This is Part 3 (final part) of Amma’s Biography (Timeline). If you have not yet read Part 1 and 2, kindly read them here
Amma Mata Amritanandamayi Devi’s Biography (Timeline)
continued (Age 61 onwards)
(Digital art Courtesy: Hiral Varun)
[Foreword: In this part 1 of Amma’s biography, we have covered her life and activities up to her age of 34. In part-2, age 35 to 60, and in Part-3, age 61 onwards are covered. Links to Part-2 and Part-3 are given at the bottom of this article].
. . . . . .
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.
To answer this question, one must essentially delve deeper into the concept of Avatar in Hinduism. One must also try to understand the concept of Advaita in Hinduism. One must be able to grasp the grandest statement of Hinduism that everyone has the potential to attain Godliness. You may say, all these are essentially beliefs and say, “I can’t believe unless ‘scientifically proved’ ” , we will come to some amount of proving a bit later.
According to Hinduism, God takes up human form and comes to live among us to teach us the right dharma and show the way for spiritual advancement for earnest seekers from time to time. They also annihilate evil forces that tend to tilt the balance towards adharma and restore dharma — It is the Avatar.
Avatars, though by looks and physical behaviour will be like a human beings, they are NOT just ordinary mortals. So, fundamentally, Satya Saibaba and Mata Amritanandamayi are NOT just ordinary people. They are avatars.
The way they lead their lives, the way they demonstrate super-human capabilities right from childhood, the way they influence people who are truly attracted towards them through faith and surrender, the way they make miraculous changes in the lives of people (either overtly or covertly), the way they accomplish unbelievable tasks within unbelievable time-frame, the way they spread love and care on humanity cutting across all caste, creed and religious barriers, the way they create a massive revival of spirituality — are all beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals.
Those who are skeptical,who think they are very rational, think they know all about human beings and God, think they are “scientifically oriented” , who declare themselves proudly as non-believers by closing their ears, eyes, nose, mind and heart and declare “No — these Godmen and Godwomen are all only frauds bent upon cheating and looting people” can only be deluding themselves from reality.
Now coming to the proof.
Thousands of personal experiences can be given by people who experienced changes in their lives by coming to Amma or Satya Sai. You will say “these are concocted stories spread by blind believers in vested interest”.
Just set aside some 20 minutes of your time by keeping your eyes and heart open and go through the following link that contains the historical record of what Mata Amritanandamayi has done in each and every year of her living in this world amidst us in the past 64 years:
Some of the happenings are deeply spiritual about which I am sure you will not be inclined to even learn/digest. But there are also things done to the world. There are records and proofs. Then come to your own conclusion:
How are the grandest tasks accomplished?
They are accomplished by believers’ dedication and hard work; through the money people donate willingly; through the fees collected from institutions; through selling of products and services that the believing devotees (consisting doctors, scientists, teachers, professors, doctorates, engineers, pharmacists, writers, publishers, technicians, artisans, labourers and so on) contribute with love and dedication. A considerable percentage of the services are voluntary.
After all, people who do all these works (as instruments of the avatar) are human beings with their own limitations, deficiencies and inefficiencies too. So, along the side of grand things happening, you will also find some shortfalls, some imperfections, some little blunders and some wastages here and there. But if you look at the macro picture, the negatives will not too big. It is also a part of the divine maya. Nothing is 100% perfect in creation.
Amma (meaning, mother) is Mata Amritanandamayi, a lady Hindu Saint, a God-realized (or self-realized) sage, a true knower of Universal Self (Brahma Gnyani) , who is considered an Avatar (God descended to earth in Human form, according to Hindu beliefs) and a Satguru (a spiritual teacher of the highest order) whose expression of divinity is through her unsurpassed expression of love towards all beings.
Amma’s original name was Sudhamani. She was born on 27th September 1953 in a fishermen community, at a remote village Parayakadavu. It is now called Amritapuri (PIN code 690 546). It is situated at the Arabian sea shore, in Alappad panchayat, in Kollam district of Kerala State, in South India.
It is close to Vallikkavu town and at about 20 km away from Kayamkulam , 12 km from Oachira and 9 kms from Karunagapally.
Amma’s father’s name is Sugunananthan and her mother’s name is Damayanti Amma. Sudhamani was their third child. Sudhamani had 4 brothers (one elder and the rest younger) and 3 sisters (one elder and the rest, younger).
It is in this small village is her Ashram Mata Amritanandamayi Math is situated. This place is now called Amtitapuri. In the limited strip of land between the Arabian sea and back waters, the Ashram’s sprawling complex comprising of a temple, a large Darshan Hall and a few multi-storeyed residential apartments for all her disciples and devotees is situated.
The word Amma in Tamil and Malayalam means mother. She is considered the avatar of the Universal Divine Mother (varyingly called Parasakthi, Jagat Janani, Jagadamba, Rajarajeshwari, Parvati, Vaishnavi, Maha Maya, Kali and so on, who, according to Hindu holy scriptures, is the divine consort of Lord Shiva). For Amma, every one in this world, irrespective of age, is her child and all her children call her Amma. Amma’s love to her children is unconditional and she has no barriers of caste, color, creed, religion or anything else to express her motherly love to one and all. The young Sudhamani, who was later christened Mata Amritanandamayi by her devotees, thus became the mother of all and a “hugging saint” right from her 22nd age.
In Hinduism, going and seeing a God in a temple or seeing a Saint is called darshsan. Darshan means seeing. In India, it’s the practice that a great saint or sage stands or sits at a distance, and his/her devotees will go and prostrate before him/ her to express their reverence. Some Saints will permit touching of their feet by close disciples. In Hinduism it is the practice to touch the feet of holy and elderly people as a mark of reverence, and this touching of the feet of a divinely person is believed to bestow us good spiritual fortune.
It is also believed that any bodily touch of the saint will transfer one’s sins to the saints, and this way one gets purified, but the saint who has accepted the sins will have to go through the physical suffering for having accepted the sins of others. So, except on very special occasions or considerations, all and sundry will not be encouraged touch the saints.
That’s totally absent in Amma’s case. Amma, out of her unbridled love on all her children, gives darshan to every individual by embracing him/ her physically. Whether one is healthy, clean or unclean – as unclean as a leper whose skin oozes with pus — Amma embraces one and all.
Perhaps the term “hugging saint” was coined by western media when Amma visited USA first in the year 1987.
Amma is a divine incarnation. She is a swayambhu (self manifested); she is not of the normal class of spiritual aspirants who can seek the ultimate truth only through the guidance of a Guru.
But, Amma was soaked in the deepest divine bhakthi (love of God) right from her childhood. Her yearning to have a vision of her beloved God, Krishna was consuming her like fire; she cried unceasingly for uniting with her beloved lord; her whole of consciousness was enveloped in that single thought. Songs praising her lord and begging for his darshan poured out from her lips involuntarily.
With all this at one side, she had abundant energy to do physical domestic work, which she did tirelessly for her family; her parents understood nothing of her divinity; they thought she was mentally insane. Her very dark complexion was a subject of distaste for them. They showed no interest to educate her formally. Apart from a little of primary education that enabled Amma to read and write in Malayalam (her mother tongue), Amma had no worthy ‘worldly’ education to speak of.
This sort of unceasing and all consuming love of God, is called Parabhakthi in Hinduism. It is also known as Prema Bhakthi. Chaitanya Deva (a saint of Eastern India) had such a divine love on Krishna in the past. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, another saint of the past from Bengal had this divine love on his beloved Holy Mother Kali.
Through this power of Prema Bhakthi, saints realize God. That’s how Amma realized Lord Krishna; Lord Krishna merged into her and became one with her. At her 20th age, Amma became a realized soul.
Amma, after realizing God in the form of Krishna (Purusha, the male principle) was then caught in a tempest of love on the Universal Mother (Prakriti, the female principle). It was her second phase of prema bhakti on God, now directed at the female principle. After going through a maddeningly intense tapas (severe spiritual austerities) to have the vision of her ‘true mother’, without virtually missing even a second to keep calling her “Amma”, she realized her goal; She ultimately found Divine mother revealing her glorious form and eventually merging in her. It happened at her age of about 22.
One requires a deeper understanding of Hinduism to grasp all these.
In Hinduism, there is only one God, known as Brahman (also called Paramatman, the supreme Atman), who is all pervading, is without beginning or end, and is beyond name and form. But the same Universal being, when related to the physical realm of the world and the cosmos with names and forms, becomes the creater, sustainer and the destroyer. He, in this role, is attributed with names and forms, and is amenable for worshiping as Ishwara (God). Hindus have the freedom to worship Ishwara in any form very dear to their heart.
A Hindu can worship God as Vishnu ( the protector), Shiva (the destroyer), the Shakti (the Universal Mother), or in any other form of divine incarnations like Rama, Krishna and so on. Ignoring names and forms, it is the same God who is the in-dweller in all beings as Atman, because the God and his creation are not two entities.
Depending on the extent of one’s self awareness, one perceives God as a separate entity as Ishwara (the Dwaita – duality concept) , or as Paramatman — the soul of the individual soul (Vishitadwaita – the qualified non-duality concept) and as Atman, one’s own Self, being the Absolute reality, with nothing second existing (the Advaita, non-duality principle).
All these three states are true in some way or other, depending on the extent of one’s realization of the ultimate truth. While Advaita, the non-dualistic state is the ultimate truth which is realized by a qualified seeker at an exalted state where the “I” consciousness becomes totally absent, the other states also become relative truths, as one descends back to worldly consciousness — when “I” and “you” are perceived.
For a person of Amma’s level of attainment, Advaita is the state of attainment and state of being. But, purely out of compassion to serve the society and guide all earnest seekers to realize the ultimate truth, Amma descends to the mundane level and plays her divine act with all of us, like a person acting in a drama with different masks and makeup.
Amma, though, in her true state remains as Atman, with nothing secondary to it. She, at the relative level, sports a bhava, a divine mood. When, as a seeker, she loved the lord (Ishwara) in the form of Krishna (who is nothing but the all pervading Atman, but worshiped with name and form), she realized her own Atman and it was experienced as if the Lord Krishna merged in her. The same explanation holds good for divine experience and mood —bhava as a divine mother.
Amma, though originally expressed her divine bhava as Krishna, she, later opted to express her bhava as Divine mother too. Still later, she opted to express only the divine mood as Universal mother – Devi Bhava and discontinued her Krishna Bhava.
It’s Hindu’s belief that God descends to earth to uplift mankind and show ways to salvation from time to time, based on the specific needs of the time. As Amma displays her divine bhava more as a mother, her devotees hail her as an Avatar of Universal mother.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says “Avatar is only for the sake of bhaktas (lovers of God). Gnyanis (seekers of True Knowledge without sentimental emotion to forms of God) have no significance to the idea of avatar”.
Thus from a bhakta’s viewpoint, Amma is an Avatar — the Avatar of the Universal Divine Mother. From the intellectual seekers’ view point, Amma is a Gnyani — Knower of Atman, a self-realized soul, a jivan mukta (one who has attained deathless state while being alive), or one who has attained, from a Buddhist viewpoint, Nirvana. For an earnest spiritual seeker looking for spiritual guidance, Amma is a Sadguru.
Amma’s every breath is for the welfare of the mankind. She sets examples; she inspires countless people to serve the world, keeping aside their selfish motives. Thousands of devotees from all walks of life come to her and join her with their money and resources to serve the world in so many ways. That’s how so many of her institutions have sprung up.
She has inspired thousands of young men and women to renounce worldly life and lead a life of brahmacharya, do spiritual practices and seva; countless householders have left behind their comforts of worldly life to settle in the ashram and do service as well as sadhana.
Embracing the World is a global network of regional humanitarian organizations inspired by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math. 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.
Other Aid Projects
AMRITA INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES (AIMS) (Ernakulam)
Elementary and Secondary Education
To watch Video on Amma’s global activities: