Power to Transform Ordinary to Extraordinary

Dr. Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor, Amrita University


It is through Amma’s infinite compassion that I first met Amma in 1992 in Los Angeles. I felt an immediate immense attraction—like it was love at first sight. But, being a computer professor, I am inclined to critical thinking, analysis and review. As a result, I was soon victimized by my own intellect—lots of doubts and questions started to appear. From then onwards, as each year progressed, Amma started to clarify, both directly and indirectly, all of these doubts, and bestowed on me many opportunities to get glimpses into Amma’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. Let me share some of them with you.

Early on, when I would see Amma embrace people, I started to get a doubt — what could possibly happen in that few seconds of Amma’s embrace? Well, a computer can be connected to another computer by a high-speed network. These days, we speak of information transferred in gigabits—a billion bits per second. At this speed, a 1000-page encyclopedia with 20 lines per page, 8 words per line, 8 characters per word, and 8 bits per character transmits in less than a hundredth of a second. As a computer scientist, I’ll tell you a professional secret: a computer, however powerful a supercomputer, is at best a high-speed idiot. If two computers—two high-speed idiots—can exchange a whole encyclopedia in few milliseconds, imagine how much more can Amma, the Universal Intelligence, give us in that embrace, which lasts much longer.

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In fact, Amma says we are all like Hanuman. In the great epic Ramayana, Hanuman is the foremost devotee of God. God had taken the form of Sri Rama. Hanuman is the most intelligent and powerful, but has one distinctive attribute: he forgets his own abilities. He had to be reminded of his superhuman abilities to accomplish the impossible. This is what happens when we come in contact with Amma. Amma does reawaken our superhuman potential and capacity.

But can we really become superhuman, particularly from our current helpless state? The answer for this dawned on me when I read Amma’s childhood biography. It appears Amma had almost every possible barrier in life: from a not so well-to-do family (economic barrier), from a fisherman community (caste barrier), from a remote village in Kerala and not a big city with its advantages (regional barrier), only a fourth grade education (educational barrier), speaking only Malayalam and that too a native village dialect (language barrier), dark in color (color barrier), and a woman by birth (gender barrier). However, Amma overcame each and every one of the barriers to conquer the whole world with pure uplifting Love. You can yourself see; there cannot be a better role model for us.

In the early days, many a time I wanted to tell Amma my own biography. But alas, I did not know Amma’s Malayalam language, and how on earth would I be able to communicate with Amma? In this connection, I remember an interesting incident I observed several years ago. There is a famous scientist of my acquintance known for his uncompromisingly scientific approach. I would try to tell him about Amma, but he would always say he did not have any time to come to see Amma. Once, somehow, circumstances came together for him to meet Amma. The meeting lasted about an hour, focused around global scientific problems, after which Amma asked the scientist, Do you have anything personal to share with Amma? To my great surprise, the scientist tells Amma, “Amma, is there a need to tell anything to God! At this juncture, I could not believe my own ears—such a statement coming from someone who had just earlier said he did not believe in God! And, of course, then Amma answered “Yes, my dear son, to your attorney you have to present your case in full detail. But to God, who is your very own Self, you do not have to say anything, as our thoughts become known to God before we become aware of them ourselves.” So, you see, you really do not have to tell anything to all-knowing Guru like Amma.

No sooner did one doubt clear, the next doubt would appear. My mind started questioning how could Amma be aware of the problems and pain points of billions of people in this world. Won’t Amma get confused … and so on. Scientifically, in answer to this question, think of the number of cells in our body; it is close to 5 trillion. If there is a pin prick anywhere on our body, don’t we feel it, including the exact location? If there are ten pin pricks, don’t we feel all of them instantaneously? Does not our awareness pervade all of the 5 trillion cells in our body? In comparison, there are only 6 billion people. Then my mind figured out that it is no surprise that Amma whose awareness pervades all of the 6 billion people, knows all of their pain points, and will remove each and everyone of them.

Gradually over time, most of the doubts cleared, and I began to want to be with Amma even more frequently. Finally, about 11 years ago, as I started to pester Amma, she agreed to take me into her fold and offered me a role at her University. My ego shot up immediately. But I intelligently masked it in humility and said to Amma that only with Amma’s Grace will I be able to take it up. Amma immediately quipped back: “Remove that I and Amma’s Grace will automatically flow”.

As I started to serve at Amma’s university, Amma immersed me even more in research projects. But I never thought that was related to spirituality in any way. I was again in for a great surprise. Amma made me realize that research can itself become meditation—the highest form of spirituality—if done in a single-pointed fashion and with societal benefit in mind. Amma gives the example of a 40-year-old woman suffering from heart disease but not able to get the right treatment. If our research can help save the woman’s life, extending it by, say, another 40 years, she can contribute so much more to society. Amma explained that there is no separation or duality between serving the Creator and Creation. On the lighter side, Amma said to think of research as though it were a hide-and-seek game—a game in which the Divine Mother tells us to try to uncover the hidden secrets of the universe (of course, letting us run back to Her whenever there is a problem). It is amazing how Amma is guiding all of the research and activities of Amrita University as a powerful force for scientific and technological solutions to peoples’ problems.

Sometimes, it is really amazing on how Amma teaches us about life even as we practice our own profession. This is also an example of Amma’s power to transform, from half-way across the globe. Some years ago, as part of a delegation of scientists from India, I visited Brazil for an international conference and witnessed the power of Amma’s transformation beyond geographical and language barriers. It was the evening before the conference, and we, the delegates, went for dinner. As we were all extremely hungry after a long journey, we ordered a full plate each, but after 2 hours of eating, could only consume about a quarter of the food on our plate, leaving the rest behind, fairly intact and quite clean. At that time, our Brazilian host asked us, “Can I get all your leftovers packed. We found the request quite unusual. We quickly responded that we were all quite full, and we didn’t need to take the food back to our hotel rooms. Our host rushed to clarify that she will take the packed leftovers. We were a bit puzzled at this unusual request, but since we were not too familiar with local customs, we silently nodded our heads in agreement. As we all walked back to our hotel rooms at close to midnight, we witnessed a miracle. Our Brazilian host handed over each of those packed food boxes to about six homeless people sleeping along the roadsides, bringing smiles to each of their starved faces. As soon as we reached the hotel, she revealed to us that she had a chance to receive Amma’s darshan for the first time last year, and she learnt from Amma that we should never waste food when there is so much poverty and hunger in the world. Amma’s transforming embrace is truly global—beyond any of our imaginations. In fact, if we cooperate, Amma transforms us from ordinary to extra-ordinary—in all we do. And this transformation can happen in that instant when Amma embraces us.

In the ancient Indian scripture Bhagavad Gita, in the dialog between Lord Krishna and his disciple-friend, Arjuna, Arjuna asks Krishna if, in fact, there is God walking upon this earth, how can we identify him. A fundamental quality that Krishna mentions as indicative of God upon earth is One who is equal to all—highest or the lowest. Some years ago, during Amma’s program in India’s capital city of Delhi, Dr. Abdul Kalam, the then President of India, invited Amma to Rashtrabhavan, the presidential mansion. Amma agreed to visit after one full day of crowded public darshan. It was about 9 pm in the night when Amma’s car arrived at the President’s mansion. A large number of the employees had lined outside the door to see Amma’s beautiful form, and as Amma walked past each one of them, there was a great surprise—the President himself was standing in line with folded hands. However, there came an even greater surprise: after Amma talked to and walked past the president, She stopped at the President’s bodyguard, and spent more time talking to the bodyguard about his well being.

Recounting this, the President later said “If we have a lot of money, and if a poor person comes to our door, we may part with some donation and feel satisfied that we have done what we could. After that we will expect and even demand that the poor person go away—however good-hearted we may be. On the other hand, if a hungry person shows up at our door, and we have a lot of food, we may part with some of it and ask the person to move away. If a person without proper clothing comes to our door, we may give some of our own old clothes and send the person away. However, if you ask that we give love equally to all, no person on earth can do it. For example, we cannot even love a neighbor’s, or even a sibling’s, child as our own—to give love equally to all, only God can do, and that is exactly what Amma is doing.

A few years ago, on the occasion of Amma’s birthday celebration, namely Amritavarsham, we had a presidential meeting with large number of eminent CEOs gathered together to discuss nation’s development, to debate on how to become a developed country. One CEO posed a question: What is the relationship between Amma—a spiritual master par excellence, no doubt—and the task of transforming a country into a developed nation. The response given to this question was an eye-opener even to me. The panel members said, what do you mean by a developed world? A world in which peoples’ problems are minimal or much lower. However, how can you solve peoples’ problems if you don’t know what they are? Suppose I give you a problem and ask you to solve it, but I tell you I don’t exactly know the problem, how can you ever give a correct solution? At most you may try one approach that you think is a solution; next you may try another approach, but most likely it will be like a pendulum swinging from one problem situation to another, never being able to arrive at the correct solution. Most of our governments seem to be struggling like this. Only Amma, who has personally consoled more than 30 million people outpouring their problems to Her, has the understanding needed to solve the peoples’ problems and transform this world into a developed one.

There is a very interesting picture of Lord Krishna—shown with innumerable heads and hands—and called the ‘universal form’ or Vishwarupa Darshan. Once a student asked, how could God have thousands of heads and hands. Amma clarified that just like her own head and hands, his head and hand could become an able instrument of God.

Let me conclude with the greatest thankfulness to Amma, who I believe, is verily the omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God in the most lovable form in our midst, who is the Artist behind all art, the Scientist behind all Science, and the Doctor behind all medicine.