Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (born as Sudhamani Idamannel on September 27, 1953), primarily known simply as Amma [“Mother”], is a Hindu spiritual leader and guru, who is revered as a saint by her followers. She is widely respected for her humanitarian activities.
Amritanandamayi Devi Life History
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi was born in the fishing village of Parayakadavu (now partially known as Amritapuri), Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, Kerala in 1953. in the state of Kerala. Born to a family of fishermen, she was the third child of Sugunanandan and Damayanti. Her education ended at the age of nine, when she began to take care of her younger siblings and the family domestic work full-time.
As part of her chores, Amritanandamayi gathered food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows and goats, through which she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering of others. She would bring these people food and clothing from her own home. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her. Amritanandamayi also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. It was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. But despite the reaction of her parents, Amritanandamayi continued. Regarding her embracing of others, Amritanandamayi commented, “I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. 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.
Despite numerous attempts by her parents to arrange her marriage, Amritanandamayi rejected their efforts. In 1981, after various seekers had begun residing at her parents’ property in Parayakadavu in the hopes of becoming Amritanandamayi’s disciples, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, a worldwide foundation, was founded. Amritanandamayi serves as chairperson of the Math. Today the Mata Amritanandmayi Math is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities.
In 1987, at the request of devotees, Amritanandamayi began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world. She has done so annually ever since. Countries Amritanandamayi has held programs in include Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.
The History of Amritapuri
In the beginning the ashram was simply Amma’s family’s house. The handful of brahmacharis slept on the sand under the stars. Amma had a small hut built next to the parents’ house, which doubled as a kitchen, in which she slept with the earliest female disciples. Darshan took place in the family cows’ cowshed that Amma’s father had allowed to be converted into a small temple. This first temple still exists today; it is known as the Kalari or the Krishna temple and is now used for the conducting pujas.
Gradually, huts were added near the parents’ house for the brahmacharis and a proper, yet humble, room was constructed for Amma. This simple room is still where Amma stays today.
As the number of devotees coming for Amma’s darshan grew bigger and bigger, it became necessary to construct a large darshan hall. It was then that the beautiful Kali Temple was erected. It was the first big cement structure to be built and took five years to finish – from 1988 to 1992 – as the financial means of the ashram were still very modest at the time. The Kali idol in the temple, was crafted in Calcutta as per Amma’s instructions. Mother Kali is the destroyer of the ego.
From 2000 onwards, even that temple became too small for the nights with large crowds, and an enormous hall was erected behind the temple. It is today the largest such hall in Southern India, with 30,000 sq. feet and no pillars to block the view. This is where Amma sings bhajans every night and holds darshan regularly now. Indeed, except for the early Kalari which remains intact, the Amritapuri of today bears little physical resemblance to the one of the early days.
Today, Amritapuri is a city with towering buildings of flats for householders and visitors, hostels for students who study at the ashram college across the river, big dinning halls, many offices and departments, a hospital…. But no matter its size, it is still very much all filled with Amma presence, who’s hand is in each decision. It is still very particular to see that it is run according to the ancient traditions of the holy land of India.
All the ashram work is attended to by the residents and visitors themselves. And Amritapuri is looked upon by Amma’s many devotees as their spiritual home and as a fertile field where noble spiritual qualities can be abundantly cultivated, and the fruit of God-realization reaped.
.Mata Amritanandamayi site