Amma’s Early Years
Born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, Southern India , Amma says that she always knew that there was a higher reality beyond this changing world of names and forms. Even as a child, Amma expressed love and compassion to everyone. Amma says, "An unbroken stream of love flows from Amma to all beings in the universe. This is Amma's inborn nature."
About her early years, Amma says, "Right from childhood, Amma wondered why people in the world have to suffer. Why must they be poor? Why must they starve? For example, in the area where Amma grew up, the people are fishermen. Some days they go out fishing but don't catch anything. And because of this, there are times when they have to go without food-sometimes for several days. Amma became very close with these villagers and had many chances to learn about the nature of the world by observing their lives and difficulties.
"Amma used to do all the household chores, one of which was feeding the many family cows and goats. To do so, every day she had to go to 30 to 40 houses in the neighbourhood and collect tapioca peels and other such leftovers. Whenever she went to visit these houses, she always found that the people were suffering-sometimes due to old age, sometimes poverty, sometimes disease. So, Amma would listen to their problems, sit with them and share their suffering and also pray for them.
"Whenever she had time, Amma used to lead these people to her parents' house. There, she would give them a hot bath and feed them, and occasionally she even stole things from her own house to give to these starving families.
"Amma observed that when children are young, they depend upon their parents, so they pray that their parents live for a long time and that they do not become sick. But when these same children grow up, they feel their parents-who are now old-are a burden. They think, 'Why should I do all this work for my parents?' Feeding them, washing their clothes and treating them with care become a burden to these same children who previously prayed that their parents would live for a long time. So, Amma would always wonder, 'Why are there so many contradictions in this world? Why is there no real love?' What is the real cause of all this suffering and what is the solution?'
"Even from early childhood Amma knew that God-the Self, the Supreme Power-alone is Truth and that the world is not the absolute reality. Therefore, she would spend long periods immersed in deep meditation. Amma's parents and relatives didn't understand what was happening. Out of ignorance, they began scolding her, opposing her spiritual practices."
But Amma was immersed in her own world, totally unaffected by the criticism and chastising of her family. During this time, Amma had to spend her days and nights outside, under the open sky, forgoing food and sleep. At that time, it was animals and birds that took care of her, bringing her food and waking her from deep meditative states.
Amma says, "During meditation and throughout the day, Amma would inquire into the source of all the sorrow and suffering she saw around her. At one point she felt that the suffering of humanity was due to people's karma, the fruit of their past deeds. But Amma was not satisfied with this and went deeper. Then from within came the answer: 'If it is their karma to suffer, isn't it your dharma to help them?' If somebody falls into a deep pit, is it correct to simply walk by, saying, 'Oh, it is their karma to suffer that way'? No, it is our duty to help them climb out.
"Experiencing her oneness with all of creation, Amma realized that her purpose in life was to uplift ailing humanity. It was then that Amma started this spiritual mission, spreading this message of Truth, love and compassion throughout the world, by receiving one and all."
Today, Amma spends most of the year travelling throughout India and the world in order to uplift suffering humanity through her words and the comfort of her embrace. Her ashram is home to 3,000 people, and thousands more visit every day from all over India and the world. Ashram residents and visitors alike are inspired by Amma's example, and dedicate themselves to serving the world. Through Amma's vast network of charitable projects, they build homes for the homeless, give pensions to the destitute, and provide medical care for the sick. Countless people all over the world are contributing to this loving endeavour.
"In the end," Amma says, "love is the only medicine that can heal the wounds of the world. In this universe, it is love that binds everything together. As this awareness dawns within us, all disharmony will cease. Abiding peace alone will reign."
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