Book Reviews

Amma, the Practical Philosopher

- Rajender Krishan's Amma's Gospel

Amma's Gospel by Rajender Krishan
Paperback ISBN-13 : 978-1-947403116 Amazon ebook ASIN : B08LSYFLN4
Available on Amazon USA | Amazon India

Amma is the quintessence of traditional Indian womanhood. Woman is the creator, provider and protector, all in one, and is the soul of the family system. In fact, she is the pillar on which the entire edifice of the family stands. Woman is God’s greatest gift to the human race. Educated or illiterate, she imbibes all the values that provide stability to the family and inspires her offspring to go on the righteous and virtuous path. She is ever ready to make any sacrifices for the growth and progress of her family, guiding them at every step. Even when she suffers, and her sufferings are innumerable, she smiles and encourages her children to wade through the sea of life bravely and boldly. Even in the face of tragedies and traumas, woman, despite all the rites and rituals, norms and forms imposed by the society, suppresses her grief and adopts the virtue of equanimity. Defeat, no never; she won’t accept defeat at the hands of man or Nature. Bravo Amma! Her inner strength has a great potential. Her determination has won over even Yama, our mythology tells us in many tales. Sensitive souls like Rajender Krishan realize the worth and grandeur of women who were their beacon through their various phases and problems of life and honor them in their own way. Here is a fascinating book of poems, Amma’s Gospel, brought out luxuriously, lavishly, paying rich tributes to the poet’s grandmother.

Amma is a marvelous woman, a sage with a benediction. She is not a theoretical preacher but a practical philosopher, a great guide like Krishna in The Gita, guiding the skeptical Arjuna, and through him the entire human race. She is an evolved being, and has imbibed the virtues of being a true human. Amma represents millions of women who bear the burden of inculcating human values in their children, and thus help in Nature’s mission of creating evolved humans.

Ego is the greatest bane of the human race. All the wars, political and social conflicts, religious fanaticism and dogmatic beliefs, they can easily be traced to the inflated ego. So much violence! It has simply dehumanized man. Amma’s humility, like that of a sage, is matchless and can inspire everyone to live by “love, light, truth, harmony”, the virtues that make man a man. Her “verve for life” remains intact and her patience and resilience sail the boat of her family through the turbulent waters of the stormy, tragic and traumatic events of the Partition. Her boundless faith in God sustains her life through thick and thin, and whenever her practical wisdom cannot fathom to comprehend a difficult situation, she humbly says, “I don’t know”, and confidently leaves it to be resolved by God. She had imbibed the wisdom of the ages and realized, without much of education, that man was only a puppet in the hands of “The Master Puppeteer” who was running the entire Cosmos.

Amma was a true sage who asked her children never to indulge in deceit and treachery and derived her gospel from the ancient Vedantic philosophy. She advised them not to become “a puppet of emotions / a victim of desires” and insisted on becoming “the master of your own mind.” ( 46 ) Her formula of success for her children was simple, yet profound :

Love yourself
by being true to yourself
Be not in haste to react
First anticipate then contemplate
then respond
Follow the right path ( 47 )

A simple but sure way to success. Most of the families today want shortcuts to success and advise their kids to play ‘ smart’. Result : Man has morally and spiritually degenerated to the lowest level and fallen into a deep abyss, never able to come out. Amma’s way is godly, and she wants people to have wisdom “to differentiate / between right and wrong.” (49 ) That is what true religion is.

Amma is a practical philosopher and doesn’t meddle with the questions of birth and death, or life after death, heaven or hell, salvation etc. She very well knows that these mystical riddles have been debated since times immemorial and no answers have ever been satisfactorily found. She rightly calls it the “inexorable Leela” of God and the cyclical motions of life and death are ever present in Nature. In her opinion, without bothering about the past or future, life should be lived in the ‘Now’ only. And then, like Krishna, she expounds the philosophy of The Gita :

Be silent and listen
To what Life wants to say
Meditate on the experience
Get not attached
Simply immerse
Become the witness
Relax ( 58 )

Karma Yoga in a simple man’s language!

But the young minds! How can they accept to be a witness to the events and happenings? And so must go on asking teasing questions. Amma knows their psychology and their curiosity, but knows too well all debates surrounding “birth, death, cycles, salvation” ( 59 ) are meaningless as you never arrive at any conclusion. She, therefore, wisely advises that instead of wasting time on these incomprehensible questions, one should accept these natural phenomena silently, gracefully.

Amma is the guardian angel of the family. With her poise and angelic smile, she is the symbol of love and hope, and kids melt in her loving embrace. They grow up confident and remain inspired when she is there for them with her spontaneity and “caring commitment.” She has inculcated great human virtues in the children to the extent that even when she is not there, the poet is able to boldly face the worst of the situations like the Corona and finds refuge in the advice she would have given to him:

Always remember
but fear not Yama
for death is inevitable ( 71 )

She asks you to be a man! Bold and fearless. Why be afraid of something that is inevitable? These three lines sum up the wisdom of the ages.

“The serenity of her silence” speaks more than what preachers would take hours to convey. Amma, through her “kindness / tolerance and love” raised and saved her family while those indulging in “malicious antagonism” become the instruments of destruction of their families which then spreads its tentacles to the “clans, friends, society / and even nations.” (81 ) All around you find the institution of family disintegrating and thereby man losing the strength of his basic support system and wandering like a ship without an anchor. Had man learnt to follow the dictum of Amma, “Renounce deceit / Shun crookedness” ( 143 ), he would not have faced the problem of neurosis, out to destroy the race, Nature too.

Amma is the portrait of not only the savior of a family but also of the human race. If woman emulates the example of Amma and inculcates the virtues and qualities of a good human being in her children, we would be proud of the ever-evolving human race that would emerge. The world would then be a much better place to live in.

We must be grateful to Amma.
Yes, she is the poet’s Amma, but she is also Everyman’s Amma.

Work cited :

Krishan, Rajender. Amma’s Gospel. Setu Publications, 2021.
All the references appear in the text.

More on Amma’s Gospel.


More by :  Dr. O.P. Arora

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