Note: This story “Amma Really Loves You” by Haji Shearer was published in Amma’s magazine titled “Immortal Bliss.” This article is copyrighted: ©2007 Haji Shearer email@example.com.
Amma Really Loves You!
For many years, I have seen devotees sitting around Amma with those vertical booklets composed of many mantras. They would touch their hearts and silently chant each mantra as they offered a petal from the flower of their heart to Amma. These folks would sit for quite some time repeating mantras. I was aware they were chanting the Thousand Names of the Divine Mother and found their actions inspiring. I knew the Thousand Names were chanted every morning in Amritapuri, but the process was too daunting for me to consider as part of my personal practice. I had the mantra Amma gave me and thought that enough.
Then my family went to India for Amritavarshan50, Amma’s 50th birthday celebration. We spent one glorious afternoon in Amritapuri. The rest of our time was in Kochi at the Nehru International Stadium where the festivities were held. It was there that my wife bought a copy of The Thousand Names of the Divine Mother Sri Lalita Sahasranama with Commentary. I had seen the book countless times in the bookstore at Amma’s programs and never felt compelled to even crack the cover. But, as we unpacked and tried to hold onto the memories of our pilgrimage, I started to read the introduction and was blown away.
I read that Amma said, “Worship (arcana) using Lalita Sahasranama is of the utmost value for the prosperity of the family and for peace in the world.” And “Mother has chosen Lalita Sahasranama arcana (and chanting) as a daily practice for relief from the perils in life and for spiritual progress, as She is fully aware of the unparalleled greatness of the hymn which is full of the power of mantras and is capable of fulfilling all desires.”
And, “Among the many hymns, mantras and devotional songs available, the Sahasranama is specially suitable for worship in the morning and gives results quickly. While Sahasranamas which give material well-being and salvation are prescribed for all castes and in all stages of life, Lalita Sahasranama is especially suitable for householders.”
Hello! “Utmost value for the prosperity of the family and for peace in the world . . . relief from the perils in life and for spiritual progress . . . unparalleled greatness of the hymn . . . capable of fulfilling all desires . . . gives results quickly . . . especially suitable for householders.” I couldn’t believe I had been missing out on this! What had I been doing all these years? I trust Amma above all others and She had been recommending this practice for years, offering just the results I was seeking, and somehow I had missed it!
As I read these remarkable words I felt like I found a gold mine and resolved to start chanting the Sahasranama. I’ve practiced scores of techniques from self-help books by authors who pale in comparison to Amma and didn’t even promise comparable results. How could I refuse this great opportunity She was offering me?
I usually buy all my Amma gear on the summer tour so I made my first purchase from Mother’s Books online and soon the familiar vertical chanting book and an audio cassette of the Sri Lalita Sahasranama arrived. I knew I would have to work my way up to chanting all the names, so I started by simply substituting the Sahasranama
in the 20 to 30 minutes I was already sitting in the morning trying to chant my mantra.
It’s true the tape rendition took just over an hour to play, but I couldn’t keep up with the mantras so I had to practice the pronunciation on my own. Disappointment quickly followed when I couldn’t even get through the opening meditation and the first 100 mantras in 30 minutes. There’s a remark in the Introduction to the commentary that the Sri Lalita Sahasranama contains more polysyllabic mantras than the Sahasranama of any other deity. That may be good for results, but it seriously tripped up my English speaking tongue. After many months of practice I finally got to the point where I could chant 250 mantras in about 30 minutes. So my practice became chanting the entire Sahasranama over a four day period then starting over.
I enjoyed chanting the complete hymn over four days and I was much feeling closer to Amma. Although the Sahasranama preexisted Amma’s incarnation in 1953, I am convinced that Amma is inseparable from the qualities described in the mantras. So chanting the names gives me a better, if still limited, understanding of who Amma is. Repeating the names offers worship and salutations to the Supreme through Her nature. Some of my favorites: She who confers prosperity on Her devotees (117), She who protects (266), She who is the Mother of the Universe (457), She who gives release from bondage (546), She who grants all desires (698), She who is pure love (730), She who is ancient (802), and She who is the essence of all scriptures (845).
On the four day cycle, I felt fairly competent compared to when I started. But, do the math, that’s still 2 hours for the entire hymn. I was aware that the first 100 mantras were the most polysyllabic, so the last 750 mantras might not take a full 90 minutes but almost two hours still seemed like too big a commitment for my busy householding days. Then over Memorial Day weekend 2006 I had an epiphany. If I didn’t do something different I was never going to be able to chant the whole Thousand Names in one day. And it was clear to me that I couldn’t expect to get the full results Amma promised from doing a quarter of the practice.
I have long admired devotees of any discipline who get up early in the morning to practice their craft, in part, because that had never been my strength. But, I was 44 years old. If not now, when? I believed what Amma said about the spiritual and material benefits that would accrue from chanting the Thousand Names (not the 250 names) daily and I was ready to receive. So I resolved for at least one year to chant the complete Sri Lalita Sahasranama daily to see what happened.
I found that by chanting the complete hymn at once I got into a rhythm, didn’t have to repeat the opening meditation each time and quickly got to the place where I could chant all Thousand Names in about an hour. Still, that required waking up at 4:30 a.m. five days a week to chant before going to work. The experiment was designed to run from May 31, 2006 to May 31, 2007, but the experiment was over before 2007 began. By that time I knew chanting the Thousand Names daily was one of the most powerful things I had ever done. I intend to continue for the rest of my life.
Allow me to share one of the experiences inspired by chanting the Thousand Names. In July 2006, after a month and a half of daily repetition of the Thousand Names my wife and I went to New York City to be with Amma. We stayed with a good friend who was going through a heart-wrenching period with her teenaged daughter. Jasmin and I decided to wait until Devi Bhava for darshan so the first night of the program our friend went up alone. I moved to the side of the stage as she approached Amma so I could get a good view of her darshan.
Just as I arrived at the side of the stage – in the Manhattan Center, filled with thousands of people – Amma turned, looked directly at me and smiled brightly. You know what happens in a hall when Amma looks at someone: everybody turns to see who She’s looking at. I had just moved into my spot and I thought she was looking at me, but I wasn’t positive. I even looked around a little myself. It’s not like I was used to getting that kind of greeting from Amma. So, to clear up my confusion, She did it again. As I was looking at Her wondering, were You just looking at me? She turned again, smiled brightly and there was no doubt She was looking directly into my eyes and my soul and blessing me.
Like when I first read the Introduction to the Commentary, I was blown away. Immediately, it was crystal clear to me that Amma knew I was chanting Her names daily and was pleased with me. After all, one of the Thousand Names is “She who knows all our actions as they occur (374)” and another is “She who is pleased by the repetition of Her names (732).” These looks from Amma were not my imagination. The woman who was standing next to me at the stage starting staring at me – with an expression of awe tinged with jealousy – and she said, somewhat incredulously, “Amma really loves you!”
I was too shattered to speak. I wanted to tell the women, “It’s not me. It’s just that I’m chanting The Thousand Names! You could do it, too.” Amma’s glance, however, had disconnected my brain from my mouth. All I wanted to do was keep this sweet current going with my Guru. Yet, I was aware that my neighbor was still staring at me.
So, I briefly broke my gaze on Amma, turned to my left and managed to get out a soulful, “Yeah.”
 Menon, T.V. Narayana, The Thousand Names of the Divine Mother Sri Lalita Sahasranama with Commentary, M.A. Center Math, Amritapuri, Kerala, India, p. xxiv
 Ibid, p. xxv
 Ibid, p. xxv