25 May Buffalo, NY
I was fortunate to be there and want to share my experience with all of you.
It was a historic occasion , probably one of a kind .. It was a great moment that a university in US would choose to confer a doctorate not on a scientist or an engineer but a Sage, Spiritual Master… One of the deans said “In honoring Amma, we are also honoring the TRADITION SHE REPRESENTS AND the culture and spirituality that India has to offer”. So it was a great day for Sanatana Dharma.
Slee concert hall was large and well lit. The stage had a big organ with all the pipes going to the ceiling .. from the top there hanged a large screen where they were showing a slide show- photos of Amma, Coimbatore campus, Amritapuri campus, SUNY Buffalo campus photos etc.. it was nice seeing our university photos being shown at SUNY Buffalo.
Then came the master of ceremonies Stephen , one of the top officials there and who visited Amritapuri last year. To the tune of a new song composed by Rahul, the procession walked in . There were the President of SUNY Buffalo Thompson, the Provost Satish Tripathi and several other top SUNY BUffalo people. Also from our side
, there was our VC of Amrita and others.
Then the MC said, all rise for Chancellor Amma to walk in .. and to thunderous applause as we all stood up, Amma and the swamis walked in . They sat on the chairs allotted to them ,and then there was a organ music piece played by a music faculty for a few minutes. After which the president of SUNY Buffalo spoke trying to introduce Amma to the audience.
I say “trying” to introduce, because in his own words, Amma is hard to explain in a few lines.. anyway he described Her as an incredible humanitarian , and spiritual leader and also as the chancellor of Amrita University that has a partnership with Buffalo. He went on to talk about the collaboration between Amrita and UB, and how Amma was a champion of the cause of education.
But then he went on to say that Her work is too large and the list of Her accomplishments too numerous to enlist and maybe “the following video will give you a better picture of who She is and what She does”.
Then they showed the new ” Embracing the world video “… It was beautiful as they showed darshan , Amma’s charitable works, tsunami relief, the relief efforts for the children of the families where farmers committed suicide , the bhuj earthquake efforts, katrina etc etc etc …
Then again at the end of that He said “clearly an incredible humanitarian … Buffalo is honored to give the highest degree of the Doctorate of Humane letters upon this incredible leader .
Then He invited Amma on the stage, and a lady , said ” by the powers vested in me i now confer upon you the title of the doctorate of humane letters ” and put a hood on a smiling Amma…
Everyone stood up and there was thunderous applause for a few minutes… Tears flowed in most eyes, as they recognised that this was a historic moment …
100 years later, when the Amma Bhagavatam is written , SUNY will stand out as the first university to have recognised Amma … It was historic because a university was recognising the ideology that Amma stood for, and the work She does ..
Then Amma addressed the gathering. She sat on a chair and Swamini Krishnamrita translated. This was one of the best talks I have heard from Amma … so beautiful, cohesive and hard hitting .
She started with thanking the UB system for this honor and in characteristic humility said that there are thousands of Her children who serve selflessly and have made all the work possible in Her organization .This award really belongs to them ..
Then She went on to say that science and technology have progressed, more discoveries have been made, more devices have been made…. thousands of new books have been written … more universities have come up.. many more PhD’s have come up .. knowledge has increased tremendously ….. but yet the world is in a sorry state- families are breaking up,divorces are increasing, sorrow is increasing ,violence is increasing , terrorism is increasing, the whole nature is polluted, the atmosphere and air and water are polluted, the climate is going haywire etc etc … Something has terribly gone wrong .
If in a garden of beautiful flowers instead of a fragrance there is a terrible stench, you know something is wrong .. similarly too is the state of the world today . Saying knowledge has increased is like saying the sun has risen but it is still dark…
Spirituality is also a science … The ancient sages carried out experiments in the inner labs of their own minds and came up with basic truths.. until modern science recognises these basic truths , the darkness will continue..
it was a great talk ….applause that followed says more.
Then MC spoke again and said “In honoring Amma, we honor Her work and also the tradition She represents – the rich culture and spirituality that India brings “. That was a most moving remark.