Amma, ‘The Hugging Saint’.
When she was a young girl, as part of her chores, Amritanandamayi gathered food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows and goats. She was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering of others. She would bring these people food and clothing from her own home. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her. Amritanandamayi also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. It was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. But despite the reaction of her parents, Amritanandamayi continued. Regarding her embracing of others, Amritanandamayi commented, “I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows 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. ~ quoted from Wikipedia
For the past 35 years Amma has dedicated her life to the uplifting of suffering humanity through the simplest of gestures – an embrace. In this intimate manner Amma had blessed and consoled more than 25 million people throughout the world. When someone asked Amma why she receives every person who comes to her in a loving embrace Amma replied, “ If you ask the river,’ why do you flow?’ what can it say?” As Dr. Jane Goodall, while presenting Amma with the 2002 Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence said, ” She stands here in front of us. God’s love in a human body.” ~ quoted from www.amma.org