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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)

7. Just one tick at a time!

A person was in possession of an extremely costly watch. One day it stopped working. The man took the watch to a watch mechanic and requested him to set it right.

The mechanic tried all his best to repair the watch, but the watch just did not run.

Exasperated, he said loudly, “Oh! My dear watch! What is your problem? Why are you not running?”

Surprisingly, the watch started speaking! 

It said, “Actually, I tick 60 times in a minute; then in every hour, I tick 60 times 60. Then, in a day, I tick 24x60x60 times. If I keep running day after day  like this without any rest, what will happen to me? I really got worried.  I thought it is too much of a labor for nothing and I will burn myself out soon if I work so hard like this. So, I stopped working”.

The watch mechanic was a very smart person.

He said, “Please don’t worry too much about your future. Be in the present; you just tick once. Take the first step. Then just repeat it; then repeat it; then repeat once again. It is so simple; There is nothing complicated or worrisome about it. Just try once!” 

The watch believed his words. It ticked once; then repeated; then kept doing it; it was freed from its worries.

[Amma: “Children, the past is like a canceled cheque. The future is unknown. What we have in our control is the present moment. Make the best use of it. Live in the present. The future will take care of itself.“]

8. The difference

Once a lion cub was watching from a distance the mother deer of a fawn teaching how to run, how to be watchful of danger and how to quickly change direction while running an so on. 

The lion cub asked his mother lion, “Why don’t you teach me how to run like the deer mother deer teaching her fawn?” 

The lioness said, “Not necessary. It will come to you naturally. You belong to the royal class”.

Over a period of time, the lion cub grew up, big enough to try hunting on his own effort. On a hungry noon, the lion son noticed the same deer, now grown bigger and independent, grazing at a distance.. 

In order to hunt her down for his food,  the lion started chasing the deer. The lion chased fast and the deer too ran extremely fast. After running and chasing like this for a while, the distance between the lion and the deer got wider and wider; the deer escaped to safety and lion had to return dejected.

The lion asked asked a wise bird sitting on a tree, “How come, despite my powerful build, I could not catch the deer?”

The wise bird said, “You have the royal blood in you and you have taken your power for granted. You have not practiced adequately to run and catch the prey. You have to practice more and more to succeed. Secondly, while you were running to catch the prey for your meal, the deer was running to save her life!  There is a big difference between the two. The desperation with which one runs to save one’s life will give the extra energy to run and survive”.

10. The right awareness

Once a group of ways were frolicking at the sea. The younger waves were chasing the elder waves as they ran joyfully towards the shore. As the wind blow, one wave raised his head up and saw what was happening right in front of her and she was in for a big shock. Her elder sister wave who was running ahead of her was now crashing against the shore and got shattered to pieces.

“O my God! Is this going to be my fate too? Will I too get broken into pieces and die upon crashing on the land?” she lamented loudly.

A younger wave following her laughed and said, “Why do you lament like this, instead of enjoying our joyful play?”

“Don’t you understand, we waves are all going to get destroyed into  pieces any moment from now!”

“Sorry, my sister, your understanding is wrong.  You are not a wave, nor me. We are indeed the sea. We have just taken the form of a wave for the fun of frolicking around! We never get destroyed when we crash as waves on the shore.  We go there to kiss the shore,  and merge back into the sea; we are never dead! With the help of the wind, we will again take the shape of waves and run towards the shore again to enjoy the experience, again and again!’

[Amma: “Most of us are like this little wave that failed to understand the all-pervasiveness of the water and recognize that she herself was the vast and infinite ocean.  Each of us are part and parcel of the infinite consciousness, which is beyond birth and death. What is the point of life, if we don’t realize this truth?”]

(Amma’s Vishu message 15/4/2022)