‘Hugging Saint’ Inaugurates New Center
Mata Amritanandamayi, a tireless humanitarian affectionately known as “Amma” or “Ammachi,” is offering free public programs at the new Mata Amritanandamayi Center Chicago, located 41 W751 Keslinger Road, in Elburn, Illinois, as part of a 10-city U.S. tour to receive thousands of people with her trademark blessing—a healing embrace.
Amma will inaugurate the new Chicago ashram on June 30 and conduct free public programs at 7:30 p.m. June 30; 11 a.m., July 1; 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., July 2; 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., July 3; and 10 a.m. (Devi Bhava at 7 p.m.), July 4.
Amritanandamayi, regarded as a living saint in her homeland of India, has gained an extraordinary reputation over the last 35 years for her extensive charitable institutions and personal outreach. The recipient of numerous humanitarian awards, Amritanandamayi teaches by the example of her own life, dedicated to selfless social service.
Amritanandamayi will receive the public for darshan, a Sanskrit term meaning, “audience in the presence of a holy person.” In a significant departure from ancient tradition, particularly as a woman, Amritanandamayi’s darshan consists of a tender embrace. She has been doing this as a natural expression of compassion since she was a teen. It is estimated that Amritanandamayi has given more than 31 million hugs in her life and the press has dubbed her, “The hugging saint.”
She oversees a vast network of volunteer humanitarian activities, including direct aid to the needy; educational institutions designed to help the underprivileged learn to help themselves; and social programs that serve broader society and the environment. Embracing the World, her international network of charitable organizations in more than 40 countries, has official NGO status granted by the United Nations.
Though born into the Hindu faith, Amritanandamayi steadfastly supports all great religions, encouraging aspirants to go deeper in their own traditional path. “There is no harm in having many religions and faiths,” she says, “but it is harmful to think they are different, and that one faith is higher and another lower.” In her speech at the United Nations, Amritanandamayi described the real source of historical world conflict as a, “lack of awareness of our true nature.”