The miraclesAccording to the online records, Amma has attracted her first devotees by claiming that she was able to remove the manglik curse. Thanks to this page, which includes a comment from Rob Sidon (High Ground Consulting) we have an overview of her powers :
"Her powers are said to include levitation, clairvoyance, being in two locations simultaneously (bilocation), healing of both physical and emotional disorders; creating children for childless couples and absorbing or inhaling devotees’ negative karma” (Raj 2004:207). Some of Ammachi’s most famous miracles include turning water to milk, healing a leper, and permitting “a poisonous cobra to flick its tongue against her own” (Associated Press 2009). Ammachi’s first Western disciple, Neal Rosner, related the story of Ammachi healing a leper by “lick[ing] the pus out of his sores’” until the leprosy disappeared except for one sore (Johnsen 1994:106). Ammachi herself refers to such power: “If you were to really see Amma as She is, it would overwhelm you – you couldn’t possible bear it. Because of this, Amma always covers herself with a thick layer of Maya (illusion)” (Raj 2005:127)"She is definitely not human. The problem is that there are not many witnesses who can confirm that all this is true. She gives darshan to many ill or wounded people, no one has ever seen any health trouble disappearing by magic. Everybody talks about her miracles but no one has ever experienced them. Also according to Rob Sidon :
"She doesn't fear anything. Rabid dogs sit next to her and calm down"Wow! Rabid dogs? She must have something very special. Or is Rob Sidon teaching us how to generate an exceptional news story? She even spontaneously died and rose back from the dead 30 years ago. Are these incredible feats really true? At least a quote from this article, gives the official version of her PR team about this topic :
"Amritanandamayi became popular in the 1980s when her devotees said she performed miracles such as burning lamps with water and converting water into a sweet liquid used in religious ceremonies. Lately, her organisation has played down such acts, saying they were done only to prove she could do them"In a nutshell, some miracles arise from her devotees imagination, only a few of them are officially acknowledged. Amritanandamayi herself claims these 2 miracles, she turned water into panchamritham and made lamps burning with sea water. But a group of rationalists sometimes leads campaigns to debunk the miracle-maker gurus. The lamps burning with water trick has been performed in public, directly targetting Amma as a potential fraudster.
Amma's life is a real mystery, it almost seems like her biography changes everyday. Talking about the ill-treatment during her childhood, Amma says in an interview :
"If you are asking me if I used to smile then, yes, I was, I think. The people around me, they had some notions, beliefs, about how a woman should be. That's what they have been taught. When they found that I wasn't like that, they Yes, I used to smile."Now that's a supernatural behavior for a child. Such a strength, such an awareness, such wisdom, such a nervous balance, displayed at such a young age, this is absolutely supernatural. But another page gives a different tone to her story :
"As a result of these various difficulties, Sudhamani ran away from home on occasion and even considered drowning herself"An abused child thinking about suicide, that's extremely sad but human. Unfortunately it happens regularly worldwide. Anyway, she appears to be superhuman or human, according to the sources, so which one is true? Her words or her book? What happened next? She dropped out from school at an early age. This is the reason given on one page :
"When she was 10, she refused to go to school, preferring to meditate instead."In this case she is a strikingly precocious and spiritual child, so self-assured, strong and bold enough to oppose her own parents in India! But the story is diferent on another page :
"Sudhamony had to stop her formal education at primary level itself due to the financial problems of her family"In this case she is just a poor victim of poverty who has suffered, like many others did and still do nowadays. Which version to believe? The human one or the superhuman one?
The empireHer empire looks huge from the outside but some parts don't really belong to her, like it is often said. For instance this page makes a false claim :
"Today, her charitable trust-Mata Amritanan-damayi Math-runs ashrams in more than 30 countries in six continents"This statement is wrong. When a country wishes to have a center dedicated to Amma, the devotees ask for her permission. If she agrees then they must manage to collect the money, create an association, find a place or build it and run it by their own means. The M.A. Math doesn't own or run any of the foreign centers. They belong to local people, they are managed by local people, they are independant from each other, independant from the M.A. Math. From a legal point of view, the centers located overseas don't owe her anything. They sell her products, she collects their donations. Her actual empire may be only national, bounded to India. Her international devotees work hard and she takes credit for their efforts. The businessmen, stars and politicians who admire her work could be disappointed if they knew the real extent of her empire.
Talking about the charities, the same page claims that the MA Math's achievements include :
"food distribution in 23 American cities"This is also likely to be wrong. The foreign countries charities are entirely made by local devotees. They organize what they see fit on their own. Amma collects the reports, pictures and videos to be displayed on her various websites and leaflets. The M.A. Math is only involved in media events, like the natural disasters relief.
A surprising revelation is made, still on the same page :
"Sunset means it is time for Amma's bhajan session when she and her closest disciples render soulful songs mostly in praise of Lord Krishna. But of late, with the strength of her foreign disciples increasing rapidly, the bhajans are sung in Spanish, German, French, Arabic and even Hebrew."Arabic and Hebrew bhajans in praise of Lord Krishna are sung at Amritapuri? No kidding? How great and universal she is, if such an extraordinary event happens daily in her ashram! No human being can achieve all this. If all this is true then she is superhuman. There is no other explanation.
So?Well, contradictions, unbelievable stories and exaggerated claims may be a sign that most of what is said about her is false. This canadian post from 2010, written by a devotee who knows her since 1991, is a perfect summary of such exceptional generated news stories :
"She’s performed many of the miracles that Jesus did – feeding a multitude from a small vessel, healing the sick, including lepers, calling the dead back to life, etc. When a man tried to stab her with a knife, the knife rebounded on him instead. She visited him in the hospital before he died."
"These three – sight, touch, and conversation – each carry mystical blessings, the most obvious being the transfer of karma in the form of sickness or misery from the devotee to the master."
"Bestowing a mantra means that she agrees to take upon herself the karmic burden of limitless numbers of beings. Allegedly her blood is more toxic from taking on people’s karma"
"The person who bestows a mantra on another, by a universal law, takes on that person’s karma. Amma knows this and still she bestows many, many mantras so, inescapably, she carries limitless karma on her shoulders"
"Although she’s never mentioned 2012, I’m sure she’ll play a large part in it."People replicate (or invent?) stories from mouths to ears, from ashrams to satsang groups, from blogs to websites, from newspapers to newsgroups, without even having witnessed any of these events, without even knowing if any of this is true. As a logical consequence, most of the people are surely impressed when they finally meet her, way more than they would have been normally. They believe that they are facing a superhuman being. Such a thought necessarily has effects on the emotional and mental state. Which role does it plays in the famous post-darshan sobbing? Does it account for some of the intense personal experiences that are hastily qualified as spiritual?