Amma Hugging Saint
The rain had begun to come down as I walked out of the subway station. I immediately ran across the street, and headed to the Manhattan Center where the activities were taking place.
It was one of those days where I would have preferred to stay in bed. However, I had promised a friend to accompany him to see Amma Hugging Saint. Since I had seen her before, he asked me to take him. Another friend decided to join us.
It had been ten years since I last saw Amma. I was with my Mom, who was sick at the time. Many memories came back to me as I entered the hall.
As we walked in, I was marveled by the immense turnout. The weather was not stopping people from experiencing the wonders of Amma Hugging Saint.
When we approached the woman who was giving out tokens to see Amma, we were informed that the tokens were no longer available. We needed to receive stand-by tickets and wait to see if our tickets were selected.
With no other option available, we decided to take the tickets and wait. As we entered the main hall, I noticed more vendors than the last time. There was a vast collection of Indian items for sale.
A large portion of the money collected goes to Amma’s organization-Embracing the World. The main objective of the organization is to help the needy around the world.
After inspecting the items on sale, we agreed to walk around and look for seats. Finally, we found empty seats in the front to the side. As people kept moving forward to receive hugs from Amma, we sat patiently waiting for our tickets to be call.
After approximately two hours, an announcement was made. “People holding blue tickets with red print, please come to the front.” We looked at our tickets and shook our heads. We had blue tickets with black print. Although we were disappointed, we felt blessed by being in proximity to Amma- a divine being.
When we thought our chances of getting a hug from Amma were nil, an unanticipated announcement was made. “Those who have stand-by tickets and have not seen Amma will be given first priority during the evening program.” Even though the evening program would commence at 7:30 pm, and it was approximately 4pm, we decided to stay. We were determined to get a hug from Amma.
At approximately 4:30 pm, we were taken to a sitting area. There, we were told to sit and wait for further instructions. A few minutes later, a woman appeared. She told us that we would be given first priority to see Amma, and tokens would be handed out at 5:30 pm. We needed to wait more.
By this time, I was famished. While my friends waited upstairs, I went downstairs to the basement where a cafeteria was set up. I purchased samosas for us to snack on. I gave my friends the samosas, and we ate quietly. With something in my stomach, I was more than ready for the evening activities.
At approximately 5:30 pm, we formed a single line and were given tokens. With a token in our hands, we were taken to our respective seats. Luck was with us. We got front row seats. It was perfect. The waiting turned out to be worthwhile.
While waiting for Amma to arrive, we were shown a film on the various works of the Embracing the World organization. It was about helping and showing love to our fellowman. It reminded all of us present that we belonged to one race-the human race. In addition, the color of our skin or economic status was meaningless. We were all brothers and sisters.
The message was straightforward. Love for God, others and self was the key to our salvation. On certain occasions, while viewing the film, I felt my eyes getting watery.
Amma arrived at approximately 7:10 pm. She walked to the front of the stage and sat in a yogi sitting position. There was silence around the room. We waited eagerly for her to speak.
She commenced the program by giving a speech. A man sitting next to her translated her message. He was dressed in an orange robe. The message contained an abundant of love, compassion, and awareness. It felt as if her words were traveling to the depth of my soul and embracing my incarnate spirit.
With the conclusion of the speech, the prayers began. The musicians began to play their instruments, and the singing started. Each song was more potent than the previous one. The energy in the room was charged.
I found the prayer to Kali to be the most exhilarating of all the prayers. It seemed that the prayer to Kali had opened me up to receive Kali’s energy.
Whenever the word Kali was spoken in the song, I felt a bolt of energy entering my body. “Kali Ma, Kali Ma, Kali Ma,” the chanting grew louder and louder. Kali Ma was the only name I heard. Everything else was blocked out. Although I wanted to leap from my seat and scream Kali Ma, I did not. Instead, I joined the singing crowd imploring Kali to come and join us. Every time Kali’s name was mentioned, the energy in the room intensified.
When the singing ceased, Amma came down from the stage and sat in front. It was time for the hugs.
I was the second person on the line. I decided to have my ring blessed. I asked permission and was told that it was okay. When it was my time to see Amma, I was instructed to sit on a stool located in front of her. Upon showing Amma the ring, she placed her hand on it and blessed it. Then, she gave me a warm and loving hug. It was similar to the caressing embrace given by a loving mother to a child. I felt goose bumps all over my body.
After the hug, I was instructed to sit nearby to recover from what had just occurred. I sat silently on the floor. A minute or so later, a woman sat next to me. She was hysterical. She could not stop crying. A woman from the audience came over and held her close repeating, “It’s going to be okay.” When I got up to leave, she was still crying. It seemed that Amma’s energy had gone deep into the woman’s soul assisting her to release and receive. It was an experience, she would never forget.
It was now 10:30pm. It had been a long day, but worthwhile. I said my farewells to my friends and headed home. On my way home, I began to go over the evening activities.
I kept asking myself, who was Amma Hugging Saint and what was this alluring attraction she possessed?
From a glance, Amma looks like any other Indian woman. However, Amma is no ordinary human being. She is the epitome of humility and love. Her incarnate spirit is highly evolved. Her mission in life is to show us the way to God. By giving so unselfishly of self, she teaches us to be charitable. By feeling our pain, she teaches us to be compassionate. By giving us unconditional love, she teaches us to love one another. Humility, love and compassion are just a few of the lessons she teaches.
Many of us are guilty of being indifferent towards the suffering of others. Some walk with invisible blinders to avoid witnessing the misery of others. While others, keep feelings of compassion and love buried deep inside. It is evident that the world is in need of people like Amma Hugging Saint to show us the divine path to God, and help us reconnect to one another.
Indeed, we are in grave need of love and compassion. Today, I was listening to the news on the television. A man shot and killed two young men because of a parked car; a stepfather stabbed and killed his stepdaughter; a man in a speeding vehicle killed a pedestrian and did not stop, and the worst of all, a man killed and mutilated the body of a little boy in Brooklyn, New York. More and more of these horrendous crimes are occurring every day. It needs to stop. We need to look up and ask God for guidance. We need to get back on the right path- the path towards God.
Thank you Amma Hugging Saint for showing us the way. May you continue to spread your love more and more. May God's blessings be upon you always.
Om Lokaa-ha samastaa-ha sukhino bhavantu
Om Lokaa-ha samastaa-ha sukhino bhavantu
Om Lokaa-ha samastaa-ha sukhino bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be peaceful and happy).
Om Shaanti Shaanti Shaanti-hi
Om Shaanti Shaanti Shaanti-hi
Om Shaanti Shaanti Shaanti-hi (Peace, Peace, Peace).
St. Francis's Peace Prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy;
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
It is not the end of Amma Hugging Saint. It is the beginning.