Amma’s stories on Self-confidence, Determination and Purpose in Life (16 stories)

1. The 5-year Kingdom

[Amma:  This human body is meant to be utilized to attain God realization. As every day passes, we are nearing death. If we spend this life in enjoying worldly pleasures, we lose our energy. On the other hand, if we spend time on constant remembrance of God we get mental power; In youth, we have health and a long life ahead of us which should be utilized to get rid of our weaknesses. If we do so, we don’t have to worry about the future as well as the present.]

Long ago, in a country, there was a rule that any citizen can become the king but his tenure was limited to five years. At the end of five years, the king would be transported to a stray island where all wild animals lived. Once dropped there, the hungry and ferocious animals would attack and eat the king.

Though everyone knew the rules, there were people who came forward to become kings purely motivated by the desire to enjoy the royal life of luxury, wealth comforts and privileges for five years as a king. Whenever individuals  agreed to become the kings, they would climb the royal throne joyfully, but the joy would gradually wane as days and months passed. The fear of getting transported to the distant island only to be eaten away by wild animals would gradually grip them and there won’t be any more joy on their faces.

In the palace, there were varieties of food to eat, captivating dance performances by beautiful maidens and obedient servants to provide all sorts of comforts to the king. But none of those who became kings could enjoy them as they could only see death facing them constantly. The country thus saw some 10 kings ruling them across 50 years in the same fashion.

Next came a king who was one youth brimming with enthusiasm and joyfulness. He was never remorse like his predecessors. He enjoyed all the royal comforts, danced with the damsels, went for hunting expeditions, travelled around the country and provided good governance for the welfare of the people.

His five-year term too came to an end. When he was about to be deported to the island, people were very surprised to see him remaining joyful and beaming as usual. They asked him, ‘Dear king, we are wondering how you can remain so joyful despite the fact that your royal term and your very dear life has come to an end? You are totally unlike your predecessors! How is it possible?”

The king replied, “Why should I be remorseful? I am fully prepared to go to the island. There are no wild animals there now.When I became a king 5 years ago, I learned hunting. I went to the island several times with my soldiers and hunted and eliminated all the wild animals living there. I have also cut down many trees and created cultivating lands; dug wells; I have arranged to build beautiful palaces there. I have to simply go there and continue to live a life of luxury and comfort, free from the burden of ruling the country! That’s all!”

(From Upadesamritam-2)

2. The reward for patient work

[Amma: Children,  shraddha and kshama (focused attention with faith and patience) are needed in any mission. If both are there, God will bless you wherever He is.

Once two villagers went for fishing. On their way, there a was a stream with dense trees having their roots protruding into the water. One of the villagers said, “I want to build a small earthen bund around this area and catch the fish coming in the stream; will you join me?”

The other man said, “No; you have to first make the bund and then drain water inside the bund till you get the trapped fish; it is lot of work and time consuming too. It may drag for the whole day. If we don’t get fish, my children will have to go hungry; I would rather look for catching fish elsewhere.” So saying he proceeded alone.

The first villager started building a bund around the trees using mud, leaves and toots and grass. He did not have any tools with him. He had to work only with his hands. Once finished he started draining the water from inside the bund. Since he did not have any vessel with him, he had to use his palms as cups and throw the water out;  with full focus, without thinking anything else, he kept on draining the water with his palms from the bund. In between the bund broke here and there and he had to mend it;   then he would revert to draining the water. He want on doing this work with focus, continuously without losing hope. By evening he managed to drain out all the water from the bund and he could get lots of fish trapped inside the bund in the mire.

In the meanwhile, the second villager went around to ponds and rivers to catch fish easily, but but he was not getting anything the whole day. He was returning empty handed, and met his friend on the way, who was almost packing, having finished his day’s labor.

Knowing the sad plight of the second villager, the first villager was glad to share some of his catch to him. Both of them walked happily to their village.

Thus on account of his unshakable faith, dedication, focus and patience, the first villager was able to get results and he could also help his friend through sharing.

(from Arul Mozhikal – Part 1)

3.  The mirror image

Once a king commissioned several great sculptures in his palace to create wonderful sculptural art works for public display.

One of the sculptures worked day and night and create a wonderful sculpture on a huge piece of rock depicting 33 Crore devatas.

Another sculpture took another piece of rock as large as the one chosen by the first sculpture and kept on working on it by the side of the first one. What he was doing was to create a perfectly flat surface on one face of the rock first and he kept on polishing it straight and flat day and night. Finally the rock’s face became as smooth as a mirror.

When both of them finished their works, the king visited the place to see their works. He was wonderstruck by the talent of the first sculptor who had meticulously carved the various devetas. The king was equally surprised to see an exact mirror image of the 33 Crore devatas so perfectly carved as the first one. When he went closer to see it, he was struck by the truth that what the second sculptor had done was not a mirror-image of the first one, but a perfect mirror itself on the surface of the rock!

[Amma: “When our mind is totally cleaned and polished, it will start reflecting all the divine qualities of celestial Gods automatically inside us. There is no need for worshiping devatas externally.”]

4. Face the situation

[Amma: “When we are confronted with adverse situation, we should not try to escape from it. We should have acceptance and be determined to face it and tackle it.”]

Once a person received a phone call from his ‘military’ uncle. The retired Colonel from the Army was a very talkative person, never tired of boasting about his great experiences in wars which he would tirelessly repeat umpteen times without noticing the disinterest in the listeners. The uncle said that he is coming to the house to meet him and is already on the way. The person was not at all in a mood to meet his uncle and hear his boring repetitions umpteenth time.

He decided to escape from the uncle by sneaking through the back door and take a different road to go out for a while. He rushed out in hurry. As he was walking on the road, unfortunately his uncle was also coming towards his house through this alternate route!

The uncle was so happy to see his nephew in front of him on the way!

“Oh, my boy! It is so nice of you to come all the way to receive me….” Then he started his monologue: “This reminds me of an incidence I faced in the second world war …..”. They were standing by the side of the road and the uncle kept on talking unmindful of the surroundings. It was a hot day and the sun was already rising up above the head; there was not even a tree around; the man’s legs started paining; he was feeling thirsty.

Now he was thinking: ‘If only I had stayed back at the house, I could have at least sat on a chair comfortably; In hurrying out, I forgot to take my umbrella to protect me from the sun; if I were in the house, I could have switched on the fan and not suffer from sweating; I could have drunk a cup of water or some cool drink to quench my thirst, while here, there is not even a single shop in the vicinity where I can get a cool drink. What a fool I was to try and escape from this uncle and now suffering more!”

[Amma: This is what happens if we are not bold enough to face the situation and try to escape; our suffering will be more than what we would encounter otherwise. We must always be flexible to accept situations as they come to us. We cannot change the external things; but we can change our mindset to meet the situations with alacrity.]

(Monday Satsang   11/02/2019)

5. The tough Cartman

Once, during a cold season, a poor mother and her little baby were stranded by the side of a road. It was snowing. The mother was not adequately dressed to protect herself from cold. She held her child close to her bosom and both were shivering in the cold.

At that time a bullock cart came by.  The cartman took pity on the woman and offered to take her along and drop her in her village.

The mother and child got into the cart. Chill air continued to blow and the snowfall was dense. Even with the protection inside the cart, the woman was shivering uncontrollably and the child too was crying. The cartman noticed that the woman had no energy to fight the cold and the child could not get any warmth from her body or get covered adequately by her cloth. Her eyes were turning blue and face whiter.

The cartman stopped the cart, took the child into his arms and covered it with his clothes. He then pushed the woman out of the cart and started driving the cart away.

The woman was shocked. She started shouting, “Hey! Why are you running away with my child? Give my child back! What harm did I do for you to abandon me and take away my child? Stop, stop”.  She started crying.

The cartman was bent upon driving his bullocks to run fast. As the cart was moving farther and farther, the poor woman mustered up whatever energy she had in her and started running behind the cart. After running behind the cart for considerable distance, she noticed some passersby on the road; she cried to them seeking help saying that the cartman was forcefully abducting her child.

The villagers wanted to help her. They too started shouting and chasing the bullock cart along with the woman.
Soon they could catch up and managed to reach the cart. The cartman stopped the cart.

The villagers rushed forward to attack the cartman. He shouted, “Wait, wait! Listen to what I say before attempting to hit me!”

The villagers paused. The cartman said, ” I offered her help by agreeing to transport her in my cart to her village. But I found her suffering uncontrollably in the cold and she  looked as if she could not protect herself as well as her child from the biting cold. I thought let me take her child and give it warmth. I had no means to protect her from cold. Then I thought of this idea. I know she is a loving mother who cannot abandon her child. If I run away with her child, I felt she will muster up enough energy and run behind me to get her child back. That is precisely what happened. See, by running, she has now warmed up her body and thus could fight the cold too, instead of succumbing to it ! My idea has really worked!”

[Amma: “Every disciple should strive on his own to get spiritual awakening. He should not always be dependent on Guru’s physical presence, love and attention. Keeping regularity and having focus, the disciple should put independent efforts. He should have self confidence. Self confidence is like a booster racket. Sulking in the absence of guru should be avoided.”]

6. Perseverance

Once a father, deeply interested in classical music, wanted his son to learn the music. He took his son to a famous vidvan (musician) and requested him to take his son as his disciple. The musician agreed.

The boy joined the music class but he was not showing keen interest in learning the classical music. He was not putting enough effort and he remained distracted when the master taught.

The master said, “You are not keen to learn the music. Because of you, the other students may get spoiled. I cannot allow you to sit in the class hereafter; either you can leave, or, if you really want to continue, you can sit outside the room, listen and learn”.

The boy felt very bad. He felt sorry for his attitude. He did not want to discontinue. Conceding to the teacher’s dictum, he decided to stay outside the classroom and listen the music taught to other students.

From that day onwards, the boy stood outside the classroom and grasped what the musician was teaching. After the class, he went to a secluded place and practiced what was taught in the class. Gradually, he started developing liking  the taste for classical music and was able to appreciate and understand its nuances. This continued for several months.  The boy eventually developed good proficiency in singing and was in fact his singing was better than the other students. The teacher was secretly watching observing what the boy was doing and also noticed his proficiency.

One day, the teacher started a new song, which was based on a complex raga, which was rather a difficult one to grasp. That day, he called the boy inside and said, “From today onwards, you can sit inside the class and learn; I know you are now quite competent to grasp and master this difficult song”.

(Tuesday satsang 3/1/17)

7. A simple act is good enough

[Amma: “Some people who want to do something good to the world sometimes  get put off by thinking ‘What good can I, as a single person, really strive to bring some changes in this world, which is full of darkness of ignorance?’. We have a candle called mind with us. Let us ignite the light of faith in it. Don’t doubt as to how you will cover the long path covered with darkness with this little candle.  Take one step at a time. You will get enough lighting to take the next step”.

A man, whose life had been shattered with grief and despair was standing at the side of a road, not knowing what do next in life. Then, a passerby looked at the man’s face and smiled very pleasantly.  The man, who had been disowned and discarded by everyone in his his life, felt a great warmth in his heart as he saw the passerby smiling at him.

‘Oh! At least there is one person in this world, who is able to smile lovingly at me!’ — this thought gave him some enthusiasm.  In that moment of elevated mindset, the man suddenly remembered an old friend, who had helped him in the past when he was in dire straits. ‘Why not I write a letter to my old friend?’ he thought. He immediately put his thought into action.

The friend who received the letter from his old pal, felt very happy to read the letter; ‘Ah! it is so nice to read this letter from my dear friend with whom I had lost touch and never knew his whereabouts all these years!’ This joyful mindset made the man to donate ten Rupees to a beggar standing nearby.

The beggar bought a Raffle Ticket with that money. Surprise of all surprises, he won a huge prize money for the ticket!  As he collected the money and walked back joyfully, he noticed a sick beggar lying at the side of the road. ‘Is it not the money I have now given by God? Should I not give a little of this to the suffering beggar?’ This thought prompted him to take the beggar to a nearby hospital; he admitted him there for treatment and paid all the fees. The beggar got cured of his ailment soon and he was discharged from the hospital.

As he was walking, the beggar noticed a puppy fallen into a pool of water and was shivering in cold and unable to come out. It looked obvious that it was hungry too.  The beggar picked up the dog, covered with an old rug he had; he collected some dry sticks and lit a fire. As the puppy was warming himself, the beggar got some food and shared it with the puppy.  The little dog, now freed of cold and energized with food, happily followed him.

At night, they reached a house and the beggar requested the house owner to permit him to sleep at his house on the cold night. Fortunately, the house owner agreed and let the beggar and the little dog sleep at the ‘thinnai’ (elevated platform) at the front of the house.

At midnight, the beggar and house owner were suddenly woken up by the incessant barking of the little dog. They were shocked to notice that a portion of the house was on fire. The owner rushed in and brought his little child out.  The rest of the family members too rushed out. The beggar joined with the other family members to put out the fire quickly.

Thus by giving shelter to the beggar and the little dog that night, the house owner’s family was saved. The little boy, who was saved from fire, grew up to become a saint in future. By coming in contact with the saint, so many people felt benefited in their lives.

What is the root cause of all these happenings? Just a loving smile a stranger gave to a person standing at the roadside! He did not spend even a paise.

[Amma: “Just a smile!  See what a chain reaction it created in the lives of so many people! Even a very insignificant good act can trigger a great reaction in the society.  We may not know it immediately. But certainly it carries a value.”]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Part 1)

8. Finding the next king

Once the king of a country died suddenly; he had no offspring and in order to carry out the administration smoothly, the minister was asked to take over the charge of the king till an alternative arrangement was made. The minister too was already aged.

In consultation with others, the minister started searching for the rightly qualified person to rule the country. But he could not locate any able administrator who had valour, trustworthiness and smartness to become the king of a country. Time passed by.

The minister badly wanted to unburden his responsibility. He thought of handing over the ruling to his own son.  He knew that his son was trustworthy. But, being a very honest person, he wanted to test his son to ascertain whether he had enough awareness and smartness. He called his son and told him that he intended to crown him as the next king, subject to his passing a test. The son felt very elated.

The minister said that the test would be as follows.

The son should go to the stable from where three ferocious horses would be released one after the other. He should manage to catch and hold on to the tail of any one of the horses.  If he succeeds in any one of the three attempts, he would be crowned as the next king.

The son went to the stable quite confidently and excitedly. When he said he was ready, the first horse was released.  It came at lighting speed towards him. The son was somewhat slack and sluggish, as his mind was engaged in the dreams of becoming the king.  Even before he could jump to catch the tail, the horse went past him very swiftly and disappeared. The son thought, “Well! I have two more chances anyway” and got ready for the next horse.

The next horse came running and when it came close to him it jumped high and went away! The son was disappointed but he thought, “I have definitely one final chance; I can surely make it”.

The next horse came. The son was quite alert. As the horse crossed him, he immediately jumped over its back, extending his hand to catch its tail;  he fell on the floor with a thud.  The third horse had no tail!

[Amma: “One must always be alert and aware and be focused on the present rather than imagining about the future. If the opportunity coming in the present is wasted, one may not get it again in future.]

9. The rainbow

A physically handicapped girl, who was permanently confined to wheelchairs was looking out of the window. Every evening, her mother would bring her to the window and leave her there for some time.  As usual, she saw little children of her age running around, shouting gleefully and playing on the streets. This sight would always depress her and turn her to a mournful mood. ‘When all the other children are able to enjoy life by playing and running around, why am I to suffer like this in glued my wheelchair?’ She would start crying.

That evening, when the sunlight was still on, it started drizzling suddenly. As she looked at the skies, she saw a beautiful rainbow! This was the first time in her life she ever saw a rainbow and she was captivated by its colors and beauty! Her sunken mood got lifted up; as she was looking at the rainbow with wonder, the rainbow vanished, as the sunlight got covered by the clouds.

When her mother came to her, she spoke excitedly to her mother: “Mama, I saw a beautiful sight at the sky; it was like a huge half-ring with myriad colors! What is it?” The mother explained to her that it was a rainbow and how it gets created when both sunshine and raining take place in mornings and evenings.

From the next day onwards, the girl started looking at the sky through the windows eagerly for the arrival of the rainbow, but it never came. She asked her mother, “When will it come next time, Ma? Will you take me closer to it?”

The mother said, “The rainbow stays only for a short duration; but let us try when it rains and shines next time.”

Soon, another day of raining came. The mother took her daughter in her car and rushed to the top of a nearby hill. Fortunately, there was sunshine too! The girl got an unhindered view of a beautiful rainbow at the skies and her joy knew no bounds. She started talking to the rainbow.

“Oh, you are so colorful and wonderful. You give so much joy for people. But why are you there only for such a short time?”

The rainbow replied to her, “When God created me, he told be that my life span would be very short. I thought about it. I felt that even when it is so, I must give joy to others; it was then that I received all the wonderful colors on me!”.

The girl was very impressed by what the rainbow said. She kept thinking about it. She thought, ‘I should also accept what God has given to me; despite my handicap, I should try to give joy to others…”

From that day onwards, she started spending time with other children by calling them to her; she told stories to them; she shared jokes with them. The other children started enjoying her company too.

[Amma: “Children, only the present is the reality. The past is like a cancelled cheque and the future is unknown to us. We must use the present to lead our life happily and purposefully. Whether you cry or laugh, time will go. Why not laugh and enjoy your present?  Life is like a lottary. Even among those who win it, some may win ten thousand Rupees and some may win a million. Likewise, some may life for long and some may die early. Some may suffer from ill-health and some may lead their entire life quite healthily. Acceptance is the key to lead a happy life. Why not accept what is given to you and lead a life giving happiness to others?”]

(Amma Onam satsang 2019)

10. When the situation warrants

A frog was jumping across a road and it fell into a pit in the road. It tried its best to jump out of the pit but could not succeed.

Seeing its plight, a rabbit came to its rescue. However, whatever he tried, he could not help the frog to get out of the pit. The rabbit brought a couple of its clan and they all tried their best to get the frog out bnt they too could not succeed. They all got tired. As time passed, they felt hungry too. The rabbit said, “We will go now, eat something and also bring something for you to eat; then we shall try afresh to get you out of the pit”.

They had not moved much farther away; suddenly the frog leaped and fell right in front of them! The rabbits were very surprised! “How come you could jump and get out of the pit now while your could not do it earlier?” they asked.

The frog said, “After you left from the road, a saw a huge truck coming on the road and it wheel was right ahead of the pit; I did not think any more; I just made one leap and see, I ended up here!”

[Amma: “We all should think that whatever problems that we come across in life are simply the situations that God creates for awakening the power and strength in us to overcome the problems”.

(Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

11. Criticism is necessary

When Abraham Lincoln was the President of USA, he had some  critics who were constantly criticising for his various omissions and commissions. He was very tolerant of the criticisms hurled against him.

When some of his well-wishers asked him why he was not countering them vehemently, Lincoln said “Criticism is helpful; it improves our awareness and makes us watchful.  When I was a kid, we had a lazy horse in our farm.  One day I saw a flea disturbing him again and again. That made the horse restless; it jumped around, swung his head, swung its tail again and again to chase away the flea. Seeing its plight, I felt I should go and chase away the flea.  But my father stopped me and said, “Don’t do that! At least the flea could make the lazy horse a little active!”

(Amma Shivarathri Satsang 21/2/2020)

12. When there is self-confidence

When Duryodhana invited Yudhishthira to play the game of dice, Yudhishthira agreed.  He started playing one game after the other by pledging his wealth and kept on losing.

At that point of time a bright light came out of his body and stood before him.

Yudhishthira asked “Who are you?”

The bright light replied: “I am your Viveka Buddhi (faculty of discrimination).   It appears you don’t want to make use of me anymore. Hence I am leaving”. It departed.

Yudhishthira continued to play and lost his brothers too in the bet. Then he bet his wife Panchali too.

At that point of time another bright light came out of his body and stood before him.

Yudhishthira asked “Who are you?”

The bright light replied: “I am your Dharma bodham (knowledge about righteousness).   It appears you don’t want to make use of me anymore. Hence I am leaving”. It departed.

Immediately, yet another bright light came out of his body and stood before him.

Yudhishthira asked “Who are you?” .

The bright light replied: “I am your Aishwarya (Wealth).   I am leaving”. It departed. Immediately another bright light came out saying “I am your keerthi (fame). I too am leaving”.

Yudhishthira and his brothers lost everything in the game of dice and spent the next 12 years in the forest. They were ready to live another 1 year with hidden identity. If they could complete it successfully, they can stake their claim to get back their land and rule it again, as per the promise made by the Kaurava king Dhritarashtra.

Yudhishthira was quite confident that they would successfully finish their one year of living incognito too.

At that point of time, a bright light came out of his body and stood before him.

Yudhishthira asked “Who are you?”

The bright light replied: “I am your Atma Viswasam (Self confidence).  You are still nurturing me and I will stay with you”. So saying, the bright light entered back into his boy.

Immediately another bright light came from somewhere and identified itself as Viveka buddhi. “I am coming back to you”; so saying the light entered into him.

Soon, one after another Dharma bodham, Aishwaryam and Keerthi which had left him earlier returned to him.

In due course of time, the Pandavas won the Kurukshetra war and Yudhishthira became the king once again.

[Amma: “We  should never lose our self confidence. Self confidence is like a booster rocket.”]

(Amma’s Vishu Satsang 14/4/2020)

13. Progressive Effort

Once a King was roaming in a forest with his security guards on a hunting expedition.  A minister of a neighboring country too was visiting forest in his country along with his wife. The minister lost his way and got seperated from his wife too. Unknowingly he ventured into the forest territory of the neighboring country where the king was hunting. The minister’s wife managed to locate him as she noticed him from a distance in a hilly terrain. She  started following him in a hurry in order to catch up with him.

The king noticed the minister and immediately suspected that he must be a spy who was secretly entering in to his territory. The minister was caught by the security men. The king accused him of trespassing in to his territory. Whatever explanation the minister gave was not convincing to the king. The wife of the minister noticed from a distance all that happened. She was at a loss to know what to do further. She thought that if she attempted to join with her husband, If she too would be arrested.  Then there won’t be any possibility of trying and securing the release her husband. So, she decided to secretly follow her husband who was already arrested.

The king and his entourage returned to the capital and the minister was placed in a jail complex at the 7th floor. The minister’s wife who followed him managed to get some help from local people for her stay and food through some devious schemes.  She disguised herself like a man and started roaming around the city. Through stealthy inquiries, she managed to know where the minister was incarcerated. She started roaming around the jail complex with a desperate intent to somehow get into contact with her husband.

One day she noticed that only one window in the seventh floor of the jail building was open.   She suspected that her husband must have been kept in solitary confinement in that floor. As she kept roaming that area in disguise, she noticed a person standing at the window at the seventh floor and she could immediately recognize that it was indeed her husband. She gesticulated to him. The minister noticed her and he immediately understood that it was indeed his wife in disguise.

The minister managed to get a sheet of paper and a stone in his cell. In the paper he scribbled: “I have noticed you. I want you to arrange get the following: A long silk thread that could reach up to my room from where you saw me, a thick cord of the same length, a strong rope of the same length and a cutting saw. Catch a wasp. tie the silk thread to its legs, tie the thick cord to the other end of the silk thread; tie the rope to the other end of the cord. Tie the cutting saw to the other end of the rope. Once you are ready, I will signal to you and you can let the wasp fly.” He wrapped the paper around the stone and threw it towards the place where his wife was standing. His wife picked up the stone and read the paper.

Soon,  managed to arrange all these and came and waited at the place where the minister noticed her earlier. The minister, as part of his food ration used to get a some honey and corn flour daily.  He smeared the honey at the bottom frame of the window and signalled to his wife to release the wasp.

The wasp flew up. It got the smell of honey from the window and flew up there. Since only a very light silk thread was connected to its legs, it could fly without difficulty. The wasp landed at the window and started licking the honey. The minister threw a towel over the wasp and caught hold of it.

He caught hold of the silk thread and started pulling it. He now got the cord and started pulling it. Now the rope came to his hands and he pulled it too. Now, at the end of the rope, he got the saw. He untied the saw and started cutting the window grills. Once several grills were cut, there was enough space for him to wriggle out of the window. He tied one end of the rope to the remaining grills and catching hold of the rope he got down from the 7th floor. He scaled the compound too using the rope and joined with his wife who was anxiously waiting outside, hiding behind a tree.
Both of them managed to escape from the city and return to their country.

[Amma: “Yoga is the way of reaching the subtlest experience of  uniting with Atman, by gradually going from gross to more subtle things step by step. Like in this story, where the minister caught hold of one thing from another for his escape, in yoga, we start with the gross body by undergoing the discipline of doing yogasanas.  Through yogasanas, we control breathing,  by controlling the breath, prana is controlled. Prana controls the mind and by subduing the mind, one experiences Atman. “]

(From Amma’s message on International Yoga Day 21/6/2020)

14. Self confidence

Once a very famous violinist was about to begin his concert in a huge hall where avid music enthusiasts had gathered in thousands to listen to his performance.

The violinist started to play with an alaap. Somehow he felt that the sound was not alright. Something was amiss in his playing. He immediately stopped playing and inspected his violin. He was shocked to notice  that it was not his own violin that he had brought with him properly tuned. He made an excuse to the audience and quickly returned to the dressing room and searched everywhere but his violin was not to be found. It then struck to him that some of his competitors in the field who were envious of him might have schemed to bring him disgrace by stealing his violin and replacing it with a faulty one.

For a moment the violinist became extremely nervous. What should he do now? Cancel his program?

However he gathered his nerves immediately. He thought to himself: “Does the music originate in the instrument? No. It is from my soul that the music flows. Let me demonstrate this truth today. May God’s grace be with me in my effort. He took the violin once again, tuned its strings and then returned to the dais. He started playing it and a brilliant music started flowing from him through the violin. The whole audience listened the music with rapt attention. The program proved to be the best of all his past performances.

[Amma: “Tremendous power lies hidden in each and every one of us inside. Everyone of us have a music inside us that we never experienced of. It has infinite potentials. If only we strive, it is possible to find it out and awaken it.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

15. Practice and proficiency

Once a young man, who had lost his left hand in an accident wanted to learn wrestling.  He approached a famous master and expressed his desire. He was of course apprehensive that the master might not accept him because of his physical handicap.

However, the master agreed to take him as his disciple. He taught him one particular technique of wrestling that involved his right hand and asked him to practice it again and again to perfection. The master continued to teach other students in various other techniques of wrestling.

While the youth continued to practice what he was taught, he was somewhat disturbed by the fact that the master was not teaching him any more techniques unlike other disciples.

He approached the master and asked, “Master, right from the beginning, you have taught me only one technique in wrestling while your are teaching many other things to other students. May I know why you are not teaching other techniques?”

The master said, “It is enough for you if you practice this one technique and attain perfection in it. With this one method you can become a very proficient in wrestling”.

Even though the youth did not find the reply satisfactory, he however kept practicing the technique again and again because of his trust and respect on his guru.

After a few months, the guru arranged a wrestling competition amid his students.  This handicapped young man too participated in the competition. In the first two rounds of competition, he won quite easily. He felt very surprised of himself. However, the third round was more challenging. After a prolonged effort, he finally won. Thus this single handed youth became the champion in that competition.

He went to the master and said, “Master, I am still not able to believe that I became a champion! How did it become possible for a single handed person like me to beat all the other boys having two hands?”

The guru said, “The technique I taught to you was a very difficult one and you have brought yourself up to perfection through repeated practice. If you lock the opponent in your grip with that technique, the only way to get untangled from it is to grip the left hand and twist it. Since you don’t have your left hand, it became impossible for your opponents to get freed from your grip. That’s how you won”.

Thus the handicap of the youth became his strength.

[Amma: “If we strive with discrimination, even shortcomings can turn to become our strengths.  In the same way, we have the power of atman inside us which, when awakened, can take us beyond our perceived boundaries and limitations and lead us to wholeness.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

16. Looking for the right ruler

Once an Empress ruled a large kingdom; she was righteous, courageous and selfless.

One day, she summoned all able men from her country. In the assembly, she announced, “I have called all of you to make a very important announcement. Ours is a very vast country. For the convenience of administration and in order to represent every community equally and fairly,  I am going to split it into two parts and appoint an administrator for each region. The persons selected should work selflessly for the welfare of the people by understanding their needs and aspirations. They should be able to love the people and serve them with dedication. They should be courageous and also effective leaders. If the administrators prove their ability, I will crown them as kings of the respective regions and allow them to rule independently. On the contrary, if they do not fulfil their obligations with sincerity and honesty, they will be imprisoned for life or even face a death sentence. Those who are courageous enough to accept this challenge may please come forward.”

There was a deafening silence in the gathering. No one seemed to be ready for the challenge. Suddenly two young men came forward. “I am ready to take up this responsibility” said each of them. The queen felt very happy. She said to them, “I really appreciate your positive response. I want to reward you immediately by presenting each of you with an excellent horse, from the best of lot from our stable.”

Addressing the rest of the gathering, the empress said, “I thank all of you for coming here on my invitation. All of you will be given a hen each as a gift for you to take home”.

Then the empress took the two young men to the stable and showed them four thoroughbred horses – one white, one grey, one chestnut and one black in color. She asked them to select the horse they liked. One youngster chose the black horse and the other, the grey. The empress appreciated them for their quick decision. They saluted the Empress and left the palace.

After a while, the youngster who took the black horse came back and met the empress. He said, “May I take some other horse instead of this one?”

“Why?” asked the empress.

He said, “Actually, when I took this home, my wife did not like the black color. She wants a white horse” said the man with hesitation.

The empress asked him to return the black horse; instead she gave him a hen and said, “This is the right gift for you to give it to your wife”, and sent him away.

After a few days, she sent a word for the other youngster to come and meet her.  When he came and saluted her, she asked, “What were you doing these days?”

The man said, “I took a couple of days to test the horse to know how strong it is and how fast it can run. I trained it to work as per my commands. Then I took a ride on it to visit that portion of the country which I am asked to administer. I travelled around to understand the climate, the landscape, the nature of trees, plants and crops grown in the region. I studied what sort of new crops can be grown in the region.  I interacted with the people to understand their aspirations, needs and problems.”

The queen was extremely happy to hear his words. She said, “I am glad to appoint you as the king of the region” and blessed him.

[Amma: “In this story, the Empress symbolizes God or nature. The wife who preferred white horse instead of the black one represents human mind. The man who changed his mind for the sake if his wife represents being a slave to one’s mind. The man who chose the grey horse and rode to his destination symbolizes human conscience, discerning intellect and determination. The youngster, who changed his decision at the behest of his wife, did not succeed in becoming a king. He lost a great opportunity in life. He even lost the horse that he was gifted with. God gives equal opportunities to all. Most people don’t make use of it. Some people grasp God given opportunity, but they lose it because of narrow minded selfishness. Only some people use it rightly and they succeed in life.”]

(Source: Amma’s 67th birthday message 27/9/2010)

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