(This is an attempt to capture the various bhavas of Amma, who is beyond all bhavas during the few hours I was lucky enough to be with her. Read the original article in malayalam )
As Amma’s 35th birthday was only few days away, many devotees had started pouring into the ashram. It was 09:30 in the morning. Some children were singing bhajans in the darshan hut, the melodies reverberating in the serene atmosphere.
Amma came into the darshan hut much earlier than usual, even though the bhava darshan of the previous night had ended very late. There was an innocent, child like smile on Her face. Her sari had been neatly tied around Her neck and Her hair bound in a knot on top of Her head. It was a very different Amma giving darshan now, different from Her mood during Her Devi Bhava. As Amma came into the darshan hut, She said,”Amma couldn’t remain in her room when She heard Her children sing with such devotion.”
One by one, the devotees came up to Amma for darshan, Amma received them, each and everyone, patiently listening to their grievances, showering Her boundless Motherly love upon them all . At one stage, during darshan, as Amma listened to the children singing bhajans, She slipped into a state of meditation for a few minutes. During these moments, everything came to a standstill, and everyone looked with awe and reverence at Amma’s face.
A little later, a woman accompanied with her grown up daughter, came up to Amma with a prayer. She wanted a bridegroom for her daughter. She was praying that one of Amma’s ardent devotees should marry her daughter.
Amma responded by saying, “An ardent devotee? Shiva, shiva! They come and ask Amma to free them from relationships. They would ask why Amma is placing them in bondages?” the woman’s daughter started crying. She didn’t want to get married at all. Amma said, “Leading a householder’s life, one becomes more austere. Only then can one become a renunciate (sannyasi). Being a householder one becomes patient and mature enough to enter sannyasa later on in life. Just being a householder is not enough; along with being a householder one should practice austerities.”
Another devotee came up to Amma with her son. She said, “O Amma, this boy is very intelligent but he doesn’t study. He refuses to chant the Lord’s name. He never listens to the advice of others and is very rude at times. Please bless him so that he will mend his ways.”
Amma called the boy to her side and said, “Darling son, it’s OK if can’t sing the lord’s name. Words that are spoken with love and kindness, or a helping attitude, or a smile – all these constitute real prayer. Love everyone, and if you feel angry towards anyone, seek forgiveness. That is what you should do. If one these good qualities, it doesn’t matter if one doesn’t say one’s prayers.
A middle aged man approached Amma with his daughter. He prostrated at Amma’s feet. It was the first time that he and his daughter had met Amma. Without any introduction, Amma asked the father, “Is your daughter suffering from fits (epilepsy)?”
The father was dumbfounded. He stood in front of Amma with tears in his eyes. His daughter, who was holding on to Amma, started crying. Amma soothed the girl and said, “Darling daughter do not worry. Amma is with you. Everything will be alright. Amma wiped away the girl’s tears with the tip of Her own sari. Then. Amma conversed with them for some time. The girl and her father were surprised to hear Amma’s nectar like words, laden with supreme wisdom, flowing so incessantly from Her. The father couldn’t find words to express his gratitude in Amma, in whom he found his Refuge. He couldn’t find a word to say this Mother of Love incarnate. A little later, Amma gave this girl some instructions and a few packets of sacred ash.
As a child, the girl had lost her mother. Due to the shock of that loss, she had stopped, going to school. They tried to treat her with many different medicines and taken her to many different places to find a cure. But to no avail. One day, a friend of the family had told the father about the Holy Mother. That’s how they reached this place, the place where the Universal Mother resides.
The girl said to Amma: “Amma in you, I have found my Mother. From now on it is only You I want. Please don’t leave me, Amma.”
“NAMAH SHIVAYA!”, Amma lovingly exclaimed, and there was a beautiful smile on her face. Both father and daughter were crying.
Amma continued to give darshan to all the devotees in the hut. All were fed with Her sweet love. Some were fortunate to have Amma wipe away their tears. By 12:30 PM., darshan was over and Amma came out of the hut.
The devotees had come from all over India to participate in Amma’s birthday celebrations. They were eager to serve Amma in any way they could. Amma was now busy making arrangements for their comfort. It is said that the Lord is the servant of His devotees. Amma is a living example of this.
Amma walked to the north side of the ashram, and all the devotees followed Her. It is always like this. Wherever Amma goes, people flock to Her, like the bees following the Queen bee.
Amma went outside to the kitchen and started removing some cement blocks which were lying there. The devotees formed a line and began removing the cement blocks by passing blocks down the line from one to another. Amma Herself was handing blocks of cement to the people in the line.
Amma instructed everyone to chant the Lord’s Name, while they were working. Amma said, “Children, while you are working, you should think that each brick that you take is given by the Lord and is again passed on the Lord. You should keep this in mind while you perform your duties in the world.”Amma’s advice was the very essence of karma yoga.
Before them the devotees were not seeing a teacher giving out advice from a high seat, but rather a real mother who loves Her children so much that she cannot bear the sight of Her children hard at work without joining them to do the same.
The Divine Mother, who is so compassionate that She will bring Her children to the supreme state of God-Realization, was advising and teaching everyone about selfless service through Her own example. And everyone was happy to be doing any work in the presence of Amma.
Suddenly Amma shouted, “A frog, a frog!” and started jumping around in a joyful mood. Everyone else’s attention was on Amma. Amma plays these kind of games in order to make the devotees focus their minds on Her.
The frog in question was sitting there, looking dejected, as if it has lost its home. Amma asked the devotees,” Children who gives these creatures their food?” And Amma began to tell a story:
One day Lord Shiva returned to Mount Kailash very late and was panting with exhaustion. Devi Parvathi asked anxiously, “O Lord, where were you all this time and why are you so late? You haven’t eaten anything.”
Lord Shiva said, “I was out there, distributing food to all the creatures. I Myself cannot eat, unless they have first been given food.”
As Amma was telling this story a cement block which was being passed suddenly fell on Her foot. “O Mother!” She cried out in pain, She sat down on the ground. Very quickly, Her foot began to swell. One brahmachari brought some turpentine oil and began messaging the injured foot. “It is all God’s will,” said Amma. “Children, be careful while passing the bricks.”Everyone was silent for a moment.
Amma was sitting in the hot sun. Droplets of sweat formed pearls upon her face. The diamonds in Her nose-ring were glittering. There was tranquil expression on Her countenance. The sun was shining above, bringing light to the universe. And sitting with Her devotees, was Amma, The divine Sun whose light melts away all our sense of difference. A few clouds appeared in the sky, and the sun hid behind them in embarrassment as if it compared itself to the the Divine effulgence of Amma.
Amma continued Her story:
The following day, Lord Shiva went out as usual to distribute food to all the creatures in the world. But Parvathi wanted to test Him. She caught an ant and kept it in a vessel. When Shiva returned, Parvathi asked him, “Did you give food to all the creatures?”
Lord Shiva answered, “Yes, I gave food to everyone.”
Parvathi said, “No you did not give food to all the creatures.”
Again the Lord said, “Yes, I have fed each and every being.”
To disprove Him, Parvathi took out the vessel and showed it to the Lord, saying, “Did you give food to this ant inside this vessel?”
The Lord said, “Yes.”
Parvathi was surprised at this. She opened the vessel and found the ant munching on a grain of rice. Parvathi was filled with remorse.”
In Amma’s presence, the blocks of cement were passed from one person to another with such speed, it looked as if the bricks were flying. When Amma is there, everyone more works more swiftly, at least four times faster than usual.
Some devotees arrived at this moment and were much surprised to see Amma right in front of them. They forgot about everything and, expressing their devotion, prostrated in front of Amma.
By one o’clock in the afternoon, all the blocks of cement were removed. Amma served lime juice to the working devotees. Amma, who not had any breakfast, also drank a little of the juice.
Amma asked everyone to go and have their lunch. She then walked to the bathrooms adjacent to the guest-house, and picking a broom, She started cleaning the toilets. A brahmachari had forgotten to do the cleaning that morning. He now rushed up to Amma to help Her. Amma said, “Is it not your duty to clean the toilets every day? Never again does Amma see such negligence on your part.”
With a remorseful on his face, the brahmachari took the broom from Amma’s hands and started cleaning. Amma went over to the cow-shed to check on the cows and see that they were alright. By the time Amma returned, all the devotees had eaten and were waiting to have another glimpse of Amma.
The devotees tried their best to persuade Amma to take rest and have lunch. But she didn’t eat anything. Instead She went to carry sand to fill in the backwaters, and everyone joined Her. As Amma had done earlier, She again reminded everyone to chant their mantra as they worked. Amma said, “It is not possible to meditate for twenty four hours. But if you chant your mantra while you do your work, the work becomes selfless service, and its effect is good of the world.”
One devotee was harboring a doubt. He asked Amma, “Amma so much selfless work has been done, but the world is still the same. Why is it so?”
Amma answered, “Son a dog’s tail is always bent. Even if you try as hard as you can to straighten it, the tail remains the same. But if you keep on trying, as your hands strain, they will gain muscle strength. In the same way if you do selfless work for a prolonged period of time, your heart will expand, and you will never think of the world as evil. Thus your selfless actions will become real service to the world.”
It was almost evening. Amma started singing. And as they worked, all the devotees began to sing along with Amma. The work continued until 8 o’clock. Amma sent everyone away to have supper. She was alone now. In an exalted mood she lay on the sand, forming divine mudras with her hands, and as She lay there. She began singing devotional songs. Even from afar, one could hear the sound of Her singing.
Vegetables arrived for birthday celebrations. One devotee complained to Amma that there was no place to store the vegetables. Amma walked over to the brahmacharinis’ quarters. There She instructed the residents to move their belongings out of the room. The room was then used to store vegetables. Within a short while, the room was filled with different kinds of vegetables. Amma gave one of the brahmachari’s the responsibility of bringing all the vessels needed for the birthday feast. Another brahmachari was given the responsibility of chopping enough dry firewood for the kitchen.
By the time Amma returned to Her room it was past eleven o’clock. The rumbling of nearby ocean was like eternal sound “AUM”. It also resembles the sound of the divine Mother’s anklets. The moon, in its beckoning devotion to Amma, spread a path of glittering light across the sea.
(translation of original article from malayalam )