Every year, humans destroy around 10 million hectares of forests, causing huge ecological imbalance that affects earth’s climate and biodiversity. Deforestation has a profound impact on mankind, wildlife, and other life forms in nature.
As deforestation continues, urgent action is needed to protect the planet’s biodiversity and ensure the survival and wellbeing of countless species on earth.
The Civil 20 working group on Sustainable & Resilient Communities (SRC), under the guidance and vision of Amma as Chair of C20 for India’s G20 Presidency, is deeply honored to launch a ‘Global Seedball Campaign’ that will work towards producing and distributing 1 million seeds of hope in the year 2023.
A seedball is made up of soil and seeds, often mixed with clay and other organic materials to hold the ball together. They are designed to be thrown or scattered in areas where vegetation is desired and rely on natural rainfall to germinate and grow into mature plants. This is an ancient technique used for reforestation and soil restoration. Seedballs offer an environmentally friendly and low-cost solution to a global problem and has the potential to make a significant impact on the health and resilience of our planet’s ecosystems.
Amrita Virtual Academy offers this video tutorial with step-by-step instructions to join in on the challenge. May the spread of seedballs and increased awareness of the importance of trees lead to restoring ecological balance.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we began offering online music classes. Before, I only taught the Ganjira in person, and only at Amritapuri. Many students were eager to learn, but some could only visit the ashram for one or two weeks and so did not have enough time to delve deep into their studies or take many lessons.
Since people couldn’t come to Amritapuri at all during the pandemic, we began to conduct Ganjira classes online through Amrita Virtual Academy, with great benefit. As learning an instrument can take some time, students could progress from home at their own pace through a large variety of rhythms and beats. They could submit video assignments or join us for live sessions according to their own schedules. It was really inspiring to connect over Zoom and offer feedback and encouragement. Our students are so sincere and dedicated. Here is some feedback from one of our Ganjira students from Spain named Sridevi:
I have just finished the first Ganjira (Headed Tambourine) course and I want to share my experience with you.
As a whole, it has been a blessing, as are all of the ways Amma gives us to grow and become closer to ourselves. I would not say that learning a new instrument has always been easy for me, but the whole time I felt I was in the best company possible. During the classes I felt very well cared for — guided through all of the hurdles and gently brought out of any potholes on the road of learning.
I had never learned how to play any other instrument before I started the Ganjira course at Amrita Virtual Academy — a virtual holy space inspired by Amma. Because of this my progress felt slow, but the effort was worth it to grow closer to Amma’s teachings and the feelings of inner spiritual presence this musical sadhana offers.
Learning an instrument is a very easy and sweet way to keep your mind on God all day, because you go so deep into the lesson that you can spend a great part of the day delving into the bhajan you are studying that week. It also helps us become oblivious to any toxic atmospheres we may be subjected to in our day-to-day lives. Bhajans are a great inner companion — always offering positive thoughts and vibrations — in contrast with what we sometimes have to hear when living in the world. Immersing ourselves in bhajans is like wearing a shield!
Devotional practices are always sweet, even from the beginning. However, trying to learn something new can be frustrating at times, and that is a great time to practice some of the qualities Amma constantly reminds us to cultivate: patience, acceptance, will-power, perseverance, determination to continue, focus, and self-confidence. It is a very long list!
Playing takes a lot of coordination, as the left hand also plays its part in making the music! One hand (the right) strikes the Ganjira, while the other hand (the left), helps tune and adjust the quality of the sound. I’m so grateful for this excellent step-by-step course, which helped me make strong progress in learning this instrument.
I’m sure that anyone with an interest in learning the Ganjira will really enjoy this course, and soon be joyfully playing along with Amma’s bhajans. May the grace of the divine be with you all in your musical inner journey! May the Divine Mother bless us all with her presence within every time we pick up our instruments.
Om Namah Shivaya! Sridevi
It really brightens my heart to hear such beautiful thoughts from this student, who obviously has been studying hard while connecting with the depths and deep benefits available from the gangira and other instruments we teach at Amrita Virtual Academy.
We are so grateful to all our students who have helped AVA come to life. It has been a beautiful few years together. We look forward to further learning and growing together. If you have any questions about the Ganjira, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the 2023 G20 Summit convenes on September 9-10 in New Delhi, the leaders of the world’s major economies, comprising 19 countries and the European Union, will address the major global issues of our time.
The Government of India holds the G20 presidency for 2023, and has appointed Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) as the chair of an official G20 engagement group known as Civil20, or C20. As a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), C20 will bring forth non-government and non-business voices and present specific policy recommendations to the world leaders gathering in New Delhi for this year’s G20 summit.
Since Amma’s appointment as C20 Chair, numerous C20 conferences have catalyzed new levels of collaboration and problem solving among civil organizations. It is within this significant global framework that the C20 Education & Digital Transformation Summit was held on May 20-21, 2023 in Trivandrum, Kerala. The event featured 66 speaker presentations by prominent leaders in this field—including one highlighting the work and vision of Amrita Virtual Academy (AVA).
AVA educator and program coordinator Chandrika Suliman began her presentation by sharing what makes Amrita Virtual Academy unique: that every course offering is rooted in spiritual values. As a result, AVA students experience growth well beyond the knowledge and skills acquired.
Chandrika then presented a case study demonstrating the power of such an approach. The case study highlighted a collaboration between AVA and Amrita University, initiated during the pandemic, when Amrita University professors observed that their Computer Science students had become disconnected from the natural world. The professors noticed campus littering was on the rise. And with students glued to their laptop and phone screens, social skills had also diminished. In hopes of reversing this trend, Chandrika was requested to give a 45-minute presentation on love for nature. Amazingly, just after the presentation 200 of the 400 attendees signed up to learn the principles of Regenerative Agriculture through an AVA Amritaculture curriculum.
Of those students who were accepted into the pilot program, 72% not only completed the course, but also wanted to continue learning and become youth leaders in the field of ecology and regenerative agriculture.
“People are longing to return to a harmonious relationship with nature,” Chandrika observed. “In this time of climate crisis, people are longing to move beyond the feelings of despair and hopelessness, and into an experience of connection and empowerment. As Amma encourages, ‘Light your little candle and step forward.’ This pilot course was a beautiful way to help people know how to do that.”
She continued, “What I learned from those 200 students, who were so eager to contribute back to nature, is that there’s still hope. There’s still hope, and we just need to be intelligent and loving and keep moving forward.”
By Amma’s grace, may the course offerings of Amrita Virtual Academy continue to ignite such optimism and determination within us all.