|Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī|
4 April 2009
27 September 1953
Parayakadavu, Alappad Panchayath, Kollam District, (now Kerala), India
- Life 1
- Darshan 2
- Teachings 3
- Bhajans 4
Charity work 5
- Tsunami Relief 5.1
Sanitation Projects 5.2
- Clean The Ganges Program 5.2.1
- Toilet Construction 5.2.2
- Book by Sreeni Pattathanam 6.1
- Source of foreign aid 6.2
- Allegations by Gail Tredwell 6.3
- Attacks 7
- Awards and honours 8
- Positions 9
- Publications and documentaries 10
- Notes 11
- References 12
- Further reading 13
- External links 14
Mātā Amṛtānandamayī is an Indian guru from Parayakadavu (now partially known as Amritapuri), Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, in the state of Kerala. Born to a family of fishermen in 1953, she was the third child of Sugunanandan and Damayanti. She has six siblings.
As part of her chores, Amṛtānandamayī gathered food scraps from neighbours for her family's cows and goats, through which she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering of others. She would bring these people food and clothing from her own home. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her. Amṛtānandamayī also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Despite the reaction of her parents, Amṛtānandamayī continued. Regarding her desire to embrace others, Amṛtānandamayī commented, "I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don't see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering."
Amṛtānandamayī rejected numerous attempts by her parents to arrange for her marriage. Her life took a different path instead. In 1981, after spiritual seekers had begun residing at her parents' property in Parayakadavu in the hopes of becoming Amṛtānandamayī's disciples, the 
In 1987, at the request of devotees, Amṛtānandamayī began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world. She has done so annually ever since.
In 2014, for the first time in history, major Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian leaders, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist leaders (including Amṛtānandamayī), met to sign a shared commitment against modern-day slavery organized by the Global Freedom Network; the declaration they signed calls for the elimination of slavery and human trafficking by the year 2020.
In July 2015, Amritanandamayi delivered the keynote address at a United Nations Academic Impact conference on technology and sustainable development, co-hosted by Amrita University. The event was attended by delegates from 93 international universities. In Amritanandamayi's address, she requested the scientific community to infuse its research with awareness and compassion, stressing the importance of keeping the aim of uplifting the poor and suffering in mind when undertaking technological research.
Amṛtānandamayī's form of giving darshan is hugging people. As to how this began, Amṛtānandamayī said, "People used to come and tell [me] their troubles. They would cry and I would wipe their tears. When they fell weeping into my lap, I used to hug them. Then the next person too wanted it... And so the habit picked up." Amṛtānandamayī has embraced more than 33 million people throughout the world for over 30 years.
When asked, in 2002, to what extent she thought her embraces helped the ills of the world, Amṛtānandamayī replied,
I don’t say I can do it 100 percent. Attempting to change the world [completely] is like trying to straighten the curly tail of a dog. But society takes birth from people. So by affecting individuals, you can make changes in the society and, through it, in the world. You cannot change it, but you can make changes. The fight in individual minds is responsible for the wars. So if you can touch people, you can touch the world.
Amṛtānandamayī's darshan has been the centerpiece of her life, as she has received people nearly every day since the late 1970s. Given the size of the crowds coming to seek Amṛtānandamayī's blessings, there have been times when she has given darshan for more than 20 continuous hours.
In the book The Timeless Path, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, one of Amṛtānandamayī's senior disciples, wrote: "The [spiritual] path inculcated by Amma is the same as the one presented in the
Various documentaries have been made about her:
Amṛtānandamayī's disciples have transcribed her conversations with devotees and spiritual seekers to create approximately a dozen books of her teachings known as "Awaken Children". The addresses she has delivered at various international forums have also been published in book form. Beginning in April 2011, a bi-weekly message from Amṛtānandamayī has appeared in the Lifestyle section of the Express Buzz Sunday supplement of the New Indian Express newspaper. She also writes a regular blog in the spiritual publication Speaking Tree.
Publications and documentaries
- Founder & Chairperson, Mata Amṛtānandamayī Math
- Founder, Embracing the World
- Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University
- Founder, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS Hospital)
- Parliament of the World's Religions, International Advisory committee member
- President Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary celebration committee, India
- Member, Elijah Interfaith Institute Board of World Religious Leaders
- 1993, 'President of the Hindu Faith' (Parliament of the World's Religions)
- 1993, Hindu Renaissance Award (Hinduism Today)
- 1998, Care & Share International Humanitarian of the Year Award (Chicago)
- 2002, Karma Yogi of the Year (Yoga Journal)
- 2002, Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence by The World Movement for Nonviolence (UN, Geneva) · 
- 2005, Mahavir Mahatma Award (London)
- 2005, Centenary Legendary Award of the International Rotarians (Cochin)
- 2006, James Parks Morton Interfaith Award (New York)
- 2006, The Philosopher Saint Sri Jnaneswara World Peace Prize (Pune)
- 2007, Le Prix Cinéma Vérité (Cinéma Vérité, Paris)
- 2010, The State University of New York awarded Amma an honorary doctorate in humane letters on 25 May 2010 at its Buffalo campus.
- 2012, Amma featured in the Watkins' list of the top 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world.
- 2013, Awarded first Vishwaretna Purskar (Gem of the Word Award) by Hindu Parliament on 23 April 2013 at Tiruvananthapuram (India)
- 2013, Awarded proclamation on behalf of the State of Michigan to Amma commemorating Amma’s 60th birthday, the official proclamation describes Amma as a true citizen of the world and recognizes Amma’s charitable works worldwide.
- 2014, Chosen as one among the 50 most powerful women religious leaders by The Huffington Post.
Awards and honours
On 1 August 2012, a 25-year-old law student from Bihar , Satnam Singh Mann, attempted to barge onto the podium of Amṛtānandamayī at her ashram in Kollam. According to police, he was screaming and reciting words in Arabic. He attacked security guards and then was overpowered by devotees, who handed him over to the police.
In August 2005, Amṛtānandamayī was attacked by a man named Pavithran. He was sitting with other followers praying and singing in front of Amṛtānandamayī. He then rushed to Amṛtānandamayī with a knife, but was overpowered by a group of disciples. Amritanandamayi's disciple Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri said Pavithran was of "unstable mind". Amritanandamayi, who forgave Pavithran, said, "All those who are born will die one day. I am going ahead keeping this reality in mind. I will carry on. I will continue to give darshan to the devotees coming here to meet me."
In 2013, Gail Tredwell, a former disciple of Amṛtānandamayī, self-published a memoir of her 1980-99 tenure in Amṛtānandamayī's ashram. She made some allegations in this memoir as well as media interviews which preceded and followed the release of the book. The allegations, including the claim that Tredwell was physically assaulted by Amṛtānandamayī, have not been substantiated. Both Amṛtānandamayī and representatives of her ashram denied the allegations, saying that they were untrue and were aimed at exacting revenge for unfulfilled desires. In an interview in April 2014, Amṛtānandamayī spoke in depth about the incident, saying, "Even now, Amma is only filled with love for that daughter. I am praying that virtue and goodness come. Time will shine forth the truth."
Allegations by Gail Tredwell
 In June 2007, Shantanu Guha Ray wrote in
Source of foreign aid
In 2004, the Kerala State Government sanctioned criminal prosecution of Patthathanam, the owner of the publishing company, and the printer of the book on grounds that religious sentiments had been offended and for the libelous statements in the book. The order followed directions from the Kerala High Court to the Home Department for considering an application by T.K. Ajan, a resident of the Mata Amṛtānandamayī Math. CPI leader, Thengamam Balakrishnan protested the move against Pattathanam.
On 9 August 2002, Deshabhimani, a Malayalam daily newspaper owned by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), published a similar account, demanding investigation into the same deaths Pattathanam found suspicious. On 24 September 2002, Deshabhimani officially apologised for the report, publishing an article titled "Report that Suspicious Deaths at Amritanandamayi Math Are Growing Was Incorrect". The article stated: "We now state with conviction that there was nothing suspicious about deaths that happened in the Math. Some of the deaths mentioned in the article did not even take place at the Math." The article went on to explain that relatives of the deceased had personally contacted Deshabhimani in order to correct the misinformation conveyed in the original article. In several cases, the editors noted the relatives had contacted Deshabhimani to explain they were at the bedsides of elderly kin who had died of natural causes, with no suspicious aspects regarding the passings.
Sreeni Pattathanam, the Kerala-based head of the Indian Rationalist Association, wrote Matha Amritanandamayi: Sacred Stories and Realities, a controversial critique first published in 1985. The author claimed that all the "miracles" of Amṛtānandamayī were falsified. It was further written that there had been many suspicious deaths in and around her ashram that required police investigation.
Book by Sreeni Pattathanam
On September 27, 2015, Amritanandamayi pledged that her NGO would dedicate the value of another $15 million USD to toilet construction and other sanitation efforts specifically in the Indian state of Kerala.
On September 11, 2015, Amritanandamayi donated $15 million USD to the Government of India's Namami Gange "Clean the Ganges" program for the specific purpose of constructing toilets for poor families living along the Ganges River.
Clean The Ganges Program
Amritanandamayi's organization has been cleaning the Pampa River and Sabarimala Temple pilgrimage site annually since 2012.
 Following the
Embracing the World, Amma's network of charity organizations, provides food, housing, education, and medical services for the poor. This global network exists in 40 countries around the world, and has built and/or supported schools, orphanages, housing, and hospitals throughout India. In the United States, the organization has provided soup kitchens and hot showers for the homeless, books and hospital visits for prison inmates, and support for victims of domestic violence. The organization also raised $1 million in aid for Hurricane Katrina victims. The hospital located on the territory of Amma's ashram in Kerala offers medical care on a sliding scale, allowing people to pay what they can afford. This is often a minimal percent of the total medical cost.
Amṛtānandamayī has recorded more than 1,000 bhajans, or devotional songs, in 35 languages. She has also composed dozens of bhajans and set them to traditional ragas. Regarding devotional singing as a spiritual practice, Amṛtānandamayī says, "If the bhajan is sung with one-pointedness, it is beneficial for the singer, the listeners, and Nature as well. Later when the listeners reflect on the songs, they will try to live in accordance with the lessons enunciated therein." Amṛtānandamayī has said that in today's world, it is often difficult for people to attain deeply focused concentration in meditation. A person can be aided in reaching this level of concentration with bhajans.
 is not something to be attained after death, nor is it to be experienced or bestowed upon you in another world. It is a state of perfect awareness and equanimity, which can be experienced here and now in this world, while living in the body. Having come to experience the highest truth of oneness with the Self, such blessed souls do not have to be born again. They merge with the infinite."Jivanmukti [liberation while alive]. Amṛtānandamayī said, "jivanmukti This understanding itself Amṛtānandamayī referred to as