(Digital art Courtesy: Hiral Varun)
- She is called Amma (Mother).
- She hails from a little fishermen’s hamlet in Kerala, India. She is hardly educated up to primary school. She is now a world-renowned Hindu saint and a globally recognized philanthropist. She travels across the length and breadth of India and also across the globe every year to meet people. She is known as the Hugging Saint. She is a ceaseless fountainhead of divine love.
- She embraces each and every individual who comes to her for her darshan. She spends 10-14 hours a day, at least 4 days a week in meeting and hugging people who come to see her in thousands. She has been doing it ceaselessly since the age of 22/23. (She is now 65 as in 2018). She has hugged more than 33 million people across the world.
- She is an unconditional giver. All the people in this world are her sons and daughters. She gives pure love to the world suffering in scorching selfishness; she heals people both physically and mentally.
- She spreads spirituality to earnest seekers as a Sadguru. There are several tens of Sanyasis and hundreds of Brahmachari / Brahmacharinis living in her Ashram at Amritapuri, along with hundreds of household devotees (both Indians and foreigners) who are doing spiritual sadhana (meditation, mantra japa, devotional singing, studying shastras like Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads etc) and also doing selfless service, leading a very frugal and simple life, under her guidance.
- She serves the poor and the downtrodden. She runs hospitals, orphanages, schools, colleges, and research institutions. She is always there with a helping hand extended, whenever and wherever there is a natural calamity.
- Here is an attempt to showcase, for the sake of historical records, what she has been doing year after year in her action-packed life ever since her birth. No wonder she is hailed as an Avatar of divine mother Parashakti; the power she radiates is immeasurable; what she has accomplished and what she has been doing is simply beyond the grasp and capacity of not only ordinary human beings but also scientists, rationalists, and agnostics.
1953 – 27th September
- Sunday, after 9 AM (in star Karthika) The Holy Avatar of Amma happens – The girl child, later named Sudhamani (Later Mata Amritanandamayi) was born to Dhamayanthi Amma and Sri Sugunanandan as their 3rd child at Parayakadavu, a fishermen’s hamlet in Alappad, Kerala. Her birthplace, in future, acquires the name Amtitapuri.
1957 (Age 4)
- ‘Kunju’ (Little) Sudhamani frequently turns inwards, forgetting the outer world and goes to a meditative state.
1958 (Age 5)
- Sudhamani starts going to elementary school. She is soaked in Krishna bhakti most of the time even at such a tender age.
1960 (Age 7)
- Sudhamani starts composing devotional songs on Lord Krishna. Most of the time her dress is wet with tears she sheds crying for her beloved Krishna.
1962 (Age 9)
- Sudhamani discontinues school (in a couple of months after joining 5th standard) and takes charge of doing all domestic chores since her mother falls sick. In all her free time, she is immersed in the devotion of Sri Krishna.
1966 (Age 13)
- Sudhamani starts going to her Mother’s elder sisters’ house for doing their domestic chores. Sudhamani gives the families’ rice to the poor and gets the wrath of the relatives.
1968 (Age 15)
- Sudhamani was sent to her uncle’s house in Karunagapally for doing their domestic chores. Here too she starts giving food and provisions from the house to the poor and needy and gets punished for her charity.
1969 (Age 16)
- Sudhamani returns to her parents’ house and gets fully engaged in doing all domestic chores from 3 AM in the morning till 11 PM and also immerses herself in intense sadhana and Krishna Bhakthi. She also serves the poor people in the village and distributes food and provisions stealthily from her house. Gets punished frequently for this charity.
1970 (Age 17)
- Sudhamani learns tailoring at a Christian Institution attached to a Church (for about 3 years) in her spare time. She goes into meditation at the graveyard next to the church. The old priest in the Church gets highly impressed by her character and devotion to God. He predicts she will come up as a great lady in the future.
- Sudhamani loses sleep crying and singing for her beloved Krishna. Her family members get highly disturbed by her behavior. They think she is mentally deranged.
1975 (Age 22)
- Sudhamani’s intense prema bhakti on Krishna ends up in a divine experience of Lord Krishna merging in her.
- 5th March 1975 – Sudhamani first Krishna Bhava (involuntarily expressing the divine mood of Lord Krishna) at the courtyard of her neighbor Sri Ratnam’s house where Srimad Bhagavada parayanam was going on.
- On the next Bhagavata Parayanam day, based on demands from people to prove her divine power, Sudhamani does a miracle by converting water to milk and also to panchamritam when she shows Krishna bhava again.
- Soon regular Krishna Bhava darshan to devotees begins at the cowshed area next to her house.
- Later a simple temple (Kalari) comes up in the cowshed area where her bhava darshan took place.
- Soon after, Sudhamani gets Devi Parashakthi in a divine vision for a brief while. She immerses in deep Prema Bhakti to seek Devi’s vision again. Sudhamani’s behavior turns very weird bordering on madness.
- Her family members could not understand her divine madness and get very disturbed. Her elder brother Subhakan, who could not accept Sudhamani’s bhava darshans and her divine moods, orders her to get out of the house. In order not to trouble the family members, sSudhamani opts to stay outdoors all the time, be rain or shine. She was out of body consciousness most of the time; animals and birds start giving her company with love and they bring food to her too.
- September 1975 – After 6 months of intense longing, she gets the vision of Devi once again and Devi immerses inside her. Amma sang her experience and the divine commandment she received from Devi thus in her song ‘Ananda Veedhi’
. . . . . .
Smiling, She became a Divine Effulgence
And merged in me. My mind blossomed,
Bathed in the many-hued light of divinity
And the events of millions of years gone by
Rose up within me. Thenceforth,
Seeing nothing as separate from my own Self
And merging in the Divine mother
I renounced all sense of enjoyment
Mother told me to ask people
To fulfill their human birth.
Therefore I proclaim to the whole world
The sublime truth that She uttered
‘oh man, merge in your Self!”
. . . . . . . . .
Sudhamani resolves to dedicate her life totally to mitigate the suffering of the people and serve one and all as embodiments of God.
- Amma (Sudhamani) begins giving Devi Bhava Darshan too in addition to Krishna Bhava Darshan. She hugs each and everyone who comes to her for darshan, hears their woes and offers solace.
- Amma starts facing lots of opposition from and harassment from The Rationalists Movement (‘Committee to remove blind beliefs’) who consider her bhava darshans as fake with an intent to fool people and make money.
- By 1975 year-end – During one Krishna bhava, Amma predicts that she will be having lots of devotees coming to her from far and wide, including from abroad. She also predicts that she would travel all over the world many times.
- Prabhakara Siddha Yogi, a famous avadhuta with extremely weird behavior, who was believed to be living across a couple of centuries, comes and visits Amma. He recognizes her as Kali Mata.
1976 (Age 23)
- Harassment, public ridicule, attempts of physical attack and attempts of murder happens to Amma from locals and members of the Rationalist movement. Amma’s family members feel highly disturbed about such happenings. Amma faces such opposition for the next couple of years with evenness of mind.
- Based on Sugunananda’s prayer during Devi bhava to relieve her daughter from Devi’s possession, Amma falls into deep samadhi the next day and could not be revived to life despite all efforts. Conceding to intense prayers and inconsolable crying of her devotees and family, she comes back to life after 3 hours.
- Unnikrishnan (Amma’s first resident brahmachari of the ashram, later Swami Turiyamritananda Puri) meets Amma and starts staying in the temple.
1977 (Age 24)
- Amma visits Madurai Meenakshi temple with devotees. She goes into deep samadhi for about 1.5 hrs in front of Meenakshi sannadhi.
1978 (Age 25)
- Dattan the leper starts visiting Amma during Bhava Darshan and his acute and deep wounds of leprosy gets cured over a period of time by Amma’s licking of his wounds.
- June 1978 – Amma’s elder brother Subhakan, who could not understand or accept Amma’s spiritual moods, and seemingly lunatic behavior, was strongly against his sisters’ divine bhavas and was extremely mentally disturbed. He commits suicide. Amma had to face negative propaganda and criticism from the rationalists and the public on account of this happening too.
1979 (Age 26)
- Amma’s first batch of young and earnest spiritual seekers (who later became resident brahmacharis and Sannyasins) start visiting Amma from their homes frequently. (Balagopal, Ramesh Rao, Sreekumar, Ramakrishnan and Venugopal)
- November 1979 – Amma’s first western disciple Neal Rosner (Later Swami Paramatmananda Puri) from Thiruvannamalai meets Amma for the first time.
- A few months later, Neal and Gayathri (Gail Tredwell, Amma’s first western woman devotee and personal assistant) come to stay permanently with Amma.
1980 (Age 27)
- Amma’s sisters get married. A large hut for the permanent stay of Ashramites gets built on a piece of land given by her father Sugunanandan. Neal, Balu and Gayathri become the first permanent residents.
- Young brahmacharis vied with each other in composing bhajans and set them to music through Amma’s blessings. Amma always sings bhajans emotionally surcharged in divine ecstasy.
- During Krishna bhava and Devi Bhava, brahmacharis keep singing bhajans with accompaniments (Harmonium and Tabla).
- Madhusudhan from Reunion Islands (Later Swami Premanandapuri) meets Amma for the first time. Venugopal becomes a permanent resident of the ashram.
1981 (Age 28)
- 6th May 1981 – Amma (Sudhamani) was formally given the name Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. Mata Amritanandamayi Mission (Math) gets formally registered.
- branches of Mission started at Thiruvannamalai and Reunion Islands.
1982 (Age 29)
- Small Ashram buildings – Dhyana mandiram with the first floor as Amma’s resting room and Vedanta Vidyalayam constructed, funded by Neal Rosner.
- September 1982 – Soumya (From Australia, later Swamini Krishnamritaprana) meets Amma and becomes a permanent resident of Ashram.
- November 1982 – Amma makes her first visit to Thiruvannamalai with Neal and other residents and devotees. Amma sings bhajans in Ramanashramam. Sri Ramana Maharshi’s disciple Kunju Swamy meets Amma and receives her love in abundance. Amma undertakes Giri Valam (Circumambulation of Arunachala Hill) in a divine trance.
1983 (Age 30)
- Ottur Unni Nambudiripad, a great Bhagavatam exponent and a Sanskrit scholar meets Amma for the first time. He was an ardent devotee of Sri Krishna and Saradadevi/ Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
- Ramesh Rao, Ramakrishnan, Sreekumar, Harikumar Pai and Ramakrishnan become permanent residents of the ashram.
- Amma’s family shifts to a new house and the Idamannel House (Amma’s ancestral house/ birthplace) becomes the ashram.
- Ashram’s library comes up at Idamannel house with some 3500 books brought by Neal (his personal collections)
- Amma takes up the role of strict Guru too to the Ashramites and brings in daily schedules for sadhana (spiritual practices) – meditation, archana, bhajan, seva etc.
- Mission branch started at Pandalam
- First publication of Amma’s teachings (Amrita Sutram)
- Kusuma (Gretchen) from Denmark (the third western lady to come to Amma) joins Ashram.
1984 (Age 31)
- Mission branch started at Kollam
- First publication of Bhajanamritam (Amma and her devotee’s devotional songs)
- Ashram’s monthly magazine Amritavahini started.
- April – Amma and ashramites visit Kanyakumari. Amma meets two Avadutas there — Mayi Amma and Nayanar Swami. Nayanar Swami recognizes Amma as divine mother Kali.
- December 1984- Amma visits Thiruvannamalai again; Yogi Sri Ram Surat Kumar meets Amma; Recognizing her as Devi, he fans her. Amma climbs Arunachala hill with devotees and also visits Skandashramam situated at the mid-level of the hill.
1985 (Age 32)
- Monthly Ashram magazine now renamed Matruvani and Malayalam publication continues.
- (Currently, Matruvani is published in 17 languages, including 9 Indian languages (Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and Odiya) and English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, Greek and Japanese.)
- 14th April 1985 – Dr. Leela (Later Swamini Atmaprana) joins Ashram.
- Amma’s 1st biography and teachings in English “The Mother of Sweet Bliss” (By Br. Balu) published. Also ‘Amrutha MozhikaL-Part 1’ published.
- Mission branches started at France, Chennai, Kozhicode, Alappuzha, Eranakulam, Kodungallur
- 1st September 1985 – Ayudh – Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara founded. It grows to become an international youth movement of Mata Amritanandamayi Math. AYUDH seeks to empower young people to integrate universal values into their daily lives. Ayudh has now branches in the north and south America and Europe.
- November 1985– Amma stops giving Krishna bhava darshan. (She continues with Devi Bhava only)
- December 1985 – Amma’s first visit to Chennai
1986 (Age 33)
- 24th February 1986 – Foundation stone laid for Ashram Kali Temple. In those days, all the disciples helped with the construction doing physical labor, especially the concreting work. Often Amma would work with them, leading the work shifts. Here is a brief video clip on the construction activity:
- 2 short films “A day with Amma” and “Amrita Sagaram” made by Neal for the purpose of introducing Amma to the west.
- Kusuma (Gretchen) goes to the USA and travels to many places in the USA to show Amma’s videos and create awareness about her as a way of making preparations for Amma’s US tour.
1987 (Age 34)
- 22nd March 1987 – Neal Rosner (Swami Paramatmanandapuri) and Br Balu depart from Amritapuri to the USA to make prior arrangements for Amma’s US tour; They join with Kusuma and travel thousands of miles across the US by van for fine-tuning the visit programs.
- 15th May 1987 – Amma leaves Amritapuri for the first world tour
- 18th May 1987– Amma arrives at San Fransisco on her first US tour (via Singapore). In the USA, Amma’s visit covers San Francisco, Carmel, Seattle, Sasta Hills, Santa Fe, Boulder, Chicago, Madison, Charleston, Boston, New York and Stamford (Connecticut). Amma makes an instant bond with many devotees and spiritual seekers among the west. She gives Devi bhava darshan too.
- 15th July 1987 – Amma arrives in Paris, from the US on her first Europe tour. In Europe, she covers Paris, Zurich, Swiss Alps and Austria.
- Ottur Unni Nambudiripad becomes a resident of the ashram. He sees Amma as his beloved Krishna and Devi Parashakti. He composes Ashtothra Sata Namavali (108 divine names) on Amma in Sanskrit. Chanting of this namavali along with Lalitha Sahasranamam becomes a regular practice in Ashram subsequently.
- 10th October 1987 – Amma’s 34th birthday celebrated in the partially done Kali temple hall. More than 1000 people participate in the birth day celebrations.
- November 1987 – Amma’s first North India Visit (upto Mumbai)
- 17th December 1987 – Amma departs for second visit Abroad – to Reunion Islands and Mauritius.
- Amma starts the first school under Mata Amritanandamayi Math– the Amrita Vidyalayam primary school in Kodungallur, Kerala. This paves way for 55 Amrita Vidyalayam (mostly) English medium CBSE schools across the country (as in 2018).
- Recording of Amma’s bhajans in cassettes starts for distribution to devotees.
1988 (Age 35)
- May 1988 – Amma’s 2nd world tour.
- 28th April 1988 – First Brahmasthana temple consecrated by Amma at Kodungallur.
- Ashram takes over an Orphanage with 400 children at Paripally (which faced a severe financial crunch) and engages in feeding the children, rebuilding the dilapidated buildings, facilities and poor hygienic conditions at considerable cost. Amma diverts the money planned for constructing the Ashram temple for this purpose.
- With the takeover of the orphanage, Amma’s humanitarian activities for the poor and the needy (later christened “Embracing the World” begins). Embracing the World exists to help alleviate the burden of the world’s poor through helping to meet each of their five basic needs — food, shelter, healthcare, education, and livelihood — wherever and whenever possible. ETW is especially focused on helping to meet these needs in the aftermath of major disasters.
- Amma’s first visit to Delhi and Kolkata.
- May 1989 – Amma’s 3rd world tour. Amma’s San Ramon’s Ashram (MA Center) at the USA takes shape. (Amma’s world tours now become regular annual affairs).
- August 1989 – Ottur Unni Nambudiripad passes away with his head on Amma’s lap.
- October 1989 – Amma arranges Sanyasa Diksha to Swami Amritaswarupanandapuri (Br. Balu). To keep up with the Sanyasa parampara traditions, Swami Dhruvananda, a Sanyasin from Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, did the formalities to initiate the Sanyas (as per Puri tradition).
1990 (Age 37)
- Amma reveals her vision about starting a Multispeciality Hospital with the most modern medical care for the the benefit of poor.
- 9th April 1990 – Consecration of Ashram Kali (Bhavatarini) Temple.
- 4th May 1990 – Brahmasthana temple consecrated at Chennai
- AICT (Amrita Institute of Computer Technology), Amma’s first higher education institution started in Amritapuri.
1991 (Age 38)
- Amma gives sanyasa Diksha to Br. Madhusudhan (Swami Premananda Puri).
- 17th August 1991 – Amma’s first visit to Russia. It was one of the most crucial periods in Russian history. When Amma was there, there was an attempted coup to overthrow the communist rule and Gorbachev was kept on house arrest. Fortunately, everything ended peacefully without violence and Amma’s devotees felt that Amma’s divine presence was no coincidence that helped in return of peace in a way incomprehensible to the outer world.
1992 (Age 39)
- July 1992 – Amma’s 2nd visit to Russia.
- 16th February 1992 – Brahmasthana temples at Thiruvananthapuram and on 15th April at Pune consecrated.
- Amrita Sanskrit Higher Secondary school at Paripally started – it is one of the largest schools in Kerala to teach Sanskrit as the first language
- Land for proposed Engineering college at Ettimadai, Coimbatore bought. Br Abhayamrita sets out clearing the thorny bushes in the wildland.
1993 (Age 40)
- 18th January 1993 – Consecration of Brahmasthana temple at Kozhikode
- Over the period of time, Lots of youngsters, both males and females get attracted, inspired and motivated by Amma and come forward to lead a life of celibacy, dedicated to serving the society selflessly and seeking spiritual progress under the shade of Amma as a Sadguru and Avatar. They come from all walks of life — engineers, nurses, businessmen, carpenters, artists, college students —most of them are young, some of them middle-aged. They join as Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis in the ashram, leaving behind their homes and comforts. Those who came at earlier times were content to live in newly built huts (as the finances were meager at that time).
- Hinduism Today magazine selects and honors Amma as the ‘Hindu of the year’
- September 1993 – Amma invited to The Centenary Celebration and 2nd Parliament of World Religions at Chicago USA. Amma participates and speaks on the occasion. She was appointed one of the 3 presidents to represent Hinduism in the assembly of 25 presidents representing all world religions.
1994 (Age 41)
- 23rd May – Foundation stone for AIMS (Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences) Hospital at Edapally, Cochin is laid.
- Started Amrita Kripa Sagar Hospice for terminally ill cancer patients, Mumbai
- August – Amma arranges Sanyasa diksha to Swamis Amritatmanandapuri (Ramesh Rao), Ramakrishnananda Puri (Ramakrishnan), Poornamritanandapuri (Srikumar), Pranavanandapuri (Venu) , Amritagitananda puri (Aneesh) and Swamini Atmaprana (Dr Leela).
- Construction in full swing for the first Engineering college campus at Ettimadai, Coimbatore. Amrita School of Engineering begins with 120 students.
1995 (Age 42)
- August – Amma gives Sanyasa Diksha to Swami Paramatmananda Puri (Neal Rosner), Swami Turiyanandapuri (Unnikrishnan), Swami Prgnyanananda puri (Dhamu), Swami Jnananandapuri (Unnikrishna das), Swamini Krishnamrita Prana (Soumya).
- October – Amma invited to speak at the Interfaith Celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, at the Cathedral of St John, New York
- (12th February) – Consecration of Brahmasthana temples at Mumbai, at Delhi (3rd March) and at Madurai (5th April)
1996 (Age 43)
- February – Amrita Kuteeram scheme – Amma announces plan for constructing 25000 Homes for the poor and the destitute.
- Amrita Institute of Advaned Computing (AIAC) begins at Ettimadai campus.
- Amrita Institute of Management founded.
- Mother’s Kitchen – scheme to provide food to the poor and homeless people in the USA started by devotees of Amma. (Currently, there are more than 50 branches in the US, Canada, etc and Mother’s Kitchen groups in North America prepare, cook and serve 150,000 meals for the homeless and hungry each year)
- October – Amma gives sanyasa diksha to Swami Amrita Kripananda Puri (Muralidharan) and Swami Vidyamritananda Puri (Sreedhar Bhat)
1997 (Age 44)
- November – Amma deploys women priests (for the first time) to do pujas in Kaimanam and Kodungallur Brahmasthana temples.
- Amrita Speech & Hearing Improvement School (ASHIS) (taken over and run by MA Math)
1998 (Age 45)
- 17th May – AIMS Hospital at Edappally Eranakulam inaugurated by Prime minister Vajpeyee.
- 2nd April – Consecration of Brahmasthana temple at Mauritius Island
- Anbu Illam – Care home for the aged started at Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu.
- Amrita Nidhi, the free pension project for destitute women and widows, begins in Kerala.
1999 (Age 46)
- 22nd January – Consecration of Brahmasthana temples at Palakkad and on 22nd April at Thalassery.
- Gayathri (Gail Tredwell) leaves Ashram after being with Amma for 20 years.