Belief Beat

Belief Beat

‘Hugging Saint’ Amma & Devotees Tour U.S., Plan Japan Disaster Relief

Amma, an Indian woman called the “hugging saint” for her method of blessing via embrace, came to the Seattle area with an entourage of devotees this weekend for the start of her 25th North American tour.

Amma embraces followers in the Seattle area for the start of her 2011 North American tour.

I was able to ask her a few questions through a translator, as she sat in the Hyatt Regency ballroom dispensing bear hugs, Hershey kisses, and the occasional apple to followers of all ages, colors and creeds. (More than half seemed to be white Americans, though there are lots of Indians in the Seattle area, thanks to Microsoft and other tech companies.) Watching, and then participating, in the experience reminded me of a cross between holy communion and Christian/New Age faith healing, with  a dash of the sights, smells and sounds of a Hindu temple ceremony.


YouTube Preview Image

I specifically asked Amma about her view of natural disasters, since her Embracing the World charity has given out millions of dollars (raised by donations and selling trinkets, scarves and other Amma-related souvenirs made at her ashrams) in funds and supplies to victims of floods, earthquakes and other calamities, including Hurricane Katrina and last year’s Haiti earthquake. Check out my Huffington Post blog for her responses: the gist is that humans have collectively disturbed the balance of nature and we also suffer due to individual karma, but we still need to respond to victims compassionately.


I would have liked to get more specific responses, but the translation process and surging crowd made it difficult to ask follow-up questions. Fortunately, her organization’s leader in Japan, Brahmachari Shantamrita, a bearded American man in orange robes, was able to speak to me for much longer about plans to help the victims of this year’s earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster. About 300 volunteers there are focusing on getting food, water, blankets, masks and clothing to the coastal town of Rikuzentakata, where 10 percent of the population died and 70 percent are living in refugee centers. When Amma visits Japan in July (the trip was supposed to happen before Seattle, but the organization felt the country needed more time to recover before hosting one of her crowded events), she will present a “sizeable donation” towards the recovery efforts.


What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Click here to subscribe to Belief Beat and click here to follow Belief Beat on Twitter.

Comments read comments(2)
post a comment

posted May 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Yippeee! Amma is back in the U.S.

report abuse

Kate Dillon

posted June 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Having been fortunate enough to have been with Amma many times in the last 25 years, I can attest to the truth she carries, the kindness she dispenses and the hope she offers. So little is publicized in our country, where she is noted mostly as an Indian celebrity of some sort, or a Guru. She is just so much more, a true avatar, and is recognized as such in India where the government models programs after hers and sponsers outreaches in which she supplies the many volunteers (who are in line the world over to serve). Amma predicted years ago that there would start to be a series of natural disasters around the world because things are so out of balance. Almost immediately afterwards came the Indonesian tsunami. We all know what has happened since, and it seems to be continuing almost daily somewhere. The earth is clearly sending us a strong message.

Among other things, Amma has been honored at the U.N. more than once and is a world peace maker following the likes of the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu, and Gandhi. She has spent years hugging millions of people all over the world. She travels almost 10 months of every year, there is no admission charge to see her anywhere. It is extraordinary service. She models service for all her followers and has founded many charities worldwide. She runs orphanages and schools and built a large hospital in India to provide for indigent Indians. She and her volunteers have built thousands of houses in India for the poor and widows, who are outcasts of a sort in India. Everywhere she goes people follow her and travel with her, paying their own way and volunteering to cook, take care of children, do planning, wash dishes, serve food, keep track of providing for the masses that turn out at every tour stop and you can also find same people in silent prayer, serving her personally, playing music and chanting. If you have never been with Amma, this is your chance. The best way to go, I have found, is with an open heart and mind and with no expectation. Just a willingness to be loved. Her message is so pure and so appropriate for this time. We are fortunate to be able to be with her in this lifetime. A blessing from Amma is straight from Source.

And while you are there be sure to find the booth with the large, beautiful book of what it is exactly that Amma does, day in and day out, here and all over the world. It inspires one to service of some sort and shows what a group together can accomplish. There is no down side to Amma! I have yet to read one negative comment about her. Here is One who is only good. Namaste. Kate

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Belief Beat. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy:   Beliefnet News   Good News Happy Reading!   ...

posted 4:57:28pm Feb. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun Friday: Atheist Temple Planned for UK's Nonbelievers
Author Alain de Botton has announced plans to build an Atheist temple in the United Kingdom, presumably so nonbelievers have a place to gather and share their philosophies. Um... isn't that what Starbucks is for? Also, I can't wait to see ...

posted 2:53:42pm Jan. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Alaska Airlines: High Payers No Longer Offered Sky Prayers
Alaska Airlines, now the country's seventh-largest airline, has announced it will stop offering prayer cards with its in-flight meals. (It's just raining religion news in the great unchurched Pacific Northwest lately.) I've flown Alaska ...

posted 11:07:56am Jan. 26, 2012 | read full post »

Washington's Gay Marriage Debate: Clergy vs. Clergy
I reported for Reuters at the Washington state Capitol yesterday, covering the public hearings on a gay marriage bill -- and in between, the breaking news that the state Senate now has enough votes to pass the bill. (The House already had ...

posted 11:24:39am Jan. 24, 2012 | read full post »

What Israel's Domestic Policy & Santorum Supporters Have in Common
Hope everyone had an introspective Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, whether observed as a faith-related holiday, a nice break from the work week or something else entirely. Check out this story from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about how ...

posted 1:32:44pm Jan. 18, 2012 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.