Ethics and Community

Such figures, and countless others, become holy in part through the devotion of their followers. They become divine because they are regarded as divine. There are temples throughout India dedicated to such figures, some of them quite famous and known throughout India and abroad, others only known in a particular town or village. Mata Amritanandamay Devi (b. 1953), known to her followers as "Amma," mother, and famous outside of India as the "hugging saint"—she is the subject of the 2005 documentary film Darshan: The Embrace—is a contemporary example of a person who becomes a religious leader, a saint in the eyes of her millions of devotees, through a combination of her acts on earth and the love and devotion shown by her followers. She offers daily darshan to her followers and hugs each one in a warm embrace. Some reports say she has hugged over 25 million people in the course of the last thirty-five years. Furthermore, she has sponsored a number of prominent social causes, thus further elevating her divine status in the eyes of her followers.

Study Questions:
1.     Who are the Brahmins?
2.     How do gurus differ from Brahmins?
3.     How could a Hindu become a saint?

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