As the North Indian tour per say came to an end, long drives ended. So did lunch or chai stops with Amma.

It was time for Amma to ask us this most pertinent question. What kind of a tour/pilgrimage was it? Was it a pilgrimage at all? What lesson did each one of us learn from this tour?

Many of Amma’s western children come travelling half the globe only to join in this spiritual journey, and leave soon after. Their earnestness, their openness to experience and learning is all expressed so well in their responses as the mike is passed around.
The question set me to think. It only revealed many more facets of Amma’s glory. In a tour you go to a place, sight-seeing or enjoying it through one or the other of the five senses. But in a pilgrimage you travel to a place to go to a temple for the darshan of the deity. It has a noble religious purpose.

But here being on tour with Amma is much more than going on a pilgrimage. For you have with you the very embodiment of the deity, the embodiment of the Supreme.

A Mahatma, according to Narada Bhakti Sutra, grants sanctity to the place he visits. The Leela dhyana Sloka on Amma extols Amma’s greatness saying how Amma makes places holy by allowing Her feet touch the dust of the place- indicating Amma’s leela of going places and how they become holy.

So here we were in the company of the Pilgrimage itself, going places and seeing the wonder of how they were transformed into holy places by the physical presence of Amma, watching the miracle of thousands touched by Amma and sanctified.

And what were we doing all the while. We were trying to see ourselves, going into the garden within, picking the fruits, good and bad, discarding the rotten ones(bad qualities), and offering the good ones(good qualities) at Her Lotus Feet in our hearts… just as a western devotee said in the pre Bandipur stop. Exactly what is expected of us.
Back on our routines we can observe the changes inside us. Everything we have in our everyday lives, the same rooms (seem big now), the same sleeping place(large enough to let us be), the warmth in the air, the long sufficient laundry lines, the same dining area with our own staple food, the archana-bhajan routine to start and end the day, our share of seva in respective depts. is all precious gift we had taken for granted. The tour if anything was a beautiful break from a beautiful routine. However if we have chosen spirituality for life, there was and is not a moment wasted whether on tour or off it.
Another lesson Amma let us learn was this: In how many places have how many hundreds of people worked for our sake, providing food and shelter and other necessities! How many devotees, for ex. in Vishakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar -where Amma was visiting first time- spent sleepless nights taking care of the needs of Amma’s travelling children, though many of them had not seen Amma! How many gave us warm welcoming smiles, so precious as Amma often reminds us. For how many people all over the country are we now indebted?

This time long drives and unfriendly weather made many of us fall sick. Many suffered bronchial problems- cough, cold, asthma etc. Many developed intestinal problems like loose motion and constipation, some vomiting also. Many ran high temperatures. But as time wore, they didn’t seem to be problems; they made each one of them fresh and renewed. All such things occur but surely they will pass; those that persist are, as Amma has already informed us, the part of Prarabdha we have to go through.

It was indeed a spiritual journey outside as well as inside.

– Sandhya, Bharata Yatra 2013