Aum Amriteswaryai NamahaThere is a beautiful passage in the most recent Immortal Bliss (2nd quarter, 2003) describing Amma sitting at the merging point of three sacred rivers. On these riverbanks, Amma gives a satsang and tells us the scriptures say the Mother is worshipped in 5 forms: Mother earth and Mother Cow, who give so much to humanity and ask nothing return; Mother Ganges who represents all rivers, one’s own biological mother and the Universal mother.
The notion that one might worship one’s own biological mother struck me as a very foreign concept. In thinking about it, I began to recall the love and compassion that Amma has shown to many of the mothers of Her children. In example, I know specifically of two devotees in our satsang who harbored concerns about their mothers when they went up for darshan. While receiving their hugs, Mother whispered, “My daughter, my daughter, my daughter,” into their ears before adding, “And your mother too.” Both devotees were surprised and filled with the comfort that Amma was blessing their mothers as well.
In my own experience, I see now Amma drew me to Her the same year my 55-year-old mother began manifesting symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It would take a couple of years to confirm and then accept the diagnosis, but by then Amma had both my mother and I securely in Her embrace.
Having to witness my mother’s ongoing deterioration is excruciating. And yet, it is a burden for which Mother continues to be clearly by my side. Early on, when my mom still lived at home and she could walk and talk, but no longer drive, I routinely took her for weekend visits with family and friends. On one of those excursions, I popped a bhajan tape into the cassette player. Quite suddenly, my mom announced, “I smell roses. That music makes me smell roses.” This really surprised me, as my mom never read or came into contact with the lore surrounding saints and divine aromas. At this point, she did not even know Mother sprinkled devotees with rose petals. I of course, could not smell the roses, but when I looked over at my mom, she was clearly enjoying a lovely aroma.
While my mom was still walking she received darshan on three separate occasions. Each one is a beautiful memory etched into my mind. The first occurred in 1999 on a hush Wednesday morning in the Universalist Church in Manhattan. My mom’s friend brought her to the church early and she was one of the first in line. I was so excited, I ran all around, watching her inch up the aisle from every possible vantage point of that church. I practically circumambulated Amma’s chair, knocking over devotees in order to get the best view of my mom’s head descending onto Mother’s shoulder. Finally, I found myself standing beside Swami Ramakrishnananda and suddenly, while pointing toward Amma, I blurted out to him, “That’s my mother!” He looked back at me with a curious blank expression. No words could express the awesome relief and gratitude I felt when Mother whispered blessings into my mom’s ear.
July of 2000 a friend brought my mom, once again to the church. I asked them to arrive as early as possible for the third morning program, when it was relatively quiet and I could greet them. By this time, my mother was having trouble with her motor coordination and I wanted to be there to help her. However, at 10:30 am I was scheduled for lap seva, so I was not available to look out for my mom for a short period of time, which concerned and preoccupied me. Additionally, it turned out, that Mother was giving an interview to a local newspaper that morning. When I kneeled at Mother’s chair it seemed that every centimeter of space was demand for the interviewer, the cameraperson, Geetha and Swami Amritaswarupananda. I felt utterly ridiculous and in everyone’s way. Swami asked me to scoot over a little to the right, Geetha asked me to inch over a little to the left, the cameraperson kept knocking the back of my head with the camera and Geetha periodically elbowed the side of my head. After sometime, I found a way to contort myself into a bizarre posture that enabled me to help devotees off Mother’s lap while simultaneously avoiding the bottom of the TV camera.
A half hour later, the interview ended, the cameraperson left, the interviewer moved into the line for a hug, Swamiji stepped back and my lap shift ended. The space around mother opened up like petals around the world’s most exquisite flower. Then, just was I was preparing to leave, I saw that the next two people cued up for darshan, were my mother and her friend. We were all at Mother’s lap together. I was shocked. I looked at Geetha, pointed to my mother and said, “That’s my mom. She sick. Could I go for darshan with her?” Geetha moved me into the line and Mother embraced my mom and I together. When we came up from Mother’s lap She looked and me and I tearfully blurted out, “That’s my mother!” Amma looked back at me with a curious blank expression. There was nothing to say. Mother’s love and compassion wrapped warmly around us holding all the truth.
The following summer of 2001, in a large hall at Columbia University, the entire scene unfolded again, it almost the exact same way. My mother’s friend arrived to find a parking spot in front of the hall. They walked in and got a token, mom went to the chair seating section and was immediately put into the darshan line because she had a great deal of trouble walking and was so clearly disoriented. I was scheduled for lap seva at 11:00 am, Amma was giving an interview, Geetha periodically elbowed me in the head and at the end of the interview, everyone disappeared and my mom was next in line for darshan. She could no longer kneel and it took two people to stabilize her. I was very conflicted about going for darshan and was simply going to help my mom exit, when Amma looked at me with enormous concern, said “No,” so I would not leave and motioned me to come in for a hug with my mother. I don’t know how to worship the Mother in any of Her 5 forms. I only know that the awesome, indescribable compassion of Sri Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi reaches into the hearts of Her children and their mothers.
In Amma’s Light,