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If people are suffering because of their Karma, why should we help them? What is the need to be compassionate towards others despite knowing that they are suffering because of their Karma?

It is indeed true that if one undergoes suffering, it is because of the effects of one’s bad karma done in previous births or in the distant past.

But a fact of Karma is that if God’s grace is there, the suffering due to Karma gets reduced.

If someone is doing a good karma, he is going to reap good fruits for it at some time in future.

So, if you are helping someone who is suffering,

  1. You may perhaps be the channel through which God’s grace is acting on the person to reduce his suffering.
  2. By helping the person genuinely, you are acquiring good karma for you.

My Guru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says that if somebody is suffering is because of their bad karma, extending help can be your dharma! A person fallen into a pit shouts for help.  If a passerby thinks ‘Why should I help? After all, he is suffering his karma’, it is not a right mindset. Instead, he should think, ‘It is my dharma to extend my helping hand to pull the person out of the pit’. That is the right attitude, says Amma.

What is Love? Where is love? How does love work? Does true love exist?

What is Love?

Love is an emotional feeling of attraction, closeness, intimacy, strong liking, and source of enjoyment to be together with someone or something.

Love can take different forms with different things and beings. Examples:

“I love coffee”; “I love my new dress” : “I love my native place” – these are to do with things.

“I love Ilayaraja songs; I love watching thriller movies”  – these are to do with abstract things.

“I love my dog”; “I love my cat”  — these are to do with living beings other than humans.

“I love my friend”; “I love the comedian Vadivelu” – these are to do with third persons

“I love my cousin brother; I love my brother in law” – These are to do with distant relatives.

“I love my mother/ sister/ son/ daughter/brother/ grandfather” – these are to do with blood relatives.

“I love that girl; I love that boy” – these are to do with a specific person of opposite sex with a marital or sexual intent in mind.

“I love my husband/ wife” – these are to do with existing intimate relations

“I love Lord Shiva; I love Lord Krishna” – this is bhakti – devotion to God.

It is quite obvious that the intensity of love, the reverberation of the joyful feeling that love generates is not same in the various categories of love that we saw above.

The love a boy develops on his girlfriend is not of the same frequency or intensity as the love the boy has on his sister. The love one has on his father is not same as the love one has on the pet dog. Strange it may seem, but the present day truth is that many people are able to love their pet dogs better than their fathers!

When it comes to love, all of us are both givers as well as receivers.  All of us, with varying degrees of intensity, are capable of giving love and receiving love. No one can constantly be giving love without getting back any love in return. No one can keep on receiving love without giving something back. Think of it: If pet dogs don’t reciprocate any love, no one will ever keep them at home!

What is the source of Love?

Where from does love spring? Why at all does a person express love to another? Why does a wife love her husband? Why do parents love their children?

According to Sanatana Dharma, God is the in-dweller in all beings. God permeates the entire creation. Even though each of us seem to have different personalities, our Self – Atman is one. It is like different beads of a necklace strung together in a single thread. It is like a single sun reflecting in hundred pots of water. Atman is that thread; Atman is the sun. Atman is Sat-chit-ananda – Existence-knowledge-bliss. It is the bliss of the atman that gets expressed in the form of love.

In the Hindu scripture Brihadarayanka Upanishad, The saint Yagnyavalkya says

 ‘A wife loves her husband not for his sake, but for the sake of her own Self.

‘A husband loves his wife not for her sake, but for the sake of his own Self.

‘You love the sons not for the son’s sake, but for the sake of your own self

‘You love wealth not for the the sake of the wealth, but for the sake of your own self

‘You love the cattles not for their sake, but for the sake of your own self……

Is love really pure?

It is really an uneasy question to answer.  At the highest ideal level, it is true, but at practical level it is not always so.

Behind every expression of love, there will always be some dose of selfishness lurking. Perhaps only in one human relationship – the relationship between a mother and her little child, the love may be closest to purity. It is so because, there is a divine dispensation behind it. This mother’s love on her little kid seems to be pre-programmed by the Higher Power for the continuation of progeny in the earth; it is the reality in animal kingdom too. Mother animals carry their intense love on their little ones through instinct. To a large extent, such an instinctive feeling of love exists in human mothers too which transcends any scientific analysis.

But, in the present times, it is a fact that even this motherly natural love is also is also getting a beating. Now a days, children are born out of mere sexual union without the sanctity or commitment of marriage; Children are born out of live-in relationships; Children are born out of deteriorating husband-wife relationships ending up in divorces; children are born out of serial monogamy (i.e. a woman bearing children of different males out of different wedlock done one divorce after another). As a consequence, the natural love that a mother has on her children has definitely deteriorated.

Even when there is a pure love existing between the mother and her young child, the purity gradually deteriorates as the child grows up to a man/ woman.  Parents start expecting several things from their children – obedience, respect, help in family chores, monetary help, heeding to their advice regarding finding a partner for marriage, the monetary expectations (in receiving or in avoiding to spend) behind conducting son’s/ daughter’s marriage, obedience, respect from daughter-in-law, the need to take care of them at their old age, the need to conduct the rituals post their death – the list goes on this is how the once-pure parental love gradually changes colors towards a personal, selfish agenda.

Selfishness and love

Mostly, the selfish motive behind love gets smartly camouflaged. The giver of love may hide and underplay the selfish motive. The receiver of love too, out of love towards the giver, may overlook the play of selfishness behind the giver out of gratitude. Example: A father wants to construct a house and he wants his son to apply loans and assist him financially.  He says to the son: “To possess my own house is my dream; unfortunately, I could not do it because I had to ensure getting your sister married off and to educate you decently. I have done my duty. But with my present financial status, I cannot buy my dream house with my savings alone. I want you to help”. The son, out of gratitude to his father, willingly gets into a debt trap so as to help his father realize his dream. Interestingly, the son too may hold a hidden selfish motive –‘In future, this property or a portion of it will anyway come to me’.

In the above case, the father’s selfish interest is obvious, but is hidden behind sentiments.  The father does not think ‘I would not like to put my son into a debt trap at this young age just because of my selfish motive to fulfil my dream”.

Likewise, if we analyze threadbare keeping sentiments aside, we can locate some selfish motive (small or big) lurking behind every act or expression of love in most of our relationships.

That’s why, Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) says: “We love others because they give us happiness or fulfil our desires; obeying, respecting, or having high opinion about us. Otherwise, we do not love them. When somebody hates us, revenge often takes the place of love. This is the case with even with those closest to you. If you disobey or disrespect them, you may not love them. Where there is real love, there is no selfishness.  We must be able to love without expecting anything from anyone”

Ego and love

“Whom do you love the most?”

If you pose this question to people, most of them will tell the name or a relation that they believe to love dearest. But it is a wrong answer. The unshakable truth of our existence in this world is that all of us love ourselves dearest first and then only any other person or thing.

This self-love as such is natural and fundamentally it is not wrong. It is natural because we are all self (Atman) in essence, but we have forgotten it.

When someone says ‘I love myself’, he does not refer to his atman which is the source of pure unadulterated love; what he means is he loves his own personality – his ego. All of us have different degrees of egoism in us, some very strong, some moderate, some subtle, but nevertheless the ego is very much there.  This ego wants us to be selfish, self-centered, receive appreciation and pampering, garner importance, ensure one-upmanship and so on.

Another face of ego is sensitivity. Some people may look meek, non-assertive, soft-spoken and so on, but they may be extremely sensitive to criticism, censure, sarcastic comments and so on. They will behave like touch-me-not if they are hurt even a little. Sensitivity is nothing but subtle, but strong, hidden ego.

Love and Hate

Ordinary love is just like one side of a coin. The other side of the coin is hate. When the coin is flipped and ‘love side’ goes under, the other side – hate gets exposed.

The greatest truth about love is that it will flourish well as long as ego or sensitivity is not hurt. The moment the ego is hurt, the coin flips! The other side – hate becomes visible. When our selfish interest is not met, love reverses. When we fail to receive appreciation, pampering etc or when our self-importance or one-upmanship is denied, the love reverses.

The swing from love to hate may be slow and graduated in some people and very fast in some people. Normally, women, being essentially very emotional, swing from love to hate very quickly without any intermediate stops.  It is also observed that a woman can hate a person as intensely as her erstwhile love.

Reversing the hate back to love is also possible when the hurt ego is pampered. A genuine apology, a corrective action of mistake done can pave the way for the reversal.

Amma Mata Amritanandamayi says “The difficulty is not in expressing love, but in letting go of the ego. Love is our true nature. It is already present within us, but we are held back by our individual boundaries. We have to outgrow our individuality (ego) in order to merge into universal love. The ego stands in the way of love. Once removed, it flows like a river.”

Time is also a great healer. This can be seen particularly in blood relationships. Any hurt caused in the past leading to a crack in love gets healed over time and people come back to revive relationships. That’s why it is said that the blood is thicker than water.

Love and possessiveness

Ahankaram (Ego) and mamakaram (possessiveness) are like twins.  Our love is mostly available for consumption within our own limited circle — covered within the boundary ‘mine’ (possessiveness).  If true love transcending limited boundaries can be called (with upper case L) “Love”, the ordinary love we see within limits is just ‘love’ with a lower case ‘l’.

Amma says: “There is ‘love’ and “Love”. You love your family: Your father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife etc., but you do not love your neighbor. You love your son or daughter but you do not love all children. You love your religion, but do not love all religions. Likewise, you love your country, but do not love all countries. Hence this is not “Love”. It is only ‘love’. Transformation of this ‘love’ to “Love” is the goal of spirituality.”

Love in Man-woman relationship – Love-Romance-Lust

The very sustenance of life in earth depends on the factor of love between man and woman. May be as a consequence, this love is the most basic, emotion laden, complicated, joyful, painful and stressful. It has the widest scope of expression — from the meanest to the divine.  

In Sanatana dharma, considerable priority and importance has been given to the man-woman relationship, clearly specifying the scope, purpose, boundaries and dharma associated with it. Man and woman leading a life of mutual love and togetherness in proper wedlock, with the aim of spiritual advancement together, begetting worthy and responsible children for continuation of progeny and contributing to the welfare of the society – that is the core purpose married life and such an ideal life is a dharma by itself – Grihasthasrama dharma – The righteous way of living a family life. Sexual energy, instead of getting uncontrollably dissipated in lustful, unbridled way of living, is channelized and streamlined. Proper control of passions, self-discipline and restraint with the twin goals of spiritual progress and social welfare – that is the hallmark of Grihastasrama dharma of Hinduism.

Triangular Theory of Love

Even from the point of view of modern Psychology, the love between man and woman is still set within the conventional scope of good marital life and bonding.

One of the most popular and widely acclaimed theory on love in man-woman relationship is Triangular Theory of Love, conceived and elaborated by Dr. Robert Sternberg (born December 8, 1949), American psychologist and a Professor of Human Development at Cornell University.

His theory is depicted in the form of a triangle in which the three faces are Romantic love, companionate love and Fatuous love. Its 3 corners are passion, intimacy and commitment. A love is consummated in full satisfaction only when all the 3 ingredients – passion, intimacy and commitment are present.  See picture below:

 

When a man/woman gets attracted to the other with passion only (without intimacy and commitment), it is just infatuation.

If in a man-woman relationship there is intimacy but no passion (sexual attraction) or commitment (for marriage or long term togetherness), it is just liking or friendship.

If there is only commitment in relationship without passion or intimacy, it is empty love. Such a thing is possible in arranged marriages, but intimacy and passion may develop subsequently.

Only when lines exist connecting these corners, the triangle of love is complete.

A romantic love (as one side of the triangle) exists when passion and intimacy are present.  In a romantic love, commitment is yet to come. For the romance to end in marriage, commitment is essential.

A companionate love (as the second side of the triangle) exists when intimacy and commitment are present.  In this love, romance is yet to come. Only when romance gets added to this relationship, there is color and spice in the married life.

In fatuous love (as the third side of the triangle) passion and commitment are present. Loving at first sight and getting married quickly fits into this form of love. Here there is no romance or a prolonged courtship. If romance is also added, then the love-life is wholesomely consummated.

Ideally when all the three faces of the triangle are present, it is a successfully consummated marriage.

Love equations that end in disappointment

  • Lust: When the attraction to the person of opposite sex is purely physical with the overt or covert intention of having just a sexual relationship for enjoyment, it is lust. It is fired by passion. If at all romanticism is added, it is more as a ploy to woo the opposite sex. Commitment to a long time relationship will be very elusive.

    If the motive of one of the partners is just to satiate the lust whereas the other partner mistakes it for genuine love hoping it to end in a marriage, then the relationship heads towards an ugly end as and when the moment of realization of truth dawns.
  • Romance: When the attraction to the person of opposite sex is based on passion (where lust is not too obvious or blatant but very much exists hidden) and one finds joy in the company of the other person even without a sexual relationship. Both attraction and intimacy are strongly present in a romantic relationship.

    In a romantic relationship, both the partners will behave their best to keep the mutual attraction and the joy of company alive and vibrant. It also means any dark, unpleasant or ugly side of their personalities or behaviors  will be very skillfully hidden. Even if such things get revealed now and then, the other partner may not notice it and register it but opt to ignore it or sideline it as long as the romanticism is burning.

    When romanticism is all alluring, at least one of the partners may tend to delay the commitment. It is because people have an inherent inkling in them that most of the charm of the romantic love will fade away once the relationship gets committed to a marital bond!

    In romantic love too, when the commitment part of the love becomes elusive, then the relationship starts drifting towards disappointment.

What is true love and where is true love in man-woman relationship?

Since love or attraction (be it infatuation, lust or romance)  between man and woman is extremely emotional and has the undercurrent of sexual intent behind it, human mind creates all sorts pretences to generate an image that the love indeed it “true love”. The coining of the phrase ‘true love’ itself is an indication about the common existence of ‘untrue love’!

Swayed by emotions and sentiments, if we are developing mere attachment to someone, it is not love.  Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) says: “ ‘Am I really in love or am I too attached?’ Contemplate on this question as deeply as you can. Most people are craving for attachment, not real love. In a way, we are betraying ourselves. We mistake attachment for love. Love is the centre and attachment is the periphery. Aim for the centre”.

Suggested additional reading: Reading and discussions on an additional document provided herewith  (see at the bottom: What is true love, where is true love?) may be helpful for youngsters to grasp very practically how our minds caught by emotions can hoodwink us into justifying our own failings in understanding what is love.

Lack of Love

The source of all love is divine. Amma says “Love is the foundation of life, but consciously or unconsciously we forget this truth. When we do not express love in our words and actions, it is like honey trapped in a rock — it is of no use to anyone. When families are able to express love with each other, peace and harmony will prevail in the home and society”.

Every being receives its essential doze of love right from birth from the mother first.  In a family where cordial love exists amidst its members, the child, as it grows, gets love from father, siblings, grandparents and other relatives.  The home is the birth place of love and the fertile soil of love for growth.

Conversely, when a child born in an atmosphere where love is lacking, and is brought up in a home where exchange of love is in short supply, the child grows with lots of psychological issues. Many of the emotional problems in the adulthood where this longing of love or absence of love gets expressed in myriad ways in man-woman relationship can be traced back to lack of love in childhood. That’s why Amma says: “Only those who have received love can give love. Hearts of such people who have never received love will always be closed.  They will neither be able to receive love or give love. It is very important for parents to give love to the young”.

That’s why Grihasthashrama (Family life) is a dharma in Hinduism

A child born and brought up with proper love and care in a family is a wealth for the future generation.  In Hinduism, continuation of progeny and having children of worthy qualities for the welfare of future generations was considered as an essential dharma of worldly life.  

If this dharma has to sustain, there are several things that need sustenance in the social fabric:

  1. Respect, belief and  commitment to the institution of marriage
  2. A marital relationship is not just for releasing animal passions
  3. A marital relationship is a lifelong commitment.  Man and woman have to essentially agree and live to a committed life of togetherness for life based on mutual love, trust, respect and companionship.
  4. There is nothing like live-in relationships. Divorce is an anathema.
  5. Women were expected to be housewifes predominantly because child rearing was considered as the prime responsibility, more than any financial or other considerations
  6. In order to ensure the purity of mother’s love, a woman getting remarried after an untimely death of husband was highly discouraged by the society.

Despite the onslaught of western culture in India, we are still able to see quite a lot of family bond amidst Indians. Divorces and remarriages are not still fully accepted in in Hindu culture.

Loving God – Bhakti

All said and done on love, the obvious ground reality is that love between human beings gets tainted in some way or other by egoism and selfishness. When a man longs for pure love — a love where the giver of love simply gives without any expectation in return — he understands that only the creator can give such a love.  The creator has given us sunlight to see, the air to breathe, the earth to live, the trees and plants to give us food, rain for our drinking water and so on. Man feels he is indebted to the creator for giving us everything without any expectations. This indebtedness makes him love the giver. He is also sure that God being omnipresent and omnipotent can give him all that he needs by sincerely praying to Him.

Such a trust and faith becomes the basis of love on God which is called devotion — Bhakti. Love on God at the initial levels may be based on expectations from God. We want money, wealth, comforts, position and power in life and believe we will be happy if we get all these in good measure. We pray to God lovingly for blessing us with all these. We face difficulties, suffering and worries in life. We want God to remove them all. We lovingly pray to him for support.

As our love and relationship with God gets deeper, our understanding about God also get refined.  Based on our experiences, we grasp that God in any case is always taking care of us irrespective of our praying him or otherwise. We also gradually understand that God is not freely giving us whatever we pray and ask for; sometimes he gives; sometimes he does not give; sometimes he gives something that we do not want. But over time, we analyse, experience  and understand that whatever he has given or not given have all been for our good only. We grasp that we are limited in our own understanding of what is good for us or what is bad for us, whereas God knows only what is good for us and he arranges everything accordingly — by giving or by denying.

The more we grasp this fact, then our ‘love with agenda’ on God comes to an end. We don’t find the need to pray to him. Our love on him too starts reflecting his love on us — unconditional. We start loving God for love sake. Such a deep love on God is called “Prema Bhakti”. A devotee gripped by prema bhakti forgets everything; he has no care for his own body, its needs or comforts. He wants love of God for love sake. He wants to become love. He wants to merge in God. He melts in God and becomes ultimately God himself.

This the the story of evolution of the unadulterated pure love of the divine.  We have several examples of such great personalities who demonstrated the path of pure Bhakti to attain Godhood. We have had great saints and Avatars  like Bhakta Meera, Sri Gouranga, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ma Anandamayi, Papa Ramdas and Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) in this great land of Bharat.

Amma says: “There are three expressions of love that awaken us from within: love for oneself; love for god and love for the entire creation. Love for oneself does not mean the self-centered love of the ego. it means to love life, to see both the successes and failures in our human birth as God’s blessing, while loving the divine power inherent within us. This grows to become love for God. If these two components are present, then the love for the entire creation will manifest naturally.”

Sharing Pure Love

it is no wonder that Avatara Purushas and Mahatmas carry this divine love with them for unconditional distribution to others. Their source of love is unlimited because it is divine.

It is this pure, divine love that attracts people who are emotionally suffering in their loveless lives, to mahatma’s like Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi).  Why a dark skinned, rustic woman from a remote and unknown fishermen’s hamlet in the faraway state of Kerala in India is so much sought after by white skinned, educated elite of the west?

Because they have lost love in their lives. A vast majority of them  have been born and brought up in an atmosphere where lust is essentially mistaken for love; brazen selfishness with very poor faith in the sanctity of marriage is the norm of life;  The mindset for give and take or for any sacrifice for the sake of the other person has been missing among the majority. Life in the west gradually has turned to become filled with ‘beggers of love expecting other beggars of love to feed them with love’.  When they encounter a person like Amma where every nerve of her is bent upon giving, giving and more giving, caring, sharing and absorbing others’ woes and worries, they get floored! Their long and unsatiated thirst for love atlast finds a spring of love rising and flowing for everyone to come and take.

And this love elevates the receiver from evolving from the clutches of selfishness. From a beggar of love the seeker evolves to a lover of God.

-=0O0=-

What does Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) say, as a woman saint, on the matter of allowing young women to Sabarimala Ayyappa temple?

Mata Amritanandamayi is a highly respected woman saint in Kerala with a huge following, who is popular across the globe for her expression of universal love and her social and philanthropic activities. She has been contributing in many ways, both spiritually and socially, in removing the inequalities that women have been facing.

As a woman saint, her viewpoint on this sensitive subject of allowing women into Sabarimala carries weight and requires a serious study. Below is the English translation of her Malayalam talk on this subject:

“In fact, there is no bar for ladies to visit and worship at Sabarimala temple and many ladies are indeed visiting and having darshan of lord at Sabarimala. The only thing is that as part of the procedures of austerity stipulated for devotees visiting Sabarimala, there is restriction for women of a specific age group to visit the place.

In Amma’s conception, God is beyond the distinctions of man and woman. But when we consider ‘God’ as a principle and God as a formally consecrated ‘deity’ in a temple, there is subtle difference that we must take into account. God is indeed an infinite consciousness. But a deity inside a temple is not exactly same.

There is a difference between the two — like the difference between fish in the seas and the ornamental fish carefully nurtured at homes in the glass tanks. If you don’t feed food at proper intervals for the fish in the tank, they cannot be sustained. But we don’t have to bother about feeding the fish in the seas; In the same way, for formerly consecrated temple deities, we have to conduct daily pujas, offer sanctified food, do special pujas on special occasions as per prescribed norms in the Shastras or else, the divine consciousness existing in the deities would get deteriorated.

On the other hand, God as an omnipresent and omniscient entity will not get affected anyway whether formal worship is done to Him or not.

Just like the different fish types in the glass tank require provision for oxygen and feeding of specifically formulated fish food, different deities in temples require different and specific mantras for worship and procedures for cleanliness and purity to be maintained in the temple. The mantras meant for a smiling deity would be different from the mantras of the same deity conceived in an expression of anger (rowdra bhava). Even though the same divine power permeates everywhere, the specific ways and practices in which the deities in specific temples have been conceived are different.

With regard to Sabarimala, the faith of the devotees of Lord Ayyappa is that the rules and procedures of austerities prescribed for the temple are based on the wish of Lord Ayyappa who undertook penance in the hills as a ‘Nitya Brahmachari’ (ever celibate) and prescribed the regulations before he entered into samadhi. It is based on this belief that ‘Malikappurathamma’ is still waiting outside and those devotees who follow the prescribed austerities and procedures can visit and have a darshan of the lord.

Since devotees follow such a strict regimen (including sense control) , it is not right to demand that young women should be permitted entry in to Sabarimala and olden practices and rules should be changed accordingly.

It is not right to demand that all the temple conventions should be thrown to dust. Such practices and conventions are like pillars holding the dharma.

If at all there is a such a need for change, actually it is the women, who are ardent devotees of Lord Ayyappa, are the ones to state their stand on this matter. After getting such an opinion, let the Government, temple shastra pundits and the priests sit together, discuss it and come to a decision. If there is really a need, then rules may be reviewed and changed; but is should not end up like bathing a child repeatedly for cleanliness with water and then throwing away the remnant water along with the child!”

To what extent Hinduism has reached the west? Who are the main saints that contributed in spreading Hinduism’s concepts across the globe?

Hinduism is spreading around the world definitely, but not by conversion but by acceptance of Sanatana Dharma (Hindu’s dharmic way of life) by so many followers who won’t figure in any national census identified as Hindus!

Hinduism as a religion practised at a commoner level (worship of different God forms, formal temple worship, rituals etc) may not be spreading (except perhaps for Krishna Consciousness Movement by ISKCON) globally. Unlike abrahamic religions with one god and one holy book, Hinduism has so many  facets. Hence there is is virtually no commonly acceptable mode of conversion to Hinduism. There is no ‘business’ of religious conversion to Hinduism ever existing in it. There is virtually no impetus in Hinduism to convert people of other religions.

Hinduism has such a wide base that there are umpteen paths within it for one to practice Hinduism. One path of Hinduism that is most appealing to many well educated westerners is Jyana Yoga (The path of Knowledge) and Vedanta (essence of Upanishads). Many non-Hindus with spiritual mindset get hooked Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita and they start getting right answers to their nagging doubts on spirituality not satisfactorily answered in their religions.

And there is the contribution of great spiritual masters and Avatara Purushas of Hinduism who have influenced a lot of non-Hindus to the spiritual paths open to them in Hinduism. There are countless followers of these masters across the world:

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886) and Swamy Vivekananda (1862–1902) — Sri Ramakrishna Paramahmsa was a rustic Bengali with little formal education who is considered a Divine Avatar that revived and re-validated practically all major paths and sects of Hinduism during British rule in India.His prime disciple Swami Vivekananda travelled to America and spread the wisdom of Vedanta to eager beavers in the west. At his prompting, a few the other disciples of Ramakrishna — Swami Saradananda, Swami Turiyananda, Swami Trigunatitananda and Swami Abedananda travelled to west and spread the message of Vedanta.

(Picture above: Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa &Swami Vivekananda)

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s talks and discussions on multifarious aspects of Hinduism in the most simplified and easily digestible fashion were recorded and made available in a book The gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by his house holder disciple Sri Mahendranath Gupta. It was later translated into English by Swami Nikilananda. This is one magnum opus in Hindu spiritual literature that is being read and re-read by countless spiritual seekers cutting across all sects and sub-sects of Hinduism and all other religiously and spiritually inclined people across the the world, across religions.

Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta Society building, Boston, USA

Swami Rama Tirtha

Swamy Rama Tirta (1876–1906): He travelled Japan and USA in 1902 and influenced lots of Buddhists and Christians towards Hinduism. He spoke on practical Vedanta to Amrican audience. He was a true sanyasi in the sense that he travelled to USA and several other countries totally without carrying any money or luggage.

 

 

 

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If the self is already eternal, deathless, and one with Brahman, why do I have to make any spiritual effort in life?

Yes. All gurus, all scriptures say that my Self is already eternal, deathless and one with Brahman. Yes, I nod in agreement.

But I am worried about my debts; I get restless if my food is not served in time. I hate my neighbor for whatever omissions and commissions he does. I just cannot accept that he is also Brahman like me!

I am having pain on my left shoulders and I am deeply worried — is it the symptom for impending heart attack? What will I do if attack comes suddenly? Oh! I am scared of death. Who will look after my family if I die suddenly?

So, my theoretical knowledge that I am deathless and I am Brahman is absolutely useless to me, until I experience that state so that I remain in bliss always with no mundane worries.

Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says that if you write ‘ honey’ in a piece of paper and lick it, it will not taste sweet. She further says that it is indeed true that a tree is contained in the seed. We are like seed now. For the seed to become a tree, it has to go into earth, its outer sheath should split so that the sprout comes. Conditions should be favourable too. A seed fallen on a rockey surface or in a desert is not likely to sprout. It should get water, nutrients etc to grow. Climate should be favorable. When all things are favorable, only then the seed will become a tree and bear fruits.

That’s why spiritual effort is needed “for the seed to become a tree”. Going into the earth indicates surrender (to guru). Outer sheath breaking indicates breaking of one’s ego. Ambience, climate etc becoming favorable indicates guru kripa.

Amma says “kalam, pryatnam , and Easwara kripa” (Time, effort and divine grace) are the 3 things essential for success.

Mata Amritanandamayi – FAQ on Amma

  1. Who is Amma?

Amma (meaning, mother) is Mata Amritanandamayi, a lady Hindu Saint, a God-realized (or self-realized) sage, a true knower of Universal Self (Brahma Gnyani) , who is considered an Avatar (God descended to earth in Human form, according to Hindu beliefs) and a Satguru (a spiritual teacher of the highest order) whose expression of divinity is through her unsurpassed expression of love towards all beings.

  1. How old is Amma? What was her original name? Where was she born? Who are her parents? Where is her place?

Bhavatarini Kali Temple, Amritapuri Ashram

Amma is now 64 years old . Her original name was Sudhamani. She was born on 27/09/1953 in a fishermen community, at a remote village (Parayakadavu/ Vallikkavu) near the Arabian sea about 20 km away from Kayamkulam town in Kerala State, in South India.

Her father’s name is Sugunananthan and her mother’s name is Dhamayanti. Sudhamani was their third child. Sudhamani had 4 brothers (one elder and the rest younger) and 3 sisters (one elder and the rest, younger).

It is in this small village is her Ashram Mata Amritanandamayi Math is situated. This place is now called Amtitapuri. In the limited strip of land between the Arabian sea and back waters, the Ashram’s sprawling complex comprising of a temple, a large Darshan Hall and a few multi-storeyed residential apartments for all her disciples and devotees is situated.

  1. Why is she called Amma?

The word Amma in Tamil and Malayalam means mother. She is considered the avatar of the Universal Divine Mother (varyingly called Parasakthi, Jagat Janani, Jagadamba, Rajarajeshwari, Parvati, Vaishnavi, Maha Maya, Kali and so on, who, according to holy mythology, is the divine consort of Lord Shiva). For Amma, every one in this world, irrespective of whether he/she is younger or older than her, is her child and all her children call her Amma. Amma’s love to her children is unconditional and she has no barriers of caste, color, creed, religion or anything else to express her motherly love to one and all. The young Sudhamani, who was later christened Mata Amritanandamayi by her devotees, thus became the mother of one and all and a “hugging saint” right from her 22nd age.

  1. Why is Amma called the “Hugging Saint”?

In Hinduism, going and seeing a God in a temple or seeing a Saint is referred to as having a “darshsan”. Darshan means seeing. In India, it’s the practice that great Saints stand or sit at a distance and his devotees will go and prostrate before him/ her to express their reverence. Some Saints will permit touching of their feet by close disciples. In Hinduism it is the practice to touch the feet of holy and elderly people as a mark of reverence and this touching of the feet of a divinely person is believed to bestow us good spiritual fortune.

It is also believed that any bodily touch of the saint will transfer one’s sins to the saints and this way one gets purified, but the saint who has accepted the sins will have to go through the physical suffering for having accepted the sins of others. So, except on very special occasions or considerations, all and sundry will not be encouraged touch the saints.

Amma’s way of giving ‘darshan’ is to individually embrace each person.

That’s totally absent in Amma’s case. Amma, out of her unbridled love on all her children, gives “dashan” to every individual by embracing him/ her physically. Whether one is healthy, clean or unclean – as unclean as a leper whose skin oozes with pus, Amma embraces one and all.

Perhaps the term “hugging saint” was coined by western media when Amma visited USA first in the year 1987.

  1. In Hinduism, isn’t it said that a Guru is needed for one to attain self-realization? If so, who is Amma’s guru?

Amma is a divine incarnation. She is a swayambu (self manifested); she is not of the normal class of spiritual aspirants who can seek the ultimate truth only through the guidance of a Guru.

But, Amma was soaked in the deepest divine bhakthi (love of God) right from her childhood. Her yearning to have a vision of her beloved God, Krishna was consuming her like a flame; she cried unceasingly for uniting with her beloved lord; her whole of waking consciousness was enveloped in that single thought. Songs praising her lord and begging for his darshan poured out from her lips involuntarily.

With all this at one side, she had abundant energy to do physical domestic work, which she did tirelessly for her family; her parents understood nothing of her divinity; they thought she was mentally insane. Her very dark complexion was a subject of distaste for them. They showed no interest to educate her formally. Apart from a little of primary education that enabled Amma to read and write in Malayalam (her mother tongue), Amma had no worthy “worldly” education to speak of.

This sort of unceasing and all consuming love of God, is called Parabhakthi in Hinduism. It is also known as Prema Bhakthi. Chaitanya Deva (a saint of Eastern India) had such a divine love for Krishna in the past. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, another saint of the past from Bengal had this divine love on his beloved Holy Mother Kali.

Through this power of Prema Bhakthi, saints realize God. That’s how Amma realized Lord Krishna; Lord Krishna merged into her and became one with her. At her 20th age, Amma became a realized soul.

  1. Then why is it said Amma is a divine incarnation of Universal Mother?

Amma, after realizing God in the form of Krishna (Purusha, the male principle) was then caught in a tempest of love on the Universal Mother (Prakriti, the female principle). It was her second phase of prema bhakti on God, now directed at the female principle. After going through a maddeningly intense “tapas” (severe spiritual austerities) to have the vision of her “true mother”, without virtually missing even a second to keep calling her “Amma”, amma realized her goal; she ultimately found Divine mother revealing her glorious form and eventually merging in her. It happened at her age of about 22.

  1. Wait. You say, Lord Krishna merged in Amma. Then you say, Universal Mother merged in Amma. But you said earlier that Amma is a divine incarnation of the Universal Mother. Isn’t all confusing?

One requires a deeper understanding of Hinduism to grasp all these. In Hinduism, there is only one God, known as Brahman (also called Paramatman, the supreme Atman), who is all pervading, is without beginning or end, and is beyond name and form. But the same Universal being, when related to the physical realm of the world and the cosmos with names and forms, becomes the creater, sustainer and the destroyer. He, in this role, is attributed with names and forms and is amenable for worshiping as Ishwara (God). Hindus have the freedom to worship Ishwara in any form very dear to their heart.

A Hindu can worship God as Vishnu ( the protector), Shiva (the destroyer), the Shakti (the Universal Mother), or in any forms of divine incarnations like Rama, Krishna and so on. Ignoring names and forms, it is the same God who is the in-dweller in all beings as Atman, because the God and his creation are not two entities.

Depending on the extent of one’s self awareness, one perceives God as a separate entity as Ishwara (the Dwaita – duality concept) , or as Paramatman — the soul of the individual soul (Vishitadwaita – the qualified non-duality concept) and as Atman (one’s own Self, being the Absolute reality, with nothing second existing — the Advaita, non-duality principle).

All these 3 states are true in some way or other, depending on the extent of one’s realization of the ultimate truth. While Advaita, the non-dualistic state is the ultimate truth which is realized by a qualified seeker at an exalted state where the “I” consciousness becomes totally absent, the other states also become relative truths as one descends back to worldly consciousness — when “I” and “you” are perceived.

For a person of Amma’s level of attainment, Advaita is the state of attainment and state of being. But, purely out of compassion to serve the society and guide all earnest seekers to realize the ultimate truth, Amma descends to the mundane level and plays her divine act with all of us, like a person acting in a drama with different masks and makeup.

Amma, though, in her true state remains as Atman, with nothing secondary to it, she, at the relative level, sports a “bhava”, a divine mood. When, as a seeker, she loved the lord (Ishwara) in the form of Krishna (who is nothing but the all pervading Atman, but now worshiped with name and form), she realized her own Atman and it was experienced as if the Lord Krishna merged in her. The same explanation holds good for divine experience and mood –“bhava” as a divine mother.

Amma, though originally expressed her divine bhava as Krishna, she, later opted to express her bhava as Divine mother too. Still later, she opted to express only the divine mood as Universal mother – Devi Bhava and discontinued her Krishna Bhava.

It’s Hindu’s belief that God descends to earth to uplift mankind and show ways to salvation from time to time, based on the specific needs of the time. As Amma displays her divine bhava more as a mother, her devotees hail her as an Avatar of Universal mother.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says “Avatar is only for the sake of Bhaktas (lovers of God). Gnyanis (seekers of True Knowledge without sentimental emotion to forms of God) have no significance to the idea of Avatar”.

Thus from a bhakta’s viewpoint, Amma is an Avatar — the Avatar of the Universal Divine Mother. From the intellectual seekers’ view point, Amma is a Gnyani — Knower of Atman, a self-realized soul, a jivan mukta (one who has attained deathless state while being alive), or one who has attained, from a Buddhist viewpoint, Nirvana. For an earnest spiritual seeker looking for spiritual guidance, Amma is a Satguru.

8.  Let her be God, Avatar or whatever. What is that she has done for the world? In what way has she contributed for the welfare of the mankind? People say she is now heading a multi-million dollar empire?

Amma’s every breath is for the welfare of the mankind. She sets examples; she inspires countless people to serve the world. Thousands of devotees from all walks of life come to her and join her with their money and resources to serve the world in so many ways. That’s how so many of her institutions have sprung up.

She has inspired thousands of young  men and women to renounce worldly life and lead a life of brahmacharya, do spiritual practices and seva; countless householders have left behind their comforts of life to settle in the ashram and do service as well as sadhana.

Embracing the World is a global network of regional humanitarian organizations inspired by the  Mata Amritanandamayi Math. Embracing the World exists to help alleviate the burden of the world’s poor through helping to meet each of their five basic needs — food,  shelterhealthcareeducation, and livelihood — wherever and whenever possible.

If you want to know what she has done to the world, here is a brief list:

Disaster relief

Left: Post tsunami, houses constructed at Nagapattinam             Right: Flats constructed for tsunami affected people in Sri Lanka.

  • 2001 Gujarat Earthquake – Construction of 1200 earth quake resistant homes for the affected people.
  • 2004 Tsunami in India and Sri Lanka – built 6200 Tsunami-resistant houses, supplied 700  new fishing boats, constructed an evacuation bridge (in case of similar future calamities) , providing vocational training to 2500 victims and so on.
  • 2005 Hurricane Katrina relief in USA – donating $1 million to Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund
  • 2005 Earthquake in Kashmir – Free food and medical supplies
  • 2005 Mumbai floods, 2006 Gujarat floods, 2008 Bihar floods — Over $1.5 million spent in medical aid, food supplies and shelter.
  • 2009 Cyclone Aila, West Bengal — medical care and food supplies
  • 2009 Floods in Karnataka and Andhra –$10.7 million relief package including medical care, food, supplies and building of 1000 homes for displaced refugees.
  • 2010 Haiti Earth quake — Mediacl supplies, blankets, providing scholarship to students
  • 2011 Japan earth quake & tsunami — $ 1 million relief focusing on children orphaned in the disaster.
  • 2012 LPG Tanker & Fireworks disasters in south India —  Aid to families of dead and injured.
  • 2013 Uttarakhand floods — Rs 50 Cr0re relief package to construct 500 houses destroyed in the Uttarakhand  in 42 selected villages in the districts of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi. Also cover educational scholarships, pension to widows and women empowerment activities.
  • 2013 Typhoon Haiyan relief at Philippines — Mata Amritanandamayi Center, USA donates 1 million dollar aid for people affected.
  • 2015 Chennai Floods — Supply of food and medicines, Rs 5 Crore donation to Chief Minister’s relief fund.

== Chennai Flood relief == Br. Abhayamrita Chaitanya distributing food packets to affected localities. Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri handing over cheque for Rs.5 Crores to TN Chief Minister Jayalalitha.

Free Housing

  • Completion of 45,000 homes for the poor throughout  India

Other Aid Projects

  • Providing 41,000 scholarships to children of impoverished farmers, with a goal to reach 1,00,000 students.
  • Empowering 1,00,00 women by providing startup capital, vocational education and access to micro credit loan
  • Organic farming initiative to support 10,000 poor people to grow organic vegitables in their own land.
  • Orphanages for 500 children in Parippally, Kerala and 50 children in Nairobi.
  • Yearly feeding of over 10 million poor people inside India, 1,00,000 people outside India including 75,000 in USA via Soup kitchens
  • Pensions for 59,000 destitute women and the physically and mentally challenged, with a goal to reach 1.00,000 such people.
  • Running 4 care homes for the elderly in India
  • Prisoner-welfare project in USA provides solace for prison inmates
  • 2015 — Rs.100 Crores donated for constructing toilets in the poorest villages surrounding the Ganges River as part of Swachh Bharat and Namami Gange project.
  • 2015 — Another 100 Crore project for constructing toilets in the houses of the poor in Kerala.
  • 2017 —  Rs.200 Crore project of providing filtered and clean drinking water to 5000 villages in India, to benefit 10 million people in rural areas.

A typical filtering package set up in each village for providing clean, filtered water under Amrita’s Jivamritam scheme.

Health Care

AMRITA INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES  (AIMS) (Ernakulam)

  • Not-for-profit 1,300 bed hospital (210 bed ICU) providing advanced health care to patients including free medical care for the poor.
  • serving more than 10 lakh outpatients and more than 70,000 inpatients annually. The massive healthcare infrastructure with over 3.33 million sq.ft. of built-up area, spread over 125 acres of land, supports a daily patient volume of approximately 3500 outpatients with 95 percent inpatient occupancy. There are 12 superspeciality departments, 45 other departments.
  • More than 2.6 million people have have received complete free treatment since 1998.
  • Telemedicine support for hospitals and more than 40 remote centres across India and parts of Africa.
  • Free health check up in remote areas providing preventive health care.
  • Five branch hospitals providing free care to the poor
  • AIDS care home at Trivandrum and Cancer Hospice at Mumbai
  • Free palliative in-home care for the terminally ill
  • Conducting more than 100 free medical camps annually throughout India
  • Providing 1,00,000 women with training to become in-home nurses in more than 6000 self-help groups
  • AYURVEDIC MEDICARE through Amrita School of Ayurveda (Amritapuri) with 160 bed hospital

Higher Education 

  • Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University) having 5 campuses with Schools of Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Arts and sciences, Biotechnology, Business, Journalism, Ayurveda and Education. More than 20,000 students and 1,500 faculty members. (NAAC A grade University).
  • Amrita Research Labs and other research departments are continuously involved in developing innovations in communication, e-learning, computer sciences and Biotechnology.
  • 30 leading Universities worldwide including Stanford, MIT, NYU, EPFL in Switzerland, VU in Amsterdam, TU Munich, Roma Tre, ETH Zurich and the University of Tokyo cooperate with Amrita University to enhance higher education and research in India.
  • Institute of People’s Education provides job training and community development.
  • United Nations commended literacy-training program for the tribal populations

Elementary and Secondary Education

  • 47 Amrita Vidyalayam schools throughout India, providing value-based holistic approach to learning
  • A school for hearing-impaired children in Kerala

Spiritual, Cultural

Aerial View of Amritapuri Ashram 2017. The Arabian sea on the right, the TS Canal at the left and the middle strip of land is Alappad. Amritapuri Ashram is studded with multi-storeyed buildings.  The Amrit Sethu bridge can be seen at the left.

  • Mata Amritanandamayi Math – Amritapuri Ashram (Kerala India) is the international headquarters for Amma’s service work, which is carried out through hundreds of branch centers and service groups world-wide.
  • The Ashram houses several hundreds of Brahmacharis, Brahmacharinis, Householder devotees, monks, hostel students, westerners and so on.
  • IAM  (Integrated Amrita Meditation) Technique and Amrita Yoga are taught free throughout the world.
  • Spiritual books and magazines (‘Matruvani’) printed at the ashram in multiple languages are distributed to devotees across the country and world.
  • Regular shastra (scriptural teaching) classes are conducted in the Ashram.
  • AYUDH is the youth wing of Amma’s devotees and followers inspiring youngsters in  leading a balanced life including spirituality and seva as part of worldly life.
  • GreenFriends initiative cutivates reference for Nature and has arranged and inspired planting more than 1 million trees since 2001.

TO KNOW MORE ABOUT AMMA AND HER DETAILED LIFE TIMELINE, CLICK <HERE>

To watch Video on Amma’s global activities:

EMBRACING THE WORLD WITH HER ABUNDANT LOVE AND HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES

Does Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) give Mantra Diksha? If so, mantra of which God? When does she give Diksha?

Yes. Satguru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) does give Mantra Diksha to her devotees and earnest spiritual seekers. She gives them selectively, at her own discretion, when a request is made to her while taking her darshan. She gives mantra diksha to householder devotees as well as to renunciates and Brahmacharis & Brahmacharinis. She selectively gives diksha to non-Indian, non-Hindu devotees too. Several of her western devotees have taken diksha from her.

What sort of mantra does Amma give?

Amma mostly gives diksha to devotees based on their existing Ishta (personal God) – It could be Shiva, Devi Parashakti, Kali, Rama, Krishna, Vishnu and so on). On some specific cases, she may give an alternative mantra (other than the seeker’s Ishta) too, as she knows the innate nature and tendency of the person whom she is giving Mantra.

There are also cases where a person has already taken diksha from elsewhere (like Sri Ramakrishna Math, for example) and may want Amma to give him mantra again. In some cases, Amma may advise the person to continue with the old mantra.

A lot depends on Amma’s assessment of a person’s samksaras.  For some, she may ask to wait for some more time before asking for mantra.

When does Amma give Mantra?

A person who wants to take Mantra diksha from Amma has to request her when he/ she is taking darshan from Amma. If Amma agrees, the person has to wait till the darshan comes to the end on that night. Amma will give diksha at Amritapuri Ashram as well as at other places where she tours. Diksha will be given only on her darshan days and not on non-darshan days. When Amma is in Amritapuri, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays are the normal darshan days.

Depending on the crowd, Amma’s darshan may end at any time in night — before midnight, after midnight, early in the morning etc. Those who want to take diksha from her are expected to wait till the darshan ends at whatever time.

Announcement will be made in the TV screens calling the persons who are waiting to take mantra diksha to assemble at one designated place near the dais. Amma’s assistants will note down your Ishta Devata or your preferred God and hand over to you a Mantra card containing your mantra (to be kept secret with you and not to be disclosed to anybody) and the necessary instructions regarding preparations and practices of chanting the Mantra.

Before Amma leaves the stage after giving darshan to all the people, she calls the people who are waiting for receiving the mantra. Amma hugs each person and whispers the specific mantra meant for the person into his/her ear. She blesses them by sprinkling flowers on their head and giving them a prasad.  Except for waiting for this time to arrive, there are absolutely no other procedures involved.

If one needs any clarifications or has any doubts, they can always approach the assistants and they will help you.

 

Why Amma always speaks high of her mother who had given her so much of hardship in her younger days?

 27th August 2013, Tuesday

Why does Amma always speak high of her mother who had given her so much of hardship in her younger days?” this was a question posed by a westerner to Amma on the Satsang.

The gist of Amma’s reply was as below:

Amma always believes that whatever happened has happened only for good. Dhamayantiamma had so many good principles and values that she practiced with extraordinary strictness and she was very particular that Amma too learned and practiced them.

She had so much awareness about so many things. If Amma spilled a few grains while cleaning the rice, Dhamayantiamma would say “Are you capable of creating one rice grain yourself? Then how can you carelessly waste it?”. Even a match stick should not be wasted unnecessarily. If Amma has to light up fire, she has to go approach a neighbor and if they have got fire at their kitchen or at their wick lamp, fire should be obtained from there.

If a piece of paper is left behind on the floor while sweeping, she would  shout for the lack of shraddha in doing a job perfectly. Moreover, a piece of paper is an aspect of Goddess of Learning, Saraswathi. If someone puts a foot over it, it amounts to showing disrespect to Goddess Saraswathi. Dhamayantiamma could not permit it.

While grinding ‘masala’ in the grinding stone, Amma would loudly chit chat. That was not an acceptable behavior. When you chit chat, there is a chance that your spittle may drop on the preparation and it was very unhygienic. Dhamayantiamma would give a beating or two if Sudhamani does not keep her mouth shut at that time.

Dhamayanti Amma (Amma’s mother)

If Dhamayantiamma says “You should not do it” Amma will say “I will”. If Dhamayantiamma shouts at her, Amma would shout back  louder than her! If Dhamayantiamma comes to beat her, Amma would grip her hands and  try to thwart her from hitting her! All these would naturally bring Dhamyanthiamma to boiling point and instead of getting one beating, Amma would end up getting 10 beatings!

Dhamayantiamma was very particular that her daughters should never get any bad name or reputation. Girls to be married off should have modesty, sound character, be soft spoken, be feminine,  be excellent in domestic chores and so on in her standards. But Amma those days had a Tom-boyish behavior that naturally did not fit into Dhamayanthiamma’s scheme of things. If Amma had received so much of beatings those days, it was more due to Amma’s egotism and adamant behavior at her young age.

In her young age, brimming with energy, Amma would not differentiate a work which are normally done by men. Once Amma was returning from Vallikkavu and came to the backwaters to take a rowing boat (‘kadatthu vallam’) to reach home. (There was no bridge those days and boat was the only mode of transport). Boatmen had retired for lunch time.Some elderly women and children were waiting for the boatman for a long time. One woman was lamenting that her children were hungry at home; she had just bought the provisions and only after returning home with that she could start cooking. If the wait had to be longer, the children had to suffer in hunger. She was feeling restless.

Amma could not just tolerate the woman’s mental anguish. She decided to row the boat herself even though she had no experience in rowing the large Kadatthu Vallam;. The bamboo stick was too heavy and too tall for her small stature! It was indeed a tough man’s job! But undaunted, Amma started pushing the boat using the stick
, keeping the women and children seated in it. Soon the boat was swaying this way and that way dangerously, but still started progressing towards the opposite shore!

Seeing what young Sudhamani (Amma) is doing, people started gathering at both the shores wondering as to what would happen. Will she end up capsizing the boat and sinking all into the backwaters? Or will she manage to reach the opposite shore? Dhamayanthiamma too rushed to the banks of the backwaters hearing the commotion going around!

Sudhamani somehow successfully managed to cross the backwaters and reach the bank! There was excitement all around and Dhamayantiamma was totally nonplussed! Oh what a shame this Sudhamani had brought to the family! Doing things that only males are supposed to do! If she is so rough and tough, who would ever come forward to marry her?! Needless to mention that Amam got her choicest beatings from her mother that day!

Guests would keep on coming to Dhamayantiamma’s home at all odd hours and whomsoever comes had to be served with tea. That’s the strict rule of hospitality of Dhamayantiamma. Firewood  would be constantly needed. If nothing is immediately available, Sudhamani would not hesitate to climb a coconut tree nearby to pull out a dry branch handing there! A girl climbing a tree? Oh no! Blasphemous! Sudhamani would end up with  a few beatings for her act of chivalry!

Dhamayantiamma truly treated guests as Gods. She would unhesitatingly sacrifice her food to feed a guest. She would give away a new cloth to a guest and she would wear an old one. Guests would get space to lie inside the house and Dhamayantiamma would not mind her sleeping at the courtyard. A beggar coming hungry knocking at her doors would never be turned away.

The sense of togetherness with neighbors that Dhamayantiamma displayed too was so striking. When Dhamayantiamma directed Amma to fetch fire from any neighboring house, she would instruct Amma that if the house she visited was untidy, she should sweep that house; if utensils were there uncleaned, she should clean them before coming back home with the fire.

Whether it is cleanliness, awareness in actions, faith and piety on God,  practicing austerities or undertaking fast with a vow, Dhamayantiamma was thorough. Amma had seen many times that when Dhamayantiama undertakes fast on a day, a tender coconut would fall on its own from the tree in the evening to enable her finish her fast!

It is for such possession of great qualities that Amma respects her mother.