28 -30 jun 2011, karwar, karnataka
karwar is a coastal city – beautiful and green. it was raining when we reached. ammu welcomed us with such joy! she jumped on us. shaking hand and licking she went around. it was brahmachari guruprasads pet dog. he was here for the construction of the school building. After he left 2 months ago, ammu must have felt very lonely. thats why, seeing us, she was so happy. we also sensed she was hungry. we served her a generous helping of the curd rice that we had. she gulped down all of it. every day she would visit us many times. often, even late night a pair of lively black eyes would unfailingly peep through the second floor window – just to see if we are there. its ammu.
there was this beautiful welcome ceremony: children dressed in beautiful colourful dance costumes. and lamps and pots. while the school principal was introducing us to the children, it seemed they were excited. especially the lower class children.
the culture of karwar is different. they are more conservative. kannada, konkani and marathi along with hindi are common languages.
the higher class children were very stiff in the class. literally like a stone. really. so serious. i felt its because the thrust was more on making money than on acquiring the knowledge – by the parents and the society around them. we tried very hard to break the shell of the wrong concepts and help them break free of their self created shells.
how can u learn when u are stiff? the learning will happen only when we are relaxed. when will we learn that?
the next day when we went to the class, we felt they had changed – smiling, happy and relaxed. they enjoyed asking questions. happy and laughing a lot, they demanded more. now they have become very elastic. they also realised the change and felt great. all amma’s grace.
among the younger batch, the scene was totally diff. children were much more flexible. in 2 sec you could connect with them. they were enjoying every bit of the session. at the same time they were bombarding us with questions. … “why god created the world?, who created god?, if god is every where, why cant we see?…” the questions would not stop. it was really challenging. i loved it.
mukesh-ji and manoj-ji were busy with their sessions of yoga and lectures.
the teachers also wanted a session. reminded them about their role, importance and the need to smile in the class. suggested some tips.
we visited every class. distributed sweets. guess who was accompanying us? ammu. yes, the dog. she came with us to the classes, demanded a chocolate in each class! yogamritaji is very smart in drawing line sketches. he drew pictures of flowers, students, class teacher or swamis on the black board which brought prolonged uproars of laughter from the students.
in the last session, before saying a good bye to all, i told them a story – about the importance of education for life along with education for living. it was nice to see many come up voluntarily and share what he/she learnt from the classes. they all thanked us profusely, wanted us to come back. many came to me with a thank-you card, some driving me mad with their pleas for autograph. as i came down the building, the children surrounded the car – like the bees around the honey comb – in which i was supposed to travel. oh my god! was my sigh. how do i get into the car? they waited waving, crying, cheering. still children were coming with thank you cards and even letters for amma. it was amazing what ammas love can do. i felt humble. i know that i am nothing, have done nothing. it was her vibhuti – amma’s glory.
“swamiji pls come back to karwar!” was their only ultimatum.
21-27 jun 2011, davanagere, Karnataka
in the early morning, it was the bees that welcomed us when we reached davanagere school. even though the school has 3 or 4 active honeycombs, its surprising none of the children have been hurt so far. nor the children have disturbed them either.
even though its a city, davanagere has preserved its culture. it was verily visible in the children too. many boys and girls come to the school with the 3 lines of ash on their forehead.
clad in colourful dance costumes the children welcomed us. they presented us a conch in a small banana leaf decorated with flowers with a beautiful line – this is the gift of nature, as ammas children its our duty to protect it. indeed it was a beautiful gift.
after a days session there was a demand from the students to have a residential camp. nearly 100 students convinced their parents and came the next day with spare garments. the rest of the students joined in the day time classes. but they missed the best fun part of the camp.
in some sessions children were laughing so much that they were rolling on the ground. i myself found it difficult to control my laughter and continue with the classes.
i was talking to them about happiness, tension and how not to imitate others. this is how children condensed my 6 hours class into 6 words – “be happy, no bp, dont copy”.
the children were so lovely, a class 5 girl brought a big jack fruit for us. we were living in the school itself. some children joined us for the breakfast; with some we played.
even though the lights were supposed to be off at 11 pm we heard the children singing and dancing. even at 1.30 night. so much was the energy and the enthusiasm. to our surprise we found that their teachers also were with them!
learning together, living together, playing together, eating together, no one noticed the clock.
the teachers wanted one more, once we finished childrens camp – just for them! so we had to extent our stay for another day. there were different sessions of talk, interaction, games. they even played cricket they didnt know. they were cheering when the ball reached the stumps after many bounces, or each time ball touched the bat! nice to see the teachers becoming children again.
they said: these two were the happiest days of their life; we became children again. and gave us a promise that they will ever smile in the class!
hearing that we are there, the previous years alumni batch came to meet us. it was very sweet and nice to recongnise them again. it was nine years before in 2002, that i had last visited school. and taken their photos, when they were in class2. and now they see me and those photos. they could not believe what they saw. they are all grownups now. had a little chat. all of them had only one thing to say – “we miss Amrita”
its now time for us to leave. we wave goodbye from the balcony. teachers were also waving. all the 3 verandas of the school building on all 3 floors were lined with children. it is love manifest – how amma’s love is being reflected there in every one. as we came down to the car, some students started running towards us. and lo!! students from all floors joined them! all were wishing us good-bye; happy journey; some were crying. many were demanding autograph – including the teachers.
“Amma ki jai, Mata Amritanandamayi ki jai” blurted the mike. and they started singing… “zindagi to ek hai, jeeyenge ham sath me” (we have only one life, let us live together). all 4 of us found it difficult to leave them and enter into the car. it is a great uproar – it was love finding its expression through innocent hearts. ocean of smiles, waving at us with tears. they formed two lines towards the gate and they kept running behind the car – it was difficult even for the teachers to control them.
our hearts were overflowing with all the love and affection the children and the teachers gave us. it was difficult to say good bye. they were like the bees buzzing around us, for the sweet nectar of amma.
an sms a student sent, after 2 days:
i have learned many things from my brothers, sisters and friends.
they gave me tips for stupid activities.
they gave me money when i was empty in the canteen
they raised hands to say good bye when they were leaving.
they love me, they care for me
and i love them too…
still i have a complaint.
and they didnt teach me one thing.
and you know what?
they didnt teach me to live without them!
dedicating this to my all loving brothers (swamis) like u
priya class 9, davanagere
watch the send off video
6 feb 2008, amritapuri
she came through the window. i was wondering why she is coming to the brahmacharis quarters. how dare she? she had few strands of fibre in her hand. she looked at me and smiled- a kind of an awkard smile. her eyes looked like asking me permission ‘can i come in?’. but she did not wait for any answer. jumped on to the cupboard and then to the shelf and disappeared behind the stuff that was there. aha! there she is making her home. oh ho… is she going to deliver babies and bring them up in my room? yes, it seems like.
i just paused my thought. relflected. my room? really?
one of amma’s teachings flashed through my mind. ‘even the ants living in house will say its their house, the crow and the pigeon sitting on the roof will also say that its their house. really who’s house is it? ignorant man claims it’s his”.
i smiled at the squirrel.
‘kuch na le aya to, kuch na le jayega
nam hari ha jap le sangh vahi aayega’
(you didnt bring any thing with you when you came, you wont take any thing with you when you go;
chant the name of the lord, that alone will accompany you.)
21 Oct 2007, Amritapuri
it’s always blissful during puja holidays. it didn’t start just now. since my school days, it has been like that. even if you get two months vacation you are not as happy as during puja holidays. what is the great thing about puja holidays?
hey ! it’s the only 3 days in your life you should not study!
from ashtami evening onwards everyone keeps their study books in the puja room as part of the ritual. you will start reading it only after the invocations on the day of vijaya dasami… that is after two days.
after coming to the ashram, whenever amma was here, she would lead the puja ceremonies. amma will instruct, we will write the alphabets again in the sand on the floor. that sand we will keep as sacred.
earlier, during vijaya dashami she gave away snannyas. amma gave me brahmacharya deekha on this day some years back.
this year amma was not in amritapuri. amma was in switzerland. over the webcast, still she was leading us in the chant
“saraswati namasthubhyam varade kamarupini,
vidyarambham karishyami siddhir bhavatu me sada.”
सरस्वती नमस्तुभ्यं वरदे कामरूपिणी
विद्यारम्भं करिष्यामि सिद्धिर्भवतु मे सदा ||
devi herself is leading us to into knowledge, into bliss.
on vijaya dashami, after the ceremonies, i sat in-front of the altar and took a plate of rice and imagined that amma was instructing and i wrote again. the same alphabets… ॐ हरि: श्री गणपतये नाम: ‘om hari sri ganapataye namah’.