On 65th Birthday, Mata Amritanandamayi Stresses Lessons Learnt From Kerala Floods
27 September 2018 Kollam The 65th Birthday Celebrations of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi were focused on helping Kerala recover from the recent monsoon floods. Both Amma’s annual birthday address as well as several of the function’s charitable initiatives were aimed at uplifting victims of the flood, which took the lives of nearly 500 people in August.
Following Sri Guru Paduka Puja performed by Mata Amritanandamayi Math Vice-Chairman Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Amma gave a satsang that stressed the lessons taught by the flood. The spiritual leader and humanitarian said these lessons were mankind’s helplessness in the face of Nature’s incredible power, the need for man to stop abusing the environment, and the infinite power of compassion and selflessness inherent in the human heart.
“When the rain beat down incessantly, flooding the rivers and starting landslides, turning Kerala into an ocean of disaster, people here forgot all divisions,” Amma said. “Separations of caste, creed and religion disappeared. Thoughts of rich and poor, high and low, all vanished. Party politics faded away. All thoughts and actions flowed in one direction, toward a single goal. Due to this, people had no difficulty in understanding and supporting one another. Moreover, they found the strength to overcome all obstacles. Hearts came together as one, and only compassion flowed. Actually, it overflowed, and we saw a second ocean rising from the floods—an ocean of compassion.”
Amma added that while man, with his limited strength and intelligence, cannot stop natural disasters, natural disasters can never stop man from extending a helping hand to those in need. “During such times, we are spontaneously able to express our compassion and love through our words and deeds. This strength is inherent in us. That is why it awakens in crises such as this.”
Amma also said that the increase in extreme weather and natural disasters that the world is experiencing is due to mankind’s abuse of the environment, and she urged everyone to stop their boundless selfish exploitation of Nature. “Our desires have increased one by one, and in our rush to fulfil them, we have been abusing Nature. What we are seeing now is Nature’s retaliation. When we lost our dharma, Nature lost hers too. Just as each nation has a set code of laws, the universe also has a set code of conduct called dharma. It is this code that maintains the harmony of life.”
Amma concluded by saying, “The love and compassion that overflows from our heart is the power that leads us to victory. How was Kerala saved from the great floods? What saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people? It was the love and compassion that filled the hearts of people all over. This strength destroys all barriers and joins all hearts on a single string. May this love and compassion ever illuminate our hearts.”
Amma’s satsang was immediately followed by Amma guiding the devotees in meditation, manasa puja, a prayer for world peace, and bhajans. She was also garlanded by a number of dignitaries who came to offer Amma their birthday wishes including: Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan, Honourable Governor of Mizoram; Sri. Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition, Kerala Legislative Assembly, Sri. K.C. Venugopal, MP, All India Congress Committee General Secretary; and Vellappally Natesan, General Secretary of the SNDP Yogam, among others.
The Mata Amritanandamayi Math took the occasion to acknowledge the compassion and selflessness of individuals who came forward to help the flood victims. Amma gave one lakh rupees to 10 families of fishermen and others who had died trying to rescue flood victims. She also presented certificates of commendation to the more than 400 volunteers who manned the Amrita Help Line—a 24-hour call-in centre set up at the Amritapuri Campus of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham that over five days fielded more than 25,000 calls, connecting more than 100,000 flood victims across the state with relief services.
“Several hundred students worked together for days on end to help rescue people trapped in life-threatening situations,” Amma said. “They were able to bring timely help to many people in many areas. What invoked their unified response was the love and compassion they felt towards those trapped by the floods. The selfless love they experienced made their actions extremely beautiful and successful, and an inspiration to everyone.”
The Math was not the only entity to acknowledge the selfless service rendered to flood victims. The 200,000-plus members of the 13,000 AmritaSREE SHGs saved the money that they would have spent on traveling to Amritapuri for Amma’s birthday celebrations and instead donated that amount—Rs. 10 lakhs—to Amma to help the Math in its continued flood relief-and-rehabilitation efforts.
As happens every year on Amma’s birthday, the Math also gave away certificates for free surgeries at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi. These included 60 neurological surgeries, 15 kidney transplants, 62 head-and-neck surgeries, 75 urological surgeries, 250 oncological treatments, 80 gastrointestinal surgeries, 50 orthopaedic surgeries and treatment for 150 dialysis patients.
Cheques for Rs. one lakh were also issued to widows of Kerala fishermen who died at sea in 2017-18, free weddings were performed and free saris were given to 400,000 women.
The Math had also completed the construction of 900 toilets in Kollam District Kerala, taking its total of toilets constructed for the poor in the state to 12,000. Certificates of receipt were given to 200 representatives during the function.
Ten spiritual books published by the Math about Amma’s life and teachings were also released, as well as was the Malayalam version of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new book, Exam Warriors, written to inspire students preparing for their exams and life. The book was released by Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan, Honourable Governor of Mizoram, who presented Amma with the first copy.
The programme concluded with Amma giving her famous darshan—in the form of a heartfelt motherly embrace—to thousands upon thousands of devotees.