Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why Amma always speaks high of her mother who had given her so much of hardship in her younger days?

 27th August 2013, Tuesday

"Why does Amma always speak high of her mother who had given her so much of hardship in her younger days?" this was a question posed by a westerner to Amma on the Satsang.

The gist of Amma's reply was as below:

Amma always believes that whatever happened has happened only for good. Dhamayantiamma had so many good principles and values that she practiced with extraordinary strictness and she was very particular that Amma too learned and practiced them.

She had so much awareness about so many things. If Amma spilled a few grains while cleaning the rice, Dhamayantiamma would say "Are you capable of creating one rice grain yourself? Then how can you carelessly waste it?". Even a match stick should not be wasted unnecessarily. If Amma has to light up fire, she has to go approach a neighbor and if they have got fire at their kitchen or at their wick lamp, fire should be obtained from there.

If a piece of paper is left behind on the floor while sweeping, she would  shout for the lack of shraddha in doing a job perfectly. Moreover, a piece of paper is an aspect of Goddess of Learning, Saraswathi. If someone puts a foot over it, it amounts to showing disrespect to Goddess Saraswathi. Dhamayantiamma could not permit it.

While grinding 'masala' in the grinding stone, Amma would loudly chit chat. That was not an acceptable behavior. When you chit chat, there is a chance that your spittle may drop on the preparation and it was very unhygienic. Dhamayantiamma would give a beating or two if Sudhamani does not keep her mouth shut at that time.

Dhamayantiamma- Amma's mother
 Dhamayantiamma was very particular that her daughters should never get any bad name or reputation. Girls to be married off should have modesty, sound character, be soft spoken, be feminine,  be excellent in domestic chores and so on in her standards. But Amma those days had a Tom-boyish behavior that naturally did not fit into Dhamayanthiamma's scheme of things. If Amma had received so much of beatings those days, it was more due to Amma's egotism and adamant behavior at her young age.

If Dhamayantiamma says "You should not do it" Amma will say "I will". If Dhamayantiamma shouts at her, Amma would shout back  louder than her! If Dhamayantiamma comes to beat her, Amma would grip her hands and  try to thwart her from hitting her! All these would naturally bring Dhamyanthiamma to boiling point and instead of getting one beating, Amma would end up getting 10 beatings!

In her young age, brimming with energy, Amma would not differentiate a work which are normally done by men. Once Amma was returning from Vallikkavu and came to the backwaters to take a rowing boat ('kadatthu vallam') to reach home. (There was no bridge those days and boat was the only mode of transport). Boatmen had retired for lunch time.Some elderly women and children were waiting for the boatman for a long time. One woman was lamenting that her children were hungry at home; she had just bought the provisions and only after returning home with that she could start cooking. If the wait had to be longer, the children had to suffer in hunger. She was feeling restless.

Amma could not just tolerate the woman's mental anguish. She decided to row the boat herself even though she had no experience in rowing the large Kadatthu Vallam;. The bamboo stick was too heavy and too tall for her small stature! It was indeed a tough man's job! But undaunted, Amma started pushing the boat using the stick
, keeping the women and children seated in it. Soon the boat was swaying this way and that way dangerously, but still started progressing towards the opposite shore!

Seeing what young Sudhamani (Amma) is doing, people started gathering at both the shores wondering as to what would happen. Will she end up capsizing the boat and sinking all into the backwaters? Or will she manage to reach the opposite shore? Dhamayanthiamma too rushed to the banks of the backwaters hearing the commotion going around!

Sudhamani somehow successfully managed to cross the backwaters and reach the bank! There was excitement all around and Dhamayantiamma was totally nonplussed! Oh what a shame this Sudhamani had brought to the family! Doing things that only males are supposed to do! If she is so rough and tough, who would ever come forward to marry her?! Needless to mention that Amam got her choicest beatings from her mother that day!

Guests would keep on coming to Dhamayantiamma's home at all odd hours and whomsoever comes had to be served with tea. That's the strict rule of hospitality of Dhamayantiamma. Firewood  would be constantly needed. If nothing is immediately available, Sudhamani would not hesitate to climb a coconut tree nearby to pull out a dry branch handing there! A girl climbing a tree? Oh no! Blasphemous! Sudhamani would end up with  a few beatings for her act of chivalry!

Dhamayantiamma truly treated guests as Gods. She would unhesitatingly sacrifice her food to feed a guest. She would give away a new cloth to a guest and she would wear an old one. Guests would get space to lie inside the house and Dhamayantiamma would not mind her sleeping at the courtyard. A beggar coming hungry knocking at her doors would never be turned away.

The sense of togetherness with neighbors that Dhamayantiamma displayed too was so striking. When Dhamayantiamma directed Amma to fetch fire from any neighboring house, she would instruct Amma that if the house she visited was untidy, she should sweep that house; if utensils were there uncleaned, she should clean them before coming back home with the fire.

Whether it is cleanliness, awareness in actions, faith and piety on God,  practicing austerities or undertaking fast with a vow, Dhamayantiamma was thorough. Amma had seen many times that when Dhamayantiama undertakes fast on a day, a tender coconut would fall on its own from the tree in the evening to enable her finish her fast!

It is for such possession of great qualities that Amma respects her mother.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why Paramatma should turn to become Jivatma

26th February 2013 - Tuesday

One question posed to Amma in today's satsang was "Why the nameless and formless God, the Paramatman should become a Jivatman (Individual soul)?  If Paramatman has no attributes, where from God's love came?"

The gist of Amma's reply was as below:

It is indeed true that what exists in reality is Paramatman. Only the individuals feel they are separate because of their identification with ego. (Amma used to say frequently 'everything is created by God, but ego is our own creation').  Think of a pot that gets immersed into a ocean. What exists outside and inside the pot is nothing but the ocean water. (Ocean is akin to Brahman and the ocean water inside the pot is akin to jiva). It is the pot that seemingly creates a feeling that the water inside is different from the water outside. Our ego is like the pot.

Out true nature (Atman/Brahman) is like a sweet pudding. Just like mixing hot chilli or salt with sweet pudding (and spoiling its taste) our ego functions as the hot chilli or salt to prevent us to enjoy the bliss of our  true nature.

We all breathe the same air in the atmosphere. Whatever portion of air that one breaths cannot be claimed as one’s own.

Gold is same whether the ornament is a necklace, ear ring or bracelet. Wood is same whether the furniture is a table, chair or a cot. It is God who created the gold and wood. It is we who make ornaments and furniture and treat them as different.

With ego comes I and mine. When we are in deep sleep state (‘Shushupti’) we don't have any knowledge of the existence of our body, mind or intellect. We have no feelings of mine -- "my house", "my watch" etc. But we do experience a state of bliss that is felt, but not expressive at that state. When we wake up our ego rises up with the feelings of "I" and "mine". Thus the same person who existed as nameless and formless in the state of Sushupthi is the one now having a name and body at wake up state. (In a similar way, Brahman and jivan exist).

We have the feeling of mine to things -- "My watch", "My house", "My car" etc. When we start discriminating: "This is my watch, am I the watch?", the answer is no. "This is my house; am I the house?" - No. In the same trend, if we question "This is my body; Am I the body?", the real answer is no. But unfortunately, we identify the body as "I". That's where the problem lies.

(We have to understand that our wakeful state is also like a dream).

In our dream, suppose we see a thief breaking open our vault and stealing our golden ornaments, we get grief and we start crying. But when we wake up, we grasp immediately that it was after all a dream and we have nothing to grieve about. Likewise, when the true spiritual  awakening happens in us, we understand that we are none other than the Brahman and all duality like pleasure and pain, love and hatred, happiness and anger vanish.

All of us know our real existence deep inside us. The knowledge of our oneness with Brahman is with us like a seed. Just as the seed is product of the tree and it contains the future tree in it, our Jivatma has the Brahman inside it.

All of us love ourselves. It is because our true nature is love.

Only in the outlook of a Gnyani, God is without name and form. For a devotee (Bhakta), the concept of Brahman is with name and form. A devotee (like we love ourselves) loves THAT God form.

As long as "I" and "you" exist, the feeling of "I love you" exists. Once true realization dawns and the unity is grasped, the feeling ends up as "I am love".

It is only through sadhana, we can grasp our true divine nature. It is like a process of purification of sewage water into good water.

The overwhelming compassion over the erring person – that’s Amma’s way!

27th February 2013 Tuesday

Yet another day to get enthralled by Amma’s way! A day of learning what true spirituality is; what it means to be compassionate; how one should accept things in an Ashram if one wants spiritual progress.

Amma came for Tuesday Satsang at the main hall at about 11:20 and the usual meditation session began It was Swami Amritaswarupanandapuri  who gave the guiding instructions for meditation today.  He was also the translator of Amma’s words to English.

In the Q-A session that followed, the very first slip of paper that Amma read was really a complaint letter.  Several Brahmacharinis had signed that letter and it was about the misbehavior of one young western devotee (woman) who is an in-mate of the Ashram. 

This western woman, whose seva responsibility is cleaning and up-keeping of the Kali temple, wanted a place to sit very close to Amma for the Tuesday Satsang. When Amma’s venue got changed to main hall instead of Kali temple today, this woman, along with several other brahmacharinis rushed to reserve their vantage spots with their mats. This western woman could not tolerate other Brahmacharinis reserving the closest spot; she reportedly  got very angry, kicked one of them at the waist, threw away their meditation mats, caught hold of the neck of a girl and threatened to kill her! She was also shouting very abusive language at them.  Several westerners who were new to this place reportedly got a shock of seeing such an unruly behavior in this holy ashram.

The letter stated that this woman has been center of such undisciplined behavior frequently and many inmates are simply afraid of her.  It ended up requesting Amma to give guidance to the woman as well as to the others to tide over such situations.

Amma’s first reaction was that inmates should be careful enough in their behavior and nothing should be done to create a bad impression about the Ashram. People expect this place to be an abode of peace and spirituality and any such incidences will be really shocking and confusing to them.
That said, then Amma, the compassionate mother took over!

“You see, this woman has had a highly unpleasant, torturous and painful life right from her childhood; she is mentally troubled. Because of the negativities she has experienced in her life, she tends to get violent at times. It is only natural that she wants to get closer to Amma and is eager to receive and experience Amma’s love and compassion. 

“You all have to be patient with her; be forbearing with her. If she wants a seat closer to Amma, why don’t you simply allow her and  just give her the space? 

“You have all come to Amma with a lofty goal. We should all evolve ourselves to see God in every one.”
Amma’s justice was thus delivered. No inquiry, no cross examination, no pronouncement of the guilty, no declaration of punishment!

Amma then finally added something with a laugh “Children! Don’t you all start citing your past mental troubles and start behaving like this and justifying your behavior! Then this place will become a mental asylum!”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to manage your anger

21st February 2013 - Thursday

The ashram started bubbling with activity as Amma returned from north India tour on 19th afternoon. Amma came to Kali Temple on 20th afternoon and started giving darshan to Western devotees and other stray visitors.

On 21st evening, Amma came to beach and she spent a brief while alone at the beach without her devotees hanging around close to her. After a while, all were called in.

Amma wanted to know how clean the rooms of Brahmacharis are. Amma for sure must be knowing that many Brahmacharis don't keep their rooms clean and particularly after the long, tiring and physically taxing tour, most of them  would have opted to take rest without bothering to clean up their rooms that  remained unoccupied for several weeks.

 When Amma posed the question, several brahmacharis have to confess the truth! Amma, in Guru bhava, took them to task and directed several of them to go back to clean their rooms immediately -- that would be the meditation for them that evening!

Once this was settled, Amma began the  meditation session. Then came the Q-A session. Amma posed this question: "How to manage anger and keep it under control?" and sought response from inmates.  After a while Amma aired her views on it. The gist of her talk was as follows:

"A physical wound caused by you may heal, but a wound caused by angry words would take quite a long time to heal. One approach to expressing anger could be to treat the target person of your anger as your own child. With our child, even though we may get angry, the anger would not be venomous not would it last long.
"Another approach is to consciously delay our response when we are provoked. Instead of reacting with anger on face, we can write down our feelings and emotions in a piece of paper. That would really prove to be a good emotional outlet for us and we may feel far less relieved by doing so. Once our initial and immediate reaction is curtailed, we get an opportunity to cool down and then review the matter in a more objective manner. At that point of time, we may not really feel the same intensity of anger and we could even appreciate the offender's action."

Amma narrated the following story to explain this:

"Once a famous professor gave a lecture at a gathering. The next day, he received a letter from one of his audience. It mentioned that what the professor lectured that day had a few mistakes and adivised the professor to avoid such mistakes in his next lectures.

"The professor became very angry. He felt 'I am such a knowledgeable and experienced person in this field; I am so much respected and people throng to my lectures to hear what I say; how dare this person find fault with me! What an arrogance! No. I cannot allow this to happen'.

"The professor thought of filing a defamation suite against this person; he even wanted to engage thugs and give a physical beating to that critic!

He took a piece of paper and wrote a very strongly worded reply to the person. Unfortunately, before he could post it, the time for that day's mail was over. The professor kept that letter beside his bed so that he can remember to post it early next morning.

Next morning, when he woke up, he felt like reading his letter once before posting it. After going through it, the professor felt that the letter was too harsh; he sat down to rewrite it to make it more sober. As he was about to post it, he thought "If my mind could change so much over a day, why not I postpone sending this letter for another day and make a fresh review tomorrow?" He retained the letter on his table.

The next day, the professorre read the letter that he had received from the critic and also his re-written reply. He now felt "Oh! The mistakes that this person found in my lecture are true indeed; why should I write negatively to him then? I should actually be thankful to him for bringing my slips to my notice". He sat down to write a fresh letter thanking the person for pointing out his mistakes; he invited the person for lunch in a restaurant as he wished to meet him in person.

The other person obliged. It was actually a woman and as they met and talked to each other they developed liking for each other. Soon, it blossomed into love; the professor proposed to her and she accepted; soon they got married!

* * * *
When Br. Subhamrita translated this story in English, he added his mischief by concluding the story with his own statement "Then the professor remained angry for the rest of his life!"

The whole of the audience burst into laughter and Amma too joined laughing aloud and also yelling "I never said so!"

Friday, January 18, 2013

In the absence of Amma -- Meditation sessions and Satsang are there

1st-2nd Week of January 2013

Amma went for North Indian tour on 02/01/2013 from the Ashram. A large number of brahmacharis, Brahmacharinis, Achan/ Ammamars and western devotees (600+ in total) accompanied her for the tour.

Normally, during Ammas' absence in the Ashram, a dullness settles over; several Achans and Ammamars would utilize this time to go to their respective native places or to visit their nearest kith and kin; they would return just before Amma returns to the Ashram.

Not much of spiritual activity will be there in the Ashram except for the regular early-morning chanting of Lalitha Sahasranama Archana, another round of Archana at 10 AM and, in the evening,  6:30 to 8 PM, Lalitha Sahasranama sthotram and Bhajans.  All these sessions would take place simultaneously at Kali Temple (for ladies) and Main Darshan Hall (for gents).

This time, Amma has arranged yet another spiritual activity, particularly to cater to the needs of Western devotees. There is a morning group meditation (30 minutes) followed by Satsang in English (30 minutes) at the beach between 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM. Again another session in the evening between 5:30PM to 6:30PM.

Brahmachari Ramkumar and Brahmachari Vinay (Westerner) and Br. Sachin (Westerner) are conducting these sessions with utter dedication and enthusiasm.

All of them are knowledgeable and capable speakers (in English) and their Satsang sessions are very lively. With the right mix spiritual wisdom, 'Amma stories' (i.e. anecdotes of happenings around Amma), personal experiences with Amma, short spiritual stories and quotations from scripture, the brahmacharis are attracting more and more audience every day.

Thank you Amma, for providing the Ashramites with this additional spiritual bonanza this time during your absence!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Will the Guru punish his disciple? Can't he be saved by God?

25th December 2012 - Tuesday

In today's Satsang, the following question was posed to Amma by a devotee:

"Amma, in Guru Gita, it is stated that Lord Siva explained to Parvati that if God became angry with a person, he can be saved by his Guru; but if Guru became angry with a person, no one including God can save the person. It is difficult to digest this. Even among worldly people, if a child does something wrong, the parents don't reject the child. If that is the case with even non-spiritual persons, how can it be true that the Guru would get so angry with a disciple that none can save him?"

ANGRY GURU?   courtesy:
The gist of Amma's replay was as below:

"Siva Purana glorifies lord Siva as the supreme lord who is the most powerful of all Gods. Vishnu Purana glorifies lord Vishnu as the ultimate God that Siva and Brahma worship; he is the greatest and most powerful of all. Same case with other puranas that glorify other Gods. It is this way that the puranas tend to strengthen the faiths of devotees of their chosen God forms.

"In a similar vain, Guru Gita is a scripture that explains the glories of the guru and it is intended for the disciples to understand the greatness of the Guru and develop full faith in him. Like God's anger being too powerful to combat, it is stated of Guru's anger too. But even Guru's anger is only meant for the good of the devotee.

"Guru is great because to understand God correctly, Guru's guidance is a must. To overcome negativity and egotism, Guru's guidance is essential. Guru's anger too could be one form of his ways of putting his disciple in the right path; Guru creates situations in such a way that the disciple faces problems in real life to overcome his weaknessess and advance in spiritual strength.

"Even a Guru's explicit display of anger could be an act -- his lila. A true master has transcended ego and  he lives in the plane of Atman. His anger is not ego-centric like normal persons."

We think of God only in troubled times!

24th December 2012 - Monday

Amma narrated this incident to explain how most of us think of God seriously only in trouble times.

Once Amma was travelling in flight with all her troup (sometime while in US or Europe tour).   It was time to take food and food was being served. Suddenly the plane got into a turbulance and flight became shaky and bumpy. All got frightened and most of the people were shouting aloud "Amma, Amma...." Many were loudly chanting other God names; many were praying feverishly with folded palms.

After a while, the turbulance was crossed and the flight became normal again. As though a power was switched off, all the people stopped praying and chanting, smile returned to their faces and they started to eat their food as though nothing had happened!

"We think about existence of our head only when we get a headache!" quipped Amma and all of us laughed. "Amma loves to see her children laughing" said Amma laughing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jesus Christ and Amma - a western devotee's view

24th December 2912 -- Monday

In today's evening Satsang at beach, Amma's question was "What is the real message behind Christmas Celebrations?"

A western devotee spoke very eloquently comparing Jesus Christ and Amma, which was well appreciated by the audience. The gist of the Westerm lady's speach is as below:

Firstly, Jesus Christ was an incarnation of God, like Amma. He was whole, he was purest. Only when God comes with a human body, we can grasp God. That is the purpose of Avatar.

Jesus Christ advised : "Love God first and then love other Gods". By 'other Gods'  he meant our worldly desires. Amma too emphasizes love of God above any worldly pursuits.

Jesus Christ loved everybody, irrespective of caste, color and creed. He did not differentiate between the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick, man and woman, the saint or a sinner. In the same way, Amma accepts every one and showers her love equally on all."

Jesus said 'love your neighbor as you love yourself'."The significance of celebrating Christmas is to emphasise cordial relationship with every one around us. It can be achieved best by taking from the world what is our rightful share and then giving back to the world whatever best we could, for the good and well-being of all. This simple give and take can be best understood by observing how our own internal organs function for the well being of our body.

The heart does not say, "I will take blood only for myself and shall not pump it around the body. The kidney does not say, 'Why should I keep on cleaning the blood that gets dirtied for no fault of me'. The lungs don't say 'I will just breathe for my sake only; I will not do it for the sake of other organs'. All these organs need blood circulation for their survival and they take it from the body. And they give back what they could do best by doing their respective functions for the well being of the body.

In the same way, we should strive to live in this world and help the society for its well being.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Amma's Chritmas Eve Message

24thDecember 2012 - Monday

In the evening Satsang at the beach on the Christmas eve, Amma posed this question to her western children who had gathered in large numbers to celebrate Christmas with Amma : "What is the real message behind Chrismas Celebrations?"

Before seeking answers, Amma elaborated some of her own view points as briefed below:

"Christmas day is a day of joy and we share our love with our near and dear. We send Christmas greeting cards to our beloved ones. Sending greetings to those we love is normal and easy. Amma would say that we must send Christmas Greeting Cards to even those whom we hate. Jesus Christ was full of forgiveness towards those who slammed him on to the cross. He said 'My lord, forgive them because they don't know what they are doing'. Christ's crucifixion really signifies going beyond body consciousness and awakening in divine consciousness.

By forgiving those whom we hate and by sending a greeting like this, we are indeed healing our own inner wounds. So, Christmas day could indeed be the day of loving, forgiving and also seeking forgiveness from those whom we hated. Amma feels this is the purpose of celebrating Christmas.

When we nurture anger and hatred inside us, we really die every day. Hatred pollutes our inner self and creates negative vibes in us. By getting rid of hatred, we actually take a rebirth.

The source of anger and hatred is actually our egotism. The "I" inside us is the culprit. If you strike out the "I" (with a horizontal line), what you get is the picture of cross. Jesus' crucifixion and the symbol of cross should remind us to lose our limited bodily consciousness associated with our ego and to awaken at divine consciousness.

The real test of graduation!

21st December 2012, Friday

When Amma spoke during today's satsang, she was talking about lack of self-discipline among students. What is the true value of education, if it is not going to refine one's character?  The purpose of reading Shastras (scriptures), in reality, is not for any intellectual gain, but to put what you learned into practice.

To explain this, Amma narrated this story.

Once upon a time, in a Gurukula, several brahmacharis learned Shastras (Scriptures) for several years. They did well in their examinations and they were ready to get their "pass certificates". At that point of time, their guru said to them, "You will receive your certificates from a Senior Monk who is in the other Ashram. You have to walk a few miles from here to reach that Gurukulam. Better you start now". The Guru gave them directions on how to reach the other Gurukulam.

The brahmacharis started walking together chitchatting joyfully towards the other Ashram.  They had to walk across a forest along a narrow pathway. It was evening and the Sun was gradually approaching the western horizon. At one stretch along the path, there were lots of thorns found strewn right on the walk way. When the brahmacharis noticed the thorns, they started looking around for an alternative path to take a detour.  As they started to proceed on the alternative path, one among them did not join them.

He opted to pick the thorns from the path so as to clear it safe. When the others noticed it , they asked him "Hey! What are you doing? We have already found the alternative path; come on! Let's move ahead fast; it is already getting late; we should reach our destination before dark".

But the brahmachari refused to go with them. He said "No! I am not coming without removing these thorns. You may all proceed but I will come after finishing this. You are right. It is gradually getting dark. At least we could see thorns when we reached here and  we were not hurt. But think of the people who may come this way after some time when it would be dark. They may not notice these thorns and sure will get hurt. I can't allow that to happen." He proceed to remove the thorns. The other brahmacharis opted to leave him alone and proceed on their way.

At that point of time, a person hiding behind the trees came out. He was none other than the senior monk who was supposed to give them pass certificates. He came close to the brahmachari and hugged him. He said "I am so glad that you are the only one who has really passed the test of scriptures. You have truly grasped the essence of the scriptural knowledge!"

Amma concluded the story by saying "Those who remove the thorns in the path of others are indeed showering flower petals in their own path towards divinity"

Dirty Toilets, Dirty practices and dirty bodies!

21th December 2012 - Friday

After all, the world didn't end today as predicted by doom-Sayers!

"Were you afraid? How will you actually face the situation if such an end is really going to come?" was the question posed by Amma in the beach Satsang today.

One westerner made a a very lively talk that amused every one and was very well appreciated by both the gathering and Amma (by her facial gestures). Though his reply was not to do with the world-ending worries, it was more about his personal worries, dejection and loss of motivation in his work due to several happenings in his professional (research) activities.

In that week, his parents came to take darshan of Amma for the first time and it brought good cheers to him followed by lots of negative thoughts and interactions that had its origin in his childhood. He got quite some relief after getting an excellent darshan from Amma. To quell his worrisome thoughts and negative thinking, he opted to do a seva and the work allotted to him was cleaning of Ashram hostel boys' toilets! Those were the dirtiest toilet he had ever come across in his life! He became too angry at his heart with the college boys who had kept those toilets at such a horrific state! That was the last straw! After cleaning the toilets for 2-3 hours, he cried out of self-pity! But, surprisingly, after finishing the seva, he found a remarkable sense of peace and tranquility coming into him!
Dirtiest toilet?

After the Malayalam translation was finished Amma took the mike and spoke. The gist of her talk was as below:

" I am sorry, my son, that you had to do cleaning of toilets that have been kept so dirty by college students; though they are all well educated, such self-help culture has not taken roots in them.  Cleanliness as culture is unfortunately not strongly imbibed in the people of  India as in the West. In India the tradition has unfortunately been that boys are too pampered a lot here  and cleaning was never part of their chores.Cleaning work is invariably done by womenfolk. In many homes, even washing of men's dress and cleaning of food plates of men are done by women.

"Right in my younger days, Amma has seen how men were treated as though superior to women and how their egos were pampered.

"In those days, women were prohibited from showing broom stick to men. If a woman was sweeping the floors and a man entered the scene, the woman was supposed to hide the broomstick, else it would be deemed insulting men.
Any men coming there?!

"If a brother, be even a younger one, grew taller than a girl, the girl was expected to stand up when the brother enters the room where the girl was seated. If any male guests were coming to a house, the girls were expected to remain unseen to them. It was infra-dig for men to wash their plates or clothes. It was the duty of female members in the family to wash the food plates and dresses of men. The sense of superiority that males enjoyed was more or less fostered and nurtured mostly by the elderly womenfolk in the families.Perhaps since males were the sole breadwinners and protectors of the families, women extended so much extra respect for males that naturally ended up bloating up their egos.

"In Ashram hostels (where toilets are attached to rooms and to be cleaned by the occupants, unlike hostels at the Engineering college side where the toilets are separate that cleaned regularly by  by paid workers), the boys seem to think that it is not their duty to clean their toilets; perhaps they think, as they pay for their room, they can keep the rooms as they like.

"In the early days of the Ashram when several brahmacharis came to live in the Ashram in the huts,  the brahmacharis too kept their rooms unclean. When western Sadakas started coming to the Ashram and staying in the Ashram, they were disturbed by the lack of cleanliness in the rooms of bramhacharies. They came and complained to Amma about it.

"How can Amma allow my children to be berated like this? So, Amma attempted to "protect" her children by explaining rather sheepishly to the westerners something like "You see, my boys live so much in tune with nature and they love all creatures alike; they just cannot think of driving away the lizards, cockroaches, and snakes that have occupied their huts as their own!" (All round laughter). After regular coaxing and teaching, the brahmacharis learned to keep their rooms and ashram clean.

"What to do? We have to really learn this culture.

Stinking s~~~
"But, on another angle, Sadakas should try to come out of the disturbances in mind in relation to cleanliness and dirtiness. After all, the very human body itself is an epitome of dirt and filth. Poke into any orifice in the human body, be it ear, nose, mouth, skin pores, urethra or anus -- what comes out of it is foul. It is this dirty body that we are all so fond of!

Once a man walking through a pathway, noticed human excreta on the way; he closed his nose in disgust and turned away to walk away. The excreta called out to the man "Hey! Why are you closing your nose and going away?" The man replied "Oh! Your smell is disgusting". The excreta replied "It's all because of you people. I was originally a very sweet smelling cake and fruit hardly a day ago. It is only after a human being like you consumed me, I ended up like this! Actually I should feel disgusted to see you!"

(All round laughter).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hoarding things in excess - Beware!

11 December 2012 – Tuesday

A letter given to Amma by a resident today, was not really a question to seek her answer but a piece of information that was expected to evoke some response from Amma.

The gist of the letter was:


While we recently undertook cleaning the room of a (family) resident of the Ashram (who was away from the ashram at the time of cleaning), we found dozens of buckets, bugs, plates, glasses, soaps, footwear, soap powder packets, brooms and countless number of vessels. Leaving behind a couple of them for the owner’s use, we took those excess ones and distributed to those who were in need.

When the resident returned to Ashram and came to know about what happened, he/she was very angry on what we had done and took us to task.

We request Amma’s guidance on this matter”

The gist of Amma’s reply was as below:

“Ashram is a place for simple living in search of a higher goal. It is not right to accumulate and hoard things in excess of what is basically needed. People should cultivate the sense of sacrifice while living the ashram life.

“Ashramites should know how much of sacrifice was made at the early beginnings of the Ashram.  Amma’s first round of  brahmacharis who became sanyasins later were mostly from families of comfortable financial status. They dedicated themselves to sadhana and service those days when everything from food, clothing and shelter were in shortage in the Ashram.

“Those brahmacharis were never used to the habit of washing their own clothes in homes – either their mothers or servants used to do the washing for them.  Amma taught them everything – how to apply soap to their clothes, how to wash the clothes in the washing stone and so on. Being carefree youngsters, they were lacking in shraddha in many things – they would waste lots of soap in washing their clothes; they would use one bottle of Tinopal to apply blue and brighten one single dhoti.  After washing, they would leave the soap there and somebody would swindle the soaps. They would hang their clothes dry in the open, but forget to take them back in the evening. This way, they lost their dhotis too.

“They would carelessly leave their knickers (underwears) too in the open and Amma would lift them with a stick and go around asking “Whose knicker is this?”

“Amma had to be extremely strict with them and teach them the basics of thrift.  Since Amma would scold them if they lost their dhotis, smarter ones would coolly take away another brahmachari’s dhoti and claim it as his own!  Sometimes, they did this even for their knickers! To avoid this mischief, Amma started stitching their initials in their respective clothes.

“Amma, in order to force discipline on them, brought ration for everything – soaps, dhotis etc.  A new soap would be issued only after a prescribed days of normal usage was over. Thus, brahmacharis learnt not only thrift, but also shraddha, simple living and the capacity to put up with shortages.

“Even now, Amma is living in a small room only and that room too is shared with Lakshmi, Siddharth and the two dogs Thumban and Bhakti. The one annex room that Amma has got now was built by her devotees when she was away and Amma refused to use that room because she considered it a luxury thrust upon her. Only after lots of pleading by devotees, Amma consented to use that room. Even Amma’s room is given to visitors when Amma is on tour.

“Children, remember that this is an ashram existing to serve the world. Without sacrifice, we cannot expect to gain anything spiritually”