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Was Mata Amritanandamayi the real target?

George Iype in Kochi | August 22, 2005 17:49 IST

Was the knife-wielding stranger who came to Amritapuri, the temporal and spiritual headquarters of Mata Amritanandamayi, planning to attack the revered spiritual leader?

Police officials, who questioned the 47-year-old Pavithran, who created a scare at Amritapuri in Kerala by taking out a knife just 10 feet from Amritanandamayi, said the attacker was giving contradictory statements.

Amritanandamayi unhurt in attack

Since Sunday was the first 'Devi Bhava Dharshan' that Amma, as Amritanandamayi is fondly called by her followers, attended after her recent American tour, there were as many as 18,000 devotees present in the sprawling bhajan hall at Amritapuri.

Swami Amritaswarupananda, who witnessed what he called "the scary incident," said Pavithran was holding something suspicious underneath the yellow shawl, he was wearing, as he was walking towards Amma.

When the volunteers supervising the prayer meeting asked him to sit down, he refused, saying that he wanted to go up to Amma and hug her. As he came behind the chorus and within 10 feet distance from Amma, one of the brahmacharis confronted him and pushed him to the side of the stage.

Soon, Pavithran pulled out a knife from under his shawl, seeing which, three ashram residents, Jitesh, Rameshwere and Arun, overpowered him and took him to a room.

Ashram officials disclosed on Monday that Pavithran was not alone.

"We feel there were at least 4 or 5 men who came with him. During the skirmish, 2 other men from the crowd assaulted the brahmacharis and fled the scene," one of the administrators at the Ashram told

When Pavithram was taken out of the hall, he was uttering that he had been "unable to fulfill his mission."

Swami Amritaswarupananda said Pavithran and his friends, supposedly from Kerala's Idukki district, might have come with a plan to attack Amritanandamayi.

"We are not sure what was their plan. But we are relieved that nothing has happened to our Amma," he said, adding that this was the first time that such an incident had taken place in Amritapuri.

Amma in New York

The attempted attack has forced the Ashram authorities to tighten security in the compound. Right now, there are no security barricades for anyone to visit Amritapuri.

"The beauty of this place was that anyone from any religion or caste, poor or rich could walk in and hug Amma. Now we have to seriously think of some security measures in Amritapuri," one of the administrative officials at the Ashram pointed out.

Amma and America: A mutual embrace

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has ordered the police to investigate the attempted attack in Amritapuri.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former union minister O Rajagopal, a long-time friend of Amritanandamayi, said he was shocked to hear the news of attack.

"I am relieved that she is unhurt. But I think the incident needs to be thoroughly probed," he said.

'I believe in love. Not fundamentalism'

"Amma is a living saint. She has built up a spiritual empire in the world. How can anyone be her enemy?" Rajagopal asked.

On Monday, Amritapuri issued a statement in which Amritanandamyi asked her followers to be not worried, and forget and forgive the incident.

"Amma doesn't know all the people staying here. Many come just to get darshan and don't leave the ashram afterwards. They may hang around and sleep on the balcony or on the beach somewhere. Amma doesn't even know where all the residents in the ashram come from. If Amma were really afraid of death, the first thing she would have done is check the background of everyone staying here at the ashram," the statement said.

Her followers said the incident would not prompt Amma to abandon her daily rigorous routine of embracing people and giving them the soothing spiritual touch every day for 18 hours.

In the last three decades, Amritanandamayi, born in a poor fisher village in a remote coastal village of Parayakadavu in Kollam, has hugged more than 30 million people.

Amma turns 50

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