A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness
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Amma, universally known as "The Hugging Saint," went through a two-decade transformation from a simple fisherman's daughter to an international wonder worshiped by millions. Gail "Gayatri" Tredwell was there every step of the way—from early devotee to head female disciple, ever-present personal attendant, handmaiden, whipping post, and unwilling keeper of some devastating secrets.
What a Journey!
What a pleasure it was to read Gail's book. Having been involved with a very famous guru since 1972, it was easy to empathize with her growing awareness of the rather human qualities of Amma that contradicted the Divine projections placed on her. Authentic spiritual seeking is an amazingly complex undertaking with so many unexpected twists and turns. Gail's book is a tale of this path starting at the very beginning of Amma's eventual rise to world fame. Rather than a trashing of her former guru, Gail transparently recounts her experiences over a twenty year period working closely with Amma and recounts all the good, bad and ugly. You will not be disappointed by this well written book by an authentic spiritual seeker.
I loved Gail's book! From the moment I began reading it, I was hooked! It is wonderfully well-written and flows like a novel. Within moments of turning to the first page, Gail's story pulled me in and would not release me until I was done...with the whole book...in a day.
Gail tells the story of the 20+ years she spent with Amma aka Ammachi, the hugging saint, as her personal attendant. She shares how she ended up in India, then with Amma, and her years with her. She tells of finally coming to the realization that she needed to escape and then, doing just that.
As I read, I was struck over and over again by the reality of what she wrote. I lived in Amma's ashram for 2 years in the 90s, traveling back to the US shortly during the summer to work the US Tour. So many things I saw (although I wasn't an insider), so many things I heard...that didn't add up until I read her book. Her book corroborates so much. I KNEW the people she names. I talked to them. I watched them. I saw her (Gail, at the time, Swamini Amma) on her little bridge holding mini-meetings; I saw Swamiji (Balu) watching from afar with an odd look on his face. I saw, countless times, Amma hit this person or that. Many times, I watched Amma move only to see Swamini Amma flinch - I knew about the slaps, the hits, but not the severity, not the kicks and hair-pulling...but I SAW the terror in Swamini Amma's eyes, I saw the exhaustion, the being overwhelmed and consumed...this book finally put into place so many pieces of the puzzle.
Gail asks in her book, during one of Amma's fits of rage, something to the effect of, "Did people on the outside see? Did we know?" Well, we did see...a little, dimly, vaguely...but now we see all and it makes sense. So much sense.
And then, there are the other abuses, the lies, the cover- up, the manipulation...so much of it finally makes sense. It makes so much sense.
I'm so glad Gail wrote this book. I pray she gets the peace and joy she deserves after all these years of seeking.
If you want an excellent, well-written book to read... If you want to start on a book you'll be hard-pressed to put down... If you want the truth - in all its horror and ugliness and honesty... Then, this is the book for you! It won't disappoint!
Trashy, boring and delusional.
Trashy, boring and delusional.
I expected this book to be slightly credible given the author's close association to the organization. However, the purported scandals and allegations are so outrageous and unbelievable that the book seems more like a half-rate daytime soap opera than a factual account of events. The author takes the victim stance from the very outset of the book making you wonder how disturbed and disgruntled this individual is. She is definitely a victim of her own psychological disorders and delusions. The negative tone and tacky jokes make the book a very hard read. Boring, artless and not worth the money. Skip it!