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Absorbed in Ecstasy

Through her late teens, 20s and into her 30s Amma’s mind would spontaneously ascend into the stratosphere of the Divine and she would lose outer consciousness.  This would happen on an almost daily basis!  As she grew older she was more able to control her mind and keep it in the empirical plane.Amma ecstasy

Amma’s mind is like a balloon she has to hold under the water of the material world – it is constantly wanting to shoot up.  Imagine having to struggle every day to stay out of the Cosmic!  There have been no other saints of this magnitude in the history of human kind.

"Even now I am struggling hard to keep my mind down, especially while singing bhajans. It is always shooting up."  Amma, Awaken Children, vol. 1

After being asked about her divine moods, Amma recounts her struggle to remain conscious in the world:

Amma: (Abstractedly) "Oh...I don't know. They just come like that. (After a short pause) Do you know how much I am struggling to stay here in this world in the midst of all of you? It is really very difficult. But when Mother remembers the sorrows and sufferings of the people, Her mind melts and becomes compassionate. That is what keeps Her mind down here."  As told by Swami Amritaswarupananda, Awaken Children, vol. 2.  Amma often talks about herself in the third person.
To follow is a description of one such event.

Struggling to Stay Down

“At six-thirty in the evening the residents began the singing of bhajans. After a few songs, Brahmacharin Balu started singing Saranagati (O Mother, Give Refuge). By the time the Holy Mother came to join in, the same song was still being sung since it was a long bhajan. She took over the lead singing.

“O Light that illumines the whole Universe
And even the sun, moon and the stars;
O Primordial Nature,
Governess of the entire Universe,
O Universal Mother,
who is the Incarnation Of pure and selfless Love,
this destitute cries for Thy vision
with a heart endowed with intense yearning.

“The Mother was unusually enraptured with the bliss of Divine Love. She swayed vigorously from side to side, back and forth. An inexpressible and indescribably beautiful blending of the diverse aspects of supreme devotion and love slowly manifested in the Mother. It enveloped each and every person present. Through the Divine voice of the Holy Mother the song attained wings. It soared up and flowed like a never-ending stream as the song continued:

“O Mother, the ocean sings Thy Glory
Through the resounding of the Sacred Syllable, after the other,
Each and every wave dances gleefully
In time with the Pranava, the Primordial Sound, Aum...

“With a voice full of feeling and a heart full of longing, the Mother called out, "Amme...Amme..." Her eyes were fixed on the sky above and her hands were out-stretched. The Mother's call was so full of love and authenticity that it gave the feeling to everyone that the Divine Mother Herself was standing in front of the Holy Mother. The Mother sang out,

“O Mother Divine, Thou art beyond
The scriptural verses of Purushasuktha
(Scriptural text which glorifies the Universal Being).
“O Mother, Thou art beyond the Brahmasutra
(Scriptural text which describes the Absolute Brahman).
“O Mother, even transcending all the four Vedas,
“O Mother, Thou alone knowest Thee indeed.

“At this point the Mother started laughing, an external expression of her inner bliss. This mysterious laughter persisted as the brahmacharins continued singing. The Mother clapped her hands like a little child and immediately raised both hands above her head.

Now the laughter stopped, but her hands remained in the uplifted position for a while. The fingers of each hand displayed two different divine mudras. A beatific glow illumined her face. Bringing her hands down, the Mother again sang:
“O Mother, seeking Thee, this child will cry,

Wandering along the shores of many seas;
O Mother, to each and every particle of sand
This child inquires about Thee.
O stars, glittering in the vast blue sky,
Did any one of you see my Mother
Passing through this way?

“The Mother sang these lines repeatedly, over and over again. The shawl which covered her head had fallen down as Gayatri tried to place it back into position. Strands of her hair fell loose around her neck and gently swirled around as her head swayed with the rhythm of the music. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Raising her hands up, the Mother went on calling,  “Amma... Amma... Amma..."

This went on until finally she burst into a flood of tears, but the next moment the Mother took a long, deep breath and became still. Her hands still manifested divine mudras. The brahmacharins went on singing,

“O my Mother Bhairavi, there is no shore
Where I have not searched for Thee,
O Mother, my darling Mother,
Bliss-embodied One, No time exists when I have not sought for Thee,
O my Beloved Mother, for aeons and aeons Hast Thou hid from me,
This poor child of Thine.
O Compassionate One, why dost Thou delay
To shower Thy Grace upon this child?

“In the light of the burning oil lamp everyone could see the radiant face of the Holy Mother. No sign of external consciousness was evident. Saturated with divinity, the atmosphere evoked spontaneous meditation in the minds of all who were present, devotees and residents alike. One could easily discern that they were all singing with their minds fully fixed on the object of their meditation. Some sang with their minds totally focused on their Beloved Deity, shedding tears of bliss, while others sat unmoving, deeply absorbed in profound meditation. Struggling to bring her mind down to the physical plane of consciousness, the Holy Mother once again sang,

“O Mother, On Thy fingertips revolve hundreds, Nay, millions of universes;
How is it justified if Thou makest me,
This poor child, also revolve on the same fingertips of Thine?

“Again the Mother was transported to her own world of infinite bliss. She lost her control to stay in this physical plane and stood up. As she walked towards the coconut grove in her ecstatic rapture, she allowed herself to drown completely in the ocean of love and supreme devotion. Such was her God-intoxicated state. Spell-bound, the brahmacharins and devotees continued to glorify the Divine Mother as they sang,

O Mother, come to me, Stand in front of me today;
I wish to inundate Thy Holy Feet with my tears.
O Mother, the sound that rings in my heart,
The emergent tune from my heart
Is the call of loving devotion unto Thee.
O Mother, other than that,
I need nothing...

“The bhajan ended with these lines. Enjoying the experience of bliss and the fervor of pure devotion and love, everyone sat immersed in meditation. Total silence prevailed, the silence of inner peace. This hallowed atmosphere hung suspended in a sacred stillness as the cool, gentle breeze floated the beckoning call of the ocean from the west.

“After the arati, everyone's eyes and hearts reached out in search of the Holy Mother. Standing at a respectful distance, they all watched the Mother dancing in pure bliss. It felt as if the Mother was dancing all around the entire Ashram even though she was only encircling that one particular spot in the coconut grove. Completely lost to this external world in which we were standing, she reveled in her own mystical inundation of splendor.”  Swami Amirtaswarupananda, Awaken Children, vol. III, p. 261

Amma 11Your author knows only of one other saint in recent history that had difficulty keeping their mind from soaring into the ocean of bliss and that was Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886).  His experiences were not nearly as frequent as Amma’s and he did 16 years of intense spiritual practice to get to that point.

Amma gave instructions to her renunciate (monks and nuns) children to sing and chant certain mantras when her mind went into the Cosmic.  She explained that there was a possibility that if they failed to do this she might not come back.

All of this was available to Amma while a teenager and beyond with no instruction or help from anyone.  No guru assisted Amma.  In fact, she had intense opposition and harassment from her own family and the “rationalists” in the village.  A woman, and especially a young girl, is forbidden from touching other men so her hugging darshans deeply violated the cultural morays of the time.

In Indian culture, there are no public displays of physical affection even among married people.  Amma would walk down the pathways and avenues accompanied by the most profane insults and the hurling of rocks.  Because of Amma’s activities, all of her relatives, aunts, uncles and so on, blacklisted Amma’s parents and siblings.  All alone in the world, and against intense opposition, Amma conquered all.

Her deep ecstatic states, wherein she lost consciousness of the empirical world, continued on an almost daily basis.  While those of us in pursuit of the Divine long to have even one such cosmic experience, Amma struggled in the opposite direction to stay out of the Divine so she could serve ailing humanity.  Imagine such a thing!  This is utterly without precedent. 

Here is another ecstatic, blissful absorption in the Divine from Awaken Children by Swami Amritaswarupananda:

“The sound of the ocean waves served as background accompaniment to Mother's song, and soon She was again lost in a mood of divine rapture. She laughed and smiled as tears rolled down Her cheeks. Raising both Her hands, the Mother sang. As Mother Herself has said, Her mind is always spontaneously shooting up to the highest plane of consciousness.

“Within a split second She can switch off this world of plurality, this world of names and forms, and travel towards the unknown. Just like a child who can go to the kitchen and obtain the message needed for the stranger waiting in the sitting room, Mother can ascend and descend any time She wishes. Mother has free access to both worlds. We onlookers see only the closing and opening of Her eyes, the circling of Her hand, the uttering of Namah Sivaya or a blissful laughing, but we know nothing about the incomprehensible Supreme Reality where She is constantly established.”  Awaken Children, Swami Amritaswarupananda

Here is another account of one of Amma’s ecstatic moods.  There are many of them described in Amma’s biography and in the Awaken Children series of books.

The evening bhajan started as usual at six-thirty.
The singing reached its peak as the Holy Mother sang,
O Beautiful One, please come,
O Consort of Purandara (Lord Siva), please come,
O Auspicious One, please come...
O Giver of radiance,
Thou art the All in all of those
Who consider Thee as their dear relation...
O Mother, please remain as the spring of my inspiration...Amma 50

“Becoming intoxicated with God-love and, standing up, the Mother began dancing ecstatically. The brahmacharins went on singing with overflowing devotion. From the temple verandah the Mother moved towards the coconut trees in the front yard. When She reached the coconut trees She danced round and round completely lost to this world. She was showing a divine gesture (mudra) with Her right hand which was slightly raised.

“A beaming smile lit Her face which was clear even in the dim light. This ecstatic mood had gone on for more than half an hour and it seemed as though there would be no end to it. Some sat nearby and others at a distance watching the Mother. Some of the brahmacharins made a chain by holding hands to protect Mother from hitting the coconut trees.

“Eventually Sugunanandan, because of his usual fear that his daughter would leave Her body soon if this state persisted for a long time, appeared on the scene. Without asking anybody's permission, he carried Her into the hut and laid Her on a cot. Mother was totally lost to this world and Her body now seemed like a corpse. Sugunanandan later related, "The little one's body was so light in weight that it felt like I was lifting a basketful of flowers, but Her face was glowing like the rising sun."  Swami Amritaswarupananda, Awaken Children, vol. 1, p. 118

Ramakrishna comments that Prema or ecstatic love is absolutely the highest state of spirituality:

"The first stage of spiritual practice is association with spiritual people, the company of holy men. The second stage is faith in things relating to the Spirit. The third stage is single-minded devotion to one's Ideal. The Ideal may be one's Guru, the spiritual teacher, the Impersonal Brahman, the Personal God or any of His manifestations. The fourth stage is the state of being struck speechless at the thought of God. The fifth stage, when the feeling of devotion to God reaches the highest point; it is called Mahabhava. The devotee sometimes laughs, sometimes weeps like a madman. He loses all control over his body. This state is not attained by ordinary human beings who are not capable of conquering the flesh. It is reached by Incarnations of God who appear in this world for the salvation of mankind. The sixth stage, Prema or ecstatic love, goes hand in hand with Mahabhava. It is the most intense love of God and is strictly the highest state of spirituality. The two marks of this stage are the forgetfulness of this world and the forgetfulness of self, which includes one's own body.  Gospel of Ramakrishna, translated by Swami Abhedananda

Amma shows the fifth and sixth stages of Divine Love which are only accessed by incarnations of the Divine.


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