2014 UPDATE ON THE AMMA STORY:
Since I wrote the article below about “the other side” of Amma, a book has come out that describes one person’s life as a close disciple of the woman known as “the hugging saint.”
The book is called Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness and was written by Gail Tredwell (formerly called Gayatri), who for 20 years served as Amma’s closest personal attendant and chief female disciple.
In the book, Tredwell recounts her personal experience in the ashram, where she admits she was complicit in covering up all sorts of ashram secrets, in a misguided attempt to protect the guru’s misdeeds from public view (believing, as all guru cultists do, that the guru is God in human form and therefore exempt from human standards of right and wrong).
Tredwell’s riveting book recounts stories of donations intended for charity being converted into gold jewelry and hidden under the garments of Amma’s sanyasis (monks) as they passed through customs – then the gold being passed to Amma’s family to make them fabulously rich. Tredwell tells of being beaten, clawed, and bitten by Amma, who would succumb to fits of rage over small mistakes made by her attendants. Tredwell speaks of her discovery that, while claiming to be a lifelong celibate, Amma secretly had ongoing sexual affairs with several of her closest swamis (monks who have taken lifelong vows of celibacy).
Tredwell was extensively quoted in an August 2012 Rolling Stone article on Amma regarding some of these allegations. Rolling Stone was able to corroborate the claim of physical abuse by Amma through the testimony of another one of Amma’s female attendants, who would not reveal her name except to the magazine.
Holy Hell can be purchased through Amazon via this link. What follows below is the original article I wrote about Amma for this website, in 2008.
What do stuffed dolls have to do with enlightenment? Lots, if you’re into the cult of Amma, known also as Ammachi, Mata Amritanandamayi, and “the hugging saint.”
Amma’s devotees talk to dolls made in her image that are sold on Amma retreats. They tell the doll their problems, seek its comfort, and listen in their minds for its advice. Amma calls the devotees her children, and clucks syllables like baby talk into their ear in her trademark ritual of lining people up, watching them kneel before her, then embracing them.
She tells them she is their mother and that she hears their prayers. She says she’d no more charge them for her darshan (i.e., being in her presence) than a mother would charge an infant for breast milk. Yet insiders have estimated Amma rakes in upwards of 3 million dollars in a 7-week tour, through donations and sales of items like her toothbrush, fragments of a garment she has sat on, Amma dolls, Amma posters, and books by devotees extolling her divinity.
Devotees believe Amma is a living incarnation of the being they consider the supreme God: Kali in Hindu religion, who is depicted in Indian art wearing a necklace of bloody human skulls and a girdle of severed arms but who somehow translates to devotees as a loving maternal figure. Amma events consist of childlike lectures on Hindu doctrines, Amma blessing water which devotees then drink, hymn singing, worship ceremonies, and the hugs. At some events, Amma wears a one-foot-high sparkling crown.
Amma marries people on stage, gives babies their first taste of solid food, tells couples to break up or to stay together, and ordains some of the faithful to abandon their family and live as monks in her ashram. Amma teaches that love is all we need, and it is her divine love that will save us.
In Seattle a couple of months ago, she predicted nuclear war and that no child younger than 5 will live to adulthood after the year 2012. After spreading fear and despair through such prophecies, she announced that only meditation and self-effacing acts of charity can possibly mitigate the sentence for humanity. “Meditation” means mantra/obeisance meditation to the divine mother. Self-effacing charity means donations to her organization and service to her cause.
At public sessions, devotees chant hymns to Amma that grow in volume and frenetic intensity, gesticulating in unison with their arms in the shape of an arc, from their midsection up and out towards Amma, who sits on a dais in front of them. The words of the chant are “Aum Parashaktyai Namah.” That translates to “I bow down/ pay homage to the Supreme Mother of the Universe.” The arm gesture is body language for surrendering one’s soul to Kali in the form Amma, her living embodiment.
I am one of the moderators of the Ex-Amma Forum, a place where people who’ve left the Amma cult come together to help each other heal from their ordeal. The group is open to ex-followers, questioning devotees, concerned family and friends of devotees, and people seeking more information. I became involved with the forum when I watched a close friend of mine grow farther and farther away from the person he once was, the deeper he sank into Amma’s hypnotic embrace. On the forum, I’ve read hundreds of first-person accounts of what people experience with Amma, the side of her no one wants to talk about.
I’ve seen an email from her former joint-secretary alleging she cooks the books, that the money she gathers for charity doesn’t go to the charities she claims. I’ve read accounts by her former monks of the unexplained wealth of Amma’s family, how her charity hospitals won’t take the very poor because the poor don’t have money enough for treatment. I’ve read about“suicides” and unexplained deaths of ashram devotees. So many dead bodies have appeared in the waters outside the ashram that The Indian Express, New Delhi’s daily newspaper, printed an account of local citizens demanding a police investigation into the matter.
I’ve read of alleged organ selling and newspaper reports of beatings. I saw a video of Amma performing a puja (worship ceremony) to a portrait of Sai Baba, the guru who gives penis massages to his favorite boy disciples. I read a letter from a former Amma monk alleging he was told by an Indian holy man not to share what he knows about Amma if he values his safety.
Amma’s website sells pujas performed on behalf of the paying devotee for prices ranging from $30 to $250. We read there an explanation of what happens in Kali puja, which is performed “on Amma’s birthstar”:
“The puja is offered to a lamp representing the Goddess… The puja starts with a worship of the Guru… The central aspect of the puja is the symbolic offering of the five elements of creation to God. Our body is composed from these five elements… The puja symbolizes the surrender of the devotee to God… Each element is represented by a material symbol, such as flowers, or fire… These are offered at the foot of the lighted lamp. The desire of the devotee to offer his or her surrender is effected by these symbolic offerings. During the entire puja the temple resonates with the continuous chanting of the holy names of Kali.” (emphasis mine)
Amma’s PR is impeccable. She presents as “the hugging saint,” a portrait of sweetness and universal love, and the media promotes her unquestioningly as such. There has never been an investigation into her movement, the dead bodies, where the money goes, or what is really happening in her hospitals and orphanages in India.
In July, 2005, the United Nations awarded Amma with “Special U.N. Consultative Status,” according to her website. She is one of 25 core leaders in the United Nations Parliament of World Religions. Her website contains over a dozen pages extolling the humanitarian work of the U.N. One page compares the U.N.’s “Millenium Goals” with Amma’s goals, which are word-for-word identical. (Click here to view both documents.)
The ashram is among 30 Indian NGO’s to receive formal U.N. affiliation, according to Amma’s website. “This will provide opportunities for joint collaboration” between the U.N. and her organization, it goes on to state. Amma’s website openly extols the U.N. for its advances toward global government:
“The United Nations has been in the forefront of tackling problems as they take on an international dimension, providing the legal framework for regulating the use of the oceans, protecting the environment, regulating migrant labor, curbing drug trafficking and combating terrorism, to mention a few. This work continues today, with the United Nations providing input into the trend towards a greater centrality of international law ingoverning interaction across a wide spectrum of issues.” (emphasis mine)
Pulling all this together, what are we seeing here? Amma is a globalist, working intimately with the U.N. to bring about its agenda. That agenda is world regulation and control – a wolf that hides in the sheep’s clothing of humanitarian ideals. The U.N.’s aim is a global Orweillian state held in place by a world bank, a centrally controlled media, a world “peace-keeping unit” (world army), technological surveillance, and control of the world’s water, food, and other life-essential resources.
As one of the 25 core leaders in the U.N.’s religion parliament, Amma supports and promotes these “Big Brother” goals. For anyone wondering if the efforts by the global elite to create a New World Order have a spiritual component, Amma provides ample evidence.
My earlier articles in the “Blowing the Whistle on Enlightenment” series explain the real meaning of the kind of surrender that Amma and other Indian gurus promote among their followers. It is surrender of the personal self to the gods, whom Amma calls “the Lord.” Amma’s hugs, her relics, her blessed water and food, are ways of infusing her energy signature into the minds and bodies of those who visit her, be they devotees or unsuspecting guests. Not only her energy signature but, I submit, the energy signature of the astral entities who work through her, who call themselves gods, and who feed on the psyches of mankind.
Amma’s energy transfer helps devotees entrain with her vibration and meld their minds and souls with “the godhead.” In other words, it helps them become assimilated, or possessed by the same “cosmic” forces that possess and work through Amma. Gurus call such a change in consciousness “attaining enlightenment” or “liberation.” It’s a state of “ego death,” where one no longer functions as an independent individual but as a receptacle of “the Supreme Consciousness.” Translation: as a tentacle of the astral entities who live off human worship and suffering.
What makes Amma both so successful and so sinister is the loving image she hides behind. The media uses it to promote her far and wide. If it seems remarkable that no investigative reporting has been done, that no one from the mainstream media has questioned Amma’s PR, the mystery evaporates when we recall who the mainstream media is run by these days.
Large corporations have bought and own our press and television, and dictate the “news” that journalists are permitted to report. Behind those corporations, as behind our governments, lurk the privileged aristocracy, who control both news and world events by means of puppets who do their bidding. Our world leaders, the mainstream media, and “the saint” Amma work in tandem. That’s why the media and world leaders sing her praises.
Why do I single out Amma among the dozens of gurus I could write about? Because she is so popular, and so unquestioned. Even that guru-busting website, Guruphiliac, seems to miss the shadiness of Amma, voting her the “least bad” of the gurus. But Amma is one of the worst. Powerful and successful, she ropes in new recruits by the thousands on her yearly worldwide tours. Amma’s movement claims that the “saint” has hugged over 26-million people – people who often return as devotees, worshipping her godhood and donating to her coffers.
Amma’s brand of religion is a return to the infantile. She makes babies of grown men and women, giving them dolls to babble to and telling them she’s their mother. While speaking fine words about “the God within each of us,” her actions teach something different. Allowing people to pray to you, kneel to you, and worship you as God Incarnate is not the behavior of someone who wants people to recognize themselves as magnificent, powerful expressions of God.
Amma’s disciples get their power from hugs, dolls, mantra obeisance, and the group euphoria of retreats, not from the core of their own being. They’re conditioned to believe that their inner self is less than the glorious entity before them. They’re told, in fact, that their unique, individual personhood is nothing but a self-serving “ego” – flawed, proud, and devious, something to be destroyed before they can be happy. Every time they bow down to Amma and “the gods” who work through her, Amma’s devotees shut the door more tightly on the divinity within themselves.
It’s a tragedy, but we can stop it: by spreading this information far and wide. When enough people know the other side of Amma, her crown and power will topple. Just as the global government she promotes will crash down about itself when the public sees through the fairy tales.
“The emperor has no clothes.” Pass it on. Once the message ripples through the crowd, the game will be up, and the illusion will be over.
© Bronte Baxter 2008
Anyone may republish this article on another website as long as they include the copyright and a back link to this site at www.brontebaxter.wordpress.com