Students singing to Amma

Students from Amritavidyalayam Bangalore visited Amritapuri on 20 and 21 August. They were delighted to get the chance to sing bhajans to Amma during darshan.
bangaloreAV (1)
Here is what Sagar, Prerana and Sahana, three of the visiting students, had to say:

bangaloreAV (3)“This is the yearly school trip that our school organizes for us to come to Amritapuri. We all look forward for this chance to enjoy a visit to the ashram and  have Amma’s darshan. I also like the food here!” (Sagar, 10th standard)

bangaloreAV (2)“We practice bhajans once a week at Bangalore. It was so special to come here and get Amma’s darshan. We were at first very tense when we sat to sing bhajans in front of Amma. But all went well after we started. Music is our soul.” (Prerana & Sahana, 12th standard)

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Posted in Interviews0 Comments

Jayathu Samskritam, Jayathu Bharatam

prize
“I thank Amma for her Grace and blessings in making me win a Prize of Honour in the Indian National Level Sanskrit competition.
I came to Amritapuri yesterday to give my pranams to Amma, thank her for her never ending Grace and provision, and offer the Prize and Certificate of Honour at her feet.
Saresham kerthe mama pranamaha.
Jayathu Samskritam, Jayathu Bharatam.

- Amritavarshini, 10th standard, Amritavidyalayam Wadakara, Kozhikode

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When you are near

Now the light is gone away;
saviour, listen while I pray..

Help me every day to be
good and gentle, more like you..

Look down upon
your little one..
O light of light..
keep me this night,
and shed round me..
your presence bright…

Let my near and dear ones
be always near and dear to you..

I need not fear
if you are near..
You are my saviour
kind and dear…

- Anagha

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Posted in Poems0 Comments

Volunteering has made me a different person

I started volunteering at Embracing the World’s Children’s Home near Nairobi in 2010 as a reluctant and shy volunteer. My parents would have to practically force me to go to the home. I think this was because I wasn’t quite comfortable with the community around me, as I had never interacted or talked with them. However, after continued visits for an year or so, I adjusted quite well and started enjoying going to the home. By 2012, I was quite active in participating in the activities of the home. I became regular and consistent in my visits, and started quarterly drives for the children’s school by initiating collection of books for the library, toys, stationery, shoes and clothes from friends and family. The response to these drives was encouraging and at times we had two carton full of useful stuff to be taken to Athi river!

I also tried spending more time with the kids at the home by organizing football camps for them which I thoroughly enjoyed, as I connected with many of them on a personal level. I was Impressed with their football skills and their enthusiasm for learning the rules and skills of the game.

I have also been a regular volunteer at the Sunday feeding program for several hundred children from informal settlements at Athi river and thoroughly enjoy helping out in this actively.

shivansh

In June 2014, I organized a concert in the aid of the school called ‘The songs of June’.
Although I couldn’t be very involved with the setting up due to a broken leg, I contacted many organizations to donate to the cause.The concert was a success as few of my school friends also contributed to it. I collected a substantial amount of money and received goods such as chocolate powder, noodles and juice from corporate sponsors.

When I had friends visiting from the Springboro Community School in Ohio in August 2014,I asked them to help me collect stationery and raise funds for the school, and thus raised enough money to sponsor 3 children’s education for year and a lot of school supplies all the way from USA. We also arranged to have breakfast with the school children by taking goodies from town. It was an experience which my friends will not forget. They have promised to stay connected with our community.
I am now gearing myself to get involved with AYUDH’s White C(r)ane Project in Kenya, which aims at providing a white cane to every blind child in Kenya.I am planning to involve my school community in this endeavor.

The experience of working with the home has made me a different person. I have become more giving, caring and grateful for what I have, and have learnt the joy of helping others. I have also become less reserved and shy. I have really enjoyed volunteering at the home so far, and intend on continuing my work through my final year in school, as well as after I go to college, in the best of my abilities.
I am of the opinion that people are willing to help out with a noble cause if you reach out to them.

- Shivansh Chaturvedi, 17, AYUDH member from Kenya

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Byse : a village with spiritual and cultural needs

Byse is a tiny village in the Malnad area of Karnataka, Amma has adopted this as one of Her 101 villages for development.

I went there and participated in the yoga and meditation camp between the 27th and 29th of June.

byse1

They were all earnest and open to learn anything new. Most of them were totally new to yoga and meditation. Some chanted Aum for the first time in their life. They showed much interest in prayer, manasa puja, yogasanas, japa and bhajans.

All of them, including older generation women have flexible bodies as they work out in the fields. They can easily bend and twist without much ado and do exactly as required without confusion, which shows the alertness of mind. They are quick to learn unlike many others in cities. They are friendly, never hesitant and always ready to put effort. Simple people, but have the ability to become knowledgeable. Not that the remote village knows nothing about the modern world. On the other hand, they are aware of the evils of modernisation without values.

byse2

The villagers are mostly farmers. Their land is clean, rivers are clean, and air is clean. Their speech is soft and clean. One cannot think of implementing the projects like Amala Bharatam there, for example, since there is no hard plastic waste to recycle. The wet waste –bio waste- is being naturally recycled without any technical names or systems.

In fact many virtues Amma speaks of from her childhood days that villagers practiced are still alive here. People are generous and sharing in attitude. Nature is nurtured by humans. Those with cattle at home attend to the needs of cattle first thing in the morning. Cows –malnad gidda- are never tied up; not even a string around their necks! They walk around freely in the wild and return home at dusk. No fear of cow thieves either. The ripe jack fruits fallen from trees offer them sumptuous meals!

Everybody, even those who earn Rs. 200 per day, spend according to their ability and remains peaceful. All of them being basically children of farming, nobody is deprived of food. No such crimes as murders. They don’t speak about love of nature but live in accordance.

They are proud of their heritage which is really something: We found women and children were good singers. They have the glorious Yakshagana in their blood. The region has no cinema theater; to that extent their minds are spacious.

Women work hard on fields and if I saw anybody carrying hay and such weights it has been women only. They have received training in juice and papad making through Amrita and are waiting for our follow up support. A jackfruit cutting machine is being developed by Amrita engineering students of Bangalore.

-Sandhya

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Posted in Seva0 Comments

Cleaning the river

The following experience is shared by an Amrita University exchange student, who is currently in Italy for her final year studies and participated in the Amala Bharatam Campaing (ABC) drive in Italy.

It is for the first time that I had participated in a clean up drive in a foreign country. This was in Bergamo, Italy, last Sunday. Previously, I have been part of the ABC clean up drives conducted by the Amrita University and Amma’s followers in Kerala. For me, it always is like going on a picnic. A day spent with friends: shouting, roaming and cleaning! Always so much fun. I still remember the feeling of complete satisfaction after the cleaning is done. That feeling makes me want to go for more cleanup drives. This time at Bergamo, there were two places where we went for cleaning. One was a river area, and another an interior area by the side of a road. Riccardo, a devotee who lives there, drove Savita (my friend and fellow Amrita University student) and I to the spot in his car. He played nice bhajans of Amma during the ride.

ABC_Italy1

Once I reached the place, I was given boots to wear. It is for the first time that I was wearing something like that. I am always curious and excited about any new experience. I got into the river. It had very little water, not even up to my knees. It was so nice to walk in the water. I enjoyed walking for sometime. Then I got reminded that I am supposed to be collecting waste. I started searching for waste. It was surprisingly hard to find it in the beginning. Then I found plastic bags that were caught in small plants that grew in the middle of the river. I started picking them and filling my bag. It was like collecting treasure for me! More the waste I collected, the more I felt happy.

Sometimes when I yanked the plastic quickly, I plucked off some leaves and branches of the plants along with it. I felt sad because I am hurting the plant. So I tried to be more patient with the activity. I talked to the plants, and told them that they don’t have to be suffocated with the plastic anymore. After sometime, I became lazy to bend and pick the plastic. I started ignoring some of them, even if I saw the waste. I walked past it. But later, I felt guilty that I was not being sincere to what I was doing. So I went back and picked those neglected plastics as well. We spent around one hour there in the water. Then we moved to another place. People had already collected waste from there in several bags.

Our next task was to move the waste to another place. My gloves, pants, and shirt had become dirty. But that was the least of the things that bothered me. There were so much plastic, metal scrap, wood, broken pots, cardboard etc. among the waste we collected!

ABC_Italy2

I did not know most of the people who came for the cleanup. But it was a great time to work with them, everyone focused on their seva and trying to do their best. It gave a very positive and warm feeling for me. After we took a photo together everyone said bye to each other and headed home. It was a great day and a very good learning experience for me.

-Sreepriya
(Amrita exchange student to Universitá degli Studi di Trento, Italy)

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Tumban in Bhajan sessions

Tumban is old now; so he is under care of one or the other ashram resident. He must be behaving like some adamant old people who want to eat just the thing prohibited. So his mouth is in a tiny basket. Like the ignorant young ones of cows have.

He is brought to Amma’s door just as the evening bhajans near. Seeing him like that I was wondering how he would sing with his mouth shut in a basket.

As Amma came down Her steps the first thing She asked for was the removal of that cover thus restoring him his right to speech. Tumban is a good ashram resident; he doesn’t much make noise. Only a distant dog bark or a cat in sight may sometimes prompt him to bark.

Next seen was Tumban on Amma’s peetham with Amma. Many times some of us grown-ups get into bad books of children who want to sit crowding around Amma on Her peetham, shake and shake and cause discomfort for Amma during Her meditation. Or those that want to walk about in the stage during bhajans. Because, we ask them not to do so. But here was Tumban invited to sit, leaning on to Amma while Amma sang bhajans. And of course Bhakti has always had it as her right to move around the bhajan stage as willfully as she wants. No rules apply for the twosome, much to my chagrin.

As Tumban sat by Amma, his face by Amma’s face, he looked over the huge gathering. After a while he put his head down and quietly listened to the bhajans. In between two bhajans, once, Tumban also wanted to sing. Amma allowed him to. She listened as he did a few little barks and then went on with a long tune. And then suddenly fell silent. He spotted Bhakti come up the stage from front. Maybe he had to wind up, as it was her turn now to call everybody’s attention.

It was at this stage that I noticed how Amma had kept Tumban by Her side, with the tether in Her hand. Tumban wanted to go down the peetham and pursue his dogly activities, but Amma would not let him go. Tumban who has in fact come to Amma himself, was reminded of his life purpose and soon he resigned to obey. Yet once again he tried to get down the peetham, but Amma was firm. She had decided for him in favour of his spiritual good.

So Tumban had to sit the entire session. He got a gift in turn as on Monday Amma Herself led him, holding the tether from the stage on towards Her room.

Why should Amma, who is interacting with thousands of human hearts in the hall, who is spending so much attention on singing new and old bhajans from an array of languages, choosing from a collection of over thousand bhajan-scripts, pay so much attention to these two mere dogs, one wonders!

****

Amma and the elephants

In the Ramayana we see Lord Rama as associated with many beings other than humans. The monkeys, the bear, the squirrel, so on.

The Tuesday was one wonderful day to see Amma in the company of several of Her non human children. After the sport during bhajans with Bhakti and Tumba, two dogs so similar in appearance, Amma walked down to Her room area. Two more non human children were waiting for Her: that was Raman and Lakshmi the elephants.

Amma delightfully spent about half hour hand-feeding the elephants. Several times Amma jumped up to reach the open mouth of Raman into which she placed huge balls of sweetened rice much to the joy of all her human children gaping. Amma put a whole watermelon into his mouth and showed us the elephant’s might as he crushed it in his mouth without much ado. After a row different fruits and biscuits and sweetened rice balls, the last item was the water spraying. Laskhmi enjoyed this item the best as she trumpeted and blew water on us all.

- Sandhya

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