The Shanti Mandiram retreat hall rang with warmth and good feelings as Br. Mitramrita welcomed the participants to our most recent 5-day retreat. But in the quiver of a moment, everything changed. As Mitramritaji spoke about the schedule, an adorable baby squirrel plummeted 30 feet from a cross beam above to the hard tiled floor below. He struck the ground with incredible force but somehow managed to land on his paws and partially cushion himself against the impact. Injured and dazed, the brave little squirrel shook his head a few times, then darted at full speed…
… and scurried up a retreatant’s long brown braid of hair—it was the same color as his nest after all! He stood there on top of her head fully alert, quietly waiting.
With infinite gentleness and care, Shana came out from behind the camera, scooped up the little squirrel in her shawl, and took it away from the crowd. Its heart was racing. Luckily Pranada was there. She knew it was crucial to create a warm safe nest where he could calm down, where his heartbeat could return to normal.
Meanwhile back in the hall, as the orientation continued, the mother squirrel was racing frantically back and forth across the ceiling beams in a desperate search for her lost baby.
When news of the mother squirrel’s arrival reached the team, they brought the baby squirrel into the hall in a clear, see-through box, hoping the mother would catch sight of him and take him home. Unfortunately, with so many humans there, and with many meters between the ceiling beam and the floor below, the mother just couldn’t make it. She tried and tried, ran and ran, calculated and recalculated the jump from the end of the metal beam to a little landing on a nearby pillar. But it was just too far.
After the orientation ended and the participants left, the box with the baby squirrel was nestled on top of the junction of the pillar and the overhead beam. The team hoped this would give the mother a chance to reach her baby.
Squirrels, like us humans, need their mother to survive, so by this time the team was deeply concerned—we had to try to figure out how to reunite them.
Night was beginning to fall, and the situation was becoming serious. The team decided to reach out to Amritapuri’s squirrel expert, Sarvaga, who shared a recording of a baby squirrel calling out to its mother.
Mitramritaji downloaded the recording of the “baby squirrel call for help” on his phone and played it loudly next to the box where the baby was resting to show the mother where her baby was. The team knew the mother squirrel wouldn’t come out after dark; it would be impossible for her to see, so time was of the essence.
Suddenly, the mother squirrel changed strategies and began racing up and down the coconut tree at the far eastern side of the Mandiram.
The team moved the box with the squirrel inside to the top of the water tank directly next to the tree. The mother could sense her baby was there, but still couldn’t see him. She shimmied very close to the box, but still couldn’t understand that her baby was inside it. Shana ran and got a ladder and tilted the box so that the mother would be able to see her son. It was very touch and go. If Shana tilted the box a little too far to this side or that, the baby squirrel would fall a great distance.
Night had fallen, and after hours of effort, the team sadly decided they had done all they could. They decided to leave the baby in a very visible place on the floor of the Mandiram with a computer playing the baby squirrel rescue cry. Just as they were about to leave, they saw a shadow dart across the wall; it was the mother, trying to find a way down. She was desperate to save her baby. The mother garnered up all of her courage and jumped from the wall onto the top of a cabinet and then 4 meters from the top of the cabinet to the floor. Those who saw it said she had done the impossible. Pure love had pushed her beyond all limits.
She sprinted towards her baby, picked him up by the scruff of the neck, wrapped him in a tight ball, and scurried up the wall to safety with her baby in tow.
Over the next few days, the team kept their eyes open for the baby squirrel, but there was no sign of him. Everyone feared for the worst. Finally, on the fourth day, the little guy was spotted joyfully darting up a coconut tree right behind his mother.
This small story of a creature in need awakened motherly love in the hearts of the entire seva team here at Amrita Silent Retreats, reminding us that we never know when we may be called upon to show our kindness and care to someone in challenging circumstances.
Truly there is no power in any of the worlds as powerful and transformative as a Mother’s Love. If a mother squirrel can go to such lengths for her child, then what to say of our Divine mother? How blessed we all are to have Amma in our lives every moment, and how blessed we are when we have a chance to share a small portion of this love with those who drop into our lives.