Restoring hope, giving them a future

Today we went to Pancheri, a village which is about 40kms from Udhampur town. When we reached the closest point, we got off our car and talked to some local people including the Pradhan about the existing situations there. He told us that about 60houses had disappeared in the land slide and 40 people had died. We set out to see the actual site.

jkflood06

We had a group of local people helping us, they were already involved in relief work to a small extent. We were told that the walk up the hill may take us an hour or more… It definitely took more. Much more – we almost took two hours to get to the site. Though the climb was ardous for us plains dwellers, the local people kept us supplied with walnuts and local fruits which grew by the side of the twisting path.

From the road the damage did not seem very big, but when we got there the story was so very different. A swath of land a kilometer wide and two kilometers long was raw, the land seemed like it had been ploughed by a giant plough, strewn with gigantic boulders… devastation.

 

jkflood08

An ordinary day. But at 11am on the 6th within two minutes – the whole mountain side slid down in a gigantic explosion, smoke and dust clouded the site – when people were able to see, they found bare earth and rock – 60 houses had disappeared. Bare remnants of houses could be seen 300 to 400 meters down from where they were. An edge of a roof above the ground, the wooden pillars of a house sticking out of the ground, a hand sticking out of the earth… still. A few people were rescued, but 40 people disappeared. In the following days the rotting body parts of about 13 people were recovered. The police were still digging at the site, with not much of a sure way to know whether a body lay below. Manually digging for bodies, amongst boulders which may not budge with the might of a hundred people, a thankless job. But the SP was himself there, he said he would not give up, he would keep trying.

jkflood07

Two minutes and dreams 40 people disappear. But there are survivors. Amma says suppose a person whose natural life span may be 80 years, because he has no money to avail of the required medical aid, dies at 40 years… We are responsible for the lost 40 years.

We can’t restore life to those who have passed away, but to those in whom hope has died, who have lost a future – maybe we can restore hope, maybe we can give them a future.

– Nijamrita

 

jkflood09

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Krishna Jayanthi albums on Facebook

Did you view the 3 special photo albums on our Amritapuri Facebook page covering the Krishna Jayanthi celebrations:

Album 1 – Morning Cow Worship >>
FN-KBday

Album 2 – Afternoon Uriyadi games >>
FB-KBday (2)

Album 3 – Night Krishna Bhajans >>
FB-KBday (3)

Visit us and Like us on the official Amritapuri Facebook Page
to follow daily the preparations for Amma’s 61st Birthday Celebrations
(taking place on 27th September):

AP-FB

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Posted in AshramDiary, General, Links0 Comments

Borders and Boats in Fields

Yes, Amma is definitely extended a loving hand to Kashmir. Everyone knew Amma would, and now relief work been initiated.

Hamirpur Kona lies in Jammu sub-division, one of the areas which were affected by the floods but which are accessible now by road. A few days ago these were islands isolated from each other by the swirling flood waters… The army stepped in and within a couple of days they had built temporary bridges across that which had been paddy fields. Paddy fields became vast bodies of water and boats and helicopters plied to rescue stranded people.

army-wrought-bridge

A few houses and shops are damaged, cattle have died, and as they recede the flood waters leave layers of silt on the fields – which may make agriculture an impossibility for a year or more. By Grace no one in this particular village lost their lives. Tomorrow after meeting some government officials we head out to as many affected areas – to directly assess the damage and to understand what we can do.

broken-house

It was from this village, a few days ago, that a Jawan of BSF floated into Pakistan which is but a few meters away, when the motor of his boat developed a snag. Thankfully he was returned unhurt in a gesture of good will. The floods seemed to carry a message – we humans keep drawing lines on maps and even in our hearts – and engage in endless arguments and conflicts and one day a small river called Chenab floods and you have a vast lake of water, undivided. But maybe if we could we would draw lines on water too.

flooded-fields

– Nijamrita

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Amritavidyalayam Karwar students visited Amritapuri

Few days ago, students from the Amritavidyalayam, Karwar school visited Amritapuri. They enjoyed getting Amma’s darshan, participated in seva and had the chance to attend satsangs.
Their visit coincided on Tuesday, so they got their special lunch prasad from Amma’s hands. With care, she also called them to come sit close to her after the lunch prayers.

Below we see them waiting for Amma to come out to the main hall, and attending an enriching class with Brahmachari Dhyanamrita Chaitanya:

av karwar visit (1)

av karwar visit (3)

av karwar visit (2)

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Harikatha performance

Today afternoon, during Amma’s darshan, Sri Preman of Kottayam presented the story of Amma’s life through a traditional Harikatha performance. He was assisted by musicians playing various musical instruments. The team showed an enthusiasm that pleased all the people present in the hall.

Harikatha is a form of spiritual and cultural story-telling, which is a mixture of poetry, music and acting. It involves the narration of a story, intermingled with various songs relating to it.

harikatha

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The real Sannyasi

Last week during darshan, I remained at Amma’s side for some time. It wasn’t long before a middle-aged woman came for darshan. She was from central Kerala. It was her first time meeting Amma. She told Amma that early this year her husband had been fishing around 3:00 a.m., casting his net from the boat, when he suddenly had a stroke and fell into the mud of the shallow waters. In tears, she explained that he had become stuck in the mud and drowned. She said she didn’t know what to do. Their eldest child, who was in his mid-twenties now, was permanently brain-damaged from a shock he had received from a faulty electrical outlet when he was only three. Because she had to do everything for him, from putting on his pants to brushing his teeth, she told Amma that it was impossible for her to work. She said that sometimes he could become violent, flying into a rage for no perceivable reason. Earlier she could handle it, but the older and stronger he became, without her husband around, the more unmanageable it was becoming. Her family’s sole income comes from her youngest son, who repairs car stereos. Amma dried her tears and called a devotee from her area and asked him to try to arrange some financial and infrastructural support for her and her family.

amma-wipe

Not long after that, a long-time devotee from Northern Kerala came for darshan. Her husband had been one of the first people to invite Amma to their hometown. He passed long back, killed in a political clash. Since then, their family’s income has been limited. Still the mother had managed to get their daughter enrolled in a nursing school, and the girl had just graduated. The problem is that now the girl either has to pay an Rs. 150,000 bond to her school or work for its hospital at 33 percent beneath the standard starting wage for three years—Rs. 8,000 a month, instead of Rs. 12,000. Her other child is autistic. She says that he can chant the Lalita Sahasranama flawlessly—that he even corrects her when she makes pronunciation mistakes. But, despite being 29, he cannot be left unsupervised for even a minute. On this day, the mother had come to ask Amma’s guidance for what to do with her daughter.

Soon after, a middle-aged man came up to Amma. You could tell by his puffy skin and the yellowish tint to his eyes that he was suffering from hepatitis. He told Amma that it was his second flare-up since contracting the disease seven years ago. He said he used to work in retail sales, but that now, with his liver 70-percent destroyed, he can no longer maintain a job. He had had to get a tube inserted to drain out the water from his abdomen. Now his legs get swollen. His doctor told him recently that he is in dire need of a liver transplant within the next three months. Married with a son and a sick mother to look after, he had come to ask if he would be able to get some help from Amma for the liver transplant at Amrita Hospital. Amma entrusted an ashramite to look into the still-smiling man’s case and do the needful.

Amma has often said that we should listen to the life stories and woes of at least 10 people who have come for Amma’s darshan. In that way, Amma says, we will be able to develop compassion. Just hearing these three stories, I felt a bit overwhelmed. How much suffering is there in this world? How many such burdens have people laid at Amma’s feet? I remember someone once asked Amma why sannyasa is considered a harder path than that of a gruhasta (householder), and Amma responded that while a gruhasta is only responsible for one family, the Sannyasi is ultimately responsible for the entire world. I am not sure if all Sannyasis see it this way, but Amma in her total renunciation, has taken up the struggles of countless individuals, countless families. Even if you don’t consider the charitable assistance the ashram provides for people like this, Amma has dedicated her entire life to being there for such people—being a shoulder to cry on, an ear that is always ready to listen, a smile to take inspiration from….

28 Aug
~ Dhyanamrita

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Posted in AshramDiary, Darshan2 Comments

Remover of obstacles

Under intermittent showers and sunshine, the Ganesh murti arrived in Amritapuri in the late afternoon of August 28th. The “Remover of Obstacles” was carried from the Ayurveda beach accompanied by enthusiastic singing and the majestic Lakshmi the elephant, wearing her festival regalia. The procession passed along the beach road of Amma’s natal village and the locals smiled and clapped along with the songs as the group passed by. The ice cream vendor rang his bell in time with the music and the drivers of vehicles stopped by the procession were seen jiving to the beat as well. After all, how can you resist a cute elephant headed little boy? (Although the head of the murti was lightly covered with a scarf until the installation the next morning…) Entering the ashram gate, birds swooped joyously overhead and the palms swayed rhythmically in the breeze. The procession made its way to the back hall where another Remover of Obstacles was giving darshan. Amma smiled and the group moved to the Kalari.

gajapuja

Ganesh Chaturthi: Gaja puja @ Amritapuri

Our Ganesh was installed the next morning, gazing benevolently at us all. We even received his favourite sweet, a laddu, as prasad. A little later in the morning came the Gaja Puja, where the honoree was Lakshmi, the living elephant, who “danced” along with the singing in her usual graceful fashion, nodding and swaying. I overheard a mother explaining to her child, “See, Amma tells us that what we are really worshiping is the Supreme Consciousness within this form, which also lies in all of creation.” The child looked up, thought about that for a moment, and went back to eating his sweetened rice flake prasad from the Gaja Puja. Ganesh will stay with us for a few more days until he is immersed in the sea, a reminder of the dissolution of the form into the Formless, a day which will arrive for each of us.

The start of the Ganesh Festival signals the start of the festival season at Amritapuri. Onam, Krishna Jayanti and Amma’s Birthday celebrations will follow. Devotees will stream here to benefit from Amma’s darshan, enjoy Amma’s Prasad lunch on Onam, sing bhajans, hear satsangs, do pujas, watch Uriyadi and cultural programs, along with many other activities and opportunities. It’s a joyous time to be savored and used to the maximum benefit, a time to greet old friends and make new ones. Most of all, it’s a time to focus on the benefit of Amma’s physical presence here before she leaves for the Europe tour in October. The Formless has taken a form to inspire and uplift us and as Amma often reminds us, actually, every day is a festival in Amritapuri.

– Rta S

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