How Pongal Festival is celebrated in Tamil Nadu

Pongal or Thai Pongal is a very traditional festival of Tamil Nadu, existing in practice perhaps across a thousand years or so.  It is essentially a harvesting festival, celebrated as a way of thanksgiving to Sun God and Lord Indra, for having blessed the people with good harvest, by giving essential rains and shine.

It is traditionally celebrated as a 4-day festival. The main festival is the Pongal or Surya Pongal which falls on the 1st Day of Tamil month ‘Thai’ (That’s why the name Thai Pongal),  which mostly and typically falls on the 14th January. It is the same day of Makara Sankranti, which is typically celebrated in most other parts of India. In Tamil Nadu too, this festival is called Sankranti by some sects of people like Brahmins.

Makara Sankranti or Pongal is the time when Sun begins its northward travel called Uttarayana, when the sun enters the 10th house of the zodiac Makara Nakshatra (Capricorn).

The 4-day Pongal festival is strictly not a religiously oriented festival. Even though the intent is to worship Sun God, it cannot be classified as a festival celebrated by a sect of people who consider their prime God as the Sun. As it is not strictly religious, there are no specific worship procedures, chanting of Mantras, undertaking of upavas (fasting), or religiously visiting temples and conducting any specific worship. Though a harvesting festival, it is celebrated by all classes and castes of people and people of all sorts of professions. 

It is more of a celebration and thanksgiving and enjoying good food — with Sarkarai Pongal being the prime item, and chewing sugarcane in gay abandon, as much as one’s teeth permit!.  The procedures and practices of celebrations may have several variations from place to place and class to class.  However, the 4-day structure is almost universal.

Most villagers buy new clothes for the entire family for the Pongal festival, though such a practice has become absent amid urbanites.

Pongal season indeed signifies the end of the previous harvesting period. Rice harvesting is usually done by November/ December. Sugarcane harvesting starts taking place by January, and naturally, sugar cane has a prime place in Pongal celebration.  Jaggery made out of sugarcane is the prime ingredient in preparing the Sakkarai Pongal. Tuber plants like Ginger, Turmeric, Chembu (Taro root), and sweet potato give their yield in this period. Typical rural vegetables like avarai, bananas, pumpkins, etc too are available in abundance in this season, paving the way for festive feasts.

1st Day — Bhogi Pongal

Preparations for celebrating Pongal festival start much before the arrival of the festival day. At least a week or more ahead, people thoroughly clean their houses up and down, remove cobwebs, sweep and clean the house and surroundings and give a thorough wash of the house. People who can afford,  arrange to freshly whitewash their houses. People discard old, unusable items, including old clothes, bedsheets, garden wastes, papers, and whatnot. The discarded, combustible items are kept in a pile, meant for burning bonfire on the Bhogi Pongal day. Bhogi Pongal signifies “pazhaiyana kazhithalum, puthiyana pukuthalum” (as said in Tamil meaning getting rid of the old and ushering in the new). It signifies the arrival of freshness in life through the Pongal festival.

The bonfire is generally lit early before dawn. In some places, children play a ‘ganjira’ like percussion instrument (cheaply made with cardboard, plastic sheet etc) by dancing arround the fire.

People also wear new clothes on this day and eat a good vegetarian feast. Depending on family traditions, the items in the feast generally include Moar Kozhambu (made out of butter milk), curries made out of rural seasonal vegetables, Boli (a round, soft, stuffed sweet),  the typical Vadai-Payasam-Appalam, and the like.

The negative side of bonfire-done-too-much

Certain traditional practices symbolising something auspicious like the Bhogi bonfire, unfortunately, are carried out in excess by some sections of people, particularly in large cities like Chennai.  As a mark of celebrating Bhogi, many people started burning old tyres, waste oily rags etc  that produce highly polluting smoke. In the past couple of decades, the day of Bhogi dawns with a thick smog enveloping the entire city, with visibility coming down so terribly, that even flights could not take off or land till  9 AM. 

See this Video: Smog engulfs Chennai on Bhogi day as bonfires spike pollution levels

It has now become customary for the Police to issue warnings in advance before Bhogi day not to indiscriminately burn old tyres and other polluting wastes.

2nd Day – Pongal / Surya Pongal / Sankranti

Preparation of Sakkarai Pongal dish and offering it to Sun God is the main event on the Pongal day. In villages, it is the practice to use a freshly bought earthen pot for cooking the Pongal. In villages, the cooking is normally done in the open right under the sun using firewood as the fuel. The suggested time of cooking is normally mentioned in the Almanac which coincides with the time of entry of the Sun into the Makara Nakshatra. But not all people may follow this schedule and the cooking may take place at their convenient mealtime too.

Also, non-peasant families and dwellers in town and cities, depending on their affluence and traditions, may not cook in the open. While many such people cook Pongal in their kitchens, the clay pot also gets replaced by a large Bronze Pot (‘Vengala Panai’) which is almost exclusively used for cooking on the Pongal day only. 

It is generally the practice to decorate the pot (whether earthen pot or bronze pot) with a belt-like garland that consists of Inji kothu (freshly dug out ginger), manjal kothu (freshly dug out turmeric), a piece of sugar cane, some flowers, a ripe banana, a half-piece of broken coconut, etc. People also apply Kumkum, saffron, sandalwood paste, and religious symbols like namam, pattai, etc depending on their religious leanings.  Some people may also use artistically painted earthen pots, in addition to decorations.

See this video that shows a typical decoration done on a bronze pot: 

பொங்கல் பானை வைக்கும் முறை | Pongal Paanai Decoration

Preparation of Sakkarai pongal (dish)

If pongal is prepared in the outer courtyard, the place is thoroughly cleaned and decorated with kolam. The place is also decorated with sugar canes, flowers, and festoons. While some people follow the practice of digging earth and using it as the fire pit, some use bricks to set up the cooking place. Rice prepared from freshly harvested paddy is normally used for preparing pongal on this festive day.

Initially, washed rice water is boiled in the pot and fresh milk is added to it. When this milk boils, the froth rises up and is allowed to overflow from the pot. This phenomenon, in Tamil, is known as ‘ponguthal’ (swelling) and it is from this word that ‘Pongal’ came. This overflowing is considered an auspicious sign of abundance. Children and elders shout “Pongalo Pongal!” when this occurs. Ladies do ‘kulavai‘ (making a ”loolooloo‘ sound with their tongues) and some men may blow the conch. Immediately after this happens, rice and green gram dhal are added and further boiling continues. Then grated jaggery is added. Cardamom, cashew nuts and dried grapes too are added. Ghee too is added in good measure and when fully cooked, the pot is taken away from the fire.

Then a laddle of this pongal is placed on a plantain leaf along with sugarcane pieces, bananas, betal leaves, etc. They break a coconut, show camphor aarati and offer all these to Sun God, praying for his blessings. 

Celebrating and cooking pongal in rural India — See this video:

PONGAL CELEBRATION in Village by farmers | We celebrate Our Traditional Festival in Our Village

In many families, it is also the practice to cook ‘Ven Pongal’ (White, salty pongal, with pepper)  side by side. People may also prepare a sambar or a Koottu (mixed vegetable curry with gravy) to serve as a side dish. 

Once the offering is over, the entire family members sit together and relish the pongals served in banana leaves. 

People exchange Pongal greetings with friends and relatives. In the olden days.  Children used to buy Pongal Greeting Cards from shops and mail them to their near and dear ones. The cards used to contain different pictures like Gods and Goddesses, temples, natural scenes, Pongal festival scenes. Every boy or girl will have a good collection of such cards as their prized possessions in their cupboards. Such practices have become extinct in the present age of social media. 

In the olden days, All India Radio used to broadcast special entertainment programs for the festival day. Nowadays, it is the TV Channels that vie with each other to dish out plenty of special programs and movie shows.  Once the offerings and eating are over,  most people get glued to their TVs for good or bad for the whole day!

Those who succeed in getting disentangled from the grip of TV  may visit temples in the evenings to offer their prayers on the festive day. 

Some towns and villages have the practice of arranging Kabaddi competitions as part of the celebration of the Pongal festival.

3rd Day –  Mattu Pongal

As the farmers’ life is intrinsically connected with cows and bullocks, the third day of the Pongal festival is dedicated to worshiping and thanks-giving to the cattle. The cowsheds are thoroughly cleaned and washed. The cows and bullocks are washed thoroughly and then decorated with saffron, kumkum, flower garlands, netti malais (Garlands made out of pith stem), and so on. People also clean up the horns of cows and bullocks and paint them in beautiful colors. The ropes (‘Mookanaan Kayiru) that are used to tie the cattle are also freshly bought to replace the old ones on this festive day.

On this day too, villagers prepare pongal dish in fresh pots, offer it to God, and then feed the pongal along with bananas to the cows and bullocks. Only after feeding the cows, pongal is eaten by the family members together.

Bullock carts too are cleaned, washed, and decorated with flowers and leaves of ginger, turmeric and sugarcane plants. In the evenings, farmers’ children take a joy ride in their bullock carts.

(See this video: PONGAL CELEBRATION | Mattu Pongal | Grand Tamil Special Festival Celebrate in Village by farmers

Another video: Mattu Pongal Celebration in Tamil | மாட்டுப்பொங்கல் (2019)

Decorating the cows and bullocks with colorful garland made of ‘Netti’ (Pith stem) was a traditional practice existing across generations in many villages. These eco-friendly garlands have unfortunately been widely replaced by plastic garlands in the present times. Consequently, this has affected many families that have been traditionally making  some seasonal income by making ‘netti malai’s.

See this Video: 

மாடுகளை அலங்கரிக்கும் ‘நெட்டி மாலை’ / NETTI MAALA for COWS

Jalli Kattu celebration on Mattu Pongal

Jallikkattu or Sallikkattu or Manju Virattu is a traditional bull-catching sport, existing in Tamil Nadu perhaps across many centuries, which is part and parcel of Mattu Pongal festival.  It is considered as a prestigious ‘Veera Vilaiyattu‘ (Game of the bold and courageous youths) and only certain places in Tamil Nadu have been traditionally nurturing this sport, against objections from certain quarters. This sport is in vogue only in Pudukkottai, Sivagangai, Trichy, and Madurai districts, particularly at places like Alanganallur, Avaniyapuram, Sholavandan, Palamedu, and the like.

Certain specific local breeds of bulls like Kangeyam,  Puliyakulam, and Malamedu are carefully nurtured by the owners of the bulls and they take pride in the girth and ferociousness of their bulls that are not easy to conquer by the youth in Jallikkattu.

Many such bulls are released one by one from a narrow entrance called Vadi Vasal, to an adjacent ground where many youths eagerly await their arrival. The ferocious bull, once released, runs at breakneck speed. Several youths try to catch hold of the bull’s hump, while the bull uses all its might to throw them away using its sharp horns or by shaking its body.  If any youth succeeds in holding the hump continuously for 30 seconds or running across 15 meters without losing the grip, he is considered a winner and is gifted with prizes. If the bull manages to throw him off and escape, the bull is the winner. There may be some variants in the sports from location to location.

As it is well known, several youths get seriously injured and some even end up in deaths. People from the animal rights movement too have their objections to this game. Anyway, amid such controversies and objections Jallikkattu remains a passion in Tamil Nadu, as it is strongly linked to a tradition of display of bravery among rural youths. 

Here is a video of Jallikkattu:  

All about Jallikattu

In certain districts like Nagercoil, there is also a tradition of conducting bullock cart races (Rekla race) as part of the Mattu Pongal celebration.

Also on 3rd day – Kanu Pongal

Most Tamil Brahmin families have a tradition of celebrating ‘Kanu Pongal’ on the third day (which is different from Kanum Pongal of the 4th day). It is rather a curiously funny tradition followed by women, who pray for the welfare of their brothers on this day. They do this practice after taking bath and wearing fresh sarees. They spread the leaves of  Manjal (turmeric) either at the back yard near the well or at the terrace. They spread small balls of the remnants of the previous day’s Sakkari Pongal, cooked rice (colored in yellow, red, etc) along with finely cut pieces of sugar cane, banana, and betel leaves. They pray to God for the well-being and prosperity of their brothers. The leaves are left as it is with the intention that crows and ants may consume the food items. 

As for the feast of Kanu Pongal, it consists of specially made rice preparations like Puliyodharai, Coconut rice, Curd rice etc. Another prominent item is the Kadamba Koottu (also called Kanu Koottu) which is a multi-vegetable curry with gravy.  The specialty of this koottu is that all the ingredients are all traditional rural vegetables available in abundance during the season. The kootu normally consists of Plantain (Vazhai kai), stem of plantain (Vazhai thandu) , white pumpkin, yellow pumpkin, flat beans (avaraikkai), Taro root (Chembu), sweet potato, brinjal, ladies fingers, mochai (bean nuts)  and grated coconut.

Here is a video showing the preparation of the typical Kadamba Koottu:

Kadamba Kootu / Pongal Kootu

Note: In some rural family traditions, such a  multi-vegetable koottu, known as Koottu kaai Kozhambu is prepared on the day of Pongal.

4th Day — Kanum Pongal

Pic: Kanum Pongal crowd at Pondy

“Kanum’ in Tamil means seeing. It is the festival day for outings — to visit places, fairs, friends and relatives. Rural people visit adjacent towns and cities to see beeches, movie theatres, amusement parks, temples, zoos, museums, trade fairs, and other tourist-attractive places along with all their family members and kids. The sale of sugarcanes will be very brisk on this day, as youth and children enjoy ‘chewing and viewing’ wherever they go! 

Popular tourist spots like Marina beach will witness a sea of people who come to see the seas on the Kanum Pongal day. As a consequence, tons of trashes are left behind, creating a nightmare for Corporation staff to clean up on the next day!

See this video — Kanum Pongal crowd at Chennai Marina beach

Thousands throng Marina Beach in Chennai to celebrate Kaanum Pongal

-=()=-

Amma’s stories on managing anger and other emotions – 2

[If you have not read the previous 15 little stories of Amma under this topic, you can read them here:  Amma’s stories on managing anger and other emotions – Part 1 ]

1.  Insignificant victory

An young man received call for a prestigious job interview, which he was eagerly waiting to receive for months. He had to travel to a distant city where his interview was scheduled. For that, he had to travel by air and the travel plan involved changing a plane at an intermediate station. Once his first flight descended in the intermediate airport, the next plane was scheduled to depart after a gap of half an hour. As he was waiting at the departure lounge for the flight, he felt  hungry; he decided to utilize the time gap to have a quick bite.

He went to the Restaurant there and ate some fast food. When the bill came, he was shocked as the amount was Rs 500, which was too hefty for him.  He went to the cashier and argued with him: “Hey! This is very unfair. I have not eaten anything heavy to demand such a high payment”. After arguing for a while, the cashier decided to pacify the customer and offered a 100 Rupees reduction. But the young man was not happy. He kept on insisting that the bill was still unfair. He was very particular not to spend more than Rs 300. After lots of arguments, finally, the cashier agreed for Rs 300.-

The young man was very happy. He felt very proud of himself for arguing so strongly and smartly saving Rs 200.- in the bargain. He walked proudly towards the departure gate. There he came to know that the flight had departed about 5 minute ago!

Forgetting the very significance of his journey for which he had indeed been waiting for months,  the young man had wasted his precious time  in arguing, just for saving  a small amount of money!

[Amma: “Some people tend to complain that time was not favorable to them. The fact is, time is always favorable. Only we are not in tune with the time.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

2.  Why so excited?

A middle aged person and a young man were walking around a flower garden.

The young man asked his father excitedly in a loud voice, “Daddy! Isn’t this the flower called rose? Ah how beautiful it is!”

The father too spoke in an equally excited voice, “Yes my dear son! This indeed is the rose!’

“Is n’t its color known as pink, daddy?”

“Yes! Indeed!” said the father. The son pointed his hand towards the lawn and said, again loudly full of excitement, “Is it not the grass daddy? Isn’t its color called green?”

“Yes! My son. You are absolutely right!” The fathers voice too was equally loud and excited.

The young man continued to point one after other and they talked excitedly about each.  In a nearby bench, an old man was seated. He had come to the garden seeking silence and mental peace. He felt irritated by the loud-mouthed talking by the father and his grown up son. With obvious expression of his irritation and disapproval, the old man said, “I came to this garden in search of some mental peace. Many people who visit this garden too are like me.  When you two people talk so  loudly oblivious of your surrounding, people like me have lost peace. Your dull headed son keeps on asking insignificant things and you are so excitedly replaying “yes my son!” to all his questions! Why don’t you go to some doctor and find a cure for your son’s retarded behavior instead of coming here?”

Hearing this, both the father and son stood there, stupefied for a while. Then the father said, “I am sorry. My son is not mentally retarded.  He had been blind right from birth. Only two days ago his eyes were operated in order to bring eyesight to him. After the operation, at the time of removing his bandage, I had this desire to show him some really beautiful and heart-warming sights for the first time as he sees this world. That’s why I brought him here. This is the first time in his life that he is seeing all these beautiful things around here. That’s why he was talking so excitedly about them. I too was overwhelmed with joy when I my son has got his eyesight and naturally, when he asked the questions, I was equally excited and spoke so loudly.  Suppose we got back  the wealth that we had lost long back, how much excited we would become! In the same way, we totally forgot our surroundings; kindly excuse us”.

Hearing this, the old man felt extremely bad and ashamed about his hasty judgment and the way he had let out very hurting words against them. He immediately sought their pardon. He took a resolve that, in future, he would not get angry at others by framing his own preconceived judgements.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

3.  Revenge – Is it worth?

Once a person heavily drunk drove his car that ended up in an accident. A young man on the road got killed in the accident.

The mother of the young man who died started crying uncontrollably when she heard the news.  He was her only son and his loss at his prime youth was unbearable to her. Despite the passage of several days and months, her sorrow did not reduce. It soon turned to anger — anger against the person who killed her son in the accident. She want to take revenge on him. She wanted to kill him; her heart started boiling with such a desire.

A few days passed this way. Gradually her mind cooled down; she was able to think more logically into the idea of  avenging her son’s death. She thought, ‘What will I really gain by killing the drunkard? Will I ever get back my son? If my son’s accidental death could cause so much grief in me, then it will be natural that if I kill the drunkard, his mother and family too will grieve the same way. What will I gain by causing those innocent people to suffer mentally by my act of vengeance? Let them not face the same fate as I had faced’. Now her mind became calm.

She thought further: ‘What was the cause of my son’s death? Was it not the drinking habit of the person who drove the car? If he were to be a sober person, he would have driven the car carefully and my son would not have died. So the real problem is drinking and driving. If I could do something to make a few people aware of the evil consequences of drinking, to that extent the society would get benefited.’

She discussed the matter with some of her friends and wellwishers. They too came forward to support her enthusiastically. Soon she started a small Social service group through which she conducted sessions  with people to propagate the evils of drinking. She dedicated her time considerably for this mission. Within a few years she was running a large organization dedicated to propagate the evils of drinking across the nation.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

4.  A shift in mindset

[NOTE:  This is actually a real life story — from the life of  young Ramakrishnan (now Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri,  one of Amma’s seniormost sanyasis)  during the early days of his association with Amma.]

As a college student Ramakrishnan had a goal of studying medicine and becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, he lost the opportunity to join MBBS by scoring just one mark below the selection cutoff level in the entrance examination.  He became dejected and depressed because of it.  He had no interest in joining any other course. After few days, due to compulsion from his family, he applied for bank job. He got the job.

Even after joining duty, the frustration about not becoming a doctor as per his dreams continued to affect him.  He could not deal with his bank clients with courtesy or friendliness; he could not smile at others.  He understood that such a behavior was not right.

He went to his beloved Guru (Amma) and confessed about his mental turmoil. He said, “Amma, my mind is not in my control; even on petty matters, I get angry. I am not able to behave respectfully with the bank’s clients.  With this mental state, I don’t think  I will be able to continue in my job for long.  Amma. what should I do?”

Amma listened to him patiently. Then consoling him, she said, “My son. Suppose I send a person who is close to me, to you to the bank seeking some assistance from the bank, how will you deal with him?”

Ramakrishnan said, “Of course I will receive him warmly and offer all possible help to him”.

“If so, you must do one thing. Think of every customer who comes to you seeking Bank’s help as though he is a person sent personally by me. If you develop such an attitude, you will be able to behave friendly and nicely with every person approaching you”.

From that day onwards, there was a sea of change in Ramakrishnan’s behavior. He was able to see every person coming to him for banking help as though he was sent by God (his guru) and was able to serve them with courtesy. Anger and frustration left him once for all.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

Amma’s stories on the power of Love

1. The lonely child

[Amma: If there is some thing that can rid us of fear and give us the power to move forward overcoming all hurdles, it is love.]

Once there lived in a village a widowed milkmaid with her little daughter. She sold milk to the residents of a kingdom who lived inside a well guarded fort. The fort was on top of a small hill and her village was situated outside, at the foothills.

One evening, after she finished selling milk inside the fort, she got delayed. As she returned to the exit gate, she found the gates locked. She appealed to the guards to open the gates for her, saying, “I have left my little child alone in my hut. It is already late in the evening. If I don’t return before dark, my daughter would be gripped in fear and start crying; if something happens to my daughter, there is no point in my living any more; please take pity on me; please allow me to go out!”

But the guards were extremely rigid and they refused to open the gate for security reasons. They told her to stay somewhere inside for the night and leave once the gates open early at sun-rise.

Overwhelmed by disappointment and grief, the woman left the place and started frantically searching for some way or means to escape from the walls of the fort.

In the next day morning, the guards opened the gates. They were surprised to see the milkmaid waiting outside the gate with her milk cans to enter into the fort! They were taken aback. How on earth did she manage to sneak out of the walls of the well protected fort on the previous evening?

The took her to the king.Upon inquiry, the milkmaid explained her predicament and anguish on the previous evening. She told the king that after a thorough search, she found out a small crack on the wall of the fort through which she escaped. The king was curious to know where the weak spot was and he went along with the maid to see the location.

The king was extremely surprised to notice that it was almost impossible to notice the existence of such a small crack in the wall through which a person can escape with difficulty. It was indeed a very dangerous endeavor to climb the wall to that cracked area; further, on the other side, the slope of the hills were really treacherous and it was indeed a very dangerous task to descend the hills that way. It really looked to be a superhuman effort to accomplish it.

The king asked her, “Were you not gripped by fear to escape through this extremely dangerous path in darkness?”

The milkmaid replied, “There was only one thought in my mind last evening. I have got to got out somehow or other from here and reach my little daughter. I know how scared she would be if I were not to reach her before night. I totally forgot about the safety of my own life; there was no place for fear in my heart at that time”.

2.  Tuned mind

[Amma: “True love or relationship depends on the depth of inseparable sense of togetherness. Such a deep emotional bond happens in the mind and hence it cannot be measured. In proportion to that feeling of togetherness, it manifests in the outer physical plane too. People having such a deep love on each other will have resonating thoughts too. A husband will understand the wife thoughts even before she expresses them; so does the wife.”]

Once a husband was sitting in his room at his house deeply engrossed in some office work that he had brought home on a holiday. He was feeling tired and wanted to relax for a while. However the work was so urgent that he had to finish it off and hand over it to the office the next day.

He was fighting sleep and trying hard to concentrate. He thought, “If only I get a good cup of coffee”. He knew his wife was busy cooking at the kitchen. It was an odd time when he did not normally drink coffee. He did not want to disturb his wife.

As he resumed work, his wife appeared in his room with a hot cup of coffee in her hand! The husband was surprised! “How come you know that I longed for a cup of coffee?”. The wife said, “I just felt you needed a cup of coffee; that’s all!”

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-8 Tamil)

3. For her sake

One young man used to go by his motorbike to meet his lover regularly.  Driven by the urge to meet his beloved girl, the young man used to drive rashly, without bothering to obey traffic rules. Even if he sees Red light at traffic signals, he would just ignore it drive ahead without stopping. Many times he met with small accidents on account of his rash driving.  But he never bothered about them.

One day, he was driving his bike with one of his friends sitting at the pillion. His friend knew about the man’s rash driving habits. On that day, the young man stopped his bike at one of the traffic junctions when he noticed red signal. He took out his girl friend’s photo from his pocket and looked at it lovingly while waiting for the signal to turn green.

His friend was really surprised. ! “Hey! What happened to you? I have never seen you stopping your bike at signals?”

The young man replied, “All these days, due to my excitement to meet her, I drove fast, ignoring signals. I never bothered about traffic rules or other vehicles. The only thought that occupied my mind was to meet her as fast as possible. But of late I have started thinking: ‘If, because of my rash driving, I were to meet with an accident, will it not throw her into grief?’. Now, with such a thought arising in me, I have started to drive responsibly, obeying traffic rules!”

[Amma: “Like this, if we are driven only by our selfish likes and dislikes, we feel rules and regulations are unnecessary. But when we take into consideration others’ interests and concerns, we get awareness and patience; then we understand the need to follow rules and regulations.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

 

Amma’s stories on Nature of the human mind – Part 2

[If you have not read the previous 20 little stories of Amma under this topic, you can read them here:      Amma’s stories on nature of the human mind – Part 1]

1. Who will win?

Once a grandfather and his grandson went to visit a zoo. They were looking at the various wild animals kept in cages in the zoo.

At one place there were two lions, kept in two separate cages. One of them was rather sober and non-aggressive. When people came close to the cage or even risked extending a hand inside, the lion did not react. It seemed to be at peace with the people. On the other hand, the lion in the adjacent cage was very aggressive and ferocious.  If anybody came closer to its cage, it will roar and swing its front legs towards them to scare them away.

The grandfather asked the grandson, “Suppose these two lions were left to fight with each other, which one do you think would win?”

The grandson said, “Maybe the second one that looks very ferocious. I am not sure, though.”

The grandfather said, “One cannot be sure. But I can definitely say that the one which is constantly fed well will win”.

[Amma: “The thoughts that rise up in our minds too are similar; the more we feed our mind with evil thoughts, the more will they gain strength. Our mind will get filled with anger, egotism, etc and they would win over good thoughts “.]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki-Tamil – Vol 3)

2. Impossible to fill

Once a king was enjoying solitude in his garden. He was roaming around leisurely, enjoying the beauties of nature. He was in a very happy mood that day. At that time, the beggar somehow managed to sneak into the garden without the notice of the guards. He came in front of the kind and saluted him. The king was surprised to see a stranger there, looking impoverished and in tattered clothes. “Who are you? What do you want from me. Tell me quickly and leave this place. Don’t disturb my peaceful mindset now”.

The beggar said, “I am a poor beggar, your excellency. I just want one thing from you. Please rescue me from my poverty by filling my begging bowl totally”. The king took pity on him. As he was in a good mood that day, he called his Minister in charge of his treasury and said, “Please fill this beggar’s begging bowl fully with gold coins, gems and precious stones”.

But very surprisingly, whatever amount of pearls, gems and gold coins that the minister put into the begging bowl did not fill it fully. Things disappeared into the bowl and it could never be filled to the brim. Soon, an awkward situation came wherein the treasury became almost empty; there was no more gems and gold coins left in the king’s stock.

The king felt shocked and ashamed. He said to the beggar, “Please excuse me. I am unable to keep up my promise to you. I have given whatever I had in the treasury. I have no more wealth to drop into your begging bowl. Your begging bowl seems to be having magical powers.  May I know what is the secret behind this bowl?”

The beggar smiled and said, “Don’t feel bad, O King. Actually, this begging bowl is made of the skull of a human being.  Because of it, it has the typical tendency of humans who never get satisfied with what they get and keep on wanting more and more always.  It knows only one thing: “Not enough; want more”. However much you fill this begging bowl, it will never get filled up! It works exactly as the human mind”.

[Amma: “As long as desires exist, there is no peace of mind.  When one desire is satiated, the mind gets some joy, but it is only short living. The next moment, the mind will want more “.]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

2. Nagging doubt

A boy and girl from neighboring houses were playing together. The boy had some money with him and the girl had some chocolates with her.

The boy said to the girl, “I will give you some coins; will you give me some chocolates in exchange?”

The girl agreed.  The boy was cunning. He hid coins of higher denomination in his pocket and gave only low-valued coins to her. The girl gave him chocolates.

After a while, both of them returned to their respective homes. As the girl had no idea about the relative worth of coins, she was content to have a few coins in her possession. She went to bed and slept off peacefully.

At home, the was thinking “This girl must have kept costly chocolates hidden and given to me only cheap and low-quality chocolates.  Just like I hid costly coins, she too would have hidden high-quality chocolates.”  He could not sleep because of these thoughts.

[Amma: “Mutual trust is the basis on which any relationship can stand – whether it is the relationship between husband and wife, between two friends, or between business partners. Many times our own faults and limitations make us doubt others’ actions and motives; because of it, we fail to appreciate others’ love and affection and lose our mental peace and joy. “]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

3.  The play of the mind

[Amma:  “Children! Understand that the human mind is a big mystery, but not Atman. Actually, it is the mind that makes us think as if Atman is a mystery! The mind is full of confusion. It can confuse everything. Mind is falsehood. It is the mind that questions the truth of Atman. All your fears and doubts arise from the mind, which is the biggest liar!”]

Once there lived a great wrestler who could not be defeated by any other wrestler in his country. He lived as an undefeated champion for many years in his country. Naturally, it made him very proud, egoistic and arrogant.  He believed none existed in the world who could challenge him and hope to win.

One day, a wrestler from another country visited his country.  He challenged the native wrestler for a combat. It became huge news. The native wrestler immediately agreed to the challenge. A day was fixed for the competition. The whole nation virtually became curious to know who would ultimately win the combat. It was a matter of prestige for the native wrestler.

The day of the competition arrived. An uncontrollably huge crowd had gathered in the venue to watch the combat. The native wrestler looked bigger and stronger in front of the challenger from the other country. The match began. The combat was really tough. The surcharged crowd soon got split into two groups — one cheering the native wrestler and the other shouting for the win of the challenger. As round after round proceeded, the competition was becoming tougher and tougher. If one of them had an upper hand in one round, the other one emerged stronger in the next round. Finally, the visiting wrestler defeated the native in the final round conclusively.

The crowd shouted in jubilation appreciating and cheering the visiting wrestler. The crowd also mocked and jeered at the loser for his humiliating defeat. The old champion gathered himself up and got up. With a deep sense of shame, humiliation and defeat he departed the venue limping.

Even after moving farther away from the venue, the sound of people jeering him kept reverberating in his ears. Utter dejection and hatred welled up in his heart. His mind was in total turmoil. At this stage, he woke up from his sleep!

“Oh! Is it all just a dream?” — he was shocked. He rose up from his bed. Despite knowing that it was just a nightmare, his mind did not regain peace. It was full of worry and confusion. Like a caged lion, he walked to and fro in his bedroom, rewinding the happenings in the dream again and again.

He started feeling more and more that what he saw in his dream were indeed real. He wanted to take revenge on his opponent. ‘How shall I defeat my enemy?’ He kept thinking again and again. ‘Oh, God! I have lost everything; my reputation has fallen to dust. How will I ever show my face outside hereafter? None will show any respect to me hereafter; How will I live hearing the mockery of people all the time? Isn’t it better to die, rather than to live in such a miserable way? I should definitely take revenge of the rascal who defeated me in the competition…’ He kept on thinking like that. He pulled his hair in anger; he walked like a mad man here and there.

Very gradually it dawned to him that it was meaningless to succumb to such an emotional turmoil created by a dream. Slowly and steadily, he started to gather his wits; his mind became calmer and calmer. Now it was very clear to him how foolish he was to get worked up like this based on a dream. “Oh, God! What happened to me! What a fool I have become! Just based on a figment of imagination of mind through a dream, I went through so much mental agony. something that never happened at all!” with this thought he went back to bed.

[Amma:  “Children! Like this champion, we all too are immersed in a dream called the waking stage. It is indeed a dream of a longer duration enacted by our past experiences and thoughts. It is our mind that creates this ‘long dream’ too. In our present state, we believe this long dream too to be real. We are yet to wake up from this dream!”]

5.  The play of the mind (2)

[Amma:  “Mind has two powers called ‘Avaranam’ – the power to hide and ‘Vikshepam’ – the power to create. The mind first hides the true state of things. Then it creates an image contradictory to the true state of things. That’s why Amma calls the mind a great liar”.]

Once a person was walking through a forest. It was evening and the twilight was getting dimmer. He was finding it difficult to find his path. Suddenly, he felt something biting at his toe. He lifted up his leg to touch and feel what happened. He noticed a small pieced mark on the skin and a little blood oozing out from it. As he gazed a nearby bush there, he noticed a snake there. He was thoroughly shaken by fer. He believed that it was the snake that had bitten him.  He started shouting: “Oh! Is there anybody around? Help me, help me! I have been bitten by a poisonous snake; please somebody take me to the nearest doctor!”

He kept on crying like this in full throat for a while. Soon he got tired; his head started spinning; he felt he was swooning. He sat down and continued to shout for help.

In a short while, a person came by the path with a lantern in his hand. He asked what happened. The person said, “I am afraid I have been bitten by a snake; I am dying; will you please take me immediately to a doctor?”

The person said, “Don’t worry; I will help you. Now tell me when and where the snake bit you”.

The person said, “When I came near this bush, a snake bit me at my toe; see, the snake is still there at the bush!”. The person came closer, lifted up his lantern to inspect the bush closely.

He then smiled and said, “You see, this is a thorny bush. See there in the light; what you saw as a snake is just a piece of rope and not a snake. One of the thorns in the bush must have pieced your toe when you walked here. Now that things are clear, there is no need to panic. Just relax!”

The man looked at the rope. It was quite clear that it was not at all a snake! His palpitation and dizziness came to an end instantly and he felt relieved and relaxed!

[Amma:  “This is how our mind cheats us. The mind first hid the rope — the truth. Then it created the snake on it. The rope (truth) — the atman, is hidden by your mind through its imagination by creating a non-existent snake, based on its past impressions. That’s how Atman is superimposed by the world of differences.  Atman is obscured by our thoughts. When a satguru lights up the lamp of true knowledge, the delusion goes. You realize your atman by personal experience and attain peace.”]

6.  The play of the maya

Once a poor young man was sitting at the bank of a river and idling away his time. Then, an elephant carrying a garland in its trunk came there. It was followed by a huge crowd. The elephant put the garland on the youth’s neck.

Since the king of the country died without an offspring, it was the practice of the country to select the next king by sending the royal elephant with garland and whosoever the elephant garlands would become the king.

Thus the youth became the king of the country all of a sudden. The king’s young daughter too was married off to the new king.

Thus the young king was thoroughly enjoying his new life to the full.

One day, the new king along with his queen got on to a royal horse and drove to the top of an adjacent hill for time-pass. As they were about to reach the summit, there came a sudden storm and the wind started blowing very powerfully. The horse lost its balance and all the three fell down the slope of the hill. They rolled and rolled down hitting boulders and rocks. The king somehow managed to get hold of a tree branch while the horse and the queen rolled down further and died.

The king then carefully jumped down from the tree;  when he landed and looked around, there was no hill, no horse or queen. What he saw was that he was lying on the mud floor of a hut adjacent to his cot. He could only see the mud walls and a thatched roof. He understood that he was still a poor young fellow, lying in his own hut, waking up after a daydream. His heart was still pounding on account of the dream.

[Amma:  “Everything that the young man experienced in his dream was real to him as long as he was immersed in the dream.  We too are in the same state as this youth, in reality. We are dreaming that this world and all our worldly possessions and worldly experiences are real and we keep running behind them.  This is the play of maya.  We are caught in this dream world of Maya and only when we truly wake up from it, we can understand the  unreality of all”. Then, successes and failures won’t affect us.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam  – Vol 2)

7.  Resolution?

Once there was a temple where once in a week many devotees gathered in large numbers and did japa, prayer and meditation without partaking food. A monkey saw this and thought “all these people undertake fast and pray to seek lord’s grace. Why shouldn’t I too do it?”

On the next session of fasting and prayer, the monkey arrived at the temple early in the morning. He sat under a tree, closed his eyes in order to meditate. Immediately a thought came in its mind: “I have never undertaken fast in my whole life. Suppose at the end of the day when I complete my fasting and meditation, what will happen if I feel so week that I won’t be able to stand up or walk? Should I die under this tree then? Is it not better to find a tree full of fruits and undertake my austerity under it? In such case, I need not run around in search of food”.

He got up immediately, searched for a tree with fruits, located one, and then sat under it to resume its meditation. After a short while, the monkey thought, “What will happen if, at the end of fasting, I become too weak to even climb this tree? Will it not be better if I climb on it right now and sit in a branch to do my meditation?”

He immediately climbed on to the tree, sat in a branch and closed his eyes. Now another thought came into his mind, “What if I feel too weak even to pluck a fruit? Is it not better to keep a fruit in my hand and meditate?” He did so immediately and again closed his eyes.

Now he started feeling very hungry. “I have never eaten such big and ripe fruits in the recent past. Why not eat the fruit right now and do the fasting and meditation on some other day?”

The next moment he was munching the fruit and relishing it thoroughly!

[Amma:  “Most of us are like this monkey. Our mind will keep on generating reasons after reasons for postponing things that we ought to do for our wellbeing.  We must use our intellect and acquire a firm determination to work on our aspirations keeping our goals clear. ‘Whatever hurdles I come across, I will not lose my heart and proceed firmly and strive my best to reach my goal’ — if one has such a firm resolution, he is sure to reap success in his endeavors.”] 

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Part 2)

8.   Better sleep!

Once a father took his young son to a local Shiva Temple for spending the night there on Maha Shivaratri. Lots of people had gathered there and were engaged in archana, japa and so on. But there were also many people who were dozing off due to tiredness and aging.

Noticing this, the son commented, “What is the point if they come to temple on Maha Shivaratri and sleep like this instead of keeping awake the whole night? What sort of bhakti is this?”

The father said curtly, “It is better to doze off like this than to find fault with others and criticize them.”

[Amma:  “Because of our own weaknesses and lack of shraddha, we tend to find fault with others.  My children should not forget this reality. It also shows how our mind is always roaming out instead of turning inward. Those who find fault with others can never see their own weaknesses nor make efforts to correct them.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Part 2)

9.   Who is in control?

Once, in a fair, a horseman was offering horse rides for little children as entertainment and making a living out of it.

A small boy came there to watch it. He was very much attracted to seeing children joyfully riding at the horseback with the horseman sitting with them and holding them safely.

The poor boy had no money to pay to the horseman and hence he had no means to have his share of fun. While he was standing there and watching it, the horseman tied the horse to a post and left the place for a while to have his lunch.

The curious boy wanted to make use of this opportunity to try and have a free ride on the horse on his own. He went to the post, untied the horse and managed to climb over the horseback.

The horse did not quite like it. It started jumping around and ran here and there, trying to unsettle the boy and throw him to the ground. The boy panicked but somehow managed to grip the horse’s neck and did not fall down. The horse kept running. Watching this boy riding the horse, one of his friends shouted: “Hey! How did you manage to control the horse and make it run?”

The boy shouted back: “I simply don’t know. You better ask the horse!”

[Amma:  “This is precisely our state of affairs. The horse in this story is our mind. Instead of keeping our mind in our control, we are actually in the control of our mind!”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Part 2)

10. Hasty judgment

Once a mother came back from the office. She noticed her seven-year-old daughter standing with one apple each in her hands.  The mother affectionately asked her, “Will you give me one, my baby?”

The daughter looked at her mother’s face for a while; then she looked at both the apples in her hand.  Then she bit the apple on her right hand; hastily she bit the other apple in her left hand.

The mother was very disappointed. She felt her daughter was too selfish and had no mindset to share her apple even with her mother. She found it difficult to control the expression of disappointment on her face.

The next moment, the girl extended her right hand and offered the apple to her mother saying, “Ma, this one is sweeter than the other; take this!”

Even for a mother, the discernment to grasp her daughter’s guileless love was missing, though for a brief time.

[Amma:  “From this story, we can understand to what extent we can err in judging others. However much we have knowledge and experience, we must be very careful in not hastily judging others or finding fault with others.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Part 2)

11. Innate Nature

Once there lived a blacksmith in a village in the Himalayas. He used to make use of large stone in adjacent his shop to bend steel rods. One morning when he went near it, he noticed a snake lying curled up there. The next day too he noticed it still lying there. Since it was extremely cold, the snake was lying, almost frozen there. The blacksmith took pity on the snake and took it inside his shop. He offered milk to it for drinking. Leaving it to lie there, he started the day’s work. He ignited his furnace and started to heat a steel rod there. Gradually, his shop became warm.

While he was working on the rod, the tip of it accidentally touched on the snake. Suddenly the snake lifted up its hood and tried to bite the blacksmith.

All along, as the snake was lying outside in the cold, it was not showing any aggressiveness that made the blacksmith wrongly assume that the snake was nonviolent and would not harm anyone. But once the snake got warmth from the heat of the furnace inside the shop, its innate nature got manifested.

[Amma:  “In a similar way, when we engage ourselves in intense spiritual practices, we somehow succeed in making our mind calm and composed. But when we engage ourselves back in regular activities, our inborn vasanas (like anger, greed, etc) come out again. Sadakas must be careful enough in not getting exasperated with this nature of human mind, but develop the necessary strength to fight out the vasanas and succeed.”]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 2)

12. Sold dead cheap?

[Amma: “Be in a family or in a society, people always seem to have a business mindset. Even our relationship with God too has turned to be so. When it comes to God or Guru, what is most essential is total surrender.  But we have become calculative with them too; how to profit out of them seems to be thinking”.]

Once a very rich man was traveling on a ship. Suddenly the weather turned hostile. A powerful thunderstorm struck the ship. The Captain of the ship announced that the ship cannot be saved from sinking and asked all the people in the ship have to do whatever they could to save themselves if possible. Everyone on the ship panicked. The rich man too started praying to God frantically like everyone else on the ship. He prayed to God: “Oh my lord. please save me from this calamity. I promise you that I will sell my 5-star hotel and donate 75% of the amount if you save me”.

Very miraculously, the storm subsided quickly and the ship was saved. All the travelers reached the shore safely.  However, the rich man was in mental turmoil now.  “Oh, if I sell my 5-star hotel, I will easily get a crore of Rupees and it is such a huge amount! Should I really donate 75 lakhs of rupees to God?  Why would He need such a large sum of money from me? What can I do now?” He thought deeply about it and finally got an idea.

He released an advertisement in the newspaper: “5-star hotel on sale. Expected price: one rupee”.

Hordes of people came running to meet him and buy the property. They could not really understand how and why anyone would sell the hotel for one rupee! He told them: “I promise that the hotel is indeed available for sale for one rupee, but to clinch the deal, you must buy my pet dog for 1 crore of rupees”.

He finally sold the star hotel as per his terms and donated seventy-five paise to God!

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

13.  Habits die hard

A person served in the military for 30 years. He got retirement, returned to his native village and settled there. One day, he went to the shandy. He bought a large potful of milk. Carrying it on his head and holding the pot with both of his hands, he was returning home.

On his way, a few local boys, who knew that he was an ex-military man, shouted mischievously “Attention!”

Having heard this command umpteen times and getting so much used to obeying it as a military person for the past 30 years, the man instantly stopped walking, joined both his legs together, brought both his hands down to touch his thighs and stood straight. The milk pot held on his head safely by his hands so far toppled and fell onto the ground. The pot broke into pieces and all the milk was lost.

The boys laughed aloud and ran from the place.

[Amma: “From this story, we can understand that even seemingly insignificant acts, if done mechanically out of habituation, can bring us misery.  It that is the reality, what to speak of evil habits that we acquire? If we are caught into evil habits, no need to mention the amount of misery they are sure to bring in our lives later.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

14. Overcoming Laziness

Once the owner of a Circus company was in possession of two well-trained falcons. The falcons fly in pair and do several acrobatic movements in the air to entertain the audience.

Once the Circus owner went to meet the king of his country. He took his two falcons with him to give them as his present to the king. He arranged a demonstration of the falcons’ flying skills in front of the king and the king was very impressed. He gladly accepted the pair as a present.  He immediately arranged a caretaker for the falcons; the caretaker arranged an exclusive place for the falcons to stay. A wooden rod was placed at a high level from the ground for the falcons to rest. He fed them regularly and took good care of them.

Soon, one of the falcons got comfortable in the new surrounding and consequently became very lazy too. When, one day, the king wanted to witness their flying show, only one of the falcons flew in the air; the other one stayed put and continued to doze off sitting in the rod.  The king thought that the falcon might be sick. He called expert veterinarian doctors to attend to it. But they could not make the falcon fly. The huge gathering of people got disappointed.

At that time, one old farmer came close to the king and said, “Your excellency, shall I make a try, to make the falcon fly?”

The king was not very hopeful, yet he allowed the farmer to try and he left the place to return to his royal bedroom to rest. But soon, he heard a huge cheering noise from the gathering. He looked out from the window and noticed that both the falcons were now flying. The second one was in fact flying higher than the first one and they were demonstrating wonderful flying patterns and acrobatics!

The king was very surprised and happy. Once the show was over, he called the old farmer to reward him for his service. He asked, “What treatment did you do to make the falcon fly?”

“I did nothing, Maharaj,” he said. He continued: “I simply went to the place where the falcon was resting and swiftly cut the rod in which it was sitting. The falcon started falling towards the ground; it immediately awoke from its slumber and started flying!”

[Amma: “The nature of the human mind is to look for the comfort zone and settle in it in order to avoid exertion. That’s how laziness settles in.  At times, forceful disassociation from the comfort zone would be needed to overcome laziness and make the mind active again.”]

(From Amma’s Satsang on 12/12/2020)

Some Core teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s teachings virtually cover the entire gamut of Hinduism and its various facets. It is very difficult to consolidate his core teachings to a few lines. Anyhow I will make a humble try:

  • The purpose of Human life is to realize God.
  • One must strive to realize God in this very birth.
  • Knowing God is the real knowledge. All other other knowledge is ignorance.
  • Without sacrificing Kamini and Kanchana (lust and gold) no spiritual progress is ever possible.
  • Yat mat, tat pat – “As many religions, so many paths”. In attaining God, every religion is valid.
  • God is with form, without form and He could manifest in so many other ways too, beyond our comprehension.
  • An idol is not just clay. God’s consciousness manifests in it. Doesn’t God know that when you worship an idol, you are only worshiping Him?
  • God can be seen. If you yearn for God with the same intensity of the following three yearnings combined, you can see God — The love a miser has for his wealth, the love a mother has for her child and the love a chaste wife has for her husband. If you become so desperate as a person pushed deep into water gasping for air, you can have the vision of God.
  • Brahman (God) and its Shakti are not two different entities (Like fire and heat; like milk and its whiteness and like a snake and its zigzag movement).
  • Who can ever comprehend and explain God fully? If one aspect of him is great, another aspect of him is greater.
  • God and his name are not different.
  • For this Yuga, Bhakti (devotion) is the best means to attain God.
  • Bhakti (devotion) is the easiest of way attain to God.
  • Pure mind, pure intellect and pure Atman (Self) are one and the same
  • What a devotee calls as Kali, what a Yogi calls as Paramatman and what a Jnani calls as Brahman are one and the same.
  • Association with Sadhus (Satsang) is the best means to acquire spiritual wisdom.
  • God’s message comes to people through Avatars
  • Seeing God and seeing an Avatara Purusha are one and same. Avatars are not limited to ten. Srimad Bhagavatam says there are 24 avatars, even more avatars and also avatars are beyond count.
  • Whatever love and care people receive (through parents or others) is nothing but God’s love.
  • Social service? Uplifting the world? Who are we to help others? Is the world too small for us to help and uplift it? It is the work of God. By trying to help the world, you are indeed helping yourself. See every being as a form of God and do service to them humbly as if a worship.

We can go on with more, but let me stop with the above.

(Source: Sri Ramakrishnarin amutha mozhikaL – Tamil)

Amma’s stories on Unselfishness, Compassion & Sacrifice – 4

1. Equal Punishment?

Long ago, there lived a very rich landlord in a village. He was a miser and lead a life of utter selfishness with no compassion for the poor and the needy.

One day, he went to the village magistrate and made a complaint against another villager saying that he had stolen money from his almirah.

The person accused was extremely poor. When the magistrate summoned him and interrogated him, he openly admitted that he had indeed stolen money from the rich man’s almirah because of unbearable hunger in his family.  At the end of inquiry the magistrate gave a ruling that the stealer and the rich man should undergo imprisonment for equal period.

The rich man could not digest such a ruling. He made sure that a complaint about this reached the king of the country. The king called the magistrate for an inquiry. The magistrate spoke to the king, openly expressing his views without any fear, “Your majesty, while I punished the poor man for the act of stealing, I punished the rich man for his act of amassing money far beyond his needs and never coming forward to help the poor and the needy with his money and properties.  Even if he could not help the poor directly, he could have at least  come forward to donate money to charitable organizations who work for the downtrodden and the needy. He never did that too. Even though God has given eyes and ears to him, he could never see the suffering of hungry people; he could not hear the lamenting of the poor in need of help. That too is a crime according to me and that’s why I gave him punishment.”

The magistrate paused for a while and then continued: “Now I think it is wrong on my part to have given equal punishment to both the persons. I should have indeed given an additional punishment for the rich man for another crime — the crime of abetting a poor person to resort to stealing. Had he donated some money for the fellow villager whose family had been driven to extreme poverty and hunger, the poor man would no need to steal from the rich man’s house. This rich man indeed is the cause for creating a thief. That’s why he should have been punished for it too”.

[Amma:  “Accumulating more and more possessions is also adharma; it is a  sin. That’s why we should always negate pomp and extravaganza. By saving money being spent on such things, we should divert it to help the poor and the needy.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

2.   Compassionate request

Once a school girl took part in a prestigious competition and won the first place. The sponsors of the competition offered her a free trip to Visit USA as the reward.

At the award function, the anchor asked a question to the girl, “How happy are you feeling in winning the competition and getting the chance to visit to USA?”

The girl said, “I am indeed very happy to have won this competition; but I would be happier if I could get the award in cash equivalent to  all the expenses of sponsoring my trip to USA”.

“Why are you desiring cash? Are you not interested in visiting USA?” asked the anchor.

The girl said, “It is not so. My mother is a nurse. Last week I accompanied my mother to the hospital where she is working. There I happened to meet a girl of my age, and as I interacted with her,  we became friends. I came to know that she was undergoing treatment for cancer. It was shocking for me. My mother told me that her cancer  was in advanced stage and if at all she should recover, she should undergo more advanced treatment in a bigger hospital. Unfortunately, her parents are poor and they could not afford any costlier treatment. She would not survive for long in this condition. I felt very painful; such an young girl, who would have lots of dreams about her future, who is not still aware of her precarious condition, who believes she would soon recover, will be dying shortly because there was no money with the parents to save her.  Suppose this reward comes to me in cash, I want to give it to the girl’s parents so that they can use it for treating her. That would truly make my winning the  competition worthy”.

Hearing her speech, the organizers immediately took a decision to give the reward to her in cash and they made an announcement about it immediately.

[Amma:  “On this day of New year, let us all make a resolution to do at least one act that could bring happiness or comfort to others without any selfish motive.  Even if we are not capable of doing big things, it does not matter. A word of compassion, a friendly smile, a friendly heart that is ready to hear the sorrows of others — even such little things are good enough.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

3.   Compassion is more important than worship

Once a group of pilgrims were travelling to Rameshwaram after taking holy bath in the Ganga at Kashi.  They were carrying Ganga water in small pots for the purpose of doing abhishekam to Lord Shiva’s linga at Rameshwaram as per the traditional practice.

Somewhere at the middle of their travel route, they had to cross a dry landscape. It was a hot day and all the travellers were suffering from thirst. But unfortunately, they could not locate any source of water in the stretch. Since all of them were very particular to carry the Ganga water for Rameshwaram, they did not want to quench their thirst with the Ganga water in their pots. They somehow managed to bear with their thirst and moved on.

On the way, a donkey was lying on the road, breathing heavily. It was obvious that the donkey was fatigued by the hot sun and it was extremely thirsty.  One of the pilgrims felt pity on  the donkey which was at the verge of death. He decided to feed the donkey with his pot of Ganga water. The donkey hastily drank all the water in his pot and felt rejuvenated. The man felt extremely happy that he could save the life of a donkey with the water he carried.

However, the other pilgrims did not approve his act of charity. They said that it was totally wrong to ‘waste’ a whole pot of Ganga water which was really meant for doing Abhishekam to Lord Shiva. They said he lost all the punya of undertaking the pilgrimage.

The man said, “I don’t care if I lose all the good fortune of completing Kashi Yatra; saving the life of a poor creature by feeding it with Ganga water is far more more important to me than doing abhishekam to God at Rameshwaram; I saw God in that poor creature. Seeing its pitiable condition, it was just impossible for me to walk ahead without offering help.”

[Amma:  “Four things make an act of charity invaluable:  1)  Sacrificing one’s own possessions and comforts  for giving to charity (2) Donating  selflessly without expecting anything in return or without the intent of getting name and fame (3) donating to someone more deserving than oneself  and (4) Seeing God in the receiver, offering a donation with humility. We all must develop the above attitude and do good to others. If we do charity with this attitude, we will get satisfaction and prosperity in our lives”.]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

4.   Indebtedness

Once  a hunter shot an arrow tipped with poison on a deer. The arrow missed its target and hit the trunk of a large tree. Due to the effect of poison, the tree started withering. Soon, all the leafs in the tree dried up and the tree was dead.

There were plenty of birds, worms, insects, rats, and squirrels living in the tree all long. Once the tree dried up, almost all of the creatures left the tree in search of alternative places for their living. But one parrot that lived in the tree for long did not want to leave the tree, because of its indebtedness and emotional attachment to the tree that had supported it and nurtured it all along. Forgetting food and sleep, the parrot grieved for the death of the tree and continued to stay there. All the fellow birds advised the lone parrot that it was meaningless to keep attached to a dead and dry tree and urged it to move on along with them. But the parrot  stoutly refused.

The news about the parrot spread across the three worlds and it reached Heaven too. Lord Indra was surprised to hear about it. He wanted to test the parrot.

Indra came to the tree in the form of an old brahmin and asked the parrot, “Why are you so foolishly clinging on to this tree which has dried up totally?”

The parrot said, “I know by virtue of my austerities that you are none other than Lord Indra. You see, I was born in this tree. I grew up in this tree and this is where I acquired all my skills and instincts.  It was due to the protection given by this tree, I lived safely from the attack of predators. How can I discard this tree which has nurtured and protected me all along?”

Hearing this Lord Indra said, “I am extremely pleased to hear your words of compassion. I will offer you any boon you ask for”.  The parrot immediately said, “Lord, I will be extremely happy if you could bring this tree back to life and restore its original status”. Lord Indra agreed and sprinkled nectar on the tree.  Within moments, the tree started to grow fresh leaves and soon it attained its original condition bearing flowers and fruits.  Seeing this all the birds and animals which had discarded the tree earlier returned to the tree joyfully.

[Amma:  “If only all of us have the same attachment and indebtedness towards mother nature just like the parrot’s attachment to the tree in this story, preservation of Nature would become effortless. Let us develop such a mindset and pass it on to the coming generations.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

5.   Personal touch (1)

Once a new Managing Director joined his office.  He was welcomed by all the managers. The personnel Manager said, “Sir, we have arranged your room ready at the 20th floor. We have one exclusive elevator for your use, which will take you straight to your floor without stopping at intermediate floors”.

The MD took charge. After a few days, he called up the personnel manager and said, “Please shift my office from 20th floor to the ground floor”.

The personnel manager humbly asked the MD, “May I know the reason Sir?  Are you not feeling comfortable there?  Have we missed giving any facilities there?”

The MD said, “No. The office and facilities are good. No complaints. All my employees are spread across the various floors down below in this building. I am not able to effectively interact with them”.

“Why Sir? If you call any of them to your room, they will always be glad to come and meet you there!”

The MD said, “No.  I don’t want to sit on a high pedestal and demand  their attention. I want to interact with them all in a more personal way.  I want to know about them, their hardships, their family problems and so on more freely. If I sit in the ground floor, all the people will have to pass through the ground floor only when they come to the office or leave the office and that way, I will have a better access towards them through casual meetings too.”

[Amma:  “In a similar way, Avatara Purushas come to the earth for the sake of the common people. They come down to the level of the common man and teach them in a way they can understand,”]

(Amma’s Onam Satsang 31/8/2020)

6.   Personal touch (2)

Once in an office, a departmental examination was conducted to select staff who are to be promoted to managerial posts in the organization.

While answering the question paper, a very odd question caught everybody’s attention:

  • What is the name of your Manager?
  • What is the name of the office assistant who does errands in the office?
  • What is the name of the tea boy?
  • What is the name of the sweeper in the office?

Practically all the people who wrote the exam wrote the Managers’ name correctly. Some people did not know the name of the office assistant. More people did not know the name of the tea boy. Most people did not know the name of the sweeper.

After the exam was over, they went and met the chief of HR department, who was in charge of setting up the question paper. “We wonder what is the need for that particular question. It is in no way connected with our technical skills, communication skills or knowledge of office matters and procedures which are essential for management.”  they argued.

The HR manager said, “In fact it is one of the most important questions that carries lots of weightage.  You see, when you people become managers, you are not just going to manage your work and responsibilities, but manage all the people who work under you. You have to be people-oriented and how you interact with your staff at human level is of paramount importance in your success as a manager.”

(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang 25/10/2020)

Read more

Amma’s stories on shraddha — Alertness and Awareness

1. What did I forget?

Once there lived a farmer who was extremely busy most of the times. On account of it, he used to forget many things that he wanted to do in a day. He decided to have some way to remind him of things to do.

Before going to bed one night, he took a piece of paper and a set of color sketch pens. He decided to draw lines in different colors to remind him of things to do on the next day. He thought well and drew seven lines in seven colors, each line representing one thing he must do – like a rainbow.

He got up early in the morning; remembering something he missed out, he drew an eighth line in the paper. Thus he had 8 different tasks to accomplish that day.

The first line was to remind him that he should brush his teeth, take bath, have his breakfast, lunch etc at appropriate times.

The second color line was to remind him to take his dog for a walk in the morning.  He did it.

The third color line was to remind him that he should apply fertilizer to his crop and also water them. He accomplished it.

The fourth line was to remind him to go to marketplace and buy things for his domestic needs. He finished it.

The fifth line was to remind him to give fodder and water to his cattle. He did it.

The sixth one was to take his car to the garage for a repair. He finished it.

The seventh one was to make the payment for the electricity bill. He finished it too.

Only the eighth one was pending.  He tried to remember what task it was but he could not remember it. It was night by now. He thought deeply again and again to remember what he wanted to accomplish by that eight line, but his memory failed him completely. He knew it was a very important one and that was why he added it as the last one early in the morning. He became tensed. He could not sleep. He got up from bed and walked here and there trying to bring back his memory but he could not. He lost his sleep. At last, he remembered almost by dawn the next morning.

The eighth reminder was that he should go to bed early and sleep well, which was his doctor’s specific advice to him!

 [Amma: “We too forget our goal of life like this. The very purpose of human life is to attain God. It is the only changeless purpose. But we all forget this and go behind changing things. We want to stop certain changes from happening. Because of this tendency, we are constantly under tension. On the contrary, if we set our goal on the changeless — the God, then no change ever affect us.”]

(From Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Part 2)

2.  Perseverance

[Amma: “Children, many people come to Amma and complain that  they could not get mental concentration in doing meditation or prayer. It is indeed true that it is not easy to get mental concentration. One requires constant effort and practice to attain it. If one does not get single pointedness despite repeated efforts, one should not simply abandon practicing meditation. If  the goal is firm and enthusiasm is kept alive, one is bound to get mental concentration”.]

Once in a village there lived a boy who neither attended school nor learned any skill to earn a livelihood. His aged father, who was a coconut tree climber, took care of his son while he was alive. One day, he passed away and the boy had to suffer in poverty with no one to take care.  Villagers, assuming that the boy too would be skilled in coconut tree climbing, sought his help to pluck coconuts in their gardens. When they came to know the truth, they chided him as useless.

The boy had no other wherewithal to survive as he did not possess any other skill.  So, he took a decision that he would start learning coconut tree climbing on his own effort. He knew that it was a very risky job; if he happened to fall, he would end up with fractures and perhaps even permanently handicapped making any other means of survival too difficult.

Therefore, with lots of of caution he started practicing climbing. He will embrace the coconut tree trunk tightly and climb carefully step by step. After climbing a few feet, he would jump down and climb again. He gradually increased the height of climbing and he practiced whole heartedly again and again. He found his hands and legs strengthening day by day and his self confidence to climb up to larger heights too improved gradually.

This way, by repeated practice and perseverance, he became adept in coconut tree climbing and do it very fast too.  His livelihood thus got ensured.

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

3.  The smart smuggler

Once a man was crossing the border of one state to enter into the next state in his motorbike, carrying a sack full of sand at the rear . He was held up at check post for a thorough check.

The officer at the check post interrogated him.

“What does this sack contain?”

“Just sand Sir, nothing else” said the man.

“Oh, come on; no drug, no gold inside?”

“Nothing of that sort, Sir. If you want, you can check it.”

The officer was not convinced. He opened the sack checked it thoroughly.  He could not find anything suspicious.  He allowed the man to drive through the check post.

This started happening regularly every week. The officer will check his sand bag as well as his motorbike thoroughly each time but nothing could be found.

After a couple of months the man was never seen crossing the checkpost.

The officer got retired. One day, he was eating in a restaurant.  He happened to notice the man there. The officer went near him and said, “I know you were doing something fishy; I still suspect that you were smuggling something that I could not figure out. In fact I had spent several sleepless nights to figure out what you were smuggling in those sand bags. I am retired now and you can afford to tell me the truth now. I won’t reveal to anybody.”

The man smiled and said, “I never smuggled anything through the sand bag. I was smuggling stolen motorbikes”.

[Amma: “In this story, the officer put his entire focus on the sandbag and he missed out the motorbike. Likewise, we are always looking at the external world and fail to ‘study’ our own Self or know our Self.”]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

4.  Concentration

Once there was an excellent archer who participated in many competitions and won prizes. He participated in an international competition too and won the award as the topmost archer of the world.

When one of his friends came to know of this, he said, “I know a Guru who is a great exponent in archery. Only if you win over him, I can really consider as the best archer of the world”.

The archer took the challenge. His friend took him along to meet the Guru. Coming to know of his success at the global level competition, the guru congratulated him wholeheartedly.

The friend broached the subject of their visit to the guru. The guru said, “Let us first go for a walk for a while. You may please bring your bow and arrow along.

They walked together and climbed over a small hillock. Adjacent to it, there was another hillock and both were connected by a rope bridge. The guru proceed to walk along the bridge and the two men followed him. When they reached the middle of the bridge, the guru pointed out a tree on the opposite hillock and said to the archer, “Do you see a fruit hanging in that tree? Will you use your bow and hit that fruit with an arrow?”

The archer agreed. As he was taking aim at the fruit, strong wind started blowing and the rope bridge started swaying. The archer had to catch the side ropes to steady himself. The rope bridge continued to sway and however much he tried, it was difficult for him to balance himself and aim at the fruit. When he shot the arrow, it missed the target totally.

Now the guru borrowed his bow and arrow. While the bridge continued to sway wildly in the wind, the guru was totally unperturbed. He aimed at the fruit and shot the arrow. The arrow hit the fruit.

[Amma: “In this story, the guru had the ‘remote control” of his mind in his hand. He had no fear of failure nor any disturbance in concentration due to external factors. Is it possible for everyone to dance peacefully on a shaking stage? Leading a life without mental peace is also similar. The one which is ever steady and firm is God. If  we hold God as our base, then it would be like dancing on a firm dais. “]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

5.  The source of the problem

Once in a famous hospital, they encountered a very peculiar problem of great concern to the hospital authorities.

In the ICU of the hospital, patients laid in a particular bed died because of mysterious reasons regularly every Sunday at around 11 AM. Doctors were very surprised, confused and also felt alarmed at this happening. Some of them even started wondering whether there was some mystical reason which was beyond the reach of medical science.

A committee consisting of scientists, doctors, nurses and admin staff was formed to investigate. On the next Sunday, well before 11 AM, this group assembled at the corridor of the ICU. The tension amid the members was visible. Some of them were holding japamala and repeating mantras. Some were praying. They kept a watchful eye on everything happening in and around the ICU.

Sharp at 11 AM, one Cleaning Staff who worked only on Sundays promptly came to the ICU. He went near the specific bed. There was a switch board and plug point on the wall adjacent to the patient. The ‘Life Support Machine’ of the patient was indeed connected to the plug point.  The cleaning staff removed the plug, inserted the plug of the Vacuum Cleaner he had brought and started vacuum- cleaning the floor.

Now all those who were watching it knew the mysterious cause of the Sunday deaths!

[Amma:  “Any work done with ashradda (lack of awareness) is adharma (unrighteous).  It brings sorrow to us as well as to others.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

6. Is God at fault (1) ?

Once a man went to a Watch shop in his bicycle to buy a new watch. As he was about to enter the shop, he saw an old friend there. They were too happy to meet each other after a long time. They chitchatted for a while. The friend came with him into the shop and they chose a suitable watch for him.

They came out joyfully and took a long walk together. They had a cup of tea and then parted ways. The man walked back to his home.

Only after reaching home, he remembered that he had parked his bicycle outside the watch shop. He immediately rushed to the shop. Fortunately, his bicycle was very much standing there. With a great relief, he rode in his bicycle and on his way, he saw a temple. He felt he should thank God for getting back his bicycle.  He parked his bicycle outside the temple and went in to do his prayers.

As he came out of the temple, his cycle was missing.

He frantically searched here and there but no use. It was obvious that someone had stolen it.

He felt very dejected and angry. He got angry on God, who had not protected his bicycle particularly when his very purpose of visiting the temple was for thanking God for having saved his bicycle earlier!

Hearing his loud lamenting, an old man who was passing by, asked him what happened. The man narrated his woeful story and said, “I am not going to believe in God anymore. He has no concern for a devotee like me when I came to him in fact for thanksgiving”.

The old man asked, “Did you lock your bicycle before going into the temple?”

The man thought for a while and said, “I am afraid I did not”.

“Did you lock your cycle when you had parked outside the watch shop?”

“Yes; I did”.

“Then why blame God for your lack of attentiveness?” said the old man and moved away.

[Amma:  “This the problem with us. We do not exercise shraddha in our actions, and then put the blame on God for the happenings.”]

(From Amma’s New Year Satsang 2021)

 

Humorous stories from Amma – Part 8 ( 6 more stories)

There is no dearth of fun and frolic in the company of a Mahatma like Amma. Amma narrates several humorous and funny stories that carry spiritual wisdom. Here are  more such little stories:

(If you have not read the previous 15 stories in this series, please click here —> Part 7 (Humorous stories from Amma)

1. Who taught her?!

Once a newly married couple came to live in a housing complex. The wife woke up in the morning was looking through the glass window of her apartment at the lawn in the opposite apartment. Several washed clothes were hanging there for drying.  She said to her husband, “Oh! The washed clothes are still dirty. It looks like the woman there does not know how to wash clothes clean!”

The husband did not make any comment.

Then it became almost regular for the wife to make the same comment every morning. “I wish someone teaches her how to wash clothes properly” she would add. Her husband did not open his mouth.

A few weeks went by. One day the wife spoke to her husband with a voice full of surprise.  “Hey! It looks our neighbor has, at last, learned how to wash clothes clean! Today, all the dresses hanging there are clean and bright! I wonder who taught her the right way!’

The husband said in a cool voice: “This morning I got up early and washed all the glass panes of our windows clean!”

[Amma: “This is what is happening in our lives too. If we have to see goodness in others, our hearts must become pure first. Our ego, pride, envy, crookedness, hatred, etc. cause our vision to be tainted. Because of it, we are not able to accept and digest others’ actions and behavior and behave friendly with them.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

2. Escape from death?

Once there lived a sculptor who was very much afraid of death.  How to escape death? This question was always nagging his mind.  He used to think of so many ways and finally felt there was one good idea which he could try.

He made 12 statues looking exactly like him in all respects.  They were so lifelike. His idea was that when the messenger of death comes in search of him, he could pose like one among the statues and the messenger would get confused and perhaps leave empty-handed!

The time of his death indeed arrived. The sculptor saw the arrival of the messenger of death. He immediately joined the group of 12 statues and stood there holding his breath, avoiding all movements.  The messenger of death too got confused to see 13 statues looking exactly alike!

After thinking for a while, he said aloud, “All these statues are really well crafted and look alike. The sculptor is indeed extremely talented. But unfortunately he has made one fault in all of them”.

The ego of the sculptor got offended on hearing this. He forgot his precarious state and asked loudly, “What fault? what fault? How dare you find fault in my work? Tell me where is the fault”.

“Here it is!” so saying the messenger caught hold of the sculptor and dragged him along to the nether world!

[Amma: “When the ego rises saying “I am the doer”, then all woes come. The idea that ‘I am the doer’ is the one that causes bondage.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

3. Greedy Cheater?

There was a bakery in a village. The bakery owner used buy butter regularly from a farmer who owned cows. The farmer was a guileless, good person.

The baker was getting disturbed about a thing. He was suspecting that the farmer was not really giving the right weight of butter that he regularly ordered on a daily basis.  Is the farmer cheating him by giving less?

He started measuring the weight of the butter with the weighing stone that he possessed. It was amply clear that the butter was short in weight. He got convinced that he had been getting cheated;  he made a complaint to the village headman about it.

The village chief called the farmer for an inquiry. He explained the complaint and said to the farmer, “You go and bring your weighing stone immediately. We would like to check it for correctness”.

The farmer fumbled for a while and then said, “Sorry sir, I really don’t have any weighing stone, but I assure you  I am not a cheat”.

“How do you say so? How do you weigh and supply the butter without a weighing stone?”

The farmer said, “Sir, I regularly buy bread from the same bakery. I use that bread as the measuring weight to measure the weight of the butter I supply. So, I am not faulty; if the butter is underweight, then it means the bread I have been buying is underweight! ”

[Amma: “Don’t wait for others to reform themselves before we change. We should reform ourselves first.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

4. Lucky day?

Once a man got up early in the morning.   He felt very refreshed after a good night’s sleep and his mood was upbeat.   He had positive thoughts brimming inside him that morning.

As looked at the clock, he noticed that it was showing the time as 9. The clock had stopped working the previous night. The man came to the balcony. It was refreshingly chill. He checked the temperature and it showed 9 degrees Centigrade.

After brushing, he picked up the newspaper. It showed the date was 9.

“Curious!” he thought to himself.

After reading his newspaper, he went to the kitchen to fix his breakfast. Opening the breadbin, he found exactly nine slices left. After breakfast,  the local temple committee members came to meet him, to seek donation from him. Interestingly, there were exactly nine men in the group.

His mind started working at a furious pace. “Something is imminent! I am soon going to be very lucky in something!” He was so excited that he could neither sit nor stand. He picked up the newspaper again, and his eyes fell on the horse-racing page. “What a wonder!” he exclaimed. “The name of the 9th horse in the 9th race today is ‘Niner’. This is precisely the pointer. My success is guaranteed.”

The man didn’t hesitate. He rushed to the bank, withdrew all the savings he had there, and went to the racecourse with that money. He betted the entire amount on horse ‘Niner’. The race began. The man sat daydreaming, counting his winnings. At last, the results were announced. The horse “Niner,” the ninth horse, in the 9th race, had cleared the finishing line—in ninth place!

[ Amma: “The decisions of the Supreme come to us as hints from Nature. We should have proper awareness of dharma and justice to see them and understand them properly. Otherwise, our fate may be similar to that of the man in the story.”]

(From Amma’s New year satsang 2021)

5.  Outside or inside – Be careful!

This is a story related to the Lockdown period during the Corona Virus threat.

The husband was confined to the house; his wife was serving him food.

The husband said, “Is this how you used to cook in the past?  Earlier, your preparations would taste nice and contain nice flavor; my tongue used to water as the smell of your cooking comes through the air from the kitchen; nowadays, your cooking is tasteless and flavorless.  Why is it getting worse day by day?”

The wife did not utter a word. She continued to serve food. Day after day, this complaint from the husband became a routine.

Suddenly on one such day, an Ambulance came to his house.  A couple of policemen too arrived at the gate. They called the man out.  As the husband came out of the house,  few persons wearing full protective gear caught hold of him and dragged him into the Ambulance. Within no time they drove the Ambulance to a Corona Special ward in the local hospital.

“What happened? Why are you doing this to me?” shouted the husband.

The Ambulance staff said, “We received a phone call from your wife saying that she suspects symptoms of Corona infection in you as you complained to her that you have no sense of smell or taste of late. That’s why we have brought you here for treatment.”

[ Amma: “Nowadays such things happen in a husband and wife relationship! If people confine themselves to their houses fearing external threats, they end up facing internal threats like this!”]

6.  The artistic tailor!

A man went to a leading tailor who was very famous for creating new trends in the market. He gave the cloth piece to the tailor; the tailor took all the measurements and informed the man to come after a week for collecting the shirt.

A week passed and the man went to the tailor. The shirt was ready. After wearing the shirt, the man found that the left arm was longer and the right arm was much shorter. When the man complained about it, the tailor responded saying “This is the new fashion. You are unfortunately unaware of the new trends, my dear man. All you have to do is lift up your right shoulder and match the length; that’s all ”.  The man agreed and wore the shirt.

Then he found one strange thing! There was a huge ball of cloth on the back of the shirt below the neck. He thought that the tailor by mistake has stitched it along with the shirt. He again enquired tailor about it. The tailor replied impatiently, “ I already told you that I am a creative artist and this is my new creation. It’s a masterpiece. You just have to bend a little and walk, my dear!”

The man was elated. He thought that it was indeed his fortune that he was able to wear such a fine dress created by an artist. He put on the shirt and walked in style with a hunched back and a raised hand. He looked around to see if anyone was noticing him and his new style. Yes, in fact, a passer-by did notice it immediately and remarked “I know who has stitched this shirt for you. Only an expert like him could have done such a perfect work!”

The man was even more happy when he heard the compliments. Wow, he did not know that the tailor was so famous. He asked, “Sir, how do you know that this was done by that expert?”

The passerby said,  “It is so obvious,  we have only one tailor in this town who is a specialist in stitching clothes for physically handicapped people!”

[ Amma: “In this story, the man got carried away by the fame and the claims of the artistically inclined tailor, and gave more importance to the outfit than his own body.  Because of it, he became a loser. In the same way, we give too much importance to the whims of our mind and forget our real Self. That’s how our downfall happens. We tend to obey what the mind says.  Mind is like an expert salesman. Salesmen tend to lure us with their loud sales pitches, and we buckle. The mind will say, “yes, yes, let’s buy”. This is the nature of the mind. That’s how we become slaves to our minds.  The mind should be turned inward. The guru is one who shows us the substratum of the mind, which is Atman.”]

(From Amma’s Gurupurnima Satsang dt 23/7/2021)

Amma’s stories on Nature of the human mind – Part 3

1. Sold dead cheap?

Once a very rich man was travelling in a ship. Suddenly the weather turned hostile. A powerful thunderstorm struck the ship. The Captain of the ship announced that the ship cannot be saved from sinking and asked all the people in the ship have to do whatever they could to save themselves if possible. Everyone in the ship panicked. The rich man too started praying God frantically like everyone else in the ship. He prayed to God: “Oh my lord. please save me from this calamity. I promise you that I will sell my 5-star hotel and donate 75% of the amount if you save me”.

Very miraculously, the storm subsided quickly and the ship was saved. All the travellers reached the shore safely.  However, the rich man was in a mental turmoil now.  “Oh, if I sell my 5-star hotel, I will easily get a crore of Rupees and it is such a huge amount! Should I really donate 75 lakhs of rupees to God?  Why would He need such a large sum of money from me? What can I do now?” He thought deeply about it and finally got an idea.

He released an advertisement in the newspaper: “5-star hotel on sale. Expected price: one rupee”.

Hordes of people came running to meet him and buy the property. They could not really understand how and why anyone would sell the hotel for one rupee! He told them: “I promise that the hotel is indeed available for sale for one rupee, but to clinch the deal, you must buy my pet dog for 1 crore of rupees”.

He finally sold the star hotel as per his terms and donated seventy five paise to God!

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

2. Falling pride

There was a heap of small stones at a place. A boy who came that side, picked up a stone and threw it at the sky.  As the stone was rising high, it suddenly felt very proud.  “Ah! how great I am now! While all the other stones are lying in ground, I am soaring higher and higher. Soon I will be reaching a level in par with the sun and the moon!”
Looking at the other stones, it shouted, “Why are you all lying there? Come up and high!”.

The other stones said, “What to do? Just a few seconds ago, you too were one among us and lying here. Suddenly luck favored you and now you are flying! Everyone needs a right time; we are not so far fortunate”

But the stone that went up could not remain proud for long. It gradually slowed down, stopped and then started falling back to the earth. Within seconds it fell with a thud on the ground, amid the other stones.  Now the stone said, “Okay guys! You see, the fact is I missed you so much that I could not spend much time up there. So I am glad to be back!’

[Amma: “This is precisely the nature of human mind. Whatever one does, the mind tends to justify it as right; if there is a failure, the mind justifies that failure too. It won’t  accept a fault. “]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol.2)

 

Amma’s stories on Family and relationships – Part 1

 1.  Searching for?

Once a husband and wife had some bitter quarrel and they stopped talking to each other. None of them wanted to take the first step to bring back normalcy in relationship.

One week passed this way and not even a single word was exchanged between them. Finally, the husband was no longer able to bear with this stress. He thought of an idea.

He started searching for something in the house here and there, pretending as if it was too important a thing that he frantically needed. He looked and searched at every nook and corner of the house, expressing his tension seriously on his face. He bent down and searched under the cot; he opened every drawer in his table and searched. He opened every cupboard and searched. He climbed over the table and searched in the lofts.

Watching all these, the wife could no longer control herself. “What are you searching for?” she asked him.

That was precisely what the husband was eager to hear from his wife! He said, “Your sweet voice!”

When the wife heard such a sweet reply from her husband, she instantly forgot all her anger and complaints against her husband; her face brightened up and she smiled.

[Amma: “If only we could mutually excuse other’s mistakes and bear with them, we are sure to get peace and happiness in our lives.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

2.  Mental block

Once a young woman felt that she could not lift up her right hand. She became extremely concerned. She went to consult a doctor.  The doctor gave medicines and tried different treatment methods and yet she could not use her right hand.  Finally she decided to consult a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist engaged her in a long conversation. She inquired whether she had some bitter experiences in the past that disturbed her mind very strongly. The woman said:

“Yes. My mother died when I was a small child. My father married a second time. The stepmother started hating me once she had children of her own. She would find fault with me always and shout at me. A few weeks ago, her anger and censures became extremely unbearable to me.  Anger rose in me so strongly that I even felt like hitting her. With lots of effort, I controlled myself; only after that my right hand stopped functioning; I have not spoken a word to her afterwards”.

Listening to it, the psychiatrist said, “Even though you controlled your anger externally.  it has gone into your subconscious mind; such a deep mental disturbance can result in physical ailments. In your case, the same thing has happened and it is that suppressed anger that has caused failure of your right hand.”

Once the cause was identified. the woman understood that she should somehow get rid of her anger and hatred towards her step mother. She tried hard to set right her mindset and gradually she could succeed. Simultaneously, the mobility of her right hand too started returning.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

3.  Need one hour time

Once a father, who was normally very busy in his job, came back from his office. His little daughter was waiting for him at the entrance. She asked him, “Daddy, how much money do you get for one hour of work in your office?” .  The father said, “About 300 rupees per hour”.

The girl asked, “Daddy, will you give me two hundred rupees, please?”

The father thought that she wanted to buy a costly doll. He got angry. “Don’t trouble me like this. I don’t want to hear any more word from you”. He rushed into the house. His daughter was shocked at her father’s sudden outrage. With tear filled eyes, she went into her bed room and shut the doors.

After some time, the father felt bad about his behavior. He thought he should have been more patient; he should have spoken at least a few kind words to her. He went to his daughters room and asked “Have you slept, my daughter?”.

“No papa; I am still awake.” she said.

He went and sat  in her bed and said, “Did you feel hurt when I shouted at you earlier? I am sorry about it. Here, take this two hundred rupees. May I know what you intend to buy with this money?”

His daughter’s face brightened up instantly. She lifted her pillow and from there, picked up a hundred rupee note.  Putting this money too together she extended it  to her father and said, “Daddy,  now you have three hundred rupees.  Will you please spend one hour with me?”

[Amma: “Amid all the business and running around, do look at the world around you. Share a little time, friendliness, a patient listening and joy with your family members, friends and colleagues. Live in the present. Enjoy your living. “]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

4. Untrustworthy sons

Once a father had four sons. As the father god old, the sons wanted the family properties to be partitioned and given to them. Each one of them had a desire to construct a house of his own and hence they pressurized their father to yield to partition.

“We are here to take care of you during your old age; Don’t worry; We will take turns and take excellent care of you; you can stay with each of our families three months in a year; we will provide all the comforts you need” they promised.

When all the sons talked so in unison, the father felt very happy. He partitioned his properties equally amid his four children. One son got his house and garden. Other sons got equal share of his lands. The sons constructed their own houses in the lands they got.

At first the father stayed with his eldest son. He was taken care of very well initially. But, as days passed, he could feel negligence gradually. As days progressed further, the father could palpably see his son and daughter-in-law showing faces to him. With lots of patience he managed to pull along for about a month there. Before they would tell him to move to the next son’s house, he decided to move on his own.

He was welcomed pleasantly at the second son’s house. But he could hardly pull along for 15 days there. Unable to tolerate the negligence, he shifted to the third son’s house.

He could manage to stay only for 10 days there. Then he shifted hastily to his youngest son’s house. Hardly within 5 days of his stay there, he felt it obvious that unless he moved out, he was most likely to be chucked out of the house. He left their house totally dejected.

Thus the hopes of the father who distributed all his properties to his son believing that his sons would take care of him well got totally belied. It was simply a false hope. Within a span of just two months the planned arrangement of staying with the sons lifelong came to an end.

[Amma: “Children, this is the nature of people that we must all comprehend. People rear cows only for its milk. When the cows no longer give milk, we won’t hesitate to sell them to the butcher. If we do our karma expecting that someone would take care of us, we will only end up in suffering. It is indeed the duty of parents to take care of their children during their young age. That duty must be done happily without any expectations in return. Once the right time comes, our mind must be turned towards spirituality. Not expecting anything from the children, we must proceed firmly in the path of spiritual fulfilment. We should never get struck in attachments like “my son”, “my grandchildren” and so on.”]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki-Tamil – Vol 1)

5. Oh for the old purse

Once an old man was getting down from a train and he fell down in the platform.  Many youngsters came running to help him to get up and steady himself. The old man checked his pocket and said, “Oh, my purse, my purse! Where is it?”

The youngsters looked around for it. Once the train moved, the located the little purse on the track, picked it up and gave it to the old man. The old man hurriedly searched the purse as others watched him. He put it back with content into his pocked. An youngster, watching this asked him, “Grandpa, you don’t seem to have any money in that purse; then why were you so excited about losing it?”

The old man said, “There is a long story behind it. I will tell you.  This purse was gifted to me by my father when I passed my 10th class. It contained a nice picture of our God inside. Let me show it to you…” The old man showed the a small picture of Lord which was faded and wrinkled. He continued:

“At that age, I loved my parents the dearest. I removed the picture of God and kept my parents’ photo in the purse.  When I went to college, I fell in love with the girl. I removed my parents photo and kept this girls photo there.  She got married to someone and a few years later, I too got married. I kept my wife’s photo in the purse. Later, we had a boy child whom I adored more than anyone else. I removed my wife’s photo and kept my child’s photo there.

“My wife passed away, and my son became the centre of my life. As he grew up, I kept his youthful photo in my purse. He got married. Over a period of time, he and his wife wanted to build a palatial house for them and nudged me to bequeath my properties to him. He promised to take care of me throughout my life. He sold my properties and built his dream house. I too shifted there. Over a period of time, my son and daughter-in-law started neglecting me and I could understand that I was no longer needed in their life.  I had no option but to shift to an old-age home.  At that time, I understood that whomsoever I love can never be relied on; I understood only God is our permanent solace and companion. I removed my son’s photo and put back our lord’s photo back in the purse. I keep looking at it whenever I feel lonely and depressed. Only He gives me succor and solace. That’s how this old little purse and the picture of God in it became so indispensable to me now!”

[Amma: “No worldly relationship is permanent;  it is our relationship with God that is everlasting”.]