Awakening

Sitting in darkness
the stars bright above,
the puja bell rings with
chants of divine love.
Wake up spirit
don’t let your slumber fool you
You are always awake
Wake up!

Nearby temples join in with their prayers
Om lives in this atmosphere.

Orange begins to arise
fingering light beams across the sky,
the palm of God’s hand
brings a new day.

Across the horizon
the light expands,
high mountains of white cloud
fly eagles without sound.

The Light illuminates the days work to be done.
Remember Me always
in each word, deed, and in fun.
The glory is forever
the beauty is here
look deep inside you
and with Me never fear.

- Devika K. (USA)
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Medical camps at Kashmir

The second round of Medical camps for the flood affected people in the Kashmir valley have begun.

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Based on our assessment from the previous medical camps, MAM sent another huge truck load of medicines and health supplements.

On 15th November, we did a mini camp at place called Natipora where at around 300 people including children came. Health supplements like protein powder and other multivitamins were in high demand. We also distributed antibiotics, cough syrup, skin ointments, glucose and other essential supplements. Pain killers were also given to the needy.

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On 16th we did a camp at Zurimanz. This was the place where we had gone few weeks back to distribute blankets. This area is not easily reachable via vehicle and hence very less help has reached here. The local people were delighted to see us back. As soon as they saw Amma’s banner again, they knew it was team from Kerala. We catered to almost whole village (around 200 families) including children and we provided them with all the necessary medicines and supplements.

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– Amit

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Om Bhedanashinayai Namaha

Milano Devi Bhava lasted until 10:15 a.m. and the buses left by noon for the long journey to Berlin. We passed through the snowy Alps, but the love we experienced in Italy kept us warm! The landscape was breathtaking. Mist hovered over the peaks and hid in the valleys. Waterfalls plunged hundreds of feet down steep mountain slopes. Stone barns with grey slate roofs sheltered large sheep and horses. Small towns with onion domed church steeples perched on the hillsides.

Deep green conifers covered the mountainsides. There were also yellow trees that we first thought were deciduous species showing their fall colours, but sadly we soon realized they were dead conifers, victims of a die off that has decimated European forests. All the efforts at conservation, environmental awareness and tree planting seemed even more relevant looking at this. It was also impressive to see giant metal wind turbines in some valleys and the innovative placement of solar panels in south facing retaining walls along the highway.

At one thirty in the morning we arrived in Berlin to a venue that had been a rail maintenance installation in earlier years, similar to the venue in Munich. The kitchen crew began to set up their encampment by the side of the river flowing next to the building. The bookstore crew had til five thirty in the morning before their setup. Amma arrived around three am! No time to waste on this tour! But somehow we did’t feel as tired as one would expect.

Amma always reminds us that where there is love, there is no effort and the sincerity that the group has for their seva, seems to burn away the balance of fatigue. Touring shows us that we don’t need what we think we need. Not the amount of sleep, the amount of space, or even our first choice of travelling companions. We experience a taste of the true freedom of going beyond the perceived limitations of the body and mind. Not to the extent that Amma can go beyond, of course!

On the last day a number of staff walked a short distance in a misty rain to the site of the former Berlin Wall. The grey guardhouses and bits of remaining wall are now covered with graffiti, but still look menacing. We thought of the many who lost their lives here in a desperate bid for freedom. But that massive barricade that had seemed impenetrable and permanent, just dissolved away. So it is that Amma effortlessly dissolves away the barriers between people, nationalities and religions.

Moored in the river, next to the hall and our cook tents, was a floating bar/restaurant. It was open and faint sounds of rock music could be heard from it at night. The entrance had been decorated with attractive containers of plants and flowers. A small sign proclaimed, “Carpe Diem” (seize the day in Latin). This had been the motto of a group called hedonists centuries ago in Greece, whose limited view led them to proclaim that the best lifestyle was one of pleasure, and making sure one didn’t miss any chance for it either! Around Amma, we have a different “Carpe Diem”, similar to its original meaning in Horace’s Odes. Seize the day to make the most of this precious human birth. Seize the day to go beyond perceived body/mind limitations. Seize the day to do spiritual practices that will expand your potential. Seize the day to do something good for someone, even your enemy!

Salutations to One who is beyond differences. Salutations to Her who dissolves differences.

Rta S
Berlin, Europe Yatra 2014

 

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Om Nirbhedayai Namah

Salutations to the One who is beyond differences.  Salutations to the One who removes the sense of difference in others.

Amma always tells us that she sees nothing in creation as different from herself.  We can see that this is true by her every word and action.  But amazingly, in this time when humans seems ever more selfish and ever more caught up in religious and political differences, we can see that those who come into contact with Amma are themselves able to overcome that sense of I and mine, my country and your country, my religion and your religion.  Never more than on this European tour have we seen the sense of differences dissolving.  In every venue, it’s not just the local group that is seen, but people from absolutely everywhere, working together, singing together and appreciating Amma together.

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People from all over Europe came to Milano to see Amma, including 100 Greeks and 30 Moscovites who were inviting Amma to visit their respective countries.  On Devi Bhava, the Greeks delighted everyone with traditional music and dance right in front of Amma.  They got everyone up and dancing in a line snaking throughout the hall and the few empty spaces in the overflowing venue were full of dancing people from Greece and anyone else who could figure out the steps.

Being held on a weekend, the crowds were immense and not even an incessant downpour for two straight days could dampen the numbers of people flowing in, or the enthusiasm.  It was fascinating to see many lovely little children, and often a family of three generations came for darshan.  The Italians are a highly social people who love being together and they didn’t seem out of sorts at the long lines,  beginning in the early morning, for darshan tokens and to enter the hall.  Roving vendors offered snacks and chai to break the monotony as well.

They also seemed to love doing seva together, sporting red fleece “volantari” vests, and their friendly and welcoming ways, even after days of little sleep, never seemed to wane. Even the security had a light and friendly way, and offered a good lesson on how to keep order with a smile and kind words.  Major seva areas were serving, dish washing, keeping the venue and the toilets spotlessly clean and, of course,   recycling. There was someone at each of the many recycling centers watching like a friendly hawk that we put the right trash in the right colour coded and clearly labeled containers and making sure we understood why we should do it!

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Environmental awareness is big theme every year at the program.  Interesting exhibitions were held in high traffic areas.  A beautiful art exhibition focused on environmental themes and an innovative exhibition of the 6 steps of the InDeed campaign were on view with that distinctively creative and highly artistic Italian flair. Interestingly, discarded metal and even old car fenders were used as canvases! Something else unique at the Italian program was the Tisaneria..an herbal tea café!  One could buy a healthy herbal tea and also purchase herbal teas in bulk to take home.  Information was given on the properties of each tea.

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The Italians have a deep heart connection with Amma.  They celebrate her and her life by spontaneously clapping rhythmically and shouting her name joyously every time she comes and goes to the hall. They also celebrate her and show their respect by the many activities they hold throughout the year.  There are bhajan groups all over Italy, from the top of the boot to the heel, that engage in various service activities throughout the world.  For example, one in Milano, is extremely active.  In addition to meeting and singing together regularly, they hold many events throughout the year.  They hold parties at a care home for differently abled at Xmas and Easter and brought the residents to meet Amma.  They have fundraising and environmental educational events and do clean-ups of parks and rivers.  They also planted 300 trees and created a family event where children were given birdhouses to paint and to take home.  Furthermore, they teach organic gardening and Amma’s IAM meditation technique.  Such activities are held by other groups as well, and keep Amma’s “fiume d’amore” (river of love) flowing all year around.  Amma says that the world is kept balanced through the selfless actions of altruistic people. After the Europe tour, it seems the world would have to more balanced and in harmony, as so many thousands work so hard, harmoniously  and selflessly out of love for Amma and each other.

– Rta S

Milano – European Yatra 2014

 

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They have an “Amma House”

Five people live in this beautiful one bedroom home, Dharmendra, his wife, and two children, plus his mother.

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There is a kitchen on the far end, bedroom in the middle, a sitting room at the front, plus the small veranda all packed into just 400
square feet.

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The kitchen is clean, bright, and very spacious by Indian standards.

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Dharmendra made the built-in cabinet/altar himself using plywood scraps from construction.

Now they have an “Amma House”.

– Scotti

 

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Four families, one house

One of the largest landslides from last years Uttarakhand flooding started far above the Mandakini River at Bhiri. Houses were destroyed, but because it happened one week after the flood, the government considered this a seperate incident. The affected families did not qualify for the same level of aid as other flood victims.
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We found five families living in tin sheds on a steep, unstable slope. They had no resources to relocate.

 

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In June, an experienced construction team arrived from West Bengal led by Br Ratnakar. On much more stable land, this unique four unit building plus a single house are nearly finished.

Since their farmland was also lost in the slide, they will continue to struggle, but at least they have new, safe homes before winter.

– Scotti

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Ready to serve in the Netherlands

welcome-centre

An interesting cross-section of people visit the Amrita University table to find out about Amma’s university, or see about teaching, attending or interning. In the Netherlands, we spoke to some people who told us particularly moving stories. One woman began telling us about poverty in Holland. We were surprised as we had thought people in Holland were quite well off. However, she told us that there are 3 million people living in poverty there. It’s not so obvious as one doesn’t see homeless people on the street, as everyone has a roof over their heads. According to our informant, the problem is that housing takes so much of their income, that there is not enough for other basic needs. She continued that the real poverty, however, was the feeling of loneliness and isolation. She was hoping that the new Dutch Centre would be a place to help alleviate that by connecting people and doing service work for those in both material and spiritual need.
Another visitor to the table was interested in Amrita SeRVe, Amma’s village rehabilitation project. She saw that one of the outreach areas is organic agriculture. She said that she was trained in permaculture and organic agriculture and expressed an interest in volunteering. She then told us that her father had also been an organic farmer, but 50 years ago farmers in Holland had  to choose between diary and were pressured to use pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Her father, who was a master farmer, who really knew how to get the most out of his soil by natural methods and also had a knowledge of herbal medicine, decided to leave farming. He didn’t want to expose his family to toxic chemicals and although it broke his heart, he took a job in a factory. He became depressed and it destroyed their family life. Now his daughter is thinking of coming to India so that other families won’t have to make such choices, but will be able to grow food safely.

 

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Our table was next to the Green Friends table and they were giving out a lot of information about Amma’s ecological initiatives and showing the many activities of the Netherlands’s GreenFriends group. On display, they had an amazingly simple beehive made from bamboo sticks placed in a tin can. The bees make their hive in the bamboo sticks and they were giving away bamboo to anyone who wanted to make a hive.

The Netherlands group recently acquired a large house for a Centre. It is an attractive brick building with ample parking and space for gardening, which is already underway. Amma visited it at the end of a long Devi Bhava. As she left, she happily told people on her way out that she was going to the ashram. She also said that she would serve everyone dinner at 5:30pm. Around 5 the tour group joined the locals in a large room in the back of the building, although not large enough to hold all the people who had come. The tour group gave precedence to the locals and many were outside looking through the windows. Amma looked distinctly displeased at this and questioned the organizers, but they explained there was no other option, so a light was moved outside and chairs set up. Amma said that at first it had been that Amma would visit with just a small group of people travelling with her, around 20. Then it grew to 120 including locals and then to everyone, as otherwise, people would be sad. And as we know, Amma will go to great lengths to keep people from being sad. Amma served a delicious meal of pasta, salad, broccoli and halva.
Before leaving, a local devotee asked her if she liked the Centre. She said she likes the Centre, but the ever practical Amma pointed out that for the Centre to function, it needs sincere and focused people like the questioner to be active in it. She pointed out that if all work together, they can offer something very creative for the society. They can find out what is needed in the area and help. We thought back to the woman who had talked to us about the needs of the society that she saw. It seems indeed her wish that the Centre will help people will soon come true!

– Rta
Europe Yatra 2014

 

 

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