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Hindu spiritual leader Amma Sri Karunamayi on the steps we should take to achieve Ananda, inner joy

…Joy, it is sometimes external joy, but another joy is inner joy. Inner joy is called Ananda. Ananda is bliss, spiritual bliss. External joy is transient but sometimes your joy comes from happiness, speaking with friends, going somewhere, watching some waterfalls or gardens, speaking with your friends, they’re so joyful, happy, cheerful but the permanent […]


…Joy, it is sometimes external joy, but another joy is inner joy. Inner joy is called Ananda. Ananda is bliss, spiritual bliss. External joy is transient but sometimes your joy comes from happiness, speaking with friends, going somewhere, watching some waterfalls or gardens, speaking with your friends, they’re so joyful, happy, cheerful but the permanent happiness, the Ananda, it is within us.


As part of my series about living with a “ravenous thirst for life” I had the distinct pleasure to interview Amma Sri Karunamayi. Amma is a Hindu spiritual leader who travels internationally promoting global peace and meditation. Sri Amma Karunamayi is considered to be an Avatar, a manifestation of Vishnu who is born enlightened or fully self-realized. She is called Amma by her devotees, which means “mother” in Amma’s native Telugu language and other South Indian languages. Amma Karunamayi created several charitable programs to help the rural poor and disenfranchised in the extremely poor Andhra Pradesh area where her ashram is located. These provide free educational facilities, housing projects, clean water programs, a free hospital, mobile medical clinics, emergency relief programs, food and clothing donations, and free housing for people who had been dispossessed of their land


Dr. Marina Kostina: Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity. My first question to you is, I write a column in Authority Magazine that deals with living with the Joy. What is joyful living for you? Does it include the absence of pain or any other negative emotion?

Amma Sri Karunamayi: Joy, it is sometimes external joy, but another joy is inner joy. Inner joy is called Ananda. Ananda is bliss, spiritual bliss. External joy is transient but sometimes your joy comes from happiness, speaking with friends, going somewhere, watching some waterfalls or gardens, speaking with your friends, they’re so joyful, happy, cheerful but the permanent happiness, the Ananda, it is within us.

Dr. Marina Kostina: We’re living in the day and time where we want a miracle pill. We want a quick fix for pain, or a heartbreak, or headache… and unfortunately, often in our modern society, spirituality is seen as a quick fix. “I’m going to do my meditations, I’m going to go to a yoga retreat and it will fix my life”. What is spirituality for you?

Amma Sri Karunamayi: Spirituality is where everybody is actually living in a place of peace, love, love to ourselves. So doing that will bring inner peace, harmony, unity, no afflictions, no stubborn mind, absolutely so much quietness, calmness, peace and everything comes.

Meditations, yoga retreat, everything is very good nowadays, but definitely they have to go more into inner depths, absoluteness, then people will become more peaceful. Right now, there are so many challenges in the society, human trafficking, drug addictions, domestic violence, global radiation, climate change, plastic pollution. Greenery is slowly disappearing. Hunger. The world is in the dangerous zone of hunger, innumerable people are dying without food, every second innumerable children are dying without water and food. So many challenges, we have to fix.

We need more good people. When they do meditation, they become selfless and they’re going to help the society without any anticipation and expectations.

Dr. Marina Kostina: Thank you. You run the charities that help these problems. Can you talk a little bit about the charities that you run?

Amma Sri Karunamayi: Thank you. We have water projects. There is a lot of water contamination, a lot of fluoride in water. So people run into many problems with their teeth, the water is affecting their teeth. They were not able to eat anything. More related problems such as headaches… a lot of problems arise because of water contamination. For that reason, we brought water processors, so they have no problems with water right now, they’re doing good.

The second one is education. How many days they can help the people with hunger and all the things you know? The solution to eradicate the poverty in the world is education. When we bring education to the child, and the child gets good job offer after finishing the education, they will stay in front of the poverty.

All the children are going to be educated children, so we’re focusing on the tribal areas, with major focus on tribal children, helping prepare them and they’re doing superb work. Mostly I like the girls, so they’re doing very very good. 100 marks. They don’t like 98 marks. 97 are the poor marks. They want 100%. So they want to be the global citizens, not just the citizens of the village.

Dr. Marina Kostina: The last question is, I’m sure you’ve been asked many, many times, but as a Living Saint, people see you as a person who is in bliss 24/7. Is that true or is there any room for tension for stress or any other negative emotion in your life and if it is, how do you do that differently from the rest of the world?

Amma Sri Karunamayi There’s no place for commotion and unrest, when we have attained the highest peace. Once you’ve finished your American education, you’re a doctor no? [Smiles]. So like that, once you’ve finished to attain that goal of spiritual bliss, there is not place for it [commotion]. It is a mind’s illusion. Everything is play and these emotions are not influenced by your mind. So that’s why when we see people with challenges with spirituality, we need to think how to help them, how to bring peace to the people and that’s what I practice so much in my work.

Marina: Do you believe that every person can attain that peace, or it’s only for the chosen ones?

Amma Sri Karunamayi: That’s the goal of our human life. The reason that we have so many holy souls in the world, that everybody have to have a peaceful life, cheerful life, economical independence, education, good water to drink, good food to eat, medication for everybody, peace for all the people, ending of all wars, no sufferings, peace for girls, peace for boys, peace for children, peace for children in prisons and people who suffer in hospitals, peace for everybody in all the countries.

Each individual must achieve peace. Without peace, there is no meaning for the life. If the mind is not peaceful, we will not be able to focus on anything.

So peace is very essential. It is a human right. All of these are important things to have; water, food, education, homes for everybody, shelter for everybody. These are the human rights, and definitely we pray for everyone to have these things.

So in our small lifespan, I have to work further until my last breath, I have to work for people… {smiles} I love people so much, I love people so much especially women. We are working for women and girls mostly. We have so many challenges in our society.

This beautiful planet, our planet is very beautiful, and there are a lot of beautiful people, very great souls. In our society, people sometimes make mistakes, but if they correct themselves, the world will be a better place to live for all of us, together.

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