Living and Learning in Amritapuri: September 1-10, 2017

For various reasons, I got behind in sharing the experiences I was having in Amritapuri. I am still going to do that even though I’ve been back in Seattle for almost a month.

Karthika

There are special programs each month on Karthika, Amma’s birth star. In September, Karthika was on September 9. What I like best about Karthika  is the sight below.

This time, I attended the chanting and singing that was occurring that evening in the Kalari. I really enjoyed doing that and the sweets that were handed out at the end of the program were a nice treat too.

Challenges

I’ve mentioned before that when we are around Amma, it is common for our weaknesses and negative tendencies to come up so that we can see them and work on them. A negativity that was in my face numerous times on this trip was feeling incompetent. One of the times I felt that way was when I attempted to take orders in the cafe. At that time, I was still having difficulty writing because my broken wrist wasn’t completely healed. Even more of a problem was the fact that I hadn’t done that job for years. I didn’t know the current prices and as a result I was really slow.

Another place I felt incompetent when I was doing the prasad line seva. My job was to see that the two lines of people who were going to hand Amma prasad (the packets of ash and candy that she gives people who come to her for a hug) was always full and that all prasad givers had been trained to do the job. One of those lines is on the stage, the other is down on the auditorium floor. Doing all components of the job became even more complicated if there were times I had to wander the auditorium, and even outside the auditorium, looking for people to fill the line.

About the time I was beginning to feel reasonably competent in doing the job, there was a day when the darshan location was changed to the temple. That building is much smaller than the auditorium and had a different system for the prasad lines. Some things went badly and I couldn’t figure out why. Back to feeling incompetent. I was relieved that my next shift would be in the big auditorium. WRONG. The day before my next shift, I learned that the auditorium was going to be used for Amrita University’s graduation ceremony and darshan would once again be in the temple.

That day I had the same problem that I had the first time I had worked there. I was so frustrated and was sure that my supervisors thought I was incompetent. Just as I was completing my shift, I realized what was causing the problem. I reassured myself that I would be able to fix it the next day. Darshan wasn’t held in the temple again for the rest of my stay. I guess I had learned what I needed to learn.

I also felt relieved when, just before I left Amritapuri, one of the people supervising me in that job said I could do it any time I visit, that she and the others loved working with me. Clearly my fantasy of what they were thinking about me was wrong.

Amrita University Graduation Ceremony

Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, also known as Amrita University, has five campuses throughout India. The campus in Amritapuri has schools of  Arts and Sciences, Ayurveda, Biotechnology, Business, Engineering and Social Work.  On September 10, the 1440 students who completed their education in the 2016-2017 school year processed from the university, across the bridge that separates the ashram and the mainland where the university is located, through the ashram grounds, and ended in the ashram auditorium where the graduation ceremony would take place.

I did not attend the ceremony, but I heard  drums and rushed to the balcony of the building I live in to see what was happening. The drummers were the beginning of the procession. It was a beautiful sight to see. The students were grouped by study areas. The School of Ayurvda had so many graduates that they walked four across. The line of students went as far as I could see. Both men and women were dressed in garments that were creamy white with gold trim, which are traditional Kerala colors. I found these photos of the procession on the Amritapuri Facebook page.

I also found this photo of the graduation program.

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