Amritapuri Ashram

At the Mata Amritanandamayi Math in Amritapuri near Quilon, South Kerala, there is a beautiful temple that houses more than seven hundred full-time residents. The day dawns early in this ashram (monastery) located in the backwaters of Kerala.

Tourists Attractions

There are two days in the week when the Holy Mother does not receive visitors, as she has to see her full-time residents on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Thursdays and Sundays, she gives Darshan as Devi, the Divine Goddess. Mata Amritanandamayi says that all deities are within each and every one of us and that a realized being can manifest any particular deity by will. The Mother invokes the deity, Devi, and changes her attire from her usual white sari on these two evenings only. She sits all night, from about 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. She has been known to sit uninterruptedly hugging more than seven to eight thousand devotees at a stretch, clad in a gorgeous milk sari and wearing a crown.

The Holy Mother teaches that the true nature of every being is divine, which can only be realized through selfless service, prayer, and meditation. The world of plurality dissolves into one single whole for a realized person, who sees no difference between one person and another, as she sees all as manifestations of the same Self. Just as your hand will instinctively rub your inflamed eye, both belonging to the same body, so also will you spontaneously rush to the help of your fellow being when it is needed, if you realize that in fact you and he are one. To realize this, many have chosen to give up their humdrum lives and follow the rigorous routine of the ashram, where selfless service forms a large part of the daily routine. The Mother allows those who are more inclined towards introspection to meditate undisturbed for as long as they can, without expecting them to participate in the ashram chores. Since prayer, meditation, and service are all paths to the same goal, the Mother leads her disciples to the goal along the path most suited to them.

During the morning archana (as the chanting of the thousand names is called), and the evening bhajan, the Holy Mother leads the throng of devotees with her soul-stirring songs, sung with rare devotion. Many foreigners who cannot pronounce, let alone understand, the words in these songs, can be seen swaying to the music, with eyes closed and a rapt expression on their faces, transported to a word shared only by them and the Mother.

The bhajan begins a little before seven in the evening, and ends at eight. Dinner (again kanji) follows, but for the full-time residents there is first a talk by one of devotees. Their day will not end until another hour or so of meditation after dinner, perhaps a few more chores in the press or the computer room, after which they may go to sleep after midnight so as to rise again before five o'clock the next morning.

How To Reach

By Rail - To go to the ashram there is a train to Kayamkulam (where it stops for only two minutes), the station before Quilon, and then an auto-rickshaw from this station will reach you to the backwaters of Vallickavu in about half an hour.

By Air - Alternatively, a flight to Trivandrum, and a long (two- to three-hour) taxi ride to Vallickavu. A ferry will then take you across the waters, and you will probably find a helpful devotee clad in white ready to help you carry your luggage to the ashram.

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