29 December 2007 – Amritapuri
This morning 75 tsunami survivors from Samanthampettai, Nagapattinam came for Amma’s darshan. Three years ago when the tsunami waves ravaged India’s west coast, Nagapattinam caught the worst of it, and in seconds more than 7,000 people were killed.
Amma has visited Nagapattinam twice since that fateful day-once in February 2005 and once in January 2007. Each time she has dried the tears of the affected people, encouraged them and helped them get back on their feet through an inundation of relief programs. Thousands of houses have been built; fishing boats, engines and nets have been supplied; as well as food, medical provisions and education programs. Although the villagers will carry the pain of losing loved ones for the rest of their lives, Amma has softened that sorrow through her the sweetness of her love and compassion. Furthermore, from a material perspective, there is no doubt that the villager’s lives are now better than before that fateful day.
When the 75 villagers came for Amma’s darshan today, they thanked her profusely for all she has done for them and then crowned her as their personal goddess-bestowing her with a diadem, sword and trident, just like those wielded by their protective Mother, Goddess Durga. Amma accepted the offering and quickly called a brahmachari to bring each of them a new set of clothes, which she then personally distributed.
24 December 2007 — Amritapuri
On holidays such as Christmas and Krishna Jayanti, Amma often reminds everyone that the real birth of Christ or Krishna must take place in one’s heart, and that to truly celebrate a mahatma’s birthday is to put his or her teachings into practice.
This was the focus of this year’s Amritapuri Christmas play put on by an assortment of Amma’s Western ashramites. The play centered around three American youth called to find “the new messiah.” Following a series of clues, the young men wind up in Amritapuri, where they approach Amma and ask her if she is the one they are looking for. Amma then explains to them how everyone’s true nature is one of divinity and that God must be found within. The play was full of music and jokes, including a wild ride in an Indian taxi, during which the driver told the spiritual tourists, “Don’t worry. You worry, then I worry.”
When the play was over, Amma spoke about the significance of Christmas and other such holidays. Amma said, “If one lives 80 years, one will celebrate 80 Christmases, 80 Krishna Jayantis and 80 Muslim Id Celebrations. They will also celebrate their own birthday 80 times. When we celebrate our own birthday, we never remember that we are moving closer and closer to our death-day also. Most importantly, we forget the fact that we need to attain Atma jnana, the knowledge of the Self, before the unalterable arrival of our death-day. When we celebrate the birthdays of great souls like Christ, Krishna and Mohammed, there is one prayer that we should never forget to recite: “Please bless us to realize the eternal ‘I’ in me.” This prayer should be part and parcel of our spiritual life. Amma doesn’t want her children to forget this prayer when they celebrate.”
Amma also spoke about the love Christ’s disciples had for their master, explaining how the bond between the guru and disciple is essential for spiritual progress. “Before the guru, a spiritual aspirant may take the attitude of a disciple, a devotee, a child or even of a Vedantin. Whatever the attitude may be, for one to attain spiritual progress, love born out a bond with the Guru’s external form is necessary. That devotion should be based upon the fundamental principles of spirituality. However, we get an immediate, tangible experience of those principles through the guru’s physical body. That is why the guru’s physical form is so important.”
Amma ended her satsang by reminding everyone that, regardless of the path, the experience of Self-realization is one. “Sri Krishna, Sri Buddha, Jesus Christ and any one else who attained Self-realization all had the same inner experience,” Amma said. “There is no difference in that because Truth, the ultimate reality, is one.”
It was then five till midnight, and Amma led all the ashramites and visiting devotees in praying for world peace by chanting ‘Om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu‘ until the clock struck 12:00.
The evening concluded with Amma serving all prasad in the form of chocolate cake—brought to Amma, of course, by Father Christmas.
23 December, Kodungallur — Bharata Yatra 2007
In Kodungallur, there is a very famous Devi temple which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. One specialty of this temple is that it is surrounded on three sides by about a dozen peepal trees, all hundreds of years old. Seeing them, one is reminded of the Bhagavad Gita verse, ‘urdhvamulam adhasakham asvattham prahur avyayam’ – ‘the Vedas speak of the immutable peepal tree (the tree of samsara), with its roots above and branches below.’ (15.1)
Even though this tree of samsara is immutable, it can be severed with the sword of detachment (asanga sastram). Amma’s visit to Kodungallur is for giving people this weapon, that of devotion, knowledge, and dispassion. In Amma’s talks here, she tells the people to understand the nature of the world and its objects. At the same time, Amma also gives practical advice for the people to manage their day-to-day lives and their families.
The brahmasthanam in Kodungallur is the first of its kind installed by Amma, in 1988. Maybe that is why it seems that among the devotees coming for darshan, many seem to be old and familiar faces. One can see Amma’s face light up on seeing an old face, and on saying a word or two to them, or asking their welfare, these devotees’ faces beam with joy. Many of these old devotees are even too old to walk, so they have come on wheelchairs for darshan.
From the very start of darshan, Amma made an announcement through the mic; ‘Because of the large crowd, darshan will be fast. But don’t worry. Amma has made a sankalpa.’
Showing her concern for the devotees coming, Amma also announced, ‘all kinds of people come here. There are some pickpockets here. Make sure you take care of your jewelry by fastening it to your cloth and cover yourself with a sari.’
People participated in all of the pujas with love and devotion, and at the end of the last day’s darshan, Amma sang ‘Mata Rani.’ Amma returned back to Amritapuri with more than 1000 western children waiting to celebrate Christmas with Amma.
19 December, Kozhikode Brahmasthanam — Bharata Yatra 2007
Amma has been known to call Kozhikode her own Vrindavan. (Vrindavan is where Lord Sri Krishna lived his childhood, along with the fervently devoted gopis) Last year, Amma held a one-day program in a large stadium in the city. This year, it is a three-day festival in Amma’s brahmasthanam temple. One can definitely feel the positive energy of Amma’s temple.
The method used for managing the darshan has improved from the previous years. Now each devotee is given a token with a letter of the English alphabet, (A, B, C, etc.) and only has to wait in line once that letter is called. This eliminates a lot of the difficulty for those who come to see Amma. Seeing any potential problems in the wave of people coming to receive darshan, Amma herself announced through the mic, ‘because of the amount of people here, volunteers will pull the devotees forward to receive darshan. Don’t feel troubled by this.’ Any spectator would be amazed at the speed of the darshan, as well as the enormous amount of people who come.
The line for darshan began right after Amma arrived at night before the first day’s program. The same devotees who waited in line at 8 that night received darshan the next day at noon. Just think – a 17-hour wait for two seconds of darshan.
For the majority of people, they will wait another year for these two seconds.
The most amazing thing is that one can find no trace of impatience in the devotees who come for darshan. Because the programs begin at six in the morning, the darshan ends around two hours before that. Still, the devotees continuously pour into the brahmasthanam. Some devotees who came that night will have to wait for the next morning to have darshan. Even still, when they are told this, they simply accept it without any impatience. Such devotion!
As a reflection of the people’s innocence, Amma also appears very lively and spontaneous. On the second day, during the evening satsang, Amma spoke at length about the different aspects of householder life. The satsang was almost an hour long.
Just as Amma’s embrace is available for all, so is the food. Devotees receive free meals all night at the ‘anna ksetram.’ After eating, the volunteers stand ready to receive the plates and wash them.
The news dailies are passing out special supplements about Amma. An interesting article was written by an atheist. He writes, ‘I’m not a believer in God. My religion is not Hinduism. But even if the Indian prime minister or American president decided to give this much peace of mind to people, it wouldn’t happen. Amma’s real strength is the spiritual energy to give some peace of mind to those who come near her. That isn’t a small thing.’
16 December 2007, Manjeri –Bharata Yatra 2007
Amma started off her Indian tours with a mega program in Manjeri, northern Kerala. This one-day public program was held in the campus of Amrita Vidyalayam, one of the schools run by the ashram, and it is the second time Amma has visited here. Because the region is very hilly, the land was adapted to different levels for seating the thousands of devotees. One amazing fact is that even before the bhajans were finished, one of the leading news dailies started distributing a supplement about Amma’s visit with photos from the very same program. One article’s headline was ‘Amma as a wonder,’ and said that anyone would feel that Amma is the eighth wonder of the world.
Amma talked about different aspects of life; the need to cultivate the qualities of love and compassion, discrimination and dispassion, and about faith in God and Grace. ‘Simply listening to the thoughts and words of great people is not enough. What makes those thoughts and words alive and beautiful are the people who live them.’ ‘Vedanta is not something to be merely read about in books or heard in speeches. We have to make Vedanta practical in our lives. We need to cultivate purity in our thoughts and actions.’
In Amma’s satsang, she said that the ashram is willing to financially support the building of toilets in bus stops and public places throughout all of Kerala. Amma asked if the people are willing to help take up the project and work to maintain the toilets.
Ashram is willing to financially support the building of toilets in bus stops and public places throughout all of Kerala. Are you willing to help take up the project and work to maintain the toilets?
The program consisted of satsang, bhajans, and darshan. Even though Amma’s program started at 6:00 in the evening, many people were pouring into the ground from morning onwards. After bhajans, Amma started to give darshan, and the thousands of devotees are waiting patiently for their turn as we write this, bearing the slightly cold weather at 1:48 a.m.
5 December 2007 — London, England
Amma was welcomed to London by Sri. Sanjay Shrinet, the first secretary (trade) of the Indian High Commission, as well as Civic Ambassador of the London Borough of Newham, Smt. Omana Gangadharan.
“It is a privilege and heavenly happiness to be blessed by Amma, to be in the company of Amma,” Shrinet said during Amma’s first evening program at Alexandra Palace in London. “From childhood, we keep on hearing a mythological story of one Indian mythological character, Bhagirath, who did penance, austerity, to bring Ganga to the earth to wash our sins. But it is a mythological story. We are fortunate that Amma is eternal truth—a reality. By her compassion and love, she is not only washing our sins but providing us transcendental happiness—eternal happiness. In one word if you are to describe Amma, she is ‘a divine bliss.’”
Shrinet then narrated a story about how God dwells in the hearts of all humankind and thus should be worshipped through serving one’s fellow man. “This is the essence of Amma’s teachings,” he said. “[Through this story], one can easily understand the relevance and efficacy of Amma’s love and compassion. … Amma, the eternal divinity, is following this principle.
Shrinet concluded by quoting a verse by Gujarati poet Narsi Mehta:
vaishnav jan to tene kahiye jay peerh paraaye janneyray
par duhkhey upkar karey teeyey, man abhiman na anney ray
[The real servant of God is one who understands the suffering of others and is willing to help others, with no arrogance in this selfless service.]
“This is the message we can pledge together,” he said. “And may Amma bless us with her eternal love and compassion.”
Councillor Gangadharan drew a thundering round of applause from the London devotees when she suggested that Amma be given a Noble Peace Prize, adding that even if Amma would not accept such a prize that the people of the world have already accepted it on her behalf as Amma is “the mother of the world.”
Praising Amma’s humanitarian projects at great length, Gangadharan said that Amma’s social welfare and justice work have achieved “an ISO [International Standards Organization] standard.”
November, Wayanad, Kerala
The Amrita Kripa Charible Hospital Kalpetta held its monthly (November) Tele-medicine camp. Through the mobile Tele-medicine van advance diagnostic tools are available for the tribals of this area. About three hundred and fifty patients were seen over the two days and approximately seventy patients received the necessary advance laboratory and x-ray services offered.
On the 27th Saturday 300 Ophthalmology and Dental patients were seen in Kodakara, Moonumury at the Sri Krishna High School.
On November 10th an Ophthalmology camp was held in Panavally, Cherthala Alappuzha. Approximately a thousand patients were seen for vision testing and medicines.
At the Government Girls High School in Perumbavoor another Ophthalmology camp was conducted on November 17th where two hundred patients attended.
In October two Telemedicine Camps were held both of which were general medicine. One camp was in Mysore on 13th and a two-day camp in Wayanad was held on 14th and 15th.
In Mysore 160 patients were seen 32 patients received blood investigation.
In Kalpetta, Wayanad over the two days approximately 400 patients were seen. Labs were done with eighty-five patients, including x-rays.