1. When money comes in excess
[Amma: “Children, it is not wrong to make money. But it should not be as if the entire life is only for that. You can have enough money for your needs; but you should not accumulate money excessively.”]
One there lived a man who earned his living by making and mending umbrellas. He used to make umbrellas peacefully, by chanting God’s name all the time. He would speak about God’s great qualities to the people who come to him. Whatever he could earn this way, he lived a very contented and happy life. His customers loved him. He was never short of income needed to run his family.
One day, a very rich Zamindar came to buy an umbrella from him. He was impressed by the quality of the umbrella, its low price and also the nice behavior of the umbrella maker. He wanted to reward him. He generously gave a huge sum of money to the maker for buying the umbrella.
It was the first time the man ever got to see such a huge sum of money at one go from selling an umbrella. The money started playing with the nature of the man. His mind lost concentration in work; he constantly thought how to save that money. Will it be safe if he kept it at his house? Will it get stolen by thieves?
The thought of money blocked his chanting of God’s names. He could not finish the jobs in hand in time. ‘How to invest this money? Shall I start building a new house? Should I start a new business?’ such thoughts kept crowding his mind. He lost concentration on work totally. He felt irritated to speak to others. He lost his habit of talking nicely with his customers. If anybody disturbed his thoughts about money, he felt angry at them.
In due course, his customers started dwindling. His income nosedived. As his mind was constantly on money, it lost its peace. As greed and selfishness increased, he felt painful and agitated. As his income from making umbrellas started drying, he had to spend all the money for his sustenance.
Thus the peace and tranquility that prevailed in his life was totally lost on account of the arrival of a huge sum of money.
[Amma: “When the goal is high, the amount of patience and forbearance needed to achieve it is also high. Without these qualities, any grand declaration of intentions might turn to be a laughable declaration. It applies to spiritual quest too.”]
Once there was a famous wrestler. He had lots of fans; he was challenged by many other wrestlers. The wrestler had a dream that he should be the conqueror of all wrestlers in the world and he should be overawed by others by his sheer looks. So, he thought of an idea. He thought that if he could have a picture of a ferocious tiger tattooed on his back, he would look intimidating.
He called a famous tattoo artist. The artist showed a picture of a wild tiger that looked quite fierce and violent and he agreed. The tattoo artist started his work. He first started with the left ear of the tiger. The wrestler never expected that the tattooing process would be so prickly and painful. After a short while, he said, “Oh no! That area feels so painful. Please stop there and do the tattooing in some other area”.
The artist stopped there and started to work on the right eye of the tiger. After patiently bearing the pain for a while, the wrestler could not contain himself any more. “Wait, wait! The pain is really excruciating there. Please leave that portion and start somewhere else”.
Now the artist shifted his work to the mouth of the tiger. As usual , within a short while the wrestler started shouting in pain. “No, no! I just cannot bear this pain any more! Better erase everything; I am abandoning this idea”.
The artist said that there is no way of erasing a tattoo work done on the skin. But, the wrestler was not ready to continue with the torture on his back!
Thus, the back of the wrestler now looked ridiculous with a few patches of lines and dots drawn incoherently at his back. Instead of creating an awe, it only created ridicule from the onlookers!
(from Amma’s Gurupurnima message 14/7/2019)
3. Setting example
[Amma: “Any preaching is best done by living as example. Mere verbal preaching cannot effectively drive home philosophy. People tend to follow prominent personalities in the society. Hence people in high posts and positions should set examples for others.”]
Once a minister went to the the house of the Head of the Village as a guest. That village was extremely dirty. In every street and road junctions rubbish had accumulated in huge mounds. Gutters were stagnant overflowing with filthy water. Bad smell permeated the entire atmosphere of the village.
The minister inquired why the whole village was so dirty. The Village Head replied: “The people who live here totally lack civic sense. They cannot even understand that we should keep our localities clean. However much we advise or teach them, they would not listen. They are extremely lazy. I have tried my best to give sermons to them on cleanliness but I am fed up as they just don’t bother. ”
The minister did not say anything. After taking his dinner at the house he went to sleep.
Next day early morning, the village head woke up but he could not find the minister in his bed. He searched for him in the entire house in vain. He came out of the house and looked around. The minister was on the street with a broomstick on hand. He had swept the surroundings clean and was igniting a huge mound of waste. Seeing it, the village Head could not remain a mute spectator. When the minister himself was engaged in scavenging work, how can he be an idle onlooker? He too started cleaning the streets.
As people in the village started coming out of their houses in the morning, they saw the minister and the Head of the village busy in sweeping the village. They were surprised! How could they sit idle when such eminent persons were engaged in cleaning work? Everybody started joining the work. Soon, all the rubbish were cleared and burnt. The gutters were cleaned. the whole village became spic and span. Very soon, the culture of the village changed and cleanliness became their part of life.
(Source: Oliyai nokki-Tamil-Part 1)
5. Never lose hope
Once a huge flock of birds were flying away from the forest where they were living all along. After flying for while, they came down to rest. They noticed a huge contingent of snails moving slowly towards the direction of the forest. “Where are you going?” asked the birds. The head of the snails said, “We are moving to the forest ahead of us; we want to go and live there”.
The chief of the birds said. “What? To that forest? I would advise you not to go there. We are all coming only from there; we have abandoned it and going in search of greener pastures. That forest is unfit to live; As all ponds there have dried up, there is no source of water there; trees have withered; there is nothing to eat and live there. You can’t find any green leaf there”.
The head of the snail said, “It does not matter. By the time we reach there, we are sure, things would change. We have enough time and enough hope”.
6. Gaining attention
Once a man was standing at the terrace of his house. He saw his friend walking along the road. Instead of calling him aloud, he somehow wanted to get the attention of the friend. He plucked a bunch of flowers from an adjacent tree and threw towards his friend. The friend stopped, picked up the flowers and smelled them. Taking them along, he moved forward.
Now the friend from the terrace throw a coin towards him. The walker noticed the coin on the road; he looked around to see whether anyone is noticing him. But he did not look upward towards the house. He picked up the coin, put it into his pocket and walked away. Now the friend from the terrace threw a pebble stone at his friend; it hit him on the head. Infuriated, the man looked around in all directions and also upward and only then he noticed his friend standing at the terrace and smiling at him.
[Amma: “This is how most of us behave with God too. When good things happen in our lives, we never bother to think of God. But when a calamity strikes, only then we start looking for God’s help!”]
7. The little boy and the pilot
A pilot on duty on a specific and regular flight route always would fly low over a meadow and look eagerly down. Noticing his habit, the co-pilot asked him, “What is so special about this meadow? Why are you eagerly looking at it each time?”
The pilot said, “When I was a boy, I lived in a village in this meadow. I used to go for fishing in the stream nearby. As I sat there with my fishing rod, normally, a plane would fly overhead; I used to eagerly look at the plane; I longed to become a pilot and fly a plane those days. Over the years, I have indeed become a pilot. But now, as I fly over this meadow, I long for my childhood. I would love to sit peacefully by the stream with a fishing rod in hand and do my fishing leisurely!”
[Amma: ” By thinking of the past or worrying about the future, most of us miss to live in the present fully.”]
(Amma Onam Satsang 11/9/19)
8. Donated Air?
Once an Old Age Home was celebrating its anniversary. A cultural show was arranged for the celebration and all the inmates and other invitees were sitting in the hall and enjoying the program.
Suddenly, a person came into the hall and switched off all the ceiling fans. He was a well known businessman in the town. One of the inmates asked him, “Why did you switch off all the fans? Don’t you see that people are sweating profusely in this hot climate without air circulation?”
The businessman said, “It is me who donated all the fans in this old age home. My name has been written in all the fans in this hall.If all the fans are running, no one would be able to read my name written in them. I wanted to make sure that people who have come here for this program should know that it is me who has donated all these fans. That’s why I switched off the fans”.
[Amma: ” Such a donation can never be called a real donation. Such an attitude will even cancel out the punya that one accrues through donation”.]
(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)
9. Selective hearing
A small crowd of people were waiting outside a shop to buy various provisions. The shopkeeper was busy picking up things that the customers asked and packing them.
Suddenly, the shopkeeper stopped all his work, closed his eyes and joined his palms in prayer. A couple of minutes passed and then he opened his eyes. He noticed that there was a look of irritation in the customers’ faces. One of them said to him curtly, “What is it you are doing all of a sudden by closing your eyes? When all of us are waiting to be taken care of in the shop, aren’t you showing disrespect to your customers by stopping your work and doing like this?”
The shopkeeper relied patiently, “It is evening arati time in the adjacent temple. Did you not hear the temple bell ringing? Hearing the sound of the bell, I just closed my eyes and prayed to God for a few moments”.
“None of us heard any bell ringing from the temple” said the customers.
The shopkeeper did not speak further and was busy with his work. After a while, when others were not noticing, he threw a coin on to the road. When the coin hit the road, it made a clinking sound. All the customers immediately turned back. Some of them rushed to pick up the coin.
Immediately the shopkeeper said to them, “See, when the sound of the bell from the temple was loud and clear, none of you noticed it; but all of you did not miss the mild clinking of a coin!”
[Amma: ” The awareness of all the people who came to the shop were only in money and worldly matters; That’s why they all could hear the mild sound of a coin hitting the floor. On the other hand, the shopkeeper gave considerable significance to the thoughts of God in his life. That’s why, despite being extremely busy with his work, he could instantly turn his attention towards God at the sound of the temple bell. Like this, our centre of attention should always be God in our lives. Then whether we are engaged in worldly matters or extremely busy in some activity, our awareness on God will always be sharp”.]
(Source: Amritam gamaya-Malayalam- Vol 1)
10. The signature signifies…
[Amma: ” In the past, men had a bloated pride claiming ‘I am more powerful than women’ and the tendency to dominate and subjugate women. Women of the present day tend to think differently. They think, “Across so many years in the past, men dominated and controlled us. We shall no longer allow it. It is time to teach them a lesson”. Now there is constant wrangling in the present day families; both men and women are busy trying to teach the others who is bigger. This tendency should go. Instead of supporting and nurturing each other, couples tend to become two banks of a river with no connecting bridge in between.”]
Once a man got married. After the formal ceremonies in the traditional way are over, the couple proceeded to the Registrar Office to formally register the marriage.
After going through the formalities, the husband first signed in the register. Subsequently, the wife too signed. After seeing his wife’s signature, the man shouted, “Finished. I don’t want to live with this woman. I want divorce immediately!”
Everyone who accompanied them were shocked. The registrar asked, “What nonsense are you talking? What went wrong?”
The man said, “You are asking me what went wrong? Open your eyes widely and note what you see here…” saying so, he pointed out his signature and that of his wife below. “Do you notice how small and compact my signature is? Now look at hers. See how big and long — as if she is occupying the entire page for it? I have rightly understood its meaning and purport. Even in life, she wants to dwarf me and dominate me. I just can’t allow it. I will not allow her to make me small”.
(Source: Amritam gamaya-Malayalam- Vol 1)
11. Judgement depends (1)
Once a relative came to meet his aunt after a long time. They were chit chatting on various family matters.
“Your son got married recently, right? How is your daughter-in-law?” asked the relative.
The aunt said, “Oh don’t ask me anything about her. The less said, the better. She is the laziest woman I have ever seen in my life. She never gets up from her bed before 8 AM. My son prepares coffee and wakes her up with the cup of coffee in hand. She does not know the spelling of ‘cooking’. She hardly does any household chores. ..”
“So, your son must be suffering a lot?”
“Suffering? Poor fellow. He is such an idiot that he does not find anything faulty with her. Instead, he is totally supportive to her and does all the domestic chores himself. It is he who pampers her and dances totally to her whims. He is just a puppet in her hands; that’s all”.
After a while, the relative asked about the aunt’s daughter.
The aunt’s face brightened up immediately. She said, “Oh! My daughter is extremely lucky. She has got such a nice and loving husband, who treats her virtually like a queen. He simply does not allow her to do any domestic work; he permits her freely to sleep till late in the morning; he has engaged maids to do all the domestic work; he is such a gem of a person!”
(From Amma’s Onam satsang 14/4/2020)
12. Judgement depends (2)
[Amma: “If we develop liking on something, we will start praising it. If a man falls in love with a not-so-good-looking girl, he would see her only as an epitome of all beauties. At the same time, however good looking a person may be, one who hates him/her will only see shortfalls in him/her. This is how, unknowingly our own likes and dislikes tend to dictate our judgements.”]
Once a woman was busy in her kitchen and she was listening to radio too. She heard a woman singing beautifully. She said to her husband, “Oh! This song is so nice. It is sung so beautifully. When I hear this, I feel dropping all my work in the kitchen and sit aside to hear and enjoy the singing”.
The husband asked: “Do you know who is singing?”
The woman said, “I don’t know”.
The husband said, “It is our neighboring woman who gave a police complaint about you is the singer!”
The moment she heard it, she asked her husband to switch off the radio saying, “Oh! I don’t think this song is so good. The voice is horrible and there is no alignnment with shruti and tala too!”
13. Two beggars
Once in a village two beggars lived together, sharing a small space in a choultry. One of them was blind and the other, lame. They would sit outside the choultry and beg at the passersby. Since there was not much of crowd in that area, they could hardly get any income and they found it extremely difficult to get even one square meal a day.
One day, the blind beggar said, “It is becoming hopeless to sit here and eke out a living. Let us do one thing. I have strong legs ; I can carry you on my shoulders and walk. Since you have eyes, you can show me the way. We can walk to the market place where there will be a big crowd and we can get more money from people who will take pity on us.”
The idea immediately appealed to the lame beggar. Soon the blind beggar carried the lame one on his shoulders and they walked to the market place by inquiring their way. They sat together and begged at the people. Many people started dropping coins and currency in their begging bowl.
It was indeed proved to be a big bonanza for them. At the end of the day, they shared the amount collected equally. A few days went smoothly like this and their pockets started swelling with more and more money. But the arrival of money started creating cracks in their friendship. They started fighting over the money. Each one demanded a higher share.
“You must thank me for the fortune we are receiving daily. Unless I carried you on my shoulders and took all the trouble of walking to the town, you would never have earned such an amount. Naturally, I deserve a higher amount in the collection!”
The lame man said, “But unless I had guided you in the path, how could you reach the market place? It is me who deserve a better share.”
Soon they started arguing. The argument grew to become a big fight. The next morning, each of them did not want to talk to the other. The blind man did not want to carry the lame man and the lame man was in no mood to go with the blind man unless the money sharing issue was sorted out. They did not go to the marketplace for begging. It continued for more days, till all their cash collection got exhausted. They started sitting outside the choultry to beg once again. Their hunger and poverty returned to them as earlier.
(From Oliyi Nokki – Tamil Vol 3)
14. Which world?
[Amma: “People nowadays are driven by attraction towards new things. Once attained, only dissatisfaction increases. Constant unhappiness widens gap between family members. Though husband and wife life under the same roof, they seem to live in two different worlds. Amma remembers a funny anecdote:”]
Once a man asked his friend, “When do you think this world would come to an end?”
His friend asked: “Which world are you talking about?”
Man: “What do you mean? How many worlds are there?
Friend: “As for me, there are two worlds. ”
Friend: “There is one world of my wife and there is another world of mine. When my wife dies, her world would cease to exist. When I die, my world would come to an end!”
(From Oliyi Nokki – Tamil Vol 3)
[Amma: “Nobody wants to die. Every being wants to live life the fullest. But no one seems to have any idea of how to lead that life to bring happiness to oneself and to others.”]
Once there lived an old woman in a village all alone; she had no relatives to call her own or to take care of her at her old age. She was eking out a living by going into the forest to collect some firewood, bring it to the village on her head and then selling it for money.
Because of aging, she found it very difficult to carry heavy loads on her head. Her suffering became unbearable. She would call out to God panting and cry, “Oh God, Can’t you bring an end to my suffering by taking away my life? What is the point in living a life like this?”
One day, mid way, the old lady dropped her load, unable to carry it any more. She prayed, “Oh God, please end my suffering. I can’t go on like this anymore”.
At that moment a dark and ugly figure came and stood in front of her. The old lady got terribly scared. “Who are you?” she asked.
The figure replied, “I am the lord of death. I have come to take away your life. Didn’t you call me just now? I have come conceding to your prayers”.
The old lady shook in fear, hearing his words. She suddenly thought of an idea. She said, “You mean my crying just now? Actually I called out somebody to help carry this load of firewood. Will you please help me?”
(From Oliyi Nokki – Tamil Vol 3)