Ammachi: A Western Renunciate's Experiences behind the Scenes I feel so relieved to finally be free from this 7 year long damaging dependency with Mata Amritanandamayi and her organization. Although the depths of my devotion were seemingly bottomless, and I would have done anything to gain her favor, somehow I have managed to extract myself from this bona fide cult masquerading as a charitable organization. I am relieved to know that others too are waking up from the intricate web of subterfuge. I struggled for the last two years trying to imagine life without the guru, and I know how hard it is to undo the neural connections linking Amma to every aspect of thought. I understand why for some it will be extremely difficult or downright impossible to break the bonds of this mind controlling sect. The truth about the Hugging Saint and the ancient manipulative techniques she employs, along with the scandals her devotees have orchestrated will sober up the more astute among us. But the hordes of unsuspecting, innocent, guileless infants having divorced their real parents and lives, in order to clutch full-time to their Amma dolls, with mantras for pacifiers, while jockeying for Amma's mere glance, I feel really sorry for. Nothing can help them because the elaborate programming won't allow any thoughts contrary to that of Amma being god. Even rational people will have a hard time accepting that what they gave all their time, resources and heart to was merely a charismatic bamboozling village girl. Even those who have left (and there are many) are still subtly afraid of retribution from Amma psychically or more tangibly from her army of ardent devotees.
In Amritapuri, India, I was not quite in the innermost circle but had revealing contact for years with those closest to Amma and by all measure would be considered an insider. Being very outgoing myself I made friends with all who didn't hate me because of my frequent close proximity to Amma and her personal handmaidens. I got in with all the high ups to glean insight into Amma's mystical world. I wasn't shy in my conquests and thereby gained access which others could not. I rode on the waves of bliss as I got to do special tasks for Ammachi and before Ammachi. I reveled in being needed and called while everyone else chopped vegetables. I reverently breathed, meditated and did continuous awareness exercises which amplified my bliss to unprecedented heights. Amma seemed to like it. Unfortunately, most if not many people skimp on the practices and spend their time doing selfless service, moping around in "devotional" yearning, or gossiping and stuffing their faces at the western canteen. I took a more maniacal approach toward everything from diet to speech to every moment of my day being accounted for. It was very revealing and not by any means the only time in my life I experienced altered states of consciousness. (I do take the stand that it can all be explained scientifically even Amma's psychic abilities. We laypersons just get flabbergasted when someone has somewhat refined their mental energy and mistake them for god.) It all went well, the visions of various deities, loud music spontaneously in ears, the exalted emotional states. Eventually reality seeped back in and my life became a struggle to earn enough money to go to India and get my fix year after year. Each time a little more magic evaporated, yet I still decided to become a renunciate (a full time resident who gives their life to the ashram) It only costs $16,000 if interested. But I noticed people were growing more unhealthy, the air quality seemed to get exponentially worse, the water filters seemed to be rusting and my duties became more clear. The honeymoon was over. One angelic young girl actually died of a tumor that spread throughout her whole body. She was 18 and spent almost her entire life there. I personally believe she died because of lack of nutrition and the toxins in the air and water surrounding the ashram. Of course Amma in her omniscience suggested tuberculosis and sent her to AIMS (one of Amma's hospitals) only to be misdiagnosed and screwed around for the last year of her life. Finally when they found the tumor it was too late. This compounded with the sheer insanity of virtually all the residents, the inability to get healthy nourishment, Amma's rehearsed daily routine, everyone's angry pent up explosive sexual energy, and the now complete impossibility to find any solitude or even quiet anywhere at any time within the ashram, had me at my wits end. I started to question where this conforming, contentious, fearful, repressed new personality I adopted was going to lead me. Would I become as neurotic, diseased, insalubrious as so many long term inmates of the asylum had become? Would I stay there an adulating sycophant, fearful of the world, believing the apocalyptic hype promoted by her minions-- that we are the chosen few, liberation is ours through service, everyone else in the world is perishing in the fire of worldliness, Amma will save us from the cataclysm sure to come in the western world? I decided that I had had enough. I embraced the world as Amma claims to do while actually alienating her robots. I think many people there want to leave but have become so neurotic that they can't even communicate to others now without using their Amma speak or judging and condemning people for not being as "spiritual". Many want out, but the prospect of life middle-aged in some cold European city, financially destitute from all the touring with Amma seems too overwhelming. Others want out but are lost in their youth and have no job skills, education, dietary control, or interest in sports and are subject to depression in the world. A great catalyst for me has been the outdoors. There are many nurturing friendships to be made in the world of outdoor sports. I really hope more people will become educated on cult dynamics and educate others. Inspiration for me was also in the form of Krishnamurti, The Guru Papers by Alstad, and guruphylliac whose website has many provocative articles on Amma and is a vast resource of links to other informative websites. Amma has blabbered many things in India which went completely over the heads of even those sitting around her. I would look around shocked at times on chai stops (stops on India tours) like "I can't believe she just said that, did you hear that?". Unfortunately none of this is published. She always lectures how national sovereignty fosters bigotry and unequal wealth distribution. She is all about tipping the scales so India gets more, just read her UN speech. She is talking like it's the UN is the hand of god that can wipe out poverty, uplift women. You'd think in all her omnipresence she would know what a bunch of scoundrels she was supplicating. Amma has foreseen the collapse of western civilization, she speaks about it as karmically inescapable. She warns about natural disaster as imminent and the dollar being equal to the rupee. She hasn't gone as far to say that we will be a cashless, martial law enforced society with credits being our only wealth and no constitutional rights but she likes to paint a grim picture. And she has said that one day international order will reign as the governing force. She says it like it's a matter of fact. But this will not be found on amritapuri.org because she's said these kinds of things when westerners used to ask her questions on Tuesdays and on chai stops. Amma is very careful about what is published by the math. She personally reads the final editions and has the swamis who know well her agendas get it to there. She is much more careful now than she was just 5 years ago. I have been in a room where Amma was meditating I have sat in her personal house while she rehearsed songs with brahmacharinis. I have felt intoxicated at times and other times driven to tears, and I have also felt nothing at all. It is subjective. These emotional states, nervous tremors, are experiences that are felt around Amma. Or one could argue that she can transmit some energy but for what purpose? To get people hooked is exactly what she is doing; I have had numerous personal conversations with her. And frankly she is quite patronizing, elliptical and aloof. She is mocking, condescending or pretending, rather poorly to be overly caring. She delights in causing mental turmoil, all part of "surrendering the ego". But it's true; too many people are too terrified of her to really have any meaningful dialogue. Of course she makes herself appear busy and it's very difficult to corner her or question her at all. Then when you finally do there is no meaningful dialogue, only authoritarianism. You can't get anywhere with her. She'll say it's your ego that wants to come assert yourself before the master and that a true disciple is quiet like a mouse, listening and assimilating the teachings. I see how it can be seen as the fault of the devotees around her cringing in reverence, tradition and conformity. But it is not their fault, they are brainwashed by Amma to accept this conformity as discipline. One can see this during her satsangs on Tuesdays in Amritapuri where she lectures endlessly on ashram dharma and appropriate behavior. Most do not have enough experience to really know the extent of the deception and programming. Amma claims nothing yet has Disney marketing executives buying her CNN time. Amma is her organization, it is her creation. The truth is the people closest to her are the most programmed and spineless. That's the only way they ignore the truth boiling within, that something is wrong with Amma. She can't keep assertive people in her folds, they leave. Go see what the endless game of pretense and suppression will bestow. Thanks for coming out and sharing your experiences in Amritapuri. I am glad you brought up the issue of deplorable working conditions in which Westerners and Indians are taking part of, as seva. For renunciates seva is not elective and for visitors it is strongly suggested. For most it is mundane and something like vegetable chopping or washing clothes (with a very nasty Indian detergent but probably no worse than the usual stuff found in the states), but for the Others it can be working in the cassette stall, or the printing press, or gluing newsletters. These sevas are very nasty and one must breathe very crude chemicals nonstop. Many are sick Western and Indian alike but as A mentioned it's not just from the working conditions but also the tainted water supply. The filtered water there is so bad it tastes way harsher than any tap water I have ever had the misfortune of tasting here in the US. The water is clearly rusty and filthy. Of course, with everyone in that densely populated coconut jungle, burning their trash (consisting mostly of plastic) every morning as their means of disposal, one can't expect air quality to be much better. The food is laden in chemicals outlawed in the US and frequently one can find plumes of smoke coming from trucks which is DDT used to kill disease spreading mosquitoes. The sugar used for chain and sweets is so coated with DDT the ants won't even attempt to carry it off. The backwaters are frighteningly polluted with feces and all manner of abomination. So, it is no wonder that many long term resident W Westerners with their 1st world immune systems are looking terrifyingly unhealthy. If they aren't gaunt from self inflicted starvation they are obese with that nutritionally deficient food they must eat more and more of just to get a little nutritionist's a toxic place no doubt, that epicenter Ammachi's brand of spirituality. Ammachi doesn't limit her verbal abuse to hippies; she likes to make fun of obese people, Japanese, overly devotional and gays. These are just the things I have personally witnessed. I was involved with Ammachi for 7.5 years. I was probably around her physically for over half that total time. I was a college student when I met her. I was finding that science knew little about subtle energy and I thought Ammachi was a better teacher. I started realizing how confusing and misguided the organization was slowly and it built up more and more in the latter 4 years. I started seeing how Amma manipulates people, how greedy she is, how hypocritical, and how contradictory her teachings are. I was very involved, had given much mental energy, time and money so it was difficult to sever. But the truth weighed in and I couldn't stand to be in her presence eventually. P, First of all, where does all that money really go? I have been told it is to support the poor through Amma's orphanages, hospitals, etc. Is that true, in your experience? If it's not, where is it all going? The charities are a front. It is my experience that the money is going to 1. Amma's family. Check out her sister's mansion across the backwaters, replete with razor sharp shrubs encircling it. 2. Her personal luxuries. Check out her Mercedes Benz camper and matching 2005 600 series v8 sedan. Combined retail about $400,000. "Oh it was a donation" they all whisper. Well if Amma is serious about relieving the suffering as Schindler was in the end of Schindlers list then why doesn't she hock them and put some food into the bellies of some of the countless starving people in her province? And 3. Her empire. Her medical college which she has the audacity to call charitable is one of three medical colleges in the area of Cochin. It is a capitalist venture. They charge admission and they aren't the cheapest either. Her schools (again allegedly charitable) are little private schools with stout tuitions. If you go on an Indian tour you will be surprised to know that ads for these institutions are blaring all night long-- "give your child a wholesome education at Amrita Vidyalayam". Her money is going into generating more money. Possibly into the hands of various political groups in India, she allegedly built scores of houses. The truth is those numbers are greatly exaggerated and she does it with much government funding! She exaggerates everything to get media recognition. The number of people she's hugged is a lie too btw. She has too be filmed from every possible angle every time she gives anything. I was there when she gave to tsunami victims. It was the biggest orchestrated event ever. What she gave them couldn't have lasted them for more than a couple days either. She even went to someplace I can't recall to give darshan to tsunami victims where another organization was in the process of clearing land to build them houses. The organization was a Christian fellowship and one man was furious because he claimed Amma was trying to steal recognition for their charity. And don't think Amma is Unitarian. She is Hindu as they come. As a matter of fact, I know swami Amritagitananda was sent to the province of Tamil Nadu to intervene when some Christian missionaries were trying to teach some villagers about Christ. She sent him to turn them into devotees of her. How can Amma hold up so many hours hugging people? It is said it's because she has supernatural powers. It sounds like you attribute it to the lattes. The human body is capable of amazing feats. I once did seva (service) for 32 hours straight. I was pretty delirious but as long as one eats, one can stay awake for days (I did that too). She is being fed lattes and I think it helps her to stay positive. As far as having supernatural powers, I don't think there is anything supernatural about sitting upright and hugging and talking to adulating groupies for five to twelve hours. P: As close as you were to her, what was the vibe behind the scenes? Is Amma pure love, as devotees describe her, or something else? The vibe behind the scenes is disappointing to say the least. I know that she talks crap about Westerners a lot. She is an ignorant Indian village girl deep inside and if you know some you know what I am talking about. They generally dislike Westerners because we're rich, fair skinned, and we are not stuck in the Indian socio-economic sexist nightmare. They also think we are foreigners who are dirtier than the lowest caste (the same cast as Amma is actually). She has said that the westerners don't know what hard work is and that we are crazy. I remember on us tour she was making fun of an obese westerner who was having trouble getting into her arms from the forced kneeling position. She said "why are Westerners so fat?" It is not pure love at all. Its cliquey Indian teenage type stuff. She is home girls with the Indians around her chair and a mystic to us befuddled Westerners. She is not all love and cuddles. She puts it on for the western crowd when she is raking in those dollars. P: You spoke about her using age-old techniques of manipulating people. Please describe what those were. Why do you think people get so roped in? What does she teach that makes them get so dependent on her? We are told that Ammachi says "That we are all God" But why, if she really teaches that, are they bowing down to her, and desperate to spend time with her, as if she's God and they're something inferior? The age old techniques are very concisely detailed in The Guru Papers, Google it and there are some quotes from it. It's a great book, well worth buying if you want to understand just how deep your ex-boyfriend has gone. People get roped in for various reasons. Many have no direction in their life when they go to Amma. Others are unfulfilled in their life and seeking spirituality because their money isn't giving them pleasure. Many are completely incapable of living a normal life due to mental disturbances (there are a lot of them in India). Few have I seen who were balanced with exercise, meaningful friendships, and healthy diet that got sucked in. Most are neurochemically imbalanced due to dead processed food and other toxins in their environment which they could limit. They are unhappy and rather than taking control they look to give someone else control because they don't believe they are capable. She teaches worship of her. I hate when people try to say that she has no doing in this. Krishnamurti never let anyone do a pada puja (worshipping feet) to him, he flat out refused to be idolized. She has a close watch over everything that is published. She is in control of everything and she wants to be worshipped as a living god. She claims to see our face in her mind every time we think of her, and that she can hear all of our thoughts and knows all our desires all the time. She likes to say that we are all god. Then she likes to drop little advaitic (non dual) nibbles here and there. But I really don't think she understands it enough or has the intellectual capacity to elaborate on the subject. She has said that we are all children and she can't teach applied physics to a kindergartener. That some are on different levels than others. But it seems she want us all to be on a level way beneath her holiness so she can steal our energy and talents and turn us into mindless immature drones. She is a fountain of contradiction, believe me. She definitely thinks she is god and I have heard her say it on numerous occasions. So who wouldn't want to be in the presence of god? Around her they say it is merit accumulated from thousands of years that brings one to the master and even more to stay in her presence. Which is why so many are torn between wanting to leave the crazy ****** and her gruesome scene and thinking they are throwing away their lifetimes of merit by not having the cajoles to stick out all the abuse. They stick around because they want some state of mind, like parasites feeding off her spunk. But really it is she feeding off them. They give the money. I must have give $30,000 and I got off lightly. They give the labor. They give their reason and sense and focus all their energy at her. And she laps it up. **The permission to publish this article was given by the author, the information for this article was collected from original posts on the Yahoo Examma Group.