The Hindu spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi, lovingly called 'Amma', and known globally as India's "hugging saint mother ", Ms Amritanandamayi, which literally means "Mother of Absolute Bliss", was born to a low caste Hindu family in a poor fishing village in Parayakadavu, Kollam, in the southern Indian coastal state of Kerala. Amma began hugging devotees at an early age, and is said to have hugged at least 21 million people over the past three decades. In the 1980s, Amma founded her ashram to receive followers and offer them her healing hugs. There have been times when she has hugged over 20,000 devotees in a row over 20 hours at a stretch. Devotees find it blissful and soul-soothing, and Amma says her hug is her character and karma to console those who are sad.
Amma served as president of the Centenary Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993 and also spoke at the United Nations. She was awarded the Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence in 2002. Today she heads a global spiritual empire, is known as the messiah of the poor and downtrodden, and has followers ranging from Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia, US senator Larry Pressler, and Jr. Martin Luther Kings daughter Yolanda King.
In these times strength is found in unified action and the unifying force is love. If we can open our hearts and minds to these voicesin whatever form they appearthere is no limit to what we can achieve, says Amma.