Embracing the World

Mata Amritanandamayi is known throughout the world as Amma, or Mother, for her selfless love and compassion toward all beings. Widely regarded as one of India’s foremost spiritual leaders, Amma says that her religion is love. She has never asked anyone to change their religion but only to contemplate the essential principles of their own faith and to try to live accordingly.

She was born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, South India in 1953. When she was nine years old, her mother became ill, and Mata Amritanandamayi was withdrawn from school in order to help with household tasks and the care of her seven siblings. As she went door-to-door gathering food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows, she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering that existed in her community, and in the world beyond it.

Where Mata Amritanandamayi encountered people in need, she brought them food and clothing from her own home. She was undeterred by the scolding and punishment she received from her family for doing so. She also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Responding to her affectionate care, they began to call her Amma.

Now well known around the world as ‘the hugging saint’, Amma has embraced and comforted more than 34 million people throughout her life. Amma teaches that everyone — rich or poor — has the power to make a difference in the life of another, and that no selfless gesture is insignificant. Rather, it is the selfless actions we perform for one another that hold the keys to true peace — peace in the individual, peace in the community and peace among diverse cultures, nations and faiths.

Through her extraordinary acts of love, inner strength and self-sacrifice, Amma has inspired charity projects in more than 40 countries. This worldwide humanitarian movement, called Embracing the World, is expanding day by day, as more and more people feel inspired by Amma’s example to share their time, energy and resources with those in need – both across the globe and in their own communities. When asked where she gets the energy to help so many people, she answers: "Where there is true love, anything is effortless."

Embracing the World exists to help alleviate the burden of the world’s poor through helping to meet each of their five basic needs — food, shelter, healthcare, education, and livelihood — wherever and whenever possible. The organisation is especially focused on helping to meet these needs in the aftermath of major disasters. Embracing the World also works in the fields of environmental conservation and sustainability to help protect the future of the planet.

With the vast majority of efforts carried out by volunteers, and zero paid administrators at the national and international levels, Embracing the World is able to do more with less. This combined with an ethic of personal renunciation demonstrated by Amma and filtered down to every level of the organisation ensures that the funds raised directly reach the beneficiaries of our projects, instead of being dissipated in administrative overhead.

Amma is also the founder and Chancellor of Amrita University, a multi-campus, multi-disciplinary research university founded in 2003 that is ranked as one of the best research universities in India. Amrita University also endeavours to carry on the charitable mission started by Amma, researchers there are innovating new means of delivery of goods, knowledge, information, energy, and healthcare so those in need here and now, get the help they need, wherever and whoever they are.

In July, a reunion of liver transplant recipients and their donors was held at the Amrita Hospital of Medical Sciences on the 10th anniversary of Amrita’s liver transplant unit. Transplantation is the only treatment available from patients suffering from acute or chronic liver failure. Nearly 90% of Amrita’s liver transplant patients survive the surgery, and go on to lead normal, healthy lives.

In the past 10 years, Amrita Hospital has conducted 325 liver transplants – 85 in the past year alone. The youngest patient was five months old. Patients are given transplants regardless of their ability to pay; Amrita has spent more than $3 million on providing liver transplants for poor patients.

Embracing the World truly has a global vision, and is involved with a multitude of projects across the planet. In 2013, in the wake of the massive destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Embracing the World announced a $2 million relief package. Since 1996, Embracing the World has been feeding hungry people in the USA. ‘Mother’s Kitchen’ groups in 41 cities in North America prepare, cook and serve meals for the homeless and hungry. Some groups also collect and distribute clothing, household items or food staples for communities in need. In the Bay Area, the ‘Amma’s Pantry’ initiative, launched in 2013, has already collected a total of 2,829 lbs of food - the equivalent of 2,255 meals – for distribution at local food banks.

At the request of followers, Mata Amritanandamayi has been travelling annually to Europe since 1987, holding programs wherein she delivers spiritual talks, leads devotional singing, guides people in meditation and offers her darshan—a blessing in the form of a heartfelt motherly hug.

The Irish people have warmly welcomed Amma several times to Dublin and thousands travel to be part of the 2 day programme and experience the loving atmosphere at the event and learn more about Embracing the Worlds global efforts.

A group of Irish volunteers, Amma Ireland, work tirelessly on preparing food, the venue, and ensuring a great experience for all who come. It is a FREE programme, however many contribute to Embracing the World through voluntary contributions.