Mukund visited Amritapuri during the last week of March, 2014. Spring was in full swing in the ashram. The Konna trees, with their golden yellow flowers, adorned the ashram grounds like golden ornaments on Mother Earth.
Since Amma had not gone on Her south and north India tours, all of nature appeared to be dancing in joy from her presence in Amritapuri. It seemed to Mukund that Vishu had arrived a little early this year due to her presence. Vishu has been since time immemorial been celebrated as the traditional New Year in Kerala.
As Mukund stood entranced under the Ashram Konna tree, its glory filling his heart, he went back in time to an incident that occurred same time an year back.
Last year, Mukund had been eagerly waiting for Vishu. He was happy when his parents entrusted him with the responsibility of preparing the puja room. He took the task seriously. He purchased flowers, sweets, chocolates, festive decorations, vegetables and fruits, etc. with his own pocket money, despite his parents offering to pay. His parents were quite amused to see how he was preparing the Vishukkani with enthusiasm (Vishukkani is “the first auspicious sight on waking up on Vishu morning”; traditionally, an arrangement of fruits, flowers, vegetables and auspicious objects around the idol of Lord Krishna).
While he was preparing the Vishukkani, his thoughts drifted to Amma and he began talking to Her. He looked at each item and described how he got it. The bananas, he recollected to Amma, was most difficult to find, as there were hardly any good ones in the crowded market and how it had taken one whole day for him to find those ripe ones. With deep feeling, he spoke his thoughts out loud: “Amma, I got these ripe bananas just for you. So, please come and take them yourself.” He then wondered for a moment how busy Amma is and how improbably it would be for her to visit his house. Mukund laughed at his own ignorance.
After he had prepared the Vishukkani, he stood aside and inspected his “work.” His parents had already gone to sleep. Despite his exhaustion, he cleaned up the area before retiring to bed.
The next day, his mother woke him up well before dawn, covered his eyes with the palms of her hands and guiding him to the puja room. Mukund opened his eyes to the beautiful Vishukkani and prayed for blessings for all.
He went to take a shower to get ready for his morning archana (“chanting of mantras”). He went to his room humming a bhajan on the way. His mother couldn’t help notice his enthusiasm and shared her amusement with Mukund’s father.
After his shower, Mukund returned to the puja room and started to chant the 108 names of Amma, followed by the 1000 names of Devi, and meditated for a while. He heard the doorbell ring and slowly woke up from his meditative state. Nobody seemed to be opening the door, so he got up to open it himself. There was no one outside. He returned to the puja room to continue his meditation. Then the bell rang again, and Mukund again went to open the door. This time, on not finding anyone outside, he decided to investigate. As he took a look around, he saw an elderly lady, sitting outside the gate. He walked over and asked her what she needed. She replied that she did not need anything. Mukund thought for a moment, then decided that he would bring her something to eat. He asked her to wait, went back to his house, and got two ripe bananas. As he was walking back towards the gate, he noticed an unearthly aura of deep tranquility all around. The trees and plants were still and seemed to overflow with bliss. The lady by this time had walked up to him, and he handed the bananas to her. She smiled back with motherly affection and walked away.
On returning to the house. He asked his mother about the lady, if she noticed anything unique about the woman. The mother replied that she did not see anyone and that the power had gone out for over an hour and she did not recollect hearing the bell. On returning to the puja room, he noticed that he had taken the bananas from the bunch he had set aside for Amma and had absentmindedly asked her to take them. He recollected that the lady had come to the door after he had finished the archana and meditation—as if she were waiting for him to come out of his meditative state before ringing the bell. It then struck him that it might have been Amma herself who came to collect the prasad. He picked up the remaining bananas and rushed out the door, looking for the lady. He searched everywhere, but could not find her.
While he stood outside his gate, bananas in hand, wondering where to look for the lady, one of his neighbours passing by asked Mukund what he was looking for. When Mukund described the lady, the neighbor said that she had been outside for the last five minutes and had not seen anyone.
A flutter of birds flying away from the trees brought Mukund back to the present. He was still standing under the konna tree. He ran to the Darshan hall and onto the stage, into Amma’s arms, and cried out loud. A knowing smile played on Her lips as Amma slowly cradled him in Her arms. As Mukund raised his head from her shoulder, Amma pressed a packet of prasad ash and a banana into his hand and motioned for him to sit beside Her. Mukund sat down and opened his palm to see what what was in it. There was a flower alongside the prasad. It was a flower from the Konna tree and the banana, the same variety he had offered the “lady” at his house.
Mukund Deva Vallabhan
Age 12, New Delhi, India