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Guru Mata Amritanandamayi aka Amma is currently in Europe for a hugging tour! Toulon, Barcelone, Milan, Dublin… Every day, this little woman from Kerala fills concert halls with people who come to be embraced by her. She has already been humbly called« the Mahatma »!
Amma is famous worldwide. She spreads love everywhere but she also makes money by selling pictures of herself, God statuettes or books dealing with her principles. She uses this money to help people in need; – orphans, victims of tsunamis and hurricanes -. Her charity is called Embracing the World. She has ashrams in many countries, as well as schools, hospitals and orphanages.
Is she the guru of a sect?
In France, we are very suspicious towards that kind of activities and we have a very strict definition of what a religion is and what a sect is. To be short, you are in a sect if you follow a cult whose members manipulate you psychologically in order to keep you far from your family or friends, to take your money and to endanger you – by raping you or by preventing you from resorting to usual medecine, for example.
If a cult is considered as a sect, it hasn’t the same rights as a religion and is watched by the authorities. That’s why Scientology has often been considered as a sect in France whereas it is a religion in the USA.
But let’s go back to Amma Ji! Despite little suspicion from the French authorities, she is not considered as the terrible guru of an evil sect, of course, because she doesn’t seem to wash people’s brains too excessively. She only gives love and positive energy by embracing them and making them sing. Besides, she says in this French interview she does not preach for a religion but for a way of living. She considers that people should improve in their own religion.
However, Amma seems to have modern thoughts.
On NBC Today, she said in 2001: “Whether in America or in any other part of the world, motherhood is not a quality that women alone should have. Men should also awaken to their innate feminine qualities, which is the need of the age. »
She also praises the virtues of ecology and has created an environmentalist organization called Greenfriends to make human beings closer to nature.
For my part, and despite all these good intentions I must admit I’m perplexed. I always try to be tolerant to any belief but I think her worshippers may need love and affection to wait for being in her arms and to burst into tears. In the West, some people still look for spirituality in countries where it is disappearing but really, Amma’s cuddles don’t attract me!
In any case, this woman fascinates the world and more precisely the French. Jan Kounen made a film on her. I found a link to this film with French comments by the director. Very interesting even if you are not very keen on that kind of spirituality and if you understand French, of course. The film is called Darshan, l’Etreinte . Très beau!