“I will take leave now, Mother,” she said.
Mother took out a saree which she used to wear and tried to give it to her.
She refused to take it, saying: “Is it a return for a saree” (obviously, the visitor has given one to Amma)
“You are a girl and came home. I thought I should give it to you and I am offering it to you. Please accept it, dear!”
Even now she refused to take it. Instead she created a problem.
She said: “If you give me assurance that I will advance in my spiritual practice, I shall take the saree”
She refused to accept the saree, even when Amma repeated her plea two or three times. Amma said “It is not possible for me. I cannot give any words of such assurance. It is ok for me even if you refuse to take the saree” – Amma sounded firm. And the visitor had no alternative than to accept the saree.
“Bless me, Ma!” she said.
Amma said: “Blessings have no need for words”.
This passage struck me as typical of many if not all devotees of a guru. For my part, even as I read this passage, I recalled occasions in which I came close to this incident. Pray – to Amma for this or that depending on the seriousness of the context. Can we say that it is instinctive using the logic: who else is there to ask except Ma?
Go a little bit further: Is it a small thing to get a gift from Mother? The incident begins with Amma offering a gift – a saree to the lady unasked. Remember the enormous significance of Amma offering something she carefully selects – perhaps, there is a significance. Just as the saree envelops the body, this gift of love embraces the devotee’s entire being.
Here the incident takes a different turn. The lady devotee now tries a common – shall I say – trick to almost trap Amma. If love is behind mass gifts, this devotee tried to use this love as a “barter”. She asks “advance” in spiritual growth. At this stage of the story, I became nervous. For two reasons: One, will Ma grant the wish? Is it possible to do so? And, what about the gift? Is it used as a ploy! Can I assure myself, then, what I ask, she will give?
The fact is ‘Mother’ is not so naive as not to intuit the reasons devotees come to her with. Flexible when there is need. Firm when there is none. Here is such a situation. Even rejecting the gift doesn’t matter to Amma. Is this then a heavy setback to the ‘clever’ devotee? We don’t know. For, as a compromise, she asks for Ma’s blessings. “No need for words”. A profound, perennial quality of Amma. But the ‘irony’ is that Ma’s leela is inexorable! She plays her game with her own rules and regulations. Shouldn’t we be cautious, then?