Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India- Dec 4, 2014

Amma at the Vatican

What an amazing experience it was to be able to watch the of representatives of the world’s religions speaking and signing a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery. (We were able to see a live stream from the Vatican program.) I felt so privileged to be able to witness that event.  I pray that their goal of ending modern day slavery by 2020 becomes a reality.  And hopefully it will also lead to healing friction between the various religions.

Here is the list of the religious leaders who participated in the event:

  • Pope Francis representing Catholic Church
  • Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) representing Hinduism
  • Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Head of the Anglican Church, Buddhist:
  • Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) (represented by Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu 
Chan Khong);
  • Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (represented by Dr. Abbas Abdalla 
Abbas Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif);
  • Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi;
  • Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi (represented by Sheikh Naziyah 
Razzaq Jaafar, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah); Muslim:
  • Sheikh Omar Abboud; Malaysian Buddhist Monk:
  • Ven. Datuk Kirinde Dhammaratana Nayak Maha Thero
  • Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KSG, CBE, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (represented by His Eminence 
Metropolitan Emmanuel of France),
  • Rabbi Skorka, the coordinator of the Jewish community in South America.

To read excerpts of their presentations go to

As I watched Amma sitting next to the Pope, I couldn’t help but remember my first trip to her ashram in 1990. At that point, there were people in Oachira, one of the closest villages, who hadn’t ever heard of her. Amma has had international recognition for a long time but to me this event was a pinnacle. I also have so much respect for Pope Francis so it really touched my heart to see them together.


As most of you who know me are aware, I have a love of worms and vermicomposting.  Vermicomposting is a process by which worms produce incredibly rich compost which can be used in our gardens.

The ashram has a big vermicomposting program.  I have worked in that area for the last two years and have been eager to return.  The main facility is now a twenty minute walk from the ashram, but the staff bring buckets of new compost to the ashram every day.  We have to separate the worms from the compost, by hand.  The worms go back to the facility and the compost is bagged and sent wherever it is needed.

Last year, I did that work at the beach.  Now it is part of the area where all the food waste is composted. (I will share information about the food composting in a later post.)  I went to look at the worm setup yesterday but only stayed for a few minutes.  Today I spent an hour separating the worms from the compost.  The view in front of me was the beautiful Arabian Sea.  I was, and am, in heaven!

Sanskrit Class

Several months ago, I heard that Amma had asked a brahmachari (monk) who had recently completed a PhD program in Sanskrit to teach Sanskrit to the ashram residents.  He teaches three classes a week in Malayalam and three in English.  I had been told it would be okay for me to sit in, so went to my first class tonight (9:15 p.m. to 10:00 p.m).  I loved it, of course.

This class has a different focus and style than the other two classes I take.  Right now they are studying the masculine and neuter matrixes.  There are 8 cases in Sanskrit and each has singular, dual and plural components.  That means each noun has 24 different forms!  It was my goal to focus on learning the matrixes during this trip so I am delighted.  It is obvious that he also stresses pronunciation and I need that as well.

Many of the students have been on the European and North American tour since the beginning of October so he is going to offer five hours of make up classes. I plan to attend those too.

Amma returns to the ashram tomorrow

Amma will be returning to the ashram sometime tomorrow.  Everyone will be on the lookout for her until her car enters the ashram grounds. So much excitement, especially since she has been gone for more than two months.   I am really looking forward to seeing and being with her again.

Chaitanya and Akshay are also returning

My daughter and her husband are returning tomorrow as well.  Needless to say, I’m excited about their arrival too.  I spent a good part of today cleaning their room.  I know they will be surprised and happy.  (In India, everything needs cleaning after being gone for two months.)

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40 thoughts on “Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India- Dec 4, 2014

  1. Thank you for sharing your reflections about the Vatican program to end slavery.

    On a side note, knowing little about Sanskrit myself, I nearly fell off my chair in shock to learn that each noun can have 24 forms. I wish you great luck in your quest to learn it.


    1. There is definitely a lot to learn. Some things about Sanskrit are easier than English though, such as the fact that each letter in Sanskrit is pronounced exactly as it looks! In English “read” can be pronounced two different ways and “write and “right” are pronounced the same. How confusing that must be for people trying to learn English.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Once Amma is back then time disappears. Every day feels like three days and they are generally packed with stories!

      I love writing about my time here, so that has a lot of priority. And as you already know, I love blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Chaitanya was so happy about the clean room. She went to a play practice immediately upon her return. She didn’t even go to her room until late in the evening.

      I love seeing the picture of Amma with the Pope!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For me it is so powerful to see the Amma whom I met in 1989, daughter of a fisherman, now sitting alongside the Pope and the other leaders of world religions. She has had international recognition for many years but this time seemed different, partially because I have so much respect for this particular Pope.


      2. Yes, he is certainly very open. If you carry your phone around all the time, you might consider recording a few catch phrases in your phone. that’s what I do when I am tied for time for later down the road, the phrases are great reminders of special aha moments especially:)


    2. Amma was the only female religious leader that was invited to that event. The other woman that was there, came representing a man. Amma’s presence seemed significant for that reason too. I’m so glad Chaitanya was able to go to Rome too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is challenging, but it is logical, unlike English. And each letter has a unique sound, unlike English where the same letter can have different sounds in different words!


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