- About Amritapuri Ashram
- About Maa Amritanandmayi
- Activities at Amritapuri
Built up on the very property where Amma was born, Amritapuri is now the headquarters of Amma’s worldwide mission and the spiritual home for Amma’s monastic disciples and hundreds of householder devotees. All the residents have dedicated their lives for realising God and serving the world. Every day, Amma’s children from across India and abroad flock here to have Amma’s darshan. She sees each and every one, listens to their worries, consoles, encourages, provides new direction to their lives.
Amritapuri is the living example of the ancient Indian ideal “the whole world is one family” (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). Here you will find people from all parts of the world — speaking different languages and having different customs and religions — all living under one roof. In their quest for the meaning of life, each has forgotten their differences and become a child of Amma.
About Amritapuri Ashram
At the Mata Amritanandamayi Math in Amritapuri near Quilon, South Kerala, there is a beautiful temple that houses more than seven hundred full-time residents.
The day dawns early in Amritapuri Ashram (monastery) located in the backwaters of Kerala. At 4.30 a.m. in the morning, most residents are up and begin to involve themselves on various activities. While some take their shower, others clean the sandy yard outside the temple or cook in the kitchen for the large number of residents, or get the shrine ready for the morning worship. The roar of the Arabian Sea plays constantly upon one’s ears, even as the temple bells chime to remind devotees about the chanting of the Divine Mother’s thousand names (Lalita Sahasranama).
The main idol at the Amritapuri Ashram is that of the fierce Goddess Kali. Carved in black stone, she has her red tongue hanging fearsomely out, while she holds in her hand a sword. It is said that Kali can hack off the ego with great ease. Once rid of this, the greatest impediment to finding inner peace, the devotee is on his way to attaining self-realization.
To execute the teachings of the Holy Mother many devotees have chosen to give up their humdrum lives and follow the rigorous routine of the Amritapuri Ashram, where selfless service forms a large part of the daily routine. The Mother allows those who are more inclined towards introspection to meditate undisturbed for as long as they can, without expecting them to participate in the Amritapuri Ashram chores. Since prayer, meditation, and service are all paths to the same goal, the Mother leads her disciples to the goal along the path most suited to them.
About Maa Amritanandmayi
Many people wonder how a little girl from a simple South Indian village came to be known throughout the world as “Amma, the Mother of All.” Motherhood, in its ultimate sense, has nothing to do with bearing a child, but with love, compassion and selflessness. It lies in totally giving one’s self to others.
If we look at Amma’s life, this is what we see—someone who has offered her every thought, word and deed for the benefit of others. Giving is the essence. It’s just that when the homeless come crying for shelter and Amma gives them a house, we call her a “humanitarian.” And when the sorrowful come crying for emotional solace and she gives them love, we call her a “mother.” And when those thirsty for spiritual knowledge come earnestly seeking and she gives them wisdom, we call her a “guru.” This attitude of selflessly serving all creation, knowing others to be extensions of one’s own self, Amma refers to as vishwa matrutvam—universal motherhood. And it is to this pinnacle of human existence that Amma is trying to awaken the world through her life, teachings and darshan [divine embrace].
Questions about the nature of the soul, the universe and God; about dharma, love and family life; about meditation and other spiritual practices…. Amma has been clearing the doubts of sincere seekers on such subtle subjects since her youth. She never had a guru nor studied the Vedas, yet she speaks on the truths expressed within the scriptures with wisdom, clarity and true insight. Hers is not an academic knowledge, but the knowledge of one who is ever-established in the Ultimate Reality. It is for this reason that Amma’s simple childhood home has become the spiritual home to thousands—an ashram where aspirants from around the world reside in order to imbibe Amma’s wisdom and realize the Truth that is their real nature. The seeker is instructed as per his level—from the child to the sannyasi [monk].
Seeing the whole world as an extension of her own self, Amma is ever ready to forego her own body’s needs in order to bring a smile to someone’s face, wipe their tears or to simply listen to their sorrows. The sweet manner in which she laughs and jokes with people, shares in their success and failure has endeared millions to her throughout the world. In fact, many see Amma as their lifelong confidant and friend. Giving darshan in this manner is verily Amma’s life—day after day, week after week, year after year. In fact, Amma has been doing so since she was just 17 years old, and she has been known to sit embracing people continuously for as long as 22 hours. Amma is able to make such a personal sacrifice because in her arms people feel safe, feel comforted, loved, feel that finally they’ve found someone who knows them through and through. And with that feeling they get the strength to move forward in life, and this, Amma feels, is infinitely more important than her physical needs. Be they young or old, sick or healthy, rich or poor—everyone receives the same unconditional love. Amma turns no one away. The atheist has just as much a place with Amma as the devotee.
For Amma, Advaita [non-dualism] is not a mere philosophy, but something to be lived. As such, Amma’s every thought, word and deed resound with that greatest of truths: Everything within and without is divine. Accordingly, Amma oversees a massive matrix of humanitarian activities. Hospitals for the sick, homes for the homeless, disaster relief, orphanages, hospices, free pensions, suicide-prevention, employment programs… the list is endless. Influenced by Amma’s example and experiencing her pure love, thousands upon thousands of people from around the world have been inspired to take up a life of service—giving whatever time or money they can spare in order to help others. It is the seed of love Amma has planted within them beginning to sprout that has brought this about. This has been Amma’s vision from the beginning. Amma says, “In today’s world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion. Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first—because, if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter.” This is the secret behind the success of Amma’s charitable mission and how its expansion seems to be constant and without end. And the brilliance of Amma’s grand scheme is that not only are the downtrodden uplifted but also the volunteers, as the selflessness of their actions purifies their minds, helping them to gradually progress along the spiritual path. Amma’s charitable social services cross all barriers of nationality, race, caste and religion, and have drawn the attention of the world community. In 2005, Amma’s organization, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, was given special consultative status by the United Nations.
Humanitarian, Mother, Friend, Guru, God…people see her differently. Amma has offered herself to the world. In reality, Amma is beyond all such roles, knowing her true nature to be the true nature of us all—the blissful divine consciousness that pervades this universe. But out of her infinite compassion, Amma comes down to the level of whoever is standing before her—the poor, the lonely, the seeker—in order to give what is desired, what is needed. It was for this purpose alone that Amma was born and for this alone that Amma lives today. In fact, Amma has said that she wishes to be lovingly caressing someone, consoling them and wiping their tears even when she breathes her last.
Activities at the Ashram
Disaster Relief: Under Amma’s guidance, the Ashram has been providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims of a series of natural disasters—earthquakes in Gujarat and Kashmir, floods in Mumbai, Gujarat and Bihar, hurricanes in the United States, the Indian Ocean Tsunami… In the face of these tragedies, Amma’s Ashram has provided everything from food, medicine and temporary shelter to new homes, counseling and jobs. Furthermore, the Ashram’s provision of emotional succor and long-term support has carried thousands through the darkest periods of their lives into the light of a hopeful tomorrow.
The relief-and-rehabilitation work of Amma’s Ashram has been praised by government agencies, world-leaders and members of the United Nations as being something ‘above and beyond.’ It is more than mere relief; it is the care of a mother for her children.
The past few years have seen natural disasters and tragedies involving the natural elements: fire, water, wind, and earth. Amma’s helping hand reached out to those in need in these tragedies.
- Bihar Flood 2008: In In August 18 Kosi river derouted through 200 k.m flooding over 1800 villages and displaing over 5 lakh people. Ashram announced 20 million rupees for relief work. Temporary shelters and quality medical care is being provided for the displaced.
- Kashmir Pakistan Earthquake 2005: In October 2005, the Indian regions of Kashmir and Jammu and Pakistan were rocked by an earthquake that claimed over 80,000 lives.
- New Orleans Katrina 2005: In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina & Rita submerged the entire city of New Orleans and displaced hundreds of thousands. Mumbai flood 2005
- Mumbai Rains: In July 2005, almost three feet (944mm) of rain fell in 24 hours in Mumbai, resulting in massive flooding.
- Asian Tsunami 2004: The tsunami that struck in December 2004 claimed countless lives throughout India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other countries in the region.
- Kumbhakonam fire 2004: In June 2004, a fire at a school in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, took the lives of nearly 100 children and left countless others injured.
- Gujarat Earthquake 2001: An earthquake destroyed many villages and killed 3,000 people in Gujarat, MAM rebuild 3 villages and built 1200 houses.
- Lathore Earthquake 1992: In 1992, an earthquake in Lathore, Maharastra, claimed 20,000 lives, the Ashram provided financial support to victims.
- Healthcare Charities: Amma says that if we cut our left hand, our right hand immediately comes to its attention—applying medicine and a bandage. Why? Because we know both hands to be our own. In the same way, we should reach out to the poor and suffering, seeing our inherent unity. It is this vision that serves as the inspiration and drive behind the Ashram’s vast network of medical services for the poor and needy—an ever growing circle of hospices, care centres and hospitals aimed at providing state-of-the-art compassionate care to one and all.
- Amrita Institute of Medical Science: The crown jewel of these institutions is the Amrita Institute of Medical Science or AIMS, a 1600-bed super-specialty hospital in Cochin, Kerala. Born out of Amma’s desire to provide outstanding and affordable medical care to all regardless of one’s ability to pay, Amrita is one of Asia’s premier medical hospitals. Patients come to the hospital from all parts of India and the world.
- Branches and Telemedicine: The Ashram also runs a cancer hospice in Mumbai and an AIDS care home in Trivandrum. Teams of doctors regularly make trips to remote villages to conduct eye camps, health-awareness campaigns and checkups. Ambulances and medical teams travel to disaster areas. Free medical dispensaries for the public are located both in Amritapuri as well as in Amma’s branch ashrams. More charitable hospitals are located in Mysore, Karnataka as well as in Pampa and Kalpetta, Kerala. All these branch hospitals are connected to AIMS via a telemedicine satellite link provided by the India Space Research Organization [ISRO].
- Ayurveda: Furthermore, the Ashram provides traditional Indian healthcare via its Amrita School of Ayurveda, Hospital & Research Centre. Through collaborations between this institution and AIMS, the Ashram is encouraging joint research between allopathic medicine and Ayurveda.
- Research: The Ashram is also focused on conducting pioneering research and has departments exclusively dedicated to cell biology, bioinformatics and stem-cell research as well as Nano medical Science, where biology, medicine and engineering come together.
Educational Welfare: According to Amma’s teachers, She was the brightest girl in Her class and never failed to flawlessly memorize a lesson. Amma says it was easy for Her to do so because She only had to read things once to know them by heart. However, when Amma was only in the fourth standard. Her mother became ill, and she had to leave school in order to take care of all the household chores. From then on, it was Amma who made sure all her brothers and sisters went to school on time and that each day they properly completed their lessons.
Today, Amma is the highest form of teacher-a Jagat Guru, imparting True Knowledge to the world. Amma says there are two kinds of education: education for life and education for livelihood. Amma says the most important thing is spirituality, or education for life. But at the same time Amma also stresses “education for living.” It is Her wish to bring the two together, creating professionals in all fields with the skills, the mental strength and the heart to uplift the world.
Amma has established a vast network of educational institutions that provide the most modern educations while imparting the traditional values of Indian culture.
Amma set up Her first educational facility in 1987-the Amrita Vidyalayam primary school in Kodungallur, Kerala. Since then, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math has established more than 60 education facilities throughout India, including engineering, management, journalism, IT and medical schools. Today, the majority of these are part of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, or Amrita University.
Education for life and education for living-in Amma’s hands they have become one.
Social Welfare: When Amma was a little girl, one of her many chores was collecting food for the family cows. Every day she would roam the local villages, gathering grass and visiting neighbouring homes to ask for vegetable peels and other scraps. At times like these, Amma saw many things that troubled her. She saw how some people were starving, while others had more than enough. She saw that many people were sick and were suffering from intense pain, unable to afford a single painkiller. And she noticed that many of the elderly were neglected or treated harshly by their own families.
If one looks closely at the many humanitarian services provided by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM), they will see that they are in truth simply an extension of what Amma has been doing since her childhood—taking care of the old, the poor, the neglected, the suffering. There are welfare programs for widows as well as care homes for the elderly; free food, clothing, and homes for the needy; an orphanage; assistance for tribal communities; and post-disaster relief efforts. Not to mention free medical services and hospices. In 2005, MAM was given special consultative status with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Organization. Indeed, Amma’s humanitarian services are an extension of her love, an extension of her darshan — ever-expanding and giving solace to more and more people every day.
- Homes for the Homeless: Since 1987, Amma’s Ashram has been involved in building homes for those who lack proper shelter. Read about Amrita Kuteeram project to build 100,000 homes for the poor. Amma’s empathy was such that the pain of others was unbearable to her. Though just a child, she began to contemplate the nature of suffering. And she felt the presence of God so strongly within her and in the suffering people around her that she wanted to reach out and comfort and uplift them. In many ways, it was then that Amma’s charitable mission began. She would share her food with the starving, and she would bathe and clothe the elderly who had no one to look after them. She was often punished for giving away her own family’s food and belongings to the poor, but her compassion was such that she would not be deterred.
- Amrita Nidhi: Free monthly pension for the poor. In 1998, Amma launched Amrita Nidhi, a project to help destitute women throughout India through the distribution of monthly financial-aid payments.
- To Curb Farmer Suicide: The Ashram is currently studying cases of suicide amongst Indian farmers and has established programs Vidyamritam and Amrita SREE to help end such tragedies.
- Prisoner Welfare: In America, the Mata Amritanandamayi Center runs a program called “Circle of Love Inside,” wherein volunteers write letters of hope and solace to people serving prison sentences. Read more about the circle of love.
- Tribal Welfare: The Ashram is involved in a number of a projects aimed towards the all-around upliftment of India’s tribal populations. Read about tribal welfare programmes.
- Legal Services: In 2003, the Ashram established Amrita Neeti Pratishthan, a fraternity of lawyers providing free legal services to the poor. Read about Neeti Pratishtan.
- Mass Marriages: For decades, at the requests of poor families, Amma has been sponsoring the weddings of impoverished couples. Read about mass marriages.
- Anna Danam & Vastra Danam: Anna Danam & Vastra Danam (The Gift of Food and Clothing) Amma has established a number of programs to feed and clothe the poor. Read about food distribution.
- Care Homes for the Elderly: The elderly come to Amma’s care homes for refuge or to simply spend their final years in a tranquil spiritual environment.
- Orphanage: In 1989, Amma was asked to take over an orphanage and school whose owners had gone bankrupt. The children were in an extreme state of neglect and malnutrition, and the buildings were unsanitary and in deplorable condition.
- Vocational Training & Self Help Groups: In order to financially empower rural villagers, the Ashram is providing training in tailoring, organic-crop production, sandal-making and other vocations as well as helping villagers to form and maintain cooperative businesses.
Nature Care: In India, the sun is not considered some inert ball of gas, but Surya Deva—the Sun God. The earth is Bhumi Devi—the Earth Goddess. Similarly named are the rivers, mountains and trees. India’s culture is one wherein everything one sees serves as a reminder of the all-pervasive nature of the Divine. At its heart, this perspective is not polytheistic, but an acknowledgement that all names and forms are but various manifestations of the one all-pervasive consciousness that serves as the substratum of creation.
When we come to see a river as God, how will we dump toxic waste into it? When we see trees as manifestations of the Lord, how will we disseminate our forests? When we see the very air itself as Vayu Deva, how will we allow poisonous fumes from factories to fill it?
Through the planting of hundreds of thousands of saplings each year, through seminars aimed at fostering ecological awareness and through the environmental group GreenFriends, Amma’s Ashram is offering service to God through serving Mother Nature, reawakening the world to principles that protected our environment for millennia.
“Nature is our first mother,” Amma says. “She nurtures us throughout our lives. Our birth mother may allow us to sit on her lap for a couple of years, but Mother Nature patiently bears our weight our entire life. Just as a child is obligated to his birth mother, we should all feel an obligation and responsibility towards Mother Nature. If we forget this responsibility, it is equal to forgetting our own self. If we forget Nature, we will cease to exist, for to do so is to walk towards death.”
Maa’s Ashram Temple
Amrit Setu Bridge built by Amritanandmayi Ashram
Ashram Entry and Upper View
Morning Prayers and Yagna at the Ashram
Mata Amritanandamayi Math,
India – 690525.