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Nature & Amma

Satsang by Sri Shivaramakrishnan, a Resident of Amritapuri Ashram

A few months ago Amma asked little Niranjan to pet Shyamakutti, one of the calves in Amritapuri and give satsang to her. Several devotees enjoyed watching the video of Niranjan’s sessions with Shyama.

I became curious and immediately searched and found a research paper by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria "Frontiers of Psychology." The article revealed that cows become happy when they hear human voices in person. This is because cows like to be spoken to and petted; interestingly, they don’t respond to an artificial or a recorded voice. The parameters checked to confirm the cow's state of mind and its mood were its heart rate, body language, and the position of its ears. The research also showed that cows yield more milk when they hear music because it activates the production of oxytocin - a hormone triggering milk production.

Dr. Adrian North and Dr. Liam Mechenzie say that when cows hear the music of Beethoven, they yield more milk, but when they hear Rock & Roll songs they do not yield more.

This is why I believe Amma may have asked Niranjan, "Today what did you teach the calf Shyamakutti?"

Amritapuri cowshed
Amritapuri cowshed

Further research shows that cows love flute music. Maybe that is the reason why Lord Krishna played his flute as a cowherd boy. One of the latest trends in the USA is charging $50 to $200 per hour to hug a cow in order to improve the emotional well-being of anyone who is depressed.

Plants are also positively affected by kindness and beautiful sounds. We have heard on more than one occasion Amma saying that even while plucking leaves from plants, we should take only the minimum required (example of jackfruit leaves for making spoons to eat kanji rice porridge).

We can say that the human and animal kingdom have somewhat more developed minds than plants. But, even plants pick up the intention of humans when the axeman comes with the intention to cut them (experiment by Prof. Backster).

When a polygraph (an instrument similar to a lie detector) was connected to an oak tree, it reacted violently when it sensed someone’s intention to cut it down but had no reaction when there was no such intention. Interestingly, science has proven that plants warn other plants of impending danger of attack by pests up to a certain distance by sending messages through vibrations.

In 1968, the International Journal of Parapsychology published a paper, "Perception in Plant Life", which contains numerous examples of the ways plant life react to stimuli, both positive and negative, proving how sensitive plants are to surroundings. The research showed that carrot plants shiver out of fear when they sense that a hungry rabbit is approaching.

Another study told of a scientist who was eating yogurt (for enriching probiotics as it has millions of lactobacillus), and when he mixed in some sweet jam, suddenly he noticed a violent change in the polygraph (an instrument connected to the yogurt). He concluded that the fluctuation was caused by some of the chemical preservatives in the jam he mixed into the yogurt, which had terminated (or killed) thousands of live bacilli present in yogurt. We can imagine how chemicals added as preservatives and pesticides used in the food industry, especially in processed food, kill millions of useful bacteria in our guts, proving that preservatives are harmful and we should be careful when choosing to use preserved foods.

Amma blessing plants
Amma blessing plants

At least from the above experiments we know why Amma asserted decades ago, and repeats even now, that we should seek permission from plants before plucking leaves or flowers and only pluck the bare minimum quantity required as even plants have lives.

And it is important to note that plants support human and animal life by producing oxygen. Research indicates that a tree, on average, gives oxygen worth Rs.20 lakhs (~ $24,000) during its lifetime. So we would do well to worship God in every aspect of Creation in the same way Amma does.

Amma worships all objects she handles, and she even shows reverence to the wooden steps while she is climbing to the stage. Amma reflects the ways of our ancestors who introduced a Subhashitham (Sanskrit maxim) eulogizing the plant kingdom - to quote "chayam…..sat purushah eva,” which means "the trees give shade to others while bearing the heat of scorching sun, its fruits are enjoyed by others not by them, and trees are like Mahatmas (like Amma) who live for the sake of others".

Research has proven that if we inflict pain on plants by cutting them or even make them hungry by not watering the plant, causing them to suffer, the plants cry in despair. Frantisek Baluska of University of Bonn, Germany informed Joanna Klein of the New York Times that plant sensitivity can be detected through use of ultrasound. Besides, Plant Scientist, Prof. Itzhak Khait from Tel Aviv, Israel, used ultrasound technique and found that tomato and tobacco plants, when their stems were cut or were starved (when not watered), sent a vibration of pain and distress up to a certain distance from the plant.

Research contains many such examples. We can see how mantra vibrations change the texture of water, a practice which Amma uses while doing Bhava Darshan Pooja to transmit her spiritual energy into the water molecules. Our ancient vedic wisdom has affirmed this practice in Thaithriya Samhita (an ancient Vedic scripture) written in 600 BC, when the rishis (ancient sages) worshiped nature, including plants, as part of God. To quote Sri Rudram, a sacred hymn dedicated to Lord Shiva:

    vrukshanam pathaye namo
    vrukshebhyo harikesebhya
    pasoonampathaye namo
    Vanaanaam patheynamo
    namo vanyayacha kashyayacha
    nama parnyaayacha Parna sadyayacha
    oushadeenam pathaye namo


    I salute the Lord of all trees
    salutations to all trees tufted with green leaves
    I salute the lord of forest
    salute lord in the form of trees in the forest and creepers in the shaded areas
    salute who is in green leaves and dried ones
    I salute you who is in the form of medicinal plants

In Chamakam, many plants which yield grains, paddy, barley, blackgram, green gram, wheat, Bengal gram, millet, etc., are reverently mentioned as desirable crops. There are hundreds of mantras for worshiping trees – for example, the Peepal tree mantra:

    Moolatho brahma roopaya,
    madhyatho visnu roopine,
    Agratha Shiva roopaya,
    vruksha rajaya the nama


    Salutations to the king of trees,
    Whose roots are Lord Brahma,
    Whose stem is Lord Vishnu,
    And whose crown is Lord Shiva

That is probably why Amma started thaineetam, a new tradition where youth receive the gift of a sapling for Vishu (in lieu of or in addition to the more traditional gift of money), to promote tree planting and ecological restoration for future generations. By planting trees, we ensure that human beings can get enough oxygen, which is produced by the plant kingdom. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide that we exhale, they breathe out oxygen that we inhale.

Amma says the core teaching of Sanatana Dharma is to see divinity in everything and to worship all beings, sentient and insentient. May we each strive to achieve this.

Sri Sivaramakrishnan, Amritapuri

Amma blesses a plant
Amma blesses a plant


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