Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India: December 14, 2017

Flowers

When I was in Amritapuri in August, it seemed like there were fewer flowers than I have noticed during my December/January visits. I don’t know if that was due to the season or if it was because I’m more familiar with the flowers here than I used to be so they weren’t as likely to catch my eye.

The gardens in the main part of the ashram are mostly made of potted plants. It seems like the number of pots have grown significantly in the last few months. The grounds seem so lush now. On the 14th, my attention was drawn to the plants near Amrita Darshan, the building where my flat is located. Most of the flowers that had bloomed there were white. I have shared them at the beginning of my first three posts.

Ants

I was surprised by the number of ants in my room when I arrived. There were so  many I didn’t know what to do about it. Sreejit and Chaitanya had both been in my room during the last few days and there were no ants present at that time.  I guess they came to greet me and/or to provide me with my first challenge.

I’m usually pretty good at blocking trails of ants and in that way encouraging them to go back where they came from, but my regular techniques don’t work very well when there are hundreds of ants. I know that a crumb of food or a dead insect will draw them, so in addition to trying any solution I could think of, I worked to clean the room even though it already seemed clean. The ants have shown up from time to time since then, but never in large numbers. My non-violent interventions seem to be working.

As I was finishing this post, an ant ran across my hand. When I looked around, I saw a few others on my desk. Moments later, I saw what was probably drawing them. How nice of nature to provide me with an example of what I had just written about. I wish the video had come out clearer but it makes my point. (There was a group practicing Christmas music not far from my room so my video even has background music!)

Play practice

I attended play practices in the afternoon and evening of the 14th. During the afternoon practice, the cast were learning a scene where one  of the main characters in the play was having a vision of an event that occurred during Jesus’ life. I love to watch the process of a scene being taught for the first time. It amazes me how it begins to come to life with only an hour-and-a-half of practice. During the evening practice, the musicians and singers rehearsed one song. The harmony was SO beautiful.

Silent Retreat

I haven’t even seen many of my friends yet, because they are participating in a ten day silent retreat. I look forward to being able to talk to them on Sunday or Monday!

Amplified temple music

I remember in the early 90’s when I first came to the ashram, we could hear devotional music coming from a temple across the backwaters. The music was so loud that it sounded like it was being played on a boom box in my room. My memory is that during some parts of the year, the music started at 5 a.m. and then lasted until 2 a.m. the next day. My nerves felt frazzled by the constant noise. Over the years, the music continued but the volume lowered significantly and it no longer lasted all day or occurred after dark.

I’ve noticed the last few days that the music starts sometime after 5 a.m. and  goes until around 11:30 and then starts again for a short time in the early evening. It is loud but not nearly as loud as in the 90’s. In the early morning it is recorded music. At other times a man is singing with a child or a woman or a child is singing alone. As I write this, it is evening, and a group of children are singing. Everything but the early morning music seems like it is live. I think generations of children must have grown up participating in this daily ritual.

I only hear the music when I am  in my room. When I am walking on the ashram grounds I am more likely to hear music from our auditorium. So far this trip I have  enjoyed listening to the singers from the village temple. I’m glad I don’t live any closer to that temple though. The music must be really loud in the village, or maybe the temple has speakers scattered throughout the area.

In the early in the morning, the music is somewhat drowned out by the sound of birds waking up and leaving the trees where they roosted for the night.  I took the photo and video below from the window of my flat.

I also made an audio-recording of a man singing with one of the children. You can hear some hammering on the video as well. That sound was occurring in the ashram.

Amma’s Darshan

I entered the darshan line around 4 p.m. but it didn’t move for quite a while. During the wait many friends I hadn’t seen yet walked by. It was fun to talk to them briefly and made me aware how many people I know here. I also had the opportunity to talk a bit to the person sitting next to me. She had met Amma when she was five-years-old but hadn’t seen her since then. She is now an adult and decided to come see Amma in India.

Finally it was time for my darshan (hug). When I reached Amma, she looked at me with a smile in her eyes and a look of recognition and love. I went into her arms with appreciation for the many times I have been blessed with this experience during the last twenty-eight years.

 

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

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