike.
Amma returned from Her European and American Tour today. Upon Her arrival in Kochi, She took part in a press conference organised in the context of Her winning the Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence. Amma answered questions for about half an hour.
Amma told the assembled reporters that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi had dedicated their lives to humanity. Amma said that we need more people like them and that She would be happy if more people dedicated their lives to the service of humanity like King and Gandhi.
In response to a question regarding violence in India, Amma said that although we may be in the midst of darkness, we all have a light within. We can use that light to see the path, to walk. Talk alone is not enough. We must act. We are all links in a chain. We are not isolated islands. Don’t expect the other person to change before you yourself change. You have to change first and then inevitably the others will change too.
Another journalist asked about the differences Amma sees between people of India and the Western countries. Amma said that in the West people are self-reliant and can stand on their own feet. She said that the Indians need to cultivate this quality, this self-sufficiency. She said that on the other hand Indian society is rich in love and that we shouldn’t lose that. She also warned against blindly mimicking aspects of Western culture that don’t suit us.
Another question was about the decline in the quality of family life and morality in India. Amma said, these days in a family of three, the family members are like three islands. This trend is increasing day by day. In the next 10 years, the situation could worsen to such an extent that parents may have to book a place in old age homes to secure their futures — they won’t be able to depend on their children. Amma then said that the media should work for the establishment of dharma. “Media also has an important role in maintaining the culture, so you have to do your part.”
In response to a question about what Indian parents can do to protect their children from sexual exploitation, Amma said parents must begin educating their children about these issues, as is done in the West, otherwise the children will fall easy victim to sexual deviants.
Amma also said that the gap between mothers and children is increasing because of the mothers’ need to work and contribute to the family income. They are not able to spend much time with their children and therefore the proper bonding between mother and child doesn’t take place. If motherly love and guidance are not given at the right age, then the children become wayward. Amma went on to tell a story illustrating the present condition of society: one mother was always tense because her daughter wouldn’t tell her anything about things that she did; another mother was always tense because her daughter told her everything about the things she did. Amma said that mothers need to understand their children. It is due to this lack of understanding that the gap between mother and children is increasing.
After the press conference, Amma continued on Her way to Amritapuri, where Her ashram children were waiting to see Her after Her two-month absence. Amma spent some time with them talking and cracking jokes; smiling at all who had assembled there. She then went up to Her room, only to appear a few minutes later at Her window. Darkness had set in, the sun had set by then. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on Amma —the light in the darkness.