Myth: The persona, spiritual philosophy and general phenomenon of Mata Amritanandamayi has been contrived by her senior disciples, and it is these disciples who tell her what to say and do. Amma is a mere puppet in their hands.
Reality: The miracle and phenomenon of Amma and who she is began long before there were any disciples or formal ashram. In fact, it was the phenomenon of Amma that attracted these very young men and women who would become her first disciples. Word of the phenomenon that is Amma gradually grew, spreading out from her village to those of the surrounding communities, and out into other districts of Kerala and beyond. Those who were to become her disciples came like all devotees have come to all gurus since time immemorial—seeking fulfillment. When they met her, just like millions of others throughout the world, they were touched to the core by her darshan, her spontaneity and overflowing of love. These have been part of Amma’s nature since the very beginning —not something that was made up over time. No one told Amma to act or behave in a certain way. As it is today, it was then. The 108 names in praise of Amma were not even written by them, but by a famous Malayalee poet-scholar, Ottur Nambootiripad, who was already an authority on Vedic and Vedantic scriptures and a spiritual aspirant in the tradition of the Ramakrishna Math. His composition was based on his own personal experiences—not on something told to him or concocted by others.
And while people have attributed many miracles to Amma over the years, back then and today, the true miracle can be witnessed by all: that is Amma’s darshan: how she sits for hour after hour, day after day embracing person after person, listening to their problems and drying their tears. Though our days are limited, it is not uncommon for Amma’s darsan to continue up to 28 hours. Is there anyone alive today who is so wholeheartedly dedicating their life for the sake of others—not family members, mind you, but complete strangers? Is there anyone alive today who has so wholeheartedly shouldered the sorrows and pain of the world? Has such a thing ever happened in the history of the world? Then, too—this miracle is not a one-time, too-bad-you-weren’t-there event, but something anyone can see any day of the week for the past 40 years and continuing today. Therefore, the phenomenon of Amma that we see and experience today is not different than what the senior disciples were initially driven to in their early days.
Some people even claim that Amma’s spiritual wisdom is contrived—that she is a tape-recorder spitting out knowledge that is spoon-fed to her by her disciples. Anyone who attends any of the question-and-answer sessions held every week in front of thousands of people—both in India and in the West—can see the nature of Amma’s knowledge. She is spontaneous, eloquent and unaided. Of course, she has a translator, but that is all. Translators do not dictate what is said; they translate what has been spoken from one language to another. And it is often seen that Amma herself corrects the translators, publicly correcting them when they fail to articulate her points in the proper manner. This is something anyone who has ever attended one of Amma’s question-and-answer sessions has witnessed. And of course more than half the time Amma is speaking to those who require no translator. (When they say Amma has all her wisdom handed to her, are they trying to suggest that the millions of people who directly express their spiritual and material doubts to Amma and are directly responded to by Amma are somehow oblivious to the presence of some advisor sitting at Amma’s side? If such an advisor really existed, it would be obvious to those who speak Amma’s mother tongue. And yet those millions can tell you that there is no such advisor to be seen.)
Amma’s ability to speak eloquently on all subjects—including science and worldly matters—has been lauded publicly by countless individuals, and during darshan one can frequently see her holding discussions with top scientists, even Nobel Laureates.
Ashrams and guru-disciple relationships have existed since time immemorial. This is not some newly cooked-up phenomenon. Just as fool’s gold logically proves the existence of real gold, there have always been genuine spiritual masters. People of all levels of maturity and understanding and spiritual proclivities come to seek guidance from these masters. A true guru understands each individual and guides him or her accordingly, advising the spiritual practices most conducive to his or her development. Even at the time of Christ, there were different levels of disciples—some followed a monastic path, some married, some even betrayed their master.
The disciple does not dictate the life of the guru. Amma’s ashram is purely founded on spirituality and spiritual teachings—upon eternal truths, not upon a make-believe story. Out the thousands who have come to seek spiritual tutelage under Amma, if one or two disciples leave, that’s not a big deal. In fact, it is to be expected. This has been happening for millennia; it is a natural part of the process, present in all ashrams, in all religions, in all faiths.