International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol 6, No 1 (2015)

Contemporary Female Gurus, their Movements and Followers: The Case of Amma and Mata Amritanandamayi Mission

Samta P Pandya
Issued Date: 27 Jul 2015


Based on a random sample of 543 followers of a new religious movement called Mata Amritanandamayi Mission in India, this paper argues that these followers derived their sense of well-being through the gift of embrace by its iconic teacher Mata Amritanandamayi or Amma also known worldwide as the ‘hugging saint’. Followers are recipients of her embrace which is looked at predominantly as a healing touch as well as an expression of maternal love and proximity to the divine. I have studied the ways followers get associated with the movement and the roles they play, the images they have of Amma and their experiences and perceived efficacy of her embrace. The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being scale has been used to measure well-being. The efficacy of the embrace creates a habitus of Amma’s followers who have various positive experiences through the association. Simultaneously it also generates a collective memory and exclusive cultural identities for Amma followers.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v6i1.25760


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