Letter from Divya

UntitledHello, my name is Divya Saha, and I want to share my opinion about the recent events in the media. I’m from Palakkad, Kerala, and when I narrate my whole story with our Dear Amma, you will understand how great Amma is.

I met Amma when I was six years old with my parents, and from that day onwards I’ve been closely associated with Amma and the ashram. I’ve seen the ashram from the early days when it was only few huts and how Amma, with her abundance of love and hard work and patience, along with the ashramites and a small group of devotees, built up the whole ashram that is seen today.

“Amma was not a dictator who used to dictate work. She demonstrated the right path by example. She was the first to start all the work, including the sand seva, the bathroom and toilet-cleaning seva, etc.”

I can recall every day growing up there. Amma was not a dictator who used to dictate work. She demonstrated the right path by example. She was the first to start all the work, including the sand seva, the bathroom and toilet-cleaning seva, etc. I’m referring to the works as “seva” because that is how Amma has treated each and every chore that otherwise we would feel hard to do. With Amma by our side, it was always full of joy, energy, and singing bhajans. We never used to feel it was difficult or taxing work, and normal people like us would have never dreamed it could be done so full of love and energy.

I just couldn’t believe Gail, whom we all treated and respected so well when she was in ashram, could change so much and fall into such a disastrous life. This is a pure example of the famous quote of Amma that went something like this: “Children, don’t be like the spoon in a bowl of payasam (sweet porridge). How much ever time the spoon spends inside the bowl, it can never acquire the sweetness of the payasam.” When I recall my early days in the Ashram and compare that with what I recently read from Gail, I just remember this quote. Gail stayed almost 20 years with one of the maha-gurus (great leaders) of our time. How sad and pitiful that she couldn’t learn even a simple common-man virtue of not lying and hurting others.

“Gail stayed almost 20 years with one of the maha-gurus  of our time. How sad and pitiful that she couldn’t learn even a simple common-man virtue of not lying and hurting others.”

I stayed in the Ashram from 1993 to 1997, for four years where I went to school and college.

When I finished 12th standard, Amma encouraged me to go for higher studies in the medical field. I was not at all willing to leave Amma and go to Bangalore to study. But she sweetly helped me understand that was good for me. It’s important to note that this is contrary to Gail’s accusations that life in the ashram is restricted and that no one is allowed to think creatively or go outside the ashram once inside. It was Amma who made me understand the importance of higher education and sent me to Bangalore College in 1997 for degree in Pharmacy. When I was leaving, Amma said sweetly, “Don’t worry, child. You should see God in everyone and try not to hurt anybody knowingly.”

I love Amma because she never preaches to you, “Do this! Do that!” She just goes on practicing whatever she believes has to be done. Amma makes us understand not to run away from any situation. She helps us understand the situation and deal with it with spiritual knowledge. For each person Amma uniquely knows what is good and always explains to help us understand what’s right for us.

“Contrary to Gail’s accusations that life in the ashram is restricted and that no one is allowed to think creatively or go outside the ashram once inside, it was Amma who made me understand the importance of higher education and sent me to Bangalore College in 1997 for degree in Pharmacy. When I was leaving, Amma said sweetly, ‘Don’t worry, child. You should see God in everyone and try not to hurt anybody knowingly.’”

While living in the ashram, I came to know Gail very closely because there were not so many bramacharinis back then. We used to affectionately refer to her as Gayatri Akka, like an elder sister. I remember very clearly that nobody ever dared to go against her will because we all respected her a lot and gave her lots of love and reverence. But she was always a very authoritative person and used to order all of us bramacharinis around to do specific allotted work, which she chose. We all performed the seva with utmost reverence and did everything she asked. I’m very much surprised that in her book she has written that she was tortured and forced to do many things. I clearly remember this was not so. It is impossible to make her do anything. In fact she used to torture many bramacharinis whom she didn’t like, scolding and insulting them in public. And when anyone questioned her, she used to say, “This is what you have to go through, if you want to live here!” without any compassion. It was Amma who stuck up for us. Amma many times said, “Gayatri, don’t do this. This is not what I taught you! They are kids. This is not the way to treat them. You should make them understand with love.” Then Gail used to even snub Amma in front of us, much to our shock. As we all know, Amma is the embodiment of patience and always gives us a chance to grow from inside, while she patiently listens. Gail used to live like a queen in the ashram, controlling everything. Still, we all loved her and respected her a lot, like any other seniors should be respected.

“[Gail] has written that she was tortured and forced to do many things. I clearly remember this was not so. It is impossible to make her do anything. In fact she used to torture many bramacharinis whom she didn’t like, scolding and insulting them in public. … Gail used to even snub Amma in front of us, much to our shock.”

In Amma’s ashram everything was out in the open. Ninety-nine percent of the time, Amma used to be outside, giving darshan, and after that we all together used to work to build the ashram. The ashram building, what you see today, is not something that suddenly came up one fine day with a lot of money. It was the sweat and love of Amma and her selfless children. I’m very proud and blessed to say that I was a part of that maha-yajnam.

To the group of people supporting Gail’s lies, I want to ask one question: “Have you ever visited the ashram and seen Amma giving darshan?” If you ever do that, then you will know who Amma is. Those who blindly believe that whatever Gail is saying is true just because she stayed in the ashram for 20 years, I request you to come to ashram and see it with your own eyes. Then you will have proof of Amma’s love.

Here, I have to mention one more thing. After my obtaining my Degree in Pharmacy I went back to the ashram to be a bramacharini and work at AIMS. But after a year, I personally felt I was not fit for a life of complete spiritual discipline, and I wanted to leave the Ashram. I went straight to Amma and told her my feelings. Amma looked in my eyes and said, “You can go, child. I have no problem, but always believe Amma is with you, and do good, and don’t leave the spiritual thoughts you have acquired from here.”

I left the ashram with a very heavy heart and started working and stayed with my family. And I visited Amma very regularly. Even my marriage was held at Amma’s ashram with Amma’s blessing.

“After a year, I personally felt I was not fit for a life of complete spiritual discipline, and I wanted to leave the Ashram. I went straight to Amma and told her my feelings. Amma looked in my eyes and said, ‘You can go, child. I have no problem, but always believe Amma is with you, and do good, and don’t leave the spiritual thoughts you have acquired from here.’”

I can guarantee all those reading this article that Amma never ever says “No” if you want to leave the ashram. She only emphasizes that should not leave the spirituality that you have imbibed.

So, when Gail says she didn’t get a chance to leave the ashram, it is utter rubbish. I lived in the ashram at the same time as Gail and I left the ashram with our dear Amma’s blessing because I understood that I couldn’t lead a completely spiritual life. I wanted a worldly life, and I had the guts to admit it. Amma has taught us to be honest and to believe in ourselves. Because of the courage Amma has imbibed in me, I’m ready to admit my flaws and move on in life. Spiritual life is a journey of selflessness and maybe everyone won’t be able to follow it. If so, it is not the fault of the Guru; it is due to our shortcomings. To understand our shortcomings and bravely admit them and lead a life in the world according to our Dear Guru Amma’s teaching—that is what you should do. This has made me more close to Amma and her teachings.