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’.
Shyama, Amrita-Krishna and Lakshmi now have another friend to play with, Sharan. Sharan is a newborn calf. He is a black beauty with white spots around his ankles and across his forehead. He was born this morning, at about 1 a.m.
Yesterday evening, Lakshman who works in the cowshed told me that a pregnant cow would give birth soon. “How do you know?” I asked. All the signs are there, he said. He took me to the cowshed. I couldn’t believe what I saw.
The cow’s udder was dripping with milk. The cow was already anticipating the birth of its offspring, and the overflowing udders were clearly expressing this anticipation. Seeing it, I was overwhelmed. I realized how great the motherhood is! Tears welled up in my eyes.
When I checked three hours later, Lakshmi, the pregnant cow was lying in a pool of milk. It had not given birth yet, but its udders were overflowing. Amazing! Even though I had worked in the cowshed years ago, I had never seen this. Or maybe I never noticed it.
When Sharan was born, the first thing its mother did was to give it a ‘lick bath.’ Within 20 minutes, he was trying to stand up and move about. Shanmukhan tied him with a cloth to a post next to its mother. By evening, it was running around in the garden in front of the cowshed.
Most of us take cow’s milk in one form or the other: with our tea or coffee, or as cheese or butter. How many of us spare a thought for the mother cow whose milk we imbibe? Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) reminds us that we have to remember the creator when we enjoy the creation.
When I saw the udders dripping with milk, a thought flashed in my mind. Many of us pray for the living. Some even pray for the dead. But how many pray for the unborn? Only a Mother.
5 Nov 2006
I could not join the concreting seva at the bridge , as I had so much work to do. While working in the computer room, the phone rang. It was Jaya, who teaches hatha yoga in the ashram. She wanted to speak to someone. Recognizing my voice, she said, “Hey, what are you doing there? Shouldn’t you be getting your body dirty by doing some concreting seva?”
I told her, “Well, from what I have understood, getting the body dirty is not karma yoga. Cleansing the mind of dirt is.”
Many, unfortunately, do have a misunderstanding of karma yoga. Karma yoga is not about physical work. It has less to do with physical action than with the attitude behind action.
By 4 p.m., I finished my work. I went to the site to take photographs of the concreting seva, for our website. After taking a few shots, I felt to join with my brothers. I changed into my ‘dirty’ clothes. Even though the ashram residents had been working all day, they were still enthusiastic. They were smiling or laughing as they worked. Others were chanting their mantra.
I started shoveling the mortar. This was the last phase of the seva. About 50 sacks of cement were used for creating the concrete. Everyone was so enthusiastic that I had to wrestle with a few of my brothers to get a shovel.
As we shoveled the last bit of concrete, someone called out, “Jai bolo satguru mata amritanandmaayi devi ki!”
Prompt came the response, “Jai!”
Amma’s wish to help the villagers was finally getting fulfilled. As I stood gazing at the imposing bridge that evening, I couldn’t help thinking that it was a radiant monument of Amma’s compassion and service to the people of this island.
1 Nov 2006
why i am not forgetting?
“amma yennulloru namam orthidave romancham akunnatenthe?”
oh what a bhajan tonight! amma sang with a full voice.
“ammayennulloru namam orthidave” i love it so much.
these lines are not just written out of imagination by the poet, but they are born out of real experience of his love-bond with amma.
i used to look at the sky and sing
“neelambhudihi yilum neelambudhathilum swetambaramthilum nokki..”
looking into the blue sky, blue ocean, white sky, i stand with my hairs on end.
when i see these i think about you amma. oh kali.. oh shyame.
in the love i forgot everything –
“dahavumilla vishappumillannaho snanadiyum vittu poyi”
– to eat, to drink to sleep at times and and to even meet the calls of nature.. i forgot.
what a love for the divine!
i used to sing this song and cry.
when i could not feel the love, i used to sing with some alteration to the lines.
“ammayennulloru namam orthidave romancham akathatenthe?
amma en amma ee chinthayil innu njan ellam marakkatha tenthe?”
why are my hairs not standing on end when i think of your divine name?
why i am not forgetting everything in the thought ‘amma amma’.
once i even sang like that in front of Amma during darshan. it was before joining the ashram. Amma was giving darshan in the hut with about 10 people around her.
later, after many years, amma told me that she tied me to herself after i sang that song. even though she loves me otherwise, this song was the hook for the divine.
12 sep 2006
“Amma, did you take them shopping?” the little girl asked.
Why did everyone nearby laugh at this simple question?
Because “them” refers to the two elephants—Ram and Lakshmi—living at Amma’s ashram in India!
Ram and Lakshmi seem to have a special fascination for little Amrita. A lasting fascination, because even last year, they were the subject of her conversation with Amma. Actually, Ram was her first interest:
She asked Amma, “How is Ram?”
And Amma gave her new information:
“There are two elephants now�Ram and Lakshmi.”
The little girl’s mind worked quickly:
“When will the baby come?”
Laughter all around, and Amma set her straight, explaining that there won’t be a baby elephant, for, being ashramites, these two are brahmacharins, celibates.
And that is how it has gone this year too—every time little Amrita comes to Amma, she wants to know more about the elephants, and obligingly Amma tells her.
Amma told her about a misadventure a few months ago, just after the two elephants had their playtime with Amma after bhajans. Most evenings after bhajans, Amma finds the two of them waiting at the foot of the steps up to her room, and stops to feed them biscuits, payasam and bananas! She lets them show their tricks—they can pranam, garland her, search for sweets in her closed fist when she hides it behind her back, spray trunkfuls of water on the crowds standing to watch, and entertwine their trunks when she tells them ‘Kiss!’
This particular night, there were not enough mahouts, elephant trainers, with Ram and Lakshmi, so some brahmacharis were doing the “security” job, controlling the elephants while they were with Amma, and then leading them back to their quarters. But like schoolkids when their teacher is away, Ram and Lakshmi took advantage of the absence of their regular mahouts—and broke free! It was the dinner hour, and when two elephants appeared—loose—in the dining hall crowded with visitors and residents, what havoc broke loose! People screamed and headed for “high ground”—the balconies of the hostels, the spiral steps on the temple building—even Amma’s steps! For those who didn’t realize it was the elephants causing the panic, the immediate interpretation of the chaos was: TSUNAMI! The sounds of people screaming, the running for higher safety—all too well remembered. Amma—just like for the real tsunami—stayed on the scene, telling people where to go for safety, reassuring them, and directing the recapture of the renegades.
In the end Ram and Lakshmi were led back to their proper places. Nobody was hurt, the only damage was a few broken flower pots and some overturned rice plates. All was again calm, and there was lots of laughter.
So Amma told Amrita the story of the naughty elephants, and like a good sister, Amrita must have done some thinking about their behavior, and what she might do to help them.
Devi Bhava night in Los Angeles, Amrita came with her solution: a card addressed to Ram and Lakshmi, which she handed Amma. Upon learning what Amrita had written, Amma immediately said, “Send this home to Amritapuri. Tell Dhyanamrita to read the letter to Ram and Lakshmi.”
The letter says:
“Ram & Lakshmi, I love you very much. Please listen to Amma. Behave well. I will see you two in Amritapuri. Love, Amrita”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When someone comes to Amma with such simple, childlike innocence, watch Amma’s face closely, and you’ll see her eyes sparkle and you’ll detect love radiating in her smile.
Can we recapture what so many of us left behind so many years ago—that fresh simplicity? Maybe watching those who’ve never lost it—like Amrita, and like Amma—will help.
25 June 2005, Los Angeles