Religious Genius Project – Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) Discourses

Dr. Amanda J. (Huffer) Lucia, April 10, 2013

Mata Amritanandamayi (b. 1953, aka ‘Amma’ meaning mother) is believed to be a guru and goddess by millions of devotees all around the world. Today, Amma is most famous for hosting public darshan programs during which she embraces thousands of devotees in a public performance of equanimity. Amma offers her embraces as a dark-skinned and low-caste woman, which intentionally challenges brahmanical injunctions and social conventions of caste and gender discrimination. Her devotees celebrate this expression of social justice and believe her to be imbued with love, compassion, and self-sacrifice. Conforming with Hindu cultural ideals, they identify such qualities with the virtues of the mother who completely and unconditionally devotes herself to her children. In the late 1970s, Amma established an ashram site in her childhood village in coastal Kerala, in southern India, which has since developed into Amritapuri, a large ashram complex housing approximately 4,500 residents. Amritapuri is the headquarters for her operations in India (the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust).

In addition, Amma has established satellite ashram sites throughout India, as well as her North American headquarters in the United States (the Mata Amritanandmayi Center) and many other global centers. Smaller devotional communities around the globe (often operating programming in devotees’ homes) largely aspire to develop their particular localities into larger ashram-type satellites. They initiate an intense growth trajectory that devotees understand to be essential to their mission to spread Amma’s message throughout the world. With the permission and supervision of the central authority of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MA Math) Amma’s devotees have established sizeable communities in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Mauritius, Reunion, Kenya, and Chile.

In 2005, the United Nations (UN) conferred Special Consultative Status to Amritanandamayi because of her extensive humanitarian initiatives, particularly those in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. She has founded numerous humanitarian and educational institutions in south India. The medical institutions that her ashram has founded include: the Amrita Institute of Medical Science (AIMS hospital), a cancer hospice in Mumbai, an AIDS care home in Trivandrum, and the Amrita School of Ayurveda, Hospital & Research Centre. The educational organizations that the ashram has founded include: approximately thirty-eight secondary schools(Amrita Vidyayalam) and more than sixty networked educational institutions throughout India, ten branches of which belong to the umbrella organization of Amrita University (Amrita VishwaVidyapeetham). The ashram also operates extensive social welfare programs including: initiatives to curb farmer suicide in India, letter writing programs to prisoners in the American penal system, tribal welfare programs, free legal services, mass marriages for those who cannot afford the cost of marriage rites, Anna Danam & Vastra Danam (The Gift of Food and Clothing), elder care, an orphanage, vocational training, and self-help groups. Amma’s ashram has also instituted major environmental initiatives through its global organization Green Friends Disaster relief is another major avenue through which Amma’s organization provides significant humanitarian relief across the globe. Amma’s organization supports a significant Internet presence, a printing press, and an affiliated television station in Kerala (Amrita TV), the latter supplying a variety of types of programming (both religious and secular) that is available globally through streaming on the Internet.

Amma spends four to five non-consecutive months each year in residence at Amritapuri, tending to business there in person, hosting darshan programs, performing rituals, hosting bhajan (devotional music) programs, giving discourses, and providing spiritual counsel. When not in residence at Amritapuri, she spends the majority of her time giving darshan programs in major urban centers around the globe. Amma presents a novel innovation to the Hindu practice of darshan (seeing and being seen by God) by incorporating tactility into what is often represented as a visual process. Amma not only gazes at her devotees during darshan, but she physically embraces them, one by one, family by family, during free public programs that can last for up to 26 hours. During darshan programs, Amma never ceases to give her famous hugs, taking no food, rest, or breaks of any sort. Her primary identity statement “Embracing The World (ETW)” (branded Summer 2009) centralizes her darshan embrace as her most distinctive characteristic within a sea of contemporary guru figures, a self-image that has caused her to be dubbed “the hugging saint” in the media. Her theological ideals focus primarily on selfless service as the solution to the crises of modernity, articulated as the general loss of spirituality, which results in wars, violence, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and the degradation of the environment. Her primary message: “Love and Serve” condenses her religious philosophy into two simple ideas, notably two ideas that make no definitive reference to her Hindu roots.

Source 53. God is Love

“Love for humanity arises in one who has experienced the Truth. In that fullness of Divine Love blossoms the beautiful, fragrant flower of compassion. Compassion does not see the faults of others. It does not see the weaknesses of people. It makes no distinction between good and bad people. Compassion cannot draw a line between two countries, two faiths or two religions. Compassion has no ego. Thus there is no fear, lust or passion. Compassion simply forgives and forgets. Compassion is like a passage; everything passes through it, nothing can stay there. Compassion is love expressed in all its fullness.

God is love, the life-force behind the entire creation. It is indeed rare to find a religion which does not consider love for all beings as the supreme factor. If religions adhered to this principle of Love, the differences seen today would become insignificant. God expects love, fraternity and cooperation from His children. Clinging to their superficial differences, human beings are paving the way for their own destruction.

Religion is supposed to spread the light of Love and Truth to humanity. Religion should not encourage separateness. There is only one Supreme Truth shining through all religions. Viewing religion with this attitude brings us closer to the Supreme Truth, it helps us to understand each other, and it leads humanity toward peace.”

– Mata Amritanandamayi, address at the Parliament of World’s Religions, Chicago, 1993.

Commentary: Amma’s theology attempts to draw together diverse religious ideologies by locating their core as the universalizing essences of love and compassion. In so doing, she demonstrates her allegiance to Advaita Vedanta, a Hindu philosophical tradition drawing primarily on Upanisadic texts that centralizes the non-duality of all existence. But Amma’s focus on love and compassion also demonstrates her profound roots in the bhakti tradition, a devotional movement that radically upset religious hierarchies by demanding unmediated access to God and celebrating the ecstatic experience of union with divinity. The core of Amma’s theology develops from precisely this dialectic between Advaita Vedantic and bhakti sensibilities.

Amma also inserts a sense of urgency in her message, warning that humans are “paving the way for their own destruction.” Frequently she warns of a nearly apocalyptic future if humanity does not soon alter its course.

Amma centralizes love as the core of her message, even constructing the popular theological universalism, “God is Love.” Her identity statement “Love and Serve” constructs the central ethos of her movement. Amma situates herself as a loving mother caring for her devotees as children, a relationship she performatively enacts though her global darshan programs wherein she physically hugs all attendees as a mother would embrace her children. Amma has embraced more than 32 million people and she keeps an incessant schedule criss-crossing the globe to hug more people in more locations. During darshan programs, Amma invites her devotees to witness her constant aura of love and compassion that she exhibits by hugging strangers of all castes, genders, religions, and dispositions without rest for 8-26 hours at one sitting. Amma situates love as a universalistic language that should be at the nexus of all human activity.

Source 54. On Devotion

“Prayer is dialogue with the Beloved within ourselves – our true Self. You are that self, the atman. You are not meant to be unhappy, ever. You are not the individual soul. You are the Supreme Being. Your nature is bliss. This is the purpose of prayer. Real prayer is not just empty words…true devotion is to see God in everyone, and to be respectful toward everyone. We should cultivate this attitude. Our minds should be uplifted so that we see the Divine in everything. Here in India we don’t imagine God as residing in heaven. God is everywhere. Nothing is more important in life than to know God. The aim of hearing scriptural truths, contemplating them, and assimilating them is to realize the nature of the supreme Being or God.

Devotion is a spiritual path that leads to that same goal.

It is not easy for everyone to turn the mind inward, for the mind likes to wander in every direction. Those who have studied the scriptures may prefer the path of “neti neti” (“not this, notthis”) rejecting their identification with everything except the Self. But so many people haven’t studied anything. They, too, need to know the Self, don’t they? For them, devotion is the most practical way.”

– Mata Amritanandamayi, Lead Us To The Light, p. 81-2.

Commentary: The Upanisads teach that the essential self is the atman, the essence of the cosmos is brahman, and that these two entities are comprised of the same substance. They are one. It is this ancient Hindu philosophical concept that Amma refers to when she interprets prayer as a deep conversation with God (brahman) within the self (atman). Amma habitually attempts to make her discourses palatable for the broadest and simplest of audiences, which means that sometimes particular Hindu nuances are lost in her translations, i.e. the Hindu brahman is not precisely the same as the Abrahamic concept of God. She clarifies the difference between Hindu and Abrahamic understandings of God (brahman) by explaining that for Hindus, God is everywhere, even within the individual; God does not reside in heaven separated from creation. She concludes by reinforcing the goal, which she locates as the realization the Self (atman). She often suggests that there are multiple possible paths to attain this goal, but herein she highlights two in particular: the path of knowledge (j.ana yoga) and the path of devotion (bhakti yoga). In referencing jnana yoga, she draws on the Upanisadic philosophical premise (“neti neti”), the impulse to discriminate between the essential self and that which is non-self. In the 8th century, Sankara famously developed this Upanisadic ideal into “the crest jewel of discrimination.” With regard to bhakti yoga, she suggests that for those who are not learned in scriptures (and she often adds in modernity more generally), “devotion is the most practical way.”

Amma develops her central message of love and compassion by emphasizing the importance of devotional practice for her devotees. She routinely informs her devotees that in our contemporary tumultuous world, one most easily can reach God through devotional practices (prayer, devotional singing, and meditation on the beloved form of the deity). Here Amma wholeheartedly expresses the importance of cultivating a boundless love and devotion for all things. In these processes of devotional cultivation, one not only transforms the self, but also transforms all those with whom one comes into contact.

Source 55. On Ritual

“There was a man who performed puja, ritual worship, everyday in his family temple. One day, he got everything ready, and as he began the worship, his cat came in and drank the milk meant for the puja. The next day, as he got ready for the puja, he placed the cat under a basket. Only after the puja was over did he set the cat free.

He made it a practice to put the cat under a basket every day before he started the puja. The years went by in this way. When he died, his son took over the family puja. He continued the ritual of putting a basket over the cat. One day, he got everything ready for the puja and looked for the cat. The cat could not be found. He discovered that the cat had died. He didn’t waste any time. He bought a cat from [t]he neighbor’s house and put it under a basket and only then did he proceed with the puja!

The son never asked his father why the cat was placed under the basket. He simply followed his father’s practice, without looking for the reason behind it. Today, most people observe rituals in the same way. They never try to learn the principles behind them; they just repeat what others have done before them. Whatever our religion may be, we should try to learn the reasons behind the different rituals. This is what needs to be done now. If we do this, any rituals that are meaningless will not survive. If such rituals are practiced, we can consciously eliminate them.”

– Mata Amritanandmayi, The Eternal Truth, 52.

Commentary: Although Amma demands that her followers adhere to sastric conventions when performing ritual action, she has radically altered conventional Hindu ritual by instituting all people (women, low castes, and foreigners) as ritual authorities. She advises that so long as these practitioners are properly trained through lengthy apprenticeships, there is no reason that they should not be allowed to serve as ritual officiants. She employs Advaita Vedantic philosophy of non-duality to advocate for a radical upsetting of the socio-religious sanctification of brahmanical male authorities as the only acceptable priests (pujaris). In her view, if all of humanity is comprised of the same essential self (atman), then the denial of access to religious authority based in social hierarchies (caste or gender) cannot be justified. As such, she calls for a radical reinvisioning of just who is authorized to serve in temples and Vedic fire sacrifices(homas and yajnas) as socially sanctioned ritual officiants. This passage alludes to her democratic notion of mandating individuals to evaluate ritual action for its meaning and efficacy before blindly following tradition.

Here Amma suggests a radical reinvisioning of the traditional stipulations in Hindu religiosity that would restrict those qualified to be ritual officiants to brahmanical male authorities. Brahmanical male authorities traditionally based their exclusive rights to ritual knowledge not only on class, but also following Hindu conventions of purity and pollution, based in part on systems of caste. According to brahmanical norms, brahmans, the priestly class, were endowed with the most purity of all classes of people and thereby they were the only sanctioned ritual actors. By such standards, Amma (a low-caste) woman would be considered impure and she would be barred from leading Vedic rituals. In opposition, Amma argues that such traditional restrictions must be revaluated in light of contemporary values of democracy and egalitarianism. As a result, she initiates women into the highest levels of ritual authority without any discrimination based in caste identity.

In Amma’s case it is clearly apparent that purity is perspectivally dependent. I would argue that through her thwarting of traditional hierarchies of brahmanical purity, which prohibit women and low-castes from securing positions of religious leadership, Amma actually exhibits the laudable qualities of equanimity and love, those qualities that comprise Religious Genius.

Source 56. On Selfless Service

“Seeing the hospital being inaugurated here, some of Amma’s children may ask, “What is the relevance of service in the life of sannyasa, the life of renunciation?” My children, the truth is that compassion for the poor is our duty to God.

The sun doesn’t need the light of a candle. The sun gives light to the entire world. The river doesn’t have to roam around looking for water to quench its thirst. Similarly, we need God’s grace if we are to enjoy peace and harmony in life. We need to accept God’s love and compassion and then share it with others. Only in this way will our lives be filled with light….

My children, where there is selfless service God is definitely present. Some people walk around talking about advaita (non-duality), saying, ‘Isn’t everything the Self? Who then, is to love whom?’ The answer to them is that advaita is not something to be expressed in words. Advaita is life. To see and love everyone as your own Self, that is true advaita. Then we no longer identify without individual self-we see that we and the universe are not two, but one. This is non-duality. It is true living.

Where there is selfless action, that is where heaven is to be found. You may ask, ‘Isn’t it enough to do selfless service? Are meditation and the repetition of a mantra necessary?’ If an ordinary person is like an electric post, a tapasvi (a person who performs austerities) can accumulate so much strength that he or she becomes like a large transformer. By doing spiritual practice, by concentrating the mind on one point instead of thinking about unreal things, we can see our strength truly increasing. Then we don’t need to search anywhere for the strength to do selfless service.”

– Mata Amritanandamayi, benedictory speech at inauguration of Amrita Kripa Sagar, a hospice facility for cancer patients in Mumbai (1995), Lead Us To Purity, 190-2.

Commentary: Amma has centralized seva, (selfless service), as her primary global mission and message. Deeply committed to humanitarian campaigns, her ashram hosts some of the best hospitals and universities in India as well as hospices, orphanages, and communal programs. Her global organization usually offers services within these facilities at free or significantly reduced cost. She has also contributed significant financial resources toward disaster relief efforts in response to cataclysmic environmental disasters around the globe. But the activation of Amma’s commitment to global humanitarianism begins in the hearts of individual devotees. Amma encourages her devotees to dedicate their lives to selfless service and to develop spiritually, gain internal strength, and to foster compassion by engrossing their lives in dedication to humanitarian service. Regular and significant acts of selfless service regulate devotees’ behavior, both creating and acculturating them gradually into what I term the maternal-ascetic habitus of the movement. In Amma’s movement, devotees are encouraged to develop the self-sacrificing behaviors of an ideotypical mother, caring for others as her children.

“Where there is selfless action, that is where heaven is to be found.” With this statement, Amma transforms the idea of an alternate external (higher) reality into an internal reality, a transformation of the self through service to others. Amma suggests that one become truly humble through service, recognizing that the self is no different from the others. Her commitment to selfless service and humanitarianism comprises the primary foundation of her transnational movement, with the identity statement ‘Love and Serve’ condensing this deep philosophy into two simple ideas. Amma is not only herself committed to service, but she encourages her devotees to develop deep commitments to service in order to develop love, compassion, and humility. This central commitment to service signifies several of the qualities inherent the RG as illustrated in the concept paper: love, humility, self-surrender, and the logic of imitation. We might also imagine that by encouraging her devotees to look beyond their own conditional realities to empathize with the suffering of others, Amma also develops the RG ideal of cultivating an “expanded awareness of reality” for herself and for her followers.

Source 57. On Nature

“Because of his selfishness, man today sees Nature as being separate from himself. If a person receives a cut or a wound, it is certainly the awareness that both the left and right hand are ‘mine’ that prompts the one to comfort the other. We don’t have the same concern when an injury happens to someone else, do we? This is because of the attitude that ‘It is not mine”. The wall of separation between humans and Nature is created mainly by the selfish attitude of humans. They think that Nature has been created only for them to use and exploit in order to fulfill their selfish desires. This attitude creates a wall, a separation and a distance…

It is high time to give serious thought to protecting Nature. The destruction of Nature is the same thing as the destruction of humanity. Trees, animals, birds, plants, forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers – everything that exists in Nature – are in desperate need of our kindness, of the compassionate care and protection of man. If we protect them, they, in turn, will protect us.

The legendary dinosaur and many other living species have been completely wiped out from the face of the earth, because they could not live in the changing climatic conditions. In a similar manner, if man is not careful, when his selfishness has reached its peak, he too will have to succumb to the same fate.

Only through love and compassion is the protection and preservation of Nature possible. But both these qualities are fast diminishing in human beings. In order to feel real love and compassion, one must realize the oneness of the life force that sustains and is the substratum of the entire universe. This realization can only be attained through a deep study of religion and the observance of spiritual principles.

– Mata Amritanandamayi, Man and Nature, 19-21.

Commentary: In 2001, Amma founded Green Friends, a global environmental initiative. GreenFriends is one branch of Amma’s larger humanitarian efforts enacted under the initiative, Embracing the World (ETW). (See GreenFriends hosts seva days wherein devotees work with the public to plant trees and build sustainably (erosion prevention, rain water catchment and so on) and coordinates environmental educational workshops (permaculture, pruning, grafting, and so on, though people should also be advised that they can call on someone like this Tree Care in Riverside & San Bernardino County company to help maintain their trees). There is also a significant initiative for the reuse of products, which are then sold at Amma’s international programs (for example, the crocheting with plastic bags project). Many of the local satsangs across the United States host strong GreenFriends components wherein AYUDH (Amma’s youth organization) members participate in significant numbers. In India as well, GreenFriends has undertaken significant responsibilities, sometimes in collaboration with the Indian government, to clean rivers and develop sustainable environmental initiatives and to raise awareness of the perils of environmental degradation. In this passage, Amma suggests that it is love, compassion, and ‘egolessness’ that drives the intention for environmental sustainability and rehabilitation. In her view, if we truly see ourselves as one with all of existence, part of the same substance, then just as the right hand comforts the left if it is injured within our own bodies, we too will suffer if the natural world surrounding us suffers.

In Amma’s discourses she relates the world of nature to our very bodies, suggesting that we should develop a relationship with nature in which we realize that harm done to our environment is just the same as harm done to our own physical bodies. In this reasoning, she expands her conception of self to encompass all living beings (including plants and animals), feeling as they feel, suffering as they suffer.

Source 58. On the (female) Guru

“Young man: ‘Amma, isn’t it said that sadhaks [spiritual practitioners] shouldn’t associate with women? Then how can a woman guide them as their guru?’

Amma: ‘Son, is there a man or woman on the plane of Truth? For a man, it is much better to have a woman as his guru than having a male guru. My children are very fortunate in this way. Those who have a man as their guru have to transcend all women, but those who have a woman as their guru, transcend all the women in the world by transcending just the one woman in their guru.’

Young man: ‘Didn’t Ramakrishna Deva prescribe strict control concerning women and gold?’

Mother: ‘Yes, what he said is certainly true; a sadhak shouldn’t even look at the picture of a woman. But those who have a guru have someone to show them the proper path and to guide them along that path. All they have to do is follow the guru.

The poison of a snake can kill you; and yet the antidote is made from that same poison, isn’t it? A real guru will put all kinds of obstacles in the path of the disciple, because only in that way can the discipline develop the strength to transcend all obstacles. But those who are not under a guru’s direct supervision certainly have to be very careful.”

– Mata Amritanandamayi, Eternal Wisdom, vol. 2, 136-7.

Commentary: In the staunchest traditional interpretations of the Hindu tradition, the concept of a female guru is an anathema. Despite the fact that there were female sages accounted in the Vedas, still later prescriptive texts on asceticism, such as the Upanisads warn their male audiences against any interactions with women. Those texts deconstruct female bodies into their corpse-like nature while ridiculing female character and demanding that renunciates (sa.ny.sis) avoid all contact with their polluting and dangerous bodies. In the above example, cited from Ramakrishna’s evocation of the terms of these seminal texts, for the Hindu renunciate, women are to be spurned and avoided in the same manner as gold, meaning material wealth.

Amma transforms these classical prohibitions with two lines of argumentation. First she responds with Advaita Vedantic reasoning, if, in ultimate terms, there is no duality, then there can be no gender division between man and woman. She elaborates at other times explaining that in the cosmic cycles of sa.s.ra (birth-death-rebirth), gender is as transient as any other temporally bound physical characteristic. It has no bearing on the essence of self, the atman. Second, Amma responds with an intriguing analogy of the venomous snake, wherein the venom holds both the powers to kill and to heal. With this analogy, Amma acknowledges the detrimental effects of engagements with women for male renunciates; she demands celibacy of the renunciates in her ashram. But she also reserves that same feminine potency and power for the female guru, who transforms and guides male renunciates along the treacherous path of spiritual discipline.

Because of orthodox interpretations of the dharma..stras, the codes of dharmic Hindu behavior, female ascetics and gurus in the Hindu tradition must justify their presence in light of stipulations that such austere paths are not suitable for women. Amma calls her disciple to consider the ultimate reality of “plane of Truth” wherein temporally bound categories of materiality are transcended. Amma encourages her disciples to follow her example, by living in this material world, while simultaneously awakening their minds to the transcendent, ultimate reality of Truth.

Source 59. On Women

“The rules and superstitious beliefs that degrade women, continue to prevail in most countries. The primitive customs invented by men to exploit and subjugate women remain alive to this day. Women and their minds have become entangled in the cobweb of those customs. An elephant can uproot huge trees with its trunk. When an elephant living in captivity is still a calf, it is tethered to a tree with a strong rope. The calf elephant tries with all its might to break the rope. When its efforts prove futile, it finally gives up. Later, when the same elephant is fully grown, it can be tethered to any small tree with a thin rope. It could easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it does not make the slightest attempt to break free.

This is what is happening to women. The infinite potential inherent in man and woman is the same. If women really want to, they can easily break the shackles of the rules and conditioning that society has imposed on them.

A woman’s greatest strength lies in her innate motherhood, in her creative, life-giving power. This power can help women bring about a far more significant change in society than men can ever accomplish. In today’s world, where everything is being contaminated and made unnatural, women should take extra care that her qualities of motherhood-her essential nature as a woman-don’t become contaminated and distorted. Yet, whether woman or man, one’s real humanity comes to light only when the feminine and masculine qualities within one are balanced. India has had such a great legacy of women who have contributed to all spheres of development in society; may it be warriors, teachers, spiritual luminaries, musicians or social workers. Though not acknowledged enough in our history books or in the social media platforms that have graced our lives over the years, their contribution has been prolific. So it may be about time that social media gets used more often in areas like these, and deciding to look at these comparisons between growth services like Upleap and buzzoid could be just what you need to grace more followers to your account, as well as to the information that you provide them on a regular basis. This legacy has to continue and grow with time.

The forthcoming age should be dedicated to awakening universal motherhood. Women everywhere have to actualise the qualities of motherhood within themselves. This is the only way to realise our dream of peace and harmony. And it can be done! It is entirely up to us. Let us remember that real leadership is not to dominate or to control, but to serve others with love and compassion, and to inspire women and men alike through the example of our lives.”

– Mata Amritanandamayi, “Women, break your shackles and awaken,”

The New Indian Express, January 6, 2013

Commentary: Amma consistently invokes the traditional Hindu view that there should be a balance of masculine and feminine qualities within every individual. However, because of the predominance of patriarchy, she asserts that our world has become hyper-masculinized. As a result, there must be an accentuation of what she sees as the ‘feminine’ qualities of love, compassion, service, and self-sacrifice in order to balance the gender dichotomy within our societies and ourselves. Within Amma’s humanitarian campaigns and her organizational hierarchy, Amma has focused considerable efforts on empowering women. She frequently employs the Hindu equation of human women with the powerful goddess in efforts to demand respect and veneration for women’s roles in society. Amma suggests that society must dedicate itself to the “awakening of universal motherhood,” that both men and women should make significant efforts to embody what she understands to be the ‘maternal’ qualities of unconditional love and selfless service. That said, at times her rhetoric imbues women with special qualities possessing “innate motherhood” and “creative, life-giving power.” In these moments, Amma can be read as essentializing all women as mothers, which may be ultimately detrimental to establishing equal respect and opportunities for women because they are humans and not only because of their relations to men.

It is here in Amma’s advocacy for women that we can see the juxtaposition of many of the qualities of Religious Genius as outlined in the concept paper. Again Amma centralizes love, compassion, selfless service, and self-sacrifice. These correlate to the Religious Genius qualities of love, humility, self-surrender, and an expanded awareness of reality. But here, Amma sees a grievous injustice in the subordination of women, a glaring social expression in which our current reality does not mirror ultimate reality in which all sentient beings are treated with equanimity. Because of this Amma has created intense humanitarian and social campaigns to rectify the current situation. In all of her efforts here, and those combatting other systemic injustices and suffering, Amma expresses the “logic of imitation,” meaning that she strives to transform our current reality to better reflect the equanimity of ultimate reality, or as she says the “plane of Truth.”


Amritanandamayi, Mata. 2013. “Women, break your shackles and awaken,” The New Indian Express, January 6.

2007. Lead Us to Purity: A Selection of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi’s Speeches 19901999. Amritapuri: Mata Amritanandamayi Math.

2006. The Eternal Truth. Amritapuri: Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust.

2005. Eternal Wisdom. Part 2. San Ramon, CA: Mata Amritanandamayi Center. (Orig. pub. 1999.)

2004. Man and Nature. Amritapuri: Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust. (Orig. pub. 1994)

2002. Lead Us To The Light. San Ramon, CA: Mata Amritanandamayi Center.

1994. May Your Hearts Blossom: Address to the Parliament of World Religions 1993, Chicago. Amritapuri: Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust.

1 See “Social Welfare Activities,”, accessed May 28,

2 Amma initially donated $23 million dollars to Tsunami relief in 2004, but soon doubled that effort. She has also made significant financial contributions to humanitarian relief efforts in response to the earthquake in Lahore (1992), the earthquake in Gujarat (2001), the Kumbhakonam fire (2004), the flooding in Mumbai (2005), hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (2005), the earthquakes in Kashmir (2005) and Haiti (2010), and the tsunami in Japan (2011).

See “Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation,”, accessed May 28, 2012.