Kerala: Controversial and brash, Russell Brand has been known for several things as a comedian, activist, actor and for being pop star Katy Perry’s ex-husband. Now, Russell, who has always had a keen love for Eastern practises, wants ‘sainthood’ to be a part of his repertoire. He was inspired by spiritual guru Mata Amritanandamayi, during his visit to her ashram in Kerala.
Known as Amma to her followers, the Hugging Saint is loved by devotees worldwide, but anyone could be forgiven for being slightly amused at this odd friendship. Russell even spent New Year’s eve at the ashram and posted an account of his experiences.
Excerpts from his update:
When I first heard of ‘The hugging saint’ I thought, how can you get to be a saint just by hugging? My understanding is that you have to do at least three miracles that are then verified by the Vatican. I suppose my fervently competitive nature is incensed by the notion of another’s canonisation “That’s not fair, I want to be a saint”, I think.
This frivolity aside, I first met Amma five years ago. The first embrace that I received was simple no fireworks but a distilled maternal warmth that hummed with infantile comfort.
The next time I met Amma was in December last year. While waiting on the stage, a swami whose name sounded like “Shoebomber” said to me, “Come stay at our ashram sometime.”
“I will,” I said. “Fat chance,” I thought. But here I am. Amma, who many believe to be a divine incarnation, has done some incredible humanitarian work including building universities across India, hospitals for the poor, 1,25,000 free homes for the homeless. Such is the positive impact of Amma’s work that if I found out she’d murdered someone, I’d think it’s forgivable.