Seekers Of Wisdom | Articles


"Amma" The Hugging Mother

By Charbel Tadros
Posted #1July and #2August 2008


#1    Amma (Sudhamani) was born on September 27th, 1953 in the fishing village of Parayakadavu in the state of Kerala, India. At the age of nine, due to her mother’s illness, she was taken out of school and was given many household chores, which she did joyously.

   Since her early childhood, Amma behaved in an unusual manner. She would always repeat God’s name and would often be found immersed in deep meditation, unlike children her age who usually only think about playing. However, and out of ignorance, her parents didn’t understand her behavior and began scolding and punishing her. But Amma was immersed in her own world, totally unaffected by the criticism and chastising of her family. During this time, Amma had sometimes to spend her days and nights outdoors, under the open sky, forgoing food and sleep. 

   As she grew older, her spiritual experiences increased greatly. Some people were drawn to her as they sensed peace and divinity in her. Around this time also (in her twenties), many miraculous healings were attributed to her. However, Amma says “I am not interested in showing miracles, I am here to help you find the real truth, and to find liberation of the Self (Soul) through the realization of your eternal nature.” 

      By the end of 1979, a group of sincere seekers wished to devote themselves to spiritual practice around her. This would form the nucleus of an informal ashram (spiritual community).  

     Amma’s main mission is to offer unconditional love to everyone. Despite her Hindu origin, when asked about her religion, Amma would reply “My religion is love and service.” With Amma, love and service are inseparable. She teaches those ideals by practicing them. Sometimes, she works for twenty hours a day and even more. Through the great expansion of the number of her devotees since the mid-eighties, Amma was able to found and lead a great number of charitable projects including hospitals, orphanages, housing projects, schools, universities, job training, and many others, like large scale 2005 tsunami relief projects in collaboration with the UN.

         Currently, Amma travels all around the world to offer her love in the form of an intimate hug to all those who seek her blessings. This has earned Amma the title of “The Hugging Saint” in the western media. Recently, she offered lectures at the United Nations, the World Parliament of Religions and the Global Peace Initiative of Women religious and Spiritual Leaders. In 2002 Amma was awarded the Gandhi-King award for Non-violence.

#2          When reflecting on Amma’s teachings, one can clearly see that verily Amma’s life is her message. When we observe how Amma lives and what her daily practices are, we can see that she truly practices what she preaches. Amma’s message can be summed up in two things: Compassion and service to others.

          During Her Darshan (divine embrace), Amma offers one of the simplest and most profound acts of love and compassion. Compassion is loving everyone unconditionally, regardless of age, gender, race, or any other difference.  Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Amma has practiced that on countless occasions, the most noteworthy was when, as a teenager, she lovingly served the person who had tried to put an end to her life.

           Amma’s whole life is an act of selfless service. She never did seek anything for herself. “The beauty and charm of selfless love and service should not die away from the face of this Earth. The world should know that a life of renunciation is possible, that a life inspired by love and service to humanity is possible”. These are Amma’s words, and it is what her life has been about over the last 3 decades.

           One of the most important teachings of Amma is to follow the ideal of Dharma (Righteousness, right and virtuous conduct) in all matters of life. Dharma is acting and behaving, according to spiritual values and noble principles. Amma teaches that it’s our duty to help everyone around us and to perform our actions staying in line with righteousness. Dharma also implies that we do what we have to do without worrying about and without having expectations in regard to the results. We do our duty and leave the results in God’s hands only.

          With her acts of compassion, her teachings and her living example, Amma has inspired hundreds of thousands of people in India and all the parts of the world to the path of righteousness, compassion and selfless service.

Reference: Embracing the World, Mata Amritanandamayi Math,
Amritapuri, 2007


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