In this age of cynicism and fragmentation, one woman, born in an obscure south Indian village to poor fisher folk, has mesmerized the world with her potent message of active loving and giving. Amma, as she is affectionately called, hugs the world and the world hugs her back in tearful joy
EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH SWAMI AMRITASWARUPANANDA PURI
Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Amma's first sanyasi (monk) disciple and Vice Chairman of the Mata Amritanadamayi Math in Kollam, Kerala, India, on Amma:
How did you come into contact with Amma?
I didn't perform well in my final year exams in college. I was persuaded by some people from my village to meet Amma. At that time, the ashram was a small place. I came only because I'd get a chance to sing and find out whether I'd pass or fail in the exam. I never ever imagined I'd become a monk.
Anyhow, I met Amma and sang. At the very first meeting, she just looked into my eyes and I experienced infinite compassion and love. I was transported to another world beyond space and time. Then Amma told me that I'd pass in my exams. But by that time, I was completely disinterested in my exams. Miraculously, I passed. Later, Amma asked me to get a Master's degree in philosophy.
After that first meeting, I realized that my life had completely changed. I knew that my purpose was something higher. It was a burning inspiration to know God. Since then, I've been with Amma.
What is the essence of Amma's mission? It is love and compassion. That is the main goal. That is what Amma is doing in her day-to-day life and through the activities that the Math implements all over the world.
How do you think Amma is able to move so many people?
It is the love that people feel when they get close to Amma. Sometimes it is just a touch, look or a word. Love is actually immensely powerful, it is pure energy. There is a big difference between the love an ordinary person feels and what a true master expresses. When Amma touches you, looks at you or says something to you, it creates an entirely different world. It reveals so many layers of consciousness because it comes from a higher realm of being, the real source. It is a personal experience. That is why people throng to Amma and leave everything to serve her.
When people come to meet Amma for the first time, even if the meeting is short, the impact is so powerful that their whole life is transformed.
Most people don't have a clear experience of love in their lives. The kind of love we normally experience-between husband and wife or between parents and children and even between lovers-is just an infinitesimal part of the love we really have. So there is infinite possibility if you are able to tap into the higher realms of consciousness. Then you can transmit it to others.
According to Amma, what is to be done for the future good of humanity?
I think Amma is already doing it concretely. It is not an idea. It is already practical. It is very tangible as far as Amma and her followers are concerned.
Are there any special methods of meditation prescribed by Amma?
I don't think one method will suit everyone because each human being has a different culture and mental constitution. The physical structure and inherited tendencies are also different. It is not proper to say that everyone should realize God or the Self.
According to each one's capacity, you can try to know yourself better. For this, one needs spiritual practice or sadhana. Great masters always recommend methods according to each one's mental constitution.
Even in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna gives instructions according to the mood changes of Arjuna. The Gita is applicable to everyone. But it is not just one path. In the Gita, we find karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga. These are all perfect paths that will take you to God if you practice sincerely. But one path is not enough for everyone. Like all genuine masters, Amma instructs according to each one's mental constitution or temperament.
What is Amma's prescription to solve the problems of this world?
All great masters down the ages have been trying to suggest solutions. But ultimately it is a question of practicing them. For everything there is a cause. Find the cause and treat it. But how many people who talk about spiritual values and essential principles of life practice them?
Amma is doing a lot of work. She puts many lives on the right track. The lives of millions of people all over the world have completely changed after meeting Amma. The change has happened and is happening. That is the truth.
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