Ajmal V for BeyondHeadlines,
Despite the controversy over The Hindu: An Alternative History of Sanskrit scholar from University of Chicago, Wendy Doniger and its ‘pulping’ by the Penguin from Indian market has become fervent among Indian intellectuals, the southern state of Kerala is also debating over a book Holy Hell – a Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness of Gail Tredwell, an ex-devotee of the Kerala’s biggest God-women Mata Amritanantamayi or Amma. The contents of book is about the experiences of the Gayathri (Gail’s Indian name) in Amritapuri, the ashram of Amma in Karunakapalli, Kollam district.
Gail had been in the ashram for 20 years as a close associate of the Amma and achieved the second in position in the ashram. She left ashram in 1999. Gail accuses the male devotees of Amma of sexual abuses and financial irregularities in the ashram.
Amma attracts the common people not only due to her ‘hug-blessing’ but her philanthropic activities for poor around the state. She owns a Medical College and a television channel. Her activities has been endorsed by government too. Several politicians are devotees of Amma. Thus she has become very influential in the state. Her major source of income comes from foreign countries like Canada, Australia, US and Europe.
The impact of the book affects her emergence as influential person. Gail’s revelations have widened assumption about the long held allegations against Amma. In August 2012, the devotees of Amma attacked Swathanam Singh, a mentally challenged Bihari youth and beat him to death in police station alleging him to have barged into ashram without permission. But the case soon vanished from the memories.
The discussion on book stormed the Facebook and majority of commentators on social network sites attacked Amma and her ashram. The mainstream media hardly opened its mouth. The government interestingly took actions against those social network commentators who posted their views on the book and Amma. Moreover, the chief minister warned the people not to raise voice against philanthropic Amma through his official Facebook page.
Allegations against the god man and god women is not new in India. From Swami Nithyanad to Asaram Bapu, many godmen and women have had their shares of allegations, but often due to the clout they have in power circles, they escape unharmed.
The government has responsibility to investigate the allegations since it is the matter of citizen’s spirituality. The government should necessarily take actions against the growing malpractices behind spiritualism. All the politicians bow their head to the Amma, it is really not a good practise for our democracy.
PS: VHP has demanded to ban Holy Hell – a memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness. Has the hindutva added god man/women to the list of 33000 crore gods?