It was Amma who sent us to Sabarimala.
Well, we all know it. You may wonder why I am saying it.
I am saying it with double emphasis, with gratitude. I will say once again that it was indeed Amma who sent us.
The young brahmacharies were apprehensive about our ability and health. They didn’t dare to encourage our enthusiasm. Instead of working and being of help, would we become a burden to them? – a practical problem! But Amma’s decision alone prevails.
We were shown a place for cleaning. It was a mound of waste. The spot was close to our place of stay. The organizing brahmachari thought it was an ideal place for us, as we didn’t need to walk up and down the steps or the valley… And, for all the four days we could be sitting and picking things from that mound!
But when She is the doer, She is the Switch, whose calculations will stand? Those senior women worked like smart machines, in unbelievable speed and with such expertise that the same day it was almost done. By next afternoon it was really done!
Then we asked for more work. We were shown two areas to clean. Even that was soon done.
Though archana was only at 5-30, women would rise at 4-00, get ready and wait eagerly for archana time to near. There would be no trace of tiredness from previous day’s climbing or work. In the afternoon, from 2-30 itself, they would begin the countdown for 3-00 as our next schedule began at 3-00! “Why don’t we be lying down till the call comes?” Such a thought didn’t seem to exist in the air!
If it was not Amma’s design then why did some of the things work out so meticulously? Tula month is a rainy month. But believe me, every day, only during our lunch break would it rain. And the second day it rained even after our break time, but our place of work was under the roofs of the aravana sales counter hall and the long walk-way before the entrance to the temple. So we could do the work even though it was raining.
Most of these women had visited Sabarimala earlier as pilgrims. That was decades ago when they were below ten years of age; some of them had done it after they were 50, and that was before coming to Ashram. They were full of nice feelings for the place, as it is a place of pilgrimage for those who do rigorous austerities for up to 41 days. Imagine the purity of the vibrations in the surroundings! Most of these women did not have any curiosity to see the shrine or any enthusiasm to go sightseeing; but they were happy to go as Amma’s children to such a holy place, in order to make it clean as well. Their bags were light with bare necessities. They didn’t even carry as much as snacks, which people normally do, saying, “in case of emergency!” Amma will feed us, was their faith. An attitude which is very rare with present day people of the world!
On the other hand they looked around appreciating nature’s bounty and beauty. They showed each other the plants and trees of the jungle, birds and creatures like snakes lizard etc. listened to the songs of the birds and so on.
A lady, who ran temperature till the eve of the journey, remained as undeterred as ever. She was slow but didn’t collapse. She was held aloft by Amma’s remembrance as she sang under her breath, “Amme Sharanam! Amme Sharanam!”
When some devotees picked her bag to carry to the destination, she only said, “Amma sent that young boy to help me!”
While some women were sitting for a while during climbing up, a group of Amma’s young boys passed by singing Amma’s ‘Hari bol Hari bol!’ Soon the women got up to go, saying they were fresh and ready!
One remembered, sitting in the yard in front of the holy 18 steps, as we were waiting to get into food line, how her father and husband came there every year till they met Amma, and how, since then, they see Lord Ayyappa in Amma, how one of them continued to do such a yatra but now it was to Amritapuri, offering the holy coconut to Amma. She said Amma receives it in all earnestness on Her own head!
Another lady, 73 years of age, had come twice till now, but there was a sankalpa inside her to make it a third time. She had given it up to Amma, never prayed or aspired for it. She has been totally with Amma and ashram life. Now Amma had sent her! ”Amma has sent me but with different irumudi (of cleaning materials) and a different duty. I have nothing to ask for. I have only to do what is expected of me by Amma.”
A handful of western devotees were in the group. Asked how they felt about it, the woman from Portugal who spoke very little English was in tears of bliss and gratitude. Another said, “What has Sabarimala, a Kerala pilgrimage place, to do with me? Same thing as what Amma has to do with my country in Europe or America or Kenya! It is all one planet. That’s why Amma goes cleaning up hearts and places, and praying Lokah Samastah sukhino bhavantu! So am I here in Sabarimala!”
The 75 year old US woman who was always cheerful wore saree for bhajans just as she does in Amritapuri!
Then, after we returned, we asked each other, “How are you?” We only received smiles as reply, and, a frank, “Very well!” soon added with, “Amma’s Grace!”
Definitely Amma’s Grace. Or else, is it possible that none of us 58 women had even as much as a scratch on skin or a sprain in limb? Let alone any health hazard!