Of Goddesses and Lady Saints

Ok, let me just say this, I find this ridiculous… I mean, it’s a great job and all but still:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/indias-hugging-saint-embraces-a-military-target-946125.html

India’s hugging saint embraces a military target – Asia, World – The Independent via kwout

50,000 hugs a freakin’ day?? Good grief. Again, there are tougher jobs but I can’t believe people buy that… plus there’s the personal hygiene question… I mean, having 50,000 rubbung themselves against you every day… Yuck.

Actually, it’s not totally stupid:

""There had been a lot in the media about the number of suicides in the military and Amma wanted to help," said Swami Nijamrita, one of her followers, who is overseeing the project.

"The response has been great. We did not expect such a response," he added. "We thought people would take part because they had been told to but they say that the classes make them feel more peaceful." The free lessons involve a combination of yoga and meditation that Amma drew up specifically for the troops. Mr Nijamrita said at least 25,000 soldiers had already taken part in the sessions and more were planned.

Not having fought a full-scale war for decades, India’s million-plus army appears to lose more troops to suicide than it does in domestic insurgencies, civil riots and border skirmishes. Experts say the growing levels of stress are probably the result of low morale, poor working conditions, insufficient home leave and bad pay.

Mr Nijamrita said the sessions enabled troops to stay focused on the task in hand. "For us, being peaceful does not mean being unable to react. It means being centred and not being distracted by other things," he added.

Amma, 55, whose adopted name means "Mother of Absolute Bliss", is well known for her humanitarian work. In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, her organisation donated a billion rupees (£12m) to the relief effort. It also helped the relief effort after the Pakistan earthquake in October 2005.

Born to a low-caste family in a poor fishing community, Amma reportedly refused either to go to school or get married, preferring to meditate. She was still young when she started hugging devotees. In the early 1980s she founded an ashram for her followers and persisted with hugging people as means of easing their woes.

What an interesting concept, though, promoting peacefulness as focus and not passivity or apathy.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7642798.stm

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Maoists appoint ‘living goddess’ via kwout

This is a bit surprising considering an earlier ruling by Nepal’s Supreme Court that scrapped the status of ‘living Goddess" and stated that the designated girl must go to school and that keeping the girl locked up in a palace is a violation of her basic rights. And even in the name of culture and traditions, that is not acceptable according to the Court. However, the government reversed its position and has now authorized the appointment of a new Kumari, one who passed ritual tests and possesses 32 beauty traits. She will rule until she menstruates… after that, she gets the shaft (ain’t that typical).

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