The real Sannyasi

Last week during darshan, I remained at Amma’s side for some time. It wasn’t long before a middle-aged woman came for darshan. She was from central Kerala. It was her first time meeting Amma. She told Amma that early this year her husband had been fishing around 3:00 a.m., casting his net from the boat, when he suddenly had a stroke and fell into the mud of the shallow waters. In tears, she explained that he had become stuck in the mud and drowned. She said she didn’t know what to do. Their eldest child, who was in his mid-twenties now, was permanently brain-damaged from a shock he had received from a faulty electrical outlet when he was only three. Because she had to do everything for him, from putting on his pants to brushing his teeth, she told Amma that it was impossible for her to work. She said that sometimes he could become violent, flying into a rage for no perceivable reason. Earlier she could handle it, but the older and stronger he became, without her husband around, the more unmanageable it was becoming. Her family’s sole income comes from her youngest son, who repairs car stereos. Amma dried her tears and called a devotee from her area and asked him to try to arrange some financial and infrastructural support for her and her family.

Not long after that, a long-time devotee from Northern Kerala came for darshan. Her husband had been one of the first people to invite Amma to their hometown. He passed long back, killed in a political clash. Since then, their family’s income has been limited. Still the mother had managed to get their daughter enrolled in a nursing school, and the girl had just graduated. The problem is that now the girl either has to pay an Rs. 150,000 bond to her school or work for its hospital at 33 percent beneath the standard starting wage for three years—Rs. 8,000 a month, instead of Rs. 12,000. Her other child is autistic. She says that he can chant the Lalita Sahasranama flawlessly—that he even corrects her when she makes pronunciation mistakes. But, despite being 29, he cannot be left unsupervised for even a minute. On this day, the mother had come to ask Amma’s guidance for what to do with her daughter.

Soon after, a middle-aged man came up to Amma. You could tell by his puffy skin and the yellowish tint to his eyes that he was suffering from hepatitis. He told Amma that it was his second flare-up since contracting the disease seven years ago. He said he used to work in retail sales, but that now, with his liver 70-percent destroyed, he can no longer maintain a job. He had had to get a tube inserted to drain out the water from his abdomen. Now his legs get swollen. His doctor told him recently that he is in dire need of a liver transplant within the next three months. Married with a son and a sick mother to look after, he had come to ask if he would be able to get some help from Amma for the liver transplant at Amrita Hospital. Amma entrusted an ashramite to look into the still-smiling man’s case and do the needful.

Amma has often said that we should listen to the life stories and woes of at least 10 people who have come for Amma’s darshan. In that way, Amma says, we will be able to develop compassion. Just hearing these three stories, I felt a bit overwhelmed. How much suffering is there in this world? How many such burdens have people laid at Amma’s feet? I remember someone once asked Amma why sannyasa is considered a harder path than that of a gruhasta (householder), and Amma responded that while a gruhasta is only responsible for one family, the Sannyasi is ultimately responsible for the entire world. I am not sure if all Sannyasis see it this way, but Amma in her total renunciation has taken up the struggles of countless individuals, countless families. Even if you don’t consider the charitable assistance the ashram provides for people like this, Amma has dedicated her entire life to being there for such people—being a shoulder to cry on, an ear that is always ready to listen, a smile to take inspiration from….

28 Aug 2014
~ Dhyanamrita


happily live, for others

you should have…
vision in your eyes,
passion in your thoughts,
compassion in your heart,
action in your hands and
happily live, for others.


its ok if your IQ is little less; enjoy life, help others

today we visited a differently able school with the students of amrita vidyalayam, kochi.

at first, students were reluctant, but after few minutes, they started interacting.. asking names, singing songs, playing mimicry, imitating michael jackson, fighting with pancha gusthi.. encouraging the differently-abled at each step. many of inmates are beyond their teens, but their brain has not developed enough and many have physical deformities. interestingly they all help each other in their activities, encourages each other to come up, which most of the IQ people lack in this world, unfortunately.

students interacting with
students joining the laughter with a differently abled girl

the avm children also collect rice and grocery items and donate to this institution regularly, where more than 80% of the inmates are from a poor family.   this way avm students will see the reality of life, and also will help them to develop love and compassion for the suffering.

after the visit, keerthana from 6th std had an interesting note. she said, “all of the inmates are enjoying, they are happy in spite of the disabilities.”

it was true though.

there is nothing to worry if your IQ is a little less, but are you able to enjoy life? that’s important. get rid of the unnecessary thinking and IQ stuff, if it can’t help others and able to enjoy life.

30 jun 2016

imitating a blind man singing
imitating a blind man singing
girls singing
girls singing
mimicry performance
mimicry performance
with the differently abled
a selfie with the differently abled
bus trip
singing in the bus on the way
a selfie from the bus

that day when i cried

watching ’embracing the world’ video triggered some memories in me. it was sometime back in 1997 and i had been a part of amma’s free housing project – amrita kuteeram. amma had organized a team of volunteers which was to build 25 thousand free houses for the poor. as a forerunner, we visited every applicant’s address and our task was to filter out ineligible ones. the selected applicant or families were sorted out again according to the urgency of the need and that task was to prioritize constructions for the first year, second year, consecutive year and so on.

amongst one of the applicants, we found a special case wherein reading the address in the application the address, not even locals let alone ourselves, were able to find the address mentioned. to our surprise, even though the house address was in the city itself, it was not at all easy to identify this house. with the help of a local man who had in fact submitted an application in their name, we tracked the location of the family.

it was around 4pm when we reached the address mentioned in the application. there was an old lady living under a dozen palm leaves set against a jackfruit tree. this old woman was in her 60’s and looked deathly pale. the little hair, she had was tied up and she was wearing a violet blouse and was wrapped by a dirty cloth. there was no emotions of life on her face. her paleness was so deathlike that if one would look into the eyes, it was as if she were not alive. she could not stand up properly and was sitting in folded-legged with knees up and with the face in between her knees.

as was our task, we enquired about her details and whereabouts. her name was kathu. she had 4 children: 2 boys and 2 girls. the eldest one who was in his early forties was completely unstable, psychologically. he would not talk to anyone. for years, he had been living under another jackfruit tree nearby. he did not do any work either. he would not even get up at all and would be lying under the tree all the time. in fact, the place where he was lying down was devoid of grass while the surrounding area was thick with green grass. kathu’s first girl child got married and living with her husband. the second girl got married and then had separated after a year. she was also psychologically unstable. the main problem with her was that she would abuse everyone around with really foul language. no one could stand up to her and she was in the habit of always talking to everything around! kathu’s fourth child was a boy who was not as psychologically unstable and was in his late 30’s. he did some work, brought back little to the house, that actually fed the others. however, his mental stability was like the phases of the moon and almost always varied as per the moon’s position.

after all that information, we asked her whether she had food. “nothing is there” came the reply.
we insisted “break fast?” and then “no” was the reply again.
we kept going “yesterday?”. again no was her answer.
with that, we asked: “no? when did u last had food?”. she weakly mumbled “one week ago”.
shocked we asked “what was it?”. she again replied “some raw onions.”.
to verify our shock, we kept asking “where did u get that?”.
kathu replied “my son brought from leftovers of a marriage party.”.

it was extremely shocking. i could not believe my ears. i was afraid to ask further -when she had food before that?

even though i had heard about poverty, i never thought of it in such a condition here in the state of kerala. a local politician also had been assisting us, guiding us to find the houses of the applicants. that very politician has never came across this family although he and his family had lived in the town, alongside the same road!

one of us went to buy some food items. in 10 minutes, he was back with rice and tapioca and we gave all that to the old lady and asked her to prepare food for the family. she was so weak and could hardly get up and walk. she took a vessel and started walking. we were surprised. what was happening? where is she going? lo! there was no water in the house to cook food. she would have to climb down a 50 meter hill to get water! touched and shocked, we asked her to sit back and bought water ourselves. we were told it was her younger son who brought water. we then helped her prepare tapioca. it was washed and put in the pot. we asked her to light a fire. she did not even have a match box. luckily one person in the group, a cigarette smoker, had a matchbox. so we lit the fire, put rice in another vessel and allowed her to do the rest.

while the water is warming up in the vessel, we added her name to the top priority list and started our journey to the next applicant.

that night, i could not sleep. i was crying thinking about her and that family – the helplessness of that lady, the craziness of the children. my tears lasted not just that day, but for a full week! every time when i sit for food, i see her suffering face. i have heard about poverty but had never imagined such a plight especially in our kerala state which boasts of 100% literacy rate.
later an ‘amrita kuteeram’ house was built for her. the locals even came forward and gave a helping hand to finish the house early.

to me, in the past, when amma was talking about helping the poor it seemed only as a nice idea; when amma mentioned not to waste food and water it had rung inside me only as an economic statistic. i had never ever thought that such shocking realities exist. that day was an eye opener to me. i saw the plight of hunger. today, even after decades, memories remain afresh of one of those houses that i then visited as part of the housing-enquiry. guess why?

that was the first time i cried for someone. this is the transformation amma has brought in me.