The Q&A posted below is in response to the requests from readers. It was authored by Sri N. Somasekharan, a highly respected journalist and the editor of a national Spiritual Magazine. The author is one the first journalists to interview Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi for any publication, since she initiated her humanitarian projects. The answers reflect the opinions of the author and is shared by the followers of Amma.
Q: Amma is all-knowing; so why did she accept such a disciple, as Gail Tredwell?
A: A hospital is for patients. Those who do not suffer from any disease do not simply come to a hospital. Avatarapurusha (Incarnations of Divinity) take birth in this world in order to alleviate the suffering of humankind. They never turn their backs on people who are suffering. In Amritapuri, only Amma is complete. It is in order to achieve this completeness that others have arrived. They are all of different dispositions. A good doctor will never forsake any patient. Amma has never abandoned anybody who has come to her seeking solace. If this lady comes to Amma again, Amma will not forsake her because Amma is Amma. Acceptance and rejection are emotions that ordinary humans identify with.
Q: Is it possible to mistrust a person who lived at the ashram for twenty years?
A: The number of years spent under the guidance of the Guru is not relevant. What matters is the intensity with which the person tries to imbibe and implement the Guru’s teachings in practice. A mosquito will never get milk from the udder of a cow, only blood. The cow is not to blame for that.
Q: Why didn’t Amma reform her and make her a better person?
A: Ramana Maharshi said, “a Guru can only show the path; the disciple has to walk the path.”
Sri Sankaracharya says, “If you don’t do self analysis, even if Lord Siva gives you initiation it will be of no avail. However many janmas (lifetimes) you perform penance, you will not gain anything.”
One has to ask oneself, “How far have we proceeded along the path she has shown us?.” That, is the only way.
Q: Why did Amma, despite her divine powers, not foresee and prevent the degrading remarks person made by Gail Tredwell?
A: A reply to this can be cited by an example. Around twenty years ago, two college students from Kayamkulam came to Vallikavu. “Test Amma and reveal her as a fake.” That was their aim. They reached Vallikavu and saw Amma. One of them pretended to be mute. Amma welcomed them with sympathy. Meanwhile, Amma murmured to a Brahmachari sitting near her, in a humorous tone, “They have come here to try and fool me.” The youths left. Three days later, a letter came. The letter was sent by the students. This was the essence of the letter: “Are you claiming yourself to be a divine person, when you never realized that we were pretending that one of us was mute? This itself shows that this is all a farce.”
The Brahmachari who read the letter to Amma became sad. But Amma said, smiling. “Don’t worry. They will come back.”
Within one month they came back, with their family. The Brahmachari who recognized them asked, “Have you come here to fool us again?” The reply was melancholy. “No. The person who was pretending to be mute has really become mute. We are here to apologize. We have been to a hospital, but he cannot be healed.” They saw Amma. Mother consoled them. She gave them holy water (theertha). That shower of grace gave him back his voice. After the students departed, Amma said, “My children, it is not due to my curse or unhappiness that he lost his voice. Nature keeps a record of whatever we do. The effect of our actions will come back to us at the right time. He acted mute. What he intended became reality. Amma had no part to play in it. His true repentance removed his problem. Amma has been just a witness to all of this.”
From this example a principle becomes clear. The Acharyas (learned teachers) do not encourage changing or covering up events that are forthcoming. Instead, they remind us of the effects of our each and every action. They give warnings. They show us the right path. Those who neglect it will have to understand it from their own experiences, that’s all.
The answer to the question of why Amma did not reveal her knowledge of the students’ trick when they came to her the first time has to be given by Amma herself. The answer to this question cannot be understood by our materialistic minds. This itself is the answer.
Q: What is the level of transparency in the Ashram in Kerala?
A: About five months have passed since Gail’s book was published online. It is a wonder that it took this much time to reach Kerala. In other countries the book has not sold as well as expected, so they (the author) have had to further reduce the price.
If the Ashram had something to hide, it had plenty of opportunity to do so in these four months. But it took no such steps. Trying to shut the mouth of a howling jackal or just ignoring it: which is the more sensible of the two? Is it due to reading some words in a book or due to their personal experiences that millions of people seek refuge in Amma? It does not take much wisdom to know the answer to this question. It is solely from their personal experiences with Amma that people have stood firmly by her for so much time.
Q: Why does Amma remain in Vallikavu?
A: Let us not forget that we are in a country of educated people, where many who find a job and move to a big city forget their home, their native language and style of dress, and even their parents. We are staying in a community where people show pride in coming back to their homeland occasionally as a visitor, and show pride after obtaining foreign citizenship.
In whatever ways our motherland is “bad,” it is still equivalent to our mother, as is said by our ancient saints. This statement, made by the Rishis (sages), has blossomed forth in Amma.
Amma has Ashram branches spread all across the world, as well as large humanitarian projects and international service-oriented movements for the betterment of humanity. Why should she suffer here in India, when she could quite easily choose to go and lead a pleasant life in one of her other Ashrams in India or abroad? Why should she return here to her native village just to receive constant blame? This is proof of her greatness.
This “spiritual doctor” came down here to treat our ailments – the ailments of selfishness, arrogance, jealousy, hypocrisy, and pride. Vaidhya narayano hari: the doctor has to stay with the patients. A good doctor is that way.