Amma receives third honorary doctorate degree
August 13, 2021 - India
Amma has received an honorary degree—D.Litt. (Honoris Causa)—from the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha. The degree was bestowed upon Amma virtually as part of KIIT’s 17th Annual Convocation Ceremony in recognition of Amma’s “great contributions in the fields of spirituality, education, environmental issues, humanitarian efforts, love and compassion”.
As one of India’s fastest growing economies, Odisha is in transition from an agricultural base to an industrial and service-based economy. In this context, KIIT also emphasizes values-based quality education that imbibes skills for solving real life problems and inculcates global perspectives, futuristic vision and social responsibilities.
“Most Revered Mata Sri Amritanandamayi Devi, Amma, very few people in the world have literally touched the hearts of millions through an embrace, thereby becoming legends in their own lifetime,” said Prof. Sasmita Samanta, KIIT’s Vice-Chancellor, as she conferred Amma with the degree.
“In a world torn apart by strife and shaken by stress, all of humanity is lifting its eyes to you in hopes of finding the emotional support and strength to face the challenges of life with peace and equanimity….You shine wherever you go and whatever you do."
Prof. Samanta continued, “The Vatican, the Parliament of the World’s Religions and the United Nations listen to your sage words on every burning issue. The world has yet to see another apostle of peace providing free food, shelter, healthcare, education and livelihood to the poor, while at the same time providing disaster relief and environmental protection to the entire world.
“Giving lifetime pensions to destitute widows and to the physically and mentally challenged, establishing a multidisciplinary university and making huge contributions to clean the Ganges….These are but a few examples showing how your heartfelt concern for society pervades all spheres.
“Be it an earthquake or tsunami in the Indian Ocean or anywhere else in the world, you always remain at the forefront [to] mitigate the suffering of the people. As the most personally accessible spiritual leader, even agnostics have to struggle to hold back their tears before you.
“In recognition of your great contributions in the field of spiritualism, education, environmental issues, humanitarian efforts, love and compassion, the management of KIIT University unanimously resolves to confer the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) on you, this 14th day of August 2021, on its 17th Annual Convocation,” concluded Prof. Samanta.
Amma was asked to address the gathering. She began by saying that she offered the honor of being conferred the degree to all of her devotees around the world.
“Whatever little humanitarian service that the ashram has been able to render to the world is due to the sincere love and dedication of Amma’s devotees. Hence, Amma offers this honor to them and their full hearts,” said Amma. She then spoke at length about her vision of a holistic education curriculum.
“Many of you may know that the true meaning of the word ‘education’ is to bring out what is within us. Education is that which enables one to bring out one’s hidden talents. We all have many talents, but we are usually unaware of them.
“The porter uses his head to earn a living by carrying loads, while the scientist uses his head to make remarkable discoveries and inventions. Similarly, we all have infinite power hidden within us. It is just that most of us are unaware of its existence.
“No doubt the modern education system helps our children pursue name, fame and wealth. But is that all human life is about? Is life’s purpose just to study a lot of books, pass competitive exams, obtain a degree, get a job and secure income?
“Life and living are not the same. For living, we may need a job, money, a home, a car and other creature comforts. However, these alone fail to make life complete. For that, we need love, compassion, tenderness—a heart that knows and responds to the pain of others. We need broadmindedness and maturity in thought and action.
“Education should spread light within and without. Education should equally develop discernment and contemplation. It should develop the curiosity to know the internal world just as much as it does to know the external world.
“Education should teach us to keep our inner eye open just as much as our external eyes. Education should instil awareness and strengthen the deep bond between the student and his nation, the world, his fellow human beings and other creatures, Nature and God,” said Amma.
Towards the end of her talk, Amma specified five objectives she felt students should strive to attain through their education and that educational institutions should help provide:
1. To earn a living—the knowledge and skills needed to gain wealth, position and comfort.
2. To recognize that mental health—the maturity to control our thoughts and emotions—is just as important as physical health, and to attain that maturity as well.
3. The training to do one’s duty to repay one’s debt to one’s home and family, as well as to Mother Nature who has compassionately blessed us with food, shelter, sunshine, rain, the hills, forests, rivers, trees and fruits.
4. The inspiration to have gratitude, love and respect towards God and Mother Nature, and the motivation to engage in social work and selfless service born out of that gratitude.
5. To awaken the awareness of our Inner Self and to understand, “I am not a separate entity. Rather, I am a part of this universe. Just as the water in the waves reaching the shores and the water in the middle of the ocean is the same, I am one with the whole of creation.”
The degree was conferred to Amma in the presence of KIIT’s Chancellor, Prof. Ved Prakash; Pro-Chancellor, Prof. (Dr.) Subrat Kumar Acharya; Registrar Prof. Jnyana Ranjan Mohanty; and Chief Guest Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s Honourable Minister of Education, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.
Fellow honorary degree recipients included Nobel Laureate Prof. Jean-Marie Lehn (Chemistry 1987) and Shri Vallabh Bhanshali—Co-Founder of ENAM Securities, Founder, Desh Apnayen Sahayog Foundation, and Founder-Director, FLAME University.