Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī (born as Sudhamani Idamannel on 27 September 1953), primarily known simply as Amma ["Mother"], is a Hindu spiritual leader and guru, who is revered as a saint by her followers. She is widely respected for her humanitarian activities. She has been described as "The hugging saint".
Amritanandamayi is from Parayakadavu (now partially known as Amritapuri), Alappad Panchayat, Kollam District, Kerala. Born to a family of fishermen, she was the third child of Sugunanandan and Damayanti. Like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sudhamani displayed an intense love for God right from very tender age. Her favourite God was Krishna. She started praying, crying and shedding tears seeking the darshan of Krishna and she composed and sang impromptu several devotional songs on Lord Krishna right from childhood.
Her education ended at the age of nine, when she began to take care of her younger siblings and the family domestic work full-time. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her. Amritanandamayi also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. It was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. But despite the reaction of her parents, Amritanandamayi continued. Regarding her embracing of others, Amritanandamayicommented, "I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering."
Despite numerous attempts by her parents to arrange her marriage, Amritanandamayi rejected their efforts. In 1981, after various seekers had begun residing at her parents' property in Parayakadavu in the hopes of becoming Amritanandamayi's disciples, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM), a worldwide foundation, was founded. Amritanandamayi serves as chairperson of the Math. Today the Mata Amritanandmayi Math is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities. In 1987, at the request of devotees, Amritanandamayi began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world. She has done so annually ever since.
In the book The Timeless Path, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, one of Amritanandamayi's senior disciples, writes: "The [spiritual] path inculcated by Amma is the same as the one presented in the Vedas and recapitulated in subsequent traditional scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita”. Amritanandamayi herself says, “Karma [action], jñana [knowledge] and bhakti [devotion] are all essential. If the two wings of a bird are devotion and action, knowledge is its tail. Only with the help of all three can the bird soar into the heights.” Having come to experience the highest truth of oneness with the Self, such blessed souls do not have to be born again. They merge with the infinite." Amritanandamayi has recorded more than 1,000 bhajans in 35 languages. She has also composed dozens of bhajans and set them to traditional ragas.