Journalist Ariel Sophia Bardi has written an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books to report the program held at Marriott hotel near Washington DC as part of Amma's summer US tour 2017. It is surprisingly entitled The Soft Nationalism of Amma, India’s Hugging Saint.
We are glad to see a western based media finally acknowledging this fact which is no secret for the Indians :
"Amma, along with self-styled saints like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who founded the controversy-courting Art of Living Foundation and was praised last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have arguably contributed to a rising tide of Hindu nationalism and a growing intolerance toward non-Hindu faiths"We have been making this claim through many posts over the past years. This quote from Meera Nanda says it all :
"While using the language of universalism, tolerance, good health, and peace, they very clearly propagate a world view of India as a Hindu nation, Hinduism as a superior religion, and the need to make India (indeed the whole world) more Hindu"
Is there anything wrong about promoting one's religion? In theory all religions put forward universal concepts like peace, love and unity but we know too well that sometimes it actually leads to violence and India doesn't escape the rule. Who could have guessed for instance that one fine day the vegetarian diet would become a matter of death?
Although her former assistant Gail Tredwell states that she used to privately cook her fish twice a day, Amma publicly hails vegetarianism. All foreign ashrams affiliated to hers are strictly vegetarian. Her friend Narendra Modi went further and called for a ban on beef soon after his election as Prime Minister of India, hence the expression "Food Fascism".
"The crackdown on beef-eaters — chief among them Muslims, Christians, and low-caste Dalits — has led to an outbreak of so-called “cow vigilantism,” where cattle traders have been slaughtered by lynch mobs"Killing humans to protect animals in the name of God? Such a strange way to respect life in all forms and to see the divine in others. Cattle traders are not the only ones, consumers are targeted as well, dairy farmers can be suspected and punished. The increasing violence of self appointed cow vigilantes combined with economical issues led India's Supreme Court to temporarily suspend the beef ban in July 2017. Yet troubles remain and mob lynching over beef eating allegations has become the norm in some parts of India while many Hindus protesting that vegetarian terrorism take the street to shout "Not In My Name".
What about Mata Amritanandamayi? She helped Narendra Modi with his election campaign. She sometimes blesses Sangh Parivar congresses. She often rewards Hindutva thinkers. She played a role in the rise of Hindu nationalism. Has she anything special to say about food fascism? Can't we expect a few words from a prominent leader to address fundamentalist violence?