The Ashes Funeral, Onam, Musings

August 20, 2007 Kamala Amma's Grace

Dearest Friends and Family,
We had the formal ashes ceremony on the night of August 20. I had hopes of pouring rain, but it was just a partly cloudy night. We sat on the side of the stage with the ashes pot in front of Amma during bhajans, then she carried it and another lady’s mother’s ashes on a tray, down the ramp. I was concerned that Anni’s ashes were too heavy for her, and wanted to take them, but she wanted to carry them. Most often, after the body is cremated here, a small handful of ashes are collected from the areas where the head, torso and feet were. Consequently, most of the ashes pots are quite small and light. In our case, we had the entire cremated remains. When they burned her body at the crematorium, they took all the remaining residues (bone, etc.) pulverized it and put it in a plastic bag inside another plastic box. At the bottom of the ramp, we squeezed in front of her, (the crowding around Amma is intense) and she blessed the ashes pot with flowers, gave us hugs, then we were all off to the ocean. I can’t
comment on Amma’s mood, I was too much in my own. I wasn’t aware of that much. It seemed there was a large crowd with us, I don’t know. I know that I saw Anandi, her precioius son Gautam and Karuna out in front of us on either side. That seemed very right to me, for they both have loved the children fiercely since we came to the ashram.
Once by the dike before the ocean, in front of an ashram Ayurveda manufacturing building, the 108 names were chanted. Then the closing prayers. Then, we all clambered our way up on the dark, treacherous, tippy and slippy rocks of the dike. The lady whose mother had passed, threw her pot first. Then it was our turn, but a big wave was not forthcoming, so we had to wait some time, while everyone chanted ‘Om Amriteshwaryai Namah’. Finally a good sized wave came. Link heaved the opened pot and ashes in, and that was that. Then we all clambered off the rocks (to ‘make like a crab’ was the best means for getting back to sand land without falling and damaging limbs) really we need some sort of platform with steps out there…I will try to bring this to Amma’s attention, as nearly everyday there are 1-3 funerals from her millions of children.
Its interesting. Since Anni passed from this place of name and form, neither Link and I can be disturbed about anything. We feel no tension about anything. There is nothing, really to be tensed about. Before, I had lots of tension. I had this inner sense of timing, and crammed my schedule with must-do’s. Now, we feel, there is actually nothing really happening here, in this place of name and form. There is only a lot of distraction, and even then, is it distraction? Its just really the play of the unreal…In discussing it with Link, he said that at times, he feels a need to enact a show of tension, but there is nothing there. Perhaps it’s the never ending shock of it all, or maybe it’s a lesson in Reality.
The day was very hard in the sense that it was a final public acknowledgement of the greatest loss in our lives. So the whole day I felt that awareness – the last day with Anni’s ashes…these ceremonies perhaps serve to mark things in our minds, to allow us release points…or acceptance points….I don’t know. When in the US, on the 10th day after Anni’s departure, I felt I should ask Amma if there was something we should do, as it was the 10th day…. the reply I got was that we should follow whatever the family tradition was. This demonstrated to us, that all these ceremonies are only for those who remain, not those who go beyond name and form…every culture and creed has its own system… no one way for anything… its just for those of us that stay in the place of name and form… It was interesting to us, that on this day, Link felt the crows were calling him to notice their hunger. We ended up feeding the birds a substantial amount of leftover foods and slightly moldy breads. It really seemed they were
thronging around to be fed… since then, we only see them nominally…
About the crows… I think I should mention that the crows are a very distinctive feature of this small island. In fact, it is known in ornithological terms as ‘crow island’. The crows here have replaced the seagulls. Crows, and pigeons who fear crows; are the majority birds, although many others also live here, as the lush wetland backwaters of Kerala are home to hosts of migratory fowl. Crows are very distinctive characters in the ashram. They harass on occasion, some of them steal shiny objects like keys, in general they have a very loud social life… they tend to be merciless to the weak and suffering. When Kaiser, our dear friend the ashram dog, was suffering for several months before his death the crows taunted him with low flybys, and raucous calls.
The human mind is always symbolizing. When we first came to the ashram, August 12, 1999, it was about 3 AM. As we approached in the taxi, I remember Anni said to me, ‘O, Mama!’ It was said so profoundly, such an exclamation, that all of us in the car were amazed. As the night turned to a grey and misty drizzling dawn, we first noticed the crows, swooping off the tall pink buildings in loud descending flights… it had a certain eeriness to it… I felt I had in fact, come to a house of death. And so it is, in many ways… a few weeks before all the diagnoses began happening with Anni in India, one day Anni and I were walking around the ashram grounds, looking for wild edible greens, as we were all craving spinaches for long… a crow swooped down and clutched at the top of my head – on the crown chakra area… I felt it meant that my soul would be snatched away from me… and so it was…
I am told that many people have been praying for Link and I… I am sure that is why we haven’t completely collapsed yet… there are times of tremendous weakness, where I feel I cannot go on, cannot take another breath, do not want to, feel that I can no longer walk, can only crawl to a collapse… somehow… we go on… must be due to the prayers…
I saw a photo in the newspaper of a man who had lost all his 5 sons at once in war. He was collapsed in between the coffins, a picture of total misery. How much more goes on before all parents decide to raise their children with the values of peace and no war? If all of us agree, or at least most of us, there can be no more war…
Nothing lasts in this world, not even great and noble works and deeds. Who now knows who William the Silent was, an active force for good in the massacre of 3 million Hollanders by the Holy Roman Church in the 15 or 1600’s? Goodness and badness are still involvement with the unreal… nothing lasts here… I suppose the wisest thing to do, if one knows how, when one finds that one is born in this place, of name and form, is to shut ones eyes and ears until the clarity comes… like the Rishi’s… I dunno… just musings…
Perhaps I am just getting chatty. I’m sitting in the recording studio with Anni’s Karthu Dada, who has flown down from Mumbai, just to work on the album for Amma and Anni. Working with him, is totally different from just working with his sound tracks… much of our recordings he has had us redo – he emphasizes the need for the songs to carry the feeling of the heart… its lovely work… so far, he’s been working on the vocal sound tracks of the girls for 3 songs… some are leaving in just 1 or 2 days, so in order to get their contributions, we have to record them first… he’s only here for one more week…w e thought we had one song completely done for the girls and the chorus, but appearently not… he hears lots of things that we don’t hear…
We took Karthu Dada out for a walk this AM outside the ashram in the beautiful Kerala countryside… On narrow sand paths past small homes, with carefully swept sand yards, surrounded by little groves of coconut tree and ponds with fish… cows, chickens, ducks and goats to greet us… the natural Kerala scenery reminds me much of the beauty of Kashmir, which also has its little homes, tucked away in lovely little niches, connected by narrow foot paths that wend their way though glades carpeted with grasses, mixed with wild oregano and thyme; surrounded by forests rich in Chir pine and deodar and rhododendron… both places show a similarity in indigenous management of the natural environment surrounding people. Both are gorgeous green.
But then those with money come in, and the scene changes. The house becomes huge, the glades around have no relationship to it, the animals are gone, or kept in high walled compounds tied up in sheds… things are imported from the town… so then, the environment takes on a ‘wasted look’… plastic bags and pieces scatter and become stuck here and there… the connecting foot paths becomes disused… even in the smaller homes now, the blue glow of the home-invader, the TV, is often there… and in those small places, the surrounding environment demonstrates the lack of precious relationship that it had before…
From when Link, Anni and I last walked through it 1 year ago, the amount of construction is intense… it was much harder to find that Kerala beauty that was so readily available in large swaths of land outside the ashram… a lot of it is our own construction activities: homes for those made homeless by the Tsunami, university construction projects…
Onam is happening… The ashram is crowded with 10’s of thousands of people. The children from Amma’s orphanage are here, it’s a major break for them. Its very sweet to see and feel their calm assurance that they are not orphans at all, they have a real mother in Amma… I remember when we first came to the ashram. I was keenly looking out for the orphanage children, whom, I was told had come. Finally someone pointed them out to me. I was amazed. Perhaps I had expected to see forlorn, insecure looking children, with hopeful eyes… Each girl was wearing a specially made and different traditional long skirt and blouse, all of them had bits of gold jewelry on that Amma has gifted to them on different occasions, each one looked like a daughter of the house, not an ‘orphan’. The boys were more scruffy, but that’s boys…
Onam is a 10 day festival in Kerala going back some centuries of centuries ago. It has it basis, like all Indian traditions, in a humble acknowledgement of the Supreme. In this tradition, Kerala was once ruled by a wonderous, loving and just King, named, Mahabali. Everyone enjoyed prosperity, literacy, equality, all people lived together happily and righteously. Stealing, poverty, exploitation of women and children was unheard of. Mahabali was proud of his Kingdom, and himself. He knew he was great and good. And he was. But I guess that knowledge was a bit egotistic, for it appears that he was actually willing to learn to be more humble. Amma has said that the ego, or sense of ‘I am the Doer’, is poison. And poison is poison, even if its just a little bit. During his rule, it is said that Earth was even better than Heaven. This made all the Gods jealous. They went to Vishnu and asked him to do something. Vishnu then incarnated on earth as a poor Brahmin dwarf called Vamanan. One day, Mahabali
was holding a program where he was giving the poor people in his land anything they asked for. Vamanan came and asked for only three paces of land to sit and meditate upon. Mahabali, the epitomy of generosity, said, ‘Of course,” even against the advice of his guru. Then Vamanan grew to gigantic proportions. His first step covered all of the earth. The second step covered all of the heavens. He asked Mahabali where he should go for his third step. Mahabali bowed his head, and indicated the top of his head. That was the end of Mahabali, as he apparently entered a Kingdom of Bliss. Yet, he is still said to have had concern for his subjects, and thus once a year, comes and tours his beloved Kerala for 10 days. During this time, all Kerala dresses up in new cloths, everyone eats well, and presents are given. At least that’s the theory as I understand it. Times have changed however, and shopkeepers jack up the prices for Onam necessaries.
Rishi gave us a wonderful book to read, which has provided much solace and inspiration: Fynn, (1974) Mister God, this is Anna, Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, NY. ISBN#0-03-014716-6. It’s a true story of a little girl, whom Fynn found on the streets of London, when she was 4 years old. It must have been in the 1940’s, before everyone had a TV, car, toilet, etc. Before life was divorced from its natural sources…. At the time of meeting Anna, he was 19 years. She had been horribly abused, and had run away from home. Fynn and family took her in, she lived with them for 3 years until she died from injuries sustained by falling off a tree. The experience of life with Anna was so amazing for Fynn, that it was to be nearly 30 years before he could speak about Anna publically. The book is filled with Anna’s tremendous zeal to know and understand Mr. God, and what is Real. She used every moment at her disposal to help with her effort to understand. She was always pondering and contemplating the great Truth
of her little being. She studied the natural world, evolved her own experiments with physics, etc. all of which always pointed her back to her Source.
“The difference from a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside.” – Anna, age. 6. pg. 1.
We are going to read the book again, then go through it one more time, and write down all the points that this dynamic little dynamo brought out. Link said he found it to be pure Sanatan Dharma (or Eternal Truth, the religion of India).
Anyhow, that’s what up here. Link will try to get up the photos of Satyabhama, the mosaics – there is one of a blue heart that Anni made…when she made it, she told me that she told the tile they had to make themselves into a really nice heart as they were in the position where Amma’s eye was likely to fall as they would be facing her when she turned the corner to go towards the stage…amazingly that heart came out with a ‘face and eyes’ look…Anni marveled about the occurance to me, feeling that the tile showed her the interconnectedness of all the energies, and the influence of Grace… to this list of photos Link now needs to add the pot and Anni’s Karthu Dada. Can’t say when Link’ll get to it…he is energetically conducting the singers through the window in the studio…we found a photo of Anni’s hands holding a baby bat taken Sept. 2006…seeing it now, her arm looks so very thin….will include it.
Loving you,
Kamala Aunty

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