19-21 October, Winterthur, Switzerland, – Europe Yatra 2018
Amma arrived at Eulach Hallen, Winterthur to a grand welcome by the Swiss devotees, accompanied by the traditional Swiss alpenhorn and clanging of the traditional Swiss cowbells. Upon her arrival, Amma served a prasad dinner to all the gathered volunteers and devotees.
Being the Maha Navami day, Amma spoke that evening about the importance of Navaratri, highlighting the fact that only when the ego is obliterated can one attain real fulfilment in life. The sword of the Divine Mother represents the Knowledge which slays the ego, represented by the head of the demon. Amma explained that darkness is not an object that can be removed; rather, when you bring in light, it automatically disappears. In a similar way, as you bring in the light of knowledge in your life, all ignorance will vanish and you can revel in the presence of the Divine Mother in your heart all the time.
On the first morning of her programs, following the morning meditation, as per tradition on Vijaya Dashami, Amma led the initiation into writing, by tracing the letters Om Hari Sri Ganapataye Namah in a plate of rice. By video conference, her children in Amritapuri and other centres all over the world also participated and Amma interacted with them directly, initiating them from afar and calling to mind her declaration, “Where there is love, distance is not a barrier.” The love exchanged between Amma and her children all over the world as she gently guided them in the traditional invocation of Lord Ganapati’s blessings was palpable in every corner of the program hall.
Amma was welcomed to Switzerland by Nik Gugger, member of Swiss Parliament and social entrepreneur; India’s Ambassador to Switzerland Sibi George; and Prof. Dr Michel Carton, former director of the Development Studies Institute in Geneva, former executive director and now senior advisor of NORRAG.
Mr. Sibi George said, “I am delighted and happy that one of the greatest daughters of India is with us today. As a diplomat of India for the last 25 years, I have seen Amma connecting the East and the West through her message of love and peace. Today, through her life and mission, Amma teaches the world that serving humanity is indeed serving God.”
As NORRAG had recently facilitated a collaboration between Amrita University and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa in a pilot project to provide vocational training to underserved populations in South Africa, Prof. Dr. Carton expressed appreciation for Amma’s commitment to guiding academia toward fighting poverty: “I wish to express my thanks to you Amma for your humanitarian engagement and compassion. This is manifested not only in the field but also through the applied research and action for the human and socio-economic development of your university, which illustrates your approach toward research and universities.” Prof. Carton closed his speech by quoting Amma directly: “Today, universities and their researchers are ranked mainly based on the amount of funding they receive or the number of papers they publish and their intellectual calibre. Along with this, we should take into consideration how much we have been able to use their research to serve the lowest and most vulnerable strata of society. In our approach to sustainable development, we should not forget that it is by strengthening the people at the base of the pyramid that the entire edifice of society becomes healthy and strong.”
Reflecting on Amma’s significance for Swiss society, Gugger said, “Amma achieves that which is very important to me: she reaches people from different cultures, religions and social layers. She touches people through her message of selfless, non-judgmental love. Not only that – through her far-reaching charitable projects, she supports hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, and inspires them… Amma said very aptly – and I think this is very important for all of us tonight – ‘In today’s world, people have hot heads and cold hearts.’ The head is hot because it is full of egoistic desires and aggressive thoughts. The heart is ice-cold because the warming love is missing. What we need is the opposite. We need a cold head with clear thoughts and a heart filled with compassion for our neighbours. We have to learn to develop unconditional love for every human being. Through Amma’s inspiration and God’s grace, we can succeed.”