As Indians we all dream about a clean India free of garbage. It is with this idea of creating a clean community, as an initial step towards a clean India, that the Amala Bharatam Campaign (ABC) was initiated. Mahita, who was associated with it since its incipience, spoke to us about her involvement with clearing the garbage inside and outside the ashram premises and how, with Amma’s support, a small individual step was converted into a model worthy of emulation by all.
“There is no doubt in my mind that one second of my life spent in this ashram offering this life, this body, this breath and this thought to Amma’s feet makes this life worth living and I don’t really understand the purpose of life without making it for Her. I don’t know why I would ever do anything, there is no purpose to life but for Her.”
Regarding the waste management activities, Mahita said “since the first year I arrived in the ashram, I began collecting waste from the ground. I was raised Hindu, and I went to temple and meditated on Krishna as a child and I had all these ideas in my mind about what India would be like. I knew India didn’t have these toilets and sanitation. As a little girl I would tell my mom and dad that when I become rich I am going to make toilets for India. When I got here and saw the reality, I was really shocked and disappointed. I lived in a beautiful place in America with lots of open spaces and strict ecological laws being enforced all the time. I just started to pick up the trash because that was the only thing I knew. Even here in the ashram it was difficult – a lot of people wanted to challenge that as they thought I shouldn’t pick up the trash outside the ashram… some others felt I should not pick up trash inside the ashram. There are lots of ideas about waste and it makes people uncomfortable. It took me a long time to learn why waste is such a hot topic in India. I had to learn about the idea of purity and impurity, and cleanliness and how that affects the evolution and your karma is good or bad based on how clean or dirty you are. If you touch things it becomes impure.
And I also realized that actually there is not much people can do if they are not given the assistance. I was also confused as to what to do after picking up the trash. You can’t burn it, you can’t bury it. So I had realized that if there is no help here, so what are they going to do. There is no awareness because they haven’t cultivated it. India was an organic culture just until 20 years ago, before plastic came. I don’t think it has been realized yet that the plastics are not organic. It’s not the same thing as clay pot or a banana leaf. For a couple of years, I just did the collection by myself and I started helping with the recycling center a little bit, just collecting the waste around the ashram. It was when the students of Amrita University wanted to do this waste cleaning and asked me to get involved as they knew I liked to pick up trash. I was so happy and they did such a good job…. and Amma asked us western children to name the movement. By this time those of us working in recycling were interested in the seva and, before I knew it, I was full time into waste management. I was asked to start a recycling center on the beach and then Amma asked me to make it a professional model. I was really excited because it had Amma’s Shakti and grace to just go all out to make it as beautiful and amazing as we could. And Amma gave so much support and gave the budget and She really wanted it to succeed and it has.”
Continuing on the spiritual transformation this seva has brought in her, Mahita said “It is so humbling to be in a position to do what nobody else wants to do. You go through a lot of feelings like you are left alone and you also watch your mind …. (it) has so many judgments about other people and their habits or their lack of habits. Mind wants to be very negative when it stays with this situation of all this gross waste and the mind wants to go to a good place. It brings up millions of strong battles to be compassionate and be humble to realize that all of this negative thinking is not serving anybody. We have to be positive to make a change. We don’t accept anything but success. Many times this project could have failed. We have to pass through many challenges, like you make some progress and something pushes against that progress, you have to push through and persevere. And Amma has taught me that the only way to make it happen is to do it and no one else is going to do it. YOU do it and maybe others will follow. Even if they don’t follow you still have to do what you know to be right. And then God’s grace will come, and that conviction, that belief and that perseverance is between you and God. Amma says wherever there is love, action is effortless. If you love what you’re doing, love it as your own child then you don’t ever doubt spending sleepless nights or your body aching or being dirty from head to toe for hours. You just know that this is your life and you have to keep doing it.
I am so grateful to Amma for giving so many of us an opportunity to have a purpose like this to live for. This is a seva that affects so many people, not just in India, but even the international devotees are so impressed by what is going on here. And another beautiful thing is when we see waste, I never really thought of Karma in such a practical way, but now I really understand… for instance, potato chips: It takes only one or two minutes to eat a whole bag but I realize that what we leave over, that bag, it lasts forever compared to the potato it had. It is causing so much harm to the community. What are the choices I am making? The consequences of our action are surely there. It has made me more aware on many levels and have more compassion for humanity. Everyone wants to lead a good life but not everyone is able to because they are not provided the opportunities. Amma says we have to extend our hands. Amma has been teaching me everything through this seva.”
– Prashant & Megha