UN Recognises Indian Spiritual Leader

Updated: Mar 2 2003, 05:30am hrs
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, the renowned spiritual teacher and social reformer, who is affectionately called Amma by her devotees around the world, recently received the prestigious Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence. The award was given at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in Geneva in recognition of her lifelong work in furthering the principles of non-violence. Mata Amritanandamayi is the first Indian to receive this award. Previous Gandhi-King Award recipients include Nobel Prize winners Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela.

After she accepted the award, Mata Amritanandamayi also addressed the Summit of Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the UN General Assembly Hall.

Mata Amritanandamayis contribution to the community includes concrete work on the ground. The Amrita Institute of Medical Science (AIMS), a 1,000-bed, super-speciality hospital, equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities at Ernakulam, in Kerala, is the result of her vision. The hospital offers destitute patients top quality medical treatment free of cost. The Amrita Kripa Sagar, a hospice at Badlapur near Mumbai, takes care of terminally ill cancer patients free of cost. Similarly, Amrita Kripa Charitable Hospital, located at Amritapuri Ashram, provides free medical care to villagers.

25,000 poor families in nine states were provided homes under the Amrita Kuteeram project in the last five years. Another 1,00,000 houses are planned to be constructed within the next 10 years. The monthly pension scheme started by Mata Amritanandamayi benefits 25,000 destitute women and it aims to reach as many more. Mata Amritanandamayi has also set up orphanages and homes for the elderly. In addition to providing meals and clothes to the poor, there are several free medical dispensaries across the country.

Since 1987, Mata Amritanandamayi has been travelling all over the world, spreading her message of love and compassion. In 1993, she attended the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Chicago, where she was chosen as a President of the Hindu faith.

Mata Amritanandamayi was also one of the very few invitees from all over the world at the Inter-Faith Celebrations in New York on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in October 1995. In 2000, she addressed the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders in the UN General Assembly. In her speech, Mata Amritanandamayi said, The very words nation and religion tend to connote division and diversity. Each nation and faith has its own characteristics, ideologies and interests. This diversity may seem to create obstacles in fostering peace, happiness and prosperity in the world. Yet in reality, it is this diversity that brings richness and beauty to the world and to human lifejust as a bouquet made from a variety of flowers is more beautiful than a bouquet of flowers that are exactly the same.