Fondly known as Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is widely regarded as one of India’s foremost spiritual leaders. Chosen as one among the 50 most powerful female religious leaders by ‘The Huffington Post’, here are some rare facts about her:
1. Born to a family of fishermen, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is an Indian guru hailing from the Allapad Panchayat, Kollam district, Kerala.
Out of six, she is the third child of Sugunanandan and Damayanti.
2. From a young age, Amma spent hours meditating on the seashore and would also compose devotional songs, which revealed remarkable depth and wisdom.
3. When Amma was nine years old, her mother became ill and she was withdrawn from school in order to do household work and take care of her siblings.
As part of her daily chores, Amma would gather food scraps from her neighbors to feed her family’s cows and goats, and was agonized due to intense poverty.
4. If Amma found anyone in need, she would bring clothes and food from her own home.
Because her family was poor, Amma was constantly scolded and punished for her acts but she continued comforting people in their sorrows.
5. Amma spontaneously began to help people in their distress and said, “My duty is to console those who are suffering”.
Responding to her affectionate love and caring, people then began to call her Amma.
6. Amma rejected the pressure to marry several times. By 1981, there were few spiritual seekers residing at her parent’s residence at Parayakadavu in the hopes of becoming Amritanandamayi’s disciples.
It was only then that the Mata Amritanandamayi Math
(MAM), a worldwide foundation, was formed.
7. Amma says that love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one’s own.
8. Amma’s network of charity organizations exist in 40 countries around the world and provide food, housing, education and medical services to people in need.
In addition to this, the organization in the US has provided soup kitchens and hot showers for the homeless, books and hospital visits for prison inmates, and support for victims of domestic violence.
9. She donated $15 million USD to the Government of India’s ‘Clean the Ganges’ program to construct toilets for poor families living alongside the River Ganga.
She pledged to donate money to improve the sanitation condition in the state of Kerala.
10. Once Amma was attacked by a man called Pavithran. Pavithran was sitting along with other disciplines of Amma, singing and praying in front of her.
He then rushed at Amma with a knife but was overpowered by her disciples. It was later said that Pavithran was of unstable mind and hence tried to attack Amma.
11. Amritanandamayi’s form of giving darshan is hugging people and till now she has embraced more than 33 million people throughout the world in over 30 years.
12. Her organizations serve more than 100,000 meals every year to the homeless and hungry internationally.