Sunday Service: Amma Gives More Than Hugs


Week of Aug 23 – 29, 2015

Last month I had the opportunity to help Amma with her North American tour when it rolled into New York. I helped with safety.

As part of my service, I assisted with preparing the sweets that Amma gave people who came to greet her and get her blessing. Even more than my own hug with Amma, this work side by side with her was very special for me. Amma wasn’t serving me by giving me her blessing, we were working together in a small way by her holding her hand out for the chocolates, and me placing them in her hand.

Amma is a special woman. Some call her an incarnation of God. Many call her a saint.

While Amma is known for her love and sage advice, I find that one of her biggest gifts is serving as a model for all of us. Most of us talk about living a holy life, but Amma lives it. Every day.

This week we bring you a spiritual talk about Amma and what we can learn from her as a model of spiritual action. Originally it was published on, my personal web site, although I knew from the beginning that its primary destination was American Vedanta. So, finally, here it is on the American Vedanta site.


Peter Kowalke


AmmaThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Amma Gives More Than Hugs

By Peter Kowalke

Are there saints in the world? Yes. One of them is Amma, an internationally-known woman from Southern India who has devoted her life to love and service.

Anyone blessed with the opportunity to spend time with her, even for a few minutes, will experience what it means to be in the presence of a living, breathing saint.

It isn’t so much that she has magical powers, or that she will win you over with stunning words that cut to the heart of your problems. She isn’t a myth like most saints we’ve heard about; she is a real person. You may not even understand why she is special. But you’ll probably feel it.

That’s because saints are not “beyond” us or magical creatures. We like to hold them up as better than us, as paragons of virtue that we cannot possibly equal. But this does an injustice to us and to the saint in question, because it minimizes the effort of saintliness at the same time as it disempowers us from achieving a similar level of greatness. Amma is not divinely blessed more than other people, she is just more courageous about living truth. We all can do what Amma does with dedication and daring.

Amma is known as the “hugging guru.” You may have heard about her on a recent episode of the television series, Orange is the New Black, or read about her in the popular press. Maybe you’ve even attended one of her events and gotten a free hug.

What Amma does is love.

(read more)


Video of the Week

Science and Religion: Converging or Diverging?

Finding lasting happiness. Applying the Bhagavad Gita to daily life. Learning about the history of Vedanta in the U.S. These are some of the topics covered at American Vedanta’s YouTube channel. We curate a list of spiritual videos that will help advance your spirituality and expand your mind. When wanting spiritual videos, give our YouTube channel a look.

We also recommend other resources such as Booksaudio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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