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.