Motherhood, in its ultimate sense, has nothing to do with bearing a child, but with love, compassion and selflessness. It lies in totally giving to others.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
Embracing the World for Peace & Harmony
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
Official website www.amritapuri.org
Many people wonder how a little girl from a simple South Indian village came to be known throughout the world as “Amma, the Mother of All.” Motherhood, in its ultimate sense, has nothing to do with bearing a child, but with love, compassion and selflessness. It lies in totally giving one’s self to others.
If we look at Amma’s life, this is what we see—someone who has offered her every thought, word and deed for the benefit of others. Giving is the essence. It’s just that when the homeless come crying for shelter and Amma gives them a house, we call her a “humanitarian.” And when the sorrowful come crying for emotional solace and she gives them love, we call her a “mother.” And when those thirsty for spiritual knowledge come earnestly seeking and she gives them wisdom, we call her a “guru.” This attitude of selflessly serving all creation, knowing others to be extensions of one’s own self, Amma refers to as vishwa matrutvam—universal motherhood. And it is to this pinnacle of human existence that Amma is trying to awaken the world through her life, teachings and darshan [divine embrace].
Questions about the nature of the soul, the universe and God; about dharma, love and family life; about meditation and other spiritual practices…. Amma has been clearing the doubts of sincere seekers on such subtle subjects since her youth. She never had a guru nor studied the Vedas, yet she speaks on the truths expressed within the scriptures with wisdom, clarity and true insight. Hers is not an academic knowledge, but the knowledge of one who is ever-established in the Ultimate Reality. It is for this reason that Amma’s simple childhood home has become the spiritual home to thousands—an ashram where aspirants from around the world reside in order to imbibe Amma’s wisdom and realize the Truth that is their real nature. The seeker is instructed as per his level—from the child to the sannyasi [monk].
My Dream:- A vision of a world in which women and men progress together, a world in which all men respect the fact that, like the two wings of a bird, women and men are of equal value. – Amma
Seeing the whole world as an extension of her own self, Amma is ever ready to forego her own body’s needs in order to bring a smile to someone’s face, wipe their tears or to simply listen to their sorrows. The sweet manner in which she laughs and jokes with people, shares in their success and failure has endeared millions to her throughout the world. In fact, many see Amma as their lifelong confidant and friend. Giving darshan in this manner is verily Amma’s life—day after day, week after week, year after year. In fact, Amma has been doing so since she was just 17 years old, and she has been known to sit embracing people continuously for as long as 22 hours. Amma is able to make such a personal sacrifice because in her arms people feel safe, feel comforted, loved, feel that finally they’ve found someone who knows them through and through. And with that feeling they get the strength to move forward in life, and this, Amma feels, is infinitely more important than her physical needs. Be they young or old, sick or healthy, rich or poor—everyone receives the same unconditional love. Amma turns no one away. The atheist has just as much a place with Amma as the devotee.
My Desire: Everyone in the world should be able to sleep without fear, at least for one night. Everyone should be able to eat to his fill, at least for one day. There should be at least one day when hospitals see no one admitted due to violence. – Amma
For Amma, Advaita [non-dualism] is not a mere philosophy, but something to be lived. As such, Amma’s every thought, word and deed resound with that greatest of truths: Everything within and without is divine. Accordingly, Amma oversees a massive matrix of humanitarian activities. Hospitals for the sick, homes for the homeless, disaster relief, orphanages, hospices, free pensions, suicide-prevention, employment programs… the list is endless. Influenced by Amma’s example and experiencing her pure love, thousands upon thousands of people from around the world have been inspired to take up a life of service—giving whatever time or money they can spare in order to help others. It is the seed of love Amma has planted within them beginning to sprout that has brought this about. This has been Amma’s vision from the beginning. Amma says, “In today’s world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion. Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first—because, if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter.” This is the secret behind the success of Amma’s charitable mission and how its expansion seems to be constant and without end. And the brilliance of Amma’s grand scheme is that not only are the downtrodden uplifted but also the volunteers, as the selflessness of their actions purifies their minds, helping them to gradually progress along the spiritual path. Amma’s charitable social services cross all barriers of nationality, race, caste and religion, and have drawn the attention of the world community. In 2005, Amma’s organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, was given special consultative status by the United Nations.
It’s better get worn out than rust away. – Amma
Humanitarian, Mother, Friend, Guru, God…people see her differently. Amma has offered herself to the world. In reality, Amma is beyond all such roles, knowing her true nature to be the true nature of us all—the blissful divine consciousness that pervades this universe. But out of her infinite compassion, Amma comes down to the level of whoever is standing before her—the poor, the lonely, the seeker—in order to give what is desired, what is needed. It was for this purpose alone that Amma was born and for this alone that Amma lives today. In fact, Amma has said that she wishes to be lovingly caressing someone, consoling them and wiping their tears even when she breathes her last.
She was Sudhamani
Amma was born in a poor fishing village in Kerala, Southern India, in 1953. Her father sold fish to make a living. Her mother relates that the child wasn’t born crying as babies usually are, but with a beaming smile on Her face. She was given the name Sudhamani (Ambrosial Jewel).
Even as a small child, it was clear that She was unique. At six months She could walk and talk, and by the age of three She was constantly singing. By the age of five She was composing beautiful, extraordinarily profound hymns to Her beloved Krishna.
Sudhamani charmed and delighted everyone around Her. But as She grew, Her divine moods, including frequent meditative states, singing, and ecstatic dancing beside the seashore, began to annoy Her family. At the early age of five Sudhamani was already subjected to severe scoldings.
When Sudhamani was nine, Her mother became ill. Although Sudhamani was the brightest girl in Her class, She had to leave school and take care of Her entire family.
It was a gruelling task, with seven brothers and sisters to feed and clothe, and animals to tend. She virtually became the family servant, working from before dawn till midnight.
Amma had no feelings of strangeness when She came into this world. Everything was so utterly familiar to Her, and when one knows everything about the world one can only smile. When one beholds the entire universe as a play of Consciousness, what else can one do but smile? —Amma
As part of Her work She had to collect food for the family cows. She would roam the local villages, gathering grass and visiting neighbourhood homes to ask for vegetable peels and leftover rice gruel for the cows. At times like these, She saw many things that troubled Her. She saw how some people were starving, while others had more than enough. She saw that many people were sick and suffering from intense pain, unable to afford a single painkiller. And She noticed that many of the elderly were neglected and treated harshly by their own families. Her empathy was such that the pain of others was unbearable to Her. Though just a child, She began to contemplate the question of suffering. She asked Herself, why do people suffer? What is the underlying cause of suffering? And so powerfully did She feel the presence of God within Her that She wanted to reach out and comfort and uplift those who were less fortunate than She.
In many ways, it was then that Amma’s mission began. She would share Her food with the starving, and She would bathe and clothe the elderly who had no one to look after them. She was punished when She gave away the family’s food and belongings to the poor, but Sudhamani would not stop Her acts of kindness. She took refuge in the solitude of the night, spending hours meditating and fervently praying to Lord Krishna.
During the day She carried his photo in Her blouse pocket and constantly sang His names. During Her early teens, Sudhamani was sent to the houses of relatives where She laboured for long hours, taking care of their households as well. Throughout all her duties She was incessantly singing and chanting Krishna’s name, and imagined that all the work she did was for him. Sweeping the yard, she imagined that he could arrive at any moment. As she prepared food she imagined that Krishna would appear as a guest at the table. In this way she never resented her duties, nor the abuse her family gave her, but only prayed to be given more of the Lord’s work.
Seeing nothing as apart from my own Self,
A single unity, and merging in the Divine Mother,
I renounced all sense of enjoyment.
Mother told me to ask the people
To fulfil their human birth. Therefore,
I proclaim to the whole world
The sublime truth that She uttered,
‘Oh man, merge in your Self!’”
Amma’s mystical poem Ananda Veethi describes Her transcendental experience of attaining union with the Divine (listen). “Seeing nothing as apart from my own Self “— this was Amma’s vision, that everything in creation was part of Her own Self. At that time the Divine Mother also imparted to Her a mission— to ask the people to fulfil their human birth through the message “Oh man, merge in your Self!”
This message lies at the heart of all of Amma’s institutions and charitable activities. Amma’s children manage Her projects with the faith that they will be transformed through their service to the world, gradually transcending their personal likes and dislikes and becoming more compassionate and selfless; more closely identified with the Universal Self, the Atman.
Amma has never sought to convert anyone; Hers is not a sectarian mission. But Amma has always stressed that along with a new home, a pension, an operation or a meal, the beneficiaries of Her charitable projects receive a compassionate smile and a kind word from those who serve them. In this way those who give, those who receive, and those who look on—all are transformed by the selfless love and sense of universal kinship, blossoming in an experience of essential unity amid apparent diversity—the oneness in the Self.
Amma has a Desire
Everyone in the world should be able to sleep without fear, at least for one night.
Everyone should be able to eat to his fill, at least for one day.
There should be at least one day when hospitals see no one admitted due to violence.
By doing selfless service for at least one day, everyone should help the poor and needy.
It is Amma’s prayer that at least this small dream be realised.