Professor Tamsin Bradley from the University of Portsmouth England is one of the non-compliant scientists. She is an applied anthropologist who focuses on the relations between religion and gender in developing countries. Therefore it is not a big surprise that she has to deal with violence related to dowry, rape and genital mutilation. She has published various contributions, some of which talk about Mata Amritanandamayi.
For instance her publication called The politicisation of mothering in Hindu missions has an extremely meaningful title. On the one hand we have often focused on the events showing that Amma is closer to right-wing politicians than she pretends. On the other hand she claims to be the ultimate global mother, performing impressive hugathon for dozens of hours. As a result, a topic that mingles politics with mothering must mention Amma's mission. That is exactly what the introduction of Professor Tamsin Bradley's article is about :
"This article compares and contrasts the religious discourses of three large trans-national Hindu organisations: the Ramakrishna Mission, the Sadhu Vaswani Mission, and Guru Mata Amritanandamayi Mission ... despite the centrality of a spiritual message each organisation pursues a less obvious political and gender shaped vision of the world ... religious concepts such as love and compassion are projected through and conflated with notions of women as mothers. The gendered ideologies pursued by each organisation are politicised in that they entail rigorous pursuit of a specific vision of how India and the world should be ..."What she says reminds us of a few posts we have previously written. The assignment of strict stereotyped roles to each gender is outlined in Boyhood and Motherhood. An overview of her connection to nationalist parties is given in posts like Showing off with RSS, Awarded by RSS, Sangh Parivar support or Bharatiya Vichara Kendra support.
We are pleased that at least someone else has a similar point of view. Indeed from the outside Amma promotes peace, love and compassion. But what about a "mother" who strains her body to serve and cuddle her countless children without ever complaining? Are all women really supposed to follow her lead? They are fed up because they have already been doing this for centuries. Why do women have to always sacrifice themselves? Isn't it unfair to suffer again and again to have the right to be worthy of consideration? Isn't it possible to think about a kinder way of life? Why does Mata Amritanandamayi pretends to change the world when she merely stages what we have been witnessing worldwide for ages? It seems like we are not the only ones to think that despite the deceiving appearances, Amma strongly enforces patriarchy.
In a book called Religion and Gender in the Developing World Professor Tamsin Bradley speaks more in detail about these issues and many others, like the schools for instance. The following quote is very interesting, it comes from page 81 :
"... the school day begins with prayers directed towards central guru ... the organization's educational dimension seemed to be of the highest priority. The huge investment in school buildings contrasted starkly with the somewhat paltry amount of welfare the organization supports - feeding the poor once a day in a nearby slum and supporting travelling clinic once a month. This rather undermines Guru Mata Amritanandamayi's underlying teaching, which lay particular stress importance of serving those who are less fortunate than oneself ... The scale of the school development is perhaps because it is through educating the next generation of Guru Mata Amritanandamayi devotees that the organization's future can be assured"
We totally agree with Professor Tamsin Bradley point of view. Why does ETW run a lot of huge educational institutions, ranging from primary school to universities? Nearly half of the donations are used to build or maintain the many schools. According to some estimations, the organization is likely to thus generate annual revenues of $80,000,000 but is it just a matter of money? We think that there is something more. The students are required to worship Mata Amritanandamayi daily, it is not an option. Some of them hate that spiritual pressure but others are hooked by the devotional atmosphere. The latter are likely to become devotees at the end of their curriculum. If it is true then it is very convenient for ETW because high education means high level position in private companies and public administrations, thus extending the lobbying opportunities.
Once again we ask the same question. Is Amma's influence in society spreading because of her supposed spiritual gifts? Or can we assume that the devotional emotions are a mean to get free funding and free labor in order to unfairly pull well known economical levers?