This profile was last updated in 2017
History of the Movement
Amma, also known as Mata Amritanandamayi, is an international spiritual teacher who was born in Kerala, India. Amma experienced a childhood filled with hardship and difficulty: her family feared she was mentally ill because her intense spirituality made her unlike other children, and she had to leave school at the age of nine to help provide for her family and the elderly within her community. Despite her parents’ protests, Amma spent much of her time helping the untouchables and the poor, often giving them her own food. Over time, Amma has come to serve as a symbol of compassion and love and, today, she continues her mission of serving humanity and helping individuals work toward self-realization. Amma is often referred to as the “Hugging Saint” because she has hugged over 25 million people worldwide while performing darshan (a viewing of a holy image). In 2005, filmmaker Jan Kounen directed Darshan: the Embrace, a documentary that tracks Amma’s life and teachings. Today, Amma’s followers see her as “the embodiment of unconditional love, devoted to the service of all humanity,” and people from all walks of life seek out “the Mother,” as she is affectionately called. Her Ashram in India combines a routine of daily meditation, devotional worship, and selfless service.
Amma in the United States
Amma first traveled to the United States and Europe in 1987 at the invitation of some of her Western devotees. During this first tour, Amma visited many large cities, including Boston, each of which has held weekly devotional programs ever since. In 1989, a group of Amma’s devotees established a residential Ashram in the hills of San Ramon, California as her primary center in the United States. Amma’s Boston Area Satsang Group (ABASG), like many of Amma’s other centers, focuses on meditation and prayer, as well as bhajans (devotional songs) and the recitation of Amma’s 108 holy names. The Group’s Concord location was closed recently when the local devotee in charge moved to India; however, a new center is schedule to open in Waltham in August of 2007. Visitors to Amma’s Boston Area Satsang Group are welcome and are encouraged to call in advance to confirm the schedule.
ABASG meets every second Sunday of the month for prayers, devotional singing, and meditation. Additionally, each summer, ABASG organizes Amma’s annual visit to Boston, an event known to draw thousands of devotees and individuals from the New England region. The annual visit usually lasts for four days and includes a retreat and two sessions that are open to the public. At the public sessions, attendees have the opportunity to listen to Amma speak and can then receive darshan from her in the form of a hug. ABASG also holds ceremonies for Amma’s birthday in September, some Hindu festivals, and other holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Thanksgiving. In addition, ABASG sponsors charitable projects such as “Amma’s Kitchen” and “Books for Inmates” as opportunities for devotees to practice selfless service and compassion for those in need. In the near future, the Group plans to establish a home satsang center for community living, charitable activities, and weekly programs. To receive an updated calendar of events and the current satsang locations, please call Amma’s Boston Area Satsang Group. Please note that the name Amma in all of its forms is copyrighted by the MA Center who granted permission to the Boston Area Satsang Group for its use.