Tamil New Year's Day Discourse - April 14th, 2001
In this world, the greatest number of festivals is celebrated in India. Many look at it as expenditure but fail to look at the reason behind why they are celebrated. For example, Deepavali, the festival of lights, is celebrated because of the slaying of a demon. Many might ask if the demon was killed ages ago why we still celebrate it. It is not just a celebration of the demon’s end, but the destruction of evil in all of us. It is the essence of “good over evil” where we celebrate the destruction of evil and welcome good into our lives.
Pongal (Harvest Festival) is another celebration, which is not just cleaning inside and outside of your home or cleaning outside the physical body, it is the cleansing of one’s inner self, getting rid of the negativity within us. Don’t look at these festivals as expenditure but a way of teaching our young ones the reason for celebrating them. They would learn good moral lessons if they were taught the reasons why these festivals are celebrated.
Many ask why celebrate the New Year every year. The reason is to encourage new, good thoughts to come into each one of us and for us to practice them. It is important to teach the children what good there are in these festivals so that they learn at a young age. Life is not a bed of roses. It is a mixture of various emotions and moods. The children must be taught to face life with all these moods; so it is necessary to learn the moral values of our festivals. When the children learn this at a young age they will also learn to live and work for a peaceful society.
In fact our Hindu religion preaches, LOKA SAMASTHA SUKHINO BHAVANTHU (may the whole world be filled with peace and happiness). For world peace, each and everyone has a part to play. It is not the duty of a few good Samaritans or leaders; everyone has a part to play.
When a good person prays sincerely God answers his prayers. If God should appear before this individual and ask what he wants, the individual will definitely ask for the welfare of the society. Likewise each and everyone should pray for the welfare of the society. Taking part in Yagams and mere listening to the mantras will cleanse you and good thoughts, words, and actions will take its place.
Animals think of themselves but humans have the ability and capacity to pray for the welfare of the world. You should have faith and bhakthi in your religion. I am asking you to have good thoughts words and deeds in your daily life.
“AMMA blesses each and everyone to have many more New Years with new, good thoughts and actions for the welfare of the society.”
Bringing in the New
Each and every year there are many functions and celebrations. Why is it necessary to have these celebrations? Why is it necessary to have these functions? Are they just to have fun? No. There are reasons for all of these celebrations and functions which help people to have a peaceful life. For example, in the next few hours the New Year is going to start.
Every year, everyone celebrates New Year’s Eve. Why is this? Why do we need to celebrate this? Every year there will be Christmas celebrations. What is the reason for these functions? There is significance and a meaning behind these functions. For example, Christmas; on this auspicious day it is a chance to remember the values given by Jesus. On this day you remember what Jesus advised for humanity. On Amma’s birthday it is a time to remember Amma’s values which you need to follow.
Functions are not just for fun. It is our day together to make a real change. For example, if someone is going to wear a new dress it means they won’t want to be dirty. First, they will wash away the dirt from their physical body by having a good shower. Before accepting new, good qualities you get rid of the old or bad qualities. Then you use things which will make you fresh and which will be suitable for the new dress. These are things such as wearing a fragrance, applying powders, etc. You are getting ready to accept the new dress. To accept something new you prepare by removing the burden of the old from yourself and then take in the many good things which will be suitable for the new dress.
In the next few hours it is going to be a new year. The moment you say “new” it signifies that, “I am entering into the new” which also means that you are going to drop the old. What is the old? What is the new? The old can be the bad qualities in this life which are blocking the path to peace and which is blocking the path to joy. Therefore, they have to be dropped. Anger, jealousy, greed, ego, all these things have to be dropped. You need to drop these things before you accept the new.
Entering into the new, you can have good qualities. You can create the good qualities which are faith in the divine, devotion, and unconditional love, good qualities like this. You need to prepare for this and that is why, every year, you celebrate these functions. The opportunity to celebrate these functions comes every year to ensure that if you missed making changes the previous year you can do so this year. This is the reason why you celebrate these functions every year. If you missed last year’s opportunity at least you can use this opportunity on this auspicious day. This is the meaning and significance of celebrating these functions every year, again and again. You do not need the justice from others telling you what qualities you need to drop, or the qualities you need to add. When you are with Amma for so long and you hear many stories from Amma, you know what you need to drop or what you need to take up.
In the next year, which is going to be very soon, get ready for it. Drop all of the bad qualities. Everyone knows what bad is in them. For some people they may say that they can help you with this, but everyone knows what the bad is in them. Try to drop all the bad qualities. Try to live, more and more, following the proper process of what you have learned so far. This is the great meaning of these celebrations and functions. When you say there is a celebration, it signifies something new, something good. That’s celebration. Just having food and dishes is a small part. Ultimately there should be change here, in the heart. Get ready before entering into the new.
Amma blesses you all on this New Year to have a bright and sweet future with peace and joy. Amma blesses you all.
Deepavali cleanses the body and mind. Out of the several billions of life forms that call Mother Earth 'home', the human life form is considered far more precious and blessed. The reason for this is, humans have a purpose and a definite goal in their existence while other life forms do not. The goal of every human is to attain salvation. Humans invest their time and effort heavily on Dharma, which would ultimately lead them to God and liberate them from the cycle of life.
Religious festivals like Deepavali help to keep humans on their spiritual path allowing them to continue performing Dharma. Celebrating a festival does not mean that we should spend lots of money; it means that we should learn the truths and the meaning behind its celebration. Generally, most functions teach us the need to live harmoniously with nature and the importance of being devotional.
Deepavali is celebrated as a very happy occasion where we rejoice in the death of a demon called Narahasuran. Why should we still be rejoicing in the destruction of a demon that happened millions of years ago? We should, because, millions of years ago (when the yugas were called dhuwara and thretha), people lived with pure hearts and dharmic convictions while evil lurked on the outside as demons.
However, in this Kali Yuga period, most people live with little or no faith in divinity thus giving way to evil thoughts like lust, greed, jealousy, anger, etc. to grow within their hearts. In the past, when people lived with pure hearts, demons existed solely on the outside and bothered from the outside. Whereas now, evil thoughts are dwelling within peoples' minds and steer them on paths that are detrimental to their spiritual growth.
Celebrating Deepavali helps to reinforce the conviction that everyone should cleanse their minds of impure thoughts and work towards attaining the human goal of salvation. Early in the morning on Deepavali day, everyone should take a cleansing bath after anointing their bodies with oil. Rubbing oil on our skins signifies purification; purification of the body as well as the mind. With a thoroughly cleansed body and a pure mind one should conduct himself/herself on the righteous path.
Every year, we celebrate it rejoicing in the death of a demon. These annual celebrations keep the Hindu culture alive. Whenever the culture is alive, good habits are undisputed and followed. And, when the society dwells in good habits, it lives happily, harmoniously and peacefully.
Amma blesses everyone so that all will happily celebrate Deepavali in its proper fashion by rubbing the skin with oil and taking a bath to purify the body and the mind, by praying at a temple and by receiving blessings from respected elders.
What is the purpose of celebrating the festivals like New Year’s or Christmas? There are a lot of festivals, what is the purpose of those festivals? Why do we celebrate the same event every year? Shouldn’t it be sufficient to celebrate them once in your life?
There is always a lesson behind a festival. It is an occasion to teach you about values, for instance, love or peace. Let’s take, for example, Amma’s Birthday. The significance of that day is to teach us about unconditional love. So why do you need to celebrate this every year? Wouldn’t it be enough if you celebrated Amma’s birthday once in your life? No. The reason to celebrate the festivals each and every year is to see your personal growth. When you celebrate it again and again, year after year, you can monitor your development.
For example, think about last year. Did you experience unconditional love or were you caught up in greed, desire, or anger? On Amma’s birthday ask yourself whether you have any less greed, desire and anger now than you had a year ago. Think of it as a day to learn about unconditional love. So, if you still experience these negative traits, you should take an oath, from this day forward, to work hard to remove them. Then, once again, on Amma’s birthday next year, you can ask yourself whether these traits are still there. If they are, then you can use that special day as an opportunity to once again take an oath to remove them.
If you don’t succeed totally in one year, you can start over in your efforts to improve for the next year. In this way, we measure just how much we have improved over the previous year. It is like opportunity so that if you slipped up during the previous year, you can start again. Or, if you did something really bad in the previous year, you can end that cycle and start to do good things from this day forward. These are the real reasons for all the festivals.
Questions & Answers
Devotee : Amma, I can’t remember how angry I was last year at this time, so how do I change? How do I know whether I have changed?
Amma : You can compare your reactions from last year to this year. Take some incident, for example, if you got upset over something last year, think about that incident again and see whether this year you would respond the same way. If you do, then you probably need to keep working on the anger so it goes away. If the anger is gone, then you know you’re better. In that case, you can keep working to be your best.
Another thing that Amma wants to say: As Amma mentioned, you are all Amma’s angels. You should know this because people in the western world, sometimes talk about wanting to help, and they don’t know how. Sometimes they will say, “I want to do something for the school” or “I just want to do something for the hospital”. Actually, Peedam is managed like an ocean. In an ocean, if water is poured in, that water cannot be labeled. It mixes into the body of water and becomes part of the ocean.
If it were otherwise, where everyone decided themselves where they wanted to give, then you wouldn’t see a hospital today; because, here no one devotee built that hospital. Devotees came out of love and offered service and then Amma said, OK, let’s build a hospital. In the same way, Amma decided to build the schools and all the other buildings. If it were any other way, you would need to wait another 5 years to see this hospital. You wouldn’t see the hospital and you wouldn’t see the school. What you do see now, the hospital, schools and other facilities are all run by “Divine’ Management.
Therefore, when you talk to people about service they might do, if they are from the western world, they might think that health is the issue for India. The building of the temple is the big service for you. You should be ready, and if someone says that they want to do this or that, explain to them that it will be Amma’s decision. This will be helpful for them and helpful for Amma. Sometimes this is how it works on the Administration side as well. It is good.
Questions & Answers:
Devotee : Amma, have you ever been cut or bruised or has anything ever happened to you?
Amma : It used to happen when Amma was in school.
Devotee : Will Amma explain why a coconut is used in pujas? What is the significance of breaking the coconuts in puja?
Amma : The shell of the coconut is like a head. In that shell, the water it is like the ego. Once you take out the water, then you’ll have the purity like that white skin. So that is the significance of the coconut. So it’s not necessary to break all your heads to remove the ego. Better to break coconuts. So you can try to remove your ego with devotion, don’t try to take it out of your head.
Another Devotee : “What does the acronym “ego” stand for?
Answer: E, G, O= Evict God Out”. He added that Amma also uses lemon, beetle leaves and mangos in pujas because they all have the power to attract good vibrations and to bring them into the pujas. This is why Amma uses them in pujas.
“This Pongal is a Holy day when people convey their gratitude to Mother Nature for her grace in blessing the people with abundant Natural resources. Today, Science and Technology have advanced a great deal. In spite of this, for peace and well-being, people have to rely only on Nature and not necessarily on Science and Technology.
The light & heat from the Sun, the luminous rays of the Moon, the greenery of trees, the fragrance of flowers, the musical chirping of birds, the ceaseless sound of the waves in the Oceans, the beauty of sedate streams – all these are offered by Nature to man. All of which Science cannot provide man, with such richness and beauty are present in Nature.
It’s only man who can see, enjoy and derive immense pleasure from these gifts of Nature. If these Natural resources are available in a country, that country will automatically enjoy other resources too. Essentials like food grains, vegetables, greens, fruits and other resources that make human existence possible are provided to us by Mother Nature.
Today is the first day of our Tamil New year as well. This is very auspicious as we are ready to realize gifts from Mother Nature. Everything is ready for our harvest. While everyone accept these gifts from Mother Nature you should also realize how much good nature bestows on each of us. Just as Mother Nature helps us, we too should in turn HELP others. ‘Helping Others’ should be our resolution on this auspicious day.
Our lives totally depend on Agriculture. Without the hard work of the poor farmers agriculture cannot thrive. Cattle and other living beings also help cultivation and other processes. For all this to happen Nature is the fundamental contributor. So we should be ever grateful to Mother Nature, farmers, cattle and other living beings that support this life system.
Mother Nature is always providing us with all her resources. Take the cue from her. One must also learn to be happy by giving to others, who do not have, what we have.
Amma’s blesses all and wishes all a happy, prosperous and joyful life.
Amma : (addresses a Devotee) So, how are you ?
Devotee : Very good thank you.
Amma : (laughs) Very good.
Amma : (addresses another Devotee) So, did you tell everyone about the significance of Pongal?
Devotee : A little bit and we all talked about it.
Amma : It is like the thanks giving for nature, first day of the celebration is for the sun, for agriculture and for everything that needs the sun. So first day of the celebration is for nature and the second day of the celebration is for paying homage and giving honour to other creations like cows and bulls. Today we use the tractor and other types of machines but in the olden days they use the bull and other animals to do the work and help them provide for themselves. . The human being is dependant on other creations. The third day of the celebration is for showing respect to the older people and on this day, the older people give gifts to the younger people. This celebration is called Pongal.
It is like coming out, fresh and new. It is a very, very old festival celebrated in the villages; some cities celebrate it too, but mostly villages. These days there are more things to do to pass the time, but in those days they didn’t have as many things like we have now. So what did they do? They had bull chasing, it was lots of fun, there were games and things like that. All these activities would happen three or four days. So it is a very major event in the villages.
NOTE : There are four days of Pongal. (The first day is not usually celebrated; it is a day of cleaning and preparing the home).
Devotee : Why did Amma give us the ten rupees?
Amma : (laughs) To make it into ten million. You know it is a custom on the third day of the celebration to get the blessing from the elders, they will bless you and with that blessing they will give a gift. So for the kids and elders it is a special day, where the elders will be happy because they are shown the respect and the kids will get blessings and a gift.
Devotee : So the elders give gift to the younger, but Amma is only 29