AMMA is undoubtedly one of the leading spiritual persons of our time. I like the way she is introduced in the book by one of her oldest disciples: “She is Love, she is Truth, she is the embodiment of Renunciation and Self-sacrifice.”
Born into a large family of fisherman in 1953, Amma was named Sudhamani by her parents. Although her birth was marked by unusual signs—her mother dreamed of giving birth to Krishna; she was born with dark blue complexion; and she lay in padmasana and chinmudra right at the time of her birth—her family members treated her harshly. By the time she was four, she sang with devotional fervour and invariably acquired a lost, abstract look. In school, she gave enough proof of her sharp intelligence and extraordinary memory. When she was nine, household chores were added to her daily schedule, and when the pressure of work at home increased, she had to quit school. Because she continued to compose and sing songs and help the needy, her mother and elder brother were angry with her.
For four years she was made to work at her maternal grandmother’s place, where, as a devotee of Krishna, she attracted the attention of her neighbours. Because she had nothing to offer to her Krishna, she offered him something that is truly extraordinary:
“I will offer thee a little of my pain
O Kanna, at Thy feet I will offer
the pearl drops of my tears.”
Back in her home in Idammanal, she was maltreated by her mother and brother. When her parents tried to arrange her marriage, she made the prospective grooms run away from the place. Her intense devotion to Krishna, which did not go unnoticed, made her experience Krishna bhava. In that state, she performed some miracles as well. In spite of being pestered by skeptics, rationalists, and disbelievers of various kinds, she continued with her singing and dancing. Even birds and animals flocked to hear her melodious voice. At one time, she even drank poisonous milk; at another time, she made wicks in lamps without oil lighten the place of her worship. After some time, she moved from Krishna bhava to Devi bhava, and became Amma to one and all. Whatever she needed to stay on course, she received from people who did not even know her.
The efforts of her enemies to use black magic and sorcery to destroy her did not work. Incensed by the criticisms of her family members, she made sure that her sisters were married with due propriety. Her growing influence brought together a band of young people, including some foreigners, to establish a Trust and Math in 1981. From 1987 to 1990, she made four trips abroad, where she has a large number of followers.
In the closing parts of the book, the author explains the various kinds of divine incarnations, provides short sketches of her early devotees, who came to live with her permanently at a young age, and presents a synoptic view of Ammaji’s “words of wisdom.” The book is heart warming and inspiring. It deserves to be read by all of us, so that we remember that even in our present-day world of materialist frenzy, it is possible to attain spiritual heights and help people by alleviating their pain and suffering.
(Amrita Books, Amrita Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Amritapuri, PO 690525 (Kerala))