Friday, December 8, 2006

Mata Amritananda Mayi - Kerala’s Own Saint

Mata Amritananda Mayi - Kerala’s Own Saint

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Who is the most respected person of Kerala origin? The answer is simple, even a five year old child will tell “Mata Amritananda mayi of Amritapuri”. That much is the popularity of this saint lady, she has gained disciples throughout the world. The cultural, educational and spiritual contributions, she has brought to Kerala is unparalleled. This article is an attempt to unravel the enigma that is Amritananda mayi.

She was born in 1953 at Parayakadavu village in Kollam district. Her father was Sri. Sugunandan and mother Smt.Damayanthi Sugunandan. The couple had nine children of which two died young. Of the rest four were girls and three boys. Her child hood name was Sudhamony. She was a very reserved and introvert girl. Sudhamony had to stop her formal education at primary level itself due to the financial problems of her family.

Sudhamony did not get enough love from her parents and she had a very unhappy child hood. The little girl even had to play the role of domestic servant in her relative’s houses. From the very childhood when haunted by the stresses and strains of day to day life, Sudhamony depended heavily on her trust in god. Her favorite deity was Lord Sri. Krishna.

The deep religious belief was inculcated in to the child by her grand mother Smt.Madhavi. Sudhamony’s grand father Sri. Velayudhan was a pious old man of great knowledge. The strong belief in her deity developed a sort of empathy within her soul- A state where the devotee and the deity become one and the same. This phenomenon is nothing new to Hinduism.

The little girl used to sing hymns of her deity while doing house hold chores and in all activities she was engaged. While alone, she spontaneously lost herself in to a devotional dance in which she played the role of gopika (the playmate of Lord Sri. Krishna).

Most often she lost herself in meditation. As breathing came almost to a stand still during the time of meditation, her family members got frightened. The girl would either be singing hymns of god or dancing all by herself in a closed room,

These uncommon behaviors caused humiliation to her family before the neighbors. The whole family became a laughing stock and she was several times punished by her mother and elder brother for these. The rural set up of that remote village could hardly tolerate uncustomary behaviors from a girl.

One day while she was carrying cut grass bundle to feed the cattle, she heard hymns praising Sri. Krishna sung by a group of people. She could hardly resist her inner urge, placing the luggage on the road side and ran in to the middle of the group and broke out in to dance in a deep trance. This incidence attracted devotion as well as criticisms from the spectators,

However there were people in the locality who realized that there is something extra ordinary with this girl. They approached her seeking solace. There after small assemblies under her leadership were held in the shade of a nearby banyan tree. There she talked about the spiritual experiences she had felt all through her life. Her simplicity and strong devotion pulled large crowd towards her.

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Many of the devotees strongly vouch either about many miracles she has committed or the miracles occurred in answer to their prayers towards her. People even from out side the state started to pour in. Devotees from Tamilnadu out of their extreme devotion found the deity of Mathura Meenakshi Temple in her and insisted her to wear a crown that was offered. She had to oblige as the devotees stayed in pleading her even discarding food and water. There after she started to wear the crown during her spiritual sessions at the ashram.

The ashram of Amritananda mayi is in Vallikkavu about six kilometers south west of Oachira temple. Oachira comes at the southern tip of Alappuzha district. Visitors can alight at Vallikkavu bus stop and proceed to the ashram by foot. The distance is just one kilometer. There is the Kayamkulam Lake that has to be crossed; boats are available in plenty for transporting devotees.

By crossing the lake visitors reach the Parayakadavu village which is rectangle shaped island sandwiched between sea and lake, where poor fisher folks live a contended life in humble surroundings.

The present ashram is a well built one and it excels in aesthetics. Management of the ashram is efficient and atmosphere is conductive to fill any body’s mind with devotion.

There are no servants in the Ashram, sanyasis known as brahmacharis (those who practice celibacy) of different nationalities, who perform all sorts of services. There are very learned and persons among persons among them, who occupied high positions out side the boundaries of the Ashram.

The registration of the Ashram (Mata Amritanandamayi Math) was done on 6th May 1981.It was then former Sudhamony accepted the name “Amritanandamayi” as per the wish of her disciples. It was Sri Unnikrishnan a brahmachari who coined the name.

In the beginning there was not even a cent of land to set the Ashram. Money was also scarce. The mother and disciples had toiled a lot to get it established. Between 1975to 1985 the fame of the Ashram spread far and wide and the number of disciples (Brahmacharis) rose to about forty. It all began from the ten cents of land that was donated by her father. The land was nothing else but where her ancestral home (Edamannel) was situated. The family shifted to the nearby place leaving the land to the Ashram.

For the purpose of spreading the spread the message of the beloved mother (as Amritanandamayi was popularly called), a monthly publication by name Amritavahini was started in 1984. This was edited and published by Sri. N.M.Chandrasekhara Varier, later the publication was renamed as “Mathruvani”. Now Mathruvani is doing the job of spreading mother’s messages to people through out the world.

Gradually a full fledged ashram was taking place in that remote island. A library of spiritual books and a school for teaching the Vedas (Veda vidyalaya) also started in the Ashram compound. The books required for the library and Veda vidyalaya were all given as gift by the devotees, all over the world.

Amritanandamayi (better known as the mother of vallikkavu, or Amma in Malayalam) has strong ideas about the mission of her life. Sanyas as per her is not an excuse to lead and idle life. Even though a loving mother to the disciples she is a tough task master also.

There is at present an army of brahmacharis in the ashram, who have to lead a very hard life. The physical pleasures are strictly forbidden. Food almost eaten raw and no taste makers allowed. Her motherly love enables them to withstand any hardships in the process of over coming worldly passions. Finally they get well groomed to carry out her mission of transforming the world as per the vision of the divine mother.

Amritanada mission is one of the foremost in carrying out humanitarian, cultural, and educational activities throughout the world. The relief works under taken by it during last year when the tsunami struck coastal India was commendable.

When the government machinery was bungling with its vast resources of officials, the team led by the mother was immediately on the beaches and direct action was let loose. No resource that could be utilized was spared. The mother herself was in the fore front as a king who leads his army from the front.

Soon after the relief work, in the process of rehabilitation Amritananda mission was the first to complete the entire housing complexes for the refugees in record time. Not just in Kerala but in the eastern coast as well.

Devotees throughout the world sent money and relief materials to the ashram as a mark of solidarity. The well oiled machinery led by the hard trained and devoted brahmacharis of the ashram were set in a fire fighting mode they gained maximum outturn from each rupee spent or each material used.

When typhoon Katrina struck the coastal America; there also Amritananda mission was in the forefront in fighting the un preceded disaster. After all “Mother” belongs to the universe, America and India makes no difference for a universal phenomenon.

In the field of education and health the contribution of the ashram is tremendous. The Amrita institute of Medical Science at Ernakulam is a towering testimony to the fact that how much determination and devotion of even a poor village girl can achieve. AIMS (Amrita Institute of Medical Science) Is one of the leading institute of medical science in India, which is a deemed university and is engaged in serious research and affordable treatment to people all over India and abroad.

A girl who could hardly complete her primary education is the “boss” of several institutions those impart hi tech education. Amrita Institute of Engineering Technology, Ayurveda College, etc. are just a few among them. These institutions are not just commercial establishments; they are engaged in education that is in tune with the high standards set by the ancient “gurukula” traditions of India.

Devotees vouch her amma commits a lot of miracles. They state that when they pray to their beloved amma the prayers get addressed. As they are simple plain people they must not be lying, their statements must be from their in bourn experiences.

But no one can deny the wonders those are towering in front of their eyes with numerous names starting from “Amrita”. Institutes of healthcare and education those impart purest form of teaching with world class faculties. Most of the faculties of the Institutions and the expert doctors of Amrita hospitals are pure volunteers. They serve the patients or teach the students only as a service to the humanity and not for remuneration.

A primary school drop out, a village girl belonging to a community of fishermen, brought up in extreme poverty achieved all these! If these are not miracles, what the word miracle mean? As the old prayer goes “Mrityorma “Amritam” gamaya,

Thamasoma jyothir gamaya.
Let eternity prevail, let death perish,
Let light prevail, let darkness perish.


bhattathiri said...

Excellent blog.One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita which is considered to be one of the first revelations from God. The humanism of management lessons in this holy book were brought in to light of the world by Mata Amritanandamayi Devi and . Devi calls the Bhagavad-Gita the essence of Vedic Literature and a complete guide to practical life. It provides "all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level." Devi reveals the deep, universal truths of life that speak to the needs and aspirations of everyone. She preaches and educated the people through her bhajans and disclosures and continuing the mission by keeping this lantern burning always knowing the wishes of the modern generations.The greatness of spirituality is spread all over the world and all Indians should be proud of her. Amma's tea chings began with her birth itself. She entered this world in silence, a divine gesture worthy of our contemplation. This has always been Amma's way. Throughout, Amma's life has been her teaching.
Arjuna got mentally depressed when he saw his relatives with whom he has to fight.( Mental health has become a major international public health concern now). To motivate him the Bhagavad-Gita is preached in the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as counseling to do his duty while multitudes of men stood by waiting. Arjuna face the problem of onflict between emotions and intellect . In almost all of the cases, emotions win. Only a very
few people have a conflict-free emotion and intellect. Emotions, are required, for, without them, one is a mere robot. They make life pleasant as long as they are sensible and within limits. It has got all the management tactics to achieve the mental equilibrium and to overcome any crisis situation. The Bhagavad-Gita can be experienced as a powerful catalyst for transformation. Bhagavad-Gita means song of the Spirit, song of the Lord. The Holy Gita has become a secret driving force behind the unfoldment of one's life. In the days of doubt this divine book will support all spiritual searches. This divine book will contribute to self reflection, finer feeling and deepen one's inner process. Then life in the world can become a real education—dynamic, full and joyful—no matter what the circumstance. May the wisdom of loving consciousness ever guide us on our journey? What makes the Holy Gita a practical psychology of transformation is that it offers us the tools to connect with our deepest intangible essence and we must learn to participate in the battle of life with right knowledge?. It shows us the path to handle the situation with equipoise mind irrespective of what comes our way and reminds us time and again, that what the right action is.

The Holy Gita is the essence of the Vedas, Upanishads. It is a universal scripture applicable to people of all temperaments and for all times. It is a book with sublime thoughts and practical instructions on Yoga, Devotion, Vedanta and Action. It is profound in thought and sublime in heights of vision. It brings peace and solace to souls that are afflicted by the three fires of mortal existence, namely, afflictions caused by one's own body (disease etc),

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No doubt, the writer is completely right.