Close this search box.

Amma’s Life

The story of Amma’s life is a story about the power of an idea—that each of us has a responsibility to help those less fortunate. Ultimately, it is a story about what happened when one person decided to offer her life wholeheartedly for the sake of others. Learn more about Amma’s early life, the beginnings of her spiritual and humanitarian mission, and how she spends her time today.

“Love is our true essence.”

- Amma

Early Life

Witnessing the suffering

Amma was born in 1953 into a fishing family in Kerala, India. From a very young age, without anyone teaching her, Amma composed spiritual songs and meditated  for hours on end.

When Amma was in the fourth standard, her mother fell ill. Nine years old at the time, Amma had to drop out of  school to care for the household and her seven brothers and sisters. It was at this time that Amma was confronted with the great disparities of life.

Amma narrates: “I would go to about 60 houses each day to gather tapioca peels and leftover rice gruel for our cows and goats. At that time, I saw many people suffering. Even if I went at 5:00 in the evening, I saw people who had not eaten all day. I would give them whatever I could. Seeing their hardships, I wondered why some people suffered so much while others were enjoying life.”

I saw elderly people being mistreated by their kin—without food or a proper bath,” Amma recollects. “I would bathe and feed them with food from our house.

Amma's path

Amma’s heart was consumed with the suffering she witnessed. 

Amma says that when she questioned the reason for such suffering, the answer that came to her was that the fate  of each individual is ultimately due to their karma—a result created by their previous actions. Reflecting on this, Amma  then thought to herself, “If someone falls into a ditch because of their  karma, then what is my  duty?” 

Amma says she heard a voice from  within reply, “Then, it is your duty to lift them up and help them.”

Thus, it was from this nine-year old’s contemplation on human suffering that her path in life was set forth: she would always do whatever she could to help others.

“Gradually, people began to come and tell me their troubles and sorrows,” Amma says. “I would wipe their tears. I would give them food and, once or twice, even a bangle of my mother’s. And then some people began to call me ‘Amma’ (mother). Then I spontaneously started calling them my children.”

Amma's embrace

It was when consoling a  crying person that Amma first put someone on her shoulder.
Witnessing this, the next person also wished for Amma to put them on her shoulder. Soon this  became Amma’s way, pulling  everyone who came to her  into a motherly embrace.

A young woman in a traditional rural Indian village giving hugs in public created quite an uproar, both in the surrounding villages as well as within her family. But Amma simply didn’t view men and women differently. Having set her path in life, she would not be deterred. 

The river of love that flowed through Amma could not be obstructed. As news spread of  the transformative power of Amma’s  compassionate embrace,  more and more people came  to see her.

Just like a doctor doesn’t only treat men or women, I didn’t make any distinction as to whether they were male or female,” Amma says. “If someone falls on the ground, will we refrain from helping them up because they happen to be male or female? I consoled the suffering.

The Beginning

A Spiritual Master

In the late 1970s, hundreds of people were regularly coming for Amma’s  embrace, and a few of them also saw in Amma a spiritual master who could lead them forward on the spiritual path. Soon the first few disciples settled in Amma’s ashram, which then consisted of nothing more than her family home. Those first disciples often slept under the stars or in the cowshed. Even once straw huts were built, they  would regularly turn them over to devotees who needed to stay the night before returning home. Occasionally, Amma would even go out into the surrounding villages to beg for rice in order to feed them.

In 1981 the Mata Amritanandamayi Math was officially registered as an ashram.

Amma’s Tours

At the invitation of admirers from abroad, Amma embarked on her first world tour in 1987, holding programs in Singapore, the United States and Europe.  The majority of these were held in people’s living rooms or in small communal spaces. 

From then on, Amma held  programs throughout the world every year.

Amma’s Humanitarian Programs

In 1989, the ashram had finally managed to raise enough money  to build its first temple. As construction was about to begin, the administrators of a local orphanage came to confide in Amma. They had no more money and had no choice but to send their  500 children back onto the street. Amma immediately redirected the funds intended for the construction of the temple to take care of the orphans.

With this, Embracing the World, Amma’s network of humanitarian activities,  was born.  In the 1990s, Amma also began to be recognized internationally for her message and acts of peace, compassion, and tolerance.

A Visionary, a Humanitarian
& Spiritual Leader

Amma has served the world-community for decades, imparting wisdom, strength and inspiration. Through her extraordinary acts of love &  inner strength, Amma has endeared herself to millions and inspired thousands to follow in her path of selfless service.

Amma holds free public programs throughout India, Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan as well as Malaysia, the Middle East, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South America and the United States. In her talks, she offers words of wisdom and guidance on both personal fulfillment as well as the most pressing matters of our time.

From climate change to terrorism, cross cultural tensions to poverty and women’s rights, Amma’s observations invite each of us to get involved in the process of rebuilding a concerned and caring society.

To this day, Amma concludes her programs by embracing each person attending the event. These personal, one-on-one meetings take up the vast majority of Amma’s time. Amma has given this embrace, known as her darshan, to more than 40 million people throughout the world. She has been known to give darshan for more than 22 hours without interruption.

Explore Amma's wisdom

Amma stands here in front of us: God’s Love in a human body.


Watch Amma’s daily livestream

Amma offers us the possibility to connect online with her on a daily basis. During these livestreams, we can meditate with Amma, chant bhajans (devotional singing) and hear spiritual teachings.

Registration is required to access these livestreams:

Add Your Heading Text Here