Modern day saints are hard to come by these days, but they do exist. Ammachi is one such woman from southern India who is now hailed across the globe as a great saint and is endorsed by everyone from Oprah to the U.N. and the great peacemakers and religious figures of our modern civilization. Her story is a humble one, beginning in Kerala, India in 1953, in a small fishing town with every strike against her as a low caste, dark-skinned girl in traditional Hindu society. She was constantly in a rapturous state of devotion to Krishna from a very young age which, grew to producing miracles of healing and transformation, manifesting her physicality into the likeness of Krishna during a religious ceremony with many witnesses. There is a wonderful biography about Amma written by Judith Cornell, "Amma: Healing the Heart of the World."
Most importantly, Amma is known for her endless blessings to the people of the world, as she gives darshan for hours on end, hugging and blessing each individual, often without breaks as thousands upon thousands of people come to meet her and receive her healing embrace. She has blessed and held 25 million people around the world, in her arms. Her ashram in Kerala, Amritapuri, is home to over 2,000 disciples from around the globe who assist in her many humanitarian works. She spends 8-9 months out of every year on the road, blessing people and holding darshan to heal the heart of the world, one person at a time. This is an excerpt from her website, www.amma.org:
Once a press reporter asked Amma how was it possible for her to embrace each and every one in the same loving way, even if they were diseased or unpleasant. Amma replied, “ When a bee hovers over a garden of varied flowers, what it beholds is not the difference between the flowers but the honey within them. Similarly Amma sees the same Supreme Self in each and every one.”
As Dr. Jane Goodall, while presenting Amma with the 2002 Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence said, " She stands here in front of us. God's love in a human body."
Amma is responsible for the creation and maintenance of state-of-the-art hospital specializing in heart problems called, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), which services the poor and provides medical treatment and outreach to the community for free. She also has many universities, colleges, and vocational schools throughout India, offering degrees in Engineering, Computer Science, IT, Medicine and more at vitually no cost to the impoverished youth who attend.
In recent news, Amma worked with the United Nations in addressing the rash of farmer suicides in 2006 caused by debt due to crop failure and drought coupled with the introduction of genetically modified seeds sold to them under oppresive loan conditions. Farmer's were committing suicide by the thousands and Amma came to their aid, embracing and comforting them, as well as offering scholarships to the children and orphans left behind.
On an international scale, she has been recognized with honors of peace and non-violence at the highest level.
Events around Amma from 1993 - 2004 in the international stage:
1. 2006—The Interfaith center of New York presents Amma with the 4th annual James Parks Morton Interfaith Award at New York, USA.
2. 2004—Amma delivers closing plenary address of the ten-day gathering of the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions at Barcelona, Spain.
3. 2002 —The World Movement for Non-violence confers Amma with the Gandhi-King award for Non-violence at the UN headquarters in Geneva
4.2002 — Amma is the keynote speaker at the
Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the UN, Geneva.
5. 2000 — Amma is a keynote speaker
at the Millennium World Peace Summit, UN General Assembly, New York
6.1995 — Amma addresses the Interfaith Celebrations
at the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, New York
And if ever you find yourself close to her presence, you should do yourself a favor and give her a hug. It is quite amazing. I have experienced it several times, personally, and the feelings are unexpected and overwhelmingly wonderful. Her arms are like cosmic jumper cables and even if you thought you were running fine before, she gives your heart a little boost and your whole perspective gets a tune up. It is always a beautiful thing, to be in the presence of pure love and the peace it brings.