Mata Amritanandamayi is affectionately known as 'Amma' (Beloved Mother). She is recognized the world over as 'The Hugging Saint.' She offers comfort to millions through her compassionate presence, hugs, and her humanitarian and spiritual organizations. She has addressed the United Nations as an esteemed religious leader.
Amma was born in the small village of Parayakadavu, near Kollam, in a fishing community. She spent the years of her childhood and teens immersed in intense spiritual practices in order to present a living example for the world. She has dedicated her life to the uplifting of suffering humanity through the simplest of gestures.
Mata Amritanandamayi built ashrams and centers to provide a place where people can devote all their time and energy to the remembrance of God, doing selfless service and developing qualities such as love, patience and respect for others. Many of her followers belive in her powers to perform miracles.
Amma's first spiritual center was established in Amritapuri then it spread across 33 countries worldwide including the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Africa.
Her social service includes building homes for the poor, providing monthly pensions for widows and needy women, running orphanages and old age homes, implementing tribal welfare schemes, providing food and clothing for the poor, and conducting marriage of financially backward young girls.
She was one of the three people who represented Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago. Amma was presented the 2002 Gandhi-King Award for non-violence by The World Movement for Nonviolence.