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Prof M Sivaramakrishna
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 5
Month : July
Issue Number : 3
Year : 2006

DESIGNING is a familiar context and then de-contextualize it, so that an implicit aspect of her advent gets revealed is very common with Amma. If one uses postmodern idiom, Amma carefully constructs’ a context and equally delicately ‘deconstructs’ it. Everything, thus, bears the distinct stamp of her revelatory processes.

What could be a more familiar item than lighting a lamp for pooja? But, in one context, this familiar aspect gets de-familiarized; and with what impact? Let us contemplate a scene from that exquisitely phrased but extremely teasing little book of conversations between Amma and Rajamma: Geethopadesam. The context is lighting the lamp.

Rajamma: “Mother! Light the lamp with ghee.”

Amma: “No cotton, no wick, no oil!” Rajamma: “I’ll give everything”

Amma: “It isn’t giving what is already in store. Tell me in detail what they are, what they are meant for. And then get it done. Rajamma: “Oh! You need an explanation for lighting the lamp for worship, do you? Isn’t it done daily?”

This is the opening. Is Amma unaware of why a lamp is lit? And why not use what is already available (wick, oil etc) without much ado? What objection could there be to using what is already available? Obviously, no explanation why we light a lamp (before a deity) is needed. Amma knows. Moreover, it is perfectly normal to use the materials which we already have.

Perhaps, one should be alert to Amma’s statements, particularly in the context of questions for which no elaborate debate is needed to find answers. But Amma often asks questions for which one can (easily or with a little effort) find answers. That is where the trap lies. Our answers are logical. Amma’s answers are teleological. They include logic but go beyond without contradicting logical premises.

Thus, Amma splits the question and the familiar answer. She continues:

Amma: The reason for the lamp is obvious. But when the lamp is there, lighting the lamp is felt as necessary. That is why I am saying, an explanation is needed for lighting the lamp (again). Moreover, mother, with an ordinary lamp our darkness is dispelled. Does lighting the lamp dispel the Deity’s darkness?

This is a very strange network of thought. What is the “Tamp” which is already there (before and after the ritual lamp is lit)? If it is there already or if we perceive nature as this lamp-lighting the lamp again in the Presence of that Lamp is akin to showing a lamp to illuminate the sun’s light. Is Amma suggesting that Rajamma is unaware of the fact that ritual light is only a symbolic gesture? Something which even if needed can, in the present context, be dispensed with? You don’t light a lamp to locate the Sun! Moreover, which lamp can dispel the darkness of Maya (of nonrecognition even when face to face with the Cosmic Source of both light and darkness)? Can we, in this context, get out of the myopia of logic and perceive the celestial beauty of the Presence? Sri Ramakrishna was fond of listening to a song sung by Narendra:

In dense darkness, O Mother, 

Their formless beauty sparkles.

a dark mountain cave.

Therefore, the Yogis meditate in

 In the lap of boundless dark,

 on Mahanirvana’s waves borne, 

Peace flows serene and indescribable.

 Taking the form of the Void,

 in the robe of darkness wrapped,

 What are Thou, Mother, 

seated alone in the shrine of Samadhi?

From the lotus of Thy fear-scattering

Feet flash Thy love’s longings. 

Thy Spirit-Face shines forth

With laughter terrible and loud!

Even in the dense, boundless darkness, the Mother’s Spirit Face sparkles, shines forth. How come we are wrapped in Maya, unable to perceive? Is Mother playing hide and seek? Or is she teasing, aiming only to teach us? Yes. The need for a lamp which Rajamma felt confirms this. Hence the annoying question Rajamma asks:

Rajamma: How come darkness for God? (or the Deity). 

You speak meaningless words.

Now the debate becomes deeper:

Amma: In fact, what is God, mother?

Rajamma: Oh my God! Are you asking what (or who) is God?

Let us pause here and continue our contemplation in the next issue – provided it is in Amma’s cosmic design. Meanwhile, let us pray: “Amma illuminates the little lamps of our flickering, fleeting love! Let not the shroud of your Maya snuff them out!”

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