AMMA (SRI MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI DEVI)
AMMA (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi)
FOUNDER, Embracing the World Mata Amritanandamayi Math Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences
CHANCELLOR, Amrita University
Spiritual leader, humanitarian and visionary Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known throughout the world simply as Amma, has served the world-community for decades, imparting wisdom, strength and inspiration. Through her extraordinary acts of love, inner strength and self-sacrifice, Amma has endeared herself to millions and inspired thousands to follow in her path of selfless service.
Truly a citizen of the world, Amma holds free public programs throughout India, Europe, the United States and Australia, as well Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Africa and South America. In her talks, she offers words of wisdom and guidance on both personal fulfillment as well as the most pressing matters of our time.
From climate change to terrorism, cross-cultural tensions to poverty and women’s rights, Amma’s observations invite each of us to get involved in the process of rebuilding a concerned and caring society.
To this day, Amma concludes her programs by embracing each person attending the event. Far from a brief book-signing or walk along the rope line, these personal, one-on-one meetings take up the vast majority of Amma’s time. Amma has given this motherly embrace, known as her darshan, to more than 34 million people throughout the world. She has been known to give darshan for more than
22 hours without interruption.
The most personally accessible spiritual leader alive today, Amma may well be on a first-name basis with more people than anyone else in the world.
When people pour out their hearts to Amma, she offers them emotional solace, spiritual guidance, and concrete solutions to their problems. Receiving Amma’s embrace, many feel inspired to offer selfless service to those in need.
In this way, this simple yet powerful act - a mother’s embrace - has become both catalyst and symbol for the growing international network of humanitarian initiatives that is Embracing the World.
HOW IT BEGAN
Mata Amritanandamayi was born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, South India in 1953.
Even as a small girl, she drew attention with the many hours she spent in deep meditation on the seashore. She also composed devotional songs and could often be seen singing to the divine with heartfelt emotion. Despite her tender age, her compositions revealed remarkable depth and wisdom.
When she was nine years old, her mother became ill, and Mata Amritanandamayi was withdrawn from school in order to help with household tasks and the care of her seven siblings. As she went door-todoor gathering food scraps from neighbours for her family’s cows, she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering that existed in her community, and in the world beyond it.
Where Mata Amritanandamayi encountered people in need, she brought them food and clothing from her own home. She was undeterred by the scolding and punishment she received from her family for doing so. She also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Responding to her affectionate care, they began to call her Amma (Mother).
Amma was deeply affected by the profound suffering she witnessed. According to Hinduism, the suffering of the individual is due to his or her own karma — the results of actions performed in the past. Amma accepted this concept, but she refused to accept it as a justification for inaction. Amma contemplated the principle of karma until she revealed an even more profound truth, asking a question she continues to ask each of us today. “If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?”
With this simple yet profound conviction — that each of us has a responsibility to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate — Amma moved forward with confidence in her life of service and compassionate care for all beings, uniquely expressed by the motherly embrace she offers to all who seek solace in her arms.
In Amma’s community, however, it was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. Amma explains, "In India, women are expected to remain in the background. It is said that 'Even the walls should not hear them.' My family could not understand my way of reaching out to people; they had no idea of the spiritual principles." But despite adverse reactions, Amma
"AMMA IS ADDRESSING THE ISSUES THAT ARE RELEVANT FOR THE 21st CENTURY. WHAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO DO, AMMA IS DOING."
- Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on the occasion of Amma’s 60th birthday celebrations, in which the Hon. Prime Minister inaugurated a broad array of innovative, humanitarian-oriented products from the research division of Amrita University.
followed her heart, later explaining, “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.”
Amma says that love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one's own.
For more than 20 years, Amma has been a regular keynote speaker at international forums concerned with world peace and religious harmony, where she has been honored with awards and accolades for her vision and example. In 1993, the Parliament of the World’s Religions Centennial named her President of the Hindu faith. She addressed the United Nations’ Millennium World Peace Summit, and was presented with the 2002 Gandhi-King Award for Nonviolence by UN Messenger for Peace Dr. Jane Goodall and the late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2006, Amma, along with 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei and actor/humanitarian Richard Gere, was presented with the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award by the Interfaith Center of New York for her role as an outstanding spiritual leader and humanitarian. In 2014, Amma joined Pope Francis and 10 other world religious leaders in a ceremonial signing of a declaration against human trafficking and slavery.
Embracing the World is a global network of humanitarian organizations inspired by the Indiabased humanitarian initiatives of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math. Their centers throughout India welcome the poor as their guests and serve them hot meals. In this way the volunteers also get to know the people and their problems. Those in need of further assistance are helped with financial aid, medical care, housing, tutoring and more.
For them, shelter means more than a roof over one’s head. Beyond constructing houses, they work to build entire communities, complete with town halls, roads, electricity, wells, sewage systems and clean drinking water. Their homes for orphans and underprivileged children are staffed by dedicated volunteers who focus on building the children’s self-confidence and inner strength and encouraging them to pursue their dreams. 47,000 houses have been built in more than 75 locations throughout India by them.
Embracing the World’s Amrita Hospital is dedicated to providing outstanding medical care, regardless of one’s ability to pay. The hospital offers cuttingedge healthcare services for those who would otherwise have nowhere to turn.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (their tertiary care hospital in Kochi, Kerala) has provided more than $85 million worth of charitable medical care; more than four million patients received completely free treatment. Amrita offers sophisticated and compassionate care in a serene and beautiful atmosphere, and is recognized as one of the premier hospitals in South Asia.
Their commitment to serving the poor has attracted a dedicated team of highly qualified medical professionals from around the world. The 1,300bed tertiary care hospital houses 43 specialty departments.
In 2016, they broke ground on a new 2,000-bed Amrita Hospital, slated to be the largest hospital in the Delhi-NCR area. The new Amrita Hospital will be have a minimal carbon footprint, zero wastewater discharge, and will eventually be solarpowered. The materials used in construction will be environmentally friendly, and the campus’ natural environment will be preserved with 70 percent of the land planned as green areas filled with native plants and trees as well as bodies of water. The new hospital and medical college will have an emphasis on maternal, infant and child healthcare and will include a highly specialized multidisciplinary Children’s Hospital with maternal and fetal medicine and all pediatric subspecialties. This is a feature that most hospitals in India lack as many private hospitals do not see maternal care as monetarily sustainable. The research hospital will focus on low cost healthcare solutions for India’s poor and will be a teaching hospital.
Amma is deeply committed to providing equal access to values-based education. To that end, Embracing the World and their parent organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, run more than 75 educational institutions serving more than 100,000 students across India.
They have been providing vocational training since 1989. After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, they began focusing on training women in particular. This turned out to be a smart investment - research has shown that empowering women with vocational training and economic opportunity is one of the most effective means to reduce poverty throughout entire communities.
Amma’s empathy and concern for disaster survivors is so complete that she responds to every aspect of their situation - not only fulfilling their material and emotional needs, but also keeping an eye on their future. Their provision of long-term support for disaster survivors has carried thousands through the darkest periods of their lives into the light of a hopeful future.
Amma has observed that earlier in our history, there was no specific need for environmental preservation efforts because humanity saw divinity expressed through nature, and therefore treated the natural world with reverence and respect. Their efforts in environmental preservation are grounded in the idea that while caring for nature is in our own best interest, it is also the right thing to do.
Embracing the World researchers at Amrita University are partnering with senior scientists in the world’s leading research universities to innovate new uses for existing technology and to
invent entirely new products and approaches to solving some of the world’s most pressing problems - from disaster management to ensuring access to education to the management and cure of disease.
Over the past 25 years, they have learnt a lot about effective delivery of aid to those in need, and have built an infrastructure capable of delivering a broad range of humanitarian services on a massive scale. Amma has always said that it is her dream that one day, everyone in the world would have their basic needs met. Now, for 101 villages spread throughout every corner of India, they are doing everything to make that dream come true. The Self-Reliant Village Program (Amrita SeRVE) is the biggest project they have ever undertaken, and in many ways, it’s the culmination of everything they have ever done.
To honour Amma on Her Birthday, which falls on 09/10/2017, we dedicate this issue to AMMA.
"MY RELIGION IS LOVE."
Source:Shri. Vaithianathan Subramanian, Chennai.