A Critical Look At The Biography Of Amma

I would like to bring to your kind attention the biography of Mata Amritanadamayi written by swami Amritasvarupanada. This book was published by: Mata Amritanadamayi Mission Trust, Amritapuri P.O. Kollam, 690525, Kerala, India and printed by: Amrita Offset Printers, Amritapuri. These companies are affiliated with Amma’s spiritual organization and stated as Mata Amritanadaayi Mission Trust, Amritapuri, Kollam in the book. Unfortunately there is no ISBN, this being the nature of many books printed in India. 1988 was the first edition, 3000 copies are stated to be sold or made (i’m unsure). 1989 another 3000, 1992 – 2000 copies, 1993 – 3000, 1995 – 3000, 1996 -6000, 1997 – 6000, 1998 – 3900, 1999 – 5000, 2000 – 5000, 2001 –
5000.

I’m not aware if this book is still around. I have read this book and upon closer inspection have concluded some findings about Amma which I would like to pose to the readers. It is up to you to judge.

I am also aware of mayi’s marketing technique which shows her materializing water from milk. Apparently she is against doing miracles and does this to show her powers, that was back when she was still young. But the funny part is that she lets this marketing gimmick to be done by allowing a ‘remake documentary’ of this episode. Can she demonstrate this power today under scientific scrutiny? Anyway, there’s also another cheap gizmo which makes her to be the hinted as the mother of the universe.

Both of these videos can be seen at

Indians deify people who help out or who have done good towards them. This is a tendency in the people. Many also have revered siddhars and souls who have realized god. But many do not understand that realizing god/brahman is just a state, it is not becoming a god or a superman.

Let us now see what is written in her biography.

a) Sudhmani aka Ammachi’s parents are said to be initially non
understanding of the divine child’s spiritual fervour and said to
continually beat and torture the child.

But, in the autobiography though the above is presented there is
serious contradictions. For example, both of Sudhamani’s parents are
said to be highly spiritual nature. In page 20, chapter 1: From life
itself, it is written –

” Many pious souls had been born in the Idamannel family. Sri
Velayudham was such a man. He was a very compassionate, truthful and
generous person, who firmly held the ideal of ahimsa. He would not
allow even a little rat to be killed. Velayudhan was married to
Srimathi Mathavi, a chaste and pious woman, whose habit was to get up
early in the morning before dawn in order to make flower garlands for
all the deities in the family shrine room…….

Sugunandan was their eldest sone of five children. Inspired by the
devotional atmosphere of his family, he became an ardent devotee of
lord krishna. When he was nine or ten years old, he began studying
Kathakali, a classical dance drama of Kerala, which depicts games and
playful diversion of gods and goddesses. While the actors present the
story through dance and mudras, singers narrate the story through
songs.

The character Sugunanadan most loved to portray was Sri Krishna. Once
during a Kathakali performance he became so identified with his role
of Krishna that he fell unconscious on the stage”.

From here we know that both Sudhamani’s (future amritanandamayi)
paternal grandparents were pious, the grandpa would have been taken
in by gandhi’s ahimsa preaching.

Sugunandan, Sudhamani’s dad is also portrayed as pious. But there is
also a interesting twist here. Ramakrishna was a saint from bengal.
He was from the 19th century and his advent was much much earlier, he
was also quite popularized due to Vivekananda who sailed to the west
and opened up Hindu thought to the curious west. Ramakrishna’s
biography is well known, it was recorded by many people, but the most
famous was by Mahendra gupta, also known as M. In it the child
Ramakrishna is said to be fond of theaterics, much like Sugunandan
also. In one of these, Ramakrishna becomes so absorbed with the role
of Shiva that he becomes unconscious. Here this unconsciousness to
the external environment is due to samadhi. The samadhi is
Ramakrishna’s total absorption on Shiva. The crowd is said to be
overcome with awe and a feeling that Ramakrishna is Shiva himself.
Sugunandan also like Ramakrishna acts in one of this form of theatre
acting out puranas like Kathakali. Like Ramakrishna he also becomes
absorbed on Sri Krishna and becomes unconscious. It should be noted
that Sugunandan was also a child like Ramakrishna when this is said
to have occured.

However, the author stops short of calling Sugunanda’s absorption
samathi and we also do not know how the crowd reacted to this. No
reason is given for sugunanda’s unconsciousness, though this is said
to have occured due to becoming very identified with his role of Sri
Krishna.

It is not difficult to see that the child Sudhamani would have
learned this antics from her father and later on also portrays
herself to be Sri Krishna. However so unlike her father, she goes a
step further by saying she herself is the divine incarnation.

Let us now look at a description of her mother Damayananti. In page
21 of the same chapter:

“….Damayananti came from a devout family, which performed religious
practices daily without fail. Her family even had its own temple.
From childhood, Damayananti had led a virtuos life. Her father,
Punyan, and mother, Karutta Kunya, were exemplary devotees of god.
The whole family atmospehre supported her in leading a religious
life. Damayanti was so pious that she was reverently called by the
villagers, ‘pattathi amma’, or the ‘brahmana lady. As devotion to god
was her focus in life, she would observe various religious vows
almost every day of the weeek. She frequently undertook fasting and
would break her fast by drinking the water of tender coconuts which
mysteriously feel from the trees.”

So here too Damayananti, Sudhamani’s mother and paternal grandparents
are portrayed as being very pious and spiritual. Damayananti, though
belonging to the fisher-caste clan, even earns the nickname –
brahmana lady due to this. The family even has their own temple.

As such it is not difficult to see that Sudhamani is exposed to
religion from very young.

Let us see Damayanti’s reaction when Sudhamani was born, from page 23
of the same chapter:

” The babe had a beaming smile on her tiny face! The gaze of the
child penetrated Damayanti’s innermost heart and was never
forgotten.”

From here we can know that the child has had such an impact on
Damayananti from the day she was born. It pierced her innermost heart
and was never forgotten – these are very emotional claims. She
definitely remembered this long enough to be passed on.

In fact both parents have had visions of gods and goddesses before
Sudhamani was born, just like Ramakrishna’s parents too.

Page 22, Chapter 1:

” During her pregnancy, Damayanti began having strange visions.
Sometimes she had wonderful dreams of Lord Krishna; at other she
beheld the divine play of Lord Shiva and Devi, the Divine Mother. One
night Damayanti dreamt that a mysterious figure came to entrust her
with an idol of Sri Krishna cast in pure gold. Around the same time
Sugunandan had a dream of the divine mother. As he was a devotee of
Lord krishna, he was unable to understand why devi should suddenly
appear to him. Upon relating his story to damayanti, he found that
she had recently had may strange visions also…..

One night Damayanti had a wonderful dream that she had given birth to
Krishna, and he was lying on her lap drinking her breast milk. ”

It is very rare that people dream of gods and goddesses during their
pregnancies and for their spouses to have likewise dream also. It is
surprising that Damayanti and Sugunandan couldn’t draw a conclusion
that the child might be divine. Unlike Ramakrishna’s parents,
Sudhamani’s parents however become barbaric later on.

It is said that the child had a dark blue color, due to this, it is
said in page 24 (chapter 1):

“….ironically, it was because of her blue-black complexion, that
Damayanti and the other family members would look upon the child with
great disdain. Their aversion for the dark child eventually led them
to treat her as the thankless servant of the family and relatives.”

The family is said to have consulted the doctors for this ailment of
dark skin when this child was born. Let us see what is written. In
page 23 & 24 of the chapter: ” The parents were puzzled by the babe’s
dark blue complexion and the fact that the child lay in padmasana
(lotus posture), holding her fingers in chinmudra (the mudra
symbolizing oneness with godhood). They feared this dark blue shade
might be a symptom of some strange disease and that the peculiar
posture might be due to abnormal bone structure. Various doctors were
consulted. The fear of bone abnormality was allayed when the doctors
confirmed that there was no such handicap. As for the skin color, it
could not be attributed to heredity, since both damayanti and
sugunanadan were light tan in skin tone. Hence the parents were
advised not to bathe the child for six months in the hope that the
mysterious ailment would disappear.”

This is quite strange that both parents were not aware of padmasana’s
and chinmudra, being from quite a religious and spiritual background.
Moreover, if it was true that the baby was dark blue, how did the
parents didn’t know of the color being associated with Krishna?

It also adds further doubt to the above story when doctors are
actually said to advise the parents to not bathe the child for six
months. I am not aware if this is the standard remedy practiced by
Keralite doctors for ‘mysterious skin ailments’. In fact this is
dubious only. By not bathing the child might most probably get skin
diseases like rashes, fungal infections and maybe other bacterial
infecions also.

Moreover, Sugunandan and Damayanti are both from the fishermen-caste.
These people go out in the sun to catch fish. We know that via
evolution, humans exposed to hot sun will finally assume a dark skin
color. This is because melanin which gives the tan blocks out harmful
sunrays. As such, most of these clanspeople are bound to be brown or
black only. In fact, there are many Indians who are pitch black. This
is not a rarity.Damayanti’s mom is known as Karutta Kunya which
translates to ‘black child’. Please do not misunderstand my intention
as being color discriminatory. No, it is not my intention. Nature has
made melanin to block out sun’s rays. In humans near the equator,
they have over a very large period of time acquire characteristics
which help them survive in their surroundings. This is basic
evolution. As such it is difficult to imagine Sugunanda’s uproar
seeing his daughter’s skin. There are many dark skinned woman in the
village also. Sugunandan, his wife, his elder son and some relatives
are portrayed as quite barbarous in their treatment of Sudhamani.
This is hard to believe for one who is entrenched in religious
virtue, has a wife of religious virtue, has family background of
religiousity and also attains samadhi while nine years old. It is
said that samadhi changes one’s perception towards things
permanently. Yet Sugunandan has reverted (or portrayed) to become a
monster.

Let us look at further contradicitions in the book. In chapter 25 of
the same chapter, it is written;
” The parents gave the name Sudhamani, “Ambriosal Jewel”, to their
remarkable baby daughter.” This hardly depicts someone who hates the
blue black baby.

Let us now look at the barbarous treatment of Sudhamani as given in
the book: ” At ten, Sudhamani was fored to abandon her schooling.
From early morning before dawn until late at night she labored….
(last paraghraph, page 37, chapter 2 – the divine servant)

…..sudhamani toiled from three o’clock in the morning, as she set
to work cleaning the house, sweeping the compoung, fetching water,
cooking the food, tending the cows, milking them, washing the clothes
and scrubbing the cooking vessels.” (2nd paragraph, page 37, chapter
2).

….when her crying continued, Sugunandan eventually lost his
patience and flung (the baby Sudhamani) on the cot. Page 28, chapter
1.

It is difficult to understand the reason for the parents stopping the
brilliant child Sudhamani compared to their other children. This is
illustrated in page 27 – chapter 1: ” Her older classmates, including
her brother and sister, sometimes received harsh punishment from the
teacher for being unable to learn verses of poetry by heart.
Meanwhile, little Sudhamani, who was studying in the lower grade,
would melodiously sing the peoems and dance to the melody like a
delicate butterfly. all the teachers admired her and were amazed by
Kunju’s (sudhamani) astonishing memory. She scored full marks in all
subjects and was ranked first in class, despite the fact that she was
often absent because of household responsibilities. ”

In fact so harsh is the treatment that the child says the mother
treats her like a daughter-in-law and not a daughter. Traditionally
in some families, daughter-in-laws are maltreated for heavy dowry and
not bearing a male heir, this treatment passed on to generations just
like the ‘ragging’ tradition in the universities in the past.

Apart from this Sudhamani also claims many things which cannot be
observed now, nor which she has demonstrated. These include:

1) animals tendering her body during tapas, etc the garudas which
bring fish for her food.

2) miraculously lighting lamps without oil and with use of water.

3) changing water into milk.

4) giving endless supply of food from a small vessel, more like Jesus
Christ.

Apart from this Sudhamani has also caused griveous hurt to her cousin
by her own words. Let us look at the unfolding of events as it is
given. Subhagan is Sudhamani’s cousin. He and another cousin are
irked with Sudhamani’s claims of being god. Apart from them there are
also others. These have formed a commitee called ‘Rationalist
movement’ and ‘commitee to stop blind beliefs’. We do not get any
account from this group, just swami amritasvarupananda’s comments as
recorded in the book. As such a honest look of events cannot be had
in this book. However so Subhagan and his cousin one day will try to
scare Sudhamani and which will end disastrously for the cousin.

Page 144 – chapter 8- dazzling like a million suns: ” One day,
subhagan and a few of his cousins called the Mother to a relative’s
house under a false pretext. When she arrived, they locked her in a
room and one cousins began threatening her, sudenly pulling out a
knife which he had hidden in his clothing. Subhagan announced, “This
behavior of yours has gone too far! You are bound to spoil the family
name. Since you cannot stop mixing freely with all sorts of people
and persist in your sining and dancing, it is better you die.” He was
enraged to hear the Mother laugh and retort, “I am not afraid of
death.The body must meet its end sooner or later, but it is
impossible for you to kill the Self. Now that you are determined to
kill me, let me meditate a while, then you can kill me”. ”

The last utterance of Sudhamani is similar to Shankara’s when he
faces death at the hands of bandits. Seeing Sudhamani’s past in which
she would have been exposed to much of hindu literature, it is not
difficult to assume how she would have arrived to such a concoction
of a story, passed on by the faithful swami amrita, tsk!

What conspires later, (page 144, chapter 8): “…though they verbally
threatened the holy mother (sudhamani), none of them was courageous
enough to do anything to her after hearing her bold reply and seeing
her unperturbed. Suddenly the cousin who had brandished the knife
jumped forward and pressed the kinfe against her chest as if to stab
her. But he could not make another move, as he was immediately
stricken by an excruciating pain in his own chest at the exact point
where he pressed the knife against Holy Mother’s. He himself fell to
the floor in agony. Seeing this, the others in the room became filled
with dread. At this moment Damayanti arrived, having seen Sudhamani
leaving with Subhagan and his cousins. Hearing the uproar, she began
pounding on th door, shouting. When the door was opened, Damayanti
took the Holy Mother by the hand and led her home, taking the path by
the shore. On tbe way back, the Mother told Damayanti, “your people
dishonored me. This ocean is my mother as well. She will accept me
happily with outstretched arms. I am going to her lap”. Hearing this
Damayanti became mentally unbalanced and began screaming, ” don’t say
that, daughter!”……..succeeding in dissuading the Holy Mother, she
took her back to Idamannel. ”

It is hard to imagine that for one who has claimed to cross the stage
of non-duality and attaining oneness with god (as stated throughout
the book), Sudhamani becomes angry at humiliation. This shows her
attachment to the body. She has not realized that which is not
destructible. It is false where she shouts she is not the body.
Actually, Shankara who said this thing after being confronted by the
bandits and saved by his disciple will not show any aversion to the
bandits. This is different to Sudhamnani’s reaction. This is because
the cousin brother who dared to point the knife to her mysteriously
dies. Though his death is not known to us, let us read Sudhamani’s
version via swami amrita. Page 145, Chapter 8: ” The episode doesn’t
end here. The cousin who had raised the knife against the Mother to
stab her was taken in pain to the hospital. Though provided with
excellent medical treatment, he finally died, continuously vomiting
blood. As his disease was in its acute stages, the Holy Mother
visited him in the hospital. She lovingly consoled him and fed him
with her own hands. He was deeply repentant toward her for his grave
mistake, and burst into tears experiencing her compassion and
forgiveness.

The holy mother had no enmity toward her cousin who had attempted to
murder her, nor had she made any resolve to avenge his evil act. He
simply suffered the fruit of his action. The Mother explained, ” Just
as human beings have intense love for Mother, numerous subtle beings
love her as well. If somebody attempts to harm Mother, Mother does
not react. Mother faces such a person without any excitement and does
not even think any harmful thought regarding him who acts out of
ignorance. But these subtle beings get angry and take revenge. Do you
understand how this is? Suppose someone’s mother is attacked by a
man. Do the children sit back indifferent? Even if their mother tries
to stop them, they find that man and take revenge.” – page 145,
chapter 8.

Now let us pause and think. What is Sudhamani implying here. First of
all she claims to not react. Yet she initially wanted to drown
herself due to humiliation. Then she talks about visiting the cousin
who is also repentant. She forgives him and he wallows due to her
compassionate and forgiving nature. So this means that he has
repented and deeply regrets his actions. So why does this man has to
suffer anyway? He has not caused any hurt to Sudhamani except for
threatening. For this has he got to die? Sudhamani cites karma or
divine retribution for this. But she does have weird ideas of how
karma works. She says that ‘subtle beings’ have exacted their
revenge. We do not know who these are nor does she elaborate. We are
to assume that these are divine beings. Even as a human being I will
not punish somebody who has repented as seriously as these subtle
beings have done, here I mean in the context of the act that the
cousin brother carried out against Sudhamani. On top of this she even
claims that this subtle beings are likened to the children which seek
out revenge if someone slights their mom, even if the mother tries to
stop them. Quite disturbing conclusions can be made from here. First
of all even though Sudhamani has forgiven, the subtle beings killed
her cousin. Is Sudhamani implying that she has no control over these
subtle beings? I mean if god forgives, it can even override karma.
Even companies overwrite bad debts. That is the true meaning of
forgiving, don’t you think so? If I were to suffer my actions
regardless of being forgiven by god, what is the need of this? On top
of that, these subtle beings attacked him due to anger. This is
unbecoming of Sudhamani’s subtle children whom she has no control of,
they even don’t give a damn even though she has forgiven the cousin
and she was actually unhurt. Moreover the cousin repents and regrets
his actions.

Let me ask, if these ‘subtle beings’ were in fact true human beings
and Sudhamani also acknowledges likewise, what would have happened?
If I go and kill a guy who threatens my mom with a knife, but who
couldn’t or didn’t do any harm, and also who was eventually forgiven
by my mother, what do you think will happen to me? I will go behind
bars only. What will happen to my mother who claims the grand law of
karma, thus justifying my act? At the same time she also acts
forgiving by saying that she has no anger towards the killed man.

This whole episode and Sudhamani’s response to it sounds like a big
drama only. Or is there any hidden truth? It also teaches false
paradoxes. She acts humane, forgiving etc. She quotes Karma. She lets
subtle beings kill someone who has repented and who she has forgiven,
quoting the divine dispensation of Karma. She also says these subtle
beings reacted out of anger and she has no control over them. Aren’t
subtle beings supposed to have subtlety, I mean more forgiving than
human?

My dear readers, ponder on these truths for a while..I will get back
to you in my part two of my rendition of a critical look at mata
amritandamayi.

To be continued.

-Sashi

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7 Responses to “A Critical Look At The Biography Of Amma”

  1. m Says:

    Great !!

  2. m Says:

    Sudamayi and her organaization is fraud.

  3. m Says:

    I know many people who got lost their life due this sudhamayi and her swamis

  4. PN Says:

    I generally try my level best not to condemn anyone. I hope that Ammachi is a genuinely holy person; but on analysis it is becoming more difficult for me to hold this view. Consider the following.
    1) The organization should reflect the leader’s ideals. Also the leader cannot say that he/she is not responsible for the actions of his/her devotees. Many reports abound where Ammachi devotees behaved like a bunch of thugs, and beat up innocent people with iron pipes etc. The organization did not have the courtesy to apologize for this.
    2) The organization is interested only in making money. Anyone who has visited the main ashram will tell you that all the monks there are interested in is ripping off as much money as they can from visitors.
    3) A lot of murders have been committed in the main ashram.
    4) A real saint will normally cut off all ties from his/her immediate family so that he/she can serve the whole world better. Ammachi is still strongly connected to her family, although her parents now live away from her ashram. She makes long telephone calls to her parents almost every night. This is to check to see if her parents are behaving. It is a known fact that her father is now behaving like a rogue, and has done many terrible things. It is even reported that he once boasted to his friends that even if he murdered someone, the police will not touch him as the Prime Minister is a devotee of his daughter.
    5) When someone asked Ammachi what she thought about Sai Baba, she replied that he is born pure. This is shocking, as video proof now exists that all the miracles he performs are fake. Further, there is mounting evidence that he is also a gay predator. It is believed that in the early days she had to run and hide from the police. She ran to Sai Baba’s ashram and hid out there till the heat cooled down. Perhaps he taught her then how to fool the gullible public.
    6) People are now getting fed up of her hugging, and recognize it as just a gimmick, without any spiritual value. So what does the organization do ? It cooks up a story that her hugging will improve greatly the libido of men.
    As I stated above, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to consider her as a saint. I hope someone can prove me wrong to enable me to change my mind – but this might take some doing, as the evidence to the contrary seems overwhelming. But I’m still keeping my options open.

  5. cultofthehuggingsaint Says:

    Thank you for your relevant comments. Could you please elaborate on the business of claims of Amma’s hugs improving the libido? I have not heard this reference before.

  6. PN Says:

    I heard it being mentioned by several Indian men recently. They must have got this information from somewhere – the most likely source I suspect is from the marketing arm of the organization itself.

  7. narendra nayak Says:

    Sudha mani.s claims of miracles has never been substantiated or repeated. When she came to Mangalore the lamps were not lit using water. There were electirc lights all around She never went to the leprosy ward of any hospital she just sat on a dais hugging people for a fraction of a minute. they were being simply pushed around by the goras around her. even she has a fascination for goras. though she is black she would like to be surrounded by the whites and show off.


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