“The creation and the Creator are not two,” Amma constantly reminds us. It is this principle that informs and motivates the various environmental programs and ‘green initiatives’ of Amma’s Ashram. India’s culture is one wherein everything we see reminds us of the all-pervasive nature of the Divine. At its heart, this perspective acknowledges that all names and forms are but various manifestations of the one all-pervasive consciousness that is the substratum of creation.
Nature is a beautiful expression of the creation, and in Nature many people find connection, a space for reflection, and a refuge. When we feel this connection, we are inspired to serve all living beings. Amma says, “Only through love and compassion is the protection and preservation of Nature possible.” Amma’s Green Initiatives are a place for work and worship to come together. When we see the interconnection of all beings, how can we dump toxic waste into rivers? How can we destroy our forests? How can we allow toxic fumes to pollute the environment? Amma’s Ashram is in service to Mother Nature, reawakening principles that protected our environment for millennia.
Amritapuri offers many opportunities to serve Nature, and so do the many grass roots projects of Embracing the World. Many people who have come for Amrita Yoga Amritapuri Retreats have started working with one of the many environmental projects either during or after the Retreat. But Embracing the World’s conservation initiatives are happening all over the world, through projects like planting hundreds of thousands of saplings each year, seminars aimed at fostering ecological awareness, and the environmental group, Green Friends. Green Friends is an organization established by Amma for the preservation and protection of the environment. Below are the main projects undertaken by Green Friends.
The Amritapuri Waste Management Department
The Recycling Department at Amritapuri collects all the non-biodegradable waste from the ashram and sorts it into many different useful categories. It is then sent to AIMS Hospital and Amrita Ettimadai University where it is sold to recyclers who re-use it. All proceeds directly support Amma’s many charities. This project keeps many thousands of kilos of waste out of landfills and off the streets and fields. The Recycling Department is one manifestation at the ashram of Amma’s India-wide Amala Bharatam Campaign (ABC).
The Ecology Department is Amritapuri’s center for environmental education, outreach and innovation. The department has a library of books and videos on a wide range of environmental issues, showcasing organic and natural products for personal care and optimal health. It partners with local providers of organic and natural items to encourage sustainable livelihoods and indigenous nature wisdom.
A central theme of Amma’s teachings is the love and care of nature. Amma teaches that all is the manifestation of Supreme Consciousness. As we realize this beautiful truth more deeply, we feel that the natural world is an extension of our own body and spirit. The effortless functioning of nature provides us with the basic necessities of life, such as fresh oxygen, clean water and healthy food.
Effective Micro organisms
Introduced to the world in 1982 by the Japanese scientist Dr. Teruo Higa, EM (effective micro-organisms) is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic micro-organisms that coexist symbiotically in one liquid solution. In layman’s terms, it is “good bacteria,” beneficial micro-organisms that naturally eliminate harmful bacteria from the environment.
The Green Friends at Amritapuri Ashram have been working to create a large organic tulasi garden that Amma Herself asked to be grown. During Amma’s 2004 US tour, a large packet of tulasi seeds was brought to Amma to be blessed. Amma held the seeds to Her heart and gazed at them intently with a beautiful smile. Since then, Tulasi tea and seeds are grown in the ashram.
Amrita Plastic Project
Is it possible for a dirty, discarded plastic bag to become a useful, durable and beautiful object that people will want to purchase? The answer is a clear and resounding “Yes!” and has been demonstrated with wonderful creativity by the Amrita Plastic Project.
Amrita Vanam (Amrita Forests)
Provides reforestation through the planting of 100,000 saplings every year. 200 greenhouses were established to generate these saplings.
Kavinte Raksha Nadinte Raksha (Sacred Groves)
Participants set aside a small portion of their property as a sacred grove, a sanctuary for plants and animals consisting of a pond and a small shrine. Participants care for the grove as they would a temple.
Harita Teeram (Green Shore)
Planting 100,000 casuarina saplings in Alappad Panchayat, Kerala. The casuarina trees not only beautify the shoreline but also protect the beach from erosion.
Prakruti Sameeksha (Nature Talks)
Green Friends also organizes Prakruti Sameeksha (Nature Talks) in institutions and schools to help people understand the interrelatedness of all living beings. The talks encourage children to love nature and serve humanity through environmental awareness. It conducts Aranya Sameeksha (Forest Retreats), wherein Green Friends members take nature walks, observe ecosystems and learn how to avoid disturbing or damaging them. They also practice meditation and discuss Amma’s teachings, deepening their awareness of humanity’s unity with Nature.