I heard for the first time about the Hug Saint at the Raju Clinic in India. A young American guy, travelling through India to play Indian music, was wearing this pink t-shirt with a warm smiling Indian woman on it. The woman I was visiting today: Amma, the hug guru.
I was intrigued about her from that first moment on. It was quickly decided I would go and see her once I found it she was travelling and only 1 hour from where I was. Inside the hall, there were people from all over the world, which explained the many campers and foreign tour busses outside.
One of the hundreds international volunteers, explained me how the lining worked and the guy was so nice and friendly that he alone would deserve a hug already.
I knew I was going to have to be patient with so many visitors already inside, but I did not mind. There were little stores with Amma gadgets, a massage place, astrologist, very tasty Indian snacks, Indian buffet, western food and great home made cakes. All very fairly priced and all benefits were for Amma’s charity fund,which was impressively vast ( A whole book of 94 pages covering just impressive stories and even more impressive facts, numbers and amounts that Amma dedicated to charity.) R.E.S.P.EC.T. Amma.
The most curious I was of course about Amma herself. After my walk around I sat down and simply waited till a Belgium voice announced that Amma was on her way (For dutch readers: a very Jambers voice, very surreal as you can imagine)
With Amma’s arrival being close, a woman next to me started to cry, another one to meditate. I felt like applauding when she came on stage to welcome her, but cowardly joined the mass and stayed silent.
After a small modest initiation ceremony for Amma, we prayed all together and meditated on the famous: “OMMMMMM” . This under the instructions and wise words of our Belgian but invisible Big Brother’s “Jambers” voice.
As far as Amma was concerned, she looked exactly as on the pictures. A small warm very friendly woman. I was impressed about Amma. She had been hugging already over 33 million people but she still took time to hug each individual and did not seem to take one single moment a break.
When asked how she could do this non- stop for so many hours, she replied” you also don’t ask a river how he does it, it simply streams.” And added that for her there was not no effort whenever there was divine love.
Besides looking at Amma hugging non-stop, I was simply also enjoying the crowd. Of course there were the expected non-stop hugging Osho kind of persons, but there were also people in tie and suit, “old school” traditional grannies till rave party kind of guys. Just to name you some. I watched my eyes out and could only come to the conclusion that hugging must indeed unite all people, cause we were indeed all there.
Once in a while some volunteer walked around with a board written on it if somebody wanted to help out washing pans, serve snack or cut some vegetable. I was telling myself that if this waiting would take any longer I would volunteer to kill some time.
Then finally, after 3,5 hours of waiting , it was my turn. From the moment I got in my special waiting seats till I got to Amma, my ticket was checked 4 times, not even at an airport my ticket has been checked as much. I could imagine lots of people are trying to find creative ways, cause otherwise they probably would not have the chance to see her today and had to sleep over (as indeed many did) or come back tomorrow (best is to come min 3 hours before opening if you want to hug the same day)
While you are seated an instruction list was handed out on how to hug Amma. I can imagine that “organising” the hugging is necessary cause 33 million people hanging on you and not wanting to leave otherwise would have been a very difficult job for Amma and an eternal waiting for us.
My moment was there, just before getting to Amma, a very strict acting German female volunteer asked me some things and then I had to put myself on my knees ( so that Amma did not need stand up all the time) and shuffled on my knees towards her, slightly pushed by my German “Hug drill coach”. I put myself on Amma’s right side ( as by instruction) and Amma kindly pulled me towards her. I was very distracted cause she continued talking to someone and a volunteer was touching below my leg ( I guess checking I did not touch Amma’s feet- as per instruction as well.) Amma then took me to her other side and stopped speaking. She hugged me even more closely and started to say some words that she repeated constantly but were not identifiable to any language I ever heard. She gave me a kiss and before I knew, I was pulled back again in real life by my German “hug organiser”. A necessary evil, I knew more souls to be hugged today. Amma gave me a small gift: a candy and rose leaf.
And that was it.
Was it what I expected?
It was a nice hug, but I guess if a “big mamma” auntie would have take me in her arms and hugged me, it would have had the same nice effect on me.
I am sure it is all very personal. I had seen people being very emotional with her. A woman on the bus on the way back said that the she became very warm when Amma hugged her and felt like overthinking her life tonight and do some good out there.
I guess everybody has its own Guru, just like in India, where within a family each could have their own favourite and that is not a problem. Luckily there are plenty of Gurus in India and across the globe. And luckily I found my own one already, the mango lady as I called her but that is for next time.
As for Amma I left indeed very impressed, more than by the hug, by the vast charity and good work she spreading around the world. Only for that already I would just say: Keep on hugging!