Amma's "Sex Scandal"
File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet and Gurubusting
We really don't have any idea who Shemp McGurk is, but we do know who forwarded McGurk's interesting interpretation of the stadium satsang scene shown at the end of Darshan: The Embrace, the recent documentary about Ammachi. We thought some of you might enjoy it. We know many of you are going to hate it:
No, Amma wasn't caught in flagrante delicto. But she did participate in what I can only describe as a "scandal" and one best employed with the adjective "sexy". But unlike this forum's allegations about MMY's extra-curriculars which are of the he-said-she-said category of rumors, Amma's scandal was filmed for the whole world to see.Comparing Amma to the Black Mamba (Kobe) and the Big Dipper (Wilt). You just gotta' love that!
I am referring to the DVD "Darshan" which I saw last week for the first time. There was something in it that just didn't sit right with me. "Darshan" is a documentary that follows Amma the Hugging Saint around various parts of India, including her Ashram, over a few months time...it was made by a French film crew a few years ago.
At one point near the end of the DVD, Amma is in a stadium of about 25,000 people who all came for that delicious hug she gives and which is her signature trademark (well, she IS called the hugging saint for a reason). And her people made a point of emphasizing that she only had a certain amount of time to be there.
So what did Amma and her organization do? Why, they actually put up a SCORE CARD of how many people she hugged! There was an actual TOTE BOARD, just like in those PBS fund-raisers they Michael Flatley and Lord of the Dance or Joseph Campbell are showcased in order to get the largest possible response during pledge week...or that thermometer the United Appeal puts on the town square that fills up with red as each new plateau of funds raised is met.
Except this tote board didn't list money; the currency measured was HUGS! And Amma wanted to get in as many as she could. She and her crew seemed intent upon trying to beat some record (exactly whose record and what goal I'm not sure but seeing as she's the only hugging saint around, I guess she was out to beat her own record...what sports psychologists tell enthusiasts in non-team sports like golf call "competing with yourself").
And the whole record-breaking vibe was pumped up to the max because Amma wasn't doing her usual embrace (the preceding one hour of the DVD had documented normal-speed hugging). No, along with her court- side minions, TEAM AMMA shifted into mass-production gear. Unlike the earlier recorded sessions, Amma the Pro performed a well- rehearsed and well-choreographed lift and jerk for each poor soul that trotted up to the dais. Amma and her accountants had precisioned the math and knew exactly how many complete cycles of body-embrace-eject-next had to be performed in the time allotted. Her followers had obviously paid attention in high school math class `cause they had the formula down pat:
I'm sure the pre-game prep notes looked something like this:
T/H = WR
T = Time Amma is in the stadium; H= Number of hugs; WR = World Record).
Man, she was huggin' em out at the rate of about 15 per minute. Now, that's some massed-produced touchy-feely darshan working there, worthy of respect from the most jaded MacDonald's production line engineer. Ray Kroc's McSlide Ruler holds nothing on Team Amma which can now proudly hang an "X billions hugged" sign under the Ashram`s arches.
Why have I called this a "scandal"? Why employ the adjective "sex" to describe it?
Bad enough that Team Amma and its star forward Amma appeared interested in only performing for the camera and unabashedly abandoned even the faintest APPEARANCE of devotion or piety. The worst part was what was so clearly their REAL motivation: cranking out the hugs in order to get into some sort of Spiritual Guinness Book of World Records. Talk about an experience devoid of spirituality...all that the principles seemed interested in was getting as high a number on the scoreboard as possible...generating love or compassion be damned, let`s just churn out what, at minimum, can be defined as a hug and get on to the next warm body. Head `em up, move `em out Rawhide!
In a nutshell: the numbers on the tote board was virtually all that she and her Kool-Aid inner circle were interested in. And that's why it seemed so scandalous to me.
And when they got the number they wanted (something like 25,000 but I can't recall the exact tally) Team Amma whooped and clapped like the cheerleaders in American Beauty. This sporty mood generated another impression upon me: Kobe Bryant scoring a three-pointer from center court to beat the Knicks with 2 seconds left on the clock.
But there was one final image this carnage of spiritual gluttony cast upon me. And this last one also depicted a pro-basketballer: Wilt Chamberlain whose ultimate claim-to-fame in popular culture wasn't the numerous NBA records he broke but his bold and brass assertion that he had slept with 20,000 women during his lifetime.
And that's why Amma's "scandal" seems so SEXY.