Meeting Rama Devi Nina, and getting a Hug from Amma
Friday, June 7th, Carol and I were delighted to meet our dear wikinut friend, Rama Devi Nina, in person.
Hugged by Amma
Under beautiful California skies on June 8th, Carol and I traveled to the ashram established by Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, better known as Amma (Mother), in Castro Valley, to meet with Rama Devi Nina, our dear wikinut friend. We arrived a couple of hours ahead of Rama Devi, which gave us the opportunity to queue up for a hug from Amma. During the course of her ministry over the past three-plus decades, Amma has hugged an estimated 32 million people.
Amma began to spontaneously hug people out of her compassion for those who are suffering when she was fourteen years old. Observing the poverty and suffering around her, she would bring people food and clothing from her home. It was not permissible in her culture to touch others, especially men, but Amma ignored the protestations of her family and continued the practice of hugging others. She once commented, "I don't see if it is a man or woman. I don't see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love pours from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering." - wikipedia
After about two hours we reached the head of the line and received our embraces from Amma. We could feel the outpouring of her love infusing our bodies as she hugged us. I can't quite put my finger on it to describe the feeling that washed over me, except to say that I felt comforted, uplifted, and somehow lighter in my entire being. It was, quite simply, an exquisite experience.
Amma's good works
According to wikipedia, "Amritanandamayi's world-wide charitable mission includes a mission to house the homeless, build orphanages, and provide relief-and-rehabilitation in the aftermath of disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami; free medical care, pensions for widows and disabled people, aid to environmental-protection groups, renovate and urbanize slums, and offer free food and clothing for the poor."
All of her projects are administered by several organizations she established in India, the United States, Japan, Kenya, France, Australia and several other countries. Collectively, all of her operations combined are known as Embracing the World.
Rama Devi, a native New Yorker, tells us that she met Amma in 1988, when she was twenty-two years old. She quickly became a devotee, and she has been with her ever since. She now works in one of Amma's hospitals in India, bringing her care and compassion to sick and dying patients. Amma has instructed her followers to spread love and peace throughout the world. "My children," she has said, "feed those who are hungry, help the poor, console the sorrowful, comfort the suffering, be charitable to all," and this is exactly how Rama Devi spends her life, every hour of every day.
I was standing outside the temple at the ashram when I heard Carol squeal with delight, and I turned around to see her and Rama Devi in a warm embrace. She had appeared, it seemed to me, out of nowhere, for I had been scanning the crowd looking for her, and now, to my great delight, here she was. We embraced with a long hug, and for both Carol and me it was like meeting a long lost friend again. We visited over a delicious vegan lunch at the temple's snack bar, after which we sat in the balcony watching Amma give endless hugs. Rama Devi regaled us with some amazing stories about her life in India and the wonderful work Amma accomplishes all over the world.
We said our goodbyes to Rama Devi and her friend Eileen around four in the afternoon. I had a slight case of bronchial asthma that day, although when Rama Devi hugged me I could feel her warmth and her love moving into me, and my breathing began to noticeably improve as we walked down the hill to our car.
Carol and I would not have missed this day for anything. We had reunited with a member of our family, a woman who is to us an exalted soul, and who, like Amma, spreads her love everywhere she walks.
Amma would go on to hug people until seven o'clock, when she would break to give a talk. She would then resume hugging until everyone waiting had felt her warm and loving embrace. Amma embraces thousands nearly every day, and she does it with only two hours of sleep each night.
We left the sublime environment of that day very reluctantly, and the memory of it will never fade.
Moving Mountains - Personal Essay on Faith - Rama Devi Nina
The Power of Personal Sacrifice and the Path of Non-violence - Rama Devi Nina