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, Darshan0 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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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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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


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