Women in leadership positions was the subject of the blog on March 12th. Today’s blog presents a more in-depth portrayal of one of those women— Mata Amritandamayi, known as Amma.
Amma is an Indian guru who has inspired countless peaceful undertakings. Revered by her followers as a saint, Amma was born to a family of fishermen in 1953 and has six siblings. As a child she took food and clothing from her own home to poverty-stricken families, even though her family punished her for it. She also started hugging people to comfort them in their sorrow, for she believed her duty was to console those who were suffering. She rejected attempts by her parents to arrange a marriage for her.
Amma is the chairperson of a worldwide foundation that she established in 1981—an organization that is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities. In 1987, Amma began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world and continues to do so annually. In 2014, for the first time in history, Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian leaders, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist leaders (including Amma) met to sign a shared commitment against modern-day slavery to eliminate slavery and human trafficking by 2020.
In July 2015, Amma delivered the keynote address at a United Nations Academic Impact conference on technology and sustainable development, co-hosted by Amrita University. Delegates from 93 international universities attended. In Amma’s address she asked the scientific community to infuse its research with awareness and compassion, as she stressed the significance of uplifting the poor and suffering when undertaking technological research.
Awards and honors bestowed on Amma include:
1993: President of the Hindu Faith, as well as Hindu Renaissance Award “Hindu of the Year”
2002: Karma Yogi of the Year
2002: Gandhi-King Award for Nonviolence, by the World Movement for Nonviolence, United Nations, Geneva
2005: Centenary Legendary Award of the International Rotarians
2006: James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, New York
2010: State University of New York Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters
2014: Chosen as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women Religious Leaders by the Huffington Post
Amma’s form of giving darshan (receiving a blessing from a holy/divine person) is hugging people, and she has embraced more than 33 million worldwide in over 30 years. As a citizen of the world, Amma holds free public programs throughout India, Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Africa, and South America. For several years I have attended Amma's gatherings, and I am amazed by the number of people present to receive her blessing. Even though chairs are available, several hours ensue before one is hugged by Amma. Receiving the gift of Amma’s blessing is well worth the wait—a year ago when I attended the event, I felt very blessed by her—unlike any other spiritual presence. Prior to her hugging me, I gave her a copy of Grow Up Your Ego and she blessed the book as well. I also enjoyed talking with others in attendance and learning of the impact Amma has had on their lives. Information regarding her programs is available at: www.amma.org. She will be in Santa Fe this Saturday the 16th through Tuesday the 19th!
If you have received darshan from Amma and/or benefited from her efforts to create and further peace, your comments are most welcome!