An Indian Renunciate's story of life close to Ammachi in Amritapuri
I met Mata Amritanandamayi, when I was 14 and joined the organization at
around 20. I spent a good amount of my prime years there. Regarding
the question, "What was your relationship to Amma"? I used to
think of her as my own mother, guru and god. And "How close to the inner
circle were you?" I guess I was pretty close to her but not able to
quantify it. I became involved with the ashram at a very young age. But the
Period 1999-2001 was a major contributor. We saw, many of the seniors leaving,
Swami Advaithamritha (Lakshman), Swami Amrithamayananda, Swamini Amrithaprana,
Bri.Ambamritha (Manju) And many others as well. Some of them were very close to
me. Swami Amritaswarupananda was also about to leave and was on
anti-depressants in those days.. But was sent away for a while. It was like the
whole thing falling apart. It was very painful for a person inside to see the
entire creamy layer, moving out. It also made me think a lot! I have heard
directly from Amritanandamyi herself, that Amrithaprana would attain self
realization by serving me, and lot off stuff like that. Ammachi became more
reliant on her immediate family members during that phase, it also helped me
see the human vulnerabilities of insecurity gripping her. I confronted or
rather approached her with my confusions on the meaning and purpose of this
kind of life. She started telling, don't think too much, do your Nishkama
sevanam (selfless work) and let me know openly all your problems. Since then,
it was kind of half hearted. PLEASE UNDERSTAND, it is not just a few incidents,
it is the whole experience of being there and seeing and observing her and try
to HANG ON to the faith in her. She plays with our emotions by giving lot of
attention and care at times and then totally ignoring you for months.
So the point is the process of losing faith is like developing cracks
on a stone (being thrashed :-) ) over time, it was gradual for me.
Just to give a glimpse of the other face of her, during my last few
months. I had a health issue and had to go to AIMS and we were
supposed to seek her permission. She was emphatic, in replying that "I don't
know anything about u" and in a total indifferent tone. To hear it from a
person, whom you TRUST as mother, guru and god at a very stressful
time in your life is not easy. As you don't have anyone else to hold on to.
There is so much to go on. May be some other time, as reliving those
experience by narrating it is also painful at times. It just makes me
feel betrayed and it hurts beyond words and I want to move on.
All of her immediate family members have become very rich with no clear and
justifiable source of income to substantiate. No one dares to speak
anything against her family members inside the ashram.
I know lot of the insiders are contemplating about coming out
now, but don't have the confidence - thinking about, being able to get
a job, acceptance of the society etc. Needless to say, transition is
I came out and I am very happy. My friends, family and some of my
friends (former devotees) also helped me thru it.
I shall try to articulate my perspective and understanding on some of
these questions based on my experience there. I am also trying to be
as much as objective and factual as possible.
It is very different and it would be very difficult to get an exposure
on her private face. I would like to put it this way. A person is
coming to see her in darshan, with his/her problem/question. She
would be (seemingly?) extremely compassionate, loving and
understanding towards the person to instill and nurture faith in Her
(especially if she sees the person important or necessary for the
organization (corporate. She would give lot of attention to your
issues.) She is amazingly intelligent, smart and also patiently
willing to go to that extra mile to make that happen. She is really
very good at that.
Once that happens, you are opening up yourself to a wonder world of
faith (devotee), devotion and a sense of sublime surrender being
generated from a false sense of security with your relation to the
DIVINE, then more or less your sense of rationalization stops. You
start attributing some good happenings or nice coincidences in your
life as HER grace and some unfortunate incidents as wake up calls for
not being able to follow her teachings. The ideals of selfless
service would be awe-inspiring.
Once you become blind by faith, you will find yourself relying more
and more on the feeling of devotion with her. With your intellect
being open to her teachings (spiritual?) you tend to look at life and
the world in a specific way and tend to become more and more comfortable
and moving in the "devotee" circle.
Don't think that, the whole experience and journey is very depressing
or confusing. It is not; it gives you a real "high" especially in the
beginning. This is rather a generic process of becoming an insider.
Of course there exist many possible permutations and combinations to
it. The person becomes accustomed with the new life and moves on.
Slowly, over the years and many experiences make them feel and think
that this life is worthless and they decide to move out .It may not happen
to every one though, many are confused. Over the years, the number of
people moving out is increasing is for sure.
Now comes the interesting part, once you tend to make a step in that
direction of moving out. You would be persuaded initially in a loving
and caring way - not to do so. But it is also directly proportional
to your level of commitment and devotion and devotion towards her.
Once she senses that you have LOST FAITH or rather have started
losing faith in HER. You could potentially see the ruthless and
the "other" face of her. Your character assassination will follow, so
that your "voice/reason" would not have any value there. Mostly she
would make your life very, very difficult inside the ashram in a very
The devotees or disciples do feel scared to come out primarily, their
entire world was revolving around HER and HER organization which is
considered divine and to emotionally come out of it and feel the
confidence to live outside in the world is not easy for a person who
practiced "Blind Faith and spirituality". Rather, it is a shock to
realize the loss of faith. It is altogether a different topic to
discuss. But the process would be "Enlightening".
The organization never entertains interaction between people inside the ashram,
who are renunciates with the people who have LOST FAITH as this would be the
people who can potentially encourage or confuse the people inside who are
Having said that, I would like to highlight one most important point,
she has lot of talents and skills - she could talk to a scientist and
an artist, a business man and a "common man" with equal ease and
impress upon them with her practical wisdom. She is very good in
making good calculated judgments may be even farsighted. She is
highly autocratic but able to conceal it with diplomacy. But it is
definitely human than divine. But for people (devotees) blind with
faith it is divine. I am neither a devotee nor an admirer (anymore), but
don't undermine her raw human talent and skills that she is able to
use to build her corporate empire in the "Faith" industry. It is very
very important to acknowledge that aspect of her to confront with the
much talked about pseudo Divine persona.
I am not sure, whether it made any sense from the reader's
perspective - but it has more to it. It is only a tip of an iceberg.
When the ashram started Amrita TV under the banner of the AEPL (Amrita
Enterprises Pvt Ltd), the money to jump start the program was pooled
from the Pharmacy at AIMS. More over, they get large volumes of
medicines from Pharmaceutical companies as free samples (in the name
of charity) and sell it to the public through the pharmacy. Think
about it, an entertainment industry supported by the money from the
poor and under privileged. It does not make sense.
Pinarayi Viajayan is the state secretary and her daughter
were given a free admission (worth 12500$) to Amrita Engineering college. Since
then no one has uttered a word or protest against the illegal - management fee
collected by Amrita educational institutions.
E.P Maharaja given free/highly subsidized rate for heart surgery at AIMS
hospital. Remember Kerala is currently governed by communist party. These are
not the poor and needy. Grand daughter of ex- congress minister -
Balakrishna Pillai given free medical admission at AIMS (100000$).
This was when congress in power.
I had the feeling of not wanting to be connected to the organization through
the initial period of "coming out" and I really didn't want to think or
associate with the Hugging Saint or her organization anymore. The sense of
betrayal and the sense of loss, coupled with the pressure to get back to Life
was traumatic. Especially the militant, cult mind set of the ashram
organization under her direction tend to make it even worse.