Mata Amritanandamayi Her long Sanscrit name is Mata Amritanandamayi which translates into Mother of Immortal Bliss. Yet to millions around the world she is simply known as Amma (mother) or Ammachi (beloved mother) or simply Ma. The international media has dubbed her the Mother of Compassion because of the extensive humanitarian charities she has launched. As such, her work is often compared to that of the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The press has also nick-named her as the Hugging Saint, because of her famous hug-blessings, which she has given tirelessly since she was a teenager. It is estimated that Amma has already hugged over 20 million times.
Amma was born on the 27th September 1953 in a small poor fishing village in the Quilon district of Kerala, India. She came into this world not in tears as babies usually do, but with a beaming smile on her face, as if prophesying the joy and bliss she was to bring the world.
Sudhamani spent the years of her childhood and teens immersed in intense spiritual practices in order to present a living example for the world. Even as a small child, she could often be found absorbed in deep meditation, totally oblivious of her surroundings. By the age of five, she had already begun composing devotional songs laden with deep mystical insight.
Because of Sudhamani’s dark skin, and her strange, un-childlike behaviour, she was viewed by her parents as inferior to other children. They would scold her for not being playful and they wanted her to fit in with the other children of the village. Some villagers even called her “the crazy girl”, given that she worked and sang in longing worship, often slipping into profound, God-intoxicated states.
Another distinct quality of Amma’s was her deep compassion for others. She had a habit of giving away food and things from her family’s house to those in need, which led her into trouble. However, no amount of physical abuse or punishment could stop the expressions of compassion. She later says: “An unbroken stream of Love flows from me towards the cosmos. That is my inborn nature.”
When someone asked Amma why she receives every person who comes to her, Amma replied, “If you ask the river, ‘why do you flow?’, what can it say?”
Amma’s only wish is that her hands should always be on somebody’s shoulder, consoling and caressing them and wiping their tears, even while breathing their last.”
The greatest miracle that takes place in her presence occurs in the hearts of those who come to her – the gentle, gradual awakening of love, compassion and selflessness, an awakening of one’s own inherent divinity.
Amma always says that the purpose of human birth is to realize the Self or in other words, “to realize who we really are.” Through the example of her own life of tireless service to humanity, Amma inspires others to walk towards the goal of self-realization by serving the poor and the needy.
Amma has never sought to convert anyone. Hers is not a sectarian mission. But she has always stressed that along with a new home, a pension, an operation or a meal, the beneficiaries of her Humanitarian activities receive a compassionate smile and a kind word from those who look on – all are transformed by the selfless love and sense of universal kinship, blossoming in an experience of essential unity – the oneness in the Self.