Amma, the Silent Revolution
Born in a poor fishing village in the remote backwaters of Southern Kerala, Mata Amritanandamayi —or Amma, as She is affectionately called by the hundreds of thousands who consider Her their spiritual mother—is leading a worldwide revolution. This revolution is not political; She seeks not to redraw national boundaries but the boundaries of our identities as isolated individuals belonging to a particular family, class, or nation. She does not ask us to give up our religious faith, but simply to dive deeper into it, whatever it may be: to bring forth and live the eternal spiritual values, which all religions share. She does not ask us to believe in Her, or even in a God above; She tells us that it is enough to believe in our own Self. By Her own example, She asks us to transcend our limited feelings of ‘I’ and ‘mine’; to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering in this world; to realize that in essence, we are not different from one another, but we are connected with the same thread of Divine Love.
Educated only up to the fourth standard, Amma now directly administers a vast network of charitable activities, serves as spiritual master to thousands of monks and nuns, mother to millions of devotees across the globe, spiritual advisor to the international community of nations and religions, and protector of the true spirit of India’s Sanatana Dharma.
When we take a close look at Amma’s life as She lives it, in truth, we can only look on in wonder.
The tiny hut where Amma was born has become the headquarters of a worldwide spiritual mission. Nowhere in the history of spiritual tradition has a Master transformed his or her birthplace into an ashram.
While She has had no formal guidance or initiation into spiritual life by a guru, She explains the intricate philosophies of the scriptures without having studied them. By defining sannyasa as a life of selfless service to the world, Amma has brought alive the ideals of the ancient Vedic tradition. And speaking only Her native tongue of Malayalam, She imparts the highest spiritual truths to people all across the world.
The Mother of All
Hugging and kissing in public is not part of Indian life. Women especially are expected to be more discreet. But Amma is hugging and kissing everyone who comes to meet her.
She has not married, nor borne children, but She has become known as the Mother of all. Amma has been listening to the same domestic problems for the last 30 years. Some parents get tired of hearing the problems of their two or three children. But Amma gets neither bored nor impatient of hearing the same problems day after day, year after year, but ever so patiently guides Her children to a deeper understanding of the nature of the world and of their own true Self.
It is a common sight to see people breaking into torrents of tears even at a mere glimpse of Amma. They feel that Amma is someone to whom they can pour all their sorrows. Later they say they feel redeemed and refreshed when they cry to Amma.
Her Epoch-making Temples
From the prevailing cultural point of view, it is very unusual that a woman should consecrate a temple. Yet, Amma has elaborately consecrated 17 such Brahmasthanam temples, in India and abroad since 1987.
The inner shrine of Amma’s unique temples – Brahmasthanam – has a single block of stone with the images of four deities on its four sides, illuminating the inherent unity underlying the Hindu pantheon.
In these same temples, Amma has invested women as priests, marking the first time since ancient history that women have served as priests in India. In this and a myriad of other ways, Amma is restoring the true meaning to ancient rituals and educating the Indian people about the treasure that is their own spiritual heritage.
Touched by Her compassion, and inspired by the ideals of selfless service exemplified in Her own life, Amma’s monastic disciples and many devotees renounced their established careers and material accomplishments to serve Her and lead a life rooted in spiritual practices. They are the ones who run Amma’s various charitable activities, from building homes for the homeless to more than 90 educational institutions to a 1300-bed super speciality hospital, under the direct guidance of Amma.
“God’s Love in a Human Body.”
Since 1993, Amma has been increasingly recognised by the international community as a treasured repository of practical spiritual wisdom, who has the capacity to guide the world towards a better, brighter future. She has been a featured speaker at the United Nations on six occasions. When She was presented with the 2002 Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence, presenting the award, Dr Jane Goodall referred to Amma as “God’s love in a human body.”
She has only the same 24 hours…
In the span of a day, Amma manages to give directions on the running of these myriad organisations, give darshan to thousands of people, read and respond to innumerable letters; counsel Her disciples on the smallest details of their spiritual practice, lead the evening bhajans – all this without the least stress or tension, with a smile ever lighting Her face! In the last four decades, She has never taken sick leave or a holiday or a vacation.
Isn’t it a wonder?