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Amma’s stories on humility and patience – (13 stories)

1.  Hanuman’s humility

After winning the war in Lanka, Rama returned to Ayodhya. Hanuman and a few other vanaras too came with him and attended his coronation ceremony. Out of their love and devotion to Rama, they opted to stay back with Rama.

After becoming the king, Rama allotted several jobs and responsibilities to his near and dear ones after seeking their opinion, willingness and tastes. Most of them took up respectable and responsible positions in the administration.

When Rama asked Hanuman, Hanuman opted to swat flies. He was humble enough not to seek any prestigious posts for him; he was quite content to do a mean job of swatting the flies! Rama smailed and allowed Hanuman to do such a job.

Everybody became busy with their jobs. People loved to take up their responsibilities and were quite serious in carrying them out. In the process, they were gradually getting distanced from Rama and hardly found time to visit Rama, meet him at his palace or enjoy his divine company.

On the other hand, Hanuman was happily swatting flies. He was keen to keep the palace of Rama free from the menace of flies;  hence he was mostly roaming inside Rama’s residence and being near Rama by fanning Him to ward off flies!

Thus by choosing such a mean job, Hanuman was blessed to be around Rama and enjoy his divine company most of the times!

(Amma satsang on 10/5/19)

2.  Fear of pride

Once there lived a farmer in a village. He was an extremely simple person, kind hearted and a man of virtues. He was loved and respected by other villagers. Pleased with his conduct, God appeared before him and said, “I am very happy about your behavior and I want to give you a boon; May I give you the a power by which if you touch a person with your hand, he will get cured of his diseases?”

The man said, “Oh, no. That will make me too proud and arrogant. I don’t want it”.

The God said, “Then I will make you a pundit so that you can teach others”. The man said, “No. It will make me a proud person who boasts about his knowledge. I don’t want it”.

The God said, “I will make you a Guru; you can be an example for others to emulate”.  The man refused it again and said “No. Others will start glorifying me and fall at my feet. I will get very proud if it happens”.

“Then choose what you want” said God. The farmer said, “Please bless me that wherever I am and whoever I meet, let goodness happen to others,  without my knowledge. Let people who get benefitted by my presence should not even know that it happened because of me”. God felt very pleased and he blessed him.

The man lived his life as usual. Wherever he went ane whomsoever he met good things happened around him. Neither he felt it nor anyone could sense that he radiated such a power.  But somehow people started calling him “shadow of compassion”.

[Amma: “However much a spiritual aspirant is advanced, he will have a seed of ego still existing deep inside him. Only he attains oneness with the Truth, that seed of ego will die. Till then it has the potential to sprout again. Every sadaka has to be very watchful to ensure that the ego does not sprout and grow to be a big tree”.]

(Amma Onam Satsang 11/09/19)

3.  The rounded stone

Once a man was on the lookout for a nice round stone for doing his puja.  He searched all around to locate such a stone. He climbed a large hill looking here and there for the type of round stone he was keen to get. Slowly he reached the top of the hill. No where could he locate a round stone; he got very frustrated.  He picked up a piece of rock and threw it down to vent out his frustration.

He climbed down the hill and reached its bottom. There, he suddenly noticed a nice piece of rock, neatly rounded and polished! He was sure that he did not notice that piece when he climbed up the hill earlier. He joyfully picked up the stone and took it along with him.

In fact it was the very piece of rock that he threw angrily from the top of the hill. That stone had fallen and rolled down again and again by hitting various rocks; in that process, it got all its sharp edges knocked off; repeated rolling and hitting caused abrasion on its surface making it smooth and round as it finally reached the foothill!

 

[Amma: “Children, had the stone remained at the top of the hill, it would never have had the chance to lose its sharp edges and become a stone worthy of puja. In the same way, only when we do our karma without attachment we attain humility. Our ego exists like the sharp edges of the stone; only when they are broken and smoothened, our mind will get the attitude of doing everything as God’s work without attachment. If we keep preserving our ego,  we can never get humility. Anything worthy is achievable in spirituality only through humility.”] 

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 1)

 

4.  Patience and forbearance

Once one of the stone slabs in the 18-steps of the Sabarimala temple was complaining: “I am a stone and the Lord Ayyappa’s idol in the sanctum sanctorum is also a stone. While people stamp over me with their feet and climb over, they worship the stone Ayyappa  there. Is it not unfair?”

Hearing this, Lord Ayyappa’s idol said, “You are just seeing people worshiping me now; but you don’t know my past when the sculptor hit me with his chisel lakhs of times so as to bring me to this shape. I patiently bore it and that’s why I have turned out to be an idol fit for worship by lakhs of people.”

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 1)

5.  Patient and pleasant Bus conductor

Once a person was travelling in a bus. He was very pleasantly surprised to see the behavior of the bus conductor. The conductor was  patient and had a smiling face. He behaved courteously with the travellers.  He stopped the bus at all bus stops and ensured that those who alight or get down do not face any inconvenience. He made sure that he gave back the correct change to those buying tickets.  His patience was not disturbed by large crowd nor by the unruly behavior of some of the passengers.

The person was highly impressed by the nature of the conductor. He inquired: “I have never seen such a conductor in any other bus. How is that you are so different? How do you keep your patience and speak with a smile despite the heavy crowd in the bus?”

The conductor smiled and said as follows:

“There is no big secret in it; My life taught this lesson.  Before I became a conductor, I was working in a factory.  I used to commute by bus. When I wait for the bus in my bus stop, many times it would go off without stopping. When it stops,  it will stop at a distance. When I run to catch it, it would start moving before I manage to get in. If I manage to get in with difficulty, the conductor won’t invariably pay the balance change when I buy the ticket. If I ask for it, he would flare up. Invariably I used to lose my patience and get worked up. But what to do? I had to travel by the same bus daily.  My frustrated anger will remain with me even when I reach my office. I will not smile at any of the coworkers nor will I move well with them. Because of it, I had no friends in the office;  I could not concentrate well on my work; because of this tension, I used to make mistakes in my job. It will lead to getting scolding from my boss.  I would carry all these and return home by evening…

“I would normally release all my pent up anger at home; I would shout at my wife and children unnecessarily. Hence there was no peace at home too. Thus I was getting isolated both at my home as well as at my office…

“One day, as I reached my bust stop, the bus had already started moving. As I ran to catch the bus, the conductor whistled and stopped the bus to enable me to get into the bus. There was a new conductor in the bus. There was no place to sit; the conductor allowed me to sit in his seat. As I was very tired, I dozed off there. The conductor did not wake me up till the bust stop at which I had to get down arrived. It was a totally new experience. The new conductor’s behavior was like getting cool water to drink for a person with a parched throat…

“With a joy that I had never felt before, I got down from the bus. I was a different, pleasant person when I reached my office. I smiled at my coworkers and they exchanged pleasantries with me. I did my  work with full concentration that day and my boss complimented me for the first time…

“In the evening I reached home with the same upbeat mood; I spoke pleasantly with my wife and joyfully with my children. They were so surprised to see my behavior and they showered their affection on me in return. I was very conscious of my different behavior and I could understand clearly that we get back only what we give to others. It became clear to me that it would not be possible for me to correct others’ faulty behavior but it is indeed within my capacity to change my own behavior for good. If I make a change in myself, it paves the way for triggering a change in others’ behavior towards me…

“Subsequently, I got the job of a conductor in this bus company. I immediately remembered that odd conductor who was behaving extremely patiently and nicely with the passengers. I decided to emulate him. I resolved to be patient pleasant and courteous to my passengers. I decided to do what little I could to foster friendship and brotherhood with others.”

[Amma: “Children, what we call as society evolves when all sorts of people live together in a community. The thoughts and actions of individuals give shape to the culture of the society. Instead of thinking “I will correct myself if everyone corrects himself”, we should strive to be good first ourselves. If our attitude changes, we will be able to see good all around the world”.]

(Source: Oliyi Nokki – Tamil – Part 2)

6.  The power of hatred

Once the king of Devas went to some far off place on some personal agenda.  He did not nominate anyone to rule his kingdom during his absence and the king’s throne was vacant for long.  Taking advantage of this a powerful Asura came into the kingdom and forcefully occupy the throne; he started ruling devas with an iron hand and there were no other powerful person who could thwart him in the kingdom.

The Devas were in deep trouble. The constantly cursed the new king and their hearts were full of hatred towards him; surprisingly, as the days passed on and the subjects’ hatred grew more and more, the new Asura King, who looked ugly earlier started becoming more and more handsome each day.  His power also grew more and more.  The devas were clueless as to how the new king was getting better looks and better power despite all the palpable negativity around him.

One fine day, the original Deva king was back at his palace.  He was immediately surrounded by the devas and all were vehemently complaining how an Asura managed to grab his throne and there were subjected to so much of hardship under his rule. All of them said they hated the new king from the depth of their hearts and they wanted the old king to overthrow the Asura and capture his throne back.

The old Deva king thought deeply about it.  Then he understood that the Asura king had indeed done a great penance and got a boon from God that whomsoever hates him and curses him would lose their good looks and energy and he would gain them from the haters. The old king understood that it was the secret of the Asura’ kings new handsome looks and ever growing power.

He went straight to the new king and prostrated at his feet and said, “Oh mighty king! I was the king of this country earlier. Now I totally understand how mighty you are and how you are the right person to rule this kingdom. Please take me as your servant. I will serve you sincerely with all my might and I pledge my love and loyalty to you”. Based on his gesture,  some of his astute followers too did the same and prostrated before the Asura king.

The asura king did not like this development. He thought it will be extremely dangerous to trust the old king and his henchmen. He shouted, ” No no! I don’t want any of you here. Go away immediately from here!”

But the old king was unperturbed. He again and again prostrated before the new king and kept on reassuring his outright surrender to him along with his love and loyalty.  Highly confused, the new king allowed the old king to stay.

As time passed, the new king started to look gradually less and less attractive. His power too started weakening. Taking the old king as an example, a lot more citizens curtailed their hatred towards the asura king.  Thus the new king, instead of gaining good looks and power from others, started losing his reserves.  He suspected that the new king is doing something secretly behind his backs. He started hating the old king more and more. He started hating all his subjects. Thus through his hatred, he kept on losing his good looks and powers.

In this process, he lost his self confidence to rule the kingdom.  The old king soon overthrew him and drove him out of the country. He reoccupied his throne and started ruling his country again.

[Amma: “Children, negative emotions like hatred drain our energy and we tend to lose our goodness gained through our spiritual practices through such negative emotions”.]

(Amma satsang on 29/4/20)

7.  Only God can help

After Mahabharata war,  Yudhishthira became the king.  Bheema, the powerful younger brother of Yudhishthira was held in very high esteem by the soldiers and the people alike on account of his physical power and prowess. As Bhima held the record of killing some of the most powerful people of his times like Bahasura, Keechaka, Duryodhana, Duschadana and Jarasandha, Bhima’s heart too swelled with pride. He started feeling that he was unassailable and his powers were unlimited.

Once Bhima was crossing a forest and was taking rest under a tree. At that time he noticed that there was a forest fire at the direction of East.  A pregnant deer was came running from the east which was obviously to escape from the raging forest fire. As the deer was planning to run further towards the west, it suddenly stopped. With its sharp instincts, it noticed that a hunter was sitting there with his bow and arrow, ready to shoot once the deer came close to him.

The deer turned direction and started moving towards south.  Unfortunately, a ferocious tiger was standing there behind a bush waiting to attack the deer. The deer noticed it and immediately back tracked. It moved towards the north and unfortunately there was a river there, flowing in full stream.

Bhima noticed that the deer was totally trapped and was at a loss to know how to survive. A deep sense of pity came to Bhima for the sake of the deer. He wanted to save the deer, but how?

The hunting the deer for his food was a basic need for the hunter as well as the tiger. He could not interfere in the ways of nature. He could not do anything to stop the river; he was totally powerless to put out the forest fire.  He could not take the deer to his custody too as it would get scared and run helter skelter if he tried to go near it.

At that moment, Bhima’s pride about his mighty power came to a naught. He felt humbled. He felt that only God could save the deer. He folded his hands closed his eyes and sincerely prayed to God to save the deer.

Very soon, dark clouds gathered at the sky and there was a severe thunder storm.  It started raining heavily with gusty winds.  The hunter dropped the idea of killing the deer and decided to run back to his hut in order to save himself from the rains.  The tiger too abandoned its plan to attack the deer and rushed back to the cave where it was residing.

The heavy rains quelled the forest fires completely.  The deer was now free to return to its forest from where it came.

(From Amma’s Vishu Satsang 14/4/2020)

8.  Bird in a ship

Once a Bird was sitting in the mast of a ship anchored in a port.  When the bird was resting and sleeping, the ship departed the port and moved in to the sea.

When the bird woke up, it was shocked to see only the sea all around and no land was in sight.  The bird got frightened. It wanted to return to the land. The bird left the ship and flew towards the east for a long time. It could not find any land. It returned to the ship and then started flying towards the west for a long time. Again there was no land at sight. Dejected, the bird flew back to the ship. After taking rest for a while, it flew towards south. Even after flying for long it could not locate and shore.  Then it flew towards north and got disappointed once again. The bird flew back to the ship.

It sat on the ship mast and rested. It dropped any more idea of flying in search of the shore.  It was resting and waiting peacefully. The ship journeyed further and within a couple of days, the ship returned to the port. Joyfully, the bird left the ship and flew to the land.

[Amma: “Human mind is like the bird in the story. The mind always goes behind desires and unfulfilled dreams. Once desire becomes ambition the mind loses all controls. Only compassionate and meditative mindset can  make the life smooth and meaningful. Never forget this truth when you are running all around with your desires.”]

9.  Borrowed stuff

Once a pundit went to a cobbler to stitch his footwear that got teared. The cobbler said “I will make it ready by tomorrow”. The pundit said, “Ensure that you will deliver it positively tomorrow”. The cobbler nodded. The pundit  left his footwear and returned home.

The next day, when the pundit went to the cobbler, the cobbler said, “The repair is still not over. Some stitches are still pending. I doubt whether I can complete it today. Please come tomorrow”.

The pundit got angry. “I have to go for a discourse this evening. Didn’t you promise to give my footwear mended by today itself?”

“Sorry sir, let us do one thing. I have got a pair of costly footwear with me. It is sparsely used. I will give it to you to meet your urgency. You can wear it for your today’s program” said the cobbler.

The pundit got worked up further when he heard this. He shouted: “What do you mean? Are you insulting me? Do you know who I am? Will I ever wear another person’s footwear?”

The cobbler smiled and said, “Sir, if you don’t get angry, may I tell you something? Are you not carrying the thoughts and ideas of so many other people on your head? When you make your living with that, what’s wrong in wearing the footwear used by another person?!”

[Amma: “Those who carry borrowed stuff from scriptures on their heads, do not necessarily get rid of desire, lust anger and such negative attitudes from their minds.”]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

10.  Valuing criticism

[Amma: “Children, most of us normally never like others criticizing us. Many people become very uneasy when hearing criticism; Some will feel bad; some will react vehemently; some will start doing counter attack. Everyone will start justifying himself. But these are not the right ways to face criticism. If we receive criticism with full awareness and evenness of mind, then the same criticisms will turn to be catalysts for our growth and excellence.”]

Once in a kingdom, there was a famous administrator in a province.  A news reporter started vehemently criticizing the Administrator and wrote articles in a secretly circulated yellow magazine. He  made serious accusations about the administrator and wrote lots of negative remarks about his activities.

When this came to the attention of the administrator, he engaged secret police to locate the person who was writing such negative criticism. The police located him and brought him in front of the administrator.

The administrator spoke to him: “I used to read your articles in that magazine regularly. I know how critically you analyse my a activities and motives and write so elaborately in detail.  I have noticed that you have identified even such of my own limitations and shortcomings that I have never bothered to cognize myself.  I wish if you could become my secretary,  it would be immensely helpful for me to correct my mistakes and improve my administration”.

The news reporter was shockingly surprised to hear these words. He immediately accepted the offer to join as a Secretary to the administrator.

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

11.  You can’t be equal!

Once a king went to a temple quite early in the morning for conducting his prayers. When he reached the temple there was no other devotee around.

 As there was no one around, he bowed in front of the deity and talked openly to God,” My Lord, I am just nobody in front of you; I am meaner than the dust at your feet…”

When the king uttered this and stopped, he heard someone else too praying loud.The king looked back and noticed that there was one more person, who was simply repeating the same words that the king uttered and doing his prayer. The king did not like it.

He asked in a loud voice, “Who is there repeating “I am just nobody”? Who on earth has the courage  to repeat what I said to God?”. The king wanted to know who the other person was. He got up and went near him and found a beggar there!

The king said to him in a commanding voice, “I am the king of this country and when I say, ‘I am nobody’, no one has the right to repeat it; especially so when you are a beggar”.

[Amma: “Children, many times if we think we are humble, it is just an imagination. Our humility itself is like a veil to cover our egoism and ignorance. Hence we have to be aware about it always”.]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

12. The way for acceptance

Once in ancient India, people belong to a particular kingdom were attacked by foreign invaders; the invaders were extremely cruel and they created unsurmountable hardship to common people.

Unable to bear the tyranny of the invaders, a large group of people ran away from their country and sought asylum in an adjacent country.  The king of the country received them in his court. He heard the woes of the people and their request for asylum in his country. He brought a silver vessel filled with milk to the brim and gave  it to the refugees and said, “This is an example of the status of our country. Now tell me how will I add more?”

The leader of the refugees took out a packet of sugar from his bag and added a spoonful of it to the milk. The sugar got dissolved in the milk and it did not cause any spillage of milk from the vessel. By this gesture the leader conveyed a message that the refugees will mingle with locals and add sweetness to others’ lives, without causing any disturbance or inconvenience to the natives.

The king was pleased by this gesture. He immediately ordered to give space for living and other essential facilities for the refugees to settle in his country.

[Amma: “We may have our own habits, cultures, beliefs and points of view, which are different from the local people when we are to life in a different state of our own country.  While maintaining our cultures and uniqueness, we must also have the awareness to live in unity with others with a national spirit. The culture of the nation as a whole forms the basis of this unity.”]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

13. Sustained effort

Once two laborers came to a wealthy man in search of work. The rich man engaged both of them to break huge rocks into pieces in his land. One of them was strongly built and the other was looking weak. Both of them went to the assigned site. While the weaker one started his work immediately, the stronger one rested for a while before beginning to work.

The employer suddenly visited the place to see how the work was progressing. He asked them to break the rock fast and he stood there, observing how they work.  As he watched, the strong one was hitting the rock with his sledge hammer again and again but the rock was not breaking. On the other hand, the weaker one broke the rock after a few hits with his sledge hammer.

The stronger one asked the other person with surprise, “How did you manage to break the rock so quickly right in front of the boss and caught his attention?”

The weaker one replied, “I had been hitting the rock many times earlier”.

[Amma: “Like this, we see some people finding their lives very hard while some others, it is easy. If it looks so, it is because of their karmas.  Whatever good fortunes we are enjoying today are due to the good acts we had done in the past.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol.1)

 

Amma’s stories on the Nature of God, Avatars and Mahatmas – Part 2 (16 stories)

1.  Naranathu Branthan – Story 1

[Amma:   Naranathu Branthan was an Avadhoota (Madman like sage) who lived in Kerala a few centuries ago. He was a self-realized yogi, whose behavior was known to be very weird. There are many stories associated with his life and Amma will narrate a few of them”.]

Once a spiritual aspirant wanted to become a disciple of Naranathu Branthan and follow him wherever he went. He approached Branthan and made this request. Branthan did not have any inclination to accept anyone as his disciple.  Hence he rejected the request. But the sadak was very adamant. He kept on pleading Branthan to accept him as a disciple.

Finally Branthan said, “Fine; you can follow me. But there is a condition for it. You should do whatever I do.” The sadak agreed very enthusiastically.

Branthan started walking. He walked and walked. One day passed; the second day passed and yet Branthan would not stop walking! The Sadak could not just cope up with Branthan’s walk. He cried, “Guruji, I have no energy left; unless I eat something, I will die”. Branthan did not reply.

After a short while they came across a smithy shop.  At that time they were melting Lead there. Branthan went inside, took a handful of molten lead in his hand and drank it. He called his disciple and said, “Come on, now drink this as much as you want and quench your hunger!”

The disciple gathered whatever little energy he had and ran away from the spot!

(From Arul Mozhigal-5 Tamil)

2.  Naranathu Branthan – Story 2

[Amma:   ‘Branthan’ means mad man. His behavior was beyond the comprehension of common men. Hence they called him mad. He accepted it without a protest.  He never tried to change the opinion of the people nor tried to teach them spiritual wisdom.  He never explained his behavior to people. In fact, he was least bothered about people and their opinions”.]

Branthan had the habit of cooking his food at cremation grounds using the fires of the pyre there. One night, he was cooking his food this way. At that time, a group of spirits, headed by a devata (celestial being)  came there. They had the custom of dancing around the burning pyres. Those spirits would not opt to display their dance in front of human beings. Hence the devata ordered Branthan to go away. However, Branthan was adamant and he would not budge. Soon there was heated argument between him and the devata.

The Devata argued, “It is customary for us to dance around the pyre. We shall not swerve from our practice”.

Branthan said, “Like you being firm about your custom, I am also very firm about my custom of cooking my food in the pyre. I will not move from here. Why don’t you move to some other cremation ground to locate another pyre?”

Noticing his adamancy, the spirits thought that, being a human being, he could be scared by them and chased away. They took up very gory and scary forms and made thundering noise and threatening gestures towards Branthan. But Branthan laughed seeing their antics and was busy with cooking.  So the head of the spirits stopped their antics and realized that Branthan was no ordinary human being, but a sage.

The devata saluted Branthan and said, “Sir, I accept my defeat; as told by you, we will go to some other cremation ground. However, having been impressed by your courage, I would like to offer a boon; Ask whatever you want”

Branthan said, “I need no boons; I have no needs nor desires; There is nothing that I need to accomplish. Just leave me alone so that I can concentrate on my cooking”.

But the devata was adamant. It wanted to offer something to Branthan.

Branthan said, “Fine. Tell me the date of my physical body dying in this world”. The devata told him the date and said, “This is not a boon at all. Ask something”.

Branthan said, “Okay. Just advance my date of death by a day, or postpone it by a day”.

“I don’t have that power to alter the date of your death; ask something else” said the devata.

Branthan took pity on the devata. He was suffering from elephantiasis and his left leg had been affected by it. He said, “Fine. Since you are so particular to offer a boon to me, you can change the elephantiasis from my left leg to right leg.” The devata did it. Branthan said, “Okay. I don’t need anything more. All of you leave from this place”.  The spirits left the place immediately.

[Amma:   ‘Branthan’s story clearly depicts the nature of a true Yogi who is totally surrendered to God. Even devatas and spirits are subservient to such a sage. Such a yogi never has fear; he has no curiosity or excitement; He is not worried about or disturbed about anything. While he is capable of changing the effects of prarabdha Karma himself, he is least inclined to do it and he accepts whatever pains and pleasures that come to him as per fate. He is beyond any vasanas and he he is able to laugh at anything and be a witness to all happenings”. You must also notice that Branthan did not express compassion too! We can’t say whether he was compassionate or not, because he is not concerned with the world or society, as he is immersed in a higher state of existence in unison with the ultimate”.]

(From Arul Mozhigal-5 Tamil)

3.  Naranathu Branthan – Story 3 – Ambalapuzha temple

WHen the Ambalapuzha temple was built and the consecration ceremony was to be done, priests were invited for the installation of the main deity’s statue and do the related ceremonies. All of them were eminent scholars who could chant all the four Vedas by hear. In spite of their knowledge, they could not fix the statue firmly on the altar, however much they tried.

When the problem remained unsolved, the temple authorities made some astrological calculations in consultation with the priests. According to their calculations and predictions, a competent person to do the installation was sitting a few yards away from the temple compound.

When they went to the identified spot, they found a primitive and crazy-looking man siting there and chewing betel leaves, having just finished eating fried fish.  He was none other than Naranathu Branthan.

They brought him to the place where the installation was taking place, in spite of the priests’ mocking at him and making rude remarks to the temple authorities. They held their noses and spat on the ground to express their disgust seeing Branthan.

They thought, “What made these people to bring this ugly and low caste man here? What is he going to do?” Suddenly all the priests vomited, but what came out of their mouth was fish! Then the crazy man, who ate fish spat on the ground and out came basil leaves. Everyone was wonderstruck. Taking some betel leaves, he chewed them and spat on the altar; he uttered a few words in a scolding tone, “Hey Krishna, sit there!”. The statue became firmly fixed thereon.

[Amma:   “The name of the town Ambalapuzha originated from the word ‘tambulam’ (betel leaves, when chewed with arecanut and lime, which together are known in Sanskrit as tambulam). The town was previously knowns as Tambulapuzha. It was that illiterate layman’s spittle and his chiding of God that bore fruit and not the vedic chanting of priests. This was because the ‘crazy man’ was a Perfect Soul; whereas the priests were only after money. They did not have any spiritual power”.]

(From Awaken Children-Vol 2 )

4.  Forbearance – (1)

[Amma:   “The glory of the rishis and saints of our past is immeasurable. Without their compassion, the world have become a hell by now. It is their sacrifice and compassion that protect the world even today.  IT is their patience and love that compensate and balance the evil effects of the selfish acts of the people of the world.  We cannot fathom the depth of their compassion. Their compassion extends to those who intend to harm and eliminate them too”.]

A king brought his young son to get him admitted to a Gurukula. It was the practice in those days that whether one is a son of a king or the son of a poor man, children lived in the company of their Guru and learned Vedas, shatras, arts and also moral education. Children would not have contact with their parents during their period of stay at Gurukula.

When the king and the prince arrived, the place was calm and peaceful. There was nobody to be seen in the Gurukula. After searching for a while, the noticed a saint– the guru,  sitting under a tree. He was in deep state of samadhi.  The king and prince waited for some time for the saint to open his eyes. When he opened his eyes, the Guru noticed the king. He pleasantly welcomed the king and offered him a seat.

But the king was rather upset and angry that he was not properly accorded welcome at the Gurukula and that he had to search for the guru and also wait indefinitely till the guru finished his meditation. As a king, he was so much used to getting royal treatment wherever he went that he was angry about such a callous treatment meted out to him.

The guru asked respectfully, “Your majesty, may I know the purpose of your visit?”

The king bursted out. “Are you trying to mock at me? Instead of according me the proper royal welcome, you are asking me why I have come here! Where are all the students and disciples here? May I have the fortune of having a darshan of them?” he asked with sarcasm.

The guru expressed sorry and said, “This is a gurukula where we follow strict rules of discipline for the students; every student and disciple has a time schedule for study, work, worship, japa and other spiritual practices. As each of them follow their discipline, you could not see any of them outside. I too was immersed in meditation. That’s why we could not offer a formal reception to you”.

This explanation could not convince the king. “Do you intend to demean me?” he asked. Not knowing how to convince the king. The guru kept quiet. The king remembered that his purpose of coming there was to admit his son to this gurukula. This particular gurukula was most reputed in his kingdom for teaching knowledge and character to the students. Hence, the king controlled his anger and showing an external act of humility he sought forgiveness from the saint for his display of anger.  He then requested the Saint to accept his son as his disciple.

The guru instantly agreed and the formalities of admission were completed. The king left his son behind and departed; yet the sense of anger and hurt was still simmering in his heart.

The prince proved to be an excellent student. He was humble, had good conduct and character and also had devotion to God. The Guru was extremely happy with the boy and showered his love and care on him. The boy grew up to a youth in the Gurukula and he excelled not only in scriptural knowledge, but also in weaponry. His character remained impeccable.

The day of completion of his education came soon. With tear filled eyes, he stood before the guru with utter humility and said, “My respected master, I belong to you. I have nothing to claim as mine. In front of your greatness, I am nothing. There is nothing equivalent to the love, affection and care you took in grooming me. I want to give you something as my Guru dakshina (tuition fees). I am waiting to know your wish”.

The Guru touched the prince’s face with affection and said, “My son, your obedience, humility and devotion to me is the greatest Guru dakshina which you have already given to me. What else do I need?”

The prince insisted again and again. The guru said, “My child, Since I have no need at present, I will collect the Guru dakshina from you at the appropriate time of need. Don’t worry” and bid farewell to the prince.

The King was still nurturing the anger towards the saint and he was only waiting for his son to complete his schooling and return to the palace. Once the son came back, without his knowledge, the king sent his soldiers to the Gurukula and arranged to burn all the thatched huts, class rooms and residential places in the Gurukula. His soldiers also tortured the Saint and his disciples.  Leaving them to lurch for food, clothing and shelter, the soldiers returned to the palace and reported the matter to the king. The king felt very happy that he had done the long nurtured revenge on the saint.

Days passed. The king decided to crown the prince as the future king and retire. Before taking up the throne, the prince wanted to visit his guru and take his blessings. He went to his gurukula and was shocked to see the condition of the place. There were no huts, no class rooms, no facilities.

He frantically searched for the guru and finally found him meditating under a tree. He waited till the guru opened his eyes and then fell at his feet; impatiently he asked, “My master! What has happened here?”

The guru said patiently, “Nothing my son; there was a forest fire and all the huts got burned. That’s all”.

But the prince was shrewd enough to find out that the damage could not have happened due to forest fire and he suspected something fishy.  By that time, the other students and disciples gathered around the guru. He inquired them what happened and they told him the truth after a brief hesitation.

The prince was shocked beyond words. However the shock turned to anger and he roared, “Father, you coward! What a dastardly act you have done. I am going to finish you off.”  He gripped his sword with his right hand and the horse’s rope by the left hand and swiftly mounted it.

Immediately the Guru jumped in front of his disciple and stopped the horse from charging forward. He tried to convince him to drop his anger.  But the Prince could not be tamed; he wanted to take revenge on his father for having done such a horrible act of vengeance against his beloved Guru.

Having failed in his attempts to pacify the prince, the saint finally said, “Fine, my son! I will permit you to go. But before you leave, please give me my Guru dakshina”.

Immediately, the prince got down from the horse, saluted his Guru and said in a pleasant voice, “Oh! Thank you my master for conceding to my prayer at last . Please let me know what you want”.

The guru said, “My son; please drop your planned act of punishment to your father. This is the guru dakshina I want”.

The Prince was dumbstruck hearing this plea. He stood there stunned, looking at the radiant face of his great master. Tears rolled from his eyes. He slowly fell at the feet of his guru.

(From Arul Mozhigal-5 Tamil)

5.  Forbearance – (2)

Once a saint was living the life of a traveling mendicant. One day he was resting under a tree. A ruffian came there and for no reason, without any provocation, he beat the saint with a stick in hand. It was a heavy beating at the shoulder of the saint. At the swiftness of the hit, the stick fell on the ground. The saint took it on his hands; fearing that he would hit him back with the same stick, the ruffian took to heels.

The saint too started running behind him with the stick in his hand.

Some people who witnessed the ruffian hitting the saint, came running to the scene and they caught hold of the ruffian.

The saint came near him and said to him, “Here is your stick; I came behind you only to return this to you!”

Hearing this, those who to the help of the saint to catch the ruffian were terribly surprised.  One of them said, “What are you saying, Swami? W all saw this rascal hitting you with the stick for no reason at all; you should definitely thrash him — not once, but many times. He deserves the punishment”. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.

The saint smiled and said, “Why should I beat him?  I cannot do it.  It is true that he beat me with that stick and I believe it happened by God’s will only. Suppose, instead of this fellow hitting me, what would I do if a branch from the tree got broken and fell on me? SHould I hit back the tree?  I take it that this is a punishment I am receiving at the present time, for some crime I must have done in some previous birth. It means that I am only receiving the fruit of my karma and this fellow is just an instrument for it.  Hence there is no meaning in hitting him back. If I do so, it will only end up adding to my bad karmas, instead of cancelling out the past karmas”.

(From Arul Mozhigal-5 Tamil)

6.   The story of Poonthanam – Krishna’s devotee

Poonthanam was a great devotee of Lord Krishna, who lived in Kerala some 4 centuries ago. His life was marked by several tragic happenings, but he lived a life totally dedicated to Krishna and accepting all the unfortunate happenings in his life as the divine play of Lord Krishna of Guruvayur.

He was extremely sattvic (full of pure qualities) and lived a righteous life. He was simple and humble. His only child, born after lots of yearning and prayer to Lord Krishna died an unfortunate death. How did it happen?

His house was full of relatives who had gathered for the function. Poonthanam was celebrating the third birthday of his son; the celebrations and ceremonies extended till mid night.  Finally, they all retired to bed in a hurry. Suddenly at that time a powerful storm occurred. All the oil lamps in the house got extinguished in the wind. After the winds subsided, the lit all the lamps again.

Only then they noticed that Poonathanam’s child was missing. Everybody started searching for the child in panic in all nook and corners of the house but could not find him. Suddenly one of the relatives noticed a huge heap of sleeping mats dumped at a corner of the house.

Actually, Poonthanam’s boy was sleeping at that corner.  When all the lights got extinguished, people who who woke up rolled their sleeping mats and threw them at the corner one after the other in the darkness.  Thus it became a huge heap under which the child got caught and was suffocated to death. When the mats were removed, the dead body of Poonthanam’s child was underneath.

Think of the extreme shock and pain that the couple had to undergo.  Poonthanam too cried. But soon he was able to gather himself and recover from the ill fate. How? The unwavering faith and surrender Poonthanam had on his beloved Lord Krishna elevated his mind spiritually and that  mindset taught him to wriggle out of the sorrowful calamity. As a poet, he sang,  “While little Krishna is dancing in our hearts, do we need little ones of our own?

But Poonthanam’s wife could not easily recover herself from her shock. She thought her husband must be a lunatic and she hated him. Once when Poonthanam was travelling to Guruvayoor, he was attacked by robbers on the way. He had many such unfortunate things happening in his life. Yet, his devotion to his beloved Lord never changed.

[Amma:   “When measured purely from worldly angle, Poonthanam’s life was a tragedy. But he was always in bliss. How was it possible? The answer lies in the above song. Once you establish God in the temple of your heart, then what remains is nothing but bliss. That bliss will be both inside as well as outside”.]

(From Arul Mozhigal-3 Tamil)

7.  Form and formless God

[Amma:   “Saguna (with form) and nirguna (without form) are not two different Realities. Ordinary people can reach Formless Being only through some kind of medium. For those who don’t know how to swim, a boat is necessary to cross the river, isn’t it? Mother is not saying you should stay in the boat for ever. After reaching the other side, you should get out”.]

Once there was a disciple, sitting at the banks of a river in the Himalayas, thinking “I see God in the form of my Guru but he says that he is not the body. Yet how can I believe him? How can one be with and without form at the same time? Doesn’t he talk to me and do all the other actions like ordinary people?”

While the disciple was brooding over the matter, a block of ice suddenly crashed into the river. As the disciple looked at it, a squirrel jumped onto the ice which floated across the river. Upon reaching the other bank, the squirrel got off and gingerly jumped away.

Seeing this, the disciple thought, “No doubt the ice is only water. But without it, the squirrel could not have crossed the river. THe formless water became ice and will eventually lose its form and river to its original formless nature as water, but the form serves a purpose. Likewise,  Nirguna becomes Saguna for taking us across the Ocean of Samsara. Henceforth, I will look upon my Guru as the embodiment form of the formless Absolute”.

[Amma:   “All forms have limitations. There is no tree which touches the sky, and there is no root which touches the netherworld. This means the names and forms are finite. We should go beyond all names and forms. Even though God is beyond all qualities and all-pervading, He will come in a form according to our sankalpa“.]

(From Awaken Children Vol-1)

8.  What exist there is here

Once a group of devotees from Kerala planned to make a holy pilgrimage to Kashi in North India to bathe in the Holy river Ganga.  When they asked an old, saintly devotee in their village whether he would like to come, he said, “I am too old to make this journey. Please take my walking stick and after dipping it in the Ganga, return to me”.

When the devotees reached Kashi and bathed in Ganga, they dipped the old man’s stick in the river. Unfortunately the stick slipped and got washed washed away by the river’s swift current.

On returning to the village, they informed the old saint that they had lost the stick.

“Did you lose it in the Ganges?” he asked. “Yes; in the Ganges” they replied.

“Then it is no problem” he said; going to the backyard of his house, the saint waded into the pond there and pulled out his stick!

[Amma:   “For a knower of the Self, there is no good or bad, pure or impure. For him, there is  Purity alone. As for as he is concerned, there is no difference between the Ganges water and the water in the pond. But for ordinary people, all these differences do exist”.]

(From Awaken Children Vol-1)

9. What God looks for

[Amma:   “A true karma yogi is one who keeps his mind on God while being engaged in any work. We must have the mindset of accepting everything as God’s act. That is  true bhakti. If one is engaged in puja, but the mind is wandering on all external matters, that puja can not be taken as bhakti yoga. At the same time, if a scavenger does his job of cleaning by chanting God’s name and believing his work as a service to God, it is truly bhakti yoga as well as karma yoga”.]

Once there lived a woman in a street, who was very devoted to Lord Krishna. Whatever works she did,  she would dedicate it to God, saying “Krishnarpanamastu“. Whether she was sweeping her courtyard or bthing her child, she would not forget to say ‘Krishnarpanamastu‘.

There was a temple adjacent to her house. The priest in the temple did not like the woman always chanting Krishnarpanamastu.  He could not bear her saying it while throwing the garbage. He used to scold her for her behavior but she did not react.

One day, the woman through a handful of cow dung away from her house and unfortunately, it fell inside the temple front yard. The priest heard her saying Krishnarpanamastu while the cow dung fell in the temple. He got very furious. He caught hold of the lady and dragged her into the temple; he made her cleanup the dung and wash the area. Then he gave a few beatings to the women and chased her away.

When the priest woke up from the bed the next day, he could not move his hand. He was shocked. He cried in pain and prayed to God to cure him. That night, God appeared in his dream and said, “I cherish the cow dung thrown by the woman more than the sweet pudding you offered to me; what you do in the temple for me is not puja, but whatever the woman does is indeed puja for me. I cannot bear the woman suffering under your ill treatment. Only if you fall at the feet of the woman and beg her parden, your hand will get alright”.

10. Nature of God

Once a king and his minister were discussing about Puranas. Referring to the Story of the Elephant King Gajendra, whose life was saved by Lord Vishnu from the clutches of a crocodile, the king asked the minister rather mockingly, “I don’t understand why Lord VIshnu has to come personally to save Gajendra. Was he not mighty enough to send some of his soldiers to save Gajendra?  Rather, he could have dispatched just his Sudarshan Chakra right from his abode at Vaikuntham to kill the crocodile?  Why all the fuss to rush personally to save an elephant just because he called out by name?”

The learned minister did not respond immediately.  He waited for the right opportunity to explain it to the king.

Ther minister was very fond of the Little Prince (the son of the king) and he used to spend some time with the kid to play with him. The minister secretly got an idol of the prince made that looked exactly like the prince.

One day, the minister and the prince were playing at the Palace gardens. The king was standing at the balcony of his palace and he could notice the two playing at some visible distance away from him.  There was a well in the Garden. As the two were playing, suddenly the king saw his little son standing at the brim of the well and then suddenly falling into it. He was utterly shocked. But the fact was that the minister had indeed arranged to keep the idol of the prince there and pushed it into the well, knowing well that the king was noticing it from a distance.  The king was unaware that it was just the idol that was pushed into the well.

Gripped by anxiety and agony, the king got down swiftly from the Balcony and came running to the  garden, shouting for help.  When he arrived at the spot, he was surprised and relieved to see his little son there, holding hands with the minister.

“Oh! What happened here? I saw my son falling into the well and hence I came rushing” said the king.

The minister said smilingly, “Oh revered king, what is the need for you to personally come rushing here to save your son? Won’t it be enough if you call your security guards and send them to save your child from drowning?”

The king said, “What do you mean? How can I remain cool and issue order my soldiers to do something when my own son is drowning here?”

The minister said, “That is precisely what Lord Vishnu did when he heard the cries of the elephant Gajendra!  For the lord, Gajendra was just like a son! Every living being is like His son and daughter! When any of them cry to Him for help, how can’t he help but to rush personally for saving him/ her! That is the nature of God”.

11. What God looks for (2)

Once there lived a poor laborer who was a deep devotee of Lord Krishna.  It was his regular habit to visit the temple of Lord Krishna adjacent to his house every evening after his daily jobs were over.  He would promptly present himself at the time of deeparadhana (vesper service) and would feel spiritually surcharged; he would not miss this habit.

One day, due to extra work, he was held up late at his workplace.   When he rushed to the temple, the deeparadhana had been completed and the priest was coming out. The laborer felt very disappointed for having missed to see the deeparadhana.  He stood there with a sunken face.

The priest noticed the man’s disappointment. He knew that he was a very regular visitor to the temple who was always present at deeparadhana time and watched it with rapture. The priest was deeply impressed by the devotion of the poor laborer.

He went close to him and said, “I am doing deeparadhana daily to the Lord. I will give all the punya (accrued merits)  of doing this service for lord to you. Will you please give me the punya of your longing for God to me?”

The laborer happily agreed to this proposition.

On that night, Lord Krishna appeared in the laborer’s dream. He said, “To day, you have done a foolish thing. Why did you exchange the punya of your deep love on me to that priest for his act of doing deeparadhana? After all, he is doing it as a part of his job as a priest. His merits of doing this procedural service to me can never equal the love and devotion that comes from your pure heart.”

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Part 2)

12. What God looks for (3)

Once there lived a Brahmin who was well versed in scriptures and he was a deep devotee of Divine Mother. Wherever he went, Devi too would go with him. Though others could not see Devi, the Brahmin would see her and even converse with her.

One day, he was undertaking a pilgrimage and Devi too was following him. At one place, the Brahmin happened to see whether Devi was coming behind him as usual, he was surprised to notice her missing. He started walking back in search of Devi. After going back some considerable distance he noticed that Devi was sitting in a platform inside the hut of an untouchable man.  The untouchable was actually worshiping Devi by placing a sword and Trishul on the platform, deeply involved in his prayerful worship. Devi was patiently sitting in front of him as long as his worship was continuing and was blessing him by accepting his worship with a smiling face. Once the pooja ended, Devi came out of the hut to be with the brahmin.

The Brahmin said, “Mother, I know how stressful it would have been for you to sit  so long in front of that untouchable low caste person who did some dubious worship without knowing any mantra or tantra. Please do not do such things again”.

Hearing this Devi smiled and said, “I have been with you all along and still you have not understood my nature.  I always look at the heart of the devotee. I have no discrimination based on someone being higher or lower in social order. Whosoever calls me with total love and devotion, I would go there.  I value pure, guileless love more than scriptural knowledge. I don’t want to follow you hereafter as you have not even grasped this basic nature of mine”, So saying Devi disappeared.

[Amma:   “The moment egoism and differentiation rises up in a devotees’ heart, he gets distanced from God immediately.”]

13. Your responsibility

Once a person who lead a life of righteousness and accumulated punya (fruits of good karmas) in this world died and went to heaven on account of his goodness.

There one day he noticed a strange shop; the shop carried a board :”All goodness and wealth are available here for buying free of cost”. The God himself was the seller in the Shop. The man went inside the shop, bowed to God and said, “May I get happiness and peace for all the people of mankind from this shop?”

The God immediately gave him a bag full of seeds. The man said, “Well, I am afraid I have not asked for any seeds”.

God smiled and said, “My son, whatever you have asked for is available here, but only in seed form. It is up to you to put all efforts to grow them into trees and then pluck the fruits of happiness and peace from them!”

[Amma:   “All of us in this world possess the seeds of goodness inside us, given by God.  They are indeed in the form of ‘bija’, the seed . It is up to us to sow them, give water and nourishment and and take due care of them, they will grow big and flower one day. Then the fragrance will spread all around and the life will be blessed. “]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

14. The right person

Once there lived a Sadhu, who was a great devotee of God. He was extremely humble and lived a life immersed in the bliss of devotion to God. Lots of people came to him in search of peace; they became his disciples and devotees.  He was extremely popular and revered in that locality.

One day a Pundit came to see him.

The pundit too was somewhat famous for his scholarship and his knowledge of the scriptures. He was a very proud man; he was extremely argumentative and he loved engaging others into arguments. He derived lots of joy in defeating them in intellectual arguments based on kis knowledge on scriptures.

The pundit did not like the popularity of the Sadhu, who, according to his judgement, would not even have rudimentary knowledge of scriptures.  He wanted to establish his superiority there.

He spoke the Sadhu: “Swamy, I will be glad to have a debate with you on the matter of God”. The sadhu said with folded hands, “O revered Pundit, I have the least knowledge about scriptures. You are a great scholar, I cannot even stand before you and talk on the matters of spirituality. What do I know? I know nothing.”

The Pundit felt proud and happy. He said: “If you are not inclined to debate with me, will you give me a letter stating that you have accepted defeat from me on the matters of God?”

“Definitely” said the Sadhu. He got a letter prepared as wished by the pundit, signed it and gave it.

The Pundit went to attend a large Conference of scholars and spiritual seekers where various matters of scriptures were being expounded.  There were seminars, panel discussions and debating sessions. The pundit spoke in a session and said, “Perhaps you people are already aware of my extensive knowledge in our holy scriptures. In fact very recently I met this Sadhu in such and such place. I don’t know why, so many people throng to him and show lots of reverence to him. When I met him, this sadhu really got scared of me! He gave me a letter stating that he has accepted defeat from me on the matters of knowledge about God! Here is the letter signed by him!’

He circulated the letter amid his audience. People went through the letter and started talking very excitedly amid themselves. Some of them laughed.

“Why are you feeling so excited? Why do you laugh?” asked the pundit.

Some of them got up and said, “Sir, we are indeed extremely glad to see this letter. All along, we have been searching for the right person to guide us on spiritual matters. We are glad that we came to know who it is, today”.

“Good. You have understood that it is me. Right?” said the pundit.

“No Sir; Not you. We meant the Sadhu who gave you the letter. Even though we have been studying and discussing scriptures, we also know that God cannot be found through scriptures. We know that knowing God by real personal experience is what really matters, and for such a realized person, scriptures are not really of any value. Humility is the hallmark of such a person.  At last, we have now understood that the Sadhu must be the true knower of God! We are all eager to go and meet him and get his blessings!” said the people in the gathering.

(From Amma’s Onam Satsang 31/8/2020)

15.  For the fun of it

Once a prince was playing hide and seek with his friends in the garden adjacent to his palace. At one point of time, the prince was the catcher. He kept his eyes closed and all his friends ran away to hide themselves in different places. The Prince started looking around for them. One by one, he caught a few of the boys from their hiding places. But a couple of them could not be easily located. The prince was frantically running around here and there to find out where they were hiding.

Watching this, one of the guards said, “Your majesty. You are a Prince and if you can’t find your friends, it is enough if you just issue an order loudly and they will have to come out of their hiding places. Why should you waste your time running in search of them like this?”

The prince said, “What you say is true. But there won’t be any fun in the game if I do so!”

[Amma:   “When God takes an avatar, he accepts the nature of human beings and comes in such a form to earth.  It is his lila (divine play) to be among the human beings. He tends to demonstrate knowledge and ignorance, power and weakness in this divine play.  We can observe that these avatars too undergo pains and pleasures, problems and resistances in their lives like ordinary human beings. Only then they could mingle easily with others  and relate with them. Once they have opted to play this game, they should change the rules in between, should they?”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

16.  The hands

Once  in a village, there was a prominent statue of a famous saint. The statue was sculpted in such a way showing the saint extending both the hands. An inscription at the base of the statue read “Come into my hands”.

As years passed, both the hands of the statue got broken.  The villagers felt bad about it. Even though the hands were broken, the inscription below the statue was still prominent and clear. Some villagers felt that the old statue should be removed and a new one of the saint with extended hands must be installed again there. Some other people said, “There is no need to discard this statue. It is enough we we repaired it to attach two hands.”

An old villager came there and intervened in the arguments. He said, “There is no need either to change the statue or fix new hands.”

If we don’t do it, then the inscription saying ‘Come into my hands’ looks meaningless and awkward” said some people.

The old man said, “That’s okay. It is enough if we add another sentence under it like this: “I have no other hands except yours. My hands are nothing but your hands”.

[Amma:   “God has no separate hands other than ours. He acts only through us. Hence we should bring God in our hands; in our legs; in our tongues and in our hearts. This way we must transform ourselves to God.”]

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

 

Onam at Brindavan – Amma’s cute Krishna stories with spiritual message (8 stories)

An Introduction …

How come Onam, a typical festival of Kerala be celebrated by Krishna at Brindavan? 

Onam is one of the grandest and prominent festivals of Kerala. It is joyously celebrated at Amma’s Ashram at Kerala too. On Onam day, Amma distributes Onam Sadhya (feast) with her hands to several thousands of her earnest devotees personally who throng to the Ashram to celebrate the day with Amma. Amma’s satsang  and bhajan will also be there on the day.

A ‘Onam at Brindavan’ story will almost be a sure ingredient in  Amma’s satsang on the day and many inmates eagerly await to hear the story as Amma will always pack some fun and pun in those stories to educate and entertain her own gopis – Ashram inmates, particularly the womenfolk!

Even though Amma is considered an Avatar of Devi, there are many devotees who consider Amma as Krishna too and there are many ‘gopi’s in ashram whose love of their ‘Krishna’ is on a very strong emotional plane. Amma’s gopis (lady devotees and Brahmacharinis) who always throng around Amma and vie with each other to have her closest company and attention, some times cross limits and end up doing certain over-exuberant things! At times,in this process of demonstrating their overwhelming love and attraction on Amma there may be heartburns, envies, dominations, rat races etc among them.

Amma makes use of Onam Satsang to concoct stories — particularlty, ‘Onam at Brindavan’ stories and joyfully share it to educate as well as entertain the gathering!

Such stories of Amma are shared below:

Onam at Brindavan-1!

The Pookalam

[Amma: God’s compassion flows naturally towards those who are meek, guileless and helpless]

As the Onam festival approached, Gopis of Brindavan were very excited. They planned to decorate the front courtyard of their beloved Krishna’s house with numerous Pookkalams (colorful artwork done on the floor using flower petals of myriad colors, an art of Kerala associated with Onam festival). Each Gopi wanted to outsmart others  by making the most beautiful and artistic pookakam to get Krishna’s appreciation.

Pookalam

“We must start doing pookkalam before dawn. When Krishna wakes up in the morning and comes out of his house, he should be swept by surprise seeing so many pookalams beautifully done by us; Imagine how his face will light up seeing them and also all of us there in the morning!”

“What is the plan for collecting flowers?” asked one gopi.

“Don’t we have our gardens around Vrindavan? They will start blooming before dawn. If we all go to the gardens as early as possible before sunrise, we can collect lots of flowers of different colors” said a senior gopi.

“Better all of you retire to bed early tonight; we can wake up early morning and go to gather flowers” said another.

As the gopis went to bed, all of them had only one thought: How to outsmart the other gopis so as to corner most of the flowers.  They did not feel like sleeping at all. But Kocchu Gopi (Little Gopi), being youngest among the gopis, could not fight sleep. She told her two elder sisters, “Please wake me up when you leave in the morning to collect flowers. I don’t want to miss this wonderful festivity”. Her sisters promised to wake her up.

Little gopi slept peacefully that night. But most gopis could not. Some of them felt that they should reserve their favorite flowering plants and trees to garner the flowers. Taking lamps and mats in their hands, a few of them slipped out of their houses surreptitiously  and went to the garden to spread their mats under their favorite plants and trees. Some gopis got up just after midnight. With lamps and mats in their hands, they came to gardens with the idea of sleeping under the flower trees and plants till twilight came.

Some Gopis who got up well before dawn rushed to the gardens and they were surprised to see other gopis’s mats lying there as signs of ‘reservation’ and also gopis sleeping there overnight! They felt it was not fair. They decided to climb over trees and sit on the branches so that the moment the flowers bloom, they can pluck them first!

Kochu Gopi’s sisters woke up early morning and they totally forgot about their promise to Kochu Gopi in their mad rush towards the gardens.

The Gopis sleeping under the trees woke up hearing the hustle and bustle around. When they saw some gopis sitting on the branches of ‘their’ trees, they got angry. They started shouting at the gopis sitting on the trees. Some of them jumped up to grasp the tree branches and shook them violently to force the gopis sitting there to fall down! More verbal fights followed.  As the dawn approached, trees and plants started blooming and Gopis became very busy fighting and vying with each other to collect as much flowers as they could muster.

Kochu Gopi woke up all of a sudden early in the morning. Eastern sky was already showing signs of dawn. When she noticed that her sisters were not at home, she felt cheated; she started crying. Gathering herself quickly, she picked up an empty basket and started running towards the gardens. On her way, she saw a couple of gopis running with flower baskets towards Krishna’s house. “You are already late, Kochu Gopi! We were virtually the last ones in gathering flowers; we got only a little. Most of the other gopis are already at Krishna’s house, doing their pookalams” they said while running.

Wiping her tears, Kochu Gopi ran from one garden to another, only to see trees and plants totally devoid of flowers. Finally she rushed to a nearby woods with a hope to see some flower plants there. She was not lucky. She could not locate any flowering trees there. Finally, she noticed some wild plants carrying plain white flowers. Having no other option, Kochu Gopi plucked those white flowers and hurried to Krishna’s house.

When Kochu Gopi arrived, most of the other gopis had already finished their pookkalams. They all looked very beautiful in myriad colors. Each Gopi had left the central portion of their artwork free of any flowers. They were talking: “Let Krishna select the flower of his choice and place the flower at the center of the Pookkalam. That will complete the artwork beautifully”.

Kochu Gopi was forlorn with disappointment.  Crying silently she sat in a corner. All the Gopis were waiting excitedly for Krishna to come out the house.

At last the front doors opened and Krishna came out.  He was visibly surprised to see so many beautiful pookkalams decorating his front yard and Gopis eagerly waiting there! With widened eyes and a broad smile, Krishna  gave a cry of joy, “Ah! How beautiful!”

He was immediately surrounded by the Gopis. “Krishna, see this one; I have done this. Don’t you think these color combinations are wonderful?”  Each gopi was trying to get Krishna’s attention towards her artwork.

“Why have you not put any flowers in the centers?” Asked Krishna.

“We want you to select the color of your choice and put it there, Krishna” said the gopis.

As Krishna walked slowly from one Pookalam to another eying their beauty, each Gopi proffered her flower basket towards him: “Take this yellow rose, Krishna! This is very rare. Put it at the center and it will make it beautiful”. “Krishna. Use this lotus that I have brought. It will be the most fitting color to bring it to completion”;  “Take my lavender. It is the best”. Krishna walked around silently, engrossed in his own thoughts, ignoring all the voices of Gopis.

He noticed Kocchu Gopi sitting in a corner, dejected. “Hi, Kocchu Gopi, bring your basket! Show me what colored flower you have got!”  — Krishna called out to her. Kochu Gopi could not believe her ears. She came running towards Krishna.

“Ah! Nice white color! With so many other colors all around,  this white flower will be the best compliment to adore the center of all the pookkalams!”

Saying so, Krishna took the wild white flowers one by one from Kocchu Gopi’s basket and put them at the center of each of the Gopi’s pookkalams.

Kocchu Gopi was now shedding tears of joy!

Onam at Brindavan-2!

Krishna not well

[Amma: God loves those who selflessly love and serve others]

Words spread like wildfire amidst Gopis of Brindavan that lord Krishna had agreed to have his Onam Sadhya (Onam festival feast) with all the gopis at the banks of the river Yamuna. It was agreed that each Gopi will prepare a couple of tasty dishes at her home and bring them to offer to Krishna and then they would all sit together,  share the items and enjoy the feast in the joyful company of Krishna.

Radha too was busy from the morning, cooking  rice, Aviyal and Milk pudding as her share of offering for the Onam Sadhya. She was constantly chanting her Lord’s name while cooking the food and she kept imagining how Krishna would taste her preparations and offer his appreciation.  After finishing cooking, she packed the items in a food carrier and rushed towards the banks of Yamuna.

On her way, she crossed the hut of a poor fisherman’s family.  The fisherwoman was doing household chores outside her hut at the back yard and her little son was standing beside her and taking to his mother, half crying. Radha overheard their conversations:

“Amma, my friends are saying today is Onam festival  and everyone will be enjoying it wearing new dresses and eating a tasty feast.  Is that so? Why aren’t we celebrating it at our home?”

“My child, it is true that today is Onam festival. But we are very poor, you know. We can’t afford to celebrate it as others do”

“It means, I won’t have any new dress?”

“I am afraid so, my son. Your father could not  get any worthy catch of fish in the past couple of days. Had he got it, we would have had some money to buy you a new dress…”

“How about feast then? What have you cooked today?”

“Without any money, how can we afford a feast, my dear! I have only cooked kanji as usual…”

The little boy cried aloud. “Every day you are cooking only kanji and nothing else. Should I eat the same on the day of Onam too when everyone else is enjoying a good feast?  I am feeling so hungry, but don’t feel like eating kanji!”

The mother stopped her chores, embraced the little boy and said with tears in her eyes: “What to do, my dear son! We poor people are cursed to be like that. If by God’s grace your father gets a good catch of fish next time, I will cook something special for you. Now, wait for a while till I finish this work; Your father too will come and join at any time now.  We will go in and eat together what we have”

Radha was moved to tears hearing the conversation. She stood there for a while, thinking. Then without making any noise, she went into the hut, put her carrier containing the Onam delicacies near the hearth, took the vessel that contained Kanji and slipped out of the hut without attracting anybody’s notice.

As she walked towards Yamuna, her emotions were swinging between happiness and remorse. She was happy that she could feed a poor family with a nice food on the day of Onam; she felt remorseful because she could not offer her share of delicacies to her beloved Krishna and see the joy on his face.

Krishna not feeling well…

When she reached their meeting place, everyone was already there including Krishna. “Why are you late? Krishna was asking for you” whispered  a Gopi. Krishna appeared to be dull and was not particularly in his usual joyous mood. “What happened to you, Krishna? Why do you look so dull today? Are you very hungry? Shall I offer you some milk sweets first?” asked a Gopi.

“Take a sip of the special sweet pudding that I have made for you, Krishna!” said another Gopi.

“I have brought crispy Vada for you, Krishna. Eat it first!” said another Gopi.

There was lot of commotion as one Gopi after another started extending their vessels towards Krishna, cajoling him to taste their preparation first. Radha was sitting at the back row, silently watching the happenings.

Krishna did not show any interest to pick any item from any of the Gopis’ vessels. He said, “I am afraid I have mild fever. I don’t feel like eating any rich food. If only I could get some Kanji (gruel), it will suit my health and appease my hunger too; it looks to me that in Radha’s vessel, there is some Kanji. Can I have it please?”

Radha was overwhelmed with joy. Tears started streaming from her eyes as she came forward to offer the humble Kanji that the poor family had kept prepared. 

 

Onam at Brindavan-3!

Which foodstuff will Krishna serve?

[Amma: God loves those who selflessly serve others even at the cost of abuse and rejection]

Villagers of Brindavan were heading towards Nandagopa’s house late in the morning.  Gopis too were gathering at the front yard of Nandagopa’s house talking aloud amidst themselves. Krishna’s father had invited all of them to partake Onam Sadhya (grand feast) in his house. The special news was that Krishna, as a host, will be serving food with his own hands to the villagers and everybody became very happy to know that they will be getting the prasad from their lord’s hands.

Expert cooks were busy right from early morning preparing rice, sambar, avial, kari, vadai, payasam, laddu, appalam and so on for  the feast. Huge vessels containing the hot preparations were brought and kept ready in the long courtyard of the house, where villagers would be seated and fed sumptuously.

As the serving was yet to begin, the foodstuffs  in the vessels started talking amidst themselves excitedly.

“Is it true that Lord Krishna is going to serve us with his own hands? How lucky we are, then! Out of all of us, which one will Krishna opt to serve first?” asked one of them.

The rice said, “In any feast, I am the prime item. All you other stuff just join me as complementary items only, but I am the main course. Naturally, Krishna will serve me first!”

The ghee  laughed hearing this. ” You may be served as the main course, but have you ever seen anybody eating just plain rice right through any feast?” All the other foodstuffs too joined the laughing. “Without  adding ghee, no foodstuff ever gets any worthy taste. Even as per Ayurveda, I am one of the very important ingredient of a healthy food. Naturally, Krishna will give me preference”.

The sambar interjected. “You are too proud, Ghee. your other name is fat — one who makes people bloated and ugly and you are really bad for health! Whether feast or no feast, without Sambar there is virtually no meals worth its name.  It is obvious that Krishna will opt to serve me predominantly”.

                                                                                                                      Onam Sadhya

“Nonsense!” said Aviyal. “With me containing so many vegetables and with my characteristic taste and aroma, no food  is ever worth a feast if I am absent. Krishna is sure to serve me first” .

“Do you ever know the meaning of the word ‘rasam’? It’s very meaning is tasteful. Do you think Krishna will opt to serve what is not ‘rasam’ ? No way” said the rasam.

“Ah! Too much of boastful talking!” said the Payasam.  Tell me, if payasam is not there, will anyone call this a feast? It’s just another meals. That’s all. You can  envy at me guys when Krishna comes to serve me as the prime dish”.

“I agree with payasam to some extent because only with Vada -Payasam, a meals becomes a feast.  Tell me how much of payasam can one consume in a feast? After taking a cup or two, one gets overwhelmed with it. But think of me, the great Vada. People don’t get fed up with me.  Mark my words; Krishna will surely give top priority to me” said vada.

When rest of the other food items too started raising their objections and claimed their worth to get the special honor of Krishna, Ginger pickle intervened in a matured voice and said, “All of you could be worthy candidates, I don’t deny. But think of this. What will be the end result of consuming all of you in excess in a grant feast like this? You will all end up giving indigestion to the eaters, that’s all. Unless I am consumed, digestion will not be proper and the joy of eating a feast will be wrecked by you guys in reality. Now you know who is really important and who will get Krishna’s best honor”.

As the foodstuffs were arguing amongst themselves,  Krishna arrived at the scene. He picked up the bundle of plantain leaves and started spreading them on the floor in front of all the invited guests. He then asked the other gopis to start serving food over the plantain leaves.

Krishna went around and spoke to the guests joyfully and encouraged them to eat to their stomach full. Once the guests finished eating and got up, Krishna jumped up first, took an empty basket in hand and started picking the plantain leaves himself for disposal.  Other gopis rushed to offer their helping hand.

The foodstuff overheard Gopis conversing with Krishna on this matter:

“Krishna! All the guests were eager to get the food served by your hands. Why didn’t you do it? Why did you opt to spread the plantain leaves and also rushed to pick up the discarded leaves yourself? Can’t you not leave those jobs to servants?”

Krishna said, “While people enjoy eating various foodstuffs and appreciate their taste, who thinks of the importance of plantain leaves? The leaves patiently bear the weight and heat of the foodstuffs served on them. People scratch over them while eating in a hurry. Their spittle fall on the leaves. When all the food served on the plantain leaves are eaten and enjoyed, the leaves are simply discarded and thrown to the streets. Think of the sacrifice of these leaves! They don’t complain about all the abuse and they are happy to be of service without any recognition. I wanted to show my respect to them. That’s why I opted to handle them in the beginning and end” said Krishna.

The foodstuffs listened what Krishna said and they understood the virtue of humility.


Onam at Brindavan-4!

The mischievous parrot

Amma: It is through selfless sacrifice that one becomes fit to receive God’s grace.

In Brindavan, all gopis were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Onam. On that day, their beloved Kirshna would dance with them and give them great joy.  It so happened in the past that when Krishna took the central place in the dance, it was invariably Radha who accompanied to him to dance at the middle, while all other gopis would be dancing around them.

Many gopis thus became envious of Radha. There were complaints that Kirshna was showing partiality towards Radha by dancing maximum in her company. When Krishna came to know of such a complaint, he said to the gopis: “I don’t have any partiality towards Radha; it may perhaps so happened because it is Radha who has total faith and surrender towards me”

Other gopis argued with Kirhsna that their love, surrender and faith in Krishna was no less than Radha’s.

Krishna said “Fine. In order to proove that I am not showing any favors to Radha, let us birng a new practice for this Onam. Get a pot and each of you write your name in a piece of palm leave and put it inside the pot.  I will pick up one from it; whatever name that gets selected, I will dance with that Gopi at the central stage”

All gopis agreed to the suggestion. Some gopis were still not happy. They went and  met Radha privately and spoke to her: “Look Radha, you have danced with Krishna so many times in the past, while we never got a chance.  To be fair, we expect you not to put your name in the pot so that even by luck you don’t get a chance again this time too”

Radha said, “I have no problem at all; I understand very well how much you all love Krishna and long to dance with him; I will not put my name in the pot”.

The gopis felt relieved.

On the Onam day, even though the dance was scheduled for the night, all the gopis came to the spot even before dawn to spread their asanas close to the spot where Ksishna would sit, to ensure closest physical proximity to him.

In order to increase their chance of getting their names picked up, many over-smart  gopis wrote their names in multiple palm leaves and put it inside the pot. More daring ones, while putting their names, also stealthily and mischievously took away a one of two palm leaves dropped already by other gopis!

Krishna and his mischievous parrot!

At last, Krishna arrived at the spot. He brought a parrot with him. He said to the gopis: “I know you don’t have full faith in me. If I pick up the name myself, some of you may accuse me of playing partiality by my doing some trick. That’s why I have brought this parrot.  It will pick up one palm leave from the pot”. So saying he released the parrot. The parrot sitting at the brim of the pot poked its head inside and picked up a piece of palm leaf; instead of flying to Krishna, it flew high into the sky and soon disappeared from sight!

Everyone felt exasperated. What to do now? Kind Nanda came forward with a solution: “Let us now take out all the palm leaves inside the pot and  read out the names. The Gopi whose name is not there is the one picked up the parrot, obviously. She will be the one to dance with Krishna at the central stage”

Swiftly, the pot was emptied and the names in the palm  leaves were read aloud. As expected, there were tens of names of Manju, Anju, Bindhu,  Sandhya and so on! Obviously all the gopis names were read out and the missing name was Radha!

Krishna called out Radha and she joined Krishna to dance with him at the central spot!

Onam in Brindavan – 5!

The tug of war

Amma: It is through unselfishness and sacrifice that one becomes eligible for divine grace.

The Gopis in Brindavanam were very excited as usual as the day of Onam was nearing. On Onam day, their lord Krishna would dance with them in Rasa Leela. Only a few of the Gopis would get the chance to dance with Krishna in the inner circle and every one would vie for such a gift. Naturally there will be stiff competition amidst Gopis for getting the coveted chance.

Krishna said to them “If I select some gopis to dance with me, the others would feel bad. Hence, let us conduct a tug of war competition as part of Onam celebration and whichever group wins, that group of gopis can dance with me”. All the gopis enthusiastically agreed to this proposal.

Is it not important that one ate well and did enough physical exercise to strengthen the arms in order to pull the rope to success? All the gopis started preparing themselves for the competition. Many of them, instead of going out and selling the milk and butter, started consuming themselves in order to increase their stamina!

Gopis who were earlier reluctant to do de-husking of paddy using the pestle, now started even lifting the mortar to gain strength! When mother gopis called their daughters to grind chilly in the grinding stones, many who used to escape saying they were going out to fetch flowers, now started to lift the grinding stones!

Thus, well prepared for the competition, the gopis assembled in the ground on the day of Onam for the grand competition of tug of wars. The two opposing teams of gopis lined themselves and upon receiving signal from Krishna, they started pulling the rope from either side. They pulled and pulled and the competition was really tough. At one point the gopis at one side would seem to pull the opponents to their side but soon the other side would manage to pull back.  After a prolonged battle, the rope suddenly got snapped at the middle and the gopis on either side fell down on the ground!

Krishna who was thoroughly enjoying the competition now declared “Oh goodness! There are no winners now! What to do?  I can’t dance with either of the groups. Is there anyone who did not participate in the competition? I will dance with them”.

The gopis seethed in anger upon hearing this, because they knew Radha, Neeraja and Vrinda had opted not to participate in the competition earlier.  Krishna was informed of this and he called out their names to come forward to dance with him. As Radha, Neeraja and Vrinda came to the front, the other gopis felt like killing all the three of them!

When Krishna got up and said “Come let us dance” the three gopis said, “Dear Krishna, if you dance with just the three of us, all the other gopis would feel so sad and disappointed. We pray to you to include all the gopis in the dance”.

Hearing this, the other gopis felt very bad of themselves. They felt ashamed of their selfish mindset. With heads hung in shame for a while, they gathered themselves soon to join Krishna in the divine Rasaleela.

(Amma Onam Satsang – Monday 4/9/17)

Onam in Brindavan – 6!

The singing competition

The day of Onam celebration was nearing at Brindavan.  Gopis were excited as usual to celebrate the day with their beloved Krishna.

One of the gopis who was good at writing poetry thought of a grand plan to steal the show with Krishna on the day of celebration. She knew pretty well that no other Gopi in Vrindavan was good enough even to write a few sentences coherently. She called the other Gopis and spoke  excitedly about her idea: “Let us celebrate this onam in a different way. Let us conduct a poetry competition in front of Krishna. Whomsoever writes the best poetry as per Krishna’s judgment can dance with him in Ras Lila on the Onm day. What do you say?”

Another gopi who was reasonably talented in singing, but not in writing said, “What is the worth of a poem if it is not tuned to music and sung well?I would say a good song with good music should be judged for its worth”.

Several gopis agreed to this view point.

At this point of time, one gopi who was good at playing tabla said: “Only when a percussion is added, even a song well sung becomes wholesome and fully enjoyable”. Many gopis agreed to this.

Finally a consensus was evolved. It was decided to form several music groups amidst the gopis. Each group will have a song written, tuned to music and sung along with the accompaniment of a percussion instrument like Tabla. They will perform on the day of Onam in front of Krishna and Krishna should select the best group and allow that group to dance with him.

The suggestion was taken to Krishna and He readily gave his consent for it.

Hectic preparations began for the competition at Brindavan. Several gopis started searching for ideas for writing poetry. They started reading puranas and kavyas with  an idea of pinching a line or two from here and there  and somehow concoct a song!

There was one old pundit living in Brindavan who was virtually never considered a living being there all those years! Suddenly he became the most sought after man, because many gopis pestered him to write a few lines of songs and give to them secretly so that they could claim the songs as their own!

Gopis who were good at singing or in playing musical instruments became very proud and inaccessible since so many gopis tried to pull them into their groups.

The search for good poems became very frantic indeed. Some gopis picked up random words from here and there, and joined them to look like poetry! Rumors spread that some gopis were over-hearing others’ singing and practicing sessions and pinched lines from others’ songs. Scared of such a possibility, groups of gopis started practicing secretively at distant places so that no one could listen to them and attempt copying!

Finally, the onam day arrived. With lots of fanfare, the various groups of gopis sang their songs in front of Krishna. Krishna enjoyed listening to them all. When all the groups finished their presentation, Krishna asked, “Where is Radha? Why has not she sung any song?”

Poor Radha. who was unlettered, had kept herself away from all the hullabaloo. She opted to remain a silent observer.

Krishna called her out and said, “Radha! Why don’t you sing a song?”

Radha hesitated. How could she sing, when she had no idea of how to frame a poetic verse? Anyhow, since her beloved Krishna had asked her to sing, how could she negate it? She closed her eyes, and started singing from her heart, allowing whatever words that formed and came out on their own: “How can I ever sing when my music is verily Krishna?”

When she started singing, the whole atmosphere became calm.An inexplicable  bliss permeated the area.Gopis who knew playing musical instruments involuntarily started playing in support of Radha’s singing. Percussionists started playing their drums in appropriate beats to suit the singing. It became a soul stirring song, melting the heart of everyone.

Once the song was over, Krishna got up and extended his hand towards Radha, signalling her to dance with him. Even though other gopis felt that it was the most appropriate decision, some of them nevertheless asked Krishna, “Krishna, Radha’s song was beautiful, but it did not have any proper poetic mitre, rhyme or rhythm. But you selected that song to be the best. Why?”

Krishna replied: “You all wrote your songs with the intention of beating others in the competition whereas Radha’s song blossomed out of her love and surrender to me”

Then Radha requested Krishna to dance with other gopis too (and not just with her alone). Krishna agreed and th Ras Lila began.

Onam in Brindavan – 7!

The closest Location for Krishna

As the day of Onam neared, Brindavan was agog with festive mood once again. Gopas and gopis went to Krishna and said, “Dear Krishna, we should celebrate Onam this year too with your dance and so on; please suggest a location for us to arrange things”.

Krishna said, “I have no specific choice. You can discuss and decide among yourself; only make sure that it is closest to me. Let it not be a far off place”.

Several groups of Gopis went around discussing about the best location. Since Krishna wanted a place closest to him, they felt a location just around Nandagopa’s house will be the best. One group of gopis found the northern backyard of the house was the best. They set out to clean the place and arrange flower pots there. Another group found the southern side as the best. The went ahead clearing the bushes in that place and decorating it. A third group felt the western side to be best. There were lots of shady trees there. They cleared ground and arranged it neatly. Another group felt the west side to be the right. They cleared the place and spread white sand there.

Radha did not join any group. But she made herself available to do the cleaning and arranging works in all the four locations.

Each group brought a beautiful throne for their beloved Krishna to sit and kept it at a nicely visible location, one each at the east, west, north and south areas. Gopis in each group vied with each other to place their mats closest to the throne so that they can sit closest to Krishna.  Then some of them got worried. What if Krishna did not come to their location but go and sit in some other location?  To play safe, they brought extra mats and reserved seats in other locations too! Radha did not reserve any seat for her in any location. She was remaining a witness to all the buzz happening around her.

Onam day arrived. Gopis were hanging around here and there around the house with tension. They were not sure to which location Krishna would come.  But they were ready to take a sprint to whichever location Krishna might go, so that they can push their way to be closest to him! They were just waiting to hear the sound of Krishna’s flute.

Suddenly they heard a mild sound of flute from somewhere.  They fell silent so as to locate from where the music was coming. It sounded as if it was coming from a distant place. Ah! It was coming from the garden at side of the bank of the Yamuna river which was farther away from Nandagopa’s house!

Pandamonium! Gopis’ rushed to pick up their mats and also their vessels in which they had brought eatables to share with Krishna. There was lot of commotion, noise, banging at each other and voice of curses all around Krishna’s house! They ran like mad vying with each other towards the garden at the bank of Yamuna. In their mad rush, some knocked at each other dropped vessels and spilled the eatables too.

There, Krishna was seated under a shady tree, joyfully playing his flute and Radha was sitting beside him, deeply immersed in the divine music!

Gopis pushed and shoved each other in order to come and sit closest to Krishna as usual!

Once they arrived, there  were lots of voices simultaneously raising a complaint about Krishna! “Dear Krishna, you have cheated us! You chose to be alone with Radha, while we were all waiting for you there around your house. This place is far away from your home. We made everything ready just around your house in order to fulfil your condition that it should be closest to you!”

Krishna laughed and said, “Tell me which is the closest place for me? Is it not your heart? But your heart had no place for me! Your heart is full of competitive thoughts with others; You wanted only close physical proximity with me and not a heart to heart proximity! You were only carrying selfishness, envy, and other such emotions; you wanted to push everyone away from me so that you can find a nearest place to my physique! But Radha is carrying me always in her heart; she has no envy; she was alone here, not really keen to be competing with you over there!”

Gopis held their heads down in shame.

Radha said, “Krishna, they have spent several days cleaning and decorating all the sides of your house so as to celebrate this festive day there. Please don’t disappoint them”.

Krishna agreed.

All of them returned to Nandagopa’s house. And there they found Krishna in each and every location, waiting for their return!

(Amma Onam Satsang – Monday 10/9/19)

Onam in Brindavan – 8!

This Onam is for Gopas!

The day of Onam celebration was nearing at Vrindavan.  Gopis were excited as usual to celebrate the day with their beloved Krishna.

The Gopas of Vrindavan were in a belligerent mood this time. They were animatedly discussing among themselves about their pitiable fate. “See, our love on Krishna is in now way inferior to these Gopis’.  We are also so close to Krishna; we go along with him to the forest to graze our cows and we too have our close proximity to Krishna. But somehow, everyone talks too high of these Gopis’ love on Krishna. These gopis too are too proud of it and they just don’t care about us. Krishna too plays favoritism towards them. He does Rasa Lila only with the Gopis. Every year, Krishna celebrates Onam with Gopis and he gives all the attention only to them. These Gopis stick around Krishna on Onam day and have all the fun; when we try to come close to Krishna to take part in the fun, these Gopis chase us away! We had to be content to sit far away from Krishna and watch His lilas on the Onam day. How unfair this is!”

So, they went as a big group to meet Krishna and aired their complaint. Krishna listened to them patiently with a smiling face. One Gopa said, “Krishna, we expect fairness from you; we want to sit closest to you and enjoy the Onam festivities this time. We seek your cooperation”.

Krishna smiled and said, “Yes, I am at your disposal. Please tell me what you want me to do.”

The Gopas said, “Instead of the venue at the bank of the river Yamuna that these Gopis have already chosen this time for the Onam celebration, we will make the ground behind the Govardhan hill ready for the festivities. We will make all arrangements there. Let the Gopis keep preparing their place at the bank of Yamuna. This time you should come to our place straight. Once we are all settled, we will send the word to Gopis that you are with us behind Govardhan hill.  Let them occupy the seats behind us.”

Krishna agreed. The Gopas further said, “Let this be a top secret. Let none of the gopas whisper about this plan to any Gopi. Krishna, we know how mischievous you are. We want a promise from you that you shall never disclose the secret to the Gopis”. Krishna laughed and agreed.

The Gopas went away joyfully. They started secretly making all the preparations for Onam festivities at the ground behind the Govardhan hill.

In the meantime, some gopas visited the place near Yamuna bank where the Gopis were making all the arrangements.  As usual, they have made a throne ready for Krishna and all the Gopis have reserved their places tightly close to throne, by keeping their mats around.

Chuckling to themselves, the Gopas asked Gopis, “Oh! This time too you have reserved all your places closest to Krishna and as usual you have left us lurking. Will you please give some little space — at least some little place where one can prick a needle near you?”

“No way!” said the gopis. The Gopas left the place laughing. Oh! How piriful these Gopis would feel when they finally come  to know that Krishna had changed the venue at the last minute!

The day of Onam arrived. As usual the Gopis got up early, made their food preparations, dressed themselves up and left home as early as possible. The Gopas however left their homes leisurely.  They were sure that Krishna will be available for all of them without any need for competitions to get a place close to him at their exclusive location!

But they were  in for a huge shock when they reached the venue! Krishna was already seated there and he was fully surrounded by the Gopis.

“It is not fair Krishna! It must be your mischief as usual. You have not kept your promise of not telling them the change of venue!” They shouted at Krishna with genuine frustration.

Krishna said, “Oh! No! I never told anybody about it. I did keep my promise. I really don’t know how these Gopis sniffed and found out that I am here and not at the bank of Yamuna. Will you girls tell me how you came here?”

The Gopis said, “Krishna, as we left our homes this morning, we let loose the cows from the stables for them to go out for grazing  as usual. But we noticed that instead of running towards the river bank, they were running towards the Govardhan hill. We were surprised. Then we noticed that parrots too were flying towards the direction of the hill. Bees and butterflies too were flying in the same direction. The early morning breeze too had changed direction! When we noticed all these, we suspected that you must be somewhere around Govardhan hill, because we know about your divine attraction; we know it makes every living and nonliving beings getting lured towards you. So, instead of going to the river bank, we came and looked for you around the Govardhan hill and found you sitting in this new venue!”

“Ah! Poor Gopas! What can I do about it?  Their true love on me has sharpened their awareness so well!”

The Gopas held their head low in shame.

The Gopis offered the flowers they had brought with them to Krishna. Krishna said, “Now I need one specific flower from you.  It is called Karunya pushpam — The flower of compassion. I want you all to be compassionate with the Gopas and give space for them too to sit close to me”.

The Gopis agreed and many of them moved away and gave space for Gopas to sit near Krishna.

The Onam festivities began soon.

(From Amma’s Onam message 31/8/2020)

 

 

 

Moral lessons you can learn from the story of Ramayana

Ramayana is just not a mythological story—it is one of the two most widely read “Itihas,” and revered by Hindus everywhere. Itihas means “thus happened.” As per Hindu belief, Ramayana is the true story of Rama—the king of Ayodhya who is considered to be the very incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Great sage poet Valmiki, who wrote the magnum opus “Ramayana,” was a caretaker for Sita, Rama’s wife during the turbulent, tail end period of her life.

The historic period (or Yuga) that Rama lived in was known as Treta Yuga. This was during a time when people’s righteousness (dharma) and moral standards were of a high order. In subsequent yugas (namely Dwapar Yuga, when the story of Mahabharata took place; and the present day Kali yuga that we live in), dharma and morality seem to be steadily declining. Thus, the story of “Ramayana,” whenever read, tends to give us great insight to the very high moral and ethical standards of yore. During times of mental turmoil, we can often find enlightenment from reading “Ramayana.”

Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu, the Hero of the epic story Ramayana.

Here are some of the lessons one can learn from reading Ramayana:

  1. The relationship between Dharma, ArthaKama and Moksha.

Human life is often lost while chasing materialism—known as Artha, and sensory pleasures—known as Kama. The story of “Ramayana” makes it clear that these two pursuits should never be sought at the cost of righteousness—Dharma. The ultimate goal of life is liberation—or Moksha, and this can be attained only by relinquishing Artha and Kama and by strictly following a life of Dharma.

  1. The importance of one man being wedded to only one wife

During the Ramayana period, practice of polygamy (by men) was quite prevalent and it was quite an acceptable social norm for kings to marry many women. Rama’s own father, Dasaratha, was wedded to three wives, and he also had innumerable concubines at his palace. In a stark contrast to his father, Rama remained wedded and staunchly loyal to his only wife, Sita. From this practice, he held his head high as the greatest king ever to rule in Bharat, India. He set a good example for future generations of men as to what was considered the gold standard for a respectable man in society.

  1. Adherence to truth and the need to honor one’s word

When Rama was a young boy, the love and affection his father Dasarata had for him was immense. He would never want to get separated from his loving son. When Sage Viswamitra visited his palace and asked for help to ward off demons who were disturbing his spiritual practices at his forest hermitage, Dasarata promised to offer whatever help he could give. The Sage asked the king to send young Rama with him to fight the demons at the forest and naturally Dasarata was terribly shocked. Still, though, he agreed to part with Rama, to honor his promise to the Sage.

Later on, his third wife Kaikeyi wanted the throne of Ayodhya for her own son Bharata. She also wanted Rama to be exiled to the forest. This was nothing short of a deathly blow to Dasarata, but, still, he never used his authority as king to veto her request. This is because of the promise he had made long ago to Kaikeyi to grant her two boons whenever she chose to ask.

  1. Respecting a father’s word of honor

On the night before Rama’s crowning ceremony, Kaikeyi made use of her boons not only to deny Rama his rightful ascend to the kingdom, but also to send him into exile in the forest. Rama, as a kshatriya (a person belonging to a ruler or warrior class), had every right to question such an injustice. He was also not duty bound to honor his father’s unjust promises, either. However, true to his greatness, Rama, with total mental equipoise and without even a trace of disappointment on his face, conceded to both the demands. For him, “pitru vakya paripalanam” (honoring his father’s words) was one of the highest dharmas.

  1. The futility of listening to vicious counseling

Kaikeyi, who was an essentially good-natured woman, meekly allowed her very loyal maid servant Mandara to brainwash her into demanding these two atrocious boons from Dasarata. Though she was not enthusiastic in the beginning, she gradually allowed Mandara’s venomous words to poison her mind. Did she gain anything finally? No. In fact, she lost her beloved husband Dasarata who died very soon thereafter, on account of the shock and the pain of separation he experienced from having from his beloved son Rama being sent off. Bharata, Kaikeyi’s son, for whom she obtained the very kingdom, reprimanded her for her atrocious act. He never ever took charge of the kingdom as a King.

Now, notice this contrast: Upon hearing about these developments, Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, (who was very short-tempered), like a true Kshatriya, got angry. He could not tolerate the injustice doled out to Rama. He wanted Rama to fight for his rights, he also wanted to proceed and fight with his father and imprison Kaikeyi. However, Rama never heeded to his counsel. He pacified Lakshmana with calming words, pointing out the need for adhering to dharma. The effect of Rama’s counseling not only pacified Lakshmana, but this also gave him a steely resolution to relinquish his own comforts of the palace to accompany Rama to the forest, despite the latter’s objections to it.

  1. Not accepting any booty that came in an unjust way

Bharata, Kaikeyi’s son, also could not tolerate the very idea of bequeathing the throne that rightfully belong to his elder brother Rama, which was wrongly acquired for his sake by his mother. He felt wrath towards his mother on this issue and took her to task for having asked for such a boon. So, he went to the forest in search of his brother and pled for his return to the country to rightfully rule it. Rama refused to concede, of course, so he took Rama’s shoes, carried it on his head, and placed them on Ayodhya’s throne. He took care of administration of the country as a representative of Rama till Rama returned from exile.

  1. The futility of getting swayed by dubious attractions

Sita, who was in the forest, grew madly attracted to a beautiful golden deer. She wanted her husband Rama to catch the deer. She refused to listen to Lakshmana’s warning that such a deer was not natural, and that it could be a demon in disguise. Because of her incessant pestering to acquire the deer to be her playmate, Rama had to go behind it. Unfortunately, this led to her getting separated from him, and she then got forcibly abducted by Ravana, the demon.

  1. The importance of being watchful about one’s utterances

Afterwards, Rama killed the demon. Then, Maricha, the demon who was disguised as the golden deer, called out “Ha Lakshmana! Ha Sita!” mimicking Rama’s voice, and died. Sita, upon hearing it, urged Lakshmana, who was standing guard next to her, to go and help Rama (who was actually not in any trouble). Lakshmana tried his best to counsel her, but he could not convince her that Rama was fine. In a fit of rage, Sita accused Lakshmana of wanting to have an illicit relationship with her in Rama’s absence. Lakshmana, who was then shell-shocked from hearing such an abominable accusation, left immediately, leaving her alone. Ravana then utilized this opportunity to abduct her.

Some interpreters of Ramayana say that Sita was forced to prove her chastity by the test of fire by Rama (after she was freed from the clutches of Ravana) only because of her intemperate and terrible accusation against the saintly and devout Lakshmana.

  1. The importance of fighting against atrocity done to woman

Jatayu, the old and once powerful bird, noticed Ravana abducting Sita forcefully and flying with her in his vehicle towards his country Lanka. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana in an effort to release Sita. Unfortunately, he could not succeed in this effort. The bird sacrificed its very own life on such a noble effort. Before taking his last breath, though, Jatayu managed to convey the news to Rama, who was moved to tears by the old bird’s gallantry. Rama performed its last rites and funeral, as though he was the bird’s son.

  1. Divine love transcends all barriers of caste and creed

Lowly fisherman Guha was was full of devotion to Rama. He helped Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita cross the Ganges river in a boat. Impressed by his devotion and service, Rama accepted him as if his brother. Sabari, an old hunter woman of low caste, became a staunch devotee of Rama, just by hearing about Rama’s greatness.

When Rama was wandering the forests in search of Sita, he happened to visit Sabari’s hut. The old lady, overwhelmed with love for Rama, reportedly offered him fruits after nibbling each a bit to make sure that she did not offer sour fruits to her beloved Rama. Rama treated Sabari as though she was his own mother and showered his grace on her.

  1. The importance of humility as a great virtue

Hanuman, estranged Vanar King Sugriva’s minister, was one of the greatest characters of Ramayana. Hanuman was physically very powerful, a great diplomat, very articulate, and very wise. Despite all his great traits, his humility was still unsurpassed. The moment he met Rama, he was bowled over by Rama’s divinity and charm and he committed himself to be Rama’s lifelong servant. The great feats he subsequently performed in serving Rama were unparalleled. The humility he displayed despite his greatness was unfathomable.

  1. The greatness of true friendship

Rama befriended the estranged Vanar King Sugriva with a mutual promise of help. Sugriva’s brother Vali had forcefully taken Sugriva’s wife. Not only that, but he also denied him his share of the Vanar kingdom. Sugriva and Rama teamed up in an effort to eliminate the immensely powerful Vali. Sugriva, in turn, helped Rama in seeking and locating Sita. He also helped Rama to wage war against Ravana in order to retrieve Sita. Both did a commendable job in honoring their words.

  1. Showing mercy, even to the enemy.

Ravana’s younger brother Vibhishan was an extremely righteous person. In fact, he was bold enough to warn and advise Ravana against abducting another person’s wife just to satisfy his own carnal desires. When the furious Ravana showed his brother to the door, Vibhishana went to Rama and surrendered to him. Despite reservations from Sugriva and others, Rama accepted Vibhishana into his fold.

During the first fiery combat between Rama and Ravana, Rama destroyed all of Ravana’s weapons and armor. So, Ravana stood on the war field unprotected. Rama, who could have easily killed Ravana at that moment, in one of the greatest acts of graciousness, then asked Ravana to retire for the day and return to the war field the next day, fully rearmed, as it was against dharma to kill an un-armed person.

  1. The need for the highest standards in a King

After annihilating Ravana and freeing Sita from confinement, Rama performed one of the most controversial and oft-criticized demands in asking Sita to jump into the fire to prove her chastity. Sita did it, and she came out unscathed. Rama took her into his loving fold once again.

Later, when he became King of Ayodhya, he came to know that  a washerman who spoke ill words about Rama for having accepted his wife Sita who had stayed in the confinement of his enemy for months. Rama, whose love for Sita was unfathomable, then made the most painful decision in relinquishing her—simply because he had to maintain a very high order of personal probity as the ruler of Ayodhya.

One can go on discussing many more lessons of morality and dharma that can be found from an in-depth reading of Ramayana. It is no wonder that Ramayana is a wonderful story for both children and elders alike. It’s both a wondrous piece of literature and a great source of guidance on righteous living that has stood up to the test of time. It continues to inspire millions of people, breaking through both religion and linguistic barriers across the world.