By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
To the delight of her local devotees, Amma will come calling again, next month. It is a rare privilege indeed to have the fortune of having her darshana yet again, and lucky indeed will be those who will have the opportunity to be hugged by her and be imbued with the overpowering, divine love that she radiates: 24 million individuals around the world have already had this unique personal experience.
And have their lives instantaneously transformed.
Amma’s presence, audience and following are worldwide, and they share her dream: “Everyone in the world should be able to sleep without fear, at least for one night. Everyone should be able to eat to his fill, at least for one day. There should be at least one day when hospitals see no one admitted due to violence.
By doing selfless service for at least one day, everyone should help the poor and needy.”
Indeed, those who are more closely associated with her at Amritapuri, her ashram in South India, are constantly engaged in selfless service in the myriad projects being run to help the poor, the sick and the needy.
To know more about Amma, here are a few extracts about her life and teachings:
* To be in Her presence is to experience the best that life has to offer…
a river of unconditional love, accepting anyone and everyone, and cleansing all their impurities.
Luminous rays of grace, radiating wisdom and joy…
like the earth bearing us on her bosom.
By her love, consoling us, nourishing us, instilling faith in us…
in whose presence, the innocence of a child awakens within…
the world becomes a wonder.
Such this and more is Mata Amritanandamayi Devi,
Amma, Mother of Immortal Bliss.
* Love, compassion, empathy and tolerance–under the pressures of modern life, these qualities have all but disappeared. Through Her loving embrace and charitable activities, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (affectionately known as Amma or Mother) is healing the heart of the world, rekindling love and mutual respect, and awakening people to their fundamental oneness.
Through Her extraordinary acts of love and self-sacrifice, Amma has endeared Herself to millions. Tenderly caressing everyone who comes to Her, holding them close to Her heart in a loving embrace, Amma shares boundless love with all. Be they young or old, sick or healthy, rich or poor–everyone who comes to Her receives the same unconditional love.
Amma’s compassion crosses all barriers of nationality, race, caste and religion. She has initiated a vast network of charitable activities, which is drawing attention throughout the world. At the root of these services lies Amma’s teaching that the Divine exists in everything–in every person, plant and animal. Perceiving this unity is the essence of spirituality and the means by which to end all suffering. It is through this simple, yet powerful message that Amma is transforming our world, one embrace at a time. In the past 35 years, Amma has physically embraced more than 24 million people.
Amma’s teachings are universal. Whenever She is asked about Her religion, She replies that Her religion is Love.
She does not ask anyone to believe in God or to change their faith, but only to inquire into their own real nature and to believe in themselves.
On Attitude towards Life: “Just like a swan, which extracts only milk from a mixture of milk and water, try to see only the good in everything.”
Good Company: “Once, a temple and a liquor shop kept parrots as pets. While the temple parrot chanted Vedic mantras, the parrot in the liquor shop uttered obscenities. Children, one’s conduct is determined by the company one keeps.”
Look within: “If a piece of sandalwood is left lying in the mud, its outer part will become rotten. But what a wonderful fragrance we can still get from it if we clean it and rub it on a stone! As long as we are immersed in worldly things, we cannot enjoy the fragrance of the inner Self.”
Learn from Sorrows: “Children, why lose all your strength by grieving? What good will it do you? Get new enthusiasm and proceed in life.”
“There is a black crow in the company of white cranes. Only because black is present can we appreciate the beauty of white. Sorrows can teach us the value of joy.”
Detachment: “No one brings anything into this world, nor takes anything with him.”
“A person who was very fond of sweet dishes was helping himself to a second serving, when a lizard fell in his plate. He lost all fondness for the sweets and threw it away. Likewise, when one realises the limits of worldly pleasure, attachment to them will wither away.”
“Nothing in this material world is everlasting. Everything can go at anytime. Therefore, live in this world keeping the alertness of a bird perched on a dry twig. It knows that at any time the twig can break.”
Desire: “Where there is fire, there is smoke. Where there is desire there is sorrow.”
“Certain plants won’t bear fruit if they have too many leaves; they need to be pruned. We have to get rid of desires for worldly pleasures if we want to reap the fruit of God-experience.”
Effort: “You can’t learn to swim by sitting on the side of the pool; you have to get into the water.”
“When water is leaking into the boat, it is not enough to just sit there praying to God for the hole to be plugged. You have to try to plug the leak yourself.”
Body and Soul: “Our body is perishable. Only the Soul is permanent. This is a rented body. We will be asked to leave at any time. Before that, we should look for a place in a permanent abode. Then, when we leave the body we would move to that permanent abode, the eternal house of God.”
Death: “When a balloon bursts, it doesn’t mean that the air, which was in it, ceases to exist. Death does not bring the end of the Self, but of the instrument called the body.”
The Mind: “Don’t let your life go to waste by being a slave to your mind! Don’t barter away a priceless jewel for a piece of candy.”
The Value of Things: “What use are hundreds of rupees in our hands when we are in need of firewood to cook our meal? That’s the value of things.”
On Selfless Service
“By engaging in selfless service the mind gets purified. Don’t waste a single chance to serve others. Such opportunities might not always come.”
“When we dedicate ourselves solely to the well being of others, it is our own mind that becomes pure. When you give your friend a bouquet of flowers, you are the one who experiences the gratification of giving. You are the first one to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the flowers. In the same way, you can derive happiness from selfless acts.”
“If a farmer sells rice of good quality, he will be properly rewarded for his work. Good actions bring good results.”
“Securing good marks in the exam is not sufficient; one has to do well in the job-interview to secure a job. Similarly it’s not enough if you only meditate; you have to do selfless work too. That is the test and strength of your progress.”
“There are two ways: Think of everyone as your own Self, or see everyone as God and serve Him.”
“Be like an incense stick that allows itself to burn out while giving its fragrance to others. Be like a tree that gives shade even to those who are in the act of cutting it down. Serve others through self-sacrifice, just like a candle gives light to others while it melts and burns down.”
For a more complete account, especially of activities in the cultural, social and educational fields, visit www.amritapuri.org
* Published in print edition on 15 February 2013