Remembering Gail Tredwell– Kusuma’s Memories of Gayatri

We received the following account from an old-time devotee:

kusumaTo one and all–
30 years ago I traveled to India to meet Amma, in November of 1983, at her family compound, Idamannel. At that time there were only six westerners, and about a dozen or so brahmacharins staying at this tiny property which would become Amritapuri. Two rectangular thatched huts made of woven coconut palms stood there; each hut was divided into three rooms for a grand total of 6 small rooms. In addition, one concrete house was the family home; a newer concrete house served as a meditation hall with Amma’s one room above. An open stairway could be seen from the Kalari side leading to Amma’s room. The door was always open.

“Amma was never alone; residents or guests were constantly seeking her blessing and advice.”

20 of the 24 hours Amma could be found outside, sitting in the sand meditating or playing with the neighborhood children or attending to some aspect of ashram life. Every day was a darshan day and Amma would sit to receive visitors in the end room of the coconut hut. Amma was never alone; residents or guests were constantly seeking her blessing and advice, although the numbers were minuscule compared with today.  Amma was always available and easily located at any time of the day or night. I had constant access to Amma whenever I wanted as I was one of the main helpers. Because of the close quarters, and the paper-thin coconut huts, one was always aware of what was going on.

My days were spent joyfully tending to the tasks of cooking, cleaning, washing clothes. Sadhana was 8 hours of meditation, three hours of scriptural class, and evening bhajans. Three nights a week were spent serving Amma and the devotees during the Devi Bhava darshan which lasted the whole night. Many nights I spent staying near Amma as she sat with the devotees or her family into the wee hours of the night. If Amma were in samadhi after the bhajans I would sit near Amma to watch over her until she returned to normal awareness of her surroundings. Often Amma would call me to come and assist with some task. It was not possible to be unaware of what was going on at any given moment as we were all living and working and doing sadhana in the same small compound. The atmosphere was one of divine spontaneity.

“It is inconceivable that I would not have seen anything over all those years.”

Without hesitation I can clearly state that I have never witnessed the slightest indiscretion on Amma’s part either in her conduct with the Swamis or with Gail. Nothing.  And I was there at the same time as Gail was. I had the same access. It is inconceivable that I would not have seen anything over all those years. It doesn’t matter that I am not fluent in Malayalam, I would have seen something.

Nor at any time previous to this have I ever heard from Gail that Amma had done such outrageous acts. Never once did Gail breathe so much as a word of such things to me. Nothing.  And that is the honest to God truth. I will place my hand on the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita or have a lie detector placed on my arm and attest to the falseness of these allegations.

While I do not want to say anything bad about her, let me at least question the motives of an all but forgotten, washed up sannyasini who changed her mind and left her robes behind. Truth be told, in her final years with Amma she had fallen madly in love with a prominent devotee who spurned her as he did not want to cause an uproar. Whether or not this disappointment caused her instability, she had an ego like no other, combined with a vengeful, scorpio temperament.  Her tale, vulgar in its telling even by worldly standards, is a bitter, poisonous fruit– the unfortunate culmination of her life. That is my take on it.

“Decide for yourself what you want to believe, it is not my role to convince you one way or another.”

I have no intention of allowing such an influence to spoil my life and would advise others to do the same before throwing away their precious relationship with Amma on the basis of unsubstantiated claims. Decide for yourself what you want to believe, it is not my role to convince you one way or another.  I know that all my time with Amma has benefited me beyond what I imagined possible. In Amma’s presence and teaching there is so much bliss and peace. Each of our own experience speaks for itself in this regard. Spending time dwelling on someone else’s dissatisfaction is a waste of precious time and will only lead to the place of ruin where Gail seems to have lost herself.

Peace and love,
Kusuma  (Gretchen McGregor)



Categories: Amma Lies, Amma Scandal, Amma Truth, Amritanandamayi Scandal, Gail Tredwell, Recent

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1 reply

  1. Greetings to all who are viewing this site.

    I am am a father of 4 children. My whole family is very close to Amma. We host weekly satsangs in our home and coordinate the youth programs when Amma comes to Seattle each year. I am very thankful for this website and particularly all the objective contributions of those who have spent such significant time with Gail Tredwell during the years of her account. It is only through hearing from all of them that our doubts can be cleared and we can come to a better understanding of the real situation.

    After reading Gail’s book I was very deeply disturbed, more so than I ever thought possible. It was because of the respect that I had for Gail, having spent so many years serving Amma. I had always appreciated Gail’s written articles from the early days of the ashram’s publications. I have always greatly enjoyed reading all the other accounts of those who spent time close to Amma; I don’t think there is even one that I have not read, so I felt compelled to read Gail’s book also.

    Although the story Gail told was unbelievably harsh and did not correspond to my own experiences, I could simply not bring myself to believe that Gail would publish such an exhaustively detailed and elaborate lie. It strained against the naturally trusting aspect of my nature. I have had a series of deep disappointments with other spiritual teachers in my life, and all these old feelings were reawakened. My confidence was deeply shaken and I came close to sinking into depression and despair. I was compelled to deeply introspect about my spiritual path.

    Only one thought gave me hope. The criticisms expressed by Gail were so detailed and broad, I was certain that if there was any truth to them, then there would be others who would confirm the allegations; or if Gail’s facts were fabricated and exaggerated, then I trusted that those who had spent time with Gail would speak up and set the record straight in a respectable and objective way that we could understand and trust. One individual in particular came to mind; Kusuma (Gretchen McGregor), also a “westerner”, and among the first foreigners to travel to India and serve Amma in a very close and intimate way. Her duties overlapped with Gail in many ways and they would have certainly shared many experiences. I trusted Kusuma because of the kindness she showed my two eldest daughters when they traveled to India alone some years back. I also greatly appreciated her book “in the Shelter of Her Arms” which is very candid and insightful. I recognized the commonality of Kusuma’ experience with some of the challenges that I have experienced on the spiritual path. “Surely Kusuma would be able to shed some light on this terrible situation”, I thought. I resolved to write to her immediately.

    Within hours of making that resolve, Kusuma’s post appeared on this site. Her’s along with the contributions of Swami Paramatmananda, Anu, Radhika and Lakshmi, all of whom I greatly admire, have served to clarify my understanding immensely. I am deeply grateful, and respect them even more because they understand the need to share their experience and perspective with all who will have questions about the story Gail Tredwell has told.

    I feel now that this is an extremely difficult, but valuable opportunity to understand the potentially deceptive nature of the mind, and develop discernment – qualities that we all very much need in this age of overwhelming information. If a significant portion of Gail Tredwell’s allegations can be shown to be exaggerations, projections and distortions, then surely the credibility of her entire tale comes into question.

    Amma’s request that we pray for Gail is a humbling teaching, and one that exemplifies the unconditional love of a true mahatma.

    Lord please lead us all – from untruth to Truth, darkness to light , and death to immortality!

    Mark Braaten

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