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Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – India’s Hugging Saint

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is a spiritual leader of a different kind. She doesn’t preach, she doesn’t ride around in a massive bullet proof Mercedes, she doesn’t sit atop a mountain and she’s really ruining the business for everybody else as she allows commoners to touch her. In fact, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is such a spiritual person that when the occasional reference of a saint is attached to her name, nobody seems to mind.

Achieving this level of notoriety was, as you’d imagine, not easy, but not for reasons you might imagine. Amma, as she’s commonly refered to, is famous for having touched the lives of more than 20 million people.Unlike your average politician, Amma (which translates into English as “mother”) has gotten this far by offering each and every one of them a motherly hug. Unlike your average free hug mob situation, when Amma is in town nobody shies away from the proceedings.

Photo © dog974

As she tours several cities in India every year, she regularly works an astonishing 18 hour day  and she will give out up to 15.000 motherly hugs to people that have lost hope, are trying to find it or simply feel like they need a warm touch. Only recently Amma has started to reach out to people on other continents and over the last few years she’s drawn crowds to various places across the globe. At the moment she’s touring the United States and her impact is so strong that even in places often described “soulless” like New York people stand in line for hours for a couple of minutes worth of these motherly hugs.

Photo © Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

No matter how clinical you are, such a feeling must be innate to you. After all, all Mata Amritanandamayi Devi does is make you feel happy without asking for anything in return. I mean it, stand in line, get your hug, some hope, perhaps even personal fulfillment and you’re on your way. There’s no cashier and there certainly aren’t any bouncers.Even though there’s plenty of merchandising to be bought on the side (some of which can be rather pricey) pretty much all of the money raised goes to Amma’s foundation and, subsequently to the hospitals, schools, orphanages, pension rolls and whatever needy people that have gotten in touch with her organization.

All of this was achieved by hugging people and spreading love around in its purest form. Amma does exactly what a mother does, except she treats everybody like her own child.

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