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Amritapuri Ashram, Kerala

INDIA | Saturday, 14 April 2012 | Views [3498] | Comments [2]

I have to start by saying that this was my first real ashram experience in India.  This was one of the stops that I'd wanted to make when I was planning my journey as I've admired Amma and have been curious about her for years.  I'd seen film clips of her hugging people who come to her by the droves, but I didn't really know that much about her other than those vignettes.  I never expected to meet her, or be "hugged" by her - but I was lucky, as she was in residence at the ashram when I visited.  Her ashram is huge and in a gorgeous location sandwiched between the sea and the river.  My room was on the 12th floor of one of the several very tall buildings - there is room for everybody who wants to visit (or stay), and it appears that they are expanding even more.  My room cost 500 rupees (about $10) a night, and this included 3 indian-style meals.

 I arrived in time for the 5pm orientation tour; it begins with a film that shows all of Amma's humanitarian works, awards, recognition, etc.  The film is quite moving and by the end you feel a bit awed and amazed to be in the presence of this great person.  But she's not just a great person - in the eyes of many she is a saint, or the Holy Mother in the form of a person, Her person.  Her image is everywhere, on everything.  Indians and others from all over the world come to receive her darshan (hug/blessing) which she gives 4 days a week, nearly non-stop.  To see her, you have to take a number (or token), so to speak - of the international guests, she receives new arrivals and people leaving first, others have to wait - darshan can go on until late in the night.  Everybody staying at the ashram gets at least one 30 minute chance to sit on stage and watch her in action; this is a spell-binding experience and I never missed an opportunity to be on the stage and watch her up close.  I was perhaps as -or more- moved by the people who came to her as I was by her.  They come to her as they would come before God - full of needs, tears, love, sincerity; openness and belief.  They kneal before "her lotus feet" like children; and she encourages this path of devotion to her as a way to the divine within.  There were hundreds of people coming and going each day, and there are around 2 thousand people living at the ashram full-time.  There's no required dresscode, though she and all of her devotees (which is just about everybody) wear white, so to conform and show respect, most people who are just visiting end up wearing white too.  I was originally only going to stay for about a week - but signed up for a sanskrit class and paid in advance for 2 weeks, but then ended up staying for just 10 days.  While others worshipped the ground she walked on (literally), I found myself falling away and couldn't connect with (or worship) her in that way though I read her biography and 3 of her books and completely admire her humanitarian works and her wisdom. 

Comments

1

I would like to visit the Ashram for two days with stay and to participate in the Bhajans and other activites

  srinivasan Jul 20, 2014 8:01 PM

2

I am going to Kerala next month, and I am planning on staying in the ashram. I am a little bit sceptic about the whole devotion thing, too. however, I think staying somewhere, where I can meditate and do some yoga will be very good for me.

  Jo (The Blonde) Mar 30, 2015 3:37 PM

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