Break out the brew. Fire up the grill. ‘Cause guess who’s gonna be on the ones and twos this Fourth of July weekend? You got it:
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. Or, to those who love her, Ammachi. Or, to those who really love her, “Mother.”
Known colloquially as the “hugging guru,” mostly because, well, she hugs, like, thousands of people a day, Amma is said to have embraced over 31 million people over her short time on earth (she’s fifty-seven).
She’s able to do this, in part, because like other super gurus on the circuit, Amma attracts thousands of white-thronged devotees moved toward being in her grip whenever she stops in for a visit where people gather around her to be healed, lifted, and liberated. Because, that’s what happens when you’re in the presence of God.
My experience with Amma a few years back was admittedly one of modest bliss. Of course, that’s exactly what you get when you sit at the feet of a guru simply to “see what it’s all about.” With such a nonchalant intent, I was bound to have a very meh, even tailgating-esque, experience.
For the duration of the long day I sat a little, rested a little, walked around a little, shopped a little, ate a little, sang a little, mingled a little, waited in line a little, and finally hugged a little. In this case, I definitely get out what I put in. I got the observer’s experience. Part in. Part out.
I also remember the staff being particularly unfriendly, which is ironic seeing how Amma represents such joy and hope to so many people. But the staff…. My goodness, they were rude! I wanna say this is a known thing about Amma staff, but not totally sure that’s correct. It’s true, however, that Amma is supposed to take on your karma, which is supposedly why being in her presence can feel so light. Maybe that’s the root of the staff’s surliness. Maybe when it gets too much Amma unloads some of the excess karma she’s taken on onto Devon and Shakti over in coat check. Maybe that’s why they’re so grumpy!
Or, maybe they’re such Debbie Downers ’cause they’re so busy working their over-time butts off managing the innumerable, and largely charitable, organizations in Amma’s name. Just to give you an idea, Amma is the…
- Founder & Chairperson of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math
- Founder of Embracing the World
- Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University
- Founder of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS Hospital)
- International Advisory Committee Member of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
- Member of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders
Than there’s all the books! To date there’s about twelve in her name, all of which needed to be transcribed (by someone) from her talks. Those in addition to the at least five documentaries about her life and work, and the ever-growing catalog of CDs of her music.
And of course there’s her “signature fragrance,” the jewelry, the essential oils, the health care products, etc. etc. etc.
That’s a lotta merch to cart to one event for 3,000 people!
If you’re planning on being one of those 3,000 people, you can catch Amma and her hugs on July 2nd at the Roseland Ballroom. On July 3rd and 4th she’ll be at the Manhattan Center. To give you an idea of what to expect, the Roseland Ballroom has a standing capacity of 3200 people and theater style capacity of 1500-1800. Also, bring money. Stuffs not for free, you know.
Also, if you go, please tell the staff that I am sooooo sorry for putting my backpack behind those folding chairs. I really didn’t think it was such a big deal.
In totally unrelated news, there were turtles on the runways of JFK airport yesterday causing flight delays.