Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India: August 21-23, 2017

Saraswati Gardens

I’ve stopped by Saraswati Garden twice since I’ve been in Amritapuri. The plants have grown so much since I left the ashram in January. Some of the marigolds are now six feet tall!

(You can click on the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

Fruit bat

As dusk approached on Tuesday, Kumuda and I were walking down the back stairs of the building where we both live. As we looked below us, we saw a group of people gazing up into a tree. There was also a lot of movement in the tree.

We suspected that they were watching fruit bats. Moments later, bats began flying in and out of the tres. The bats coming towards the tree were carrying round objects that were bright yellow or orange. We wondered if those objects were small oranges. Whenever the ashram elephant is brought to the courtyard on darshan days, devotees buy fruit from the juice stall to feed it. Maybe the devotees were buying oranges for the bats. That explanation seemed far fetched but we had no other.

This was our first view of a bat from the stairs. (It is towards the left side in both pictures. It started opening its wings in the second photo.)

Once we reached the ground, we joined the group who had gathered at the bottom of the tree. I watched one of the fruit bats moving through the tree in a way that reminded me of a monkey. It even looked like it had hands. The video below gives some idea of what I saw.

Crows and Pappadams

At one point during the Tuesday prasad lunch (the day when Amma gives everyone lunch), I looked up and saw six crows perched in a line towards the top of the auditorium. The crows were intently watching the activity below. If one saw an opportune moment, it would swoop down and take a pappadam off of someone’s plate. I saw several crows with partial pappadams in their mouths so maybe they were stealing pappadams from each other as well. When I looked up five or ten minutes later, all of the crows were gone. Perhaps they were feasting on their plunder. (The photo of pappadams came from Wikimedia.)


Thursday is opening day for the new café. They closed the cafe about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and started moving all the equipment to the new building. I imagine the kitchen staff stayed up most or all of the night putting the new place together. I wanted to help but knew my help would be limited by the splint on my injured wrist.

A story about an Indian squirrel that helped build the Rama Setu bridge kept coming to my mind. I blogged about that story last year:

Many years ago, at the the end of the programs in each city on Amma‘s North American tour, there was an announcement that contained a story about a squirrel who contributed to the building of the Rama Setu bridge. The squirrel participated by rolling in the sand and then going to the end of the bridge and shaking the sand off, chanting the name of Lord Rama throughout the process. It completed this process over and over.

Lord Rama rewarded the squirrel by picking him up and stroking his back. From then on, this type of squirrel had three stripes on its back, stripes that went from head to tail. The stripes are seen as Lord Rama’s fingers. At Amma’s programs, this story was used to teach that everything we do to contribute makes a difference.

I remember thinking that what was called a squirrel in the story must be what we call a chipmunk. Since then, I have learned that the squirrel is a palm squirrel and it the same size as a large chipmunk.

I was determined to find a way to support the effort. I saw that the counters and shelves in the new building were covered with a heavy layer of construction dust. I found a small bucket of water and a rag and started washing down the counters with my good hand. Often there were hoses, boards and other construction materials on the counters. I had to wipe around those, but I was helping! I washed the surfaces for a couple of hours and then had dinner. After dinner I came back and did some more.

When I returned, I discovered a lot of the construction materials had been moved so it was now possible to wash many of the surfaces completely. Also, enough of the dust and other debris had been removed by the first cleaning that we were able to use soapy water with the next round. Soon the beautiful counter tops were in full view. I was so happy to have found a way to help.

On Thursday morning there will be a puja to mark the opening of the new cafe. I will share about that in my next “Living and Learning in Amritapuri” post.

Ganesh sculpture

Ganesh’s birthday celebrations begin this Friday. (Ganesh is the aspect of God who removes obstacles.) The Ganesh statue is being sculpted at the ashram this year. I don’t know where that work is occuring, but I found this photo on the Amritapuri Facebook page. There will be 11 days of celebration and then the statue will be carried to the Arabian Sea, immersed, and the sea will take it.


There have been many days since I have been in Amritapuri where it has stayed clear all day. In the days surrounding the eclipse, however, it poured many times. I don’t know if there was any relation between the two events, especially since the eclipse was on the other side of the world, but I wondered if that was a possibility. It is so much cooler on days it has rained. I wish it rained every day!


Last night, as I was walking towards the building I live in, I noticed that the sky was a brilliant red. I rushed to the elevator and took it to the 14th floor to see if I could see the sunset in its full glory. By the time I got there, however, the sky was no longer red. It was still a beautiful sight though.

Later, I found a photo of the sunset on the Amritapuri Facebook Page. It wasn’t red then either, but the colors were more vivid than when I last saw a few minutes later.

Sunrises and sunsets are so beautiful here. I should make a point of looking at them more often.


When I visit Amritapuri, so many synchronous things happen. A really good example of that occurred two days ago. This is the first time I’ve come to India in August in more than a decade. I usually arrive towards the end of  November and stay until January. My main reason for picking that time is the Christmas musical that is performed each year on Christmas Eve.

My daughter writes the scripts and co-directs the plays and my son and his friends compose many of the tunes, provide the instrumentation and work with the singers. I feel so proud of them and wouldn’t want to miss the event. Besides it is such an exciting time to be at the ashram. There is only three weeks time for the actors and dancers to learn their roles and for the costumes, backdrops and many other aspects of the play to be created. The energy at the ashram during that time is electric.

My desire to surprise Sreejit and Chaitanya by showing up at the ashram at a time when they would never suspect I was coming and my desire to participate in the three festivals (Krishna and Ganesh’s birthdays and Onam) won over my  desire to see the play this December. I considered the possibility of coming to India twice but that solution seemed unlikely.

A few days ago, Chaitanya said she hoped I decided to come again for the play. I gave reasons why that wasn’t likely to happen, money being one of them. When I woke up the next morning, there was an email from a neighbor in Seattle saying that she  needed to move out of the house she has lived in for the last ten years and someone had told her that I might rent her a room in my house. She needs a place to stay from October until the second week in January.

I haven’t rented a room to anyone for about five years but it wasn’t lost on me that if I did that, I would have the money I needed to go back to India in December. Also, the person that usually stays in my house when I am traveling may be in India himself this December, so having her living there would be helpful. If those two things weren’t synchronistic enough, this all occurred within a week of me writing a post saying that I needed to work on being more interdependent as opposed to overly-independent. Having a roommate would certainly facilitate that process. What could do but laugh?

I don’t know whether or not she will decide to rent from me, but if she does I will consider coming back to India to see this year’s play.

To view the previous posts in this series click here.

7 thoughts on “Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India: August 21-23, 2017

  1. namaste Karuna…..we now live in a place where the sunrise & sunsets are available almost 99.9999% of the days…and both Resha & I are spending more quality time with both the sun & moon……………Alcyone is teaching us very gently how to receive our nourishment from the sun….this is an exciting time to be on planet….thanks for the nice report today…Jai Ganesha StanleydelGozo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOVE your synchronicity story! That kind of thing seems to be happening a lot these days….I have a feeling you will be able to return at Christmas. XO


  3. Catching up. Roommate is a great idea, especially if it facilitates your return for Xmas, still no rain for over two months in Seattle, however there appears to be a bat dilemma hear as well, several bats with rabies have been discovered near green lake and there is an alert out about touching them. Your journal is a real treat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had thought there was rain one Sunday soon after I left. Must have not been a measurable amount. I heard about the rabid bats through the Nextdoor emails. The police sent it out I think. Scary development. I’m glad you were able to catch up!


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