Thursday, October 11, 2012

Amma’s insight into man-woman relationship (Part 1)

On a Tuesday Satsang at Ashram - some time in August/ September 2012

On this Tuesdays’ satsang, a western woman asked question on the issue of men molesting girl children and also about wife-beating done by men. She wanted to know how such men should be treated by society.

Amma was at her elaborate best in answering the question. She touched multiple aspects of man-woman relationship, the cultural differences in India and in western countries on this issue, the status of women in the past and present and her own childhood experiences and observations. In a rare moment of slackening of guards, she hinted on her “all knowing status” by virtue of her divinity too!

Amma was unequivocally clear that those who abuse children and wife are handled as per law. But she felt that while the act should be condemned, the actor should not be. There may be deep-rooted psychological complications in men who sexually misbehave with little children and such men should be subjected to mental treatment with care and concern.

While analyzing why men always feel superior to women and by that count, resort to beating wife as a matter of right, Amma said that it all got nurtured from the traditional role of men being the bread winner and a protector of woman who are by nature physically weak and vulnerable. Women too are to be blamed for this state of affairs, since, women, in their role as mothers, somehow treated men as superior creatures over their female siblings.

Amma said lots of changes for better has happened in societies across the globe over a period of time and women too have now got ample opportunities and avenues in education and employment. Thus men are not sole bread-winners any longer. Amma felt that this reality has been understood by at least 60-70% of men. 

But the feeling of one-up-manship has been nurtured in men across so many generations that it is quite deep rooted in men’s genes. So it is only a question of time that the others too will accept equality and behave better. It is a slow process and it will happen. Amma was rather against women “fighting” for their rights. The changes should come through the path of love and understanding and not by confrontational ways.

Amma was equally frank in saying that empowerment of women too has its ill effects in society; women are losing their inane qualities of loving kindness, patience and motherhood . Their financial independence coupled with lack of patience and forbearance now tend to make them too arrogant with men and in this process, disintegration marriage and family life are caused by women too in the present society.

 Amma felt that while this trend is quite palpable in west, it is slowly catching up in India too.

Amma said that in case of Indian woman, she could advice them to be more forgiving, patient and forbearing, because, culturally, in India, woman have the tendency to sacrifice their personal whims to quite some extent for the sake of the family and the future of the children.

But when it comes to advising her western children, Amma felt that she needs to be more careful and guarded. In west, the idea of personal freedom and sense of rights of the women are strongly rooted. Western women may not be able to digest Amma's guidelines in line with what she gives for Indian women.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How a Christian devotee ended up in the Ashram

24th Septermber 2012 - Monday
This middle aged person, an ashram resident  in his early sixties, is a very emotional and sentimental devotee of Amma. I always see him fetching a seat right in front of Amma within a distance of about 10 feet in all her satsangs. During Amma's bhajans in the evenings too, he is one of the prominent occupants in the front rows. One cannot miss him reverentially folding hands, lifting his hands pray-fully towards Amma and shedding tears when Amma sings bhajans.

Whenever he speaks during the Q-A sessions in the beach, he would utter words of praise and prayers towards Amma (Jagadambe, Jaganmathe, Parashakthi and so on) hailing Amma as the divine mother, in an emotionally choking voice. He seemed to have a firm foot on the path of Bhakti as a means of attaining God.

When today's Q-A session in the beach revolved on the subject of saying no or yes appropriately based on discrimination, this devotee started narrating his experiences. It was a huge surprise to me when he said that he hailed from an ardent Christian family from Mangalore.

He elaborated his life history as follows:

There is quite some population of very orthodox Christians in Mangalore and he belonged to one such family. They were very strict Christians, exposed to no scripture other than Bible. They visit Church regularly. Very unfortunately, none of these families have any exposure to the tenets of Hinduism or its scriptures. Their community is so tightly woven that any deviation from the tenets of Christianity will only end up in social ostraciszation.

But it so happened in his life that he came to Amma and had a darshan. The very idea that Amma was a divine mother and Hinduism has scope for worshining God as a universal mother was instantly very appealing to him. He was able to make an emotional umbilical cord with Amma instantaneously. Then he started visiting Amma every now and then and also started reading Hindu scripture.

But his wife and son could not accept his visiting a Hindu saint. They were dead against his new found spiritual endeavors. His explanation that Amma, according to him, is none other than Jesus Christ failed to cut ice with them. They were very much worried about the likely social castigation. He was mentioning to the audience that such was the sorry state of affairs amidst Mangalore orthodox Christians that they just don't have any exposure (or willingness to accept) the concept of Mahatmas and avatara purushas. Some of his friends, through his interaction with him, came to know about Amma, were desirous of having her darshan, but they were so much afraid of social castigation that despite their desire, they were pitifully bound to the social fabric and they did not have the courage to extricate themselves.

At that point of time, he fell very seriously sick. His wife and family members refused to serve him unless he severed his emotional ties with Amma. But this devotee said a firm no to their pressure tactics. His love and prayers towards Amma grew multifold and he started putting Amma's pictures everywhere around him-- including the toilet!

His family virtually abandoned him and he somehow managed to come to Amma's Ashram and Amma gave him shelter here. His health conditions worsened. He had a heart attack. He had kidney problem. Blow after blow he received with no kith and kin to take care. It was Amma's divine grace that kept him alive through all these tribulations.

When this devotee narrated his life story with an emotionally choking voice with tears flowing down the cheeks, many people in the gathering were moved.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The power of Vasanas

In one of Amma's Tuesday Satsangs...

Some of the little stories and anecdotes that Amma narrates during her satsangs will be repeated by her several times on different occassions. (Most spiritual masters do it that way, to drive home the purport of their teachings and  convey them to different set of audience; Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to repeat many of his little stories).

Vasanas (literally meaning smells -- our behavioral tendencies, leanings and tastes borne out of habits, that get accumulated in us across several births) are strong indeed.  A spiritual seeker has got to get rid of his bad vasanas and only then he can make a progress. It is said that man has evolved from monkeys and in a way it is true that we still have the vasanas of monkeys.

Amma used to narrate this anecdote to the amusement of her audience.

Rama, Krishna and Govinda are walking together. An acquaintance following them from behind,calls out "Rama!" and Rama turns back to see who was calling. If he calls out "Krishna!", Krishna will turn back to see who is calling. Same is applicable to Govinda too.

But if the caller shouts "Hey, monkey!", all the three will turn back!

That's the power of vasana!

Just not enough if you are good- you should have good common sense too!

29th September 2012 - Saturday

Amma was in a very humorous mood in today's satsang. After she finished narrating the incidence of a brahmachari getting bitten in the fingers by a mentally troubled person, she went on to narrate yet another incident involving a brahmacharini.

Amma said that this brahmacharnini L- is an extremely kind-hearted person, who loves to run to the help of anyone needing help and succor.

One day, a physically handicapped old man came to see Amma and was walking up the stairs with difficulty with his crutches. Brahmacharnini L- was so overwhelmed with the suffering of that person that she wanted to extend a helping hand to him and make him seated.

Saying "Aiyo paavam" (Oh what a pity) she received one of his crutches. While the man was struggling to stabilize himself with a single crutch, our Brahmacharini, in an excited state to somehow help the person to stabilize, extended her hand, saying another "Aiyo"  and took off the other cruch too, without applying her mind to catch hold of the person before removing the other crutch!

Right infront of her eyes, the old person, with nothing and none to support him collapsed on the floor, while our Brahmacharnini could only help crying out a big and louder "A-I-Y-Y-O..."

Amma was at her mimicking best when she enacted all this with her actions and voice. The whole crowd burst into laughter.

Amma was saying that it is not just enough if you are a good and kind-hearted person. You should apply your mind and act with presence of mind and shraddha; otherwise, your act of charity too may only collapse like this!