The word ‘Bala’ in Sanskrit means little child and childlike. The Divine mother is worshiped as a little child and also as a young girl. This tradition prevails throughout the length and breadth of India. There are many legends about saints who worshiped the Divine mother as “little child Bala Tripura Sundari” and obtained liberation.
(“Tripura Sundari” is a high goddess in the Hindu tradition. Playfulness is one of her main aspects.)
In the “Lalita Sahasra Nama Storam”, the reference to the word “Bala” comes twice. The divine mother Goddess Lalita enjoyed the sport of the little child “Bala” who manifested from her. Bala then killed the children of the demon Bandasura, who was a repository of evil qualities. The divine mother Goddess Lalita is also adored as “Bala Leela Vinodini” (meaning a child who sports in its play).
(The “Lalita Sahasra Nama Sotram” is a Hindu chant of 1,000 verses that praises the virtues of the Divine Mother.)
Children always enjoy their play. In their play they forget the world. Like a little child, the divine mother also sports in the divine play of creation. She has created a world of toys. She enjoys pulling the strings of the toys. She delights with her thousand hands and is playfully controlling the entire creation. As she has created this play, every toy-like being has manifested from her. As she is not separate from her own creation, she is enjoying the sport, even when no one else is there to play with her.
The Divine Play of Manifestation
From the Vedanta view point, Brahman, the Paramatman, alone exists and everything is the manifestation of that divine. Even the creation is described as a “leela, the divine play of the creator”.
(“Vedanta” refers to the higher spiritual teachings of the Hindu scriptures. “Brahman” and “Paramatman” refer to the highest levels of spiritual reality.)
What is the play that the childlike divine mother is playing with us? She has engrossed us in the world of illusion filled with “I” and “mine”. And she is asking us to come out of this illusion. She is playing hide and seek by calling us towards her and then disappearing from us. Thus we feel hopeless in our attempts to catch hold of her.
To play this game with her children, the Divine mother takes the form of the child like Goddess Bala Tripura Sundari. There is not any trace of ego in children. Children are without any crookedness, guile and falsehood. Everything is a play for them. They imitate their elders innocently, are ever enthusiastic and blissfully enjoy life.
The Maturity Within Childlike Wisdom
As we grow into adults, the childlike happiness and innocent mischief slowly fades within. We become filled with ego and individuality. The world around us, the responsibilities that pour on us, the bonds, that we establish with worldly affairs always imprison us with iron chains of illusion called “I” and “mine”. They detain us in pain and sorrow.
Even the creation is described as a “leela, the divine play of the creator”.
But in the Mahatmas, the childlike playfulness and innocence eternally manifests. Many a great saint has revealed that for spiritual growth, we have to adopt childlike innocence and playfulness in life.
The Divine mother is moving with us rather living in our midst in form of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, whom millions of people, affectionately call “Amma”. She is the Goddess Bala Tripura Sundari Devi, who is sporting with us by playing the role of loving mother. She is acting as a loving mother and living that role.
Divine Play with a Purpose
But her play has a purpose. She is playing the mother’s role only to eliminate the rigidity and inertness called “ego” within us. She is trying to fill us with love. She is asking us to awaken the child within us.
We very often see Amma surrounded by many little children. Little children will be sitting beside her when she sings heartfelt bhajans. Children stand next to her in playful mood when she gives darshan. Amma talks, plays and sings with them as they encircle Amma with their fun and naughty behavior.
While giving darshan, Amma plays with cute and innocent children at one instance. Then the next moment Amma hears the sorrows of the elderly and ill. Then she’ll turn her attention to discuss the institutional issues of Amma’s organization. For Amma everything is a play. She is ever blissful as she performs thousands of deeds.
Amma always asks us to obtain the mind of child. Amma says, “Children alone can grow, children alone can live in the present moment. We all should adopt the innocence of the child within us”.
The Flow of Innocence
Children fight with each other at one moment and next moment they become friends forgetting the enmity. We should acquire the heart of the child and make it grow within us. Amma longs to see in every one of us the childlike innocence. If we want to grow spiritually, we have to grow and nurture the child within us says Amma.
Since her sweet sixteen years, Amma is embracing the humanity and is giving darshan. Her popularity as the child saint spread across many villages when she was in her teens. All sorts of people used to visit her. Some came to test her. Some came to seek solutions for their material afflictions. Some came to ask her to fulfill their desires. Others came to seek her spiritual advice and blessings.
Once a veteran spiritual seeker (pandit) came to visit her at her native village. But when he came to her village, he saw her playing games with the village children. He was stunned to see this. He thought, like other saints, she would be sitting quietly and contemplating on God. He doubted if the childlike girl, who was playing with village kids, can advise and guide him on spiritual matters.
He waited for Amma to finish her games with village kids. Amma came to him after a while, lovingly consoled him, and started advising him on spiritual matters. He became dumb struck by the profound spiritual truths revealed by Amma. He quickly prostrated to Amma’s feet and left the place with reverence and awe.
Just an Appearance…
Amma appears childlike, exhibiting teasing innocence, enjoying play with the kids. Who else other than the goddess Bala Tripura Sundari, who eternally enjoys her play, can extol such insightful wisdom in a playful manner to a spiritual pandit?
He became dumb struck by the profound spiritual truths revealed by Amma. He quickly prostrated to Amma’s feet and left the place with reverence and awe.
It is said that Lord Shiva appeared as a youth in the form of Dakshinamurthy and, without saying a word, cleared all the doubts of the great elderly sages. Today, here in our midst, Amma from her young age, is playing with all of us and lovingly chiseling us to spiritual perfection.
Adults and elderly citizens, all are Amma’s children. Amma, with her eternal charismatic divine smiles, glances and gestures, lovingly removes our ego. Her compassion melts our rigidity of arrogance and adamancy.
We consider her as our Guru, mother and intimate friend and reveal everything to her. We may even feel hesitant to reveal such facts about our inner worlds to our parents and even to close friends.
Innocence Awakens Naturally
The instant we see Amma, childlike innocence awakens within us. Amma’s loving touch or hug brings tears in our eyes, and we cry before Amma like an innocent child. Amma always wants the childlike heart awakening within us.
For Amma, every deed is a play. Every action is fun. She does every action with complete detachment. She “plays” every action and delights in it. She drowns us in utter surprise, for her decisions in the important matters. Even the toughest decisions involving millions of rupees, she responds to it in very casual, natural and simple way.
Her smile never disappears from her face in the midst of worldly tensions. Even if she exhibits anger towards somebody, she is only acting anger and never becomes angry. Within few minutes or even seconds, she laughs with somebody and plays with kids.
Her anger is a play. Her smiles and laughter are a play. Her emotions and actions are but dramas only to get rid of our seriousness about the ever changing world, which is caused because of our identity with the World i.e. Ego. Amma eternally delights within her “Self”. She sports blissfully in the divine play like a child, hence she is called Bala Leela Vinodini.
The Deeper Lessons of Seva
Whenever Amma entrusts us with certain work, we do it with sincerity, devotion and dedication. We wish to succeed in our work. We put all our energies into it. As we get deep into the work, along with our dedication, our attachment and arrogance grows within us. We feel, “I am very special to Amma. I am endowed with talents and divine power, hence Amma has entrusted me with this work.”
Over a period of time, we confront many obstacles in our work. These impediments puncture our arrogance and haughtiness. We get into a situation of helplessness. At this juncture we turn to Amma. We seek her grace and intervention for success in the work. Our attitude towards the work undergoes a change. We become more humble, more god-seeking and able to respond to others with more detachment.
The doer-ship within us begins to dissolve as we seek divine intervention. Grace descends on us and moves our work, as we learn detachment. As we learn how to play in the work, the big “I” within us melts. Amma is playing with us only to teach us how to play the game of “work”, without ego and with childlike innocence.
The Only Thing That Matters…
It is neither the Seva that we do nor our achievements that matters to Amma, but our spiritual progress. Every situation she creates is a test and ordeal for us. And at the same time they are just a play for her.
Our physical mothers want us to grow into an adult. But our spiritual mother nurtures the innocent child within us.
Our success or defeat is only her compassion to make us grow more innocent and detached. Our physical mothers want us to grow into an adult. But our spiritual mother nurtures the innocent child within us. This way she can play with her innocent children.
Let us bow down to the childlike goddess Bala Tripura Sundari who has come down to play the role of loving mother. She eliminates the demon Bandasura within us and the accumulation of our arrogance and rigidity. Let us pray for the awakening of the innocent child within us.
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