Mata Amritanandamayi

Mata Amritanandamayi
Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī

Born September 27, 1953(1953-09-27) (age 57)
Parayakadavu, Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, Kerala, India
Birth name Sudhamani Idamannel

"There is one truth that shines through all of creation. Rivers and mountains, plants and animals,

the sun, the moon and the stars, you and I—all are expressions of this one Reality."

Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī (born as Sudhamani Idamannel; Malayalam:മാതാ അമൃതാനന്ദമയി, Devanagari: माता अमृतानन्‍दमयी born September 27, 1953), primarily known simply as Amma ["Mother"], is a Hindu spiritual leader and guru, who is revered as a saint by her followers. She is widely respected for her humanitarian activities.[1] She is sometimes referred to as "The Hugging Saint."[2][3]



Mata Amritanandamayi Devi was born in the fishing village of Parayakadavu (now partially known as Amritapuri), Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, Kerala in 1953.[4] in the state of Kerala. Born to a family of fishermen, she was the third child of Sugunanandan and Damayanti. Her education ended at the age of nine, when she began to take care of her younger siblings and the family domestic work full-time.[5]

As part of her chores, Amritanandamayi gathered food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows and goats, through which she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering of others. She would bring these people food and clothing from her own home. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her. Amritanandamayi also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. It was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. But despite the reaction of her parents, Amritanandamayi continued.[5] Regarding her embracing of others, Amritanandamayi commented, “I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.”

Despite numerous attempts by her parents to arrange her marriage, Amritanandamayi rejected their efforts.[6] In 1981, after various seekers had begun residing at her parents' property in Parayakadavu in the hopes of becoming Amritanandamayi's disciples, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, a worldwide foundation, was founded.[7] Amritanandamayi serves as chairperson of the Math. Today the Mata Amritanandmayi Math is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities.[8]

In 1987, at the request of devotees, Amritanandamayi began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world. She has done so annually ever since. Countries Amritanandamayi has held programs in include Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. She also tours various cities in India every year.[9]


Darshan means “to see” in Sanskrit. In the Hindu ritual tradition, it refers to seeing the sacred.[10] This typically corresponds to seeing the sacred in the image of a deity while at temple. It is believed that, in beholding the image of a deity, onlookers absorb through their eyes the powers of that deity.[11] Darshan hence is believed to have the capacity to bring good fortune, well-being, and grace to those who participate in the act. Members of Amritanandamayi's following use the term specifically in reference to receiving a hug from Amritanandamayi.

Amritanandamayi has been giving darshan in this manner since her late teenage years. As to how this began, Amritanandamayi says, "People used to come and tell [me] their troubles. They would cry and I would wipe their tears. When they fell weeping into my lap, I used to hug them. Then the next person too wanted it… And so the habit picked up."[12] Amritanandamayi's organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, claims Amritanandamayi has embraced more than 31 million people throughout the world.[13]

When asked, in 2002, to what extent does she think her embraces help the ills of the world? Amritanandamayi replied, "I don’t say I can do it 100 percent. Attempting to change the world [completely] is like trying to straighten the curly tail of a dog. But society takes birth from people. So by affecting individuals, you can make changes in the society and, through it, in the world. You cannot change it, but you can make changes. The fight in individual minds is responsible for the wars. So if you can touch people, you can touch the world."[12]

Amritanandamayi's darshan is the centerpiece of her life, as she has received people nearly every day since the late 1970s. With the size of the crowds coming to seek Amritanandamayi's blessings increasing, there are times when she gives darshan continuously for more than 20 hours.[6] In a conversation recorded in the 2004 book From Amma's Heart, Amritanandamayi says: "As long as these hands can move a little bit and reach out to those who come to her, and as long as there is a little strength and energy to place her hands on a crying person’s shoulder and caress and wipe their tears, Amma will continue giving darshan. To lovingly caress people, console and wipe their tears, until the end of this mortal frame is Amma's wish."[14]


In the book The Timeless Path, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, one of Amritanandamayi's senior disciples, writes: "The [spiritual] path inculcated by Amma is the same as the one presented in the Vedas and recapitulated in subsequent traditional scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita."[15] Amritanandamayi herself says, “Karma [action], jñana [knowledge] and bhakti [devotion] are all essential. If the two wings of a bird are devotion and action, knowledge is its tail. Only with the help of all three can the bird soar into the heights.”[16] She accepts the various spiritual practices and prayers of all religions as but various systems for the single goal of purifying the mind.[17] Along these lines, she stresses the importance of meditation, performing actions as karma yoga, selfless service, and cultivating divine qualities such compassion, patience, forgiveness, self-control, etc. Amritanandamayi says that these practices refine the mind, making it fit for assimilating the ultimate truth: that one is not the limited body and mind but the eternal blissful consciousness that serves as the non-dual substratum of the universe.[15] This understanding itself Amritanandamayi refers to as jivanmukti [liberation while alive]. Amritanandamayi says, "Jivanmukti is not something to be attained after death, nor is it to be experienced or bestowed upon you in another world. It is a state of perfect awareness and equanimity, which can be experienced here and now in this world, while living in the body. Having come to experience the highest truth of oneness with the Self, such blessed souls do not have to be born again. They merge with the infinite."[16]


Amritanandamayi's world-wide charitable mission includes a program to house the homeless, build orphanages, and provide relief-and-rehabilitation in the aftermath of disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami,[18] free medical care, pensions for widows and disabled people, aid environmental-protection groups, renovate and urbanize slums, build care facilities for the elderly, and offer free food and clothing for the poor.[8] These projects are overseen by various organizations, including the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (India), the Mata Amritanandamayi Center (USA), Amritanandamayi-Europe, Amritanandamayi-Japan, Amritanandamayi-Kenya, Amritanandamayi-Australia, etc. All the organizations collectively are known as Embracing the World. When asked about how her charitable mission's development in 2004, Amritanandamayi said, "As for the activities, there was no planning. Everything happened spontaneously. One thing led to another on seeing the plight of the poor and the distressed. As Amma meets each and every person, she sees their problems face to face and tries to do something to alleviate their suffering. Om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu is one of the important mantras of Sanatana Dharma, which means, 'May all the beings in all the worlds be happy and peaceful.' The spirit of this mantra was put into action."[19]

The majority of work is done by volunteers as a form of spiritual practice. "It is Amma's wish that all of her children should dedicate their lives to spreading love and peace throughout the world. Real love and devotion for God is to have compassion for the poor and the suffering," Amritanandamayi says. "My children, feed those who are hungry, help the poor, console the sorrowful, comfort the suffering, be charitable to all.”[15]


Amritanandamayi is well known for her devotional singing. There are more than 100 recordings of her singing bhajans in more than 20 languages. She has also composed dozens of bhajans and set them to traditional ragas. Regarding devotional singing as a spiritual practice, Amritanandamayi says, "If the bhajan is sung with one-pointedness, it is beneficial for the singer, the listeners, and Nature as well. Later when the listeners reflect on the songs, they will try to live in accordance with the lessons enunciated therein."[20] Amritanandamayi says that in today's world, it is often difficult for people to get one-pointed concentration in meditation, but through devotional singing such concentration can be attained much easier.[21]

Books and publications

Amritanandamayi's disciples have transcribed her conversations with devotees and spiritual seekers to create approximately a dozen books of her teachings known as "Awaken Children". The addresses she has delivered at various international forums have also been published in book form. Senior disciples including Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, Swami Turiyamritananda Puri, Swami Paramatmananda and Swamini Krishnamrita Prana have also written books about their experiences with Amritanandamayi and their understanding of Amritanandamayi's teachings. Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, the Vice-Chairman of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, has written a biography about Amritanandamayi. The Mata Amritanandamayi Math also publishes Matruvani, a monthly spiritual magazine, as well as Immortal Bliss, a quarterly.


  • Founder & Chairperson, Mata Amritanandamayi Math
  • Founder, Embracing the World[22]
  • Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University[23]
  • Founder, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS Hospital)[24]
  • Parliament of the World's Religions, International Advisory Committee Member[25]

Awards and honours

  • 1993, 'President of the Hindu Faith' (Parliament of the World's Religions)[1]
  • 1993, Hindu Renaissance Award (Hinduism Today)[26]
  • 1998, Care & Share International Humanitarian of the Year Award (Chicago)
  • 2002, Karma Yogi of the Year (Yoga Journal)[27]
  • 2002, Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence by The World Movement for Nonviolence (UN, Geneva)[28] · [29]
  • 2005, Mahavir Mahatma Award (London)[30]
  • 2005, Centenary Legendary Award of the International Rotarians (Cochin)[31]
  • 2006, James Parks Morton Interfaith Award (New York)[32]
  • 2006, The Philosopher Saint Sri Jnaneswara World Peace Prize (Pune)[33]
  • 2007, Le Prix Cinéma Vérité (Cinéma Vérité, Paris)[34]
  • 2010, The State University of New York awarded Amma an honorary doctorate in humane letters on May 25, 2010 at its Buffalo campus.[35]

Addresses at international forums

  • 1993, 'May Your Hearts Blossom,' the Parliament of the World's Religions 100th Anniversary (Chicago)
  • 1995, 'Unity Is Peace,' Interfaith Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations (New York)[32]
  • 2000, 'Living in Harmony,' Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious & Spiritual Leaders (UN, New York)[36]
  • 2002, 'Awakening of Universal Motherhood,' the Global Peace Initiative of Women, (UN, Geneva)[36] · [29]
  • 2004, 'May Peace & Happiness Prevail,' Parliament of World's Religions (Barcelona)[37] · [38]
  • 2006, 'Understanding & Collaboration Between Religions,' James Parks Morton Interfaith Awards (New York)[32]
  • 2007, 'Compassion: The Only Way to Peace' (Cinéma Vérité Festival, Paris)[39]
  • 2008, 'The Infinite Potential of Women,' keynote address of the Global Peace Initiative of Women (Jaipur),[40][41]
  • 2009, 'Cultivating Strength & Vitality,' inauguration of Vivekananda International Foundation (New Delhi)[42]


Video from international conferences

See also


  1. ^ a b South Asia | Devotees flock to hug Indian guru. BBC News (2003-09-24). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  2. ^ Amma: 'The hugging saint', Cathy Lynn Grossman (2006). USA Today. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  3. ^ Amma Embracing the world 2007 (video). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  4. ^ Cornell, Judith (2001). Amritanandamayi: Healing the Heart of the World. New York: HarperCollins. 
  5. ^ a b Amritanandamayichi – A Biography of Mata Amritanandamayi by Swami Amritaswarupananda, ISBN 1-879410-60-5
  6. ^ a b Millions flock to India's hugging guru. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  7. ^ "On the 6th of May in the year of 1981, with a view to preserving and propagating the ideals and teachings of the Holy Mother, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and Mission Trust was founded and registered under the Travancore-Cochin State Literary and Charitable Act of 1955, at Kollam, Kerala, South India." Amritanandamayichi – A Biography of Mata Amritanandamayi by Swami Amritaswarupananda, ISBN 1-879410-60-5
  8. ^ a b (Amma's Charities). Embracing the World. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Babb, Lawrence. 1981. Glancing: Visual Interaction in Hinduism. Journal of Anthropological Research 37 (4):387–401; Eck, Diana. 1981. Darshan: Seeing the Divine Image in India. 2 ed. Chambersburg, PA: Anima.
  11. ^ Fuller, C.J. 1992. The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  12. ^ a b The Rediff Interview/Mata Amritanandmayi. (2002-08-02). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  13. ^
  14. ^ From Amritanandamayi's Heart: Conversations with Sri Mata Amritanandamayai Devi (2004), page 159
  15. ^ a b c The Timeless Path by Swami Ramakrishnananda, ISBN 978-1-879410-46-6
  16. ^ a b Lead Us to the Light: A Collection of Mata Amritanandamayi's Teachings Compiled by Swami Jnanamritananda
  17. ^ "The goal of all religions is one—purification of the human mind." ("Living in Harmony" By Mata Amritanandamayi)
  18. ^ Amritanandamayi's Response to the Tsunami 2004 (video). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  19. ^ Compassion as philosophy of life. The Hindu (2004-01-23). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  20. ^ Awaken, Children, Volume 2: Dialogues with Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
  21. ^ For My Children: The Teachings of Her Holiness Sri Mata Amritanandmayai Devi, page 70
  22. ^ Who we are. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  23. ^ About Amma. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  24. ^ Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre | AIMS Hospital, Kochi, Kerala, India. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  25. ^ ABOUT US / International Advisory Committee | Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  26. ^ [2][dead link]
  27. ^ Catalfo, Phil. (2001-09-10) The 2002 Karma Yoga Awards. Yoga Journal. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  28. ^ The World Council of Religious Leaders. (2000-04-04). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  29. ^ a b c The future of this planet depends on the women (Gandhi-King United Nations 2002) (video). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  30. ^ Home. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  31. ^ [3][dead link]
  32. ^ a b c d ICNY. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  33. ^ Amma Awarded Sant Jnaneshwara World Peace Prize @ (2006-01-31). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  34. ^ Entertainment | Film award honours 'hug guru'. BBC News (2007-10-13). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  35. ^ International Humanitarian Amma Receives SUNY Honorary Degree at UB – UB NewsCenter. (2010-05-26). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  36. ^ a b The World Council of Religious Leaders. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  37. ^ Parliament of the World's Religions 2004 – Barcelona. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  38. ^ a b Barcelona 2004 Parliament of World's Religion "May peace and happiness prevail" (video). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  39. ^ (French)Discours lors de la remise du Prix Cinéma Vérité en 2007 remis par Sharon Stone à Paris (vidéo)
  40. ^ Amma's address at the 2008 Summit : The Infinite Potential of Women ''"Making Way for the feminine for the benefit of the World Community"'' (video). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  41. ^ GPIW Convenes “Making Way for the Feminine – For the Benefit of the World Community” » barry. (2008-05-09). Retrieved on 2011-06-24.
  42. ^ Vivekananda Kendra | Spiritually Oriented Service Mission. Retrieved on 2011-06-24.


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mata Amritanandamayi — Amma oder Mata Amritanandamayi (Malayalam: മാതാ അമൃതാനന്ദമയി; Sanskrit: माता अमृतानन्‍दमयी, Mātā Amṛtānandamayī; * als Sudhamani Idamannel am 27. September 1953 in Parayakadavu, Kerala), ist ein indischer Avatar Guru mit weltweiter Anhängerschaft …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mata Amritanandamayi — Mātā Amritanandamayī Devī Amma giving darshan Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mata Amritanandamayi — en 2009. Mata Amritanandamayi, née le 27 septembre 1953 est une figure spirituelle contemporaine de l’Inde et la fondatrice d une ONG (« Embracing the World ») à but humanitaire et écologique dont le siège est au Kérala …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mata Amritanandamayi Math — The Emblem Motto tyagenaike amrtatvam anashuh By renunciation alone immortality is attained. Formation 1981 Purp …   Wikipedia

  • Mata Amritanandamayi Math — es la fundación caritativa pública establecida en Amritapuri, Kollam, Kerala que fue fundada para promover el mensaje de Mata Amritanandamayi también conocida como Amma. Otra organización hermana es la Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust que se… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mata — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Andrés Mata (1870–1931), venezolanischer Dichter, Schriftsteller und Journalist Daya Mata (1914–2010), US amerikanische Führerin einer Hindu Organisation Eduardo Mata (1942–1995), mexikanischer Komponist… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Amritanandamayi — Amma oder Mata Amritanandamayi (Malayalam: മാതാ അമൃതാനന്ദമയി; Sanskrit: माता अमृतानन्‍दमयी, Mātā Amṛtānandamayī; * als Sudhamani Idamannel am 27. September 1953 in Parayakadavu, Kerala), ist ein indischer Avatar Guru mit weltweiter Anhängerschaft …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Amritanandamayi Ma — (1953– )    teacher who embodies the Divine Mother    Ammachi (beloved Mother), as Amritanandamayi Ma is affectionately known, is a world renowned Hindu guru recognized as an incarnation of the Holy Mother of Hinduism.    Sudhamani (her birth… …   Encyclopedia of Hinduism

  • Mata — Contents 1 People 2 Places 3 Transportation 4 Other …   Wikipedia

  • Amrita survey — Mata Amritanandamayi is often described as the hugging saint . She has hugged countless people. A hug from her is said to have brought peace to the devotees. Ammachi, as she is popularly called, advocates the Advaitic principle of seeing… …   Wikipedia

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