I need a hug.


That was what I was thinking yesterday. I was a little blue leaving Mumbai, so I hatched a plan to come to Amritapuri  here in Kerela and see the famous “hugging mother”. I had heard a lot about her and thought it wouldn’t be so bad to feel a little unconditional love.

The journey here was a bit of an adventure, mostly because although there are trains from Ernakulum (the town over from Cochin), the line or station  is aparently new enough that there is no record of it on the internet. But hey, blue or not I am a go with the flow kinda guy, so I went to the station, and as luck would have it, there was a train leaving in 5 minutes.

Once off the train, I made my way by autorickshaw to the edge of the backwaters and crossed a bridge to enter the modern concrete tower collection that is the ashram. As I got checked in at the international desk, the guy told me I should probably hurry if I wanted to take darshan today, and that Amma (the hugging mother) would be traveling starting tomorrow to Sri Lanka. This was definitely a last minute travel plan. Only a week earlier they had told me that she was in attendance for the forseeable future.

Figuring it was now or never if I wanted a hug, I scurried up to my room to drop off my stuff and ran to the darshan hall where the mother hugs. I ended up waiting in a long line and meeting an australian named Chris. We played all cynical while we approached the head of the line to be hugged. Then, as I was only 2 people behind Amma, I started thinking about why I was there. I had been told by many people before that you are supposed to think of something you would like to happen while hugging the mother. I scoured my brain but was unable to come up with much, so I settled on “being able to feel unconditional love for all” or something vaguely like that.

My turn was up, and it was all a somewhat scary blur. I was pushed to my knees, then shoved into the mother’s breast, which smelled like a thousand sprays of sandalwood and spices, and I noticed to my horror just before my face was shoved in that my head was being pushed to a spot on her shirt over her right breast where countless others had been pressed earlier that day. And it had a kind of wierd stain all over it, sort of bluish and spotted. I kinda got the icks a little and this was mostly what I was thinking about while my head and nose were pressed firmly against this stain. I got up (or was pulled up, I’m not sure) and then was pushed out the of the way for the next needy soul. I suppose I should have felt reborn or something, but all I had was a vague sense that something had happened. I was neither elated nor despairing. It could have been that I was transformed and about to feel love pour out of me at every turn. Or it could have been that I was worried about catching some modern form of bubonic plague. Or maybe it was both. And maybe (just maybe) the two are somehow completely related, Yin and Yang eternal and inseparable in all things.


  1. gabe says:

    Awww..here’s a plague-free hug for you:

  2. Mom says:

    Well, I am insulted! Here I am, your REAL mother (and believe me, I vividly remember giving birth to you, you ingrate!)and I hugged you all the time. You rarely even came back to Indianapolis for MY hugs, but you go all the way to India for some OTHER mother’s hugs…I guess a Jewish mother’s hugs just aren’t up to your standards…I’ll just lie here in the dark…Your poor, abandoned mother…

  3. troy m litten says:

    Sending you a bunch of eHugs – keep a few in reserve for moments like that.