Thursday, January 10, 2013

40 Ways to Leave Your (Divine) Lover

While we've been reminiscing about the long, strange fall from grace that Siddha Yoga has suffered these past ten years, a parallel process may have begun over in Amritananda Mayi land. As reported in Guruphiliac, the longtime personal assistant of the hugging saint (as Amritananda is affectionately known) fled her 20-year gig and her Guru's ashram under cover of darkness. After many years spent hiding and in silence, Gail Tredwell found her way to the exAmma Yahoo chat board, joined the site and "came out" to the community a year or so ago with an open letter that details 40 reasons why she left. She is currently writing a book about her experiences.

I've excerpted her letter below, which can be read in its entirety on the French website Le Blog Des Infidèles. The blog owner has also posted an interview with Gayatri, or Gail, there (in English). And any of you who may miss the "the Guru is an omniscient being who is beyond being judged by the standards of normal human behavior" line of bunk, there is a very long and belabored and nine-kinds-of-crazy example posted by an unhinged individual by the likely name of Ram Das in the comments section of the same blog.

Lastly, and because no yogic path scandal would be complete without a major magazine exposé! here is a link to the Rolling Stone article on Amma, which also covers Tredwell's defection.


To explain for those who don't know who I am/was. I  was Amma's personal attendant for 20 years. I arrived in Jan. 1980 when she was Sudhamani living with her parents and left in Nov. 1999. I was nicknamed 'Amma's shadow' because I was constantly by her side and lived in her quarters. I can speak fluent Malayalam so language was never a barrier to understand what was going on. It would not be an exaggeration to say I know her better than anyone in the world.

A few days after I escaped, when I was still in hiding, feeling hunted I sat at my laptop and wrote down the reasons why I chose to leave. I wrote them as a reminder in case I ever forgot. After writing it 12 years ago I read it again for the first time just now. I have not edited it...thought I should leave it in it's raw state. Hopefully, this will answer some of your questions.

Reasons why I left the Ashram
1. Loss of faith
2. Not happy for years
3. No harmony amongst seniors
4. No manners from the seniors
5. Too much politics between the seniors
6. No love between the seniors
7. I felt extremely unloved
8. And unsupported
9. And untrusted
10. Absolutely worn out on every level
11. Too much stress
12. Routine too gruelling
13. Never any concern given for physical well being nor emotions which are alsoa very important part of spirituality
14. Partiality shown between the men and women, east and west, rich and poor
15. Swamis arrogance, back stabbing, cruelty, hatred, power struggles.
16. Amma's obvious favouritism towards them
17. Giving too much money and gold to her family members and at the same timedenied Suneeti private hospitalisation.
18. Too many secret things going on.
19. Too much scheming, plotting, planning and suspicion
20. No sweet spiritual feeling of love or compassion from amma behind the scenesonly anger, gossip, criticism, revenge, suspicion, business, violence or secretmeetings with the swamis.
21. Terrorism - in a subtle sense not with guns or anything.
22. Violence (mental, emotional, psychological and physical.
23. Horrible yelling and shrieking like a demon
24. Constant accusing me of being a good for nothing and always angry at mewhich always would make my guts cringe and constantly putting me down.
25. Not allowed to feel happy, if you do you should be guilty
26. Guilt if you rest, laugh, take care of your body
27. Money, money, money that is the main aim and you are good if you try andmake as much as you can for the ashram even if you squeeze. Amma used to praisepeople for this
28. Lying, cheating
29. Copying from other writers and books then using amma's name on them andcalling it her teachings. Also none of the speeches which were made at U.N. orChicago were her own, they were Swamijis from some books or possibly his headthat I don't know.
30. Having to tell untrue miracles in talks, she herself would make them up forus.
31. Worn out from heat and crowds and the culture of India, also the jail likelifestyle in the Indian ashram
32. Suppressed and oppress and even hit and abused constantly by the swamis.
33. Too many institutions and projects but not enough capable people to runthem, therefore endless problems which would then fall on my head.
34. Never been understood, or acknowledges for any participation which I had inthe ashram. Never been considered in any major decisions to be made even if itwas which girls should get yellow. Even that swamiji would try and decide,until I would put my foot down.
35. Not enough protection given to girls sent to branches. Just go! Whether theyhave a place to stay or not no problem, whether they are by themselves in a hugeschool overnight, no problem.
36. No questions allowed. Just shut your mouth or you will be considered fortreason, betrayal and a cheat, you are unloyal to amma and the ashram.
37. Scandalous the way the flats have been built, so much money charged, nomaintenance even though the people pay the same. D block has been built rightin the face of A and B. The buildings were not even finished properly withcracks everywhere and sloppy cement everywhere. Plumbing stinks and leaks allover the steps. Try and maintain and keep clean the existing ones beforestarting more skyscrapers.
38. The residents i.e. Indian are not fed properly. They are also overworked.Even amma would criticize that some girls were drinking milk, she would tell tosell all the fruit and not to give the residents. I would still give it now andthen. They all look so anemic.
39. Amma's obvious revenge and hatred towards anybody who has left the ashram. Getting even with them, not allowing them to move on or get a job `let themsuffer for a while' her famous quote. Where is understanding and forgiveness,compassion that she teaches so strongly about. Okay, yes she doesn't want toencourage anybody to leave but is keeping them in the ashram by fear of thefuture or the consequences healthy.
40. Only Hinduism is any good, narrow minded attitude of the swamis againstChristianity. Only your guru is any good.

I understand that my list of reasons was I said it was written years ago when I was in a state of trauma. Without going into too much detail I will try to clarify some of your questions.  Many of the topics have been covered in detail in my book and will give a clear and rounded understanding with specific details and examples.
Yours sincerely, Gail a.k.a. Gayatri


Anonymous said...

OMG yes. I devoured that Rolling Stone Amma article when it came out last August. And you thought your own (former) path was off-the-charts bad? The RS story on Amma almost reads like an Onion spoof of SY. Be sure to check out the cabbage patch Amma dolls at her website gift shop. Holy Mother of God!

SeekHer said...

my fave dose of Amma crazy comes in Ram Das comments when he writes:

"To any who have not met Amma, I heartily recommend that you come and see for yourself what Amma does, day in a day out: hugging thousands of people often for 14 or more hours without a break, listening to their sorrows, giving loving advice, and tirelessly sacrificing her body to give comfort and solace to the masses. At the end of each program her clothes are completely stained by their sweat. This is not real love? "

I think I just threw up a little.

Anonymous said...

Having been hugged by Amma, Ram Das has this backwards. I was stained her HER sweat.

Anonymous said...

How cinematic! This scene is far more entertaining than any in Eat, Pray, Love:

"People are coming to her with everything from coconuts to candy bars to handmade crafts, and for those who forgot to bring something, a table is set up at the start of the line where gifts for Amma are for sale: bouquets of flowers ranging from $5 to $20, a Toblerone bar for $5. (One staff member, I notice, has the job of collecting the bouquets in a basket and then running them back to the table, where they are resold throughout the day.) Before my hug, a plump guy in his forties with greasy brown hair shows up with a package of pecan cookies for Amma. She opens it with the zeal of a small child, and as she places a cookie in her mouth, two of her staff members rush in, cupping their hands under her mouth to ensure she doesn't dribble any crumbs into the hair of the man, whose face is now buried in her chest. As Amma holds him, she hands what is now a Blessed Cookie out into the crowd, and I watch as it is broken into minuscule pieces – crumbs, really – which are savored by those surrounding her."

Anonymous said...

>>" (One staff member, I notice, has the job of collecting the bouquets in a basket and then running them back to the table, where they are resold throughout the day.) ><<

errrrr...this used to be one of my sevas at the Temple in Fallsburg...once (towards the end of my tenure), I marked a coconut just for showed up five times in the darshan basket (before it was turned into "prasad")...someone sure had a HUGE "ego" Coconuts..the gifts that just keep on giving..and giving...and giving.


SeekHer said...

Anon 2:58

As OS has pointed out---lots of what the Amma Rolling Stone story covered went on in front of and behind the scenes in SY as well. People forget what it was like before G stopped giving darshan---the endless lines that went on for hours, the mountains of useless gifts (before word was quietly spread that it was more selfless to give checks, oh and don't bother earmarking what project or purpose you were giving it for, the Guru already knows...)

My fave personal darshan gift story is this. One day I was walking down the street and saw an Asian girl selling little rosewood and glass pagodas on the sidewalk. Each one was filled with a different hand-carved cork tableau worked in dazzlingly intricate detail. I asked her about them and she said her grandfather learned the craft in China and they were one-of-a-kind and all painstakingly handmade by him. My eye alighted on a large, very expensive one that depicted a bridge flowing over a stream with trees and rocks and tiny flowers--and two lovers, one standing on either end. I bought it on the spot. G was about to leave Fallsburg for India and when I went up in darshan for the final Labor Day program of the summer I left it at her feet, with a note saying that the pagoda symbolized there will always be a bridge between us no matter how far apart we are-- or some such treacle.

The next week I walked into a dollar store and saw hundreds of the same pagoda stacked against the wall, selling for a few bucks each. Made in China alright, probably by slave labor. The gift turned out to be as much of a sham as the relationship it was meant to celebrate. Somehow, that seems perfect.

SeekHer said...

On a more serious note re: the Gayatri 40. Amazing how similar it is to SY life in the ashram among long time full time slavites. The constant unrelenting crushing pressure every day, day after day, do, do, do, do, do more and do it all again. How does this crazy making continual massive change serve anyone's spiritual progress? Paths that are supposed to be about turning people within end up being about making the outer drama absolutely hellish. The best evidence that it was all about money all along, and control.

Anonymous said...

On a comparative note, I will say this:
At least GM let us stand and WALK down the darshan line. Ammachi has her darshan visitors sit crosslegged on the floor for hours. They have stay seated and "scoot their butts" across the floor as the line slowly, slowly advances.

Thins those way long darhan lines with GM that lasted hours were long? Not so, compared to those going up to Ammachi.

Anonymous said...

I love, really love the Amma SY is kicking themselves for not coming up with this brilliant marketing ploy. Perfect expression of the dependence in the guru relationship...need a hug, hug your overpriced guru doll!

SeekHer said...

Hey all:

Doing some long delayed spring cleaning in deleting old spam messages from earlier posts. Don't think this should affect unmoderated commenting, but if you have any problems give a shout. Email address is

Anonymous said...

Message is up on SY site: Mantra Japa

Anonymous said...

Whydo the MCs always pronounce Gurumayi's name in the most affected possible way? Just listened to the sound bite.

Amma Monk Threatens Woman He Infected With Herpes said...

Amma has been linked to at least 5 suspicious deaths including her own dear brother by ex-policeman Sreeni Pattathanam

Guruphiliac: Murders At Ammachi's Matt?

Amma is also implicated in a sex scandal cover up with her "Rishi" Taavi Kassila

Amma Amritanandamayi Org Erase Evidence to Sex Abuser Taavi Kassila

Anonymous said...

Amma keep $100 million in foreign bank. $2.4 bank interest 2010-2011. See line 86:

Serve poor? Ha!

Anonymous said...

Gail Tredwell's book (paperback) is now available on Amazon:

And on ePub at

Hugin said...

Well written. The list seems to be non-exhaustive. I was recently sent this link by one of my friends, and looks interesting.

Amma Amritanandamayi - Patron Saint of Amritapuri Rapists said...

Gail Tredwell's book "Holy Hell" reveals that Amma was having sexual contact with her supposedly celibate swamis in particular the head of her organization who is accused of rape of several Amma nuns - women who trusted Amma to protect them. This terrible situation still exists after several decades. Amma's promoter and ashram resident Rishi Taavi Kassila was protected by Amma after he was accused of spreading herpes and having sex with teenage girls. Kassila's seductions started during his Amma promotion and yoga philosophy classes. Amma protects sex abusers but not her innocent followers.

Anonymous said...

anyone interested in finding out more details about the Gayatri vs, amma situation might want to check out: There are some missing details in the situation that have not been brought up here as yet. would be interesting to hear comments of those who have actually read what is on that site.

Kristofski said...

A few thoughts I have about this:

1) If Gail was such a toxic presence whilst living with Amma, as many people say on the ammascandal website, how did she manage to get to the level she did? Why didn't Amma pull her up on it? You could say Amma was trying to let her see her own faults, but it's clear that wasn't going to work.

2. Whatever you think about her, you can't deny that Amma is human. The cult that has built up around her would make anyone go crazy. People follow her thinking she's their connection to God, when really any devine feeling people have when they're around her is simply their own reflected divinity. She might be very good at giving their reflection, but she's not "special". Any truly enlightend person would know that.

Kristofski said...

Though I don't really believe in enlightenment as a concept, so that last sentence of mine isn't really true :)

Anantan said...

Dropping down the shit hole. Good luck, babe. You seriously blew it.

Anonymous said...

I think Kristofski brought up a good point. Why do teachers take on disciples or followers if they already know who they are or what's going to happen....people have been arguing for centuries about why Jesus accepted Judas....I wonder if anyone has an answer or thought on this? Thanks..

Anantan said...

Judas reincarnated as a disciple of Ramakrishna and was liberated. Maya, or cosmic duality, requires opposites.

Kristofski said...

"people have been arguing for centuries about why Jesus accepted Judas"

According to the Christian story, without Judas' actions there would have been no crucifiction and therefore no ressurection, therefore we wouldn't be able to be saved through Jesus. It always confused me why he's seen as the bad guy, when he in fact caused the event that is the cornerstone of Christian faith.

Annamalaima said...

RE: Why do teachers take on disciples or followers if they already know who they are or what's going to happen.

Some thoughts:
Firstly, people make teachers.
Any teacher, if identified as one, is a fraud
Out of compassion, because they see people are not seeing their own true nature, and thru different instances, processes or immediately, maybe they can direct the person to THAT!

Mata Amritasatyamayi said...

Amma is not what she seems to be