Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India: December 12-18, 2016

Amme Yi Jivende

Last week, I wrote about hearing one of Amma’s swamis singing a song titled Amme Yi Jivende. I shared about a time in the early 90’s when I heard a different swami sing the same song. At that time, I was sleeping on a devotee’s roof during a program in Trivandrum. The house was near the Trivandrum ashram and the music filled the late night air. I felt as if the Swami was singing a lullaby to the infant part of me.

The day after I heard it sung this year, I walked by the auditorium when a group of brahmacharinis (female monks) were singing the very same song. I haven’t heard that song for many years so to  have it sung in my presence twice in two days was quite a surprise. The tune has run through my mind numerous times since then.

Indian religions recognize both God and the Goddess. The words of Amme Yi Jivende are directed to the Goddess. As I mentioned above, the tune is very much like a lullaby and the sound still sooths the infant part of me… and there are times older parts of me relate to the lyrics.

O Mother of the Universe, there is no one other than you who can wipe the tears off this face, who can liberate this soul. Coming to your feet, this soul realizes itself.

Alas! This mind is even now wallowing in sorrow having lost its way in Maya before finding its Goal. Please bless me that I shall forever hold you in a tight embrace with pure devotion.

In this fearsome ocean of birth and death, the only refuge is your lotus feet. Won’t you come and sprinkle a little of the nectar of love on this smouldering self?

This little infant spends every single moment meditating on your form. Please do not keep me waiting any more– draw me close to you and bestow inner tranquility to this tortured soul.

I wish I could share a soundtrack with you but I don’t have a way to do that. If you belong to Spotify you will be able to find it there.

Kapok Tree

In an December 4th post, I shared pictures of two Kapok tree trunks. One I found on the internet; the other tree is in Amritapuri. At the time I wrote the original post, I couldn’t see anything that these trunks had in common.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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This week, I happened to look at the other side of the Amritapuri tree and this is what I saw:

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Even though the two tree trunks are vastly different in size, I can see that their trunks have some commonality.

Rupee update

Money is still a big problem here. The banks won’t give out much cash, if any. The ATM I go to won’t ever dispense more than 2000 rupees a day (about $30), and it is frequently empty.  I went to two ATMs in town one day and they were empty too. The machines may stay empty for days.

If you luck out and are able to get some cash, it may still be difficult to use it because the merchants are often unable to make change. This problem has been going on since November 8th.

Weather

It was hot when I arrived at the ashram on November 26. Then the weather turned much cooler. There was even one day when I put on a flannel shirt for a while. Most of the time, though, it has been hot, but not too hot, during the day and cool in the early morning and during the night.

Elephant

Two days ago, I saw Lakshmi, one of the ashram elephants, for the first time this year. She was walking down the road with her mahouts when I was returning to the ashram after working in the garden.

She had probably been in the courtyard by the auditorium. The mahouts often bring her there at this time of year so that children and adults can feed her bunches of bananas. I fed Lakshmi for the first time two years ago.

The following photos of Lakshmi and Amma were taken in 2011.

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Drawing

This morning, a woman was sketching at the table where I had breakfast. I told her that I thought her drawing was beautiful. When she finished it, she gave it to me!

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To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

 

Khuśiyōm Kī Bahār

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The first bhajan (devotional song) that Amma sang after giving her New Year’s Message was Khuśiyōm Kī Bahār, a beautiful, heartfelt song.  Later I looked up the meaning and discovered that the translation is as moving as the tune.

 

Khuśiyōm Kī Bahār

May all beings be happy and without sorrows.
May all see only the good that is in everything.

May the spring of joy burst forth.
May the world be filled with peace.
O Lord, may we become selfless and free of desires
and thus may we progress steadily towards You.

Let all people in the world be content.
Let them see the divine spark in all others
and let the light of love shine in their hearts.
May all live in harmony.

Let us pray and hope together.
We will chant constantly the divine mantra
that is a prayer for the entire world to be happy.

 

Source: Bhajanamritam 5:98-99, Mata Amritanandamayi Center

 

Posted for Challenge for Growth Prompts: Looking for the Good in Others.

A New Sanctuary

My friends, Yashas and Ramana, and I have been meeting occasionally to practice and sing bhajans (devotional songs). This past Friday, Yashas asked if we could sing outside in a beautiful place when we met on Sunday. What came to my mind was a public beach or in my back yard with neighbors looking on. While I liked the idea of being outside, I was not up for being in a public space, so my first reaction was not positive.

Later, I began to think about the lot behind my house. That space would be much more private but it is filled with blackberries, ivy and morning glory vines. As I pondered that possibility, I remembered there used to be a secluded area under a cedar tree in that lot. I decided to see what that space looked like now.

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It turned out there were actually two cedar trees, standing side by side.  Most of the area was sloped but not all of it.  We would be able to play the harmonium and sing there once we cleared out the dead branches and some blackberries.  In time, we could even invite others to join us.  The neighbors might be able to hear us singing but they wouldn’t be able to see us.  That mystery could be fun for everyone.

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My hope was that we would be able to see a tree I consider majestic while we sang,  (I have since discovered that it is an alder tree and rather than being one tree with four trunks, it is actually two trees, each of which has two trunks.)

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The next day, Yasas helped me with the clearing.  We sawed off dead branches, cut down a few blackberry vines and generally cleaned up the space.  We placed some of the leaves on the ground to sit on.

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Sunday afternoon, I built a small altar.  Finding a level place where it wouldn’t fall over was tricky!

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When Yasas and Ramana arrived, we sat in the new sanctuary and sang and talked for three hours.  We had a wonderful time.

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And this was our view!

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When I sent some of these pictures to Sreejit (my son), he commented that we looked like pagan hippies.  Hmmm.  Well I still treasure the hippie part of me (A Hippie and Proud of It), and my love of Nature is ever increasing.  I will accept that label!

I suspect I will spend many more hours in this new sanctuary.