Monday, 11 January 2010
South-India - Amritapuri
so here I start with writing down my travel experiences - and with making an experiment to do it in English so that most of you are able to read and follow it. I`m very happy that I have chosen a quiet and peaceful place for acclimatisation in India, avoiding the famous hectic of the big cities and coming to the ashram of Amma at the ocean in Kerala. This place is an amazing and huge international spiritual factory in the middle of a very traditional rural area of South-India. Thousands of people come here daily to participate in the life of the ashram and possibly to get a hug from their saint, Amma.
Amma is considered by her devotees as an enlightened being who came back to this life in order to help men. They compare her with Christ because she is a manifestation of love. After long years of ascetism and selfdisciplined spiritual practice she evolved with the deities according to the story, and since that time she is devoting her life for helping others. She considers herself as the mother of all beings on earth, and to demonstrate this, she is daily embracing hundreds of humans who come to see her. It is quite special to see all this people standing in long-long lines waiting for their turn to get a 10seconds-hug from their universal mother, but even more special to see this little woman embracing all this people for 10hours... Welcome to the strange world of India.
But still, even if it was hard for me to handle with this view which seemed to me a personal cult of a little woman, or blind adoration of some spiritual seekers, at the end I realized that what I saw might be something the Indians call bhakti-yoga... A path of strong devotion and love . (Though this love might be limited to the big mother, as I saw that the `devotees` could be quite negative towards each other.) And by the participation of these people in the everyday life of the ashram is it possible for Amma to do all her humanitarian activities - to build and run universities, hospitals, to give help after natural catastrophes like the Tsunami and to feed many many daily.
After the strict Vipassana-retreats I found the life in this place very free, almost caotic - if you want, you can wake up early and sing your mantras in the temple, if you want you can do your daily work, you can practice yoga or meditate, watch ecological movies in the afternoon or sit at the beach. And of course, go for a hug as many times as possible...