Amma was born in a poor fishing village in Kerala, Southern India, on 27th Sep 1953. She was named Sudhamani, which means ambrosial jewel. Her father sold fish to make a living. Her mother was a homemaker.
Sudhamani’s birth was predicted by a Seer (clairvoyant) who said that Amma’s birthplace would be transformed into an international centre, drawing people from all over the world. Her mother related that Sudhamani was born not crying, but with a beaming smile on Her face. At six months, She could walk and talk, and by the age of three She was constantly singing. By the age of five She was composing beautiful, profound hymns to Her beloved Krishna.
At the age of nine, Sudhamani’s mother fell ill and She was forced to stop schooling so as to be able to help with household tasks. One of the tasks was to go around the village and collect food. It was at this time that she witnessed sickness, poverty and lonely elderly people who had no one to care for them. She resolved to help everyone within Her power. The love and tenderness She showed others earned Her the name ‘Amma’ meaning Mother.
By Her late teens, Sudhamani was abiding in the experience of inner bliss. By 1975, at the age of 22, she was fully established in the state of Supreme Love.
One day in September 1975, Sudhamani was walking home holding aloft a bundle of grass. She overheard the final verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam from a neighbouring house. The reading had come to an end and the devotional singing had just started. Sudhamani stopped abruptly, appearing to listen intently to the singing. Suddenly, She ran towards where the devotees had gathered. Overwhelmed by divine bliss, it is said that Sudhamani’s inner identification with Lord Krishna transformed Her features and movements into those of the Lord.
Regarding the onset of the Krishna Bhava (the divine mood of Krishna and oneness with the Lord), Amma has said that one day She strongly felt the urge to be absorbed in the Supreme Being without returning. Then She heard a voice from within saying, “Thousands and thousands of people in the world are steeped in misery. I have much for you to do, you who are one with Me.”
In 1979, when Amma was 26, Amma’s first monastic disciples came to reside permanently with Her. The disciples named Her Mata Amritanandamayi (Mother of Immortal Bliss). When more and more young men and women, inspired by Her selfless compassion, began coming to Her to seek spiritual guidance, an ashram was founded. Thus, in 1981 the construction of a few thatched huts next to Amma’s family home marked the beginning of the Math (monastery), Amma’s ashram.
Despite adverse reactions, Amma followed Her heart, later explaining, “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.”