Mata Amritanandamayi Biography
Revered as a saint, Mata Amritanandamayi, more popularly called Amma, Ammachi and the Mother, is one of the most widely respected and appreciated women in the world. Also known as the ‘Hugging Saint’, Amma is known to hug and bestow her unconditional love on people from all walks of life. Starting her spiritual practice from the small district of Parayakadavu (Kerala), Amma has become world-famous today and is known for her humanitarian activities across the globe. It is believed that receiving a hug from Mata Amritanandamayi relieves a person from all the pain, anxiety and tension. Some of the people also believe her to an avatar of the Great Mother.
Amma was born on27th September 1953, in the fishing village of Parayakadavu, which falls in the state of Kerala. Born into a low caste family, she was christened as Sudhamani and displayed unusual behavior right from her birth. Much unlike other kids, she did not cry, but smiled when she was born. Her dark blue complexion, at the time of birth, also shocked her parents. While Sudhamani’s parents thought her to be unhealthy and unwell, to their amazement, she turned out to be a perfectly healthy child, though her skin turned darker with time. At the age of 5, when children of her age would engage themselves in playing, Sudhamani would spend much of her time singing devotional prayers.
Whenever she undertook an activity, her lips always appeared to be moving in a silent prayer. Sudhamani’s spiritual inclination was not much appreciated by her parents. They also disliked her generous and munificent nature and scolded her for sharing food with the people of the untouchable class and giving away the belongings of the household. At 9 years of age, Sudhamani stopped going to school and was entrusted with arduous household tasks. However, she did not complain and did them happily. Apart from doing the household chores, she also took care of her younger siblings and performed the family domestic work.
Fame & Popularity
As Sudhamani grew older, her spiritual experiences also deepened. Watching her in deep spiritual practice, people became mesmerized by her and soon, she began attracting followers. They felt that there was something mystifying in her reflective state of consciousness. For her devotees, Sudhamani reflected the Hindu Avatar Sri Krishna and took the form and characteristics of the God. Some time later, she came to be known as Mata Amritanandamayi and Amma.
Mata Amritanandamayi Ashram
By the end of 1979, Mata Amritanandamayi had a few followers who wished to remain under her guidance forever. They soon formed an informal ashram to devote themselves to spiritual practice. Located in Kollam (Kerala), about 110 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram and 120 km to the south of Cochin, the ashram, as well as its location, is today known as Amritapuri.The ashram has developed over the past years and is also known as Mata Amritanandamayi Math. It runs as a parent organization, a trust, under which several spiritual, educational, social and cultural activities are performed.
Ever since 1981, Mata Amritananmayi has been teaching spiritual believers all over the world, the ancient traditions of yoga and Vedanta. Her spiritual teachings revolve around renunciation of false sense of ego of man. She also persuades people to concentrate on the Divine, overcoming all barriers, and attain realization.
Known as the ‘Hugging Saint’, Mata Amritananmayi offers warm hugs to everyone who comes to meet her. She is known to individually hug over 50,000 people in a day, at times, even sitting for as long as 20 hours at a stretch. It is said that she has hugged at least 21 million people in the past 20 years. In 2005, ‘Darshan – The Embrace’, a film based on the life of Amma, was showcased at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.