Gail Tredwell and her book
Gail Tredwell and her book

Hugging Saint "Amma" under scrutiny

Indian holy woman Amruthanandamayi's major achievement is a record of hugging millions of devotees around the world, including top politicians. It is the base for her huge fortune and money minting institutions in numerouos countries. Now the Hugging Saint who claims to be the incarnation of at least two Hindu gods, has become the centre of a controversy after an insider and close associate published a book with shocking details about violence and financial scandals inside the cult. Australian born Gail Tredwell joined the cult of the Hugging Saint at the age of 20 and became the personal assistant of the "goddess" for the next two decades. With bitter experiences that shattered her belief in the Hugging Saint, she left the ashram and now came out with a book that shook the cult empire.

Tredwell alleges that she was raped into submission in the ashram with the hugging godwoman's knowledge. She also documents that the cult has stashed away 700 crores of Rupees (approximately 870.000.000 Euros) illegally in Swiss bank accounts.

Gail Tredwell is in contact with Rationalist International. She wrote to Sanal Edamaruku: "(They) are using a lot of legal force to try and silence anyone who speaks critical of Amma and anything related to my book. ... It is not just a threat... but reality and they have a few hundred million dollars at their disposal."

The local police in the southern Indian state Kerala, where the cult has its head quarters, support the Hugging Saint and have threatened that they would register cases against anyone who writes against her on social media. Indian Rationalist Association has called for the effective use of social media to reach out people with facts. Defying police threats, social media is active with thousands of comments and blogs on the issue.

Paperback edition of Gail Tredwell's book "Holy Hell - A memoir of faith, devotion and pure madness" is available on Amazon.