‘Amma’ means ‘mother’ in many Indian languages. So thousands or millions of Indian women are called Amma. There is one Amma who has become world-famous: Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known as the ‘hugging Amma’, a spiritual mother to millions.
Born in the 1950s in Kerala she heard her calling early in life, giving unconditional and everlasting love to others, first as a child in her local community. In India, a young girl hugging people of all castes was unheard of, and shocking! Over the years she became locally famous, and in 1982 she founded a trust, which today operates under the name “Embracing the World”. Her trust supports various social and ecological activities.
You can visit her in India at her ashram in Cochin and ayurvedic hospital, but do not expect much Hatha yoga. Once a year she travels around the world and on a good day she hugs over 10,000 people. And it is said that over 30 million people have been hugged by her.
Upsss! We are a yoga blog, and where is the yoga here?
In Berlin, while on her 2012 world tour, we did not find any yogis or yoginis going around with mats hanging on their backs… Why? Because Amma’s yoga is Bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion) and Karma yoga (selfless service) a different and more spiritual yoga path than general Hatha yoga. Indeed, yoga does not necessarily mean body movements, especially in India.
So we met her in Berlin along with a few thousand people waiting hours for a hug. You do wait for hours, but when comes your turn you seem to forget about time, and it feels very good and long while Amma is holding you close to her heart. While hugging, she tells you something in your mother tongue (even in German). And she does the hugging and the speaking in such a spirit that you feel as if you are the only one ever being hugged – unbelievable, but true! Afterwards you get a candy and a rose petal. We saw every kind of response – crying, laughing, disappointment, pure happiness, awakening of love, and those who wanted to be hugged a second time on the same weekend, which is difficult! Rest assured that you will feel her pure and boundless love, which has no negative side-effects.
Some say Bhakti yoga is the easiest way for the average person, as it does not involve all the bending, stretching, extending, balancing, and sweating…
But others do consider that Bhakti yoga is the most difficult way. How easy is unconditional and everlasting love compared to bending, stretching, and so on?
We let you decide… 🙂
You can find more information about Amma’s yoga and ayurveda centres at:
Amrita Yoga Ashram, Cochin, Kerala
Amrita Ayurveda Hospital, Cochin, Kerala
And on Amma’s official websites: