Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, affectionately known as Amma, is a Hindu religious leader who many refer to as “The Hugging Saint.” Born in Kerala, India in 1953, Amma grew up a poor village girl, but soon began to go into deep devotional and meditative states, engaging spontaneously in profound experiences of the divine. At the age of 14, overwhelmed by the extreme suffering and poverty she saw around her, Amma decided upon a very simple response to the world’s troubles: she began hugging people.
Now recognized as a living saint and an incarnation of the Divine Mother, Amma leads a tireless mission around the world, and hugs any who come to her free of charge. For her, this often involves sitting for days without a break while she hugs lines of tens of thousands of people, sometimes more in India. She also coordinates world-wide charitable efforts based on building housing and providing education for the poor, as well as coordinating emergency relief efforts for areas afflicted by natural disasters (for instance, the 2004 tsunami). Unlike many, she is a “roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty” kind of spiritual leader, working tirelessly in the physical world as well as the spiritual one.
Just as the Dalai Lama is widely known as the most recognizable leader of Tibetan Buddhism, Amma is just as major of a figure for the Hindu traditions (from which Buddhism originally sprang).
Amma tours the United States every year, and stops at major cities throughout the country. Her visits usually last a week each, during which devotees and the “just curious” alike can come and get hugged, and spend the rest of their time singing bhajans (devotional songs) and hanging out in the highly charged spiritual energy that Amma brings with her. She also teaches meditation techniques and the fundamentals of living a proper life as laid down by the Hindu traditions – explaining how to straighten out your karma and follow proper dharma!
Amma’s philosophy, in her own words, is a simple message of compassion and charity:
“In today’s world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion. Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first because if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter.”
“Everyone in the world should be able to sleep without fear, at least for one night. Everyone should be able to eat to his fill, at least for one day. There should be at least one day when hospitals see no one admitted due to violence. By doing selfless service for at least one day, everyone should help the poor and needy. It is Amma’s prayer that at least this small dream be realized.”
Amma’s North American tour begins 5/28 and goes until 7/22. Have you considered a hug lately?
7 thoughts on “Embracing the Divine Mother”
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Thanks for the beautiful article Krishna. It’s great to hear that she is here to share her love and blessings with her warm hug. I’ve personally had the opportunity to hug the Amma several years ago. I know I’ll never forget it. I felt a strange sense of peace just being in her presence and it carried on for several months after I met her. Hindu India has been the cradle of the highest pagan and spiritual concepts, but in my experience it’s never been a world of evenly spread universal spirituality especially through the diverse multitude of its society. The spiritual truth seekers are only a minority, and its great saints and sages exists in even smaller numbers. Most of the people who are Hindu on paper usually chase after worldly things, but at the same time do accept the authority of tradition, culture, teachers and gurus. It’s my personal belief that the Amma is one among the saints and healers who has come to master the concepts of realization and liberation, and she shares it with a simple hug. As a Hindu, a free thinker and an open minded explorer, I’m really proud of the charitable social work that she’s been doing in India and across the Globe. Blessings to her and to all the other women who are adored as Goddesses for their devotion to spreading the message of love. It’s amazing how someone can heal and love a complete stranger with a simple hug.
A warm Namastey to you, Krishna and all our fellow readers out there.
Peace & Blessings
– Jai Krishna Ponnappan 🙂
Namaste’ Krishna Bill =) Wonderful article and sharing of Amma’s purpose and philosophy!
Oh yes I’m a hugger …..hugged all the ladies @ CP yesterday while I was there for a visit. Got a big hug from Carmen 🙂