1. How golden shower tree came in to being
[Amma: “The ‘Vishu’ signifies beginning of a new year when we submit all that we have to God and pray for his blessings. Surrendering to God brings us all prosperities. The golden-shower flowers (Konnai), cucumber and a pot full of coins represent beauty and prosperity. The blooming of golden shower trees everywhere during this period is such a feast for eyes. When nature is rich, it reflects richness in our lives too. There is a folklore associated with the Golden shower tree and the Vishu festival:”.]
Long ago, there lived a brahmin boy who was deeply devoted to Lord Krishna. He would get up early in the morning and go to a nearby temple daily for worship of his beloved lord. He would do archana with flowers.
The boy’s family lived in utter poverty. His mother was always sick and bedridden. Some times, he would cry his heart out to Lord Krishna about the pitiable state of his family. One day he returned home after completing his prayers in the temple. He was feeling very hungry and was extremely tired too. He lied down on a mat for resting and soon went into deep sleep.
He had a dream. Lord Krishna came to him and smiled at him enchantingly. He played the flute to entertain the boy. He stroked the boy’s face and back with his hands to soothe him. Then Krishna took out a little bell from his golden waistband and put it in the boy’s palms. Krishna disappeared immediately.
The boy woke up immediately. He was surprised to see a little golden bell in his palm. He could not believe his eyes. With unabated excitement, he ran to his mother and said. “Ma, Krishna came to me in my dreams and gave me this golden bell!”
His mother did not believe him. She was angry at him thinking that he might have stolen the golden chime from the ornaments of lord Krishna at the temple and chided him for his misdeed.
The boy felt extremely upset and he threw away the bell. It fell under a tree in their courtyard. What a surprise! The tree immediately blossomed. It bore bunches of flowers in golden color, each looking exactly like the little golden bell that the boy threw away. It was indeed the ‘Konna’ tree (Sarakkondrai – Golden Shower tree)!
Seeing this, the mother was struck with wonder. Then a divine voice was heard. It said: “From now onward this tree will bear these golden yellow flowers every year on this same day. Those who look at it first in the morning will be bestowed with all prosperity. “
From that day, the boy’s family started prospering. The mother got cured of her illness. The day was called ‘Vishu’ and this day signifies the arrival of divine blessings to those who pray with sincere and pure heart.
(Source: Tamil Oliyai Nokki – Vol 3)
2. Real devotion (1)
Once a king, who was a great devotee of Shiva built a magnificent temple for Lord Shiva. He made elaborate arrangements for the ritualistic consecration of the main deity. The date was also set for the ceremony.
On the day before the consecration ceremony, Lord Shiva appeared in the king’s dream and said, “My son, I am very satisfied with your devotion and all the efforts you have put to construct a nice temple for me. However, I am sorry that I will not be available in your temple tomorrow at the time of the consecration ceremony. I have to go to another temple’s consecration ceremony arranged at the same auspicious hours tomorrow, because that temple and all the preparations done for the ceremony are far more grander than yours”.
Lord Shiva also told the king the name of the devotee (Poosalar Nayanar) and his address in a village where the consecration of the temple built by him was to take place the next day.
The king woke up at that moment. He thought, ‘Is that temple far more grander than what I have built? Then I must have a look at it’.
The next day morning, surrounded by his royal entourage the king went to the village. To his surprise, he did not find any new temple there. He inquired about the person (Poosalar) that Lord Shiva had mentioned to him in the dream and went in search of his house. Another surprise awaited him there. It was actually a very dilapidated hut. As the king peeped inside, he saw a poor man in tattered clothes sitting there and immersed in deep meditation.
The king felt amused. “Oh! Is this poor man the great devotee that built a temple?” he thought. He prayed to Lord Shiva to clarify his doubt.
At that time, Lord Shiva blessed him with a vision by which he could get a projection of what was going in the poor man’s mind in his deep meditation.
What he saw in the vision was a great, grand temple, far more wonderful than the temple built by the king. People holding thousands of pots of Ganga water were performing abhishekam to the deity in the temple. He could here blowing of conches and loud chanting of vedic mantras. Many saints and sages and celestial Gods were present there to watch the holy ceremony. In the Shivalinga being consecrated, Lord Shiva was present and he was blessing all the devotees gathered there.
On seeing it, the king’s pride crumbled. He understood the intensity of devotion the poor villager had on Lord Shiva. He fell at the feet of Poosalar with reverence and humility.
[Amma: “Children, we must indeed establish and consecrate God in our heart. Not understanding this, most of us give too much importance to external austerities and aggrandisement of worships and rituals. Our heart must be filled with devotion and purity. Mind should become one pointed on God; then God will shine there for ever.”]
3. True faith
Once a man was travelling with his wife in a ship. Oneday, there was a sudden change in climate. The sky was covered with thick dark clouds. It started raining and soon the wind started blowing very powerfully. The ship started swaying dangerously on account of the storm.
All the travellers in the ship got extremely scared. They started shouting and crying. While the man’s wife too started weiling out of fear, the man was keeping his cool. He was trying his best to comfort his wife but he could not succeed. All his efforts to assuage her anxiety and tension did not yield any result. The man lost all his patience. He opened his baggage, took out a pistol and holding it at her temple he shouted, “I am fed up with your cries. If you don’t stop immediately, I will shoot you”.
The wife was least disturbed by seeing the pistol nor by his threat. She said, “Do you really think I will get scared by your threat? No way!”
“Are you not afraid seeing this pistol, with my finger ready to press the trigger?” asked the husband.
She said, “I know that with a single shot the pistol can kill me. But as long as it is in the hand of my beloved husband, I have the least fear about it. I know pretty well that you will not think of doing even a minor harm to me!”
The man said, “In the same way, I know pretty well that the control of this storm is in the hands of God whom I always worship. I have complete faith that God will not do anything harmful to me. That’s why I am least disturbed about this storm; whatever comes I will face it boldly, because I am under His protection always”.
[Amma: “Children, whatever difficult situations we come across life, we must have the firm faith that God’s hands are behind it; if we have that conviction, then we can face the situation without any fear. This does not mean that we don’t have to make any effort on our part. Whatever we could do within our capacity, let us do it; anything beyond it, leave them to God’s will and accept whatever He deems fit. If we develop such an attitude, we can always live with mental peace in our life”.]
(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)
4. Real devotion (2)
Once a king, went to a forest for hunting, along with his soldiers. While chasing some wild animals, he lost his way and got separated from the accompanying soldiers. As he started searching for the path. it started raining heavily. The king got drenched fully; he started shivering in cold. Finally, after walking for long, he located a small Krishna Temple. There was also a hut adjacent to it. He went to the hut; an old priest and his wife were staying alone in the hut.
They welcomed the guest and offered him a towel to dry himself. They offered him simple clothing so that he could remove his dress soaked in rain. They offered food to the king and offered him bed to sleep for the night.
Early next morning, the soldiers came there in search of the king and were very happy to see him there in the hut safe and alive. The king was extremely pleased with the care and comfort offered to him by the old couple. He wanted to present them with 100 gold coins. The old priest politely refused to accept it. He said, “God is giving us whatever is essential for us to lead a peaceful life.”
The king was extremely surprised to hear this. He said, “You both are now old. What will happen if you fall sick? I will do one thing. Let me build a new house for you. I will engage someone to take care of you and serve you”.
But the old priest again refused to accept any of them. He said, “We have no thought or worries about falling sick. Our God, who is verily Dhanvantri (Vishnu’s form as God of Medicines) is always with us and protecting us.”
Despite being poor, the face of the old couple glowed with contentment and unfailing devotion to God. The king bowed his head in admiration of their conduct and took leave of them.
(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)
5. Not from books
Once there lived a doctor, who was quite an experienced person who commanded lots of respect from the his patients for his treating skills.
One of his junior doctors called him over phone and said in a frantic voice, “Doctor, I need your urgent advice. Here is a boy who has swallowed a small ball; he is in deep trouble and find it difficult to breathe. I have tried my best to pull out the ball but I could not succeed. Please suggest me some solution; it is very urgent”.
The doctor said, “Do one thing; pick up a feather of a peacock and start tickling him”.
The junior could not believe his ears. “Doctor, are you sure this is the treatment? I have never studied such a thing in the medical books!”
The doctor said, “Go ahead and try what I said. Don’t delay” and he hung the phone.
Having no other recourse, the junior doctor did what the senior advised.
After a while the senior doctor’ phone rang again. The junior spoke in an excited voice: “Doctor! What a wonder! I did as you said; initially the boy was looking scared; then once I started tickling him, he started giggling and laughing and gradually the ball came out! Doctor! Where did you read about such a treatment?”
The Doctor said, “If I have no other recourse to solve the problem, I always try something simple and also out of the way. It is my maxim” .
[Amma: “Even if we are not able to do any great things, just as the boy was saved by a little thing in this story, we can always do something small within our capacity and it can lead to great things”.]
(Source: ‘Amrit Ganga’ Telecast – Season 1 episode 6)
6. Unconditional compassion
Once a man was walking across a dense forest alone. The man saw a tiger watching him from a distance. He got scared and started running. The tiger too started chasing him. In order to save himself, the man quickly climbed over a tree.
The tiger came near the tree and stayed put there, hoping to catch hold of the man somehow or other.
There was another shock waiting for the man at the treetop. He saw a huge bear sitting there! He was extremely scared. What to do now? Should he remain on the tree and get eaten by the bear or jump down from the tree to escape the bear but get caught by the tiger?
Seeing him shaking in fear, the bear spoke to him: “O man! Don’t be scared. I will not kill you. You are my guest.”
The tiger was still waiting below. The man felt very tired and was about to fall asleep. It was getting cold too. The bear said, “If you sleep off sitting there in the branch, you may fall down and the tiger will eat you. Come and hug me to ward off the cold and then sleep. I will keep awake across half of the night. Then during the second half of the night, you keep the vigil and I will sleep.”
The man had no option but to agree. He hugged the bear and felt very warm. He slept off peacefully.
Noticing this, the tiger said to the bear, “ Never trust a human being. Humans are highly selfish and have no sense of dharma. They never hesitate to kill ferocious animals like us for the fun of it. At least we animals kill only for the sake of food and it is our dharma. So, I suggest you to drop the man. I will eat him and satiate my hunger.”
But the bear refused. It said, “He has taken refuge in me. I cannot betray him. You better go away.”
The tiger did not move. It opted to wait.
During the second half of the night, the bear woke up the man and then it started sleeping.
The tiger, noticing it, said to the man: “You are a fool. Never believe this bear. He is not feeling hungry now and that’s why he has not killed and eaten you. But he is sure to consume you for breakfast tomorrow. I suggest you roll the bear down; I will eat him for dinner. I will go away from here after eating him so that you can run away safely from here”.
The man believed what the tiger said. Without any hesitation, he rolled the sleeping bear from the tree top. But the bear woke up mid fall and held on to a branch and started climbing back towards the man. The man, who saw this, was extremely frightened; however, the bear said to him “You had sought refuge in me, I wouldn’t harm you. Even though you betrayed me, I forgive you. You can leave from here tomorrow after the tiger moves away“.
[Amma: “This is the nature of mahatmas. Once they offer refuge to someone, it is unconditional. Even if the person who came into his fold by surrendering to him betrays him, the Mahatma does not forsake him. He bears no ill will. “]
7. What’s God doing?
[ Amma: “We should have śraddha in each action. That śraddha is a part of the prayer; it makes the prayer complete—śraddha as well as proper effort.”]
Once a devotee of God was driving his car on a country side. The road was in a bad condition with lots of potholes and also very narrow. The car’s wheels got stuck in a muddy pit.
The man came out of the car. He did not know what to do. He decided to pray to God for help. He took out his meditation mat from the car and walked up to the top of a small hill nearby. He spread his mat on a flat rock, sat in padmasana posture and started praying to God with closed eyes. He prayed deeply to get the car out of the pit.
After a while, he opened his eyes a little to see whether the car has come out of the pit by God’s grace. Seeing it had not, he immediately began blaming God, “What’s the point of praying to you?” he said angrily.
Suddenly, a voice resounded from the skies, “Son, try pushing the vehicle as you pray.”
(From Amma’s New Year Satsang 2021)
8. The new Mandapa
There was one very famous Temple complex in a town, which was a holy place of pilgrimage and also historically very old.
There was a mandapa (multi-pillared pavilion) in the temple complex which was centuries old and was in a very dilapidated condition. The temple administrative committee was concerned that it was becoming an unsafe place for people to use it as the structure may fall at any time and cause damage. However, considering the holiness of the place and its archaeological significance of the structures, there were differences of opinion amid the committee members on what to do with it. Finally, a draft resolution was made by the committee taking into account all the view points of the members. It read:
1) It is decided that as the existing Mandapa is very dilapidated, it will be demolished.
2) A new mandapa will be built in the same place in line with the architectural features of the old mandapa.
3) The stone pillars, statues and carvings from the old mandapa will be carefully dismantled and they will be utilized for the new structure.
4) Considering the holiness and history of this sacred place, the old mandapa shall not be disturbed.
So, it became obvious that no purposeful action could be taken based on the resolution of the committee!
[ Amma: “There is no point in making grand resolutions unless the hurdles in implementing them are removed.”]
(From Amma’s New Year Satsang 2021)