Love Yourself

Monday, January 12, 2009

Amma's Ashram

“May the tree of our life

Be firmly rooted in the soil of love

Let good deeds be the leaves on that tree.

May words of kindness form its flowers?

And may peace be its fruits.” Amma

While I was flying to Kerala, I thought of a few things that I would like to experience and then just let those thoughts float up to the Universe - allowing space for magic to occur. One such thought was a visit to Amma's Ashram (the hugging saint). The other was the ritualized dance...which I created big time.

A few Austrian ladies that I met at the home-stay near Kollam told me that they went to visit Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Mother) - she is also called Amma famous for all of her good charity work and for her hugs during Darshan (an audience with an enlightenened Being). I knew that she had an ashram in the south of India, and did not realize how close it was. It is about 2 hours boat ride from where I am staying and she holds Darshan on certain days of the week when she is there. I was told that she was leaving for a South India tour and Saturday would be her last day. Well, I had the Shiva party and other events to witness that day and thought I would take my chances by going on the Sunday. Who knows…anything is possible.

I took a taxi early on Sunday morning to arrive at the remote backwater fishing village where she is from and the ashram is located. The first thing I noted was the large building that looked like a condo building. It is huge. Small boats with poling boat men move across the backwater from one side to the other. Amma has created a new bridge that expands across the river. This has been created so people can get off the island to the mainland should a tsunami come into the area. Many of the locals still use the small boats to cross the river. While taking the 1-hour drive I was thinking of a young man that I had met at the Phool Chatti Ashram and had a strong feeling that we would meet this day. As usual, I got distracted with something - some mind mapping - and let it go for the time being.

Once at the ashram, I was overwhelmed with the busy atmosphere, the systems, the commerce and back packer hostel type feeling. People seem to be moving about so quickly to somewhere. A massive conglomerate - it was overwhelming for me. At first I wanted to leave immediately, but persisted to discover the real reason why I had come. I wandered among the thousand or so people and asked someone to direct me. It was an Indian woman that nodded…she took me along a long trail leading to the cafeteria where there were western delights and food abound. There were many people dressed in white robes…they looked official so I asked one lady to direct me to the information center. A kind lady took me…she was distracted since she was preparing to go on the road with Amma. A fury of purchases of white robes, mats to sleep on and the collection of brown bread from the bakery was in order. Amma takes 10 buses with her when she travels and has a huge following of people that assist her.

There are also devotees that have been living at this ashram for many years. Many wear white robes and seem to be busy with the commerce of the ashram. Everything is done by seva (self-less there is ample opportunity for a person to employ their talents). If you have not brought anything is ok, you can purchase many styles in a number of stores at the Ashram.

I was taken to the sign in center, which opened at 10am. At this time you can receive a token for Darshan. Many said she would most probably not appear because of her departure the following day. I was ok with what is and know I was there for a reason.

There I was standing in the main square looking around and suddenly, who appeared but the young man that I had been thinking about. He was so surprised and delighted to see me. Finn had been at the ashram for two weeks saying it was one of the hardest experiences. “I love Amma…she is a loving and a kind Guru…but also firm and can be one of the hardest”, he said tiredly.

I also saw another young man that I had met along my journey - meeting new people and making new friends. During lunch and other times that I moved about, I seemed to attract some interesting characters of sorts…all wanting to tell me about their experiences, why they loved Amma. I just listened, since I could not get a word in edge wise and for whatever reason this was my role on that day. I know this is unusual for me…but I did find it fascinating just witnessing. It was like being a fly on the wall. During the day, a woman I had met took me to where Amma lived. I just sat under a tree outside her window soaking up the good vibes. It was peaceful at this place and I enjoyed visualizing a big hug from Amma. I believe we all should have at least three hugs a day to be healthy…but can you image hugging thousands upon thousands of people every day and week? She is one incredible Mama. It is truly amazing what she has created for the local community, India and other places in the world. She has hospitals, universities and the list goes on. As Amma’s says, “The world should know that a life dedicated to selfless love and service is possible.” And she would know!

Amma did not appear physically that day, though I am glad that I came to see and experience her Ashram.

I had decided to take the ferry back along the backwaters leaving at 4pm…a great sunset and still the full moon. The ferry broke down up river and did not arrive to pick me up until 6:30pm. Everything does happen for a reason. I chose to sit on the banks of the river below the ashram and just witness the people coming and going…the little boats taking people back and forth. It was a Sunday and many young people and families were arriving home from the weekend. I also wandered along the bank and visited with the local people in their homes. This is the area that Amma is from and it was great to witness the lives of the local people around the ashram.

Finally, as the sun was setting, I felt a strong desire and urge to send a ton of hugs and love to Amma as she prepared for her South Indian tour. Sitting there at the feet of the ashram, I realized that my purpose to visit today was to send love to Amma.

Amma, I am so grateful that I could be there to support, encourage and inspire you to carry on your good works – embracing the world for peace and harmony.

Please send a loving thought to Amma as she creates and embraces peace and harmony for the world.

“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. It is Amma’s prayer that at least this small dream be realized.”

Amma's Ashram

I did manage to catch the ferry which was an amazing trip down the backwaters at night. When I got onto the ferry the boat man asked if I had a pass.  "No sir, can I pay you now and I showed him the card for the home-stay? He said, with a sweet smile"no mame we will take you home" How kind, a free ferry trip on the backwaters in the moonlight with nice people. The ferry usually arrives at its final destination before night fall. There were some very narrow passages, not to mention sand banks. It took about 5 hours to get home. I loved it! The moon was still pretty full and bright. Some beautiful fishing boats along the river banks.

1 comment:

Valma Brenton, HERIZEN™ Life Adventures said...

Thanks for the comment Stan and yes you are correct it is free. Just so happens, Amma will be here in Trivandrum for three days and I am close by so I will be able to be there for Darshan.
Smiles ...Valma

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