[updated 2015]

Mata Amritanandamayi is a spiritual master from the southern state of Kerala, India. She’s like a female Dalai Lama x 10 + numerous humanitarian work. For over 30 years she’s been traveling the world giving spiritual relief to the suffering or longing… by hugging them. She’s embraced over 33 million people around the world.

As to how this began, Amṛtānandamayī said, “People used to come and tell [me] their troubles. They would cry and I would wipe their tears. When they fell weeping into my lap, I used to hug them. Then the next person too wanted it… And so the habit picked up.”
– Wikipedia

Every spiritual master has their niche, and her’s is: bhakti (cultivating devotion to whatever your god or guru is (Krishna, Shiva, Buddha,…)) and seva (selfless service, compassion, humanism). She has dedicated her life from a very young age to a simple philosophy: “to love and to serve all”.

The idea of doing work with bhakti (and vice versa) has been around for ages; she has taken it on to a global scale. I consider her as a modern day bhakti saint, not unlike the 13 Allvars or 63 Nayanmars of the past.

  • She addressed the 100th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address to the Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
  • She was awarded the Gandhi-King award at the United Nations, Geneva, 2002, for her innumerable and innovative humanitarian activity.
  • She was also honored to speak at the United Nations Summit for World Peace, 2000.

Humanitarian Work

Like the great sages and saints before her, she is an inspiration to the hearts and minds of many. Her contribution to the upliftment of India’s underprivileged is immeasurable.

  • Her organization feeds over a million children every year.
  • Runs numerous orphanages, nursing homes, pensions for poor women, etc.
  • Provided over 100,000 shelters for those displaced by disaster.
  • Gives free medical treatment (including surgeries) to thousands who can’t afford.
  • food, water, shelter, and emotional support.
  • Donated $1 million to Hurricane Katrina relief in USA
  • Donated $46 million to Tsunami relief in South Asia.
  • During the Tsunami, while government workers took their own time in relief efforts… Amma’s devotees went right out to the victims at the tsunami effected areas, giving them.

See more at:

On World Peace

Listen to this powerful address “The Awakening of Universal Motherhood” given by Ammachi at the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, at the UN, Geneva:

Being a woman spiritual leader Ammachi is a powerful voice for upliftment of women around the world. She said for there to be peace in the world, there needs to be balance. Right now the world is masculine dominated (hunger for power and control), devoid of compassion and forgiveness. She has done a lot in empowering women through numerous upliftment programs and encouraging women to take more share of their role in the world by exercising full potential of their strengths as a women.

On God

As to the question on whether she is really god-realized or enlightened or God or an avatar of God (like many consider her). Excerpts from an interview with Amma:

In your biography, there is an incident mentioned when you felt as if there was no difference between you and Lord Krishna. Could you tell us about it?
“Yes, I did feel that. It was an experience. The way I see my face in the mirror, Krishna’s face seemed to sort of merge with it. It was an intense experience.”

There is also the belief that you are an avatar of Goddess Durga.
“That’s what people say. That’s their belief. I don’t worry too much about these things.”

You have many critics.
“Critics will be there…..And criticism should be there. The easiest way to destroy a nation is to not criticize the prime minister. Only when criticism comes will the flaws be highlighted. I am not angry with them. There will always be differences of view.”

– from Rediff interview of Mata Amritanandmayi (full article)


If at all there is an efficient institution for the people, I feel it is not the government, but ashrams  guided by spiritual leaders. Much has to do with the efficiency and dedication of the guru’s devotees. It’s all about devotion, and with that comes sincerity in the work you do. Just pick any guru and you can see for yourself the massive amount of contribution to society. As a sample, do some research on Mata Amritanandamayi, Jagi Vasudev, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Satya Sai Bhaba, etc. Regardless of how genuine they are or not (and any controversies surrounding them), their impact on the people to mobilize and do good (whether it be seva or changing themselves) has been enormous and phenomenal. The spiritual gurus and ashrams are serving the same function as kings and temples in those days: redistribution of wealth (material and spiritual) for the benefit of society.

See also:

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