Archive for the ‘Ammachi’ Category

This is an excellent book for anyone who is treading the spiritual path. It is brutally honest, surprisingly cogent, thoroughly inspirational, remarkably candid and very convincing.

The author is not an ordinary writer although her prose makes it all seems that she has written it so effortlessly. It makes a good reading, no doubt: her writing has a clear style; the book reads smoothly. Her prose is simple, direct, elegant, evocative, concise and factual. What will, definitely, strike one is her unexampled honesty and self-effacing attitude.

It was through this writer’s doggedness, manful efforts, assiduousness and determinations that the world, for the first time, came to know Mata Amritanandamayi in 1987. It wouldn’t be hyperbolic or a stretch to say that no one outside India would have known the great master but for the writer’s efforts. The Guru had identified the right person for the job!

The book is about a sincere soul’s tumultuous journey through hope, passion, loss, friendship, love, and self-discovery. “Honesty” is the focal point of this story of courage and spirituality. Any spiritual aspirant who is dashed against the rocks of truisms, threatened to be drowned in the ocean of Maya, smothered by the urges of Vasanas, tormented by ego’s authoritative calls for attention, would be able to relate to what the author has gone and is going through.

In this respect, the book is a scripture in its own right!


Questioner: “Amma, why is there so much fear and pain associated with death?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “To much attachment to the body and the world creates pain and fear of death. Almost everyone believes that death is complete annihilation. No one wants to leave the world and disappear into oblivion. When we have such attachment, the process of letting go of the body and the world can be painful.”

Questioner: “Will death be painless if we outgrow that attachment?”

Mata Amritanandamayi: “If one transcends attachment to the body, not only will death become painless, it will also be a blissful experience. You can remain a witness to the death of the body. A detached attitude makes death an entirely different experience.

“The majority of people die in terrible disappointment and frustration. Consumed in deep sadness, they spend their last days in anxiety, pain and utter despair. Why? because they never leanrt how to let go of, and free themselves from their meaningless dreams, desires and attachments. Old age, especially the last of such people will become worse than hell. That is why wisdom is important.”

(pgs. 34-35, From Amma’s Heart)

Various Approaches to a Saint

The relationship between a person and a saint may be of different kinds. Some look upon the saint with distrust and mistrust. Some have no faith in divinity and the holiness of saints. They are the skeptics, the atheists, the unbelievers, the people of no faith, who are agnostic by temperament. A large section of present-day humanity tends to be in this group.

There are those who run after sadhus and saints just to gain their material ends. They are ever-expecting a pinch of vibhuti or a drop of kamandalu water or some magical formula which will miraculously solve all their problems and troubles. They are after the saints for promotion in service, increment in salary, success in business deals, passing of an examination, escape from the consequence of punishments for misdeed, favourable verdicts in law suits or in marriage of their daughter, I.A.S. (Indian Administrative Service) selection for a son or son-in-law, cure of disease, birth of a child, gain in speculations and similar such desires and fulfilment in material life … its personal, domestic, social, professional or even political aspects, such as winning an election. They seek saints because they seek to make use of the saints for petty purposes.

This is in my opinion, no better than a sort of sophisticated superstition only. They are deluded beings. They are irrational in spite of their selfish cleverness. They have no sense of true values or right proportion. Whether they like to admit it or not, they always want and expect some sort of magic and miracle for their own benefit in the worldly material life.

They even expect sadhus and sannyasins to study their palm or cast their horoscope or foretell their future and give them talismans or tabeez to wear. This is not a saint’s work. A sannyasin is not expected to do these things. For these things one does not approach a saint. Such people’s wrong approach to saints is, I feel, unfortunate, like the case of a person who succeeds in obtaining a personal interview with an emperor or a president and when he meets him, asks him for a pinch of snuff.

The saints can give you the key to Supreme Blessedness and Eternal Life. Instead you seek them and ask them to secure for you some small and petty thing of a temporal nature in this passing, unreal earthly life of short duration, characterized by pain, disease, old age and death. What a great blunder!

There are others who hold a position of neutrality. They are just not interested in saints or sadhus, or holy men. They say: “We have enough to keep our minds occupied. We are already completely engaged with pressing occupations. They may be holy persons, we do not know and we do not care, and we do not bother either.” They are indifferent. They have no interest in knowing anything about holy persons. This is another type.

There is still another section of people who take a testimony that comes their way that he is a great Siddha Purusha or Yogi. “Is that so? He is a saint? Well, if it becomes possible, I shall try.” They do not make a sankalpa to go and see him immediately. They hear about holy men. They say, “Yes, if it is possible we shall try. If we happen to go there we shall certainly drop in and try to pay a visit, but we cannot say definitely.” So, if they do get a chance, if they happen to go to that side, they do not mind visiting such a person, not to have his darshan, but to see him. Perhaps they also feel, because so many people say so many things about this holy man. “There may be something… perhaps some bit of it will benefit me also. I may get a promotion, or I may at least be saved from sacking for the mistake which I have committed. I may get an increment, or some desire which I have in my heart may be fulfilled.”

Then next class is slightly superior to them. They believe and they have faith. They think: “Saints are extraordinary people and not ordinary beings. Therefore it is worthwhile visiting them, worthwhile cultivating their company, worthwhile coming into orbit of their attention and becoming attached to them. In some way they are above ordinary people… they are capable of doing things which a normal man may not be capable of doing and therefore if their company is cultivated we may get many thing done which through the normal human agencies we will not be able to get done. Somehow, in some mysterious way, there is some power in these sadhus.”

So they have a deeper faith, a deeper recognition of something extraordinary or something great, but not the right appreciation of it. There is a recognition and awareness of it, but neither correct appreciation nor proper appraisal of its true nature. They are in a way, benefited by the saints, but I would class them as unfortunate, for when they would gain in a much higher way, they do not gain it. That means they are undergoing a loss in a negative way. When you can invest some money and earn 7% interest, if you invest it at 2%, you are getting 2% no doubt, but you are losing 5%. In the same way these people revere saints and think that they are extraordinary men… that they possess something unusual. They offer them flowers and gifts and revere them, but their relationship becomes one based upon the level of their own life and not in terms of a Higher Being whom the saint does contact in the higher experience. Rather they say: “What I cannot make God give, you can make Him give me, because you are nearer to Him; therefore please intercede.”

There is faith in them, but their lives are still caught up in the earthly way. They assiduously cultivate the company, proximity and association of yogis and saints, but miss the true purpose of it. They ask of them help in all secular affairs.

“Let him give success to my son in his competitive examination. Let my daughter get a good match, let my sons go to England, let me get success in the law suit in court, let my bank balance shoot up.”
In this way there is an endless list and the list keeps growing, just like Hanuman’s tail. Many of these things are fulfilled. As one thing is fulfilled another desire comes up. So, for their entire life they make contact on a level where the saint is not meant to be contacted.

To them, the saint becomes a sort of grandfather, a special more than normal grandfather, which is not a wrong or a bad relationship, but an unfortunate relationship. They expect of him the fulfilment of their secular desires. They expect from his prescriptions, remedy for all secular troubles and they expect from him lots of benedictions and benefits… all in terms of this world and its affairs and its needs. Are they not interested in the spiritual teaching? Yes, they are, but not primarily… you understand this distinction, “not primarily”? Then what are they interested in primarily… in themselves and in their lives? Are they aware of this? No, they are not aware of it. They think that this is how and why people should contact saints.

If we go to a great saint and discuss our earthly affairs, we waste our own time, and we waste the time of other devotees who may at least have had a chance of talking about God and of spiritual life and the Eternal Reality with the saint, if we had not taken up the time.

Yes, in sorrow or grief, or in tragedy, if a soul seeks solace from a saint, that is understandable, because he is there to give shanti. This is solace no one else can give… only a saint can give. So it is all right if a soul draws near a great saint in times of distress, in times of tragedy, in times of such darkness. But normally, we must not try to belong to any of these categories: the agnostic, the reviler, the indifferent man who is not interested, the other man who has faith and belief and is interested, but in a passing way, and the fourth, who is very much interested, who has great belief in the greatness of the saint, but has missed the point and the very purpose.

Saints are people who try to break your delusion, who try to destroy your ignorance and clinging. They try to give you something which is more than anything this universe can ever boast or claim to be able to give you. They give you something which no object in this universe, no person, no king, no experience, not even all the persons, experiences and objects of this universe put together can give or even approach… such a great grand and glorious thing. They live to give and so we must try to know this fact about holy people, the saints and the mahatmas. We go to them for that which the world cannot give and ask for the highest from a saint and seek to be related to him in the plane of spirit, in the place of the soul, but not in the place of this material world.

Do not make it the subject of your satsanga to relate earthly affairs, but always try to know from a saint the way one should live, the way to the goal, to know about Yoga, about Vedanta, about bhakti, about bhava (feeling towards God), about vivekavichara (enquiry), about self-control, about the glory of the Divine Name, the power of prayer the importance of worship, the greatness of dharma, etc. (discrimination) and These you should seek from a saint. Is it then wrong, is it then unethical and improper to seek for earthly blessing from the saints? It is not wrong, but it is a mistake and that means you have missed the way.

The Correct Approach

Did Sudama ever open his lips and say anything about himself to Lord Sri Krishna? No, he did not relate his woe even though his wife had specifically sent him for that purpose. He did not even say a single word about his own condition. Lord Jesus says: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven; all these shall be added unto you.” So seek association with the saint for that knowledge, vijnana. Saints have broken their connection with everything belonging to this world of Maya—the phenomenal world. So you should not try to involve them in this again.

Thus may we approach the Eternal Presence of Gurudev and ask to receive of his discrimination, dispassion, self-control, faith, devotion and inner spiritual strength. Seek from him light, guidance, experience and inspiration and not anything of this secular life. Do ask what you want and let it be distinctly put: “I shall not allow that to come in between you and me. I shall commune with you now in the spirit.” Such should be our approach to the Eternal Presence of this great Illumined Being and even to the other living saints. We should make up our mind that we shall not allow our secular life to come between us and them.

The saint is one who represents for you the highest path that leads you to supreme good, supreme culture and supreme welfare, which give you the Treasure of treasures and Wealth of wealths… which is nirupama (unequalled).

Therefore, seek that which ought to be sought after from a saint and a sadguru. Then alone will you be able to grow in spiritual awareness. Even if you approach the saint with your little awareness: “I am so-and-so; I have these problems; these are my immediate troubles; these are my earthly affairs.” You have to open your heart to him and present yourself before him as a spiritual being seeking emancipation from the trammels of ajnana or avidya (ignorance) and this bondage of samsara (the process of worldly life). To such a soul seeking the highest blessedness he has a ready material upon which he works his spiritual miracle. From this very awareness he tries to break and draw you out. But if you cling to this little awareness, what can the saint do?

Seek therefore, to reject your little self and bind yourself to him purely on the spiritual level. Then, immense blessedness will be yours. The highest Wealth, the Treasure of the saint’s life, will be shared with you. Hold on, therefore, to the great awareness of your spiritual identity when you draw into the presence of holy persons, of saints and satgurus. That way you are wise. That way you stand to gain in the highest way. That way, immense blessedness will flow into your life and that way, you will be shown the eternal path that leads to perennial blessedness, supreme bliss, immortal light. Saints embody for us an experience that transcends all other experiences, and that alone we should seek from them.

May we, upon this holy day, upon this sacred anniversary, take a look at ourselves, our hearts, and try to make an appraisal of our spiritual attitude towards our Satguru. May we try to make a proper estimate of our attitude and relationship with the Satguru. Is our relationship ideal, or is there also an admixture of avoidable error, whose absence or removal may benefit us?

Let us, this day, clarify our relationship with Satguru Swami Sivanandaji and form fresh ties of pure spiritual association, pure spiritual bonds with him, for that way alone we stand to gain in the highest and most blessed manner from this inner relationship with our Satguru, our Guide.

Swami Paramatmananda, ….We should pray for the highest thing, not for lesser things, because lesser things just increase our desires, our vasanas. So, it amounts to praying to God to increase our bondage and our suffering when we pray for anything less than God-realisation. If we make that choice, it is all right, nothing wrong with it. But for one whose goal is to realise the bliss of God, if one feels that that is the ultimate, then, one has to pray only for that.

(Amma says), “New desires, new worlds are created. Along with that, you lengthen the chain of your anger, lust, greed, jealousy, delusion, and all other negative traits…praying for the fulfilment of petty desires does not involve any change in one’s personality. The person who prays in this way remains the same. His attitude remains the same.”

Many people say, “I’ve been praying to God for so many years and still I’m not making any spiritual progress. I go to the church every week, every Sunday. I do this and that and meditate.” Why? Why don’t they make any progress? One reason is this, that still their mind is occupied with, as Mother says, “petty desires”, not the highest desire for God.

So, this control of the mind, either through prayer or other means, is not just for us, not just for devotees, not just for spiritual people. It is for everybody. Because if you can’t control your mind, there is no way to succeed. It will always be distracted by various things, and the goal that you set before you won’t be possible to reach.

(pg. 63-64, Talks, Vol. 1)

This is the age in which there are speeches and discourses throughout the country. Spiritual discourses, cultural discourses, political speeches, religious talks, talks against religions—why, everybody has some subject or the other to speak on. Everyone has the authority to make speeches on everything under the sun—this seems to be the general attitude. As Mother syas this, an incident comes to my mind. A student tells his friend, “We have a great professor. You give him any subject, and he will talk on it for hours. Even if you give him a small topic, he will talk for more than five hours. Hearing this, another young person says, “Your professor speaks for only five hours when he is given a subject, right? But we have a neighbour. You don’t have to give him any subject; still, he will keep on talking—for days on end.”
…..In truth, what we need is not speeches, but action. We should show through our lives what we have to say…..An incident from the Mahabharata comes to mind.
It was the time when the pandavas and Kauravas were young and were being taught by their great guru, Dronacharya. The first lesson was on ‘Forbearance’. One day, the guru called all his disciples and asked them to recite what they had learnt. Each one of them recited the lessons from memory. Finally, it was Yudhishtira’s turn. He repeated just one line. When the guru asked, Is this all you have learnt?”. Yudhishtira replied with reluctance, “Pardon me Sir, I have more or less learnt just the first lesson; the second lesson I haven’t learnt even that much.” 
Dronacharya could not control his anger when he heard this, because he had expected more from  than all the others in the matter of studies….In his anger, Drona took a tick and beat Yudhishtira with it until the stick broke into small pieces. But even after receiving the blows, the cheerfulness and the smile on Yudhishtira’s face did not fade. Drona’s anger cooled when he saw this. He was sorry. He said affectionately, “My child, you are a prince. If you wanted, you could punish me by putting me in prison. But you didn’t do anything like that. You were not angry at all. Is there anyone in this world who has patience like you? There is such greatness in you!” 
When he turned around, Drona saw the palm leaf on which Yudhisthira’s lessons were written. The first line on it was, ‘Never lose patience!’ and the second line was, ‘Always tell only the truth’. When Drona’s glance fell on Yudhishtira’s face again, he thought those lines on the pal leaf were shining in the young prince’s eyes. 
As he took hold of Yudhistra’s hands, Drona’s eyes were brimming with tears. He said, “Yudhishtira! when I was teaching you, I was merely mouthing some words. The other boys were repeating them like parrots. Only you learnt them properly. how great you are, my son! In spite of teaching this for so long, I wasn’t able t olearn even a single line. I could not control my anger. I could not be patient.”
Hearing his guru saying this with eyes full of tears, Yudhishtira said, “Forgive me, master! I did feel a little anger towards you.” Drona now realised that his disciple had learnt the second lesson as well. Those who don’t fall when they hear a little praise are very rare. Even if they have a little anger in them, they will be reluctant to show it. but look at Yudhishtira. He didn’t show any relunctance to admit it. That means, he had learnt the second lesson also. A lesson is complete only when it is practised in life. The true disciple is one who tries to do that.
….Each word of ours should cause a transformation in the listeners. It should bring bliss to others. We should be a model for others. Each word we utter should have that power. For that, simplicity and humility should shine forth in our words. But today, if we sift through our words, we won’t find a trace of humility. What pervades all our words is the attitude, “I want to be higher than the other!” We don’t pay attention to the fact that person’s greatness actually resides in his humility. Even the lowliest person tries to pose as great in front of the others. But we don’t realise the fact that if we act like this, we just become fools in the eyes of others. 
Once an army major was promoted to the rank of colonel. On the say he assumed charge of the new post, a man came to visit him. As soon as the man entered, the colonel picked up the phone with an sir of importance and started talking, “Hello, is that President Clinton? how are you? I took charge just today. There are lots of files to go through. Ok, I will call you later. Please give my regards to your wife…” After talkikng this for a while, he put the phone down. All this while. the man, who ahd come in, had waited very courteously. The colonel asked him very seriously, “Yes, what do you want?”
The visitor said n all courteousness, “pardon me, I came to connect the phone. This is a new phone that was put in yesterday. The lone hasn’t been connected.” Who is the fool here? We don’t see that we become fools like this several times a day—that is all. One who tries to display one’s own importance in front of others actually becomes a fool in their eyes.
(pgs. 119-121 & 123-124, Lead us to the Light, Vol 2)


Chanting (Japa)

Japa is the vocal and mental repetition of the divine name or sound (mantra). Amma says that the purpose of mantra japa is to lead us to the ultimate silence of the Self,  from where all sounds and forms arise. Further, in the present age of materialism, chanting the mantra (japa), is the easiest way for us to obtain inner purification and concentration. Japa can be done at any time, anywhere without observing any rule regarding the purity of mind and body. Japa can be done while engaged in any task.

Actions that help develop Japa chanting
It is always advisable to obtain a mantra from a Self-Realized Master (Sat-Guru). Until then we may use one of the mantras of our beloved deity like “Om Namah Shivaya”, “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”, “Om Namo Narayanaya”, “Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare”, “Hari Om”, “Om Parashaktyai Namaha”, “Om Shivashaktyaikya Rupinyai Namaha” or even the names of Christ, Allah or Buddha. Deciding to chant the mantra a certain number of times daily will help foster the japa habit.

We should always keep a rosary (mala) with us for doing japa. A rosary can be made of 108, 54, 27, or 18 beads of rudraksha, tulasi, crystals, sandal, gems, etc., with one Guru (main) bead. We should resolve to chant a certain number of rosaries daily. Children, we should always chant the mantra in our minds while walking, traveling or working.

The importance of repetition
Try not to have any break in chanting the mantra even for a moment. Continue repeating the mantra while engaged in any task. Chanting in the mind may not always be possible at first, so in the beginning, practice japa by moving the lips incessantly, like a fish drinking water. If japa is maintained, no useless talk during work will be possible. The mind will always remain peaceful. Modern day diseases are mostly psychosomatic. Japa will bestow good health to both mind and body.
If chanting is not possible during a certain task, then pray before starting it: “Lord, give Your blessings so that I may do this work in a manner that pleases You!” At the end, pray again to the Lord for forgiving any mistakes we may have committed during the task consciously or otherwise.
Constantly repeating God’s name will diminish the ego

“I am an important person; I hold a high position in society. How can I go to the temple and worship in the jostling crowd there? How will I bow down before the Lord? Isn’t that demeaning?” Thoughts like these arise from the ego. Be ready, always, anywhere, to repeat the Lord’s name and to pay homage to the Lord and the guru. We don’t gain anything from a certificate of greatness from society; what we need is a certificate from God. With constant effort, we will be able to repeat the mantra in our minds even while doing any type of job.

Don’t forget God for even a second
If we lose our money while traveling, think how frantically we search for it! In the same way, if we are unable to do japa even for a brief moment, we should grieve: “Alas, Lord, I have lost so much time! ” If there is such anguish, even the time we spend sleeping will not be wasted. Children, even if we lose a million dollars, we can recover it. If we lose one second, we cannot get it back. Every moment that we are not remembering God is lost to us. Chanting replaces other thoughts with that particular mantra.

Just as saline water loses its salty taste by constantly adding fresh water, through constant repetition of a mantra, the number of thoughts can be reduced. In due course, all thoughts can be eliminated excepts one, that is God. Love will spring through japa if one has complete faith and intent to reach the goal. Mantra japa, done with the proper understanding of this principle will ultimately take us to the Source. At this point, the seeker realizes that the form he has been meditating on, as well as all other forms that exist within himself, are the manifestations of the Self.

Write the mantra daily
It is a good practice to write at least one page of mantra daily. Many people get better concentration by writing than by chanting. Try also to inculcate in children the habit of chanting and neatly writing the mantra. This will help to improve their handwriting, too. The book in which the mantra is written should not be thrown around; it should be carefully kept in our meditation or shrine room. 

Question: I am a disciple of Mata Amirtanandamayi. What should I do as a disciple? How should I behave? What should my behaviour be? **
Swami Paramatmananda, “…You can’t say you are a disciple of Mother’s and do whatever you like. You may be a devotee of Mother’s and do whatever you like, but if you want to be a disciple of Mother’s, you have to do whatever She says, you have to mould your life to Her ideals. A perfect disciple becomes one with Mother. If everything you do and everything you speak and everything you think is in line with Mother’s Teaching, then, the only thing that can happen is that you will merge into Mother.
It is like a radio. Suppose you want to listen to some music, and it’s on Channel ninety-nine. You tune the knob until the red needle gets exactly on nine-nine. But if it’s a bit this side or a bit that side you get static. Similarly, a disciple, who is not exactly tuned to the Guru won’t have that clear sound. The Grace won’t be completely there; partly their own mind will interfere and they’ll have a certain amount of suffering. But when you completely tune to your Guru, the Grace will flow through you and you will also enjoy the bliss of oneness with Him.”
Question: What must I do to achieve that?**
Swami Paramatmananda, “What is needed is to tune your actions, your words, your thoughts to the Guru or to the Teaching, and if you do that as He’s saying, you’ll know the Truth and the Truth will set you free…. Free from the cycle of births and deaths, from your limitations, so that you become one with the Supreme Being….”   
[There is a similar posting entitled “So, Amma is Your Guru? Really?” on this blog].

** The two questions were originally not found in the book from which the excerpts had been taken. They had been interpolated here. (Apologies to the author)
(Swamiji’s advice was found on pages 220-221 of His book, “Talks Volume 2”)