Amma and Gail Tredwell: A Journaling of post book release events

This journal will be updating the events unfolding after the release just over a month ago of Gail Tredwell’s “Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness”. It will be maintained for a little while anyway, as a chronicle of a major example of the major changes (especially growing over the last 50 years in western cultures) happening in spiritual practice communities. At some point soon, even though significant events may still be happening in relation to this story, I will cease updating this journal. The focus will be returning shortly to completing the current series of articles on the 20 Yoga Upanishads.

See the following related article which includes a reading list that has links to the recent Rolling Stone, New York Times, and Indpendent of England articles covering the Ammachi scene:

Is the old Guru model now crumbling fast?

Looking at the latest wave of internet/online assaults on Gail Tredwell, author of Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness, I see there are now persons who have been with Ammachi (aka the “Hugging Saint”) the longest, and who are the closest to her still, posting their own “memoirs” of Gail with the obvious intent to completely destroy her credibility and neutralize the impact of her book.  They are doing this at a wordpress blog called Amma Scandal and others (“helpful” Amma fans) have been reposting these articles on Tredwell’s Facebook page (set up for her book).  Nine more negative book reviews have been removed at Amazon yet the trashing of Gail operation is also undergoing there.  The sales rating for her book has been fluctuating but overall appear to be quite good!  (I’ve seen it vary between #55,000 and #17,000 so far.)

Looking at the pictures of Ammachi’s last stop on her current tour, Spain, it looks like she is still drawing massive crowds.  At this very moment (as I type this) she has probably entered the hall at her center near San Ramon, California for the first of a few day and night time programs.  

I have found very little press coverage on Ammachi (aside from the Independent article in England, dated October 24th).  A Swiss magazine named Spuran interviewed Gail Tredwell and Tredwell’s book was mentioned in the Independent article.  Before that, Jake Halpern did an in-depth profile of the Ammachi scene (which includes an interview with Ammachi while she was still at home in India) on May 25th of this year in a big spread in the Business Day section of the New York Times.  

Have no idea how this will unfold but I am guessing,  given the clearly exhibited serious degree of emotional bondage people have with the idealistic picture they have in their heads, that many, many thousands of people will just simply sink deeper into that tar pit (i.e. the Ammachi scene).  As an adaptation to the intense cognitive dissonance stirred by Tredwell’s memoirs of that scene.  Not much that anyone of us can do in serving these folks.  

But, there are many also expressing appreciation for these same memoirs.  That includes many people who, like Gail Tredwell, have had a long term involvement with Ammachi.  So, the book is having a positive impact right now and it will always been there as a valuable historical resource.  The play unfolding in reaction to this book is also going to be an important part of the historical record.

Many, many stories related to the “dharma” (in all its wonderful variations and forms) over the last few decades have been immensely valuable in delivering the cautioning lessons of power, authoritarianism, corruption, exploitation, and the play of maya.   Opening the door to Amma’s room to show more clearly some of the ways we sustain our “bondage” to illusions and delusions, can only be helpful for us “now” and for future generations of practitioners of the dharma.

Gail Tredwell’s Facebook page is periodically purged of the posts by those deciding that venomous attacks and “how dare you”(s) are the best tact in defending their Guru. The latest wave I saw very early this am and I could see that the hostile poster and the eight people liking the post, and commenting on it, either lived at Ammachi’s ashram (their timelines were open and public) or were very closely associated but from other locations.

A new review of Tredwell’s book, just posted at Amazon with a verified name (and purchase also!), shares some further background from a former long time ashram resident and tour helper. (Confirming, for example, Tredwell’s reporting that Ammachi indeed has assaulted people, seriously so.)

BUT, more importantly, he discusses how the idealistic imagery we hold regarding spiritual figures, and including the notion of reaching some final, solidly established imagined state of perfection, are an impediment to our growth. (And, practice.) And, he strongly suggests too that Ammachi herself is a “work in progress”, and should not be seen as some solidified “evil” figure in our mind’s eye. (But, I already knew that, remembering still the twinkle in her eyes, her hugs, and her kisses.)

You can see the above mentioned review at Amazon here

I am preserving James Duffy’s review, which the above link will take you to, in this space also:

This review is from: Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness (Paperback)
Read the book, read Amma’s devotees’ and Swami’s responses….make up your own mind. Are the Amma defenders sharing evidence to contradict Gail’s accusations?….or are they merely attacking her character?? Gail Tredwell’s book, Holy Hell, gives all a glimpse into the minefield of the traditional Guru disciple path, both the sublime and the horrific aspects. I would like to have heard more about the sublime aspect, so the reader without direct experience of Amma and such Gurus would better understand why she would tolerate such abuse, but regardless, I think Gail has done a great service (!) in sharing her story. Especially since I’m sure she anticipates the massive tidal wave of wrath from devotees and Amma’s org to be unleashed against her.

My opinion…
As someone who has spent significant time around Amma (amritapuri ashram resident, tours, etc etc) since 1990, the response to Gail Tredwell’s book by Amma / her org / swamis has been profoundly disappointing and revealing in my opinion. Pure character assassination. Their self-delusion being so strong as to blindly enable them to promote immoral rationalizations and lies. I’ve seen Amma’s violence first hand and it isn’t pretty. One example, I saw Amma take a brahmacharin by the throat and slam him against a wall. I don’t think that Amma is an utter fraud or ‘the devil”, but she isn’t what’s claimed by devotees either, that’s for sure. Here, I should say, that I’ve also seen first hand Amma perform numerous, deeply moving acts of love and compassion. What seems to drive these debacles is the inability of devotees to accept their Guru’s humanity. I feel I learned this lesson the hard way. The necessity that the Guru be “perfect”, all knowing and all powerful…and thus inhuman…ensures that one day the pedestal will crumble. Then whatever greatness the Guru authentically possesses is thrown out with the bathwater by many, while the “true believers” continue to drink the koolaid. Result: “fallen Guru / Charlatan” vs “Amma is Divine Perfection”. Neither option being an accurate portrayal. The traditional Indian “mythic” worldview of “spirituality”, “enlightenment” and Gurus must stop if we, as humans, are to evolve beyond the unfailingly, ever-repeating enactment of “fallen Gurus”.

The character assassination campaign by Amma *should* set off alarms for everyone, but it won’t, except for a small handful of people. And please don’t be so clueless to think Amma hasn’t signed off on this campaign against Gail. The swami’s, her attendant, etc do not do anything without Amma’s approval.

Unfortunately, for most, Gail’s book will be divisive, separating the believers from the non-believers…aka “Amma is perfect” vs “Amma is a charlatan preying on the weak minded, the devil”, etc. There is a third alternative imo, that requires a far more nuanced perspective of what it means to be an evolving human being. It isn’t black or white. It’s messy, it’s complex, it’s paradoxical…in other words, it’s human. For more, research Spiral Dynamics or Integral Theory etc. Equating “spiritually enlightened” / “divinity” / Self Realization with perfection must end. We’re all a work in progress (evolution), and Amma is no exception.

I will leave the reader with a clear sign of the mind set afflicting scenes like this. Someone posted a comment to the article, written by Amma’s current chief attendant!, attacking Gail Tredwell at the wordpress Amma Scandal blog. And, leaving the name of the commentator out of it, here are the remarks:

Really shocked by realising the true face of Gali. Praying to AMMA that Gail get out of this darkness & realize that there is no truth other than AMMA in this world.

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Chronicle note, November 20:

Ron Rattner shares his history with Ammachi and confirms Gail Tredwell’s characterizations and reports:

Silly Sutras: Ron’s Memoirs and Ammachi

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Chronicle note, November 21:

A reviewer of the Tredwell’s book at Amazon makes this report in a comments thread on a review:

Hipstorian says:
Ask him? Him? Nah. I’ll probably spit on the ground and incur some sort of karma for not showing reverence to a sannyasin (albeit one who appears to not deserve his robes) if we have a run in. No, I’d ask Amma if anybody. And she told another devotee yesterday that she wouldn’t comment on the book. Mother then asked this devotee which of her friends had been talking about the book to her, but my friend didn’t want to “get me in trouble.”

The conversation in the comments thread was about whether to confront Ammachi’s chief swami (“Balu”), while he is here in northern California with Ammachi, about Gail Tredwell’s reporting of his alleged sexual assaults of Tredwell. Ammachi is still at this moment in San Ramon, the public program yielding to the current paid retreat. The conclusive event of her stay, Devi Bhava, is tommorrow night (and into the wee hours of Sunday morning).

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Chronicle Note, November 27th: the following has been posted at the Guruphiliac facebook page and refers to that Swiss publication interview referenced earlier in this article. BTW, I rather doubt any attempts will be made to suppress the articles, etc. criticizing Ammachi that are coming out of America! (In the reported manner described below.) The laws here are pretty serious about that type of thing.

That skeptic with a heart, Rene Tschannen, discovered something recently about an article published about Gail Tredwell’s Ammachi memoir, “Holy Hell”:

In November 2013, Martin Frischknecht from the Swiss spiritual magazine SPUREN was doing an interview with Gail Tredwell, the author of “Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness“ an inside report from her time as personal attendant of Amma. Around the middle of November, he published the interview in German on the website of the online version of SPUREN. Today I wanted to send the link to the article to a friend and found the interview wasn’t there anymore.

I’ve contacted the publisher and learned he got under massive pressure from the Amma ashram to sue him for defamation. At loss for arguments (!) he said he took the article down. To deescalate the matters he also refuses to post a statement about why the article is missing. In an answer to a negative comment to the article on the website, the publisher said they had contacted the organization of Amma in advance before the publication of the interview for a statement, but haven’t received an answer.

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Chronicle note, November 27: four one star and one two star reviews of Tredwell’s book have been removed by Amazon in the last couple of hours. Many of these low star reviews have been noted for simply being attacks on Tredwell. Nine similiar type reviews have been deleted earlier from there.

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Chronicle note, November 28: A new wordpress blog by unidentified Ammachi supporter(s), called Letters to the Mother, has surfaced to join with another wordpress blog called Amma Scandals in trashing book author Gail Tredwell. So, essentially the Ammachi devotees are demonstrating perfectly the pitfalls of associating with bhakti cults focused on worshipping a human being who at the same time heads a massive charity empire which some folks are beginning to examine and question.

Also, we have a poster at the Facebook Guruphiliac page updating everyone with this:

Marit Hegge
A number of the posters on the site where high up ammabots have been parking their fake and slanderous “testimonials” against Gail Tredwell – http://ammascandal.wordpress.com/category/gail-tredwell/
are stating that Gail was “well looked after” when she left.

The latest set of lies from a woman who actually resides on Maui, Rajita Cappadocia, says that Gail got $20,000 from the ashram to establish herself. Another even misleads further and says she received a pension, leading readers to believe that she must have some sort of regular income still coming in from the ashram. The sum varies but is always much higher than the real amount. They are also peddling these lies on the Amazon site. Neither story is correct. Gail informed me she was sent a lump sum payment of $15,000 in 2000 to help her with her new life. Which she spent most of buying a second hand car so she would at least have transport.

She believed the ashram only sent this small sum so they would not look bad.

Yes that’s correct folks – $15,000 for 20 years of work! When the ammabots go on about Amma’s “generosity” this is what they are referring to. They always fail to report though how when Gail requested her personal effects, photo albums which included ones from her early childhood, her paper diaries all of which she had left behind at the ashram be sent on to her, the ashram, and specifically Swamini Krishnamrita Prana, in an act of supreme spitefulness, refused to do so.

So after 20 years of working her arse off for amma all Gail had when she left was a set of useless orange swami robes, whatever she had brought on the USA tour with her – possibly some spare sets of underwear – her laptop computer, and the contents of her handbag. Plus of course further along the line that $15,000. And the ammabots cannot see THAT as exploitation and abuse!!

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Chronicle note, November 30….

The novel rank site data on sales of the Gail Tredwell paperback and online Kindle version via Amazon now totals 230 but there’s an asterisk for the Kindle sales from India suggesting the number from there may be higher (link just to the Kindle data):

Kindle sales data

There are continuing signs of an ongoing effort at the Amazon reviews of this book (including via comments to various reviews) to discredit Gail Tredwell personally. The wordpress blogs Amma Scandal and Letters to the Mother continue also to target Tredwell.

The following link to a blog (or an article there) relates to the Amma Scandal blog (explaining its background):

http://amma-taavi-kassila-sex-cover-up.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/Amma-Inner-Circle-Black-Ops-Named-And-Shamed.html

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Note, December 1…..

An article on Ammachi’s visit to Michigan (her stop after San Ramon) was posted November 29th in the Detroit Free Press and has been re-posted at the USA Today site. There is no mention whatsoever of Holy Hell by Gail Tredwell or any other issue being addressed here. Maybe they are not aware of the book? Or,do they think it not relevant to the immediate story of her visiting the public there?

Hugging Saint Spreads Message of Love

Am just seeing this long discussion in the comments thread of an AMAZON review (by this person responding to someone in the comments thread on his review). It is a long report of his observations while with the Ammachi scene (and more) as well as being a good healthy example of how to address this unfolding matter beyond the patterning of simple white hat vs black hat story lines:

James Duffy says:
Jean Pierre,

(Edit 11/29)
First, I feel it’s important to point out…that in another comments section (Raj’s review), you thanked Raj, saying, “Glad I did not waste my time or money on this book.” So JP, you haven’t actually read the book..eh? Yet you feel it’s perfectly reasonable for you to write a review and actively engage in the discussions around this book, including posting here, where you make demands of me while characterizing my comments as “blindly arguing”. How is anyone to take you seriously? Sadly, the mindset you hold appears to be reflected in many of the reviews that are critical of the book.

Despite this, I’ll respond.

(Initial response below)

My comments clearly point out I find both, the purely positive and purely negative perspectives on Amma to be inaccurate. Remember this from me?… “Neither option being an accurate portrayal”. How is that indicative of me being “one-sided” as you claim?

That you perceive me as one of “Gail’s friends” in some kind of cabal… well, that’s just ridiculous. Just for clarity, I have not had any contact with Gail since 1999 except for about one year ago, we exchanged a few emails.

As to your “Reality” #1: So you acknowledge, “her devotees have already chosen never to read it”. Are you a devotee? Have you read it? Your words seem to imply being a devotee and reading the book are mutually exclusive. It’s precisely that mindset, that many find very troubling, to put it mildly. Self Realization brings fearlessness and a willingness to face absolutely anything.

#1 Part 2: You write: “An organisation as big as Amma’s would not bother about Gail’s book”. Then why the orchestrated posts by Lakshmi, Nealu, etc? Why have Amma satsang groups across the country been having, what they call “pep talks” on how to respond to the book? This seems like “bothering” to me.

RE: “Reality” #2: I’m hiding behind a wall? Hmm. James Duffy is my name and verified by Amazon. Due to my review, I’m already in conversations with Amma devotees who know me and with whom I lived in Amritapuri, etc. It’s also very likely, reading my review has upset several people who I care for deeply. Where is the escape of public scrutiny you claim? I’m responding to your diatribe, aren’t I?

The burden is not on me to disprove claims made by Nealu and others. Their online posts are
straw man arguments anyway imo. Anu, Radhika, Lakshmi and Nealu do not directly deny Amma’s abuse of Gail and others, do they? No, they merely attack Gail…personally. That, in my opinion, speaks volumes. Gail, during her time with Amma was no more “imbalanced” than any of them! :) Big Swami’s serious bouts with depression are well known. A repeated “joke” at the ashram in Amritapuri where resident “breakdowns” were somewhat commonplace: “I guess `he’ forgot to take his meds today.” If what Gail has shared in “Holy Hell” is true, it seems reasonable to expect the result to be a very “imbalanced” person. This supports why she took years to heal before attempting to write her account. Lastly, if you feel it’s reasonable to demand that those of us who merely support the reading of the book, disprove Lakshmi, Nealu’s etc accounts, why do you not ask the same of them in regards to Gail’s accusations? To use your term.. “one-sided”..? If you, Anu, Radhika, Lakshmi and Nealu, etc are trying to convince people that Gail isn’t perfect..well, no need…we agree! **That “revelation” doesn’t disprove Gail’s accusations of abuse.** Gail openly shares her imperfections in the book.

I have “heard” of many disturbing things around Amma, Big Swami, etc. from long time residents and *current* ashram renunciates. Sexual activities among the Swamis being the big taboo topic, but I never personally saw anything of a sexual nature with the Swamis or Amma. That Gayatri (Gail) was being treated “very harshly” by Amma and the Swamis was quite accepted by most in my experience. Some examples of what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears: Amma taking a brahmacharin by the throat and slamming him against a wall; wild temper tantrums; verbal abuse; slaps; pinching; attendants flinching in fear of Amma on a level that I *interpreted* as indicating being accustomed to being hit; infighting amongst the Swamis; I have been present at meetings with Big Swami where he was stunningly nasty. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

So when I read in response to Gail’s book from the Amma devotees you seem so enamored with, that Amritapuri is.. and I quote… “a slice of heaven”…. or when Amma states to Jake Halpern of the NY Times, that there’s never any disagreements around her, they are all of “one mind”…that’s absurdly untrue. The woman who jumped to her death at the ashram certainly had a different perspective. And let me be crystal clear, I’m not implying Amma is responsible for that woman’s death. Yet, for devotees who believe Amma is all knowing, etc., I would think (hope) such events would raise some serious moral and philosophical questions.

I have to also say, I’ve seen Amma perform deeply moving acts of love & compassion. As an example, I witnessed first hand Amma and her devotees providing food, shelter, medical care, etc (!) to the local villagers during the aftermath of the Tsunami. It was life-saving for many. There are numerous other examples of Amma’s “goodness” I can speak to from direct experience. Inspiring people to meditate, seva, etc…very positive imo, though I no longer support lifetime commitment to “renunciation”. There are many profoundly sincere spiritual seekers, incredibly dedicated devotees around Amma…that work their asses off in service.

Imo, there are also some “grey areas” such as AIMS which provides surprisingly little in the way of free & low cost services. *I* find her involvement with the BJP political party, Narendra Modi (!) (member of RSS!!), extremely unappealing. That she has hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign banks is certainly “eyebrow raising”. I think my point is made without going further.

Jean Pierre, it’s fair for you to question what motivates me to invest time and energy to write my review, risk friendships I value and respond to comments such as yours, etc. I do have an agenda. It is **not** to “destroy” Amma. I do not count myself among the Amma haters and 100% anti-guru crowd.

My agenda: It is my hope to shed a light on the need to abandon these antiquated belief systems that surround 99.9% of Gurus. But to do so in a way, that doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Spiritual systems such as Vedanta are the product of evolution. They were not hatched fully formed in some perfect state from the mind of a great Rishi or Avatar. Nor did they descend from a mythic Goddess or God. They are man-made in the best sense of the term. I strongly believe our understanding has continued to evolve since the birth of such systems as Vedanta, Buddhism, Kashmir Shaivism, etc. [Buddhism has "three turnings" to embrace this evolution. ] The latest “evolutionary” understanding will allow us to acknowledge and honor the great mystic state development of someone such as Amma…and yet simultaneously also recognize her humanity, in other words, her shortcomings and failures. ***One does not fully invalidate the other.*** These two, seemingly paradoxical, dynamics can co-exist in the new understanding but **not in the traditional “black or white” worldviews and teachings**. Unfortunately, the outdated understanding that “Self Realization” equals being all knowing and perfect in all ways under the sun still rules the traditional eastern spiritual landscape. A friend shared with me a bit of what Swamiji said at Amma’s program last night (11/21/13) in San Ramon: “even though Amma is omniscient and knows all of our past, present and future, she patiently listens to our tales of woe and pretends she doesn’t know much.”

That statement is a perfect example of the mythic definition of Self Realization. Sorry, but it’s utter non-sense. It’s the equivalent of believing the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the earth…which by the way, the ancient, *all knowing* rishis and “enlightened” sages believed !!!! Hello!?!?

The days of only having two choices in regards to Gurus (Divine vs Evil), is in the process of ending, but evolution is slow.

Final thoughts: I actually “believe” Amma is Self Realized. I believe she’s “enlightened”. The “shakti” around her is wonderful. But I don’t believe she’s perfect, I don’t believe she’s the Divine Mother or an Avatar descended to Earth or all-knowing or all powerful. I don’t believe what appears to any rational person to be her behaving “badly”, is really the Guru removing karma from the disciple. I don’t believe the Guru’s ways are “simply beyond our understanding”. Arguably more importantly, I don’t believe 14 billion years of evolution comes to a screeching halt when one recognizes the Transcendent as the true “I” (Self). Unlike the traditional enlightenment teachings such as Amma’s, I don’t believe enlightenment is a static “perfection”, finality…a final destination….beyond which further evolution isn’t possible.

For me, Amma is another example of great mystic attainment married to a human being with many of the same imperfections as the rest of us and in her case, it appears, some very serious issues that are causing harm to herself and others. Meditation, singing bhajans, japa, seva, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, etc has not been shown to be effective in solving these issues. Best recommendation as first step?: Therapy. :) (and yeah, I’m serious.)

For me, this whole debacle raises questions as to the legitimacy of the Guru in the post modern age. I have always “pushed back” against the anti-Guru crowd. That’s going to be far tougher for me to do going forward. I still feel there are great “pluses” to the experience of the traditional Guru / disciple dynamic…but at what cost? *On balance*, can I continue to support the traditional spiritual model ? And for the record, it’s been the character assassination of Gail with what I know first hand to be lies and the massive(!) hypocrisy of Amma and her community that has me for the first time, questioning…can I continue to support Amma ‘at all’? Certainly not a “feel good” moment.

I hope someone finds my rantings of some value…

Sincerely,
James

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Update, December 3….

Holy Hell: The Inside Story of Amma, The Hugging Saint Revealed in New Book by former Personal Assistant

KIHEI, Hawaii, Dec. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — An Indian woman profiled in publications across the globe, Mata “Amma” Amritanandamayi, is referred to as a saint by many, with her hugs believed to cure cancer and other diseases. Thousands line up, often waiting hours to be hugged and blessed by the godly woman.
However, a different portrait is painted of Amma in the new book Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness, written by the guru’s former personal assistant, Gail “Gayatri” Tredwell. The true picture is far different from the facade of beloved holy woman that the public sees.
After becoming Amma’s personal assistant in India at the age of 21, Tredwell never realized that her quest to find God would end in such a web of deceit and abuse. For two decades, Tredwell acted as Amma’s personal servant, expected to be available at the “saint’s” disposal at all hours.
Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness depicts an unsettling portrait of Amma in a voice that brims with honesty and hope. Tredwell became fluent in the Malayalam language and was with Amma continuously. The author shares her unique story, keeping to the facts yet taking responsibility for her own role in the situation.
Readers will become familiar with the ashram through the images that the book evokes of rural India. They will also see the ashram’s meteoric rise from religious community to mega-empire, completely business-minded and rife with hypocrisy.
Tredwell leads readers through the stages of her servitude to Amma, beginning with the early years fraught with innocent devotion, then to the developing awareness of the severity of her situation, until at last she realizes her needed liberation is not from God, but rather from Amma.
Only after years of recovery and reflection has Tredwell been able to reveal this story in all its raw and unflinching truth. Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness is now available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback editions, and available as an e-book via several other online retailers.
Media Contact: Gail Tredwell, Wattle Tree Press, 808 250 2719, gailiwell@gmail.com
News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com
SOURCE Wattle Tree Press

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December 7 update:

Gail Tredwell, responding on her Facebook page set up for her book to a person inquiring how she is doing, explains she has to lay low and prepare for a possible lawsuit from the “M.A. Centers” (and it looks like I might have to be alert for this too):

Gail Tredwell Gem thank you for your thoughtful inquiry.

Because MA Centers have hired a libel lawyer who is threatening litigation to intimidate me and those who publish items about my book, my time is now largely occupied with gathering evidence which supports the total truth of my memoirs.

Thus I am unable now to respond directly to private inquiries and FB messages from well meaning people like you.

If you have any information which confirms any part of my book, please share it publicly on Amazon, Facebook or elsewhere on-line.

Back in 2004, court action in India was brought against an Amma critic and while Amma was on tour that year a San Jose Mercury news reporter asked her about the case (while she was at one of her hugging gatherings):

Thousands line up for guru’s hug
by Karl Schoenberger (“Mercury News,” June 10, 2004)

The Hindu “hugging saint,” Mata Amritanandamayi, began four days of meetings with the public at her Castro Valley ashram Tuesday, administering hugs to hundreds of white-garbed devotees from the Bay Area and as far away as Sacramento and Hawaii.

Amritanandamayi sat quietly on the floor of the ashram’s worship hall, smiling and embracing one after another of the young, the middle-aged, the children and the elderly who queued up for her signature blessing. Organizers of the event said more than 1,000 people came to the morning session to meet “Amma” (Mother), as she is popularly known. They expected thousands more in the evening event.

“I feel very good, very calm and peaceful,” said Matthew Nadler, 36, from Mill Valley, as he walked away from his first experience in the arms of the guru. “This is a room full of love and acceptance. I’m a jaded New Yorker, but this is like a John Lennon concert.”

Speaking through an interpreter in a brief interview, Amritanandamayi delivered a message of peace and non-violence, and said she welcomed skeptics as well as devotees. Raising people out of poverty is our duty, the widely acclaimed humanitarian said. “We all have the responsibility to help eliminate poverty,” she said. “Even the working class should put in a half-hour of overtime each day and donate the extra money to the poor.”

Asked about a controversial legal case in which a resident of her main ashram in Kollam, India, had filed a defamation lawsuit seeking criminal prosecution of a longtime critic of the sect, the guru said she had tried to dissuade the plaintiff. But she added that the critic had gone too far, making false claims that there had been seven suspicious deaths at the Kollam ashram — which houses more than 2,000 people — outraging residents and bereaved families.

“This has been very painful,” Amritanandamayi said. The case has not gone to trial. While she did not say whether she planned to intervene, she said the critic, author Sreeni Pattathanam, “won’t go to jail” if he’s convicted. (Pattathanam says the threat of criminal prosecution violates his right to free speech.)

The guru’s message of unconditional love has won her followers in the United States since she made her first visit in 1987. April Gezunterman, a devotee for 17 years, came all the way from Hawaii.

“Mother is just pure love and light,” said Gezunterman, 50. “She’s the real thing.”

Cynthia Nightingale, 43, from San Anselmo, received a hug from the guru with her toddler, Miles. “Life can be tense. Yesterday, Miles threw the phone in the pool and then he threw up in my car,” she said. “But feeling Amma’s love helps me manage. My life sparkles by her love for all of us.”

Also, posted at http://india.indymedia.org, there is this old episode:

Threat to Writer Paul Zacharia from followers of Mata Amrithanandamayi
By Mukundan C. Menon 10/01/2003 At 16:38

Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (CHRO) complaint to
Kerala Chief Minister on threat to well-known Writer, Paul Zacharia,
from followers of Mata Amrithanandamayi.
January 08, 2003

To : Mr. A. K. Antony
Chief Minister of Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram

Dear Mr. Antony :

Sub.: Threat to Writer Paul Zacharia from followers of Mata Amrithanandamayi

We draw your attention to the threat wielded against Paul Zacharia,
well-known writer and journalist, by the followers of Matha
Amrithanandamayi. A campaign has been launched against him by the
inmates of Amrithapuri, the HQ of her operations in Kerala, through
their website :

http://amma.hindunet.org/amma-l/archives/1002/0067.html.

For example, initiating the hate campaign, one of the “Ashram”
inmates, Amritswarup, wrote in the website : “The venomous mind of
Zackaria has been pouring forth poison through his pen for quite some
time now. He has crossed the lines of all decency. It is high time to
respond to this evil minded writer befittingly. Amma’s children
should spring to action now. He considers our silence as weakness.
We should not let this extremely wicked person harass our most
Beloved Amma who has offered Herself to the world. COME
ON…….LET US DO IT NOW….GATHER AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN…STOP
KEEPING QUIET TO THIS ADHARMIC PERSON…”

You can find in the website more such unholy messages from the holy
men and women of this holy place!

Not only Zacharia, but also people like Dr. K. N. Panicker,
Vice-Chancellor of Sanskrit University, and Ms. Kamala Surayya, whom
your Government bestowed the much prestigious Ezhuthachan Award on
January 01, 2003, are undergoing various threat perceptions in
Kerala, for adopting firm stands much to the dislike and chagrin of
Sangh Parivar. Please click the following link to read the article,
“A saffron offensive”, by R. Krishnakumar in Frontline (Volume 19 -
Issue 24, November 23 – December 06, 2002) :
http://www.flonnet.com/fl1924/stories/20021206002504900.htm The
very introduction to the article says : “The Sangh Parivar’s media
offensive against secular writers and intellectuals in Kerala
reflects the growing stridency and influence of communal voices
within the State.”

Recently, as ardent devotees of Matha Amrithanandamayi, you and other
dignitaries like Union Minister O. Rajagopal, Senior Congress leader
K. Karunakaran, your Cabinet Member T. M. Jacob, etc., called upon
her to receive her blessings at Thiruvananthapuram on January 04,
2003. Since such a widely publicized high profile “holy” exercise
took place amidst the threatening hate campaign launched by her
devotees against Zacharia, we are aghast and concerned as to what
message it renders to the general public in Kerala.

However, we wish to remind you being Chief Minister of the State, as
well as the Minister controlling Home (police) portfolio, that it is
your Constitutional obligation to safeguard the life and property of
all citizens of the State. In the present instance of open threat
perceptions to Zacharia emanating from the followers of Matha
Amrithanandamayi and other powerful Hindutva forces, we urge you that
your personal devotion to her should not stand in the way of
executing your Constitutional obligations. Similar to your right to
remain as a devotee of Matha Amrithanadamayi, people like Zacharia
and others also have undeniable, undeterred and unfettered rights to
freely express as well as disseminate their views and opinions. May
we also remind that it is you who are duty bound to protect these
basic rights of all citizens?

We request you, as Chief Minister, to treat this issue with utmost
seriousness it calls for and to initiate stern urgent measures so as
to nip the ongoing Sangh Parivar schemes of Gujaratisation of Kerala
in its very bud.

Let future history not record that the steady process of
Gujaratisation of Kerala by Sangh Parivar was paved during your
present ruling period.

Awaiting all positive steps from you,

we remain
Mukundan C. Menon
Secretary General (CHRO)

Dr. Abdul Salam
Secretary (CHRO)

Mukundan C. Menon
3, Rams’ Cottage Ambalathumukku Pettah
Thiruvananthapuram-695 024 (Phone: 0471-476262)

Seven to nine days ago there was a major spike in Kindle sales of Holy Hell from India and today that is happening again:

Kindle sales of Holy Hell

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 14…..

A new blog focused on compiling information on the Amma scene, and providing further support for Gail Tredwell, has been published (with owner identified as Mata Amritasatyamayi):

Embezzling the World

Late today, on her Facebook page for her book, Gail Tredwell posted this:

“If you cannot attack the message, then attack the messenger.”

Now that many of my former friends, who I cared for immensely, have had the opportunity to serve their guru by untruthfully maligning my character in response to my truthful memoir, I feel it is time to shed some light on the reality of the situation. The testimonies on the Amma Scandal site attacking me, which are now documented for the world to see, prove how low people are willing to stoop to protect their beliefs.

What the organization perhaps failed to consider is that I have in my possession numerous email and handwritten letters from many of these devotees and from all of the head swamis. What better way to defend myself than by sharing what some of these former friends had to say about me shortly after I left the organization.

For now, I will share an email from Radhika Nair, dated 12.1.1999.

Ammasmon@hotmail.com

My dearest Swamini Amma,

I do not know how to start. Partly, because I have so much to say and partly, because I do not know how to say it. Please forgive me if I say something wrong. Firstly, I miss you so very much. You are my sister and oddly my mummy too. I do not open up easily and not being born with a sister, you are probably the only person I felt comfortable talking to. As a mummy, you always took care of me all the time, feeding me, clothing me and lovingly advising me.
In spite of all the work and responsibilities you had on the tour, many a time, you physically nursed me through my episodes of back pains, leg injuries and colds. Now that my sister and mummy are both physically and mentally drained, I feel sad and lost that I cannot serve and take care of you, or, express my love and appreciation for you. You have been my constant inspiration and aspiration. I have always secretly aspired to be just like you. Your noble qualities of tyaga, dedication, shraddha , fairness, sound judgement, one-pointedness, loving and caring nature, and above all, always being a great listener, have been a source of my contemplation.
We are a family, a very big family. Like in all big families, there are a few sisters and brothers who are uncaring and unthinking. But, there are many of us who have only love for you. Please remain in our family, and let us try and share some of your agony, fear and helplessness. Being shocked and grieving, please give us a chance to do something right this time. The relationship you and Amma have is beyond anyone’s understanding. All I know is the despair, loss and helplessness you feel, Amma feels all of it too. She is also mentally drained. She told me that “Gayatri feels that Amma has not shown her any love, but Gayatri is a part of Amma. She has grown up on my shoulder”. Saying this, Amma broke down into tears and sobbed.
You are and always have been strong. Now it is due to your very bad astrological time lasting till June 2000, that you are going through this. It is perhaps fate and beyond your control. You will be very vulnerable too now. This time away in solitude and contemplation may remind you of all of us who love, respect, revere and adore you so dearly. Except for a handful, all in Amritapuri only know that you are taking this time off to be in silence, regain your physical health and write your book. So when you are ready, the welcome wagon is waiting and your room is beautiful.
On your 41st Birthday party, I felt ashamed and sad that Priya, KU and myself could only come up with that “dumb” poem on JOY. So here I am all alone going to make up a new poem for you. I am sure it will also turn out stupid, but this one is out of love.

JOY

Joy to you was in giving
In giving your heart and soul to Amma
In giving your body in the labor of love
In giving your hands by nourishing us all
In giving your smile by understanding our woes
In giving your mind by helping us with decisions
But, Joy goes around and comes back
So, Joy to you should also be in receiving
In receiving, give us a chance to give our hearts and soul to you
In receiving, give us a chance to give our love to you
In receiving, give us a chance to give our nourishment to you
In receiving, give us a chance to give our understanding to you
In receiving, give us a chance to help you, our favorite Swamini Amma, our dearest Sister and our loving Mummy.

With lots and lots of love and hugs,
Your “teddy bear” of a sister
Radhika Nair

P.S. I am at AIMS with KU. Again he has pains and is suspected as having Appendicitis. It is now 3:30 AM. Today, the tests will show if he needs surgery or not. Please, please E-Mail us back. I have never received a personal E-Mail yet. But, to keep it private, you may sign it as “mummy and Sister”. I love you.
KU want to send you an E-Mail too.

Dear Swamini Amma

I miss you very much. I wish you were here. I am very sick again. I had a check up again. The doctor said I have to have an operation. Please pray for me. Are you having fun, swimming and going for long walks? Is it snowing? I wish I were there to make a big snowman and have a snowball fight with you. I have to start school soon. I am glad that I got to send you an E-Mail. I wish the tour would start again and me, you, Swamiji and my dad and Amma would all be together again. Come back soon. I still have your Happy Birthday balloon. Priya will be very mad that I got to send you an E-Mail. Please send me an E-Mail and remember not to my sister.

I love you very much
From krishnanunni

A response from one of the above letter writers, who recently wrote an extremely critical report on Gail Tredwell at the Amma Scandal wordpress blog designed to defend Amma and her organization, has been posted at Gail Tredwell’s Facebook page for her book. The letter writer gives it the old college try in trying to explain the strange discrepancies in the characterization of Tredwell, by this person, then and now:

ear Gail,

I remember very clearly the day that I wrote that letter, and I also remember the context in which it was written, shortly after you left the ashram. An ashram is like a family, and we cared for you as a member of that family. When a family member estranges from the family, don’t the family members forget the past, forget any conflicts, forget any faults and do whatever they can to heal the bond and bring the person back? Also, we saw you walking away from the path of sannyasa – we felt it was our dharma to do whatever we could to bring you back to that path. I thought that writing this letter was the best way to try to do that. Beyond that, after your departure, when Amma returned to the ashram, she was neither eating nor drinking. Seeing this was so painful. The other ashram residents and I thought that the only thing we could do was to try to get you to come back.

That is why I wrote you this letter – forgetting every slight and injury you had ever dealt me, and focusing only on every sweet thing I could think of. I wanted to let you know that we cared for you and wanted you to come back home.

It wasn’t only me – all of us who had known you for so many years – wrote in the same way. Should we have written differently? Should we have focused on your personal failings? Should we have talked about the mistakes you had made? In such a situation, what kind of a person would write a letter like that?

When a person fails an exam, does one call them a loser and tell them how dumb they are? Of course not. One doesn’t say, “Better try something else, you clearly don’t have what it takes to pass!” Just the opposite, one does everything within one’s power to encourage the person to believe in herself and give her the confidence to try again. That was the intent of my letter and of all the letters from the other ashram residents.

That doesn’t negate the facts of the incidents I wrote about earlier – those incidents happened and there are eyewitnesses other than myself to them. And it does not negate the fact that those incidents hurt me deeply. I had told Amma about them at the time, and Amma had asked me to forgive you, saying that while you might have your faults, it was my dharma as a spiritual aspirant to forgive. Because of Amma’s advice, I did my best to forget these incidents, and when you left, it was of course not the time to bring them up. In all these years, even after it was clear that you had no intention of returning, and even after you began to malign Amma’s name, out of respect for your privacy, I never spoke of these incidents. Amma has shown us that we should try to see the good in others and overlook their mistakes and flaws. That is what we have been doing towards you for all these years. But now that you have published a book so full of outright lies, I felt that you had left me no choice but to share my experiences.

All those good qualities I wrote about in the letter you posted on the Internet – when I met you, you really were all those things. When I wrote that letter, it was to that person I was writing – the person you were when I first met you, and the person I knew you could be again.

When I wrote to you, I had thought that you were frustrated but that, given enough support and encouragement, you could be persuaded to return to your life as a sannyasi and try again. I didn’t realize then that you had made a permanent decision and that you would not be coming back. Thinking in this way, wasn’t writing this letter the right thing to do? I find it sad that you think that publishing this letter and those of other ashram residents will somehow make us out as liars or discredit us. In our position, anyone would have written in the same way, and any thoughtful person will be able to see that.

Sincerely,
Radhika Nair

To illustrate the strange discrepancy in characterizations of Tredwell now, and then, first here is what the above person wrote NOW (posted November 15th at the Amma Scandal wordpress blog):

Remembering Gail Tredwell– Radhika’s Memories of Gayatri

We received the following account from an old-time devotee and ashram resident:

My name is Radhika Nair, and I feel it is important to share my story and my experience of life with Amma and with Gail Tredwell.

Our family, which includes my husband and two kids, have known Amma since 1989. We have been living in the ashram for the last 21 years, just about the same length of time that Gail Tredwell lived in the ashram. When we moved there, our children were still in their diapers. From the beginning of my stay there, I served in the International Office, receiving visitors to the ashram. On all of Amma’s foreign tours, our family would accompany Amma and stay in the same devotees’ house that Amma would stay in. I would cook the dinners for the swamis, sing bhajans, and serve in the tour bookstore. I lived in very close proximity to Amma and all the sannyasis, including Gail. Many times I slept in the same room with Gail. Frankly, I used to appreciate Gail only because of her position – she was seen as Amma’s right hand, so I respected her and listened to her. But if she had not been in that position, I would have kept my distance. She was a very hard person, extremely manipulative, and very, very controlling. Many times she used me to meet her ends. I remember getting into so many unpleasant situations because she would tell me to reprimand a particular person, but when push came to shove, she would wash her hands of it and make it look like it had all been my idea. Still she once had many beautiful qualities that I aspired to have. During the early 1990s, I saw her as very dedicated, hard-working and sincere in her work. Unfortunately, it seems her negativity proved the better of her and even these good qualities began to vanish and finally disappear completely. I remember having many discussions with her where I would find myself in a state of shock, wondering how someone who had been so close to Amma for so many years could be so negative about everything – she had a bad attitude about literally everything she laid eyes on or mentioned in discussion.

“Just out of the sheer thrill of seeing my son cry, Gail kept pulling his pants down along with his diapers, exposing him in front of everyone. He was embarrassed about people seeing him wearing diapers and burst into tears.”

She seemed to take a special pleasure in other’s suffering, almost to the point of being sadistic. There were many incidences in my life where I have had reasons to feel that she was definitely mentally imbalanced. To be specific, I remember when my son was just six years old, Amma was visiting a devotee’s house in Los Angeles. My family was also there along with Amma. Later in the evening, I was trying to put the kids to bed. Even though my son was six, I used to have him wear a diaper just for the nights – just out of my own concern that something might happen in a guest’s bed. That night, he was trying to go to sleep when, just out of the sheer thrill of seeing him cry, Gail kept pulling his pants down along with his diapers, exposing him in front of everyone. He was embarrassed about people seeing him wearing diapers and burst into tears. But Gail was relentless. Each time he ran to me and I pulled his pants back up, she would tear him out of my arms and pull his pants down again and start laughing sadistically. She kept trying to enlist the hosts of the house and others in her sick little game, but of course no one else wanted to play. I wanted to stop her but out of respect for her as one of Amma’s senior disciples, I didn’t want to tell her what to do. It was an extremely awkward, uncomfortable moment for everyone, and it was deeply painful for me as a mother. Finally our host came and rescued my son from her sadistic play, carrying him away into another room.

“As my children both lay huddled on the floor clutching their mutilated stuffed animals, Gail looked at me and beamed, as happy as can be: “There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing children suffer,’ she said.”

That was not the only time I was forced to watch her torture my children. Another time, the kids each had a stuffed animal that Amma had personally given to them. These toys were very dear to them – they would sleep with the stuffed animals every night. My son had a koala bear with a baby in its arms; Amma had given my daughter a kangaroo with a baby in her pouch. Amma used to tell them that they were the babies and she was the mama. One evening on tour, when were staying in the same room with Gail, suddenly she just grabbed both stuffed animals from the children and, looking at the children carefully, said, “Do you know what I always loved to do with my stuffed animals, when I was little like you? No? Let me show you.” So saying, she plucked the eyes off my son’s koala bear and tossed them on the ground. My son immediately burst into tears and began crying loudly and as she dropped the bear and shifted her focus to the kangaroo. Seeing this, my daughter began begging her not to do the same thing to her kangaroo. Gail watched my daughter calmly for a few moments. Then she plucked out the kangaroo’s eyes one by one. As my children both lay huddled on the floor clutching their mutilated stuffed animals, Gail looked at me and beamed, looking happy as can be. I still remember what she said to me, just like it was yesterday, as I was so profoundly shocked and disturbed by her words: “There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing children suffer.” From that moment onwards, I knew that she was deeply disturbed, totally imbalanced mentally. We had shared many close moments together. On several occasions, she had opened her heart to me and tearfully told me that she had had a very painful childhood and that she was feeling deeply depressed.

But the last few years before she left, she became totally closed off. Her negativity grew to such an extent that everything around her, she saw as exactly the opposite of the way the rest of us saw it. If I saw something as beautiful, she would see it as ugly. I still remember that one devotee’s daughter, at the age of just three years old, would spin around in pure joy and ecstasy during Amma’s bhajans. I used to wonder aloud if the little girl had been a Sufi in her past life. Hearing this, Gail would remark that the girl must be mentally retarded or disturbed. Listening to the swamis’ bhajans, I would comment on how beautiful they were, but she would have only sarcastic, cutting remarks about them and their music. Of course I didn’t know it then, but she was on her way out.

Frankly, for me and many others that I know personally in the ashram, life under her was truly a “holy hell.” Amma was our only solace. On several occasions when I would be crying alone, Amma would call for me and ask, “Was Gayatri mean to you?” I would not say anything, as I didn’t want to say anything against Gayatri – that was how much respect I held for her despite everything. You may wonder how I could bear all this. When you see Amma love and accept everyone around her, you also develop that capacity to some extent—it just happens automatically. Since Gayatri was Amma’s attendant, I was able to put up with everything.

All I have to say is, my children were brought up beautifully in the ashram solely by Amma’s influence. Amma insisted that they go to medical school, they are both practicing doctors now – a vocation they both find to be profoundly rewarding and to which they have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly. My husband and I are eternally grateful to Amma. In fact, all of us living in the ashram are truly one family. The swamis, brahmacharis, brahmacharinis, householder residents, international residents, are all living in the little slice of heaven that is Amma’s ashram. As for those who have left the ashram, I have always wished only well for them and hoped that they found their happiness and peace of mind whatever path they chose to tread. Amma has never forced anyone to stay in the ashram, and neither does anyone else. We stay because we choose to, because we derive happiness and deep satisfaction from staying in the community of the ashram, from serving each other and society, and from learning from Amma’s teachings and personal example. Anyone who wishes to leave can walk out the door at any time. If they later choose to come back, they can do that too. A few brahmacharis and brahmacharinis who have left the ashram to get married still serve in Amma’s institutions. The idea that Gail had to leave the ashram hiding under a blanket would be laughable if the whole thing weren’t so sad. The truth is, Gail could have walked right out the front door in plain daylight.

“Still, I do not bear her ill will. Instead of trying to destroy the faith of others who are enjoying their life with Amma, I would hope that she focuses on finding her own peace of mind and getting the help she clearly needs.”

As for Gayatri, even after she left, all these years I kept quiet about what she put my children and me through. But now that she is attacking Amma, and attacking my brothers and sisters, I cannot keep quiet – I need to share the truth of who she was as I experienced her. Still, I do not bear her ill will. Seeing her photo online, it seems the last fourteen years have not been kind to her. Instead of trying to destroy the faith of others who are enjoying their life with Amma, I would hope that she focuses on finding her own peace of mind and getting the help she clearly needs.

Since Gayatri left, the past 14 years I have spent a lot of time with Amma in her room, sometimes serving in the same capacity as she did; I have spent countless nights there. I cook for Amma and help in other ways as well. My time spent with Amma in this way has been totally blissful. If the types of things that Gail alleges in her book were true, I would have been and remain in a position to witness it. And yet, nothing in my experience matches her story. All I have seen is Amma’s relentlessly selfless nature as she continues to serve even in private – reading letters, taking phone calls from people running the projects and institutions, calling devotees around the world who are sick or going through personal crises, and showering love and attention on all the kids who are growing up in the ashram.

Radhika Nair

And, here is what this person wrote back in the past, soon after Tredwell’s departure from that guru and group:

an email from Radhika Nair, dated 12.1.1999.

Ammasmon@hotmail.com

My dearest Swamini Amma,

I do not know how to start. Partly, because I have so much to say and partly, because I do not know how to say it. Please forgive me if I say something wrong. Firstly, I miss you so very much. You are my sister and oddly my mummy too. I do not open up easily and not being born with a sister, you are probably the only person I felt comfortable talking to. As a mummy, you always took care of me all the time, feeding me, clothing me and lovingly advising me.
In spite of all the work and responsibilities you had on the tour, many a time, you physically nursed me through my episodes of back pains, leg injuries and colds. Now that my sister and mummy are both physically and mentally drained, I feel sad and lost that I cannot serve and take care of you, or, express my love and appreciation for you. You have been my constant inspiration and aspiration. I have always secretly aspired to be just like you. Your noble qualities of tyaga, dedication, shraddha , fairness, sound judgement, one-pointedness, loving and caring nature, and above all, always being a great listener, have been a source of my contemplation.
We are a family, a very big family. Like in all big families, there are a few sisters and brothers who are uncaring and unthinking. But, there are many of us who have only love for you. Please remain in our family, and let us try and share some of your agony, fear and helplessness. Being shocked and grieving, please give us a chance to do something right this time. The relationship you and Amma have is beyond anyone’s understanding. All I know is the despair, loss and helplessness you feel, Amma feels all of it too. She is also mentally drained. She told me that “Gayatri feels that Amma has not shown her any love, but Gayatri is a part of Amma. She has grown up on my shoulder”. Saying this, Amma broke down into tears and sobbed.
You are and always have been strong. Now it is due to your very bad astrological time lasting till June 2000, that you are going through this. It is perhaps fate and beyond your control. You will be very vulnerable too now. This time away in solitude and contemplation may remind you of all of us who love, respect, revere and adore you so dearly. Except for a handful, all in Amritapuri only know that you are taking this time off to be in silence, regain your physical health and write your book. So when you are ready, the welcome wagon is waiting and your room is beautiful.
On your 41st Birthday party, I felt ashamed and sad that Priya, KU and myself could only come up with that “dumb” poem on JOY. So here I am all alone going to make up a new poem for you. I am sure it will also turn out stupid, but this one is out of love.

JOY

Joy to you was in giving
In giving your heart and soul to Amma
In giving your body in the labor of love
In giving your hands by nourishing us all
In giving your smile by understanding our woes
In giving your mind by helping us with decisions
But, Joy goes around and comes back
So, Joy to you should also be in receiving
In receiving, give us a chance to give our hearts and soul to you
In receiving, give us a chance to give our love to you
In receiving, give us a chance to give our nourishment to you
In receiving, give us a chance to give our understanding to you
In receiving, give us a chance to help you, our favorite Swamini Amma, our dearest Sister and our loving Mummy.

With lots and lots of love and hugs,
Your “teddy bear” of a sister
Radhika Nair

P.S. I am at AIMS with KU. Again he has pains and is suspected as having Appendicitis. It is now 3:30 AM. Today, the tests will show if he needs surgery or not. Please, please E-Mail us back. I have never received a personal E-Mail yet. But, to keep it private, you may sign it as “mummy and Sister”. I love you.
KU want to send you an E-Mail too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 15….

An Indian news site has this news re: Amma’s organization and questions about taxes:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/amritanandamayi-math-among-240-irregular-tax-exemption-cases/1207610/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 16…..

A December 8th posting at the Amma Scandal wordpress blog by a senior research attorney for the California Supreme Court named Jay Cummings appears to be an attempt at psychologizing Tredwell and he even takes limited quotes from pages 253 to 254 to suggest the possibility that Tredwell’s report of the periodic quickie rapes (lasting just seconds!) were based on memories recovered in therapy. A reading of those two pages above in Holy Hell does NOT in any way suggest Gail Tredwell had amnesia of these events and required a therapist’s help in digging those memories up. What the therapist helped her with was the capacity to address these events! Here’s the relevant portion of that lawyer’s posting:

Gayatri admits in her book that she might have conjured up false versions of reality. She states that she “felt too much pain” upon leaving the ashram “to determine what had been real and what had been projection.” In another very candid passage, she writes: “I tucked the memory of these experiences into the dark recesses of my soul. . . . A few years after leaving the ashram I began seeking intuitive counseling. One day during a healing session the lady counselor exclaimed, ‘Oh, you have been sexually abused.’ . . . I repelled the trauma of the memory. After all, it was buried so deep it could never be found.” (Emphasis added.) In other words, until Gayatri received a specific suggestion from her counselor, she had no memory of being sexually abused. In the “acknowledgments” section of her book, Gayatri thanks a special friend “who held my hand and journeyed with me to the darker realms, places that I was unable to face on my own.”

It is unclear what these statements signify, but if any of the recollections recorded in Gayatri’s book are the product of recovered-memory therapy, then there is good reason to question their validity. (See the links at the end of this review.) Significantly, a large portion of Gayatri’s book is not objective fact but her subjective and speculative theories about what the objective facts reveal — theories that include serial rape by Amma’s leading swami (Swami Amritaswarupananda) and also a jealous love triangle involving that swami, Gayatri, and Amma. Here, the book fails to persuade, and therefore it comes across to the objective reader as gossipy and vindictive.

I am ending my chronicling of events related to this story, as well as a regular monitoring of events, at this point in order to return to the primary focus of the blog.

5 thoughts on “Amma and Gail Tredwell: A Journaling of post book release events

  1. “You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you,
    none can make you spiritual.
    There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
    ― Swami Vivekananda

  2. When Amma cannot visualise what is to come esp. thro’ Gayatri, how she can b
    Omnipresent, Goddess , Devi and all other superlative adjectives, these Swamijies refer in their upanyasam. Is it to collect donations?. Amma preaches husband and wife shd interact and share their love. It appears she doesn’t do it what she is prefacing to Gayatri and other Swamijs like Pai, , Laksman, Chandru etc {who all hv left ashram in dubious circumstances }’ whether there is truth or not in what Gayatri has alleged, one thing is clear, all is not well in Amma’s ashram. Amma’s sanyasi des icicle shd not portray her as Goddess to collect money , donations.

  3. Thanks for the heads up. Don’t forget that American laws protect you and in fact the laws
    related to “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” will be a major obstacle for these
    lawyers.

  4. the truth findout dont blame witout true evidence.whereis our chhanels and media teyare sleeping..

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