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Amma’s stories related to Sadhana for sadhakas (Spiritual practices for Earnest seekers of God/ Self) – 14 stories

1.   The subtle vasanas

Once a spiritual aspirant who was a mendicant went for begging his food. A family invited him for lunch and served food to him in a silver plate. After eating the food, the mendicant washed the plate himself. Then he left the place and walked away. He carried the silver plate too along and the hosts did not notice it.

After going away for while, the mendicant suddenly realized that he had taken the silver plate with him instead of returning it to the hosts.  He felt shocked about himself. He never had any tendency to steal in the past. Feeling remorseful, he rushed back to the host’s house and returned the plate, profusely apologizing for his slip. He said, “I really don’t know how such an awful desire to slip away with the silver plate ever came to my mind unknowingly. I had never stolen anything in my life”.

The householder unquestioningly accepted the mendicant’s confession and bid him good bye. However he felt intrigued. What could suddenly cause a Sadhu to get a fleeting desire to steal? He called the cook, who was a recently appointed person. He started asking probing questions to the cook. Upon this inquiry, he came to know that the new cook, ever since he saw the silver plate, wanted to steal it and this thought occupied his whole mind when he cooked the food that day.

Amma:  The thoughts of a person cooking food in a subtle way goes into the food and it has the potential to affect the person eating the food. That is why it is advised that a person cooking food should do mantra japa while cooking so that good vibrations enter into the food.

(Tuesday Satsang 30/8/2016)

2.   The effect of company

Once a young man, who had no interest in seeing movies, was visited by his friend. During their course of chitchatting, he visitor said, “Have you seen such-and-such movie recently? It is a great picture! What a story, what a classic acting and photography! If you have not seen it so far, you have really missed something in life!” The young man listened to it and did not react.

After a couple of days, the friend visited again and this time too he spoke very highly of the movie and urged him to go and see it.

In a couple of more visits too, the friend kept on talking about the movie. The young man by now got very intrigued; he felt tempted to go and watch the movie.

He went to the theatre and watched the movie with curiosity. Indeed it was spectacular and he got very much attracted to it. He watched the movie a couple of times and gradually developed desire to watch other movies too. He started frequenting other theatres and soon became such a regular movie goer that the number of pictures that he watched every week outnumbered his friend, who originally tempted him to watch one movie!

Amma:  That is the effect of a company. Company with holy persons is the true satsang and through satsang one can develop good samskaras and habits. If the company is bad, one will only get into evil habits.

(Tuesday Satsang 30/8/2016)

3.  Single pointed mind

Amma:  Whatever excitement you get in Amma’s presence is indeed a focus on Amma. Instead of mentally getting disturbed on so many other things, your excited thoughts are only focused on Amma and it is good.

Once a Woman went to a Fair with her child. The fair was extremely crowded. There were plenty of stalls selling a variety of garments, food, ice-creams, snacks, fancy items, toys and so on. Music programs, dance and drama were going on several open venues and people were excitedly moving around in all the places, watching and enjoying. While the woman too was excitedly looking around and watching everything, she suddenly noticed that her child has last the grip of her hand. The child got separated from her in the milling crowd.

The mother was shocked when she realized the situation. She started frantically searching around for her child, crying out her name. ‘Where is my child? Where is my child?’ – this was the single thought that occupied her mind now and none of the goings-on the fair could distract her attention any more.

Amma:  If the entire focus becomes the guru, then all the worldly attractions fall away on their own.

(Monday beach Satsang 22/8/2016)

4.  The count of leaves in the tree!

Amma: For every earnest spiritual aspirant, getting self-realization is a very long drawn process. It requires lots of patience and effort. One cannot afford to slack efforts and abort one’s goal midway.

Once two spiritual aspirants were doing  sadhana under a banyan tree for quite some years. The Celestial Sage Narada happened to pass by one day. As Narada had his daily contacts with the Lord Narayana, the aspirants were eager to know from God when they would attain God-realization. They appealed to Narada to inquire about it when he would meet Lord Narayana the next time. Narada agreed.

A few days later, Narada came by. One of the aspirants eagerly asked whether Narada spoke to Lord Narayana and got the answer.  Narada said that he did and what Narayana told him was that this person would require as many births as the number of leaves found in the Banyan tree to attain his self-realization. The person who heard this was devastated. He felt highly infuriated. “I have been doing severe sadhana for so many years and still Narayana says I will require so many births? Oh! Then its all a waste of time. It’s all a mere humbug then; I would rather go back to the world and enjoy it instead of wasting my time here” . He left the place fretting and fuming.

Now the other aspirant posed the same question and Narada gave the same reply. Upon hearing it, the second aspirant was full of joy and started dancing in ecstasy! “O! Is it true that Lord Narayana indeed said that I would get my salvation after these many births, for sure? Oh! I am really lucky then! I am indeed blessed!” So saying, he continued to jump around and dance.

At that very moment, the second aspirant got his self-realization instantly.  Such was the reward he got for his mental attitude and patience.

5.  Be kind hearted, but have common sense first!

Amma:  It is not just enough if you are a good and kind-hearted person. You should apply your mind and act with presence of mind and shraddha; otherwise, your act of charity may become futile.

This is a real story happened in the Ashram as narrated by Amma:

Brahmacharnini L- in the Amritapuri Ashram is an extremely kind-hearted person, who loves to run to the help of anyone needing help and succor.

One day, a physically handicapped old man came to see Amma and was walking up the stairs with difficulty with his crutches. Brahmacharnini L- was so overwhelmed with the suffering of that person that she wanted to extend a helping hand to him and make him seated.

Saying “Aiyo paavam” (Oh what a pity) she received one of his crutches. While the man was struggling to stabilize himself with a single crutch, our Brahmacharini, in an excited state to somehow help the person to stabilize, extended her hand, saying another “Aiyo”  and took off the other cruch too, without applying her mind to catch hold of the person before removing the other crutch!

Right infront of her eyes, the old person, with nothing and none to support him collapsed on the floor, while our Brahmacharnini could only help crying out a big and louder “A-I-Y-Y-O…”

[Amma was at her mimicking best when she enacted all this with her actions and voice. The whole crowd burst into laughter!]

* * * *
This is yet another real story that happened in the ashram, as narrated by Amma:

Some time ago, a mentally disturbed person came to the Ashram with a purported desire of settling down as a  householder in the Ashram. His worried wife and mother too were there together with him in the darshan queue.

Even before he could open his mouth before Amma, the wife wanted Amma not to concede to his request because she has lots needs and desires to be met in the outside world. Amma reassured her that She would never take people just like that and started probing deeper into the man’s troubles. It was reported that he seemed to behave as though mentally disturbed, after a recent bout of fever, but Amma suspected a deeper and long existing ailment in him that caused his quirky behavior.  Amma suggested a thorough medical check-up for him and assured them that everything will be alright sooner. Amma made him sit behind her for a while.

After Amma retired to her room at the end of darshan , the person suddenly got very violent; he was shouting at his wife, started spitting at her and behaved uncontrollably.  Lots of people gathered around, including some brahmacharis, who wanted to intervene with good intentions.

One Ashram resident, assuming that the man was under fits, started frantically searching for a iron piece to be given in his hands (as there is a common erroneous belief that people affected by fits get calmed down when they grip a piece of iron). And lo, he could only locate a knife and without thinking a second time, he thrust the knife into the hands of the man in fits!

More chaos! (When Amma narrated this with her gestures, the whole gathering at the Beach Satsang was rolling with laughter). Then a group of brahmacharis somehow managed to pin down the violent man and snatch the knife from his hands.

And there, adjacent to the man was Brahmachari S, who was always known for his calmness and serenity, who was never seen expressing anger or outward emotions. And people saw him for the first time with eyes bulging out in anger and tell-tale facial expressions of pain, anguish and rage. Reason?

In an over enthusiastic attempt to prevent the man from spitting at others, he had put his hand over his mouth and the man caught the bramhmachari’s fingers with his teeth and was applying his full jaw pressure on the fingers; Brahmachari S- could not do anything to wriggle his fingers out from the man’s vice-like grip of the jaw and that pain and anguish came through his facial expressions.

[Amma, in her inimical way, with a doze of exaggeration perhaps, was emoting the facial expressions of the brahmachari to the utter entertainment of the crowd!]

Finally, when the Brahmachari managed to get his finger freed, it was bleeding and he had to be rushed to the hospital to have a few stitches and a bandage over the finger!

[Amidst all these fun and frolic, Amma made sure to drive home the point that one requires viveka Buddhi to handle such situations. How foolish it was to thrust a knife in the hands of a mentally disturbed person! How inappropriate it was to close the mouth of the person who seemed to be under the grip of fits!]

8.   In search of a soul mate

Once a young, beautiful and intelligent western woman wanted to get married to a person who would be most suited to her taste, preferences and temperaments. She searched for such a mate for years but she could not come across any male who could win her heart. She dropped the idea of getting married; she was still feeling restless in her heart; in order to get some peace of mind through mental diversion, whe undertook a travel across the globe visiting several countries.

She came to a distant eastern country on sight seeing. She took a room in a hotel in a large city in that country. One day, while she was eating in the restaurant, she chanced to meet a western guy. They started talking to each other. She developed a liking for him. They decided to meet again. As they started interacting more and more, both of them developed a mutual liking which soon blossomed into love.

As they exchanged details about their personal lives, she came to know that he too was from her home town from her own country. Inquiring further, they came to know that they had been living in the same street at neighboring houses all these years! Despite such a close proximity, they never had come across each other in their home town!

[Amma: Children, you may also go on searching for God everywhere, but you won’t find him because he is indeed unimaginably closest  to you! As long as you are steeped in ignorance, you think he is somewhere too far off in the heavens. Remove your ignorance. Get rid of your body consciousness and go beyond it. Awaken and remain in pure awareness. Then you will realize that God is closer than the closest to you.]

9.   Brainwashing

Once there was  a grand feast at night arranged by a rich man in his mansion. Several guests had arrived and the party was going in full swing. All the arrangements had been made impeccably and everyone was enjoying the good ambience and the food.

While the feast was going on, an uninvited person somehow managed to come into the mansion and join the gathering. He caught hold of the host and started talking to him. He said, “What sort of feast is this? It is so lacklustre and boring; Nothing is good or pleasent here….” He kept on criticizing and complaining about the food, arrangement etc. He was an extremely impressive and tactful talker. Through his forceful and persistent talking, he succeeding in confusing the host and making him to believe that the food was indeed horrible  the arrangements were poor.

Forgetting that it was he who hosted the feast and made all the arrangements, the rich man, who was so far enjoying the whole thing, started feeling very negative and he totally agreed with the views of the uninvited intruder. “Yes; you are right; this place is really disgusting; come, let us move out of here” he said to the stranger.

“That’s right. Let us go out. I shall host a grand feast exclusively for you tonight. By my honored guest. I will show how a really grand feast shall be”, so saying the visitor took the rich man along with him to his place. On the way, the person kept on bragging how his feast would consist of the rarest of all exclusive delicacies, grand decor, impeccable ambience and so on. The rich man was mesmerised by the visitor’s talk.

Finally they reached the visitor’s house. It was a godforsaken place, totally in disarray, dirty and ugly. No one else was there in the house. But the visitor kept on talking, trying to impress the rich and make him believe that they were indeed in a grand palace, wonderfully decorated. He insisted that all the preparations of food were going on already in full swing and the feast would start very soon.

Nothing happened. The rich man regained his senses. He understood that the visitor was indeed a mentally deranged person and a maniac. With lots of difficulty, he managed to interrupt the incessant talking of the mad person and said, “Stop, stop! This is enough”. The mad person’s face turned pale, “Why? what happened?” he asked in a jittery voice.

The rich man said, “What a fool I have been to come with you to this dirty place! I was actually giving a wonderful feast to my guests and all were indeed enjoying it thoroughly. My own mansion was so beautiful and wonderfully decorated for the function! How happy I was there before you came? Why the hell I forgot all about it and came behind you like an idiot!”

So saying, he started walking away from the house. The mad man tried his best to stop him but the rich man pushed him aside and rushed back to his mansion.

The feast was still going on and no one seemed to have noticed his absence for a while. With great relief and he joined the gathering once again.

[Amma: We are all like the host in the story. We have forgotten who we really are.We are blessed to enjoy creation and life in our own place. We are the source of the joy, like the host. But not knowing it, we allowed our ego, the uninvited guest, into us, who successfully hoodwinked us and made us lose our sensibility. Like sleep-walkers, we lost our awareness and went behind our ego; thus we lost the joy of the feast — our life.We forgot our true self — Atman and we became a pupper to our ego.

We should awake from our intoxicated state and realize that we indeed are the ‘host’ — the root cause of creation. Once we understand the wily machinations of our ego, we will understand that we have gone to a wrong place. We will immediately come back to our own house, where bliss is ever present.]

(Arul Mozhigal- vol 9  p 90-92)

10.  Dig deep at one place

Once there was a famous devotee. A man from the next village heard about him and therefore came to see him. The visitor waited outside the front yard of the house as the devotee was performing his worship inside the house at that time.

The man peeped inside and noticed that the devotee was sitting in front of his pooja shrine and doing the worship of Lord Ganesha. The visitor, seeing this dug a hole in the ground. The devotee then started worshiping his Guru. The visitor, now dug a second hole. After finishing the hymns praising the Guru, the devotee then started worshiping Lord Muruga. The visitor dug a third hole.

As the devotee then proceeded to worship Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali and so on, the visitor too dug one hole each corresponding the the God worshiped.

After finishing the puja, the devotee came out and he was surprised to see so many holes at his yard. He shouted at the visitor: “What is this? Why have you dug so many holes in my yard?”

The visitor said, “I wanted to get some water and so I dug one hole. Since I didn’t get water there, I dug the next one and the next and so on. I have dug everywhere but could not get any water. Had I dug at one place deep enough, I would have got the water by now and need not have wasted my time”.

The devotee understood immediately. Had he surrendered to  any one of the Gods wholeheartedly and concentrated worshiping him, he could have become a liberated soul by then.

[Amma: The Gods and Goddesses have diverse forms, but in reality all are one. The various names and forms are only to help us in our spiritual practice to suit our diverse tastes. Each one can choose a deity according to his taste and mental make up which will serve as the ladder to reach the supreme.]

[Source:’Awaken Children’ – Vol.2 ]

11.  A Mahatma among you

Once there was a Mutt where a saint lived there as guru; several disciples were living with him in the mutt and practicing spiritual austerities. They were extremely sincere, earnest and focused in their spiritual practices. An excellent, spiritually surcharged atmosphere was present in the Mutt that attracted countless people from near and far to the mutt. People found peace and solace in the ambience of the mutt.

The Guru passed away. The disciples felt orphaned and were in grief for some time; however, they continued to stay in the mutt and continued with their spiritual austerities.  However, as time passed, gradually their enthusiasm and commitment to spiritual life and practice started waning and then deteriorated considerably. The arrival of visitors seeking peace and spiritual guidance from the mutt too deteriorated and then stopped. Now new spiritual aspirants joined the mutt. The inmates of the Mutt felt very disturbed. There were lots of fights among themselves. Love and devotion dried up in their hearts.

The eldest of the disciples felt very bad about the sorry state of affairs at the mutt. He deeply felt the urge to revive  the relevance and reputation of the mutt. He came to know that a Mahatma was living in a forest adjacent to the mutt. He felt he should go and seek his counsel on this matter.

He went to the forest and prostrated before the Mahatma. He explained the current state of affairs of the mutt to the saint and sought his guidance.

The saint smiled and said, “One among your present residents of the Mutt is indeed a Mahatma. But he is intentionally hiding his true status; he will not express it outwardly.  Since no one ever understood him and extended love and respect to him, your mutt has come to such a sorry state”. Immediately after saying this, the Saint closed his eyes and went deep into samadhi. Hence the visiting disciple could not get any more information on who that Mahatma among them was”. He prostrated before the saint and walked back to the mutt.

On his way, the disciple kept on wondering who that Mahatma could be, living in cognito among them. “Could it be that sanyasi who does washing of clothes? No. He is extremely short tempered. Is it the sanyasi in charge of the kitchen? Oh! He does not even know how to cook properly….” the disciple kept on mentally analysing and judging each resident in the Mutt but he was only finding faults in almost all of them. “But the saint said that only one among all these people is the Mahatma. Since I am only looking at each one’s fault, I am not able to grasp who that Mahatma is.  As the saint said, it is quite likely that the Mahatma could be intentionally showing weird behavior in order to hide his saintliness from others’ eyes” he thought.

After reaching the mutt, he called the meeting of all inmates and announced what the saint had said. Everyone was very surprised; they looked at each other’s face to see the signs of a saint! At the same time, each of them consciously knew that he is not the person fit to me a Mahatma. Everyone else too looked to be faulty enough not to fit to the mold of a Mahatma! The discussed among themselves but could not decipher the mystery.

Finally they resolved to themselves that since it is not at all right to insult a saint who could be one among them, it is best to treat each one with respect and love.

The put their resolution into daily practice. By trying to love and respect one another, they were also looking at the good things in others and started wondering whether the person in front of them could be a Mahatma. In this process, soon they started loving each other.  Gradually, their evil and negative tendencies started dissolving. They came to a stage where each one could see a Mahatma in each other. It became so strong that soon they could see Godliness in anything and everything. They all became jivan muktas (liberated while living).  The very atmosphere of the Mutt thus underwent a sea change. Outside people started noticing the divine glow in the face of the inmates.  People gradually started visiting the mutt again to benefit from the company of holy people.

[Amma: “This story tells us that love and liberation are interdependent. For the love to spring up, the mind should be freed of ego.”]

(Source: Arul Mozhigal- vol 8 Tamil)

12.  The sign of dawn

Once a Guru asked his disciples: “How will you know that the night has ended and dawn has happened?”

One disciple said, “If you can identify whether a person coming at a distance is a male or female, it means it has dawned”. The guru did not give his nod of approval to this answer.

Another disciple said, “If you can identify whether a tree at a distance is a mango tree or a neem tree, it indicates it has dawned”. For this answer too, the guru did not give his approval.

The disciples wanted to know the correct answer from the guru. The guru said, “Only when you can see every man as your brother and every female as your sister, one can say the darkness of the night has ended and the light of the dawn has come. If this attitude does not come, even if it is midday, you are still in the darkness of the night only.

The disciples now understood the inner meaning of the Guru’s question and the answer too.

[Amma: “Children, this is an important story to remember. Only when you are able to love one and all on equal measure, you are blessed with the light of realization.“]

(Source: Arul Mozhigal- vol 8 Tamil)

13.  Usage that never was

Once there lived a sage, who gave an instruction to his wife soon after they got married: “Whenever I sit to eat, make sure to keep a needle and a cup of water next to me”. The wife did so. She did not ask for the reason. It became a routine that the wife never missed across many years of their married life.

The husband got old. Death was nearing him. Then he asked his wife, “Do you wish to ask something from me?”

The wife said, “I have nothing to ask from you. But I am curious to know about a matter. You had instructed me to keep a needle and a cup of water next to you whenever you sat to eat and I have been ceremoniously doing it all these years. May I know the purpose for which you asked them to be kept?”

The husband said, “Suppose while you serve me or while I eat, if a grain of rice falls outside the plate, I thought I should pick it with the needle, wash it in the cup of water and put it on my plate; But as both of us were extremely cautious, there was not even a single occasion when a grain of rice fell outside the plate; hence there was never a need for using them!”

[Amma: “Children, notice how much awareness the couple had while eating to prevent even  a single grain of food from falling outside the plate! It is persons with such a high degree of shraddha who have turned out to be saints!”]

14.  Meditating – Oh, really?

[Amma: “My son,  Once you sit for meditation, yous should make your whole mind dwell on God.  YOur mind should not wander to external things. Only your personal God should occupy your entire mind. THat much of dispassion is needed”.]

Once a Sanyasi was sitting in meditation. At that time,  a man rushed right in front of him, making noises that disturbed the sanyasi.  The sanyasi did not like it, as he felt disturbed by the commotion.

After a while, the man returned by the same path, with a little boy.  Seeing him, the sanysi said angrily,”Didn’t you notice that I was meditating here? Can’t you have some self-restraint in not disturbing me in this place?”

The man replied politely, “Sir, I am sorry that I did not notice you”.

“Why? Are you blind?” asked the sanyasi.

“My son was missing for quite some time; he had gone to play with other boys. I was disturbed and started wondering whether he had fallen into the adjacent pond; my mind disturbed in such a though I rushed in search of him and that’s how I missed you sitting here in meditation; I am sorry about it”. But the Sanyasi was unrelenting.

“Mind you, it is totally an unacceptable behavior to disturb me while I am meditating” said he.

The man replied, “Sir, you were immersed in meditation and yet you saw me running in front of you. At the same time, I was running in search of my son but did not see you. I wonder why you did not have even that much of attachment I had on my son on the God you were meditating! What sort of meditation is it? If you don’t have patience and humility, what is that you will gain by meditation?”

(From Upadesamritam-2 Tamil)

15.  Nothing is useless

[Amma: “In nature, everything has its place and relevance.  One should know the place and value of each and utilize it accordingly.  If used so judiciously, one will know that nothing is useless. If we realize this and act, we can convert natural wastes to natural manures. If we act with discernment, what is considered a waste will find a reuse”.]

Once a disciple went to Sri Buddha and asked for a new cloth to wear as his old one had been soiled on account of long usage. Buddha immediately agreed. After some time, he asked the disciple, “Is the new cloth good enough for you? Do you need anything more?”

The disciple said, “Yes, Master, the new one is fine. I don’t need anything more”.

“What did you do with your old cloth?” asked Buddha.

“I am using it as my bed spread, Master”.

“Does it mean you threw away your old bed spread?”

“No master; I am using it as a curtain cloth for my window”.

“What happened to the old curtain cloth?”

“As it had soiled too much, I am using it as a cleaning cloth in my kitchen”.

“What happened to the old cleaning cloth?”

“Since it had torn too much, I have teared it into thin pieces and using those pieces as a wick for my oil lamp Master”

Buddha felt very satisfied with his responses. He smiled and blessed his disciple.

(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

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Amma’s stories on Unselfishness, Compassion & Sacrifice – Part 1 (15 stories)

1.   The flow of compassion

[Amma:  The presence of qualities like humility, surrender, unselfishness and sacrifice in a disciple makes a Guru’s grace and love flow involuntarily towards him]

Amma narrated the following real incidence that happened several years ago in the Ashram at the Kali Temple.

On a Darsan day,  a couple with a child was standing in the darshan queue. Suddenly the child vomited on the spot. The embarrassed parents left the place immediately. People standing in the queue started closing their nose to ward off the bad smell.  People moved away from the spot or jumped over the place to cross it.

Several people complained that the Ashram premises are not being kept clean.  Some people walked away in disgust, without even coming for darshan. Some people, upon reaching Amma complained about the issue to Amma.

As Amma wa watching, one young boy  about 12 years old, who was standing in the darshan queue, quietly slipped away, went somewhere to fetch a bucket of water, a mug and a waste cloth. he returned to the dirtied spot and cleaned the floor with the cloth and water.  After mopping the spot and washing the cloth a couple of times, he rinsed the place, went back to return the bucket and then quietly re-joined the queue.

Amma felt extremely happy to see the boy’s actions and as he moved closer and closer, Amma could not help but keep looking at the boy with love again and again. Finally, when he reached her for darshan, Amma gave him a long and loving hug, blessed him by giving him an apple, and asked him to sit beside her for a while. His unselfish and humble act moved Amma so much that she kept on throwing her loving glance at him and smiling at him frequently.

Even after the darshan was over and Amma returned to the room, Amma kept remembering about the boy again and again.

Amma says “It is such an act of unselfishness and sacrifice from the boy that made my love and compassion flow to him automatically. Amma felt  ‘If only there are more and more boys like him, how wonderful the world would be!’

2.  Sharing

[Amma:   Even worms take birth, eat, procreate and die. If Human beings too eat, procreate and die, what is the worth of a human life, which is considered to be the supreme among all creations? Only by sharing what we have with others, humanity is sustained and elevated. There are three classes of people – the Prakruti type, the Vikruti type and the Samskriti type.  The Prakruti type of people consume what they get and are not concerned about others; the Vikruti type consume what they get and also forcefully take away what others have and consume it too; it is the Samskriti type who consume part of what they have and share the rest with others. The goal of life should be such that the Prakruthi and Vikruti type of people should learn to elevate themselves to become Samskriti type.

Amma narrated the following real incidence from her childhood:

When Amma was studying in 4th standard in the nearby village elementary school, there were 2 sections, each with about 60 students. Children from near 3 kilometers from south and 3 kilometers from north will come to this school for their education as there was no other school available in the vicinity.

In Amma’s class room, during lunch time, about 20 students will bring their lunch box; about 20 students who were residing in houses nearby will go to their houses for eating lunch. The remaining 20 students were so poor that they had no wherewithal to bring lunch to the school.  During lunch time, while other children go out of the class and eat their food, these poor children will remain hungry. When Amma saw this, she could not remain selfish to each from her lunch box. She called one of the girls sitting hungry and shared a portion of the food she had brought.

Seeing this, the other girls too started sharing their food from their lunch boxes with other students.  Seeing their example, the children from the other class room also started sharing their food. The children actually felt the joy of sharing to be  much more fulfilling than eating their food selfishly.

Thus, by setting an example, Amma could motivate other children towards sharing. What Amma started in a small way at that young age was perhaps  a beginning of her philanthropic activities in future.

3.   The compassionate daughter

Amma: Qualities like love and compassion must be cultivated by effort.  It is developing such a mental attitude that one can gradually get over likes and dislikes on others.  

Once there was this young girl of a rich landlord, who was always found playing with the physically handicapped little daughter of the servant maid. 

 The landlord did not like to see his daughter playing with a lowly servant maid’s child. He scolded her several times on this issue, but to no avail. In order to wean her away from that habit, he brought to home a nice child from the family of another rich landlord befitting his status. His daughter exchanged pleasantries with the new girl just for while, but she went back to playing with the handicapped child again.

This infuriated the landlord.

He said “Look my child. I have brought a nice and decent company for you befitting our social status. I don’t understand why the hell you are bent upon playing with that dirty servant maid’s lame daughter”

The daughter replied:  ‘Father! This nice, rich girl whom you brought to play with me can get any number of friends to play with her. But what about this handicapped little girl? No one except me is willing to play with her; she finds so much of joy when I spend time with her; that’s why I play with her always”.

4.   The Compassionate Shopkeeper

Amma: Love and compassion shown at the right moment can create a lasting impression on the receiver.

Once a mother of two children had to visit a doctor to consult for her ailment. As she had no one at home to look after the children at the time of her visit to the doctor, she took the children – a young boy aged 8 and his younger sister aged 4 – along with her to the dispensary. When the mother’s turn came to go in and see the doctor, she said to her son, “You wait here till come back; take care of your sister”.

The children kept waiting. As it took a longer time, they decided to come out and visit the toy shop just opposite to the dispensary. The children went around the shop and got excited to see the various dolls and toys there.

The shop owner kept watching the two children. He was attracted by the way the elder brother was talking to his sister, holding her hands and guiding her. He appeared to be a matured and responsible boy who was full of affection to his sister, The little girl picked up a toy and asked her brother “I like it very much! Can you buy it for me?”

The boy said, “Sure I will; bring it. Let us go to the shop keeper”.

As the shop keeper watched them with amusement, the boy came and asked “Sir, I want to buy this. How much is it?”

“How much do you have?” asked the shop keeper.

The boy put his hand into his pocket, fished out a bunch of sea-shells and placed them on the table! The shop keeper, with utter seriousness, counted the shells, picked up a few and said, “This much is enough; you have excess money. Put the balance back to your pocket”. He handed over the toy to the girl and with a big grin, waved a good buy to them. The children ran out of the shop excitedly to the dispensary.

Another customer in the shop who watched the proceedings,  was very surprised. He came to the shop keeper and asked, “I am really surprised! You are a businessman and you are giving the toy in exchange for  worthless seashells! Why? I could not understand”.

The shopkeeper said, “I have come up in life after undergoing utter poverty in my childhood. When I was a little boy, I too had a little sister. We went to a shop one day together and my sister wanted to have a toy for her. I was penniless and how could I ever buy it for her? I somehow made some excuses, diverted her attention and came out. The pain of my inability to satisfy a simple desire of my loving sister got deeply imprinted in my memory. When I saw this boy and girl, I remembered my childhood. So, I wanted to give the joy of buying a toy for his sister to that boy that I missed as a little boy.”

“But why collect those worthless seashells?”

“You see, as a little boy, he imagines that his seashells are worth like money. He did not want to get the toy for free, but he wanted to “buy” it with his “money” for the sake of his sister. Doesn’t it look very lovable? The boy will grow up and very soon he will understand that his seashells are worthless. Then he would start wondering: ‘Why did the shop owner give the toy for the worthless seashells?’ Then he would understand that I had done it out of compassion. It will make a deep impression in his mind that the world is still a good place, where good and compassionate people are very much around. There is every chance that this boy grows up to be a compassionate person in future”.

(Amma Onam Satsang – Monday 4/9/17)

5.   Compassion, Punya & Selfishness

Amma: Unselfishness is the greatest virtue. Selfishness can potentially take away whatever merits we gain by doing good actions.

Once a there lived a very stingy lady who would not give anything to anyone. If asked for a little money, she would say “Come tomorrow, I don’t have any change” even though she may have plenty of money in her purse.

One day she went to the grocery and vegetable shops, bought a bagful of her cooking needs and was walking home. On her way, a poor man by the side of the road cried ‘Oh mother, I am so hungry; I haven’t eaten in a week. Please give me something.”

He could see the vegetables sticking out of the lady’s bag. Watching his eye movement, the lady grudgingly took out a carrot from the bag and threw at him with great contempt. “Here, take it and leave me alone!” She was such a miser that even parting with one carrot was a painful experience for her.

When she finally died, her soul went to the other world, where she met Lord, Yama, the god of death, who judges every soul to decide where it would end up – in heaven or hell. Yama called his secretory Chitragupta sand said “Pull out her account; did she do any bad actions?”

Chitragupta said, “Did she do any bad actions? That’s all she did all her life!”

“OK. Take her to the hell” Ordered Lord Yama. The lady cried pitiably and begged for mercy.

Lord Yama softened a bit. “Wait. Just check once again, Chitragupta; has she not even done one good action?” 

“Let me take a closer look,” said Chitragupta. Finally he located the incidence when she gave a carrot with contempt to a beggar.

Yama said “Alright; call the carrot here”.

The carrot came and stood in front of the lady.  Yama said to the lady, “Okay, Now catch hold of the carrot. Let us see if it is going to take you to the heaven; that one little good action you did, even though it could be hardly rated as good, is going to take you upward.”

Joyously, the lady caught hold of the carrot and the carrot started lifting upward. She was going up and up and finally she was about to reach the gates of heaven; suddenly she became aware of some heavy sensation at her foot – as if something is catching and hanging from there. She looked below and saw a chain of souls who were hanging on to her, stretching all the way down to hell. This one carrot was able to lift up so many!

Seeing them, she shouted, “Hey, you guys, this is MY carrot! You have no business to come with me. Leave me alone!” At that very moment, the carrot vanished and she went tumbling down to the hell along with all the other souls!

(Amma Friday  Satsang – 08/9/17)

6.  For the sake of others

Once a villager saw an old man at his nineties digging earth and planting saplings, despite all the strains of his advanced age.

Laughingly, the villager asked “What are you doing, grandpa? You are already too old and death may come and take you away at any time. Still you are planting saplings! Do you believe you will live so long to enjoy thre fruits?”

The old man said “No. I have eaten the fruits from the trees that my grandfathers had sown; they did not plant them for their own benefit, but for the benefit of their future generation. I am doing the same thing – let the fruits be enjoyed by my children and grandchildren!”

Amma:  The effect of doing good karma is also like this. The fruits of good deeds done by us will also benefit our children and grandchildren.

(Tuesday Satsang 30/8/2016)

7.  The Dead dog

Amma: For getting the visa of self-realization the passport of selfless service is essential. Only through selfless service one gets the purification of heart which is essential for gaining self-knowledge.

Once in a village there was a large common well. All the villagers use to fetch water from this well for their daily needs. Suddenly, one day, the water started having foul smell. Even after a couple of days, the foul smell remained in the well water. People got worried. They did not know what to do. Some went to the temple and made special prayers and poojas to the deity, praying for purification of water. They brought the sacred water given by the temple priest and poured it in to the well. However nothing changed.  A few people thought that some people antagonistic towards the villagers might have done some black magic to pollute the water. They brought a black magician, asked him to conduct necessary rites and chase away the evil that had befallen on the well. He gave handfuls of sacred ash after doing his rites which was reverently dropped into the well water. Still the water continued to smell foul.

They approached a wise man for advice. He said to them “Better drain out all the old water from the well; when new spring water rises up, the bad smell may go off”. They agreed and arranged to flush out all the stagnant water inside the well. Fresh spring water started rising in the well, yet the bad smell did not go.

They villagers were in a fix. They did not know what to do further. They went to a sage in the nearby village, prostrated before him and explained their problem. The sage asked “Did you find anything at the bottom of the well when you drained out all the water?”

“Yes swamy; there was the carcass of a dead dog at the bottom”

“Did you remove it?”

“No Swamy”

“Ah! That’s your problem! Unless you remove the carcass, how can the water become pure?” said the sage.

Amma:  All of us have a dead dog in our mind that is the cause of impurity in our heart. Only by doing selfless service, the dead dog can be removed so that our mind gets pure.

8.   Success and failure

Amma: Never be afraid of failure. Never laugh at a loser. For a person who failed, we should always give another chance to try and come out successful. Life is not meant just for those succeed; it is for losers too.

A few years ago, a sports competition was held exclusively for physically handicapped and mentally retarded children. There was a running race of 100 meter dash.  All the handicapped participants were ready at the starting line. Once the whistle was blown, all of them started running with enthusiasm. Every child was desirous of getting the first prize; for that purpose, most of them practiced hard over several months. After a few minutes of start of the race, one of the children lost her rhythm and balance and fell down. Unable to bear the shame and pain of falling, the child started crying aloud.

Hearing it all the other running children looked back to see what happened. When they remained confused on what to do, one girl child among them ran back to the fallen child, extended her hand and helped the fallen child to rise up. Then she said in a very consoling voice, “Don’t worry; let us hold our hands together and run together”. Then holding their hands together they started running again. Seeing this, all the other children joined hand to hand and ran together along with these two children.

Seeing this act of magnanimity, the entire audience stood up and clapped hands very enthusiastically. All the children reached the finishing line together.

Amma: Perhaps this may not really be a real life story, yet it contains a great lesson for elders to learn from children. Though seeking success in life is necessary, we should all the same develop a heart for sharing the pain of others’ failures and extending a helping hand for them to attain success in their lives too.

(Malayalam Matruvani July 2017)

9.  The 3 magic words

Amma:  God has created this world and made our living possible by providing every basic thing in the nature for our happy existence. We must have a sense of gratitude for it. What is given to us by nature must be shared with all for the good of all. Unfortunately, man resorts to destroying nature for his own selfish purpose. Only when we have the sense of gratitude for whatever we have received, life is sustained.

Once a sick father lying at his death bed summoned his son and handed over a pouch containing gold coins. He said “Use them wisely. When this pouch gets empty, say the three magic words and the pouch would get filled up again…”

But before he could convey the 3 magic words to his son, he breathed his last.

The son was rather disappointed that he could not get the key words that will ensure constant filling up of his pouch with gold coins forever.  However, he lead a smooth life free from care and worries by selling the gold coins as and when needed and getting enough money through it. Years passed this way.

One day when he needed money for spending for his daily needs, he noticed that just one last gold coin was left in the pouch.

He thought of his father and his statement about the 3 magic words that had the potential to recharge the pouch. He thought: “Alas! It must indeed be God’s wish that I should not turn out to be a greedy and lazy fellow leading an easy life with my father’s money. Let me at least give this last coin to some needy person; let me at least do one good, unselfish act from my father’s gift to me”.

He saw a frail and impoverished person approaching him for alms. He took that gold coin and dropped at the beggar’s hands. The beggar could not believe his eyes! When he was just looking for a rupee or two to buy and eat something to appease his hunger, he had been gifted with a gold coin worth thousands of rupees! With that money, he can spend days and days without begging for alms! Choking with emothion, the begger folded his hands and said, “Thank you, God!”

Instantly, the son noticed that his pouch was filled with gold coins again! He immediately understood that the thee magic words were really “Thank – You – God”

(Tuesday Satsang 30/8/2016)

10.  On a bitterly cold night

Amma: Religion and spirituality are the keys to open our hearts and see everyone with compassion. But, blinded by our selfishness, our minds have lost their proper judgement and our vision has become distorted. This attitude will only serve to create more darkness. Using the same key meant to open our hearts, our indiscriminate mindset is locking it shut.

There were once four men who had gone to attend a religious conference and had to pass the night together on an island. It was a bitter-cold night. Each traveler carried a matchbox and a small bundle of firewood in his pack, but each one thought that he was the only one who had firewood and matches.

The first man thought, “Judging from the medallion around that man’s neck, I would say he is from some other religion. If I start a fire, he will also benefit from its warmth. Why should I use my wood to warm him?”

The second man thought, “That person is from the country that has always fought against us. I wouldn’t dream of using my wood to make him comfortable!”

The third man looked at one of the others and thought, “I know this guy. He belongs to a sect that always creates problems in my religion. I’m not going to use up my wood for his sake!”

The last man thought, “This guy has a different skin color than mine, and I hate that! There’s no way I’m going to use my wood for him!”

In the end, not one of them was willing to light his wood to warm the others, and so, by morning they all froze to death.

Amma: Similarly, we quarrel in the name of religion, caste, nation, and color, without showing any compassion towards our fellow beings.

(13.7.2004   Amma told this at Parliament of World religions, Barcelona, Spain)

11.  Left behind

[Amma: “If our actions are compassionate, they will have influence on others too”]

Once an old man was eating in a restaurant alone. He was not well. He was shivering uncontrollably and spilled food over his shirt and on the table while eating. Many people sitting around and eating there felt very uneasy and some of them looked at him with contempt.

One young boy came forward; he held the old man’s hand to arrest the shaking. He took the old man to the wash basin and cleaned his dress. He then helped the man to make the payment and leave the restaurant.

Many people were watching the boy extending a helping hand to the old man. As the young boy was about to leave, one of them said, “Young man, have you left anything behind?”. The boy said, “No”.

Then the man said, “No, you have really left two things for us behind — an ‘example’ for the young and a ‘hope’ for the old!”

(Amma’s New year day Satsang 2016)

12. Deserving the gift of an apple from Amma

[Amma narrated this true story connected with the little children in the Ashram in her satsang on 24/12/13 Tuesday]

[Amma: Being in the company of holy helps people to develop noble qualities in them. Satsang is so beneficial.]

Some children in the ashram make small handicrafts like malas, bracelets etc and sell them and give the money for her to use them for a good cause. Once a boy brought some money and gave it to Amma saying that he did not eat icecream for a year and saved the money to give to Ama. Amma felt very happy and gave an apple to the boy as a gift.

His younger sister became jealous of him on seeing this. During her birthday, she too brought some money saved from the pocket money her parents gave to her by not eating icecreams. While giving the money to Amma she confessed that she had felt jealous of er brother when Amma gave him an apple last time. Amma hugged her and said “Why? If you had told me at that time, I could have given an apple for you too!’.

“No Amma, I can’t accept it. Only when I sacrificed my own ice-cream and saved the money to give to you, I too can expect an apple from you”

Amma: See, this is how little children learn values of life by being in the satsang.

13.   The book on Compassion

Once a saint wrote a book titled “Compassion in life”. He wanted to get it published. He sought financial help for it from persons well known to him. They too offered money. When he was about to give it for printing, there came a famine in the country. Several people died out of hunger.

Without a second thought, the saint gave away the money collected for printing the book for preparing food and serving the hungry. Many of those who helped him financially for printing the book did not like his action.They said, “What are you doing? How will you get the money again? Hunger and poverty are common occurrences in the world; life and deaths are happening all over the world all the time; it is not right to spend such a large amount collected for a different purpose for feeding the hungry”.

The saint simply smiled and did not give a reply.

Several months passed; the saint again made an appeal to his well wishers and followers seeking financial help to print the book again. Though they were reluctant, they nevertheless came forward and donated the needed amount.

The day before he was to give the money to the printer, the town was affected by an unprecedented flood. Hundreds of people perished. Countless people lost their houses and belongings. This time too, the saint gave away the money for flood relieve works. Those who donated money to him did not like his act of charity at all.They spoke critically about it; he patiently listened to them and smiled.

Again months passed. With lots of difficulty, the saint managed to collect the money for printing the book again. This time, he could get the printing done. When the book came out, the donors noticed that it was mentioned as “Third edition” in that book. They were surprised and irked; they asked him “You are a saint and how come you are so blatantly lying that this book is its third edition? Where are the the earlier two editions then? Are you taking us for a ride?”

The saint laughed and said, “Yes; this indeed is the third edition of the book. When the famine came, the first edition of compassion in life came out; when the floods came, the second edition of compassion in life did come out. My dear friends, by reading  a printed book, you only get a bookish knowledge on compassion; the first two editions showed how compassion should be put into practical effect in life. If a living human being is throwing up his hand desperately seeking help from a flooding river and if we are not able to pull him out of the river to the banks, what is the use of writing an eloquent book on compassion?”

(Matruvani – Purattasi – 2008)

14.  The dying mother

Once a military man on duty received a telegram from a hospital in his native place stating that his mother was in death bed and she was longing to see him as her last wish.

The military man obtained permission from his officers to leave immediately and he travelled to his native place without losing time. He rushed to the hospital straight away from the station. The nurse on duty took him immediately to the bed where the old lady was lying. She shook up the patient and shouted loud in her ears, “Wake up, Ma, wake up. Your son has arrived”.

Gradually, the lady became conscious; she slowly opened her eyes and looked around for her son. Her eyesight was blurred. The military man came close to the bed, caught hold of the lady’s hand and said, “Mother, I have arrived; don’t worry; I am here to take care of you; you will get alright soon…”

The old lady shed tears of joy; she kissed his hand and touched his face and head. In a trembling voice, she said, “No my dear son, I will not be alive any more; I am so glad that you have come here to see me before I passed awa; I am so thankful to God…”, so saying she breathed her last.

The doctor came, checked her  and declared her dead. He asked the military man to make arrangements for taking the body to his home and doing the final rites.

The military man said, “I don’t know her home address. Please find it out”.

The doctor and the nurses were surprised to hear it. The man said, “Let me tell you the truth; this lady is not my mother. You seem to have made some mistake somewhere”

“Then why did you behave so far as if you are her son?” they asked.

“I could understand her dire wish to see her son at her last moments; When her senses have almost failed, what is the point in telling her that I am not her son? At least I could give her the joy that her son was back with her at her last moments. Hence I pretended to be her son to give her the peace to breathe her last”

15.   Where is God?

Once a spiritual seeker went everywhere in search of God; he could not find God in any place. Exhausted, he sat down under a tree. He noticed a husband and wife walking happily. Seeing the joy on their faces, the man became curious to find out where they were going.

He followed them.

They went to a colony of lepers. They went from hut to hut, washed and cleaned the lepers’ wounds, wiped them dry and applied medicines on them. The couple also served food that they had brought. They spoke kind words of consolation to the lepers and cheered them up. Seeing these happenings, the seeker of God could not suppress his joy! He shouted exclaiming “I have seen God today!” and walked on the roads happily laughing. People who saw him thought he was mad. They stopped him asked him “Where is God?”

He said, “Where there is compassion, there God is!”

(English Matruvani Sept 2016)

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How to make marriage really last for a lifetime

A good marriage is like a delicacy. The recipe should be complete, all the ingredients must be in right proportions, the cooking should be done on the fire over the stipulated time and served neatly and sumptuously when hungry. A marriage can last for ever, just like the lingering taste of a well prepared delicacy, provided all the aspects and ingredients of marriage are perfect.

When something slightly goes amiss in cooking, an expert chef knows how to adjust and manipulate contents to ensure that the end product is ensured to be of acceptable quality. In a similar way, partners in marriage should also know the knack of adjusting for the sake of ensuring long lasting relationship in marriage.

What are the successful ingredients of a marriage that can last for ever?

In India, the reverence to the institution of marriage and family bondage are very strong. When a woman marries, she literally marries a family.

Trust in the sanctity of the institution of marriage

Marriage is just not for ensuring an outlet for the natural sexual urges for human body alone; it is a socially acceptable and time-tested practice followed across all human societies for the canalization of sexual energy in a respectable way to ensure continuation of progeny. In this process, the trust and commitment of the couple to each other is basic. The aim of marriage is a life-long togetherness for mutual care, support and for bringing up children as worthy citizens of the future.

For these to be ensured, a basic, almost “religious” trust in the institution of marriage is of paramount importance. Any marriage proposal based on fleeting attraction of the opposite sexes, mostly glorified as love for the sake of legitimacy, without a sense of commitment for long term relationship can never ensure longevity of marriage.

Of course, things can go awry in a marital relationship. Failures of marriage may be seen as the only practical reality of life all around. But that should not be a cause for entering into marital relationship without the basic trust in the sanctity of marriage. You cannot make prayers without faith in God.

Mutual respect and affection

Love is a word, which is too emotional, many times very artificially interpreted, frequently confused with love-making and many times having too short a life a span in marriage. For a marriage to last for ever, the transient love should mature in to mutual affection with an element of respect for each other. The respect need not be interpreted like the type of respect children of previous generations were expected to hold on their parents.

It is respect combined with intimacy; giving credit to the other person what is rightfully due; giving the independent breathing space; showing respect the other’s relatives and friends; giving respect to the other’s principles, values and beliefs; having trust in each other.

Need for a good foundation

Love and love-making enliven the marriage in early stages and undoubtedly they are essential ingredients in the formative stages of marriage. However, in a long lasting marriage, what is basic staple food in the beginning turns to a “side dish” over time! This should be natural. Satiating hunger of the flesh should not be the long lasting role of love and sex in marriage.

Being self-centered: Maybe Yes. Being selfish: No

There is a thick veil of difference between being self-centered and being selfish. Many people do not grasp the difference between the two.

Every individual has physical, emotional and intellectual needs – income/ financial freedom, creature comforts, love, care, respect, social status etc. If people go behind acquiring these needs with least concern about the trouble and discomfort caused to others in the process, they are selfish. On the other hand, as long as one goes in pursuit of acquiring these needs without intentionally and arrogantly causing trouble and inconvenience to the spouse in a marital relationship, they are self-centered needs.

When the spouse is willing to adjust, accommodate and even sacrifice to some extent to the self-centered needs of the partner, the marriage can last for ever but certainly not under selfish machinations of one over the other partner.

Absence of egotism

Strange though it may be, it is not uncommon to see people, who are basically far less egoistic with friends and relatives, behaving egoistically with their spouses! Some women will talk freely many personal matters with friends, cut jokes, allow others close to them to make fun of them but they will not be found be so free and jovial with their husbands. Some husbands too behave in a similar way. Some husbands will not tolerate their wives cutting jokes about their idiosyncrasies in public.

Some wives will flare up if their husband cracks any jokes about their culinary skills amidst his relatives. Some will not tolerate even slight criticism about their looks or habits by their spouses. The husband and wife may have been living together for several years but you won’t find the casualness of a good friendship between them.

Lack of egotism in the relationship between husband and wife is of prime importance in ensuring a lasting relationship with a bond that will be visible to others. With such a quality built in the psyche, forgiving and forgetting comes naturally. A bitter fight of today can be laughed off across the dining table the very next day, without leaving a taste of bitterness behind.

Accept the difference between a man and woman

Another wrong concept that breaks the basics of marriage is the idea of equality between man and woman in marriage. Man and woman are not equal. They join in relationship to complement each other – not to become equal to each other. A woman’s power lies in her capacity to love, give, share and care. A man’s power lies in being the bread winner, the protector and the leader. Man dominates by physical means and a woman balances and tames him by her emotional strength.

Where this basic difference is clearly understood, the marriage can last for ever.

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