|Sudhamani / Mātā Amritanandamayī Devi|
|Born||September 27, 1953
Parayakadavu, Kerala, India
Mātā Amritanandamayī Devi (Devanagari: माता अमृतानन्दमयी,Malayalam:മാതാ അമൃതാനന്ദമയി, born Sudhamani Idamannel, September 27, 1953) is a Hindu spiritual leader revered as a saint by her followers, who also know her as "Amma", "Ammachi" or "Mother". She is widely respected  for her humanitarian activities and is known as "the hugging saint".
In the words of Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, main devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi Math,
For Amma, removing the sorrows of others is as natural as drying the tears from her own eyes. The happiness of others, this is Amma’s happiness. The security of others, this is Amma’s security. The rest of others, this is Amma’s rest. This is Amma’s vision. And it is this vision that Amma’s life is dedicated to awakening in mankind.
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi was born Sudhamani Idamannel in the small village of Parayakadavu (now partially known as Amritapuri), near Kollam, Kerala in 1953 . Sudhamani was born to a fishing family of the Arayan caste. Her schooling ended when she was nine, and she began to take care of her younger siblings and the family domestic work full-time. She is known to the world as the "hugging mother". She was also the subject of a television documentary in the Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends series on BBC TV. She hugs people and passes on to them `energy'. Reportedly she has hugged and healed some 26 million people all over the world as part of her mission.
Matruvani is a monthly magazine featuring accounts of Amma's religious and humanitarian activities and stories by devotees. It is published by the Amritapuri Ashram in both Indian, and European languages. Matruvani was first published in 1984. The magazine has been translated into English, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and Hindi. European Matruvani is also published in French, German, Italian, Finnish and Spanish. Also published is a quarterly international magazine is known as "Immortal Bliss".
 Since 1981, she has been teaching spiritual aspirants all over the world. She founded a worldwide organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust, which is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities. She addressed the United Nations General Assembly.
The first set of monastic disciples of Mata Amritanandamayi came to her in the late 1970s. Today, they as well as other disciples and devotees look after the ashram's multifaceted activities. The first disciple to be initiated as a sanyasi was Swami Amritaswarupananda. Other senior disciples are Swami Paramatmananda, Swami Ramakrishnananda, Swami Purnamritananda, Swami Turiyamritananda, Swami Amritatmananda, Swami Pranavamritananda, Swamini Atmaprana and Swamini Krishnamritaprana. The ashram, known as the Mata Amritanandamyi Math (or Ashram), is located in Amritapuri. Bramachari Dayamrita Chaitanya is one of Amma's senior disciples stationed at the MA Center located in San Ramon, CA. He is in charge of all activities performed by the MA center in the US and all branch groups. Brahmacharini Dipamrita Chaitanya is in charge of the French ashram in Pontguin, France.
Mata Amritanandamayi is known to the world media as 'the hugging saint'. She offers an embrace, which is experienced by many as more than a "hug". It is a blessing and a sign of universal love, such as the laying of scarves (Buddist), the anointing of oil (Catholic) and the touching of feet (Hinduism). As part of this blessing, Mata Amritanadamayi frequently offers motherly consolation and encouragement. She calls it "a meeting of hearts". She accepts everyone and offers this blessing to everyone who approaches her and in India she has been known to individually embrace over 50,000 people in a day, sitting sometimes for over 20 hours. Worldwide, Mata Amritanandamayi is said to have embraced least 30 million people in the past 30 years.
"Darshan – The Embrace," a film on the life of Mata Amritanandamayi, was officially selected for showcasing at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. Jan Kounen, an award winning filmmaker who was born in Netherlands and is based in France, directed the film. Manuel De La Roche of France, is the producer. Jan Kounen and his crew began shooting the footage for the film in 2003 during Amritavarsham50, Mata Amritanandamayi's 50th birthday celebrations in Kochi. The team also traveled with her on her Indian and International tours in order to complete the movie. About the film, Kounen says, "when I first took up the project and started filming, I thought, 'Amma is a good person, doing good things, in turn I can do something good for her'. But as it went on, I realized, no, I am the one who is receiving the gift".  Darshan The Embrace - Official film website
Mata Amritanandamayi Math's website describes various charitable and humanitarian projects undertaken by the organization. Examples include a program to build 100,000 homes for the poor; hospitals; orphanages; hospices; women's shelters; pension disbursements for widows; community aid centers; homes for the aged; eye clinics; and speech therapy centers. Many of Amma's centers in the US run 'Mother's Kitchen', or 'vegetarian soup-kitchens', where volunteers prepare and serve meals to the poor and needy.
The M.A. Math runs around 100 schools, 20 temples, a super-speciality hospital in Kochi, feeds thousands from its kitchen, provides pensions every year to over 15,000 widows, builds 25,000 houses annually for the homeless and has 35 Amma welfare centres worldwide to spread her spiritual message.
M.A. Math announced a billion rupees (23 million dollars) in aid to the victims of the 2004 tsunami. The Math's relief work is happening in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andaman & Nicobar islands and in Sri Lanka. The Math spent over 100 crores for the rehabilitation of the victims in Tamil Nadu. Also they opened a school at Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu for the affected children and it was opened recently in June 2009.
In September 2005, Mata Amritanandamayi donated $1,000,000 to the Bush-Clinton Hurricane Katrina fund. She also sent a top aide to the devastated areas soon after the storm struck in the United States to assess the kind of help needed by victims.
In October 2005, thousands of blankets were sent and distributed to the survivors of the Kashmir and Pakistan earthquake.
|“||Only when human beings are able to perceive and acknowledge the Self in each other can there be real peace. —Amma||”|
|“||Sorrow is the guru which takes you closer to God. —Amma||”|
|“||Asking how many times one should chant the mantra is like asking how much water should be given to a plant for it to yield fruit. Watering is required, but the amount of water depends on the nature of the plant, the climate, the quality of the soil, and so on. Water alone is not enough. The plant needs sunlight, fertilizer, air and protection from pests as well. Similarly, on the spiritual path, chanting the mantra is just one facet. Good deeds, good thoughts, and association with virtuous people (satsang) are also necessary. When all of these are present, then one gets the benefit according to God’s will. -Amma||”|
|“||Bhakti towards an object or towards the work that we are doing is important. This feeling comes only when one does the work with concentration. It is a feeling of oneness, of merging in the work. In the same way, although God’s name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhâva or concentration, it becomes more powerful. -Amma||”|
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. His main contentions are that the Math's claims to miracles are bogus, and that there have been many suspicious deaths in and around her ashram, which need police investigation. The research work contains elaborate references to court records, newspaper reports and quotations from well-known literary figures, including statements from the Math's close relatives and an interview with Amritanandamayi herself.
Amritanandamayi was then less well known than later, when the Math demanded prosecution of the author and persuaded the government to act. The State government sanctioned prosecution of Pattathanam, the owner of the publishing company, and the printer of the book. The order followed directions from the Kerala High Court to the State's Home Department for considering an application by a devotee and inmate of the Mata Amritanandamayi Ashramam, T.K. Ajan, to criminally prosecute the three, based on criticisms found in the book.
The order ultimately received international attention, and was rescinded after criticism by Humanists, Rationalists, writers, and the Communist Party.
Mātā Amritanandamayī Devi (Devanagiri: माता अमृतानन्दमयी, Malayalam: മാതാ അമൃതാനന്ദമയി; born 27 September 1953) is an Indian spiritual leader revered as a saint by her followers, who also know her as "Amma", "Ammachi" or "Mother". She is a widely respected humanitarian and called by some "the hugging saint".