Sunday, September 30, 2012

Say No and still end up in Amma's holy feet!

24th Septermber 2012 - Monday

In today's evening Satsang with Ashram Inmates, Amma continued to discuss the subject of saying no (or yes) appropriately based on the situation after due discrimination. On Monday and Friday beach satsangs, Amma usually poses a question related to spirituality, gives brief hints on what she thinks about them and then would ask Ashramites to respond with their real life experiences on the subject.

The lanky and fun-loving senior brahmachari D- took the mike to the amusement of Amma. He started narrating the story of how he ended up in Amma leaving his home and hearth behind. His funnly line of argument was that he said NO but still ended up in the rightful place for him!

He was a much pampered child of his parents and was having every need of him taken care of lovingly by his parents. Years ago, when he was in his late teens, his parents came to know of Amma and they wanted to visit Amma at her Ashram at Vallikkavu. They insisted their son too to accompany them. "You see, this woman Amma is said to be intoxicated with divine love, she reportedly sings soul stirring bhajans in a melodious way; we want you to come with us". But young D- said adamently a firm no.

His parents nevertheless visited Amma, had her darshan, heard her soul stirring bhajans and returned home. They told the young man excitedly : "It was such a wonderful experience; it is a pity that you missed visiting her! However, we mentioned to her about you and sought her blessings for you; we prayed to her to straighten you out. She said that she will take care of you"

"Oh! She will take care of me and straighten me?  Fine. Nice enough" was his retort.

A few months afterwards, some of his friends stated talking to him about Amma. They were speaking very high of her and She was making a house visit to one of her friend's house sooner. This time, young D-was interested. He was now curious to see the lady who had promised his parents that she would take care of him. So he went to see her.

Br. D- concluded with a mock sarcasm "You see, I said a firm no when my parents asked me to me to come to Amma, but that no has really ended me ultimately in her holy feet!"

Amma's satsang at beach


On 29th Sept 2012, when Amma continued discussions on the same subject, Brahmachari D- too wanted to continue his experience. After meeting Amma, his whole view point about life got changed; he was gripped with a desire to leave his worldly life and end up permanently in Amma's Ashram.

When he took up the matter with his parents,  the response was a firm NO from his parents! The same parents who wanted their son to be "set right" by Amma, were not simply prepared for it! When he broached the subjects with his friends who had earlier recommended and influenced him to visit Amma, were too unanimously of the opinion that he should NOT go and end up in the Ashram.

When every one was saying no, it was now the turn of Br. D_ to say a firm YES ("I have decided to go") and then come to Amma for good. All who had earlier recommended him to visit Amma have now turned against him and none of them were coming to Amma subsequently!

So, Brahmachari D_ is prescription for progressing in spirituality under a Satguru like Amma is that when every one in the outer world says "no", you should say "yes"!

Amma quipped with laughter "His parents wanted me to make him straight; I have been s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t-e-n-i-n-g,   s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t-e-n-i-n-g and and still continuing.."


The dire need for using discrimination (Viveka Buddhi)

29th September 2012- Saturday

Saturday is not the day of Amma's Satsang at the beach. But Amma, out of her compassion to meet the inmates, which she does on every Mondays (at evening at beach), Tuesdays at Kali Temple and Fridays (at evening at beach), perhaps wanted to compensate her absence on Friday. The whole of Thursday (27th September, her birth day) right from 9:00 AM till the next day 10:10 AM, Amma had spend more than 25 hours at a stretch at the Special birthday venue at the University grounds. Right from 3 PM on 27th she was giving non-stop darshan to several tens of thousands of devotees.

Leaving behind all the stresses and strains like a child play, Amma was at the beach on Saturday, and she was at her jubilant best too.
Amma leading a meditation session at beach

After the usual Ma-Om Dhyanam session of about half-an hour duration with the inmates,  Amma continued with the current subject of discussion that has been going on for the past 2-3 satsangs. It was about the importance of spiritual seekers saying "no" when the situations demands (and "yes" under different circumstances) based on viveha (discrimination)Amma was emphasizing that an earnest seeker should always be vigilant; he should always have shraddha (watchful awareness) and he should know what is right to do and what is not.

Amma said just to please someone or to get acceptance in a company or by succumbing to peer group pressure, if an youngster says "yes" to smoking, it may lead him to other vices one after the other -- drinking, drugs and what not and his whole life may get shattered.

For the past several satsangs, Amma has been reiterating the dire need for shraddha and viveka buddhi for the Ashramites. You may be a very nice person otherwise, but if you are not vigilant enough, you may get into trouble.

Amma started hilariously describing a recent happening in the Ashram, with her dramatic facial expressions and actions that created peels of laughter in the gathering.

Amma said that a few days ago, a mentally disturbed person came to the Ashram with a purported desire of settling down as a Vanaprastha householder in the Ashram. His worried wife and mother too were there together with him in the darshan queue. Even before he could open his mouth before Amma, the wife wanted Amma not to concede to his request because she has lots needs and desires to be met in the outside world. Amma reassured her that She would never take people just like that and started probing deeper into the man's troubles. It was reported that he seemed to behave as though mentally disturbed, after a recent bout of fever, but Amma suspected a deeper and long existing ailment in him that caused his quirky behavior.  Amma suggested a thorough medical check-up for him and assured them that everything will be alright sooner. Amma made him sit behind her for a while.

Amma mentioned that after Amma retired to her room after darshan was over, the person suddenly got very violent; he was shouting at his wife, started spitting at her and behaved uncontrollably.  Lots of people gathered around, including some brahmacharis, who wanted to intervene with good intentions. One Ashramite, assuming that the man was under fits, started frantically searching for a iron piece to be given in his hands (as there is a common erroneous belief that people affected by fits get calmed down when they grip a piece of iron). And lo, he could only locate a knife and without thinking a second time, he thrust the knife into the hands of the man in fits!

More chaos! (When Amma narrated this with her gestures, the whole gathering at the beach was rolling with laughter). Then a group of brahmacharis somehow managed to pin down the violent man and snatch the knife from his hands.

And there, adjacent to the man was Brahmachari S, who was always known for his calmness and serenity, who was never seen expressing anger or outward emotions. And people saw him for the first time with eyes bulging out in anger and tell-tale facial expressions of pain, anguish and rage. Reason?

In an over enthusiastic attempt to prevent the man from spitting at others, he had put his hand over his mouth and the man caught the bramhmachari's fingers with his teeth and was applying his full jaw pressure on the fingers; Brahmachari S- could not do anything to wriggle his fingers out from the man's vice-like grip of the jaw and that pain and anguish came through his facial expressions.

Amma, in her inimical way, with a doze of exaggeration perhaps, was emoting the facial expressions of the brahmachari to the utter entertainment of the croud!

Amidst all these fun and frolic, Amma made sure to drive home the point that one requires viveka Buddhi to handle such situations. How foolish it was to thrust a knife in the hands of a mentally disturbed person! How inappropriate it was to close the mouth of the person who seemed to be under the grip of fits!






Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A broad profile of Ashram Inmates in Amritapuri

There are a couple of thousands of devotees of Amma staying with her in the Ashram. One can find all sorts of people from all walks of life irrespective of caste, color and creed residing as Ashram inmates in Amritapuri. But for the fact that all those who are staying in the Ashram are Amma's ardent devotees, one can find people with all sorts of personalities and idiosyncrasies living in the Ashram, as though a miniscule representation of the outside world!

Ashramites can be broadly grouped into two categories -- the celibates and the householders.

View of Kali Temple, Amritapuri
The celibate ashram inmates comprise of  five or six sanyasins clad in reddish saffron (mostly the senior-most and first round of unmarried disciples of Amma), a few tens of procedurally initiated brahmacharis and brahmacharinis wearing yellow robes (who are potential sanyasins of the future) and several hundreds of brahmacharis and brahmacharinis clad in white. These people's needs are fully taken care of by the Ashram. Currently one  lady Sanyasini (Swamini Krishnaprana) is an American. Several western Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis (of origin USA, Germany, France etc) are also living permanently in the Ashram.
The multi-storeyed Ashram at Amritapuri
The above category of residents have dedicated their soul and life to Amma. They are all engaged in some form of service or other -- either in the Ashram or in the institutions associated with the Ashram. Most of them also engage themselves in spiritual practices.

The next group of Ashram residents are the house-holders. Here you will find a wide hue of people: widows, widowers, destitute individuals, senior-citizen and middle aged couples living as if in 'vanaprastha ashram', middle aged couples living with their sons and daughters (who are studying or working in schools/ colleges/ instititutions run by the Ashram), parents of brahmacharis/ brahmacharinis, relatively young couples with their kids and single mothers/ fathers living with their kids (whose husband / wife may be living outside the Ashram).

The house-holder devotees who live in the Ashram too, depending on their physical conditions and qualifications, are engaged in some form of work/ job/ service in the Ashram or in its associated institutions. Some of them, who have the essential need to have a source of income to support their dependents, work for salary; several of the rest, who are financially self-sufficient, do free service. Householder devotees too engage themselves in sadhana (spiritual practices) depending on their tastes, temperaments and leanings.

Ashram provides simple living quarters to all the inmates. Brahmacharis and brahmacharinis have to share their rooms with two or three colleagues. House-holders get a single-room, bath attached flat accommodation. Householders have to pay the flat's cost and then own it.

Simple, staple and basic food is available for all ashramites from the Ashram kitchen. Householder residents (except in some specific cases based on needs as permitted by Amma) are to pay monthly for taking the Ashram food. Householders, if they so wish, can cook their food in their flats too.

Canteens (both Indian and western), vegetable and fruit shops, grocery stores, juice stall etc too function inside the ashram to cater to the needs of the residents.

Permission to live in the Ashram purely depends on Amma's wish. Amma may allow some devotees to buy and own flats in Amritapuri, but she may not give consent for them to come and stay there permanently.  While even long-time devotees may not get Amma's nod for their earnest request to come and stay in the Ashram, some relatively new bhaktas may get instant nod from Amma for a permanent residence at the Ashram!

It would also happen in Amma's divine lila where, very occasionally, some brahmacharis and residents of the Ashram may leave the Ashram after a few years of stay!

Amma's dhyanam session with inmates inside Kali Temple
In addition to the above, there is yet another category of residence inside the Ashram. It is the hostels for the boys and girls (mostly for the first-year-students) of the Amrita University, whose campus is on the other side of the back waters adjacent to the ashram. Out of her infinite love for showing grace to the youth, it was Amma's wish that these youngsters get a chance to live in the Ashram atmosphere, at least for a year. It is a great opportunity for the youngsters (irrespective of whether they grasp it or not) to attend Amma's bhajans in the evening, partake the food made in the ashram and engage themselves in a little seva once a while whenever occasion comes.

What makes thousands of such people from all walks of life to leave all the attractions of the world and live in an Ashram like this? It Amma's divine love. Only those who can open their hearts and soul can ever perceive it.