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Celebration of Love, Service and IAM Stall

Oct 10, 2011

Though no words, however poetic, can adequately describe the subtle purity and beauty pervading the sacred grounds of Amma's 58th birthday celebrations, these words are for those lovers and practitioners of IAM Technique who missed it.

This year's celebration is very special as it was also the celebration heralding the historic birth of IAM kiosk - not one, but two kiosks; not one or two managing the booth, but ten to fifteen.

Volunteers, with the star of the stall on the left

How things fell in place! But not until the last moment - when one knew it was the end of the tether, and accepted defeat and surrendered. Help came from unexpected sources - always at the last moment - always unasked, reminding us of Amma's eternal promise: "Ask for nothing and everything you need will come to you."

For those involved in the birth of the first IAM stall, it was indeed an intense experience, a sacred event, etched in the vault of unforgettable memories. The eternal beauty of Amma's love and grace was that day branded forever in our hearts.

The Ettimadai professor and AIMS students

Stupendous is the word that adequately describes the response to the IAM Technique stall, because the swarming crowd of devotees was so huge that if you were to throw a pin into the mass, it wouldn't reach the ground. Such was the love of Amma's devotees. Wherever you looked was a milling crowd, festive mood, and loving atmosphere fragrant with the air of selfless service.

The star of the stall was a twig of a small twelve-year-old girl, who according to her mother, "for long dreamt of serving Amma." She wafted into the exercise on the morning of September 26th, like a tiny fairy, like an auspicious omen, harbinger of good things to come. The amount of work she turned out (till the night of 27th) by any account wasn't small.

The 6' X 10' banner being mounted

Then there was another small boy who also wanted to help. Also a professor couple from Ettimadai, who 'for years wanted to serve during the birthday', was grateful to serve for long hours. Also two engineering students. They were the unrecognized and unsung heroes, all. These are the stories of individual transformations, miracles wrought about by Amma, heralding the change to come. Amma's buds are blooming everywhere!

The banner is half way through

Countless thousands of people came to the Birthday all desperately seeking to serve. Total festive atmosphere; if you wanted anything, somebody rushed to help. The miracle of SEVA was there everywhere, like every event around Amma that becomes a celebration of love and service. Unbeknown to the world at large, Amma has been performing the miracle of nurturing love and compassion in the hearts of a generation that is now poised to "wholeheartedly serve..."

Heroes and the banner

That brings to mind what Amma has said in theParliament of the World's Religions, Barcelona:

"In today's world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion. Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first-because if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter."

We knew we would need volunteers, because we had already brought in the LCD monitor for playing the 'interview-video' on IAM Technique. By morning, we knew we had done our best and that at the last moment we would not get extra volunteers to help run the IAM kiosk. All the telephone calls to the volunteer coordinators had proved futile. But by ten, we had four bright youngsters approaching us tentatively – saying they had been sent by their seva coordinator and asking could we utilize their services. Could we!

The fluttering banner and the crowd

In that hour, three more such groups sauntered in leisurely, unasked and untold, and settled in our stall with the other students. They were seated and asked to feel free and at home, and enjoyed themselves enormously but at the same time were led into the concept and benefits of selfless service. Sitting riveted to the chair, they learned about what great grace would be theirs with their acts of selfless service to Amma. They worked with zeal and gusto for many long hours. They were such an asset and were instrumental in the success of our unique program. These medical students of AIMS had recently been initiated into the mysteries of IAM Technique.

The main arch before the auditorium

The historic birth also saw the launch of a new movement: colorful road-show of IAM Technique banners, carried lovingly all over the mega birthday-site by the student volunteers. Initially, the police were at the end of their wits, shocked to see abanner procession in this strike-prone state, at this sacred occasion(in Kerala any banner of any hue and color represents but only one thing – strike. That's the strike-state of Kerala for you; God's own country). In Pavlovian reflex, the fingers of the police would reach for their baton. But the frown turned to grin when they read the banner and discovered the truth. Probably they were among the countless aspirants who filled up the 'interest card' to enroll for the IAM class.

Another banner, standing tall. Behind: the main building of the engineering college.

The impact of this IAM road-show prompted many to sit up and take notice. Next year or from even next program onwards, one might perhaps see many banners on the prowl! There were maybe 15 – 20 IAM banner rounds by these smiling, persuasive youths, talking, and taking IAM to people.

The students had to come for only an hour or two but ended up not only serving but enjoying five to six hours – and unasked. It was a really a mystery who were these unstoppable medicos; they didn't even leave behind their mail id's or phone numbers. But they did come to bid an affectionate good bye before they went back to their buses.

Washim's Vidyamritam Scholarship students: absorbed in watching the IAM video.

Post lunch, there were another kind of children in the IAM stall, twenty from Washim school. The previous day they had filled up the 'Interest Card'. All of them wanted to do IAM.

Washim, the district prone to farmer suicides, is a far off district in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Twenty of the students newly selected for the scholarship came to Amritapuri from about 2,000 kms to meet their beloved benefactress and to receive the scholarship in a grand function of unimaginable and unheard of magnitude. The Scholarship covers a period of three years. As usual, it was actually Amma who covered the travel expenses because she wanted to see these hapless kids, more than their wanting to see Amma! You can see them happily flaunting their IAM badges in front of the large IAM technique kiosk.

Some of the twenty students who have been awarded the scholarships for a period of three years, are happily posing for a group photograph

None from the constant stream of visitors to the stall missed out on the devoted attention of the volunteers. Loving attention, explanation, distribution of IAM pamphlets, invitations to watch the meditation video, help for them when filling up the interest card – these were the simple ways of the devotees manning the kiosk. That is what made the IAM Technique stall a huge success, by all accounts.

Birds of the same feather, whether medical students from AIMS, Kochi, or Scholarship students from Washim.

Wherever Amma is, there the crowd is. This is the truth.

The crowd had vanished, soon after Amma's marathon darshan (at quarter to eight next morning). One was wondering where was the magic city, which it truly was. Totally bereft of the buzz, life and gaiety, it looked bare, deserted, dismal. The whole city - the structures, the stalls, the crowd had vanished, without trace, as if by magic.

The magic and the kiosk will be back again, on another fourth Thursday, in September, 2012. On Amma's 59th birthday.

Compiled by: Janardana Krishna