Where Amma Is, There Amritapuri Is
Editor’s Note: Swami Amritageetananda Puri, one of Amma’s senior-most disciples, gives us valuable insight into Amma’s teachings and life.
Ayodhya is the birthplace of the righteous and beloved Lord Rama and setting of the sacred text Ramayana. Gokul is the birthplace of Lord Krishna and where He spent his childhood. Swami contemplates on and compares Amma’s ashram and birthplace Amritapuri with Gokul and Ayodhya.
Swami Amritageetananda Puri explains the very purpose of Avatar’s incarnation is to do Amala Bharatham – cleaning the cities and villages of garbage in the form of selfishness, greed, and ego.
Swami starts by describing the anguish felt by those Lord Rama was leaving behind in Ayodhya when He was exiled to the forest.
It was the beginning of dawn, but the sun seemed to hesitate to rise. The Ayodhyavasis (dwellers of Ayodhya) were praying that the sun never rises, as its rising would take away Lord Rama. All the Ayodhyavasis were plunged in gloom. Many were agitated at the injustice of Lord Rama’s exile, as He was their God in human form. Only three faces shone with divine peace –Lord Rama, His inseparable divine consort Seetha, and His beloved brother, Lakshman. They were a family who cared little for luxury, sensual enjoyments or personal comforts and had only duty, dharma and sacrifice in mind! Even Valmiki (the Sage who is the author of the Ramayana) would be at a loss to say who excelled this family in nobility and character – except, of course, Lord Rama!
There are many subtle truths, teachings and declarations in the holy Ramayana that can guide the human race to its ultimate goal – God Realisation. Sumithra, the wise queen mother of Lakshman, encouraged Lakshman to follow Lord Rama to the forest and serve Him. She said, “Where Lord Rama is, there alone Ayodhya is, go my son, with my blessings. May you be peaceful!”
That is the teaching for all of us also. Where Sri Ram is, there Ayodhya is. Likewise, where Amma is, there alone Amritapuri is. Amma‘s children and devotees will answer this in different ways.
Certainly, everyone will agree on one point. Amritapuri without Amma is never the same as Amritapuri with Amma. Amma’s physical presence is like bright sunshine — illumining and nourishing everyone. In Her physical absence, Amritapuri quickly becomes gloomy. We can notice how the atmosphere brightens up a few days before Amma’s return. Wherever Amma is, the place around Her becomes a festival. But all of Amma’s children who accompany Her on Her tours are happy to return to Amritapuri. We feel we are at home!
From Ayodhya, Lord Rama started walking towards the south up to Lanka. Along the way, there are so many sacred places where Lord Rama rested, stayed and even worshipped. All these places are very sacred to us and, it is our duty to preserve them to the best of our ability. The Sri Lankans have preserved many places connected with the Sri Ramayana. They have preserved Ashoka Vana where Seethadevi was held captive, the place where Hanumanji landed to meet Seethadevi, and where the Vanara Sena (monkey army) landed. But Ayodhya is most important for all of us. No other sacred place can be compared to Ayodhya.
So too, Bhagavan Krishna was born and grew up in Gokul. He later moved to Mathura and did an Amala Bharatham (Amma’s project to create a clean India) removing the garbage of Kamsa and his tribe of demons. How many Amala Bharathams have the Avatars done in the past!
In Sri Krishna’s physical absence, no other place cried like Gokul cried! In Sri Rama’s physical absence, no other place cried like Ayodhya cried! In Amma’s physical absence, no other place cries like Amritapuri cries! Many of Amma’s Ashram branches are Kailashs on earth. They are very peaceful and charged with Amma’s presence, yet Amritapuri is Amritapuri. Nothing compares.
The very purpose of Amma’s incarnation is to do Amala Bharatham – cleaning the cities and villages of garbage in the form of selfishness, greed, and ego. When we read the Devi Mahatmyam, we can see how many Amala Bharathams Devi has done! The garbage in the form of demons like Madhu-Kaitabha, Shumba-Nishumba and finally Mahishasura and their tribes. And every time an Amala Bharatham was done were done, humans and Gods alike able to breathe fresh air and with their hearts filled with gratitude, devotion and infinite joy they praised Devi,
“You bestow auspicousness, O consort of Siva, fulfiller of all desires, refuge of devotees, Gauri, Durga, prostrations to You.”
Even though Amma is the same whether in Amritapuri or in USA, we are able to perceive Amma according to the power of our instruments, namely, eyes, ears and mind. If the sun comes a little closer to the Earth, we will be scorched to death. Our body-mind equipment has only that much capacity! So too Amma manifests only that much power which we human children with our limited senses and mind can perceive.
Those who have performed a lot of austerities can know Amma better. We, most of Amma’s children, find Amritapuri the best place – divine and spiritually charged – for our austerities. Amritapuri is incomparable!
Amritapuri is where Adiparashakthi (Goddess of Divine Power) choose to incarnate and spend Her childhood days teaching mankind how devotion and faith in God helps us face the problems of life cheerfully. Amma Herself had said that Amritapuri is the place where great sages once did tapas (austerities). Amma also said that Amritapuri is tapo bhumi (place where intense spiritual practices can be performed) and karma bhumi (a place where old karma can be cleansed) and we Her children confidently say that Amritapuri is also moksha bhumi (a place where spiritual enlightenment can arise)!
When Lord Rama left Ayodha, he also left the Ayodhyavasis in gloom. In Sri Krishna’s physical absence, no other place cried like Gokul and similarly, Amritapuri is unparalleled for Amma’s devotees.
Author: Swami Amritageetananda Puri
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