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Prof M Sivaramakrishna
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 7
Month : April
Issue Number : 2
Year : 2008

One word which constantly rolls on our tongue and dances before our eyes on TV channels is love. From love between mother and child, teenage love, to love for the country etc.. go on and you will find countless contexts in which love figures and fashions correspond to feelings. Let us, for sometime, suspend all these areas and look at what Mother has to say:

Equal love for all doesn’t mean giving the same help to all. It means helping each according to his need, taking into account the differences in tastes and requirements. For instance, to feed all equally would prove fatal to the ailing among Mother’s children and insufficient to the hale and hearty. Giving people everything they ought, in their best interest, to receive is what constitutes true love. Giving what they, in their ignorance, ask for is indulgence and callous disregard for their welfare. (p. 323).

What struck me first when I read this (as it always does whenever and whatever I read of Mother’s words) is the absolute clarity, spashtata as we call it in Telugu. Literally millions of views about love abound in the history of human consciousness experiencing this rarest of human emotions. But they lack clarity.

The second aspect is not only clarity but transparent simplicity. Do you need to consult impressive dictionaries to decode the meaning? (As perhaps, you may have to when we try to complicate Mother’s simple words. Once after I spoke on Sri Ramakrishna on some occasion, a listener came and told me somewhat hesitantly: “Sir, you spoke very impressively. But my problem is: I am able to follow what Sri Ramakrishna says; but I am not able to follow what Sivaramkrishna says about what Sri Ramakrishna says!” That is the problem.)

“Unless you are simple you cannot know God, the Simple One!” sang Sri Ramakrishna. Sahaja is the word he used for “simple” in translation. Natural, simple, that is the language of experience. Experience, anubhava, charges the words with clarity, simplicity and easy comprehension. But one should also be a bit cautious here. What is understood easily and effortlessly may have the chance of being forgotten, equally effortlessly.

This brings me to the third point. Mother feeds us in varied ways and with, let us say, different dishes. Comparably, an idea is fed to us in and through an example, an analogy so familiar that only Mother can defamiliarise it so that the very surprise in such a context makes the idea stick to us. And what is the example this Annapuma gives? Food! Feeding. An everyday event. But also, an analogy to an eternal truth: all do not eat in the same way, so that they are not fed in the same way.

The other point is we often repeat the insight that annam, food, is parabrahma swaroopam. Food is the concrete, manifest form of the Infinite. And all are sustained and nourished by food. This experience is so natural. Can Amma so naturally find her proper place in our consciousness? We feel famished if we don’t eat. Do we feel the same urge to absorb Amma’s celestial food? Food which is piloted through the different sheaths koshas- of our body and made to yield unending joy which is sustained in the face of all contradictions and paradoxes that our lives contain?


Now, love and helping go together. The high sounding words are spirituality and service. Mother’s word is simple “helping” we say “give a helping hand”. If the helping hand does not help you. in the way you think and feel she should help, will you take the proffered hand? Most of us not only demand help we also decide which way the helper should help. And, also what kind of help. The question is: Amma is (to cite an example my mentor Sri Ram Sir gave) like a UPS unending power supply. Whenever we are in difficulties and plunged in (what we think is) darkness, the Unending (not just uninterrupted!) Power Supply of Amma lights up our hearts. Or, rather, it is ready to light up. Are we ready to receive?

Helping is activated when the ego ceases its functioning. A friend told me that ego, in most of us, means “edging God out”. Still we want help. Helping, from our side, also has a comparison as one of its aspects. “See how he gets whatever he prays for from Mother! We pray and perform pooja without fail and yet…”. The gap is generally filled with a list of complaints. And all complaints are the result of comparison. Perhaps, psychologically we have a built in resentment to be helped. We think that it is beneath our dignity. (and so called dignity is the finer flower of egoism). See the popular ad: a father is given a helping hand by the son to get off the train onto the platform. He brushes it aside: “I can descend! I am a man who does not bend his head!” is the message. (And for that you require a big cash balance in the bank!)

In conventional terms, to receive help gracefully is to surrender. Many of us appreciate this idea; it looks so lovely, so lovable. And, mava aids and abets this feeling. Surrender, on the contrary, is a tremendous holistic act of unquestioning faith. “Holistic” means total: our texts say manasa, vacha, karmana in thought, word and deed.

The subtlety of this is brought out by Amma, She says: How can we call that emotion which changes its hue every passing moment ‘love’, my child? True love never changes. What stays only for a moment and then disappears is not love at all. (p. 322)

Love is not a chameleon, the creature that changes colors. Human emotions and feelings are notoriously mercurial. Attraction and repulsion arise in and to the same mind. “The mind is all declared by Sri Ramakrishna. And here comes the question of “equal love for all”. Is it possible? Mother links it to help. And help comes in varied ways.

Let us look at our common experience. Our thought assumes that God is God because he loves all equally. Without any distinction or difference. True, but a truth which contains several paradoxes. Suppose there is a child who is weak and unable to measure up to the qualities of the other children of the same mother. Isn’t it psychologically valid that the mother pays greater attention to the weak child than the strong one?

Perhaps, Mother’s equality is not that kind of equality which any secular document of a constitutional nature declares. Equality for mothers is, as we saw, based on various ways of help. But then in what sense can one say she is if we can put it that way – democratically equal to all? The answer is very interesting and perhaps not always capable of being put across sensibly.

Let us look at one fact. The first thing we learn is that Mother used to ask everyone who came to have her darshan about food. As Richard Schiffman in his entrancing biography of the Mother puts it:

… invariably the first question that Amma asked a newcomer to the “House of All” was, ‘Have you taken your meals?’ Nothing seemed to please her so much as personally looking after arrangements. for feeding the visitors. Mother commented humorously once by way of explanation. ‘You grow weak if you don’t eat, but I grow weak, if I don’t feed!’ (p. 97)

She also added a really breathtaking explanation”. When a visitor asked her why she did not give any formal spiritual initiation, she answered: “The food I give is your upadesa (initiation).” (p. 97)

Let us meditate on the correlation of food as upadesa in the subsequent issues – if Mother of All approves this proposal.

All quotations in this article are found in Richard Schiffman’s Mother of All published by The Blue Dove Foundation, San Diego, CA; 2001. page numbers are given in the article itself.

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