Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, most commonly known as Amma, “the hugging saint,” visited the United States this summer, and Public Radio International caught up with Illinois residents as Amma visited the MA Center Chicago. Amma is said to have hugged 39 million people to date, and followers believe her hugs are healing.
Tulasi Srinivas, professor of anthropology in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, shared the context of female gurus with PRI and the cultural significance of gurus today.
“The power of this singular person is what is called in India as an ‘avatar of God’ — a manifestation … gurus have traditionally claimed that they are extra-spiritual human beings, but it is devotees who ascribe divinity to them,” Srinivas said.
Also this week, Srinivas shared her perspective on the significance of Bangalore’s polluted Vrishabhavathi River to Religion News Service.