September 22, 2010
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
Swamini Krishnamrita Prana, one of the senior-most disciples of Chancellor Amma, brought Amma’s words to the audience at the first-ever Amrita ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing Conference in Coimbatore. Below is the text of her complete speech.
HOW FORTUNATE I feel to be amongst all of you here today. Amongst women who are rising up in a field that has long been predominantly male, especially when we think of what women are going through in other parts of the world.
In fact, I feel quite out of my depth here, compared with all of you – as I am fairly computer illiterate. Although I am a little proud of the fact that, I learnt to zip up a file for the first time, a few days ago!
Amma is always happy to see women meeting together, aspiring for great things. She sends her blessings and prayers for your successful ventures.
She would like me to share some points with you which she holds close to her heart, regarding women discovering their true potential. If anyone understands the potential of women as well as their plight, it is Amma.
For almost four decades Amma has been receiving thousands of people every day, listening to their problems and giving them comfort, solace and advice. More than three quarters of the people that come to her are women.
All around the world, women open their hearts to Amma, sharing with her the difficulties and sorrows that they experience in their studies, family lives and work.
Some of the problems that Amma has frequently heard, have been from young female students who are often disregarded and completely neglected by their male teachers for being a minority in the class.
And although faced with a huge burden of obstacles before them, many of these female students still find the courage to overcome these disadvantages.
Tapping into the incredible strength that Amma says lies inside of us, they find that if they persevere with hard work and optimism, they are able to achieve what they have set out to.
And in the end, although they receive much less guidance than others may have had, their results are usually of a higher standard than those that receive extra help.
Amma says, “Just as a toddler falls before he or she learns to walk with firm steps, our own failures are the beginning of our ascent toward the ultimate victory.”
“If you fall, get up and go forward with enthusiasm. Consider that the fall was meant to make you more alert. Strive to reach the goal, transcending whatever obstacles arise. This is real courage.”
One girl in particular would come and share endlessly with Amma about her struggle, as she was going through University, being neglected by the teacher, in a class of mainly men. All Amma could do, was encourage her to go on reminding her that she did hold the potential inside of her to accomplish whatever she wanted to.
Through her persistent effort, she went on to get a PhD in Theoretical Physics – and is now working on pioneering technological projects like Wireless Sensor Networks for Environmental Monitoring, for landslide and avalanche detection.
And what is even more amazing, is that she is doing this work voluntarily, as a service project for Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
In India we often feel that obtaining high degrees of education is what makes us really successful in life. But, Amma is a perfect example to show that magnanimous things can be accomplished even without education, as she studied only until the 4th grade.
Another example to the contrary, is if we look at how a poor country like China, with fairly low levels of education – is flourishing in the economic world.
The main reason for their industrial success, is due to the hard work and sincerity that people there feel towards performing their daily duty. Their tremendous work ethic is one of the greatest strengths of China.
Maintaining a correct attitude is so important for success. Anything, done with a sincere and positive attitude will surely bring good results. But this is not so commonly found with people in India and is something that should be encouraged in all spheres of society.
Amma believes that what is an absolute necessity for performing successful research work, are fostering the qualities of sincerity and self confidence.
These two qualities help to lay a positive foundation for grace to flow, especially if we cultivate the attitude that our work is a sacred offering.
Without this spirit of consecration, our life may not end up being as productive as it could. For all our thoughts and actions to bear real fruit, they must be backed by something higher than our physical self.
This world could become a very different place if we really all tried to live up to our ideals. When we form the habit of doing our work with a selfless ideal in our thoughts and actions, then an exalted atmosphere of selfless love is created, which surrounds us, and all of the selfishness inside of us vanishes, because there is no space left for it.
Amma is the perfect role model for us in this aspect. As she has always lived with a genuine sense of dedicating her life for only good. She has never had to sit back and plan or calculate anything, as she moves in harmony with the cosmic plan and has been able to manifest tremendous projects to help the world, because of this.
Most countries in the world have a rich array of tremendous resources available, but we often misuse these finite treasures, by not investigating and developing in the right areas.
For example, instead of researching the rich heritage of India’s sacred medicinal system … or even exploring the ancient secrets of the Rishis to deal with problems through the inner world, instead, we are fixated on the outer world.
We often ignore the time tested traditions that have proved so successful and discard this precious capitol, for something more new and trendy, which so frequently leads to a dead end. (Quite literally), as we are destroying Nature, and therefore ourselves.
Without discarding the values of the past, we have to invest in the future by developing new, ingenious methods of research projects in all areas, but in particular, in areas of making our own medicines and developing different types of medical equipment or other machinery, cutting down on the need to import expensive items from other countries, and thereby, attaining a state of self sufficiency.
Amma often tells us of how, as a child, she used to watch her mother make all their own traditional medicines to cope with different everyday health problems. When catching a cold or fever, Amma’s mother would make her children take a steam treatment with tulasi or different herbs in the hot water.
This would cause them to break out into a sweat and eliminate all the toxins from the body and thus quickly help them to recover from any infections. But today, this natural craft of utilizing Mother Nature’s gifts in a positive way, which was a knowledge that was passed down through the generations, is being lost to the act of swallowing a pill to relieve us.
Amma knows that some illnesses are best treated by natural ayurvedic remedies and others only by an allopathic treatment, so we do actually need both of these traditions. We have to learn to hold onto the time honored traditions with one hand and embrace the new research methods with the other hand.
When Amma was young, she saw so many of the villagers suffer and sometimes die at a tender young age because there were no medical facilities locally available to operate on them, or even help them.
Amma would see people with their bodies or legs so swollen from kidney disease, that didn’t have enough money to purchase medicine to treat their disease, and even lacked a few rupees to be able to afford pain medication, to bring them minor relief.
Because of the curse of poverty, she saw people destined to live to a ripe old age of perhaps 80 years, robbed of the gift of life in their youth.
People that needed a heart operation would have no hope of raising the funds needed to buy an expensive foreign-produced heart valve and would therefore die.
But luckily today, the average life span has been extended for some villagers, as India has started to produce locally-made heart valves, and other medical instruments, thereby bringing down the expenses for some of these operations.
Amma greatly encourages this kind of research work, and has developed several different medical devices in her own technical departments. Giving back the gift of life to the poor – through local self-sustainability, is definitely an emerging trend in computing, that Amma would like to inspire all of you towards – as well.
Even in this modern day, society sometimes tries to tell us that women must confine themselves to more traditional areas, such as taking care of the family, etc. but Amma reminds us again and again that we can do anything we want or need to.
We just have to tap into the resources that lie buried inside of us. We have unlimited skills and the strength and brains to be able to use them to enrich society. One of our inherent strong points as women, is being able to juggle all of these talents in myriad ways – such as bringing success to our work and happiness to our family life.
As women have to give birth to ongoing humanity, and foster with love the growth of a child within, this takes away nine months of their life, to some degree, yet still many women in Western countries have been able to manage both work and the duty of a mother together.
Multi-tasking is a great gift bequeathed to women through our right hemispheres, so India should try to learn the talent from the West, of how to cope with both family life and work together.
Instead of picking up what the West has spat out, such as its bad habits, we should instead learn to imbibe the tremendous work ethic of the West.
Women have contributed so much to society, in many areas. But we should also find the areas that are still lacking in female contributions and see why this is so, seeking to remedy this situation, so that the healing feminine touch, can help to make these areas of life, also flourish.
Amma says that the brain of a railway porter and a scientist may be the same. A porter uses his head to carry a load upon, but a scientist uses his head to delve into the mysteries of the universe, to try to make life better for everyone.
The capacity of both to serve, is the same, but whereas the porter can only help a few people by carrying their bags, scientists can use their talents, to try to benefit the entire society.
We all have an unlimited amount of talent inside of us, but much of it remains unused.
It is said that the greatest waste in the world, is the difference between what we are and what we could become.
Women everywhere can become encouraged by people like yourselves, who come forward to use their talents in whatever way they can, to help the growth and sustenance of society.
Amma is frequently reminding us, that we should strive to become role models, because someone is always watching us and looking up to us, as we pursue success and excellence in our chosen field.
Amma has often said, that a woman’s main problem is that she does not have so much self-confidence. But when put to the test, we find that we do have the talent to succeed in any area of work ventured into.
Not only do we succeed, but often when coupled with the qualities of a selfless attitude and of doing the work as an offering for the benefit of society, without any selfish motive, we find that we can almost accomplish miracles.
But I personally feel, that it is a very fine line – between rising in confidence, and acting with too much ego. We should therefore strive to develop our confidence by exploring new areas of work, while keeping in mind the benefit and importance of our inherent maternal qualities, such as patience, compassion and sincerity.
Rejecting these qualities, Amma says, only adds to the imbalance of the wounds of the world and unfortunately Mother Nature has been so severely wounded by us already, that she is crying out in despair.
Amma reminds us – again and again – that we are not like batteries that can run out. Nor, are we like a candlelight, that can be extinguished in the wind.
We have a source of infinite light and potential, inside of us, that can never be exhausted. We just have to cultivate the perseverance, to tap into the inner reservoir of these precious gifts.
If we could follow and absorb Amma’s teachings, we would be able to create a masterpiece from the canvas of our life.
The mouse really is in YOUR hands. And the whole world is our Photoshop canvas.
So how are you going to paint, your picture of the world?
We are all waiting to see …