We received the following letter from old-time devotee and Ashram resident:
In response to the recent book by Gail Tredwell and the accusations and misinformation circulating around the Internet as a byproduct of the book, I would like to come forward and clarify a few important points that might otherwise remain buried. The fact is Gail has failed to incorporate some crucial events in the book which seriously undermine her credibility as a reliable source of information.
“It was entirely her own decision to come and live in the ashram and to assume a role that she chose.”
Gail claims that she was never compensated for her time in the ashram, yet overlooks the fact that it was her own life choice to pursue this path. She was never invited, brainwashed or forced to stay in the ashram. It was entirely her own decision to come and live there and to assume a role that she chose. In her own words: “It was my heart’s desire to serve a female guru like Amma.” Gail is also a self-professed spiritual seeker and even now claims to be “shedding light on the path of devotion.” Like everything else about her life with Amma, leaving the organization was also Gail’s own decision.
Gail writes that she left the ashram as a “fugitive” with almost nothing to sustain herself. Yet, in her own words she admits: “Inside the lining of my computer case I hid a tiny bit of survival money.” It is interesting to note that she conveniently omitted to mention the amount she took.
“The truth is, after leaving, Gail was very lovingly cared for by Amma’s devotees.”
In fact, there is a much more glaring omission in her story. I happen to know firsthand that Gail received more than $20,000 from the ashram and from devotees to help her get established after she left. A few Dubai (Middle East) devotees collected some money and essential household items, which upon Amma’s instruction, was transferred to Gail through Swami Amritaswarupananda to help her get started. She happily accepted all these gifts and did not reject the help from her supposed “tormenters.”
In addition to this amount, Gail received additional support, both in cash and in kind, from Amma’s devotees from various parts of the world. One of Amma’s devotees in Hawaii, Arpana, with whom Gail was living with at that time (please see Arpana’s letter), assisted Gail with the transfer, deposit and investment of the money.
The truth is, after leaving, Gail was very lovingly cared for by Amma’s devotees. All her necessities and comforts were attended to, including accommodation, food and clothing — not to mention her other needs and requirements. It is unfortunate that Gail doesn’t mention the extent of support that she received from these devotees.
“This opens up the question: what is fact and what is fiction in her book?“
But that’s not all. It is also a fact that M.A. Center covered Gail’s health insurance for approximately two years after she left in 1999, even though it was her own decision to leave in the first place. This doesn’t sound to me exactly like the life of a “fugitive” on the run from a cult… Could it be because she was not a fugitive and Amma’s organization is not a cult?
One thing is certain, the fact that Gail omitted certain key events from her memoir — falsely representing herself as an “ashram fugitive” on the run when, in fact, she benefited from many forms of support for years after her departure — indicates that she is a less than trustworthy witness.
This opens up the question: what is fact and what is fiction in her book?
Dr. Geetha Kumar