Amritapuri, Kollam, Kerala
27th September 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 67th birthday of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) was celebrated today exclusively as global prayer for world peace. Ashram residents as well as devotees from around the world dedicated the day to meditation, chanting of prayers and worship. Amma also delivered her annual birthday message. Normally, the occasion finds lakhs of devotees from around the world making the pilgrimage to the ashram, with participation from heads of the central and state governments.
“Although Amma is unable to physically see your smiling faces, Amma sees each one of you in her heart. She is always thinking of you and praying for you,” Amma began. She then went on to put responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic squarely on the shoulders of humankind’s selfish, boundless exploitation of Mother Nature.
“Nature has been sending us many indicators regarding this for quite some time,” Amma said. “But man has refused to see, hear or acknowledge even the strongest of these messages. The bad habits we have acquired have become our nature. They have gradually shaped human behaviour and our way of living. Our ego has not allowed us to change. We thought this situation wouldn’t last long. But our intellect’s calculations—even those of modern science—were wrong. Humankind remains helpless and defenceless before the coronavirus.”
Yet, Amma said the need of the hour was not fault-finding or feeling guilty but casting away idleness and engaging in dharmic action with intense alertness and courage. Amma then listed seven guidelines she felt humanity needs to follow moving forward: 1. As much as possible, keep your body and mind under control. 2. Maintain a regular spiritual practice, at least to a small extent. 3. Make protecting Nature a part of your daily routine. 4. Do not belittle the forces of Nature and see them as inferior. 5. See life from a broader perspective. 6. Create a balance between your selfish and selfless interests. 7. Acknowledge and obey the universal laws set by God—the supreme authority.
Further explaining man’s selfishness, Amma said: “There is a common phrase for disposable products: ‘Use and Throw.’ In fact, this term describes the period we are living in today. It is the attitude that prevails in society, be it about things we purchase, Nature or our relationships. This attitude is born from selfishness. Selfishness is like an autoimmune disease wherein our cells attack and destroy our own body. Our ability to consider the feelings and rights of others is being destroyed. People have started feeling no remorse when it comes to harming their neighbours or Nature for their personal gain. However, such ill-gotten gain will never benefit anyone.”
Amma clarified that COVID is not a punishment from Nature, but a warning to help humankind correct its behaviour. “We may feel that such times of crisis are a form of punishment from Nature,” she said. “But don’t take it like that. Treat it as a clarion call from Nature for us to mend our ways. Think of it as a shock treatment from God, or Nature, to prevent us from doing worse things. Both Mother Earth and Mother Nature are considered as paragons of patience. However, man has taken this patience as a license of commit all manner of atrocities. It’s time to correct this mistake.”
Amma concluded her talk by stressing the need for compassion. “The fragrance of a flower travels only in the direction of the wind. However, the fragrance of goodness travels equally in all directions. We may not be able to help everyone in this world. But if we are able to express our compassion to a few people around us, they will pass it on, and very soon it will spread like links of a chain. This karuna-virus [virus of compassion], which can conquer the coronavirus, is what should spread across the world today.”
Amma also led the ashram residents in a world peace prayer wherein everyone imagined white flowers of peace falling down from the sky all over the world. It is, in fact, a prayer she started several years back when she repeatedly warned that 2020 would be an extremely difficult year for humanity.